Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/27/1998 03:50 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
              SENATE RESOURCES COMMITTEE                                       
                    April 27, 1998                                             
                      3:50 p.m.                                                
                                                                               
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                
                                                                               
Senator Rick Halford, Chairman                                                 
Senator Lyda Green, Vice Chairman                                              
Senator Loren Leman                                                            
Senator Robin Taylor                                                           
Senator John Torgerson                                                         
Senator Georgianna Lincoln                                                     
                                                                               
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                 
                                                                               
Senator Bert Sharp                                                             
                                                                               
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                             
                                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 252                                                            
"An Act relating to paternity establishment and child support;                 
relating to the crimes of criminal nonsupport and aiding the                   
nonpayment of child support; and amending Rule 37(b)(2)(D), Alaska             
Rules of Civil Procedure; and providing for an effective date."                
                                                                               
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 204(RES)                                                 
"An Act revising the procedures and authority of the Alaska                    
Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, the Board of Fisheries, and             
the Department of Fish and Game to establish a moratorium on                   
participants or vessels, or both, participating in certain                     
fisheries; and providing for an effective date."                               
                                                                               
     - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                 
                                                                               
PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                               
                                                                               
SB 252 - See HESS minutes dated 3/2/98, 3/4/98 & 3/20/98 and                   
          Resources Committee minutes dated 4/22/98.                           
                                                                               
HB 204 - See Resources Committee minutes dated 4/22/98.                        
                                                                               
WITNESS REGISTER                                                               
                                                                               
Ms. Juli Lucky, Staff to Senator Rick Halford                                  
State Capitol                                                                  
Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered information on SB 252                           
                                                                               
Dan Branch, Assistant Attorney General                                         
Human Services Section                                                         
Department of Law                                                              
P.O. Box 110300                                                                
Juneau, AK 99811-0300                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Offered information on SB 252                           
                                                                               
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                               
                                                                               
TAPE 98-35, SIDE A                                                             
Number 001                                                                     
                                                                               
        SB 252 - PATERNITY/CHILD SUPPORT/NONSUPPORT CRIMES                     
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HALFORD called the Senate Resources Committee meeting to              
order at 3:50 p.m., and noted the presence of Senators Leman,                  
Green, Taylor, Torgerson and Lincoln.                                          
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HALFORD  brought SB 252 before the committee as the first             
order of business.  He noted the committee had adopted CSSB
2452(RES) on 4/22/98, and that there was a  proposed amendment on              
arbitration by Senator Green, as well as a series of other proposed            
amendments to the bill before the committee for its consideration.             
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN moved adoption of the following Amendment No. 1:                 
                                                                               
Amendment No. 1                                                                
                                                                               
TITLE CHANGE:  Page 1, line 2:  After "nonsupport;" add:                       
"requiring a court to order parties involved in child custody or               
visitation matters to attend an educational presentation about                 
mediation;"                                                                    
                                                                               
                                                                               
ADD A NEW SECTION:                                                             
     As 25.20 is amended by adding a new section to read:                      
          Mandatory attendance at education course relating to                 
mediation.  (a)  After a petition for child custody or visitation              
is filed under AS 25.20.060, a petition to modify an award of                  
custody or visitation is filed under AS 25.20.110, or an action for            
damages for failure to permit visitation is filed under AS                     
25.20.140, the court shall order the parties to attend an                      
educational presentation approved by the court that explains the               
concept of mediation.                                                          
     (b)  When implementing (a) of this section, the court may not             
require that the parties attend the educational presentation at the            
same time.                                                                     
     (c)  An educational presentation approved by the court under              
this section must be a video cassette, audio cassette, or vocal                
presentation that includes an explanation that                                 
          (1)  education is a conflict resolution process, usually             
engaged in voluntarily, in which a trained impartial third party               
assists the parties to negotiate a consensual and informed                     
settlement;                                                                    
          (2)  mediation is based on principles of problem solving             
that focus on the needs and interests of the participants,                     
fairness, safety, confidentiality, self-determination, and the best            
interests of all parties and other persons who the parties agree               
are affected; and                                                              
          (3)  the role of a mediator is not to make decisions for             
the parties or to report to a court about the medication process               
but does include reducing the obstacles to communication,                      
maximizing the exploration of alternatives, and addressing the                 
needs of the persons who the parties agree are affected.                       
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON objected to the adoption of Amendment No. 1 for              
the purpose of an explanation of the amendment.                                
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN explained she had been approached and asked to put               
forward language that would strengthen the mediation standard in               
the state.  People on all sides of the issue got together and                  
adopted what she thinks is a fairly soft solution.  It is basically            
a video cassette, audio cassette, or vocal presentation that                   
includes an explanation about mediation and how it is a conflict               
resolution process based on problem solving.  The role of the                  
mediator, if it's facilitated by an actual person, is to help                  
people to resolve the problems they've agreed to without having to             
have this fight in court.                                                      
                                                                               
SENATOR LEMAN pointed out that there are other technologies now                
that are comparable to video cassettes and audio cassettes, and he             
suggested that perhaps the language should be drafted to include               
those possibilities.                                                           
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON removed his objection to the adoption of                     
Amendment No. 1, and there being no further objection, CHAIRMAN                
HALFORD stated the amendment would be incorporated into CSSB
252(RES), version "F."                                                         
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HALFORD directed attention to a letter to Barbara Miklos,             
Director of the Child Support Enforcement Division, from the                   
Department of Health & Human Services, relating to sections in the             
draft committee substitute that are not in compliance with federal             
requirements.                                                                  
                                                                               
JULI LUCKY, staff to Senator Halford, explained the first area of              
concern relates to recreational or sporting licenses.  She said the            
main objection to having the sport and fishing licenses classified             
as occupational or recreational or sporting is that people need the            
sport fishing license and hunting license in order to subsistence              
and personal use hunt and fish.  An amendment has been drafted with            
language that will allow people who rely on sport fishing and                  
hunting licenses to still be able to get their food for subsistence            
or personal use.  That was accomplished by changing the statute to             
allow revocation or suspension of recreational licenses, and then              
defining "recreational licenses."                                              
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HALFORD said sport fishing licenses and sport hunting                 
licenses are required for subsistence and personal use activities,             
so we're indirectly saying the same thing.  However, he said there             
needs to be a mechanism that provides that if somebody certifies               
that they are engaged in either subsistence hunting or fishing or              
personal use fishing, they can get the license outside of the                  
prohibition contained in the federal act, and those activities are             
neither occupational or sport recreational activities.  He said we             
need language that does that, and he is not sure that this language            
accomplishes that.                                                             
                                                                               
DAN BRANCH, Assistant Attorney General, Human Services Section,                
Department of Law, explained the language would fit into a scheme              
whereby these sporting licenses would be subject to revocation by              
a court in a contempt of court proceeding.  He envisions that the              
court would denote by either marking on the license itself, or                 
issuing an order, or both, that it finds the individual in contempt            
of court for failing to honor a child support obligation, suspends             
the individual's hunting license for a period of one year, and it              
may not be used for anything other than subsistence activities.  In            
the case of a fishing license, the court could suspend the                     
individual's fishing license for a period of one year, and it may              
not be used for anything other than personal use fishing.  He added            
that subsistence fishing may be carried out without a sport                    
license.                                                                       
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked Mr. Branch if he thinks the language will               
work, and MR. BRANCH acknowledged that he thinks it will.                      
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON said he still has concern with tieing in a                   
hunting license or fishing license into subsistence use when we                
can't even define what subsistence hunting is.  He asked what                  
happens when an individual has another family to feed and he is                
told that he can't go out and feed his family because he doesn't               
live in a subsistence area or somebody else is defining                        
subsistence.  MR. BRANCH explained that the court will only have               
the authority to  revoke one of these licenses if the court finds              
an individual is in contempt, and a person can only be found in                
contempt of court if the court finds they have the ability to                  
satisfy the court child support order and they choose not to.  So              
a person who doesn't have the ability to pay a child support debt              
will not be looking at a loss of his license under this provision.             
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HALFORD  commented that he thinks subsistence, in this                
term, is the broad generic term, that an individual can engage in              
subsistence harvest without a subsistence area, without any                    
subsistence preference.                                                        
                                                                               
Number 245                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON asked Mr. Branch how many Alaskans he thought                
would be affected by this legislation.  MR. BRANCH didn't think                
there would be too many, but he didn't know for sure.  CHAIRMAN                
HALFORD added that it is going to affect everybody because it is               
going to endanger their social security number and numerous other              
things.                                                                        
                                                                               
SENATOR TAYLOR expressed his concern that every single social                  
security number is going to have to be turned in by the Department             
of Fish and Game to the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSED),               
CSED then is the agency which will bring each of these actions, and            
whether they pay or not, nobody is going to know that until they               
get them into court.  He said we will have the full weight of state            
government coming in here on one side of the issue and nothing on              
the other side.                                                                
                                                                               
Number 347                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN asked if the information that is given on the                    
licensing for hunting and fishing only used by request, that only              
specific names go to as a request to Fish and Game, not every                  
vendor across the state who is collecting names.  BARBARA MIKLOS,              
Director, Child Support Enforcement Division, acknowledged that was            
correct.  She said it is not that the agency will be asking for all            
the social security numbers from Fish and Game, only specific                  
names.                                                                         
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON asked why they couldn't set up a system that                 
would just track driver's license numbers.  MS. MIKLOS  responded              
that driver's license is one of the items that Welfare Reform                  
legislation requires that those social security numbers also be                
available to CSED in the same way that the hunting and fishing                 
licenses would be.                                                             
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN asked if a drivers license has always required a                 
social security number.  MR. MIKLOS replied that she didn't know               
that it is required by statute, however, when a person applies for             
a driver's license, they ask for a social security number and then             
the driver has the option to either have it on the license or to               
not have it on the license.                                                    
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON commented if they could track through DMV instead            
of having each one of these folks have their own tracking system.              
CHAIRMAN HALFORD pointed out the federal law has very specific                 
provisions that essentially requires the social security number on             
everything.                                                                    
                                                                               
SENATOR TAYLOR asked what the state would lose in federal funding              
if it were found to be out of compliance.  CHAIRMAN HALFORD                    
informed his the state would lose $15 million in CSED money and $63            
million in welfare money.                                                      
                                                                               
Number 396                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON moved the adoption of the following Amendment No.            
2.  MS. LUCKY pointed out there was a small technical problem with             
the amendment and it should read "page 1, line 13.                             
                                                                               
Amendment No. 2                                                                
                                                                               
Page 1, line 13:  Delete "or a license, as defined in AS                       
25.27.24(s), or both," and replace with "a license, as defined in              
AS 25.27.244(s), or a recreational license as defined in this                  
section, or an combination of the licenses,"                                   
                                                                               
Page 2, following line 6 insert:  "(c) In this section,                        
"recreational licenses" means a recreational fishing license or                
recreational hunting license.  For purposes of this subsection,                
          (1)  "recreational fishing license" means a sport fishing            
license under AS 16.05.340, unless that license is required for                
participation in personal use fishing as that term is defined in AS            
16.05.940 or subsistence fishing, as that term is defined in AS                
16.05.940 and modified by decisions of the Alaska Supreme Court.               
          (2)  "recreational hunting license" means a hunting                  
license under AS 16.05.340, unless that license is required for                
participation in subsistence hunting, as that term is defined in AS            
16.05.940 and modified by decisions of the Alaska Supreme Court.               
                                                                               
SENATOR TAYLOR voiced objeciton to the amendment, and questioned               
who would know among the enforcement personnel that someone is a               
subsistence user if they are from downtown Anchorage, they've got              
a contempt order against them, and they can't get a  hunting or                
fishing license.                                                               
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HALFORD said the State Supreme Court has clearly said that            
any resident of the state has a right to engage in subsistence                 
harvest, aside from all the preference arguments, definitions of               
location in every area.                                                        
                                                                               
SENATOR LINCOLN noted that AS 16.59.040 says that "subsistence                 
hunting" means the taking of hunting for or possession of game by              
a resident domiciled in a rural area of the state for subsistence              
uses by means defined by the Board of Game.  CHAIRMAN HALFORD                  
pointed out that the word "rural" was taken out by the Supreme                 
Court.  MS. LUCKY commented that's why the language "and modified              
by  decisions of the Alaska Supreme Court" was recommended and put             
in by the drafter of the bill.  She said the statutes have never               
been changed by legislative action, although it is not enforceable             
as a rural preference.   SENATOR LINCOLN said she just wants to                
make sure that when talking about this particular provision that we            
are talking about people being able to provide food for their                  
families.                                                                      
                                                                               
SENATOR TAYLOR concluded that the only licenses to be taken away by            
the court would be recreational licenses not needed for gathering              
food for personal or family use.  CHAIRMAN HALFORD agreed with his             
conclusion.                                                                    
                                                                               
Number 455                                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON inquired if the one year suspension of the                   
license is federal law.  MR. BRANCH replied that it is not a                   
federal requirement that there be a one-year revocation, however,              
he thinks the one-year provision is reasonable.                                
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN suggested using the words "or restrict" which, she               
said, would give greater flexibility.  She then moved on page 1,               
line 12 to insert ",restrict," between the words "suspend" and "or             
revoke."  Hearing no objection, the amendment was adopted.                     
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON moved that on page 1, line 13, replace "one year"            
with "six months."                                                             
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HALFORD inquired if the federal statutes specify a time               
period.  MR. BRANCH responded that they do not, but he thinks the              
federal government, when determining whether the state is in                   
compliance with this statute, is going to look at whether or not               
the state has a provision that is realistic and that it aids in the            
enforcement of child support.  He also said he thinks the feds                 
would have a lot more flexibility with the sport fishing and                   
recreational licenses provisions than they would with occupational             
and driver's licenses which has a tremendous impact in improving               
child support collection.                                                      
                                                                               
SENATOR LINCOLN objected to Senator Torgerson's amendment.  She                
said the court has to find a preponderance of evidence that                    
contempt, related to a failure to pay this money for child support,            
is there, and, if a court finds that an individual just has not                
paid their child support for good cause, she is not so sure that               
suspending one's drivers license or a recreational hunting and                 
fishing license of up to a year is that much to pay because of that            
preponderance of evidence that would have to be established.                   
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HALFORD called for a show of hands on the adoption of                 
changing one year to six months.  By a vote of 5-1, the amendment              
was adopted.                                                                   
                                                                               
The committee returned to Senator Torgerson's motion to adopt                  
Amendment No. 2, and hearing no objection, CHAIRMAN HALFORD stated             
the amendment was adopted.                                                     
                                                                               
SENATOR GREEN restated her amendment on page 1, line 12, to add the            
words "or restrict."  There being no objection, CHAIRMAN HALFORD               
stated the amendment was adopted.                                              
                                                                               
TAPE 98-35, SIDE B                                                             
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HALFORD directed attention to page 8, line 8 of the                   
committee substitute where he had drafted a subsection providing an            
exemption for employers of less than five employees.  This is a                
section that was objected to in the letter from the Department of              
Health and Human Services, saying specifically that it is not in               
compliance.  New hire reporting  by employers applies virtually to             
anyone who has to file a W4 form for any employee.  He added that              
he strongly disagrees with the requirement.                                    
                                                                               
SENATOR TORGERSON wondered if it would be possible to just change              
the reporting requirements on small employees to make them                     
quarterly instead of weekly, which would lessen the impact.                    
                                                                               
SENATOR LINCOLN proposed an amendment to page 6, line 4, to delete             
"shall immediately send" and replace it with "may enforce the order            
by sending."                                                                   
                                                                               
CHAIRMAN HALFORD said Senator Lincoln's proposed amendment would be            
noted and the committee would come back to it at the next hearing              
on the legislation.  He then adjourned the meeting at 4:46 p.m.                

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