Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/17/2003 09:04 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                              MINUTES                                                                                         
                     SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                 
                          April 17, 2003                                                                                      
                              9:04 AM                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TAPES                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SFC-03 # 59, Side A                                                                                                             
SFC 03 # 59, Side B                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                              
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Gary Wilken convened  the meeting at approximately 9:04 AM.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Gary Wilken, Co-Chair                                                                                                   
Senator Con Bunde, Vice Chair                                                                                                   
Senator Robin Taylor                                                                                                            
Senator Ben Stevens                                                                                                             
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Also  Attending:   SENATOR  JOHN COWDERY;  CRYSTAL  MOORE, Staff  to                                                          
Senator  Cowdery; LANDA  BAILY,  Special Assistant  and Legislative                                                             
Liaison, Department  of Revenue; SHARON  BARTON, Director,  Division                                                            
of Administrative  Services,  Department  of Revenue;  MARK  RIEHLE,                                                            
Staff to Senator Cowdery; KIERKE KUSSART;                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Attending  via Teleconference:    From  an offnet  location:  DWAYNE                                                          
BANNOCK,  Director,  Division   of Motor  Vehicles,   Department  of                                                            
Administration                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SB  58-PFD INELIGIBILITY/MOTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
The Committee heard from  the sponsor and the Department of Revenue.                                                            
The bill was held in Committee.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SB  59-PERMANENT FUND INELIGIBILITY FOR DUI                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
The Committee heard from  the sponsor and the Department of Revenue.                                                            
The bill was held in Committee.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SB 148-PFD: ALLOWABLE ABSENCE FOR MILITARY SVC                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
The Committee heard from  the sponsor, the Department of Revenue and                                                            
a member of the public. The bill was held in Committee.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HB 159-FINANCIAL INSTITUTION EXAMINATIONS/CFAB                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
This bill was scheduled but not heard.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 58(JUD)                                                                                             
     "An  Act relating  to permanent  fund dividend  program  notice                                                            
     requirements  and  to  the  ineligibility  for  permanent  fund                                                            
     dividends  of certain  persons sentenced  for crimes  involving                                                            
     mandatory motor vehicle liability insurance."                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken explained  this bill "makes  a person convicted  of                                                            
failing  to carry  mandatory vehicle  liability  insurance of  proof                                                            
thereof,  ineligible   for  a  permanent   fund  dividend   for  the                                                            
qualifying  year in which  he or  she was convicted.  The person  is                                                            
ineligible for five years for a second or subsequent offense."                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CRYSTAL  MOORE,  Staff  to  Senator  Cowdery,  testified  that  this                                                            
legislation  pertains to uninsured  motorists who cause an  accident                                                            
or are otherwise caught without proper insurance coverage.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR JOHN COWDERY  expressed his intent that dividends  would not                                                            
be denied  to motorists  who have adequate  insurance coverage,  but                                                            
are unable to provide proof at the time of an accident.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken clarified  that a motorist would have an opportunity                                                            
to provide  proof  of insurance  and upon  such proof  would not  be                                                            
subject to forfeiture of the permanent fund dividend.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator Cowdery  noted similar provisions apply to  proof of vehicle                                                            
registration whereby a  motorist is allowed a certain period of time                                                            
to provide proof of registration.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Taylor   understood  State  statute  contains   no  current                                                            
requirement to carry insurance  unless the vehicle is involved in an                                                            
accident.  He suggested that  a person of  "imminent wealth"  is not                                                            
required to purchase insurance coverage.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Cowdery  informed that  motorists  must sign  an  affidavit                                                            
attesting to insurance  coverage when obtaining a  drivers' license.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Taylor  corrected  that  the  affidavit  affirms  that  the                                                            
motorist either has purchased  insurance or has the means to pay the                                                            
costs incurred in any accident.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Cowdery   acquiesced  but   noted  proof  is  required   to                                                            
demonstrate the motorist has adequate means.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Taylor  commented that the  absence of a "totally  mandatory                                                            
system" is "troubling".                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator Cowdery  countered that the  ability to pay for any  damages                                                            
caused is essentially insurance.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Taylor opined  that  some people  allege  to have  adequate                                                            
funding, but in actuality  do not. He noted that in these instances,                                                            
the motorist's drivers' license is revoked.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Taylor admitted  this would  impact a  small percentage  of                                                            
population,  but  that  the  issue could  be  problematic  to  those                                                            
motorists who have the  means to pay accident expenses. He explained                                                            
that an  uninsured motorist  involved  in an accident  who pays  the                                                            
costs incurred, should not be denied a permanent fund dividend.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Senator   Cowdery  had   understood  that   insurance  coverage   is                                                            
mandatory. He  emphasized the intent of the bill is  to make drivers                                                            
responsible,  whether  they  purchase  insurance  coverage  or  have                                                            
adequate means to pay costs themselves.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Taylor stated  this  legislation  would be  appropriate  if                                                            
statute  required every  motorist  to carry insurance.  He  asserted                                                            
that reimbursement  must be  paid to accident  victims, noting  that                                                            
Alaska operates as a "fault system".                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Senator Taylor surmised  that the Child Support Enforcement Division                                                            
and  other  State agencies  oppose  this  legislation  arguing  that                                                            
denying  some  people a  permanent  fund  dividend would  result  in                                                            
creditors  unable to  collect repayment  of debt.  He expressed  his                                                            
primary  concern relates  to  victims of  an accident  caused by  an                                                            
uninsured motorist,  having no means to collect damages  because the                                                            
perpetrator was denied a dividend.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Senator Cowdery remarked  that a person made ineligible to receive a                                                            
dividend  is similar  to a nonresident,  felon  or other  individual                                                            
ineligible  to receive a dividend.  Therefore, he stated,  "There is                                                            
no dividend  to divvy up. There is  nobody to fight over  anything."                                                            
He furthered,  "and nobody will be out anything -  the child support                                                            
people or anything - unless the guy violates the law."                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  shared concerns  that in some  instances a  permanent                                                            
fund dividend  could be only funds a victim could  recover. He asked                                                            
if consideration was given  to surrendering these dividends into the                                                            
State general fund. He opined this would put                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Cowdery  reiterated  his  comment  that  if  no  funds  are                                                            
available via  a permanent fund dividend, there would  be no dispute                                                            
over  which  creditor is  entitled  to  garnishment.  He  therefore,                                                            
argued that no  party would lose money over this legislation  rather                                                            
"they're not going to lose it unless they break the law."                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde asserted  this would only punish people who would have                                                            
otherwise benefited from garnishment of a dividend.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
LANDA BAILY, Special  Assistant and Legislative Liaison,  Department                                                            
of Revenue,  stressed,  "any policy  intended to  deter the type  of                                                            
conduct that  Senator Cowdery seeks  to deter, is absolutely  a good                                                            
endeavor."  She qualified  that  her  forthcoming comments  are  not                                                            
intended  to be oppositional  but informational.  She reported  that                                                            
the  Child Support  Enforcement  Division  was one  of  the top  ten                                                            
garishers of the  permanent fund dividend in FY 01.   She elaborated                                                            
that the  Division  submitted 12,821  records  with 10,448  requests                                                            
paid,  amounting  to $12,846,911.89  for  delinquent  child  support                                                            
payments.  She estimated that  one to ten  percent of those  records                                                            
could be impacted by this legislation.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Baily cautioned that  the Division would be unable to access the                                                            
"offending parent's"  permanent fund dividend in order  to pay child                                                            
support  arrearages, which  would  be an unintended  consequence  of                                                            
this legislation.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken  asked for a response to Senator Bunde's  suggestion                                                            
to relinquish  the permanent  fund dividends  of these offenders  to                                                            
the State general fund.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Baily  relayed her  consultation  with  Larry  Persily,  Deputy                                                            
Commissioner  of Department  of Revenue, and  his efforts to  punish                                                            
offenders  without causing  unintended consequences  to others.  She                                                            
stated she would continue these efforts.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson asked the  number of qualified dividend recipients who                                                            
chose to not apply for  a dividend, knowing that dividend would have                                                            
been garnished.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Baily  responded  that  she  would   attempt  to  provide  that                                                            
information, noting she  was unsure whether such data was available.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Baily commented  on a need to identify the number  of people who                                                            
would be denied  a dividend under this legislation  and who are also                                                            
in arrearage.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde understood  the existence  of a  program whereby  the                                                            
State could apply for the  dividend of those qualified residents who                                                            
refused to apply for a dividend knowing it would be garnished.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Baily deferred to others within the Department of Revenue.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken  suggested working with the bill sponsor  to address                                                            
this matter.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken referenced  statutes relating to mandatory insurance                                                            
requirements.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Taylor noted  the requirement  to obtain  a certificate  of                                                            
self-insurance upon completion  of an affidavit asserting the holder                                                            
has the ability  to pay damages of  any accident the motorist  might                                                            
cause.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Taylor  suggested  amending  this  legislation  to  include                                                            
"insurance or self-insurance" coverage.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Taylor surmised  that  many of  the motorists  operating  a                                                            
vehicle  without  insurance  also  do  not  have  a  valid  driver's                                                            
license, as it  was suspended after the motorist caused  an accident                                                            
or was convicted of a Driving  Under the Influence (DUI), or similar                                                            
offense.   He noted  these motorists  are unable  to pay the  higher                                                            
premiums of the  "SR22" insurance, required for motorists  convicted                                                            
of  these  offenses.  He  commented  this  provides  victims  little                                                            
financial  recourse  in  future incidents.  He  was  concerned  that                                                            
withholding  permanent  fund dividends  would further  hinder  these                                                            
motorists in their ability to purchase insurance.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Cowdery  asserted that  if a person  could afford a  vehicle                                                            
and gasoline, that person must take responsibility.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Senator B.  Stevens directed  attention to  Fiscal Note #5  from the                                                            
Department  of  Law, noting  the  analysis  references  a "unit"  as                                                            
follows.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     The collections  unit of the  Department of Law is responsible                                                             
     for collecting  civil and criminal judgments  owed to the State                                                            
     of  Alaska,  and beginning  in  January  2002,  restitution  on                                                            
     behalf of victims of all types of crimes (violent, non-                                                                    
     violent, and property crimes) and delinquent acts…                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     …During FY 02, the unit collected $3,574,907 of which                                                                      
     $2,960,210 was through the dividend attachment.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Senator B. Stevens asked for an explanation of this unit.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Taylor  replied  that  this  section  operates  within  the                                                            
Department  of Law  with  the sole  function  to collect  fines  and                                                            
restitution payments.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator  B.   Stevens  asked  if   this  unit  collects   funds  for                                                            
distribution  to victims or collects  revenue for the Department  of                                                            
Law.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SHARON  BARTON,  Director,  Division  of  Administrative   Services,                                                            
Department  of  Revenue,  shared  that  in  her  experience  at  the                                                            
Department of Administration,  she learned that some funds collected                                                            
by this unit are transferred to the Office of Public Advocacy.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator   B.  Stevens  supported   the  collection   of  funds   for                                                            
distribution  to victims but opposed  collection for the  Department                                                            
of Law.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Taylor commented  that  the unit  collects  funds for  both                                                            
victims  and the  Department.  He  explained the  unit  acts as  the                                                            
enforcement  "arm" of  restitution  requirements and  operates  as a                                                            
"pass through" for funding.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken stated this issue would be addressed later.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DWAYNE BANNOCK, Director,  Division of Motor Vehicles, Department of                                                            
Administration,   testified  via   teleconference  from   an  offnet                                                            
location that he was available for questions.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson  noted some rural areas have no state  road system and                                                            
vehicles  are operated  on private  land,  for example  in a  mining                                                            
area, and are not required  to be registered. He asked if this proof                                                            
of insurance would be necessary in this situation.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Cowdery  responded the  legislation  is intended  only  for                                                            
vehicles traveling on publicly maintained roads.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator   B.  Stevens   referenced   a  spreadsheet   titled,   "DWI                                                            
Misdemeanors &  Felonies FY 02 and July-Department  of Environmental                                                            
Conservation.  FY  03, Driving  Without  Insurance"  [copy on  file]                                                            
compiled by the Alaska Court System.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Moore detailed  the spreadsheet  lists the number of  first time                                                            
and  multiple  Driving  While  Intoxicated   (DWI)  incidences.  She                                                            
exampled  that in Homer  during FY  03, of the  four first time  DWI                                                            
arrests and 76  second or more DWI arrests, 19 of  the offenders did                                                            
not have insurance.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Senator Cowdery stated he would clarify the information.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken  noted questions remain  on this matter and  ordered                                                            
the bill HELD in Committee.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 59(JUD)                                                                                             
     "An  Act relating  to permanent  fund dividend  program  notice                                                            
     requirements  and  to  the  ineligibility  for  permanent  fund                                                            
     dividends of certain  persons sentenced for driving while under                                                            
     the   influence  of   an  alcoholic   beverage,  inhalant,   or                                                            
     controlled  substance, or for  refusal to submit to  a chemical                                                            
     test."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  stated this  bill,  sponsored by  Senator  Cowdery                                                            
"makes  the person  convicted  of  driving  under the  influence  of                                                            
alcoholic  beverage  or  refusal  to  submit  to  a  chemical  test,                                                            
ineligible for a permanent  fund dividend for the qualifying year in                                                            
which he or she was convicted.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CRYSTAL  MOORE, Staff  to Senator  Cowdery, testified  this bill  is                                                            
identical  to SB 58 with  the exception that  it applies to  Driving                                                            
Under the Influence (DUI)  offenses rather than uninsured motorists.                                                            
She noted that  after the first offence,  the dividend it  forfeited                                                            
for one  year, and following  subsequent  offenses, the dividend  is                                                            
denied for five years.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator Cowdery  reiterated his earlier comments to  SB 58 stressing                                                            
they apply  to this legislation  as well:  "Nobody is going  to lose                                                            
anything  unless they're caught".  He added  that the provisions  in                                                            
both bills are not retroactive.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
LANDA BAILY, Special  Assistant and Legislative Liaison,  Department                                                            
of Revenue  stated the  intent of  this bill is  "to deter  specific                                                            
conduct that we as a society  absolutely do not condone." She opined                                                            
that any policy intended  to deter driving while under the influence                                                            
is of "critical  importance to the State of Alaska,  to everyone who                                                            
lives here." She  repeated that her comments are not  intended to be                                                            
oppositional, rather informational.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
She again reported  that the Child Support Enforcement  Division was                                                            
one of the  top ten garishers of the  permanent fund dividend  in FY                                                            
01.  She elaborated that  the Division submitted 12,821 records with                                                            
10,448 requests  paid, amounting  to $12,846,911.89  for  delinquent                                                            
child support  payments. She  estimated that  one to ten percent  of                                                            
those records could be impacted by this legislation.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Baily repeated her  caution that the Division would be unable to                                                            
access the "offending parent's"  permanent fund dividend in order to                                                            
pay  child  support   arrearages,  which  would  be  an   unintended                                                            
consequence of this legislation.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Cowdery  asserted that most Driving While  Intoxicated (DWI)                                                            
offenders  honor their obligations  to their  family. He was  unsure                                                            
how to address those that do not.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Taylor  asked if this legislation  requires a conviction  of                                                            
DUI or rather an arrest or refusal to submit to a chemical test.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Cowdery  assumed a conviction  would be required  before the                                                            
legislation would apply.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator Taylor  noted that  when a motorist  refuses to submit  to a                                                            
chemical   test,   the  driver's   license   is  suspended   as   an                                                            
administrative action.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken  asked if the intent  is to deny a dividend  only in                                                            
instances  of a conviction  and not  in the case  of a motorist  who                                                            
refuses to submit to a chemical test.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator Cowdery  understood that a  refusal to submit to  a chemical                                                            
test is the same as a conviction.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Taylor  corrected that these  are separate crimes,  although                                                            
the penalties are the same.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken  noted several of the questions posed  to SB 58 also                                                            
apply to this bill and would be addressed at a later date.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  posed a  scenario of an  uninsured motorist  arrested                                                            
for DWI and asked  if the offender would be denied  a permanent fund                                                            
dividend to two years given the two offenses.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson  asked if the  provision of  this bill would  apply to                                                            
operators of boats, off-road vehicles, etc.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Cowdery expressed  his intent that  this legislation  would                                                            
apply only  to vehicles traveling  on publicly maintained  roadways.                                                            
He  stated  he  does  not  intend  the  bill  to  impact  pilots  or                                                            
watercraft operators.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken ordered the bill HELD in Committee.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     SENATE BILL NO. 148                                                                                                        
     "An Act relating  to allowable absences for certain  members of                                                            
     the armed forces and  their spouses and dependents for purposes                                                            
     of eligibility for  permanent fund dividends; and providing for                                                            
     an effective date."                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  stated  this bill  sponsored  by  Senator  Cowdery                                                            
"amends  the State  statute  governing  allowable absences  for  the                                                            
permanent  fund dividend  for  members of  the United  States  armed                                                            
forces."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MARK RIEHLE,  Staff to Senator Cowdery,  testified this legislation                                                             
is  a "correction  of  an oversight"  in  allowable  permanent  fund                                                            
dividend  absences.  He  shared  that a  discrepancy  arose  in  the                                                            
instance  of  a 20-year  Alaska  resident  and  member of  the  Navy                                                            
Reserve  who  was  activated  to  military  service   following  the                                                            
terrorist events  of September 11,  2001. This resident,  Mr. Riehle                                                            
reported, was recently  denied a dividend after serving overseas for                                                            
ten months and  upon return to the country, spending  seven weeks in                                                            
California caring  for his quadriplegic brother. Mr.  Riehle pointed                                                            
out the time spent  on active military duty is an  allowable absence                                                            
and that under  normal circumstances  a seven week absence  from the                                                            
State is also allowable.  However, he stated that because the seven-                                                            
week absence  immediately followed  discharge from active  duty, the                                                            
resident was  disqualified from receiving  a dividend. He  explained                                                            
this is due  to separate requirements  applied to military  personal                                                            
that  require a  resident  to return  to Alaska  within  45 days  of                                                            
discharge.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Riehle  requested  the  Committee   join  Senator  Cowdery  "in                                                            
sponsoring this  cause in demonstrating your patriotic  thank you to                                                            
the members  of the Reserves, the  Guards, and those in active  duty                                                            
military."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
KIERKE  KUSSART  testified  as a  private  citizen although  she  is                                                            
employed  by the Permanent  Fund Dividend  Division. She stated  the                                                            
argument that  because civilians are  allowed to be absent  180 days                                                            
during a qualifying  year, military personnel should  be granted the                                                            
same allowance.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Kussart  referenced a handout  titled, "A brief overview  of PFD                                                            
rules pertaining to SB 148," which reads as follows.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Civilian (no special circumstances)                                                                                        
     Can be  gone up to 180 days in  a calendar year for  any reason                                                            
     as long  as home is  maintained in state  (own, rent,  storage)                                                            
     and residency ties are not created in other states.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Military Active Duty                                                                                                       
     Must have AK as home of record.                                                                                            
     Can  be gone  a whole year  - must  return for  3 days every  2                                                            
     years minimum.                                                                                                             
     After 5 years absence must have 30 days in AK.                                                                             
     Does not have to maintain home in AK.                                                                                      
     Can obtain other states  drivers license, vehicle registration,                                                            
     resident hunting and fishing licenses.                                                                                     
     Can purchase home in another state.                                                                                        
     Spouse can work full time in another state.                                                                                
     Once  out of AK for  over 180 days in  a calendar year  only 45                                                            
     days can be for non-military reasons.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Main Points                                                                                                                
     1. Discharge is  a scheduled event and can be planned for. Upon                                                            
        discharge the military will ship the applicant's belongings                                                             
        to any address the applicant chooses.                                                                                   
     2. Once returns  to civilian status the applicant may have many                                                            
        more ties to outside than to AK. Needs to return to fulfill                                                             
        statement of intent.                                                                                                    
     3. In my opinion  six months is an excessive amount of time for                                                            
        a move back to AK, especially since military members are                                                                
        used to moving without much notice. Now that they are free                                                              
         from military obligation it is time to come home.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SFC 03 # 59, Side B 09:52 AM                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Kussart  opined that six months  is an excessive amount  of time                                                            
to be absent from Alaska  for discharged military personnel who have                                                            
possibly established  residency in another state.  She suggested two                                                            
or three months was adequate.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Cowdery  commented that military  personnel should  be given                                                            
some freedoms when not on active duty.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde  clarified  that  while   on active   duty,  military                                                            
personnel  could be absent  from the  State more  than 180 but  that                                                            
only 45 of those days could be for non-military activities.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Kussart affirmed.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator Cowdery indicated  he had been unaware of the 45-day absence                                                            
limitation.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Kussart noted  for the record that she was on  leave status from                                                            
the State during this hearing.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson asked the  percentage of military personnel who become                                                            
ineligible  for the permanent fund  dividend after leaving  military                                                            
duty.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Kussart did  not have that information as a private  citizen and                                                            
indicated the Division could provide it upon request.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator B.  Stevens pointed out the  matter addresses two  different                                                            
types of active  duty. He listed one  as regular military  personnel                                                            
serving  on active  duty and  the other  as reservists  or  National                                                            
Guard members called to  deployment. He told of a reservist residing                                                            
in  his district  who was  deployed  and is  now "facing  a  similar                                                            
challenge"  in eligibility  for Public Employees  Retirement  System                                                            
(PERS) benefits.  He asked whether the differences  could be defined                                                            
in statute.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Cowdery learned  this situation  is a  rare occurrence.  He                                                            
shared  that the  Department had  suggested  granting discretionary                                                             
authority to the commissioner  to grant exceptions; however, Senator                                                            
Cowdery indicated he does not favor this option.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator B. Stevens expressed that a distinction must be made.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Cowdery stated  the intent of the legislation would apply to                                                            
those  military  personnel  on  active  duty and  that  no  specific                                                            
distinction was made.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator  B. Stevens  stressed  the  issue is  that the  resident  in                                                            
question  was not  on active  duty but  rather a  reservist who  was                                                            
deployed. He stated that  if the resident had not been deployed, his                                                            
seven-week absence would  not have disqualified him from receiving a                                                            
dividend.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator Taylor remarked  that this resident should have been treated                                                            
as any  other citizen.  He  agreed with  Senator B.  Stevens that  a                                                            
distinction should be made. He surmised that this affects many                                                                  
residents, as many reservists have been deployed.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken ordered the bill HELD in Committee.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Gary Wilken adjourned the meeting at 10:03 AM                                                                          

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