Legislature(2007 - 2008)BUTROVICH 205

03/29/2007 03:30 PM JUDICIARY


Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ SB 110 PUBLIC PENSION FORFEITURE FOR BRIBERY ETC TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ SB 92 LIMITED LICENSE IGNITION INTERLOCK TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled But Not Heard
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
= SB 78 MOTOR VEHICLE WINDOW TINTING
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 29, 2007                                                                                         
                           3:34 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Hollis French, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Senator Bill Wielechowski                                                                                                       
Senator Lesil McGuire                                                                                                           
Senator Gene Therriault                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 110                                                                                                             
"An Act  denying public employee  retirement pension  benefits to                                                               
legislators,  legislative  directors,  and  public  officers  and                                                               
employees who commit  certain offenses, and adding  to the duties                                                               
of  the Alaska  Retirement Management  Board and  to the  list of                                                               
matters governed  by the Administrative Procedure  Act concerning                                                               
that denial."                                                                                                                   
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 78                                                                                                              
"An  Act  relating  to  the installation  of  window  tinting  in                                                               
automobiles."                                                                                                                   
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 92                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to ignition  interlock requirements; relating to                                                               
limited  driver's license  privileges  for  persons convicted  of                                                               
driving  while  under the  influence  of  an alcoholic  beverage,                                                               
inhalant, or  controlled substance and requiring  certain persons                                                               
to utilize  ignition interlock devices  to qualify for  a limited                                                               
driver's license;  relating to probation for  driving while under                                                               
the influence  of an alcoholic beverage,  inhalant, or controlled                                                               
substance,  and  refusal  to  submit  to  a  chemical  test;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB 110                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: PUBLIC PENSION FORFEITURE FOR BRIBERY ETC                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) THERRIAULT                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
03/07/07       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/07/07       (S)       JUD, STA, FIN                                                                                          
03/29/07       (S)       JUD AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB  78                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: MOTOR VEHICLE WINDOW TINTING                                                                                       
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) FRENCH                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
02/09/07       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/09/07       (S)       TRA, JUD                                                                                               
03/06/07       (H)       TRA AT 1:30 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
03/06/07       (S)       Moved SB  78 Out of Committee                                                                          
03/06/07       (S)       MINUTE(TRA)                                                                                            
03/07/07       (S)       TRA RPT  1DP 3NR                                                                                       
03/07/07       (S)       DP: KOOKESH                                                                                            
03/07/07       (S)       NR: WIELECHOWSKI, WILKEN, COWDERY                                                                      
03/14/07       (S)       JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/14/07       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/14/07       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
03/22/07       (S)       JUD AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/22/07       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/22/07       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Kathy Lea, Retirement Manager                                                                                                   
Division of Retirement & Benefits                                                                                               
Department of Administration                                                                                                    
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:   Answered questions related to SB 110                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Daniel Wayne, Attorney                                                                                                          
Legislative Legal and Research Services Division                                                                                
Legislative Affairs Agency                                                                                                      
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:   Commented on the legal opinion he issued                                                                
regarding provisions in SB 110                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Officer Steve Dunn                                                                                                              
Anchorage Police Department                                                                                                     
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Spoke in support of SB 78                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Lt. Rodney Dial                                                                                                                 
Alaska State Troopers                                                                                                           
Department of Public Safety                                                                                                     
Ketchikan, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION   STATEMENT:     Delivered  a   PowerPoint  presentation                                                             
supporting SB 78                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  HOLLIS   FRENCH  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to order at 3:34:34  PM. Present at the call to                                                             
order  were  Senator  Therriault, Senator  Wielechowski,  Senator                                                               
Huggins,  and  Chair  French.  Senator  McGuire  arrived  shortly                                                               
thereafter.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
        SB 110-PUBLIC PENSION FORFEITURE FOR BRIBERY ETC                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
3:35:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH announced the consideration of SB 110.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT, Sponsor, explained  that SB 110 would require                                                               
pension forfeiture  for a public  officer who had  been convicted                                                               
of  a  felony  crime  of  public  corruption.  According  to  the                                                               
National  Conference  of  State   Legislatures,  13  states  have                                                               
constitutional provisions  to deny  pension benefits to  a public                                                               
official or legislator who has  been convicted of a crime related                                                               
to execution  of his/her public  duties. Congress  is considering                                                               
similar  legislation.   Because  the  state  has   a  substantial                                                               
interest in  maintaining the public's  trust in  government, this                                                               
provision should be  considered, he stated. The  process would be                                                               
established  through  regulation  so   as  to  give  considerable                                                               
latitude to the executive.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT said  that  the  major constitutional  issues                                                               
that  legislative legal  highlighted have  been addressed.  Those                                                               
include the provision in Article  XII, Section 7, which says that                                                               
state retirement  and benefits shall  not be  diminished; Article                                                               
I,  Section  1, which  says  equal  rights shall  be  guaranteed;                                                               
Article  I,  Section  12,  which   prohibits  cruel  and  unusual                                                               
punishment; and Article  I, Section 15, which  says no conviction                                                               
shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  continued  to  explain that  when  a  public                                                               
official  is convicted  of a  federal  or state  felony crime  of                                                               
bribery, receiving  a bribe,  perjury, subordination  of perjury,                                                               
scheme to defraud or fraud, the  pension that is accrued from the                                                               
date of offense  forward would be surrendered.  He clarified that                                                               
it's  the  state  contribution  that is  forfeited  and  not  the                                                               
individual   employee  contribution.   Furthermore,  the   felony                                                               
offense would  have to have  been committed in connection  to the                                                               
duties of the  office and the conviction must be  proven beyond a                                                               
reasonable doubt. The pension benefits  accrued prior to the date                                                               
of the crime  are not to be diminished and  the benefits that are                                                               
subject to  forfeiture do not  include insurance,  voluntary wage                                                               
deductions, supplemental  or health  benefits, or things  such as                                                               
401-K rollovers that may have been transferred to the pension.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  explained  that  administration  of  pension                                                               
forfeiture would  be added  to the ARM  Board duties.  That board                                                               
would hear appeals of the  forfeitures, which would include a due                                                               
process   appeal  right.   Under  the   evidence  rules   in  the                                                               
Administrative Procedures  Act, the  state would have  the burden                                                               
of proving the  case through a preponderance of  the evidence. In                                                               
the  event  of multiple  convictions,  the  earlier or  whichever                                                               
crime is proven  would be the one forfeited. The  ARM Board would                                                               
have the option  of paying all or some of  the forfeited benefits                                                               
to a spouse or former spouse  after considering a totality of the                                                               
circumstances. A notice provision is  added to all employees that                                                               
if they  are convicted of  such a crime  they will be  subject to                                                               
this provision.  Ex post  facto is also  addressed by  making the                                                               
provision subject to  crimes committed on or  after the effective                                                               
date of the act.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:40:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  FRENCH  questioned  who  is  charged  with  enforcing  the                                                               
provision.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT suggested that  the committee consider whether                                                               
it wants  notice to be  sent to the  ARM Board or  another entity                                                               
after the  public official  is convicted,  which would  start the                                                               
process.  He knows  of one  state  where the  pension stops  when                                                               
there's an  allegation. That  might not  be allowed  or desirable                                                               
here and he's open to suggestions.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH  asked if  this affects  both the  PERS and  the SBS                                                               
accounts.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT said  it would  definitely involve  the state                                                               
contribution  to  PERS,  but  there's an  issue  with  regard  to                                                               
whether  SBS can  be included.  "The way  the bill  operates it's                                                               
specifically to the PERS account."                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH asked what the issue is with respect to SBS.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT explained  that public  employees don't  make                                                               
Social  Security   contributions  under  an  SBS   provision,  so                                                               
incorporating SBS would lead to complications.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  FRENCH  asked  if  SBS  is  the  state  analog  to  social                                                               
security.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT said that's correct.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS asked if this would apply to 403(b) under TRS.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT noted that his  staff indicated it would apply                                                               
to TRS employees.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH  asked if a  public officer would contribute  to TRS                                                               
adding  that  that brings  up  the  issue  of the  definition  of                                                               
"public officer."                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:44:57 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT  highlighted the  following issues  that might                                                               
be addressed  in a CS:  1)the definition of  "convicted" requires                                                               
clarification with  regard to  when to  start the  process. 2)the                                                               
need to affect  the service time under the  defined benefits plan                                                               
and  allow  for  direct  refund to  the  employee's  contribution                                                               
during the  service time that's  no longer valid. 3)the  need for                                                               
clarity regarding the term "dependent"  because under the current                                                               
PERS  system the  spouse or  former spouse  has a  right but  not                                                               
dependent  children. 4)page  2, line  9 after  "fraud" there's  a                                                               
suggestion to insert "or offense  with similar elements." 5)add a                                                               
right to appeal  by an administrative law judge  because it might                                                               
be less costly.  6)the ARM Board decision may be  appealed to the                                                               
office  of  administrative  hearings.  7)decide  whether  to  use                                                               
"public officer" or  "public official" and whether  to add judges                                                               
or not.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:47:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked  if this would only apply  to Tiers I,                                                               
II, and III.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT replied  it would also apply to  people in the                                                               
new   defined  contribution   plan  in   Tier  IV.   The  state's                                                               
contribution would  still be at issue  from the point of  the bad                                                               
act, he stated.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  questioned whether there might  be an equal                                                               
protection issue  comparing the potential forfeiture  under Tiers                                                               
I, II, and III with Tier IV.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  said  there  is  an issue  in  the  way  the                                                               
contributions are made,  but he isn't sure  it's equal protection                                                               
because you can't take away something the person doesn't have.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:48:51 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR McGUIRE joined the meeting.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
KATHY  LEA,   Retirement  Manager,   Division  of   Retirement  &                                                               
Benefits, Department  of Administration,  said it will  be easier                                                               
to implement  this bill under  the new defined  contribution plan                                                               
(DCR). Because  it's a straight  money plan  it would be  easy to                                                               
remove  the  employer  contributions  from the  account.  It's  a                                                               
little more  difficult under  the old  defined benefit  plan (DB)                                                               
because the benefits are dependent  on the service that's accrued                                                               
and  the  salary that's  earned  rather  than the  contributions.                                                               
"Simply  removing the  employer contributions  from the  member's                                                               
account will not  change the amount of benefits  they receive, it                                                               
will simply reduce the funding for the benefit," she cautioned.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT explained  that to  bring as  much parity  as                                                               
possible  the  bill would  need  amendment  so that  the  accrued                                                               
service days  would not accrue  to the defined  benefit employee.                                                               
That's the only way to decrease their benefit, he stated.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  FRENCH asked  how  it would  work  for him  as  a Tier  II                                                               
employee.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. LEA  explained that  he makes a  6.7 percent  contribution to                                                               
the  account  each pay  period  and  the  employer also  makes  a                                                               
contribution on his behalf.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH asked if it's the same percentage.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  LEA said  no; it  changes every  year due  to the  actuarial                                                               
valuation,  which is  required under  the  defined benefit  plan.                                                               
Under the DCR plan it's a set amount.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH commented  that the DCR contribution  looks like the                                                               
SBS  contribution  because  it's  a  mathematical  addition  each                                                               
month.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. LEA said yes.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH  added that for  the DB plan  it's not a  set dollar                                                               
addition each month.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. LEA added that for the  DB plan the actuarial determined rate                                                               
is done once a year and  the employer pays that rate, which funds                                                               
benefits  for that  year  and  any past  service  costs that  the                                                               
employer may  have incurred. The  employer pays that  amount each                                                               
pay period for that particular fiscal year.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:52:25 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  McGUIRE  asked the  sponsor  why  he chose  this  fairly                                                               
complicated approach  instead of imposing a  monetary penalty for                                                               
someone who committed a crime of  the sort described. If the goal                                                               
is to send a message and  punish someone for abusing their public                                                               
office then impose a half million  dollar penalty. This is just a                                                               
bit of political  rhetoric that looks good but does  it really do                                                               
any  good, she  asked. There's  also  the issue  of the  innocent                                                               
people who  are also entitled  to those benefits. What  about the                                                               
innocent wife or husband or children?                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT said  he didn't  know if  the scope  could be                                                               
narrowed to  just the  public official you're  trying to  keep on                                                               
the straight and narrow.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR McGUIRE  pointed out that police  officers are prohibited                                                               
from using color  of title to their personal  benefit or monetary                                                               
gain. She  noted that  the committee heard  a bill  recently that                                                               
established  that if  a police  officer  uses color  of title  to                                                               
commit murder  then the  penalty will be  life in  prison. That's                                                               
different than for private citizens, she stated.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT compared someone who  committed a bad act last                                                               
week to someone who committed a bad act ten years ago.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR McGUIRE said she gets  his point and everyone understands                                                               
what's going on in Alaska  politically. Think about it, she said.                                                               
If you're really trying to get at  the person who did the bad act                                                               
why go through  the pension plan when that's often  the one thing                                                               
that  will   be  a   family  safety-net.   Make  the   bad  actor                                                               
individually responsible, she stated.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT said  if the half million  dollar penalty came                                                               
out of his joint checking  account it wouldn't necessarily be any                                                               
less burden to  his wife and family. He  reiterated that thirteen                                                               
other states  have this type  of law and Congress  is considering                                                               
federal  legislation.  Although  there   is  some  complexity  in                                                               
setting this up,  retirement and benefits has said  it can handle                                                               
it.  He hopes  it would  be used  infrequently, but  it would  be                                                               
there to  assure the  public that public  officials will  stay on                                                               
the straight and narrow.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:57:49 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  McGUIRE asked  which  section  contains provisions  that                                                               
protect innocent family members.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT directed  attention to  Section 5(d),  page 2                                                               
line 22. He  read the section and suggested an  amendment to also                                                               
include former  spouse. "We  do need  to make  it clear  that the                                                               
existing spouse or  a former spouse may have…a right  to that and                                                               
they  would  go to  the  ARM  Board  to…assert their  right,"  he                                                               
stated.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR McGUIRE  took issue with  paragraph (2) on page  2, lines                                                               
29-30, which  relates to a  dependent or former  spouse profiting                                                               
financially.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT said that is one  of a list of things that the                                                               
ARM Board would take into consideration.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR McGUIRE said that's fair,  but she needs a definition for                                                               
"profited financially."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  said the  intent  is  that the  board  would                                                               
consider whether the act involved more than just the employee.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR McGUIRE  pointed out  that paragraph  (1) says  that, but                                                               
paragraph (2) does not.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  suggested  working   with  the  drafters  to                                                               
clarify a more of a direct link between the two paragraphs.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  McGUIRE stated  that "To  the degree  that this  is your                                                               
political sound bite, I'll vote for it."                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT  clarified that it  is not his intent  to wave                                                               
this bill around. It's existing law  in other states and it's not                                                               
targeted at anybody. It's only prospective.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:02:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH noted the lengthy  legal opinion Mr. Wayne issued on                                                               
March 12 and  asked him to touch on the  four points with respect                                                               
to constitutionality.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
DANIEL WAYNE,  Attorney, Legislative Legal and  Research Services                                                               
Division, said  item 1  talks about  Article XII,  sec. 7  of the                                                               
Constitution  of  the  State  of Alaska.  SB  110  does  diminish                                                               
accrued  benefits,  but  only  after the  date  of  the  criminal                                                               
offense. The argument  is that those benefits are  tainted by the                                                               
offense. It  comes down to  a balancing  test and his  opinion is                                                               
that  the  state's  interest  in   maintaining  public  trust  in                                                               
government  is   substantial.  With  regard  to   limits  on  the                                                               
forfeiture,  he   believes  that  when  the   court  applies  the                                                               
balancing test it would favor the state.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Item  2   deals  with  equal   rights,  which   the  constitution                                                               
guarantees. Noting that  the definition of public  officers in AS                                                               
39.52 is a  very large group, he  said these people are  put in a                                                               
special class that denies them  something that everyone else in a                                                               
similar circumstance  would be allowed  to have. That  raises the                                                               
equal protection issue  so the court would apply a  high level of                                                               
scrutiny to  that. Ultimately he  believes the court  would favor                                                               
the state. However, there is  an issue with respect to collective                                                               
bargaining agreements  and state  employees, he said.  If there's                                                               
an agreement in effect and an  employee is covered by it, then he                                                               
doesn't believe the  court would uphold pension  forfeiture if it                                                               
conflicted  with   the  agreement.   When  a  new   agreement  is                                                               
negotiated  then   it  would  be  consistent   with  the  pension                                                               
forfeiture law and the court would allow it.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:07:00 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  noted the  different classes of  people and                                                               
commented that under the current  structure two people who commit                                                               
the same offense  could be treated very differently.  He asked if                                                               
he'd looked into the potential for equal protection issues.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WAYNE acknowledged  that there  are equal  protection issues                                                               
but overall  the idea of  pension forfeiture creates  a situation                                                               
where there  could be very  different loss amounts.  It's totally                                                               
unrelated  to the  degree of  misconduct or  other things  that a                                                               
court  takes into  consideration in  a criminal  case. He  opined                                                               
that there is  an imbalance, but it  isn't unconstitutional. It's                                                               
a public policy issue.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:09:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH asked him to touch on cruel and unusual punishment.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WAYNE advised  that the  court  could find  that a  person's                                                               
right to  a pension  is outweighed  by the  governmental interest                                                               
that's  at  stake.  This  is  a civil  thing  that's  not  really                                                               
directly part  of the criminal  case and  I think that  the cruel                                                               
and  unusual  punishment  prohibition   mostly  has  to  do  with                                                               
criminal matters, he stated.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH asked  him to comment on point 4,  which states that                                                               
"No conviction  shall work corruption  of blood or  forfeiture of                                                               
estate."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WAYNE   explained  that  stands   for  the   principle  that                                                               
punishment for  a crime shouldn't  reach beyond the  offender and                                                               
shouldn't  affect  the right  to  property  that's been  acquired                                                               
legitimately. The bill addresses that  by allowing some or all of                                                               
the forfeited benefits to be awarded to an innocent party.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:11:54 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS  asked the sponsor  to explain what page  2, line                                                               
12 really means.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT explained it  says that all contributions that                                                               
are  made  before the  offense  that  the  person was  tried  and                                                               
convicted   for   are  not   impacted.   It's   only  the   state                                                               
contributions from the date of the bad act forward.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:13:04 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH announced he would hold SB 110 in committee.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
              SB  78-MOTOR VEHICLE WINDOW TINTING                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:14:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  announced the consideration  of SB 78.  He reminded                                                               
members  of the  amendment made  during the  last hearing,  which                                                               
reduced  the  offense  from  a   misdemeanor  to  an  infraction-                                                               
essentially  a  traffic  ticket.  Additional  packet  information                                                               
included  a supporting  letter from  the Fairbanks  police chief,                                                               
and three  news articles reporting  a shooting and  two accidents                                                               
that related to window tinting.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:15:25 PM                                                                                                                    
OFFICER STEVE  DUNN, Traffic  Unit, Anchorage  Police Department,                                                               
stated  that  tinting  is  a huge  officer  safety  concern  when                                                               
approaching a stopped vehicle and he absolutely supports SB 78.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:16:52 PM                                                                                                                    
RODNEY DIAL,  Alaska State Troopers.,  said the  troopers support                                                               
SB 78 and  the current window tinting standards in  the state. He                                                               
delivered a  PowerPoint presentation giving an  overview of state                                                               
and federal law as well as  examples of window tints. He made the                                                               
following points:                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
   · Current law allows the front window to have a five inch                                                                    
     strip of tint on the top of the windshield.                                                                                
   · The front driver and passenger windows must allow 70                                                                       
     percent of the light to pass through the glass, which is in                                                                
     accordance with federal law.                                                                                               
   · All rear windows must allow 40 percent light transmittance                                                                 
     with exemptions for certain special-use vehicles, which                                                                    
     must comply with federal law.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH asked what a special-use vehicle is.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
LT. DIAL said those include limousines, SUVs, and pickup trucks.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT pointed out that  the Subaru station wagon and                                                               
the Subaru  Forrester are practically  the same vehicle,  but the                                                               
Forrester  is classified  as  an  SUV so  it  has very  different                                                               
tinting requirements.  To a certain  extent the rules  don't make                                                               
any sense, he said.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked Lt.  Dial if  he knows  the rationale                                                               
for the difference between SUVs and other cars.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
LT. DIAL said  his understanding is the Alaska law  is made to be                                                               
similar to federal law.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS asked  for an example of  a multipurpose vehicle.                                                               
He asked  if it would be  like the difference between  an Outback                                                               
and a Forrester.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
LT. DIAL said that's our  understanding. As enforcement officers,                                                               
the windows  we concentrate on are  the ones where the  driver is                                                               
going to be able  to see other people and we will  be able to see                                                               
the driver, he stated.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  FRENCH  commented  that from  an  enforcement  perspective                                                               
officers have  to be able to  tell the difference between  an SUV                                                               
and a passenger car and to know that different rules apply.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LT.  DIAL agreed.  He continued  the PowerPoint  presentation and                                                               
made the following points:                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
   · Federal law doesn't specify light transmission requirements                                                                
    for privately owned vehicles after they're manufacture.                                                                     
   · Federal law regulates commercial vehicles.                                                                                 
   · At least 13  other states have similar,  or more restrictive                                                               
     laws.                                                                                                                      
   · 90  percent  of  Canadian  provinces have  similar  or  more                                                               
     restrictive laws.                                                                                                          
   · Most of the  United Kingdom has similar  or more restrictive                                                               
     laws.                                                                                                                      
   · Five  states allow  50 percent  light transmittance  through                                                               
     the front side  windows and 31 states allow a  range from 20                                                               
     percent to 40 percent. Generally  the hotter the climate the                                                               
     darker the tint allowed.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LT. DIAL  clarified that  more restrictive  laws means  that less                                                               
tint is  allowed. For  example New York  doesn't allow  any tint,                                                               
which is similar to Alaska law. He continued:                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
   · Driving at  night with tinted  windows is about the  same as                                                               
     driving at  night with sunglasses. Sunglasses  are regulated                                                               
     by  the Food  and Drug  Administration and  on average  they                                                               
     must let through at least 40 percent of the visible light.                                                                 
   · A variety of  filter colors lets different  amounts of light                                                               
     through.                                                                                                                   
   · In a Texas murder case  three problems were caused by tinted                                                               
     windows.  1)witnesses had  difficulty identifying  suspects;                                                               
     2)when  police spotted  the  suspect  vehicle they  couldn't                                                               
     determine who  was in  the car, 3)when  an officer  tried to                                                               
     get a suspect  to exit the car one of  the occupants used an                                                               
     assault rifle  and shot and  killed the officer  through the                                                               
     window.  Texas  allows  a  fairly heavy  tint  on  the  side                                                               
     windows.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH noted  that Texas allows about the  opposite of what                                                               
Alaska allows.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
LT. DIAL agreed.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT  pointed out that  none of the  incidents that                                                               
have been  cited say whether  the windows were tinted  legally or                                                               
not.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH  said that's true  but the  point is that  it should                                                               
also be  illegal to install that  level of tint. The  idea behind                                                               
the bill is  that installing the tint is just  as against the law                                                               
as driving the car.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT said  his constituents  in  Fairbanks and  he                                                               
certainly don't  support blacking  out windows.  At issue  is the                                                               
level of tinting that should be allowed.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
LT. DIAL gave examples of problems related to heavy tinting.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
   · In Chicago a police officer couldn't see through a tinted                                                                  
     window and accidentally shot a passenger holding a cell                                                                    
     phone-not a gun.                                                                                                           
   · Numerous examples of criminals that couldn't be identified                                                                 
     because witnesses couldn't see the driver through the                                                                      
    tinted window. Hit and run accidents are a big problem.                                                                     
   · Collisions with motor vehicles and pedestrians are blamed                                                                  
     on poor visibility due to tinted windows.                                                                                  
   · Tinted windows can prevent criminal activity occurring in a                                                                
     vehicle from being identified.                                                                                             
   · Heavy tinting can keep motorists from viewing the road                                                                     
     ahead when looking through the car in front.                                                                               
   · Night vision can be impaired.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
LT.  DIAL showed  tinting examples  ranging from  light to  heavy                                                               
limo-tinting. Light  tinting severely  limits the ability  to see                                                               
into  a vehicle  and  it's  virtually impossible  to  see into  a                                                               
vehicle with  medium or heavy  tinting, he stated. Low  light and                                                               
night light compounds  the problem. He showed  examples in Alaska                                                               
of  a  stock Ford  Explorer  with  20  percent rear  window  tint                                                               
meaning that 80 percent of the  light is blocked; a Dodge Durango                                                               
with  20 percent  tint on  the  front driver  and passenger  side                                                               
windows and  80 percent tint  on the  back windows; and  a Toyota                                                               
passenger car with illegal tint on the back windows.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:30:10 PM                                                                                                                    
LT. DIAL  gave the  following reasons not  to change  the current                                                               
law:                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
   · Current standard assures that Alaska vehicles comply with                                                                  
     tinting laws in most states and Canadian provinces.                                                                        
   · Increased visibility for the driver.                                                                                       
   · Increased safety for pedestrians.                                                                                          
   · Increased safety for law enforcement officers.                                                                             
   ·                                                                                                                            
LT. DIAL said the Alaska State Troopers support SB 78 because:                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
   · It protects the public from unethical installers who tint                                                                  
     windows knowing it is illegal. About 1,000 citations per                                                                   
     year are written for this type of offense.                                                                                 
   · Holding installers accountable will reduce citations to                                                                    
     motorists. Some states require installers to conspicuously                                                                 
     post a copy of the state law regarding window tinting and                                                                  
     provide a copy in writing.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
LT. DIAL offered to demonstrate the tint meter.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:31:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  commented that  the statement  that you  can always                                                               
wear sunglasses  on a sunny  day, but  you can't take  off window                                                               
tint at night is a worthwhile observation.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked  if it's illegal for an  owner to have                                                               
tinted  windows, but  it's not  illegal for  an installer  to put                                                               
illegal window tinting on windows.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
LT. DIAL said that is correct.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked  if most of the people  that are cited                                                               
for driving with illegal tinting realize that it's illegal.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LT.  DIAL explained  that most  people claim  ignorance and  then                                                               
they get angry. A motorist is  given three choices when he/she is                                                               
cited: 1)take  the citation  to court;  2)remove the  tinting and                                                               
the  ticket will  be dismissed;  3)pay a  $150 fine.  The problem                                                               
with  the  last  option  is  that  the  motorist  is  subject  to                                                               
subsequent citations. In 90 percent  of the cases the people will                                                               
try  to remove  the tinting  themselves, but  it's generally  not                                                               
successful, he stated.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked  what it costs to  install tinting and                                                               
LT. Dial said he didn't know.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH asked for a demonstration.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
LT. DIAL showed the standard  issue tint meter and explained that                                                               
it indicates the  amount of light that passes through  a piece of                                                               
glass.  It doesn't  measure tint.  The  instrument is  calibrated                                                               
before and after  a motorist's window is tested to  make sure the                                                               
meter  is  accurate, he  said.  He  further  pointed out  that  a                                                               
representation of  what a  driver sees when  he/she looks  out is                                                               
not a  good representation of what  it's like to look  into a car                                                               
unless there  is interior illumination. When  the installers said                                                               
that you  don't get the  full effect  of the tinting  unless it's                                                               
installed they were being very honest, he stated.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT commented  that windshields,  other than  the                                                               
five inch  strip at  the top,  can have no  tint other  than what                                                               
comes from the manufacturer.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LT. DIAL said according to  the Department of Transportation, the                                                               
windshield needs to have a 70 percent light transmittance.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  FRENCH  asked if  the  committee  hadn't heard  that  most                                                               
factory glass is the 70 percent light transmittance standard.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LT. DIAL  said that is  his experience. In response  to questions                                                               
he advised  that the meter  for a  windshield and for  back glass                                                               
has two parts and is much  larger. He didn't know what the meters                                                               
cost.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
LT. DIAL showed a Fairbanks  demonstration piece that had a limo-                                                               
tint  that  is basically  black  and  a  20 percent  tint  that's                                                               
allowed in New Mexico.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT commented that his  experience is that when an                                                               
officer  approaches  a  stopped  vehicle  at  night  the  officer                                                               
typically uses a flashlight to  illuminate the interior. He asked                                                               
how well that works.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
LT. DIAL  explained that unless  the light  is on inside  the car                                                               
the outside light  is filtered as it goes in  through the window,                                                               
is  reflected  on  the  surface inside,  and  is  reflected  back                                                               
outside.  "It's  very difficult  to  see  through there  and  see                                                               
what's going on in the vehicle," he stated.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:41:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if it  is his opinion that  passing a                                                               
law allowing  darker tinting would  place public  safety officers                                                               
at greater risk.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
LT. DIAL said yes.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH announced  that he would hold SB 78  in committee so                                                               
that the amendment that was  passed at the previous hearing could                                                               
be incorporated into a committee substitute.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair French adjourned the meeting at 4:42:30 PM.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects