Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/27/1998 03:50 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.