Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/26/1994 04:15 PM Senate JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                   SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE                                  
                         April 26, 1994                                        
                            4:15 p.m                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Robin Taylor, Chairman                                                
 Senator Rick Halford, Vice-Chairman                                           
 Senator George Jacko                                                          
 Senator Dave Donley                                                           
 Senator Suzanne Little                                                        
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 All members present                                                           
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 319(FIN)                                                
 "An Act relating to the training of law enforcement and corrections           
 officers; to the establishment of surcharges to be assessed for               
 violations of certain traffic offenses; allowing defendants who are           
 unable to pay the surcharge to perform community work; creating the           
 Alaska police standards training fund; and providing for an                   
 effective date."                                                              
 CS FOR HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 43(FIN)                                     
 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Alaska             
 relating to the rights of crime victims.                                      
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 231(FIN)                                                
 "An Act relating to when previous conduct constituting a sexual               
 offense may be used as an aggravating factor at sentencing."                  
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 313(JUD)                                                
 "An Act relating to suspended imposition of criminal sentences and            
 to the imposition of sentence when a suspended imposition of                  
 sentence is revoked."                                                         
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 HB 319 - No previous action to record.                                        
 HJR 43 - See Judiciary minutes dated 11/16/93 and State Affairs               
          minutes dated 3/9/94, 3/21/94, 3/23/94, and 3/28/94.                 
 HB 231 - No previous action to record.                                        
 HB 313 - See State Affairs minutes dated 3/11/94.                             
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Representative Gail Phillips                                                  
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Prime Sponsor of HB 319                                
 Laddie Shaw, Executive Director                                               
 Alaska Police Standards Council                                               
 Department of Public Safety                                                   
 P.O. Box 111200                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-1200                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support of HB 319                         
 C.E. Swackhammer, Deputy Commissioner                                         
 Department of Public Safety                                                   
 P.O. Box 111200                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-1200                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Responded to questions on HB 319                       
 Representative Brian Porter                                                   
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Prime Sponsor of HJR 43                                
 George Dozier, Staff to Representative Pete Kott                              
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Offered information on HB 231 & HB 313                 
 Margo Knuth, Assistant Attorney General                                       
 Criminal Division                                                             
 Department of Law                                                             
 P.O. Box 110300                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811-0300                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Offered information on HB 231 & HB 313                 
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 TAPE 94-42, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN ROBIN TAYLOR  called the Judiciary Committee meeting to             
 order at 4:15 p.m.  He introduced CSHB 319(FIN) (ALASKA POLICE                
 STNDS TRAINING FUND) as the first order of business.                          
 REPRESENTATIVE GAIL PHILLIPS, prime sponsor of HB 319, explained              
 the legislation will do three basic things: (1) it will create an             
 Alaska Standards Training Fund within the general fund; (2) it will           
 provide a source of receipts for the training fund paid for by the            
 violators of certain traffic offenses (moving violations and                  
 driving while intoxicated); and (3) it will allow the Legislature             
 to appropriate each year for the training of law enforcement and              
 corrections officers statewide through the Alaska Police Standards            
 Council.  She commented that training for law enforcement is sorely           
 needed, and, in too many instances, is nonexistent.                           
 Representative Phillips said the $10 and $25 increase to traffic              
 fines shouldn't be construed as a tax, surcharge, user fee, etc.,             
 since the Legislature does not set fine schedules.  The Supreme               
 Court and municipalities raise and adjust bail forfeiture schedules           
 and could do so without giving the Legislature the opportunity to             
 direct where the increase could be used and for what purpose.                 
 The anticipated receipts on only the collectable amounts of the               
 fines would be approximately $700,000 annually.  The delayed                  
 effective dates would allow the court system to implement their new           
 accounting and to amend their bail forfeiture schedules to reflect            
 this proposed increase, as well as allowing municipalities adequate           
 time to prepare in-house accounting systems.                                  
 Representative Phillips noted that there was a proposed Judiciary             
 SCS before the committee, and that she has no objections to the               
 proposed changes.                                                             
 Number 075                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE asked what violations the $10 and $25 fees apply to.           
 LADDIE SHAW, Executive Director of the Alaska Police Standards                
 Council, answered that the $10 fee will be from uniform traffic               
 citations and the $25 fee will be from driving with a revoked                 
 license or driving while intoxicated.                                         
 Number 128                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY asked how much Anchorage will benefit from this                
 training that will be provided.  DEPUTY COMMISSIONER C.E.                     
 SWACKHAMMER, Department of Public Safety, responded that every                
 municipal police department will benefit from the proceeds that go            
 into this training fund, and it will appropriated through the                 
 Alaska Police Standards Council.  He pointed out that the new                 
 committee substitute provides that part of the proceeds will go to            
 the Public Safety Training Academy, which also does training.                 
 SENATOR DONLEY expressed concern that because there are so many               
 people in Anchorage, they end up paying most of the new fees and              
 taxes, but the receipts tend to go out everywhere else at a                   
 disproportionate amount.  He added he would rather see these things           
 paid for through the communities for what services they receive.              
 LADDIE SHAW said Anchorage supplements more of the assessment fee,            
 but that is because of the population base.  The dollars will still           
 be equitably shared by all police officers throughout the state.              
 Number 200                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR moved that SCS CSHB 319(JUD) be adopted.  Hearing no           
 objection, the motion carried.                                                
 SENATOR LITTLE moved that SCS CSHB 319(JUD) be passed out of                  
 committee with individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection,             
 it was so ordered.                                                            
 Number 223                                                                    
 CRIMINAL ADMIN) before the committee as the next order of business.           
 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER, prime sponsor of HJR 43, said the                
 resolution deals with victims rights.  It provides two sections:              
 one dealing with penal administration, which reorders the priority            
 of the considerations of penal administration, and the other                  
 relating to the rights of crime victims.  In the second section               
 dealing with victims' rights, it is taking statutory provisions               
 that exist currently and raising them to the level of the                     
 Number 260                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE asked what the advantage is in putting these rights            
 into the constitution when they are already in statute.                       
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER answered it is to give them equal billing               
 with the constitutional rights of criminal defendants.  Whenever a            
 victim's right, statutory as it is now, comes against a                       
 constitutional right of a criminal defendant, the constitutional              
 right has greater weight.                                                     
 Number 280                                                                    
 SENATOR LOREN LEMAN, Chairman of the Senate State Affairs                     
 Committee, was present to explain changes made in the State Affairs           
 SCS.  The substantive addition in that committee was in Section 1             
 where they added community condemnation, rights of victims of                 
 crimes, and restitution from the offender to the current list of              
 protecting the public and the principle of reformation.                       
 Number 326                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY said the most important question to him is the                 
 question of what kind of impact this would have on existing rights.           
 He also has concern that the language "the Legislature shall                  
 implement" is not a sufficient guideline to accord that the courts            
 would only go so far as the existing statutory language.  He said             
 he preferred the language that was in  SJR 2  (CRIME VICTIM                   
 RIGHTS;CRIM JUSTICE ADMIN) which made several caveats, such as                
 giving the Legislature the authority to define what a crime victim            
 is.  He suggested changing the language at the beginning of Section           
 24 to read "A victim of crime, as defined by law,"...                         
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER voiced concern that by putting more words in,           
 the more words there are to be interpreted, which increases the               
 chances of having varying opinions on what is trying to be said.              
 Number 460                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR said one of his concerns is what happens with the              
 people who perceive themselves to be a victim of a crime, but the             
 prosecutor has decided not to prosecute.  Although there used to be           
 a provision that a private citizen could prosecute his or her own             
 case, that was taken away approximately six years ago.  SENATOR               
 DONLEY pointed out that a private citizen still has the right to              
 make a presentation to a grand jury.                                          
 There was extensive discussion on the statutory definition of                 
 TAPE 94-42, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 120                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE moved the following conceptual amendment on page 1,            
 line 14:  After "Rights of Crime Victims" insert "A victim of                 
 crime, as defined by law, shall have the rights described in this             
 section as provided by law."  Hearing no objection, the amendment             
 was adopted.                                                                  
 SENATOR DONLEY had also suggested that in Section 12 changing the             
 words "penal administration" to "criminal justice," but SENATOR               
 TAYLOR said he wasn't prepared to move on that question because it            
 was a bigger shift than he was willing to take.                               
 Number 140                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE moved that on page 2, line 9, delete the sentence              
 "The legislature shall implement this section."  SENATOR TAYLOR               
 stated his objection of doing so at this point because he thinks it           
 is important to have in the constitution the authorization that the           
 legislature should, in fact, implement the section.  The roll was             
 taken with the following result:  Senators Donley and Little voted            
 "Yea" and Senator Taylor voted "Nay."  The Chairman stated the                
 amendment had failed.                                                         
 Number 181                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR said there was still the question of "penal" versus            
 "criminal," as well as the question of a proposed paragraph (b)               
 regarding assessments against convicted defendants, and he                    
 preferred to hold HJR 43 for a couple of days in order to work on             
 drafting acceptable language.                                                 
 Number 203                                                                    
 FACTORS;SEX CRIMES) before the committee as the next order of                 
 GEORGE DOZIER, staff to Representative Pete Kott, explained the               
 legislation addresses aggravating factors and the presumptive                 
 sentencing of sex criminals.  It has been pointed out by the Alaska           
 Sentencing Commission that there are certain gaps in the coverage             
 of aggravating factors in current statute.  Currently, there is no            
 aggravating factor where a defendant is convicted of sexual abuse             
 of a minor and has previously committed sexual assault against an             
 adult, and HB 231 makes that an aggravating factor.  If the bill              
 becomes law, then any individual that is subject to presumptive               
 sentencing for a sex crime and also committed the same or similar             
 conduct which is a sex crime it will be considered to be an                   
 aggravating factor, whether or not it was against an adult or a               
 Number 273                                                                    
 MARGO KNUTH, Department of Law, said this is a recommendation made            
 by the Alaska Sentencing Commission.  She agreed that there is a              
 loophole in the law and passage of the legislation will close that            
 Number 287                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE moved that CSHB 231(FIN) be passed out of committee            
 with individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so             
 Number 290                                                                    
 SUSPENDED SENTENCES) before the committee as the final order of               
 GEORGE DOZIER, staff to Representative Pete Kott, said the                    
 legislation addresses the subject of suspended impositions of                 
 sentencing.  Currently, sentencing judges have the option of                  
 imposing what is known as a suspended imposition of sentence.  The            
 individual is placed on probation for a period time and reasonable            
 conditions are imposed for that probationary period.  At the                  
 conclusion of the probationary period, if the defendant has                   
 successfully completed his probation and has complied with the                
 conditions, then the court has the option of vacating the judgment            
 against him and never sentencing him.  If, instead, the defendant             
 does not comply with the conditions of his probation, then the                
 court may revoke his probation and sentence him for the underlying            
 crime.  This is used mostly with young defendants and for minor               
 type of offenses.  However, if a judge wants to impose a suspended            
 imposition of sentence for an extremely minor offense, which is               
 what this procedure is designed for, he is limited to a very short            
 span of time that he can place the individual on probation, and               
 this can cause problems.  HB 313 grants the court in class B                  
 misdemeanors the authority to impose a suspended imposition of                
 sentence or to place the individual on probation for a period of up           
 to one year in granting the suspended imposition of sentence.                 
 Number 340                                                                    
 MARGO KNUTH, Department of Law, clarified that it isn't the period            
 of probation - it is the period of time that the SIS can be                   
 granted.  She added that judges, prosecutors and public defenders             
 all agree that they would like to see this change.                            
 Number 358                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE moved that CSHB 313(JUD) be passed out of committee            
 with individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so             
 There being no further business to come before the committee, the             
 meeting was adjourned at 5:35 p.m.                                            

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