Legislature(2005 - 2006)SENATE FINANCE 532

02/15/2006 09:00 AM FINANCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ SB 209 UNDERAGE MILITARY ON LICENSED PREMISES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 209(JUD) Out of Committee
+ SB 210 VIOL. OF ALCOHOLIC BEV. LAWS/FORFEITURE TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ SB 237 ADDITIONAL JUDGES FOR THIRD DISTRICT TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                              MINUTES                                                                                         
                     SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                 
                         February 15, 2006                                                                                    
                             9:07 a.m.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                              
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Lyda  Green convened the  meeting at approximately  9:07:45                                                          
AM.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Lyda Green, Co-Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Gary Wilken, Co-Chair                                                                                                   
Senator Con Bunde, Vice Chair                                                                                                   
Senator Fred Dyson                                                                                                              
Senator Bert Stedman                                                                                                            
Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                                                                           
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Also Attending:  SENATOR  CHARLIE HUGGINS;  JOSHUA TEMPEL,  Staff to                                                          
Senator  Charlie  Huggins; HEATHER  BRAKES,  Staff  to Senator  Gene                                                            
Therriault;  JOHN WILKINS,  Volunteer  Director,  Disabled  American                                                            
Veterans, Department  of Alaska; CLAYTON  LOVE, Commander,  Disabled                                                            
American Veterans, Department  of Alaska; HOWARD COLBERT, Commander,                                                            
Disabled American  Veterans Chapter  No. 4, Juneau; ANNE  CARPENETI,                                                            
Assistant Attorney General,  Legal Services Section-Juneau, Criminal                                                            
Division, Department  of Law; SUSAN PARKS, Deputy  Attorney General,                                                            
Criminal  Division, Office  of the Attorney  General, Department  of                                                            
Law; CHRIS  CHRISTENSEN, Deputy Administrative  Director,  Office of                                                            
the Administrative Director, Alaska Court System                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Attending  via Teleconference:  From an Offnet  Site: DOUG  GRIFFIN,                                                          
Director,  Alcohol  Beverage  Control Board,  Department  of  Public                                                            
Safety; ED  HERRINGTON, Captain, Alaska  State Troopers,  Department                                                            
of Public Safety                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SB 209-UNDERAGE MILITARY ON LICENSED PREMISES                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
The Committee  heard from the bill's  sponsor, the Alcohol  Beverage                                                            
Control Board, and representatives  of Disabled Veterans of America.                                                            
The bill reported from Committee.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SB 210-VIOL. OF ALCOHOLIC BEV. LAWS/FORFEITURE                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
The Committee heard from the bill's sponsor, the Alcohol Beverage                                                               
Control Board, the Department of Law, and the Department of Public                                                              
Safety. The bill was held in Committee.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SB 237-ADDITIONAL JUDGES FOR THIRD DISTRICT                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
The Committee heard from the bill's sponsor, the Department of Law,                                                             
and the Alaska Court System. The bill was held in Committee.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 209(JUD)                                                                                            
     "An Act relating to  access by persons under 21 years of age to                                                            
     premises  licensed to  sell alcoholic  beverages as clubs  when                                                            
     alcoholic  beverages   are  not  present  and,  when  alcoholic                                                            
     beverages are present,  to premises of a patriotic organization                                                            
     licensed as a club  if the person possesses a valid active duty                                                            
     military  or armed  forces identification  card  issued by  the                                                            
     United States government."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This was the first hearing for this bill in the Senate Finance                                                                  
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
JOSHUA TEMPEL, Staff to Senator Charlie Huggins, the bill's                                                                     
sponsor, read the Sponsor Statement as follows.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Senate  Bill 209 amends AS 04.11.110(g)  by authorizing  access                                                            
     by persons under 21  years of age, who possess a valid military                                                            
     active duty (or armed  forces identification card issued by the                                                            
     United  States  Department  of  Defense  or  the  United  State                                                            
     Department of Homeland  Security) ID card, to a club's licensed                                                            
     premises  without  specific   authorization  of  the  Alcoholic                                                            
     Beverage Control Board in certain circumstances.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Under present state  law, persons under the age of 21 cannot be                                                            
     on any premises  that are licensed to sell alcoholic  beverages                                                            
     unless  a parent or  legal guardian  accompanies them.  Current                                                            
     law causes  a dilemma to the  under age veteran. Although  they                                                            
     are eligible to join  an organization, they are unable to go to                                                            
     the  veteran's meetings  or functions  because  they are  under                                                            
     age.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     This  legislation  will, in no  way, allow  the consumption  of                                                            
     alcoholic beverages  by persons under the age of 21 in licensed                                                            
     clubs.  This bill will  simply allow our  troops access  to the                                                            
     supportive  and safe environments which they  currently are not                                                            
     allowed.  A military  organization post  will truly be  a place                                                            
     where  veterans across the generations  will have an  accepting                                                            
     atmosphere  in which they can impart their wisdom  and stories.                                                            
     This  bill will help  ensure a place  of safety for our  troops                                                            
     while they are on the home front.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde  asked  whether  the  military  organizations   being                                                            
referred to would include such entities as the American Legion.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Tempel  affirmed.  He  noted  that  the  bill  packet  includes                                                            
memorandums  from both the  Alcoholic Beverage  Control (ABC)  Board                                                            
and  the  Division  of  Legal and  Research  Services,  Legislative                                                             
Affairs Agency  [copies on file] that specify the  licensed premises                                                            
being  referred   to  in   this  legislation   would  be   patriotic                                                            
organizations  such as the  American Legion,  the Disabled  American                                                            
Veterans  (DAV), and the  Veterans of Foreign  Wars (VFW).  It could                                                            
not be "broadened" to include such entities as strip clubs.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde,  noting that  the bill would  allow people below  the                                                            
legal   drinking   age  to   enter   licensed   alcoholic   beverage                                                            
establishments,  asked whether  this action  would place  additional                                                            
"pressure  on  bartenders   in  these  clubs"  to  determine   which                                                            
attendees  could or could  not be served  alcohol. He asked  whether                                                            
the affected establishments have weighed in on this issue.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Tempel  responded   that  the  establishments  understand   the                                                            
conditions  of the bill and would  uphold their responsibilities  as                                                            
otherwise,  their alcohol licenses  could be in jeopardy.  Testimony                                                            
from those entities would be forthcoming.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde agreed  that an  establishment's  alcohol  dispensary                                                            
license could  be in jeopardy were  a mistake made and an  alcoholic                                                            
beverage dispensed to an under age person.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stedman reminded  that in previous times, there was no issue                                                            
with underage  soldiers  being allowed  in establishments  in  which                                                            
liquor was  sold. However, that situation  has changed. Continuing,                                                             
he asked what  prompted the need to  introduce this legislation.  He                                                            
had "no problem  with the whole issue. Someone that's  old enough to                                                            
serve  in the military  and  go to Iraq  certainly  should have  the                                                            
maturity to go into these  establishments and have some camaraderie"                                                            
whether or not alcohol was being sold.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  CHARLIE  HUGGINS,  the  bill's  sponsor,  stated  that  the                                                            
reality is that  an underage soldier at Fort Richardson,  Alaska for                                                            
instance,  who wanted an  alcoholic beverage  could get it.  That is                                                            
"just the way it is."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
In response  to Senator Stedman's  comments, Senator Huggins  stated                                                            
"service  organizations  see themselves  as  two-fold".  They are  a                                                            
"fraternal  organization   that  supports  quite  frankly  an  older                                                            
generation  of people"  and  participates  in its  community.  Their                                                            
other major  duty is to reach  out to young  military people  in the                                                            
community who might not  have family or another support group there.                                                            
Continuing,  he  noted that  the issue  is  that, due  to  alcoholic                                                            
licensing conditions, were  such an organization to participate in a                                                            
Veterans  Day Dinner,  for  example,  it would  be "illegal  for  an                                                            
underage  person" to  be on  the establishment's  licensed  premises                                                            
unless  they were  accompanied by  their legal  guardian or  parent.                                                            
This legislation would eliminate that licensing "technicality".                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Huggins affirmed  that the affected  service organizations                                                             
fully  understand  their  responsibilities   were  this legislation                                                             
adopted. This legislation  was introduced in order to allow underage                                                            
soldiers to participate  in a patriotic environment that could offer                                                            
them support.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson asked  how  the restrictions  on serving  alcohol  to                                                            
underage individuals would be monitored.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Huggins stated  that  in order  to be served  an  alcoholic                                                            
beverage   an  individual   would   be  required   to  present   age                                                            
identification.   It  would   be  likely   that  an  organization's                                                             
identification  provisions would become  "more stringent"  were this                                                            
legislation adopted.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:16:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stedman  asked for  confirmation that  the bill would  allow                                                            
underage  soldiers to enter  an establishment,  but would not  allow                                                            
them to be served alcohol.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:17:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins affirmed.  The purpose of the bill would be to allow                                                            
underage military  personnel to participate in an  organization that                                                            
could offer  support and  camaraderie, not  to allow them access  to                                                            
alcohol.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stedman  acknowledged. Continuing, however,  he opined that,                                                            
"if you  are 18 or 19 and  you're old enough  to go to Iraq  and die                                                            
for your country you're old enough to go have a beer."                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:18:09 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DOUG GRIFFIN,  Director, Alcohol Beverage Control  Board, Department                                                            
of Public Safety, testified  via teleconference from an offnet site.                                                            
To further  respond to the concern  about the responsibilities  that                                                            
would be placed on a licensed  establishment by this legislation, he                                                            
assured that  service organizations  are aware of the situation  and                                                            
would be taking  extra precautions. It is "a tradeoff".  On one side                                                            
is the point about these  people serving their country and needing a                                                            
place for camaraderie  and on the  other side is the need  to ensure                                                            
that establishments  uphold the requirement not to  serve alcohol to                                                            
underage people.  Efforts could be taken to ensure  that the actions                                                            
proposed by this legislation would work.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  asked for clarification as to whether  the law being                                                            
changed is one that prohibits  people under the age of 21 from being                                                            
in an establishment that  sells alcohol or whether the law prohibits                                                            
people under the  age of 21 from belonging to such  an organization.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Griffin  clarified the  issue is that  because the clubs  have a                                                            
beverage  dispensary   license,  they   must  adhere  to   the  same                                                            
regulations  as a bar and  restrict those under  the age of  21 from                                                            
the premises  unless  a legal  guardian or  spouse age  21 or  older                                                            
accompanied  them.  This bill  would alter  that  standard. The  ABC                                                            
Board has "no  jurisdiction over membership".  People under  the age                                                            
of 21 could  belong to the organizations.  He noted that  changes to                                                            
ABC  standards  are  not  uncommon,  as  restrictions   on  licensed                                                            
premises that  offer dining have been altered to allow  people under                                                            
the age of 21 to dine there.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:20:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stedman  asked whether the  bill could be expanded  to allow                                                            
the military individuals  identified in this legislation  to be able                                                            
to  consume   alcohol  at   the  age  of   19  in  these   patriotic                                                            
establishments.  "The whole issue"  of how a person in the  military                                                            
who is  under the age  of 21 "is  handled … in  our own country  …is                                                            
egregious".                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Griffin  regarded  the  drinking  age  discussion  as  being  a                                                            
"broader  issue". As  the result  of "federal  suggestions",  states                                                            
adopted  21  as their  legal  drinking  age in  the  1980s.  Federal                                                            
highway funding  and other federal aid could be negatively  affected                                                            
were  a  state  to lower  that  federally  "recommended"   allowable                                                            
drinking age.  There is a "great deal  of uniformity on this  matter                                                            
nationwide.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:22:35 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde asked  whether  a soldier  must  be 21  years old  to                                                            
consume alcohol in a club on a military base.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins  affirmed that  a soldier must  be 21. At one  time,                                                            
there was an exception  in regards to the consumption of beer with a                                                            
3.2 percent alcoholic content.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  understood therefore that the military  has a 21-year                                                            
age requirement  as well. The issue  of changing the age  at which a                                                            
person could  legally consume alcohol  would be an issue  beyond the                                                            
realm of the ABC Board.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins  noted that in recent time, such things  as the once                                                            
popular after  work Happy  Hour events and  clubs on military  bases                                                            
have disappeared.  He also noted the  fact that a Driving  Under The                                                            
Influence (DUI)  offense on one's  record would be detrimental  to a                                                            
career in  the military.  Thus, events that  promoted drinking  have                                                            
been curtailed.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE 9:24 AM / 9:24:45 AM                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Vice Chair Bunde assumed Chair of the meeting.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:25:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN WILKINS, Volunteer  Director, Disabled American Veterans (DAV),                                                            
Department   of    Alaska   informed   the   Committee    that   his                                                            
responsibilities   include  overseeing  the  work  of  four  service                                                            
officers  who are  compensated  by the State  of Alaska  as well  as                                                            
seven  chapter service  officers who  are volunteers  like  himself.                                                            
Their  work would  include such  things as assisting  veterans  with                                                            
claims against the federal  Veterans Administration. He noted that a                                                            
service referred  to as VetBoat utilizes  a boat to travel  to small                                                            
communities  in  Southeast   Alaska  to  assist  veterans  in  those                                                            
communities.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Wilkins stated  that DAV supports this legislation.  He conveyed                                                            
that he had sought  assurance from post commanders  that "stringent"                                                            
procedures would be established  in their licensed establishments to                                                            
insure  "that  no  underage  military person  would  be  allowed  to                                                            
drink".                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:26:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Wilkins stated  that  the adoption  of this  legislation  would                                                            
allow "service  officers to talk more  freely with the young  people                                                            
that are back  about any problems  that they may have. Not  allowing                                                            
them into  clubs and organizations"  has  made service officer  jobs                                                            
more  difficult,  and has  prevented  allowing young  veterans  from                                                            
talking  with service  officers. He  characterized  the role of  the                                                            
service officers  as being  "a mentoring  situation" in which  older                                                            
soldiers  assist  young  military  personnel  in dealing  with  such                                                            
things as combat issues.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Wilkins  stated  that passage  of  this  legislation  would  be                                                            
appreciated.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:27:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CLAYTON LOVE,  Commander, Disabled American Veterans,  Department of                                                            
Alaska, concurred with  Mr. Wilkins' comments. He declared that this                                                            
legislation  would not significantly  impact bartenders;  they would                                                            
simply  be required  to  monitor activities  "more  closely".  Rules                                                            
would be established. For  instance, were people under the age of 21                                                            
to have consumed a drink  prior to coming to an establishment, their                                                            
entry would be denied.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Love stated that the  benefit of this bill would be to allow all                                                            
members of an organization  to participate in events such as dinners                                                            
that might be held in the establishment.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:29:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Love  continued  that  this  legislation  would  allow  younger                                                            
soldiers to benefit from  the camaraderie and the experiences of the                                                            
older  soldiers  including  combat experiences,  injuries,  and  re-                                                            
adjusting to civilian  life. Furthering this legislation  would also                                                            
indicate State support for young military personnel.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:31:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HOWARD COLBERT, Commander,  Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter                                                            
No.  4,   Juneau,  informed   the  Committee   that  when   Congress                                                            
established  the DAV,  it  specified in  Statute  that no  alcoholic                                                            
beverages could  be consumed in their meeting rooms.  DAV has a very                                                            
limited budget and, as  it does not have its own facilities, it must                                                            
conduct meetings  in places such as  public libraries. However,  the                                                            
limited   availability  of   such  space  is   a  hardship   on  the                                                            
organization.  Consequently,  benevolent organizations  such  as the                                                            
American Legion  and VFW have allowed  DAV to hold its meetings  and                                                            
complete required paperwork  for veterans with disabilities in their                                                            
facilities.  Continuing,  he  noted  that  due to  the  current  age                                                            
restrictions   on  licensed  patriotic   establishments,   providing                                                            
assistance for disabled  veterans under the age of 21 is burdensome.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Colbert likened  the wisdom that older veterans  could impart to                                                            
a library:  "they are a wealth of  knowledge". Continuing,  he noted                                                            
that VFW and American Legion  posts are well managed. Of the State's                                                            
72,000 veterans,  14,000 live in Southeast Alaska.  The VetBoat that                                                            
transits to communities  in Southeast Alaska has completed paperwork                                                            
for 459 veterans with disabilities  over the past six years; most of                                                            
that paperwork  was completed  in VFW or  American Legion halls.  As                                                            
the State's  veterans age, they will  be experiencing more  problems                                                            
and locations  must be available  in which  to conduct the  required                                                            
paperwork.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Colbert,  who had completed two  tours of Vietnam, communicated                                                             
that  being  a young  veteran  is  "a whole  different  world".  The                                                            
veterans in the  various patriotic organizations "do  understand and                                                            
they do talk.  That is a lot of help for the younger  guys." While a                                                            
multi-age  family  could currently  dine  in  a restaurant  with  an                                                            
alcoholic beverage  license, an underage veteran who  has served his                                                            
country could  not currently enter a VFW Hall without  the bar being                                                            
closed down. "That doesn't  make sense to me." These "very very fine                                                            
young"  veterans have  earned  the right  to enter  these  patriotic                                                            
establishments.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:36:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  surmised that when Mr. Colbert served  in Vietnam, no                                                            
identification had been  checked when beer rations were distributed.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Colbert affirmed.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:36:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde thanked the gentlemen for their service.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
RECESS TO THE CALL OF CHAIR 9:37:12 AM / 10:21:33 AM                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green resumed Chair of the Committee.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  moved  to  report the  bill  from  Committee  with                                                            
individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
There  being  no  objection,  CS  SB  209(JUD)   was  REPORTED  from                                                            
Committee with  previous zero fiscal note #1 from  the Department of                                                            
Military and Veterans Affairs.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:22:16 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     SENATE BILL NO. 210                                                                                                        
     "An Act relating to the manufacture and transportation of                                                                  
     alcoholic beverages; relating to forfeitures of property for                                                               
     violations   of  alcoholic  beverage  laws;   and  relating  to                                                            
     violations of alcoholic beverage laws."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This was the first hearing for this bill in the Senate Finance                                                                  
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HEATHER BRAKES, Staff to Senator Gene Therriault, the bill's                                                                    
sponsor, read the history and intent of the bill as specified in                                                                
the Sponsor Statement.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     In  2004, Congress  passed  legislation recognizing  that  many                                                            
     rural  communities  and  their  residents  "…face  the  highest                                                            
     alcohol  abuse and family violence  rates in the country."  and                                                            
     establishing  the  Alaska  Rural Justice  and  Law Enforcement                                                             
     Commission.  The Commission released a Draft  Interim Report in                                                            
     late 2005 that contained  recommendations, including amendments                                                            
     to several provisions in Alaska Statutes.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Senate  Bill 210 changes  current law  to help law enforcement                                                             
     better protect  communities that have chosen  to limit the sale                                                            
     or  possession  of  alcohol under  local  option  laws.  First,                                                            
     Senate  Bill 210 strengthens  current forfeiture provisions  in                                                            
     statute  by allowing seizure  of alcohol transported  by common                                                            
     carrier in violation  of current law. Second, it authorizes the                                                            
     seizure  of  property  determined  to have  been  purchased  or                                                            
     obtained  through the proceeds  of illegal importation  or sale                                                            
     of alcohol  and outlines  procedures for  a person claiming  an                                                            
     interest in property that has been seized.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     SB  210 also  defines  "manufacture"  of alcohol  and  provides                                                            
     consistency   between  statutes   by  amending  the   allowable                                                            
     quantities. While  current statute prohibits the manufacture of                                                            
     alcohol  in a community  that  has adopted  a local option,  it                                                            
     does not  include a definition. The legislation  also clarifies                                                            
     statutes  relating to the presumption  of possession  for sale.                                                            
     These  provisions provide  clarity and  assist law enforcement                                                             
     and  communities  in their  continued interdiction  efforts  in                                                            
     damp or dry areas of the state.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     More than 100 communities  in Alaska have chosen a local option                                                            
     to  combat  the problems  associated  with  alcohol  abuse  and                                                            
     violence. SB 210 clarifies,  strengthens, and brings uniformity                                                            
     to the state's alcohol  and beverage control statutes to assist                                                            
     law   enforcement  and   communities   to  fight  the   illegal                                                            
     importation of alcohol.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Brakes noted that the bill would address inconsistencies in                                                                 
State Statutes  retaining to the presumption of guilt,  specifically                                                            
that  were a  person to  have  in their  possession  more than  10.5                                                            
liters of alcohol, an intent to sell could be presumed.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Brakes  noted that,  as specified  on page  eight of the  Alaska                                                            
State Troopers  Alaska Bureau of Alcohol  and Drug Enforcement  2004                                                            
Annual Drug Report [copy  on file], "bootlegging is a very lucrative                                                            
business in Rural  Alaska." Page seven of the report  specifies that                                                            
681 gallons  of alcohol were  seized in 2004.  A graph on that  page                                                            
also depicts the number  of alcohol related arrests conducted during                                                            
the years 2002, 2003, and 2004.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:25:54 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green understood  that  the  provisions included  in  this                                                            
legislation  were  based   on the  Alaska   Rural  Justice  and  Law                                                            
Enforcement Commission's report.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Brakes affirmed  that the bill was based on determinations  made                                                            
in the Commission's Draft Report.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
10:26:02 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson asked  regarding the  decision to  lower the  alcohol                                                            
possession limit from the current 12 liter limit to 10.5 liters.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:26:24 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Brakes  responded that  the decision to  specify 10.5 liters  as                                                            
the  possession  limit was  made in  order  to have  consistency  in                                                            
regulations.   An  existing  separate   section  of  State   Statute                                                            
specifies  that  the transportation  of  more  than 10.5  liters  of                                                            
distilled spirits  into a local option community would  be a felony.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green understood  therefore that  lowering the  possession                                                            
limit would  align that regulation  with amounts specified  in other                                                            
State law.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
In response to  a question from Senator Olson, Ms.  Brakes confirmed                                                            
that the 10.5  liter specification  is included in other  State law.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:27:12 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  asked for  an example of what  would constitute  10.5                                                            
liters, as alcohol is available in a variety of container sizes.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DOUG GRIFFIN,  Director, Alcohol Beverage Control  Board, Department                                                            
of Public Safety,  testified via teleconference from  an offnet site                                                            
and stated that 10.5 liters  of distilled spirits is the amount that                                                            
a package  store could  legally ship  to a person  each month.  This                                                            
limit has been  specified in State  Statute for several years.  10.5                                                            
liters would equate to a case of six 1.75 liter bottles.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Griffin  continued  that a case  of twelve  750 milliliter  (ML)                                                            
bottles, or "fifths", would total nine liters.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:28:48 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde  appreciated  the information.   It would  assist  in                                                            
physically understanding the amounts being discussed.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ED HARRINGTON, Captain,  Alaska State Troopers, Department of Public                                                            
Safety, testified  via teleconference from an offnet  site and noted                                                            
that  he  was  a  member  of  the  Alaska  Rural   Justice  and  Law                                                            
Enforcement  Commission and had participated  in the development  of                                                            
the recommendations to change State Statutes.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Captain  Harrington informed  the Committee  that the Troopers  Drug                                                            
Unit had seized  approximately 994 gallons of alcohol  in 2005. That                                                            
was a significant  increase over 2004. The changes  proposed in this                                                            
bill would  further assist  law enforcement  efforts to enforce  the                                                            
local  option  laws  of "those  communities  that  have  elected  to                                                            
restrict the flow of alcohol to their communities".                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson asked whether  the proposed  provisions would  affect                                                            
air taxi services that serve the communities.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:30:21 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Captain  Harrington understood  that  the changes  proposed in  this                                                            
bill would  not affect  air carriers.  The effort  would enable  law                                                            
enforcement  officers  to seize  alcohol  illegally  transported  on                                                            
common carriers.  That option has  not always been available  in the                                                            
past. Subsequent  court proceedings  would  transpire in regards  to                                                            
the forfeiture of the alcohol.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson stated  that  more "concrete"  information  would  be                                                            
desired in  regards to whether  air taxi  service aircraft  could be                                                            
confiscated as a result of these provisions.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green asked whether  this legislation would change existing                                                            
regulations pertaining to "the transporter of the product".                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Captain Harrington  understood that nothing in that  regard would be                                                            
altered.  Any language  in  the bill  pertaining  to transportation                                                             
would  relate  specifically  to  the  transportation   of  alcoholic                                                            
beverages transported  by a common  carrier. There was no  intent to                                                            
affect air taxi services  that transport the alcohol to communities.                                                            
While  privately  owned  aircraft  involved in  the  importation  of                                                            
alcoholic beverages have  been seized, no common aircraft have been.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:32:48 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant  Attorney General, Legal Services Section-                                                            
Juneau,  Criminal  Division,  Department  of Law,  affirmed  Captain                                                            
Harrington's remarks.  "This bill does not change  the definition of                                                            
common carrier for our bootlegging statutes."                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:33:11 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson  understood therefore that "a common  carrier aircraft                                                            
would not be confiscated  even if they knowingly carry  alcohol into                                                            
the villages."                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Carpeneti  stated that this bill  would specifically  allow "the                                                            
alcohol  on common  carriers sent  in violation  of the bootlegging                                                             
laws to be  seized and forfeited."  The bill would not "address  the                                                            
seizure of the aircraft itself".                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:33:46 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson acknowledged.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson asked  for further  explanation of  language in  Sec.                                                            
2(a)(6) page 3, line 3  that reads "or items of value purchased from                                                            
the proceeds".                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     (6) money, securities,  negotiable instruments, or other things                                                            
     of  value used  in financial  transactions  or  items of  value                                                          
     purchased  from the proceeds  derived from actively  prohibited                                                          
     under  AS 04.11.010 or in violation  of a local option  adopted                                                            
     under AS 04.11.491.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     New Text Underlined                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:33:56 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Carpeneti  understood  that the language  would pertain  to such                                                            
things  as  snowmachines  and other  items  that  bootleggers  might                                                            
purchase with the proceeds of their operation.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde asked what proof would be required in those cases.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Carpeneti  responded that like other situations,  evidence would                                                            
be required to  support the claim that the item "was  purchased with                                                            
funds" generated  from bootlegging  operations. The burden  of proof                                                            
must  be supported  by  a  "preponderance  of  evidence in  a  civil                                                            
action."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
In response  to a  comment from  Senator Bunde,  Captain  Harrington                                                            
affirmed  that 994 gallons  of alcohol from  bootleg operations  had                                                            
been seized in 2005.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde calculated  that the  bootleg  profit generated  from                                                            
that amount of alcohol could amount to $300,000.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Captain Harrington thought that would be correct.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
In order  to  better understand  the  profits made  by bootleggers,                                                             
Senator Bunde  asked for  examples of items  that bootleggers  might                                                            
have purchased.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:36:05 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Captain  Harrington  communicated  that  in  his  experience,  "it's                                                            
fairly common  for people  that are involved  in bootlegging  in the                                                            
Rural  communities to  be fairly  wealthy by  community standards."                                                             
Active  bootleggers  typically  spend  "a  lot  of  their  money  on                                                            
conveyances" such as boats,  snowmachines, jet skis, "and other more                                                            
expensive toys".  In a case in Kotzebue, an investigator  followed a                                                            
bootlegger from the airport  where he loaded alcohol into a vehicle,                                                            
then drove  to a beach and loaded  it into a boat to transport  to a                                                            
local option village.  In that case, both the vehicle  and boat were                                                            
seized. When a  search warrant was obtained, brand  new snowmachines                                                            
and other boats  were found. Generally, the interview  process would                                                            
provide  evidence that  the person  had used the  proceeds from  the                                                            
bootlegging  effort  to purchase  that  equipment.  Law enforcement                                                             
officers could  then seize those items  for forfeiture in  the court                                                            
proceeding.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:37:44 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  asked for  an estimate of the  money that might  have                                                            
been generated by bootleg operations in the past year.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:37:55 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr.   Harrington  responded   that   drugs  and   alcohol   totaling                                                            
approximately  one million dollars  had been seized in 2004.  He had                                                            
no individual data specific to alcohol.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:38:45 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson  continued to  question the  language in Sec.  2(a)(6)                                                            
pertaining  to  the process  of  seizing  items purchased  with  the                                                            
proceeds  generated   from  bootlegging   operations,  specifically                                                             
whether a person's house could be confiscated.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Carpeneti  regarded  the  seizing of  a house  as being  "highly                                                            
unlikely" unless  it was "an extreme case where a  bootlegger bought                                                            
a  house solely  from  money  obtained  from  bootlegging  profits."                                                            
Evidence  must be presented  to prove that.  No house has ever  been                                                            
confiscated.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson  stated that the law  in this regard, rather  than the                                                            
practicality  of  such  a  thing  to occur,  was  the  gist  of  his                                                            
question. Continuing, he  asked whether this legislation would allow                                                            
for the confiscation of  a $100,000 home that a person had purchased                                                            
with  the  help of  $10,000  generated  from  the  person's  bootleg                                                            
operation.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Carpeneti  responded that  she did not  believe that that  house                                                            
could be confiscated.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson asked whether that opinion could be confirmed.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Carpeneti  expressed  that the  house would  not be confiscated                                                             
since bootlegging  operations did  not generate the majority  of the                                                            
funding used in the purchase.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson surmised  however that the bill's language would allow                                                            
for someone's house to be confiscated.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Carpeneti  opined  that,   rather  than  it  allowing  for  the                                                            
confiscation  of the house, "it might  allow for confiscation  of an                                                            
interest in the house".                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:40:28 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde concluded  that were a bootlegger with no other source                                                            
of income to purchase a  home, it might "be possible" that that home                                                            
could be forfeited.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Carpeneti  expressed  that  evidence  presented  in  the  court                                                            
proceedings would  have to prove that "all that money  that was used                                                            
to purchase  that house was derived  from illegal transportation  of                                                            
alcohol". She could not recall this ever having happened.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  remarked that were  a person with no other  source to                                                            
purchase  a   snowmachine,  that   machine  could  be  confiscated.                                                             
Therefore, were a person  with no other source of income to purchase                                                            
a house, the house should be treated in the same manner.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green  understood  that  the bill  included  new  language                                                            
through   which  a  person   whose  possessions   were  subject   to                                                            
confiscation could respond and "lay out their case".                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Carpeneti affirmed.  A civil lawsuit would be conducted in which                                                            
the State  must present  burden of  proof and  the accused would  be                                                            
provided  "the opportunity  to make  a defense".  The case would  be                                                            
decided based  on those facts. In other words, forfeiture  would not                                                            
be automatic.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:42:25 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson voiced  being  uncomfortable  with the  broad  powers                                                            
presented in this legislation.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:42:35 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Hoffman   asked  regarding  the  anticipated   increase  in                                                            
convictions that might  transpire as the result of this legislation.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:42:57 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Captain Harrington  was hesitant to  respond as that is an  unknown.                                                            
However, he  allowed that the reduction  of the possession  limit to                                                            
10.5 liters might result  in a few additional cases during the year.                                                            
Overall, he thought  that the increases would not  be "substantial".                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Hoffman stated  that  the purpose  of his  question was  to                                                            
determine  whether this legislation  would  assist "in stemming  the                                                            
flow of alcohol to dry communities".                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Captain  Harrington stated  that lowering  the  possession limit  to                                                            
10.5  liters is  a benefit,  as  it "would  clear  up the  confusion                                                            
between law enforcement  and the Department of Law  and the citizens                                                            
in  general"  because  of the  differences  that  exist  in  current                                                            
Statutes.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Captain Harrington  informed the Committee  that 750 ML bottles  are                                                            
the most commonly  shipped size of  distilled spirits. Reducing  the                                                            
allowable transportation  limit from 12 liters to  10.5 liters would                                                            
result  in  "essentially"   a two  bottle   reduction.  He  did  not                                                            
anticipate this  change to increase law enforcement  arrest numbers.                                                            
Therefore,  the benefit of the legislation  would be the  removal of                                                            
the confusion with the conflicting statutes.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Hoffman   understood,  therefore,  while   the  bill  would                                                            
streamline  statutes, it  might only  result in  three or four  more                                                            
prosecutable  cases. "The vast majority  of the problem would  still                                                            
exist."                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Captain  Harrington affirmed  that while the  bill would  streamline                                                            
statutes,  it  would  result  in fewer  than  "50  additional  cases                                                            
through the course of a year".                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green pointed  out that  the language  in Sec. 2(a)(6)  is                                                            
identical  to  language in  AS  17.30.116,  which pertains  to  drug                                                            
forfeitures.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:45:55 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Hoffman  stated that he has been working on  efforts to stem                                                            
the flow of  alcohol into communities  since the 1980s, and  that he                                                            
would be supporting  this legislation. Continuing,  he stressed that                                                            
there is "no silver bullet"  through which to address the situation.                                                            
The  abuse  of alcohol  "is  a  major  cause of  problems  in  Rural                                                            
Alaska".                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green remarked  "as with many substances that people abuse,                                                            
all the efforts in the  world don't necessarily address the heart of                                                            
the problem  which is the hearts of  people and the minds  of people                                                            
to make better choices."                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  asked Senator Olson whether he would  desire to hold                                                            
the bill in Committee in order to further address his concerns.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:47:04 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson  suggested that  a conceptual  amendment to exclude  a                                                            
person's primary residence  from forfeiture be considered in regards                                                            
to Sec. 2(a)(6).                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Carpeneti amended her  earlier remarks to clarify that a process                                                            
does  currently  exist  in regards  to  the seizure  of  a  person's                                                            
residence  due to a situation  associated  with a marijuana  growing                                                            
operation. As  she was unaware of the outcome of that  case, further                                                            
information on that issue could be provided.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green  ordered the  bill  HELD  in Committee  for  further                                                            
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:49:16 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 237(JUD)                                                                                            
     "An  Act  increasing  the  number   of superior   court  judges                                                            
     designated  for  the third  and  fourth judicial  districts  to                                                            
     provide additional  superior court judges at Anchorage, Palmer,                                                            
     Kenai, and Fairbanks; and providing for an effective date."                                                                
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken moved to  adopt committee  substitute, Version  24-                                                            
GS2077\F as the working document.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
There being no  objection, the Version "F" committee  substitute was                                                            
ADOPTED as the working document.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  pointed out that the  original version of  this bill                                                            
solely addressed  increasing  the number of  superior court  judges.                                                            
The  Version "F"  committee  substitute  would  expand  the bill  to                                                            
address  the compensation  of  justices  and judges.  Currently  the                                                            
salaries of judges are ranked 47th in the nation.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
10:50:32 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SUSAN PARKS, Deputy  Attorney General, Criminal Division,  Office of                                                            
the Attorney  General, Department  of Law,  reviewed the history  of                                                            
the bill. After  visiting various  judges throughout the  State, the                                                            
State's  Attorney General  "was struck by  consistently hearing  how                                                            
the  criminal justice  system  seemed to  be getting  bogged  down."                                                            
Cases were  taking a long time to  get to trail due to insufficient                                                             
amounts  "of judge  time" or  "courtroom  time to  keep the  process                                                            
moving."  The Attorney  General  subsequently  met  with the  Alaska                                                            
Court System,  the Governor's  Office, and  the Commissioner  of the                                                            
Department  of Administration,  who supervises  the Public  Defender                                                            
Agency (PDA)  and the Office  of Pubic Advocacy  (OPA). The  request                                                            
for  additional  Superior  Court  Judges  was  the  result  of  that                                                            
meeting.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks  noted that the  original version  of this bill  requested                                                            
four additional  Superior Court Judges; however the  increase of six                                                            
judges,  as proposed  in Version  "F",  is agreeable  to the  Alaska                                                            
Court System.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Parks noted  that  a multitude  of  factors have  impacted  the                                                            
processing of  criminal cases. Cases have become more  complex, more                                                            
parties  are  involved,  and new  technology  and  increased  expert                                                            
testimony  have  served  to  slow  down  the  pretrial  process.  In                                                            
addition, the number of  crimes being prosecuted has increased. Over                                                            
the past decade, felony  referrals have increased 64-percent whereas                                                            
misdemeanor referrals  have only increased 15-percent.  The increase                                                            
in felony crime  "coupled … with the increased complexity"  involved                                                            
in getting  these cases  to trail"  has contributed  to the  current                                                            
situation.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks noted that the  Palmer Court System has been identified as                                                            
the number  one priority. A "crime  explosion" has accompanied  "the                                                            
population explosion" in  Palmer. In the year 2002, the Palmer Court                                                            
System  experienced  595 felony  referrals;  there  were 869  felony                                                            
referrals in the  year 2005. Caseloads continue to  increase. Due to                                                            
the increase,  night and weekend courts have been  added in order to                                                            
accommodate the caseload.  "Cases are taking an incredible amount of                                                            
time to get to trial."  An increase in bigger and more complex cases                                                            
such  a  homicides  has exacerbated  the  problem.  She  noted  that                                                            
additional  information  could  be  provided.  She also  noted  that                                                            
Anchorage has 279 felony  cases "pending trial, 82 of which are over                                                            
a year old". Of  the total trials pending, 28 are  murder cases. The                                                            
delay  being experienced  is  an indicator  that  "the system  isn't                                                            
serving the public, it isn't serving victims…"                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson, referencing  language  in Sec.  6 page  2, lines  27                                                            
through  31, asked  for further  information  about which  districts                                                            
would be receiving additional judges.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks responded that  "certain areas of the State" have not been                                                            
as affected by  caseload increase as others. The increased  criminal                                                            
load is being experienced in more populated, urban areas.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Hoffman noted  that  during a  recent presentation  to  the                                                            
Legislature, the  State's Chief Justice stated that  even though the                                                            
number of judges  specified for the  Bethel Court District  has been                                                            
increased,  the Court System has been  unable to fill positions  due                                                            
to the salary  being offered. To that  point, he asked whether  that                                                            
issue  would be addressed  by this  legislation,  as otherwise  that                                                            
position  might remain  vacant. The  Bethel Court  has a backlog  of                                                            
cases.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHRIS CHRISTENSEN,  Deputy  Administrative  Director, Office  of the                                                            
Administrative Director,  Alaska Court System agreed "that Bethel is                                                            
a tremendous problem".                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:57:20 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Christensen  stated that the judge position has  been vacant for                                                            
nine months,  and could be vacant  for as long as two years.  Judges                                                            
from  Fairbanks are  currently  on rotation  to Bethel  in order  to                                                            
address the Bethel  cases. In addition, two judges  "have been asked                                                            
to come out of retirement  in order to each spend one or two weeks a                                                            
month  in Bethel.  The  rotation  of judges  "is  not  good for  the                                                            
community."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Christensen   stated  that  the   determination  is   that  the                                                            
difficulty  in hiring a  judge for  the Bethel Court  is due  to the                                                            
salary  being  offered.  "Rural  judges  get  a  dramatically  lower                                                            
geographic adjustment than  any other State employee. The geographic                                                            
adjustment  is so low in  fact that judges  in Rural Alaska  are not                                                            
even the  highest  paid government  lawyers anymore."  For  example,                                                            
last year in Nome,  the local district attorney made  $20,000 a year                                                            
more than the local Superior  Court judge. Until approximately 1990,                                                            
those judges  were paid  the same  as federal  district judges.  Now                                                            
those  State judges  are making  40 percent  less  than the  federal                                                            
judges. This is not conducive to attracting judges to the area.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Christensen   stated  that  this  bill  would  provide   salary                                                            
adjustments  for State judges. While  it would make a State  Supreme                                                            
Court judge's  salary comparable to a federal District  Court judge,                                                            
a State  Superior Court  Judge's salary  would not  be increased  to                                                            
that level.  Nonetheless, the proposed  salary schedule would  "go a                                                            
long way"  to addressing  the issue  not only  in Rural Alaska,  but                                                            
Statewide.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Dyson asked  the  percentage of  a Superior  Court  judge's                                                            
caseload related to civil cases.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Christensen  responded that  approximately  25  percent of  the                                                            
current  caseloads are  felonies,  five percent  relate to  juvenile                                                            
delinquency  matters; "everything  else would  be technically  civil                                                            
cases".  25 percent  of  those would  be family  law  cases such  as                                                            
divorces and custody issues.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:59:52 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  affirmed  that the  Fairbanks  Court  System  does                                                            
support Bethel.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken, voicing  support for the legislation, recalled that                                                            
a similar discussion  had occurred  the previous Session  in regards                                                            
to the  difficulty  in recruiting  State  Department Commissioners.                                                             
Subsequently  the salary  range for those  positions was  increased.                                                            
The issue now  would be to address  judiciary needs. To that  point,                                                            
he would  be "prepared" to  fund this endeavor  by decreasing  other                                                            
operating budget components.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:00:49 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stedman characterized  himself as being "more cautious than"                                                            
Co-Chair Wilken.  In order to better  understand the overall  impact                                                            
of  the   legislation,   he  suggested   that   the  Department   of                                                            
Administration  should provide a fiscal  note pertaining  to the PDA                                                            
and the OPA. The  Department of Public Safety should  also provide a                                                            
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stedman  stated that this  legislation would pertain  to two                                                            
issues:  one being  the increase  in the  number of  judges and  the                                                            
other being  the salary adjustments.  There is "a definite  need for                                                            
the salary adjustments."                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Stedman  stated  that, with  the  adoption  of SB  141  the                                                            
previous Legislative  Session, a determination should  be made as to                                                            
whether  this and  other similar  legislation  would  be subject  to                                                            
actuarial  analyses, as  he anticipated  that the  adoption of  this                                                            
legislation  would impact the State's  retirement system.  The issue                                                            
should  be  addressed  in  order  to  avoid  conflict  with  SB  141                                                            
provisions.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stedman  also voiced concern  in regards to "the  timing" of                                                            
the FY  07 budgets, specifically  the operating  budget.  Additional                                                            
positions  would be  added  when there  are already  several  vacant                                                            
ones. The adoption of this  and similar legislation would impact the                                                            
FY 07  budget. He acknowledged  Co-Chair  Wilken's comment  that the                                                            
funds  needed  for  these  salary  increases  could  be  derived  by                                                            
decreasing funds to other components in the Operating Budget.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:03:23 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Green  asked  whether funding  for  the  Kenai  Courthouse                                                            
expansion was requested in the FY 07 Capital Budget.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Christensen indicated that it was not.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
11:03:58 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks remarked  that the act of increasing the  number of judges                                                            
would not result  in an increase of Court cases. While  the workload                                                            
would not increase,  there would be  additional expenses  associated                                                            
with  the  increase  in the  number  of  courtrooms  that  would  be                                                            
operated. Nonetheless,  there would be an increase  in efficiencies.                                                            
Expenses are  incurred each time a  case is postponed: the  attorney                                                            
must revisit  the information  each time and  witnesses must  be re-                                                            
contacted.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
11:04:50 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Hoffman asked the status of the Courthouse expansions that                                                              
had been authorized the previous year, as he understood that                                                                    
construction costs had increased dramatically.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green confirmed that there "certainly have been cost                                                                   
overruns in the bids". This issue would be re-addressed as the                                                                  
budgets are being developed.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green also noted that the fiscal notes requested by                                                                    
Senator Stedman would be developed and that other matters requiring                                                             
clarification would be addressed.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE 11:06:28 AM / 11:06:37 AM                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green ordered the bill HELD in Committee.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Lyda Green adjourned the meeting at 11:06:43 AM                                                                      

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