Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/23/1994 02:41 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 business. 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 ordered. 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 CS. 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 well. 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 ordered. Number 540 SENATOR TAYLOR introduced SB 292 (INTERSTATE TRANSFERS OF INMATES) ) 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 standard. 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 SENATOR TAYLOR brought SB 295 (GRANTS/LOANS FOR STORAGE TANK 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.