Legislature(1993 - 1994)
05/06/1993 02:35 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE May 6, 1993 2:35 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Robin Taylor, Chairman Senator Rick Halford, Vice-Chairman Senator George Jacko Senator Suzanne Little MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Dave Donley OTHERS PRESENT Representative Fran Ulmer Representative Eldon Mulder Representative Jerry Sanders COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE CS FOR HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 7(HES) Relating to Alcohol-Related Birth Defects Awareness Week. CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 93 (CRA) "An Act relating to the village public safety officers program." CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 187(FIN) am "An Act authorizing the interception of private communications related to the commission of certain criminal offenses; relating to pen registers, trap devices, and communications in electronic storage; amending statutes relating to eavesdropping and wiretapping; relating to the penalty for violation of statutes relating to eavesdropping and unauthorized interception, publication, or use of private communications; and providing for an effective date." HOUSE BILL NO. 160(title am) "An Act relating to the time for filing certain civil actions based on a defect in an improvement to real property; and providing for an effective date." HOUSE BILL NO. 97 "An Act clarifying the responsibilities of the Department of Health and Social Services and parents for children who are committed to the custody of the department and are placed by the department with the parents; and providing for an effective date." CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 119(JUD) am "An Act authorizing a sentencing court to impose a sentence of a day fine instead of a sentence of imprisonment on a defendant convicted of a misdemeanor; directing the Alaska Supreme Court to develop and implement a day fine plan; requiring the Alaska Court System to report to the legislature on the use of day fines; amending Alaska Rule of Criminal Procedure 32; and providing for an effective date." CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 137(JUD) "An Act authorizing special medical parole for terminally ill prisoners." HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 19 Relating to the sale of state royalty gas. HOUSE BILL NO. 170 "An Act extending the termination date of the Board of Marine Pilots." SENATE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 101(L&C) "An Act relating to the adoption of the National Electrical Code and the National Electrical Safety Code." PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION HCR 7 - See HESS minutes dated 3/22/93. HB 93 - NONE HB 187 - NONE HB 160 - See Judiciary minutes dated 4/28/93. HB 97 - See HESS minutes dated 4/14/93 and 4/16/93. See Judiciary minutes dated 4/28/93. HB 119 - NONE HB 137 - See HESS minutes dated 4/21/93. HCR 19 - See Oil & Gas minutes dated 4/27/93. HB 170 - See Labor & Commerce minutes dated 4/22/93. See Judiciary minutes dated 4/28/93. HB 101 - See Labor & Commerce minutes dated 3/23/93 and 4/13/93. See Judiciary minutes dated 4/28/93. WITNESS REGISTER Arthur Snowden, Administrative Director Judicial Branch 303 K Street Anchorage, Alaska 99501-2084 POSITION STATEMENT: No position on HB 187. Supported HB 119. C. E. Swackhammer, Deputy Commissioner Department of Public Safety P.O. Box 111200 Juneau, Alaska 99811-1200 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 187. Elmer Lindstrom, Special Assistant Dept. of Health & Social Services P.O. Box 110601 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0601 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 97. Judy Jordan, Aide Representative Gail Phillips State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HCR 19. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 93-55, SIDE A Number 001 Chairman Robin Taylor called the Judiciary Committee meeting to order at 2:35 p.m. SENATOR TAYLOR introduced HCR 7 (ALCOHOL-RELATED BIRTH DEFECTS AWARENESS) to committee. The prime sponsor is REPRESENTATIVE IRENE NIICHOLIA. SENATOR HALFORD moved to pass SENATE CS FOR HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 7(HES) from committee with individual recommendations. Without objections, so ordered. SENATOR TAYLOR introduced HB 93 (VILLAGE PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICERS PROGRAM) to committee. The prime sponsor is REPRESENTATIVE RICHARD FOSTER. SENATOR HALFORD moved to pass CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 93(CRA) from committee with individual recommendations. Without objections, so ordered. SENATOR TAYLOR introduced HB 187 (INTERCEPTION OF PRIVATE COMMUNICATIONS) to committee by request of the Governor. SENATOR HALFORD moved to pass CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 187(FIN) am from committee with individual recommendations. SENATOR LITTLE asked if there had been a hearing on this bill, and SENATOR TAYLOR asked for any discussion on the bill at this time. SENATOR LITTLE asked for an explanation of the bill. SENATOR JACKO asked about the legality of wire tapping, and SENATOR TAYLOR explained it was presently legal for one party of the conversation to tape the other party. He said, for surveillance purposes, there was some significant standards that have been set by the courts in the Glass decision. SENATOR TAYLOR called on ARTHUR SNOWDEN, Administrator of the Court System to answer the question. MR. SNOWDEN said the court system has not taken a position on the bill, but he knew it incorporated many of the federal protections in the state wire tapping law. He explained it would allow wire tapping under certain circumstances. SENATOR TAYLOR next called on C. E. SWACKHAMMER, Deputy Commission of Public Safety, to testify. MR. SWACKHAMMER offered to answer questions. SENATOR TAYLOR asked how the Glass decision affected wire tapping in Alaska and how the process would be handled. Number 081 MR. SWACKHAMMER explained the Glass decision applies to a warrant, called a Glass Warrant, which is now required for undercover purposes in recording testimony. He said the law would allow Public Safety to actually tap into monitor phone calls under very strict guidelines. MR. SWACKHAMMER explained these guidelines gave a very limited time frame, reporting procedures, and the criteria for getting the warrant in the first place. He further explained the reporting procedures during the process of the wire tapping and recording. He said they only do about two per year because of the labor intensive nature of the procedure. SENATOR LITTLE asked what new costs were reflected in the fiscal note. MR. SWACKHAMMER said it reflects about $20 thousand the first year in equipment needed to affect the wiretap, some travel, but the majority of the money is paid in overtime. He said there would be no new positions, but the duties would be expanded to include transcription. In addition, he said there would be a need for interpreters where foreign languages are involved. There being no objections, CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 187(FIN) am (INTERCEPTION OF PRIVATE COMMUNICATIONS) passed from committee. SENATOR HALFORD moved to adopt CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 160 (8- LSO627\J). Number 141 SENATOR LITTLE asked for a clarification on the changes proposed in the committee substitute. SENATOR TAYLOR said it was a similar amendment as one added to the senate bill, along with a clarification amendment by MIKE FORD, who drafted the amendment. He explained the amendments as dealing with latent risks of invisible defects in a building and shared responsibility in the statute of limitations. There was a clarifying discussion on these amendments. SENATOR TAYLOR here being no objections, CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 160(JUD) was adopted. SENATOR HALFORD moved to pass SENATE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 160(JUD) (LIABILITY OF DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION PROFESSIONALS) from committee with individual recommendations. It is accompanied by a resolution for a title change. There was objection from SENATOR LITTLE. The bill passed on a 3-1 vote. SENATOR TAYLOR returned HB 97 (PARENTAL CARE FOR CHILD IN STATE CUSTODY) to committee and invited ELMER LINDSTROM, Special Assistant to the Department of Health & Social Services, to testify. MR. LINDSTROM explained the bill, introduced by House HESS Committee at the request of the department, was a housekeeping measure made necessary by a court decision in 1991 which would change the way the department has always done business. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the department must pay for the medical costs of children in state custody even though the children live with their parents. He explained the decision might hold the state responsible for substantial costs such as food, shelter, and education. He said the bill addresses the court decision. Number 228 SENATOR LITTLE asked if the parent's relative need was considered in the bill. MR. LINDSTROM said a family in need would be eligible to apply for any of the other public assistance programs and have no effect on those families already on public assistance. SENATOR HALFORD moved to pass HOUSE BILL NO. 97 from committee with individual recommendations. Without objections, so ordered. SENATOR TAYLOR introduced CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 119(JUD) am (AUTHORIZE USE OF DAY FINES IN MISDEMEANOR CASES) and invited the sponsor, REPRESENTATIVE FRAN ULMER, to testify. REPRESENTATIVE ULMER reviewed the work of the Sentencing Commission to relieve prison overcrowding and the high cost of our prison system. She said one of the recommendations was the day fine idea embodied in HB 119, and she explained some background information on the successful use of day fines by other states; however,it has not been used previously in Alaska. REPRESENTATIVE ULMER explained judges, in misdemeanor cases, would have an additional sentencing option for those cases for which the judges feel it would be appropriate. A day fine is a percentage of daily income, and she explained it as a sliding scale approach to paying a fine. She reminded the committee there were over 2000 misdemeanants waiting to do time in the State of Alaska. She explained how it would relieve prison overcrowding and increase the fines paid to the State of Alaska. SENATOR LITTLE clarified the bill would apply mostly to lower class misdemeanors, and REPRESENTATIVE ULMER explained it would apply to only those misdemeanors that were considered non-person crimes - only property crimes. Number 273 SENATOR TAYLOR introduced HB 137 (PAROLE OF TERMINALLY ILL PRISONERS) and invited the sponsor, REPRESENTATIVE ELDON MULDER, to testify. REPRESENTATIVE MULDER explained his bill was also an outgrowth of recommendations from the Sentencing Commission and related to special medical parole for terminally ill inmates. He quoted the Department of Corrections as asking for this useful tool to be used by the parole board. He referred to the stipulation in the bill that the use of the allowance would not be used if it would diminish the crime or the parole board thought the inmate was a risk to society. REPRESENTATIVE MULDER explained the present practice in regards to ill inmates with the state picking up 100% of the cost, but a special medical parole would allow Medicare or Medicaid to pick up the cost. He thought the issue was doubly important with AIDS in the inmate population, and he said there were six identified HIV positive cases within the prison community, although it might be higher. SENATOR LITTLE clarified it would only be used in a few cases, and REPRESENTATIVE MULDER agreed it would only be used in very special cases. SENATOR JACKO moved to pass CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 137(JUD) from committee with individual recommendations. Without objections, so ordered. SENATOR TAYLOR called on MR. SNOWDEN, who wished to testify on HB 119 (AUTHORIZE USE OF DAY FINES IN MISDEMEANOR CASES). MR. SNOWDEN, Administrative Director for the Court System, explained that the Court System, apart from the Sentencing Commission, had been working on the concept of day fines and has produced a large report on their findings. He indicated day fines were being used in many European Countries, and many states were using day fines for 70% of their crimes. MR. SNOWDEN said, if the judges were not able to use day fines, there will be tremendous jail problems. He explained it helped the poor and rural in Alaska. He said the rich would pay and big fines would not be assigned to poor people who can't afford them. MR. SNOWDEN explained presently the Sixth & C Street jail, which is for misdemeanors, has been closed four times in the last month. He said the judges of this state are frustrated and want to be able to use the jail facilities for truly violent people. He said it will take about a year for the judges to put the day fine system together, and if it doesn't pass this year, it would be two more years before there could be any relief. In his final plea, MR. SNOWDEN stressed it was something needed by the judges to stop the overcrowding of the jails. SENATOR LITTLE move to pass CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 119(JUD) am from committee with individual recommendations. Without objections, so ordered. SENATOR TAYLOR introduced HCR 19 (ENCOURAGE SALE OF STATE ROYALTY GAS) and invited JUDY JORDAN, to testify for the sponsor, REPRESENTATIVE GAIL PHILLIPS. Number 348 MS. JORDAN urged the legislators to reaffirm their positive support for the sale of the North Slope royalty gas. She explained the sale of this gas would add several hundred million dollars to the state's annual revenues, and provide a tremendous job and economic stimulus consistent with the construction and operation of a multi-billion transportation link. She provided some history on the sale of liquified natural gas from the Kenai Peninsula said REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS was pleased to encourage the extension of trade to Japan. MS. JORDAN quoted REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS as saying, "... we are in the position to help balance the energy trade, and the environmental imperatives of the Pacific Rim." (Nothing more was done on the bill at this time, as there was no quorum.) SENATOR TAYLOR introduced HB 170 (EXTEND BOARD OF MARINE PILOTS) and invited the sponsor, REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS, to testify. MR. SANDERS read his Sponsor's Statement which affirmed the importance of the marine pilots to the safe and economical seaborne commerce in Alaska. He said the bill would extend the Board of Marine Pilots from June 30, 1994 to June 30, 1998, and he gave some historical significance to the board, which was organized to protect the state's interest in the life, property, environment, and efficient flow of water borne commerce for the State of Alaska. REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS describe the composition of the board, the establishment of qualifications, the required training for pilots, the examination of the pilots, and the issuance of licenses to qualified persons. He urged the extension of the board because of the competitive nature of shipping in Alaska these days through setting tariffs and implementing regulations in the interest of safety and commerce. (Nothing more was done on the bill at this time, as there was no quorum.) SENATOR TAYLOR called HB 101 (NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CODE) sponsored by the House Labor & Commerce Committee, to explain the bill would bring Alaska into compliance with current and existing codes across the United States. He also explained it would be important to the Department of Labor in their ability to regulate the safety and health of the National Electrical Safety Code. (Nothing more was done on the bill at this time, as there was no quorum.) There being no further business to come before the committee, the meeting was adjourned at 3:10 p.m.