Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/23/1994 02:41 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                   SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE                                  
                         March 23, 1994                                        
                           2:41 p.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Robin Taylor, Chairman                                                
 Senator George Jacko                                                          
 Senator Dave Donley                                                           
 Senator Suzanne Little                                                        
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 Senator Rick Halford, Vice-Chairman                                           
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 454(FIN)                                                
 "An Act making a supplemental appropriation to the Department of              
 Law to pay costs of certain continuing legal proceedings; and                 
 providing for an effective date."                                             
 SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 36                                                
 Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska               
 requiring that candidates for governor and candidates for                     
 lieutenant governor receive more than 50 percent of the votes cast            
 to be elected and changing the term of office of the governor and             
 the lieutenant governor.                                                      
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 374(FIN)                                                
 "An Act relating to reimbursable service agreements and other                 
 agreements between state agencies for the purchase of services."              
 SENATE BILL NO. 292                                                           
 "An Act relating to transfers of prisoners under the Interstate               
 Corrections Compact."                                                         
 SENATE BILL NO. 295                                                           
 "An Act relating to financial assistance for certain owners or                
 operators of underground petroleum storage tank systems; and                  
 providing for an effective date."                                             
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 HB 454 - See Judiciary minutes dated 3/21/94.                                 
 SJR 36 - See State Affairs minutes dated 2/17/94 & 3/2/94.                    
 HB 374 - See Judiciary minutes dated 3/21/94.                                 
 SB 292 - No previous action to record.                                        
 SB 295 - See Resources minutes dated 3/9/94.                                  
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
 Jim Baldwin, Assistant Attorney General                                       
 Department of Law                                                             
 P.O. Box 110300                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-0300                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Offered information on HB 454                          
 Senator Tim Kelly                                                             
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Prime Sponsor of SJR 36                                
 Joe Swanson, Director                                                         
 Division of Elections                                                         
 Office of the Lieutenant Governor                                             
 P.O. Box 110017                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-0017                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Neutral on SJR 36                                      
 Randy Welker, Legislative Auditor                                             
 Legislative Audit Division                                                    
 P.O. Box 113300                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-3300                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support of SB HB 374                      
 David Skidmore, Staff to Senator Steve Frank                                  
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Presented overview on SB 292                           
 Michael Stark, Counsel to Department of Corrections                           
 P.O. Box 112000                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-2000                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Offered information on SB 292                          
 Diane Schenker, Special Assistant                                             
 Department of Corrections                                                     
 P.O. Box 112000                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-2000                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Answered questions on SB 292                           
 John Barnett, Executive Director                                              
 Board of Storage Tank Assistance                                              
 410 Willoughby Ave.                                                           
 Juneau, AK 99801                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supports SB 295                                        
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 TAPE 94-23, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN ROBIN TAYLOR  called the Judiciary Committee meeting to             
 order at 2:41 p.m.   He brought  CSHB 454(FIN)  (APPROP: COST OF              
 OIL/GAS LITIGATION) before the committee as the first order of                
 JIM BALDWIN, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law,                   
 explained the legislation is the department's FY 94 supplemental              
 appropriation bill for oil and gas litigation.  He noted this has             
 been a recurring event because of the way the Legislature has                 
 funded the department's oil and gas special litigation budget                 
 request unit.  It has been funded on a half-year basis so that the            
 Legislature can, in the middle of the year, review the progress of            
 their litigation and determine whether the course of their                    
 expenditures are keeping pace with the estimates that have been               
 presented during the budget process.                                          
 Mr. Baldwin directed attention to his letter to the committee dated           
 March 18, which outlines cases under litigation.  He then updated             
 the committee on the status of royalty cases, oil and gas tax                 
 cases, and TAPS cases, and responded to questions from the                    
 committee members on those cases.                                             
 Number 225                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if his interpretation was correct that this is           
 merely a supplemental of approximately $18.5 million, which is just           
 half a year's cost, and the actual cost is $36 million.  MR.                  
 BALDWIN responded that $36 million is the amount they have asked              
 for FY 95.  For FY 94 they have asked for approximately $25                   
 million.  He added the department was funded at the rate of 10.3              
 upfront in the budget, and that money has carried them through                
 about December.  Because of the pace of the litigation, which they            
 are preparing for trial, it has forced the department to request              
 the $18.5 million supplemental.  Because the litigation will be               
 going into its trial phase next year, they are asking for a                   
 substantial increase in FY 95.                                                
 Number 270                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY asked if the expenses for the Department of Law is             
 for state employees or for contracts let out by the department.               
 MR. BALDWIN responded that the most of the money in the                       
 supplemental is for contracts to outside attorneys.  Within that              
 amount are the costs of expert witnesses and other expenses of the            
 litigation.  SENATOR DONLEY then asked what the department has done           
 to comply with the legislative intent that there be increased                 
 oversight over the contracts.  MR. BALDWIN answered that they added           
 a position in the department last year to provide expertise towards           
 contract administration and management.                                       
 Number 327                                                                    
 There being no further testimony on HB 454, SENATOR TAYLOR asked              
 for the pleasure of the committee.                                            
 SENATOR JACKO moved that CSHB 454(FIN) be passed out of committee             
 with individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so             
 Number 336                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR introduced  SJR 36  (GOV & LT GOV MUST RECEIVE 40 %            
 VOTE) as the next order of business.                                          
 SENATOR TIM KELLY, prime sponsor of SJR 36, stated a majority of              
 Alaskans have not elected a governor since 1970, and it doesn't               
 make sense for the state's chief executive not to have the support            
 of at least 40 percent of those voting in an election.  He noted he           
 originally introduced the bill at 50 percent, but it became clear             
 during its first hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee that           
 50 percent would not have a chance of getting a two-thirds vote on            
 both sides, so it was cut back to 40 percent in the State Affairs             
 Senator Kelly said the days of the two-party system are gone with             
 ballot access being what it is, mostly by court decision.  He                 
 believes there has to be some sense of responsibility and                     
 commitment by as close to a majority of the voters that is                    
 practicable to be able to govern.                                             
 Senator Kelly noted that if the legislation passes, it would not go           
 into effect this year; it would be the next gubernatorial election.           
 It would also require enabling legislation changing some of the               
 other statues, but there would be that four-year period to address            
 those changes.                                                                
 Senator Kelly pointed out that the Municipality of Anchorage has a            
 similar provision in the election of their mayor and it has worked            
 Number 400                                                                    
 JOE SWANSON, Director of Elections, stated the division does not              
 have a position on SJR 36.  He added, however, the mechanics of it,           
 the 28 days, would be almost impossible because they do not certify           
 an election, normally, until 26 days after the election.  None of             
 the mechanical problems are insurmountable; they can be done, but             
 he does not think they could make the January 1 deadline for the              
 certification process.  He said 35 days would be more realistic and           
 another 20 days after that to certify the election.  SENATOR KELLY            
 stated he would not object to changing the 28 days to 35 days.                
 Number 480                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR moved that on page 1, line 14, change "28 days" to             
 "35 days."  Hearing no objection, the amendment was adopted.                  
 Number 485                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE moved that SJR 36, as amended, be passed out of                
 committee with individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection,             
 it was so ordered.                                                            
 Number 495                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR brought  CSHB 374(FIN)  (REIMBURSABLE SERVICE                  
 AGREEMENTS) before the committee as the next order of business.               
 RANDY WELKER, Legislative Auditor, Division of Legislative Audit,             
 explained the legislation is the result of an audit conducted last            
 year in the Department of Health and Social Services.  It was found           
 that the commissioner's office used reimbursable service agreements           
 (RSA's) to inappropriately increase the budget for the                        
 commissioner's office.  The legislation will provide some                     
 clarification on what the intended use of an RSA should be by                 
 putting the word "reimbursable" back in reimbursable service                  
 agreements and require the use of them to be based on an actual               
 cost of a service provided.  He added that there are a lot of                 
 legitimate uses for RSA's in acquiring services.                              
 Number 535                                                                    
 There being no further testimony on HB 374, SENATOR TAYLOR asked              
 for the pleasure of the committee.                                            
 SENATOR LITTLE moved that CSHB 374(FIN) be passed out of committee            
 with individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so             
 Number 540                                                                    
 as the next order of business.                                                
 DAVID SKIDMORE, staff to prime sponsor of the legislation Senator             
 Steve Frank, related that in the past the Department of Corrections           
 has considered transferring inmates out of state.  Currently, the             
 department faces severe overcrowding pressures.                               
 Alaska statutes provide two different standards that must be met              
 before inmates may be transferred out of state.  The first standard           
 in AS 33.30.061(b) provides that the department "may transfer                 
 inmates out of state if rehabilitation or treatment of the inmate             
 will not be impaired.   The second standard in AS 33.36.010                   
 provides that the department may not transfer inmates out of state            
 if rehabilitation or treatment of the inmate will be better                   
 facilitated in Alaska.  SB 292 would resolve the two conflicting              
 standards by deleting the second standard and establishing the                
 first standard as the sole test which would have to be met.                   
 Mr. Skidmore noted there is no advocacy or funding association with           
 SB 292; it is simply clarifying statute to give the commissioner of           
 corrections this tool in dealing with overcrowding.                           
 Number 564                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE asked what effect this would have on the Cleary                
 Settlement if the facilities out of state don't have the same                 
 provisions that Alaska has.                                                   
 Number 570                                                                    
 MICHAEL STARK, Counsel to the Department of Corrections, pointed              
 out that under AS 33.30.031, the Department of Corrections has the            
 authority to transfer prisoners out of state.  There is also an               
 independent law, which is known as the Interstate Corrections                 
 Compact and is found in AS 33.36.010, which provides an independent           
 basis for transferring prisoners out of state.  Typically, the                
 Interstate Corrections Compact is used for transferring inmates               
 from a state facility to another state's correctional system.                 
 However, there are other correctional systems that are not state              
 systems, and AS 33.30.031 is broader authority for transferring               
 prisoners whenever there are not adequate state facilities.                   
 TAPE 94-23, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 558                                                                    
 Mr. Stark said the standard that is found in the Interstate                   
 Corrections Compact is a more difficult standard to meet and it is            
 subject to legal challenge.  The point of the bill is that there              
 should only be one standard, and it makes no sense to have a                  
 different standard just because the possible vehicle for                      
 transferring them might be the Interstate Compact.                            
 Mr. Stark pointed out that the statutes provide that wherever they            
 send inmates there has got to be a similar degree of care provided.           
 The terms of the Cleary Settlement, by their own terms, are                   
 restricted to inmates confined in the state in state-run                      
 facilities.  The specific provisions in that settlement don't apply           
 to inmates who are outside the state, however, they must be                   
 provided a similar degree of care.                                            
 Number 543                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR commented that, basically, this is just housekeeping           
 language.  MR. STARK agreed and said the inmates rights are still             
 protected by existing law in 33.30.061.                                       
 Number 527                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY asked if the people who work in corrections have               
 taken a position on the bill.  MR. STARK answered that he didn't              
 know, but, to his knowledge, right now there is no plan for the               
 wholesale transfer of prisoners out of state.  However, there are             
 a number of crime bills before the Legislature and the correctional           
 system is overcrowded.  That resource to transfer them out exists             
 right now under existing law and this would simply clarify the                
 SENATOR DONLEY asked which collective bargaining unit represents              
 the people working in corrections.  DIANE SCHENKER, Special                   
 Assistant, Department of Corrections, answered that they are                  
 represented by ASEA and APEA.  Both of those unions have opposed              
 out-of-state transfers in the past, but the department has not been           
 contacted by its employees or either of the unions on SB 292.                 
 Number 492                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE pointed out that the whole upper floor in the                  
 Wildwood Prison Facility is empty and could be staffed and                    
 utilized.  She asked if there is any movement in the Legislature to           
 fund that facility fully in order to utilize that space.  MS.                 
 SCHENKER answered that there wasn't at this point.  The Governor              
 has requested funding and the department is pursuing every avenue             
 to get funding to open instate beds.  Also, the Governor's amended            
 budget request has also requested money to increase soft bed                  
 facilities for the misdemeanant population.  There is statutory               
 authority for the department to contract for any type of bed in or            
 out of state, but they are not necessarily available.                         
 SENATOR LITTLE stated that she is not willing at this time to fix             
 a statute that has do with sending prisoners outside of the state             
 when there is an existing facility like Wildwood that is not being            
 fully utilized.                                                               
 Number 425                                                                    
 There was no motion to move SB 292 out of committee.                          
 Number 422                                                                    
 OWNERS) before the committee as the final order of business.                  
 JOHN BARNETT, Executive Director of the Board of Storage Tank                 
 Assistance, explained it is an appeal board for the Storage Tank              
 Assistance program, and it works in cooperation with the Department           
 of Environmental Conservation to administer the grant and loan                
 program for regulated underground storage tanks.                              
 Mr. Barnette expressed the board's  and Administration's support              
 for SB 295.                                                                   
 Section 1 clarifies the conditions in which an owner may appeal to            
 the board.  Currently, there is no provision for somebody to appeal           
 if they have been determined completely ineligible by DEC.  This              
 clarifies that the board will mediate the dispute between an owner            
 or operator and the Department of Environmental Conservation.  He             
 noted there are approximately 151 applicants that have been                   
 determined ineligible by DEC at this time, and some of those                  
 ineligibility determinations may be policy calls or what might be             
 considered as misinterpretations of legislative intent.                       
 Addressing Section 2, Mr. Barnett related that right now there are            
 approximately 400 unfunded applications for upgrade or closure.  It           
 was estimated that these applicants would have been taken care of             
 before the cleanup application deadline, which is July 1, 1994.               
 Many of these 400 applicants will not discover contamination until            
 after the deadline has passed.  The provision in Section 2 allows             
 the applicants to still be eligible if they are on the list.                  
 Number 400                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the list still sunsets.  MR. BARNETT                  
 responded that the application period for the cleanup program                 
 sunsets July 1, 1994.                                                         
 Number 377                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY stated his concern that some people get on the list            
 and then try to borrow money from banks or financial institutions             
 because they are on that list and they are going to get money from            
 the state.  MR. BARNETT answered that they did experience that,               
 especially in the early days of the program when they had a lot of            
 banks questioning them as to when applicants would receive money.             
 However, the banks have gotten a little more savvy recently and               
 none of those bank or the Small Business Administration, at this              
 point in time, will provide a loan in conjunction with the state              
 funds unless a grant award has already been issued.  He stated they           
 would support a sunset date for the upgrade and closure program.              
 Number 332                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY moved a conceptual amendment to add a new Section 2            
 that would provide a sunset date of December 31, 1994, which is the           
 same as Section 2 contained in CSHB 513(STA).  Hearing no                     
 objection, the motion carried.                                                
 Number 312                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE moved that SB 295, as amended, be passed out of                
 committee with individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection,             
 it was so ordered.                                                            
 There being no further business to come before the committee, the             
 meeting was adjourned at 3:55 p.m.                                            

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