Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/23/1994 09:08 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE March 23, 1994 9:08 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Loren Leman, Chair Senator Jim Duncan Senator Johnny Ellis MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Mike Miller, Vice Chair Senator Robin Taylor COMMITTEE CALENDAR CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 255(HES) "An Act establishing a comprehensive policy relating to human resource development in the state." CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 49(FIN) am "An Act relating to absentee voting, to electronic transmission of absentee ballot applications, to delivery of ballots to absentee ballot applicants by electronic transmission, and enacting a definition of the term `state election' for purposes of absentee voting; and providing for an effective date." SENATE BILL NO. 302 "An Act relating to the establishment, modification, and enforcement of support orders and the determination of parentage in situations involving more than one state; amending Alaska Rule of Administration 9; amending Alaska Rule of Civil Procedure 82; and providing for an effective date." HOUSE BILL NO. 421 "An Act authorizing grants for temporary housing assistance during emergencies and disasters." CS FOR HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 43(FIN) Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to the rights of crime victims. PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 255 - See Community & Regional Affairs minutes dated 1/25/94, 2/1/94, 2/3/94, 2/8/94 & 3/16/94. HB 49 - No previous senate committee action. SB 302 - See State Affairs minutes dated 3/21/94 and 3/23/94. HB 421 - No previous senate committee action. HJR 43 - See Judiciary minutes dated 11/16/93 and State Affairs minutes dated 3/9/94 and 3/21/94. WITNESS REGISTER Senator Randy Phillips, Chairperson Senate Community & Regional Affairs Committee State Capitol, Juneau, AK 99801-1182¶465-4949 POSITION STATEMENT: prime sponsor of SB 255 Debra Call, Chairperson Alaska Job Training Council 12342 W. Prince of Peace, Eagle River, AK 99577¶696-5786 POSITION STATEMENT: in favor of SB 255 Representative Terry Martin State Capitol, Juneau, AK 99801-1182¶465-3783 POSITION STATEMENT: prime sponsor of HB 49 Tom Anderson, Aide Representative Martin State Capitol, Juneau, AK 99801-1182¶465-3783 POSITION STATEMENT: prime sponsor of HB 49 Joe Swanson, Director Division of Elections P.O. Box 110017, Juneau, AK 99811-0017¶465-4611 POSITION STATEMENT: in favor of HB 49 Kenneth Kirk 900 W. 5th, Suite 730, Anchorage, AK 99501¶279-1659 POSITION STATEMENT: in favor of SB 302 Laraine L. Derr, Deputy Commissioner Treasury Department of Revenue P.O. Box 110400, Juneau, AK 99811-0400¶465-4880 POSITION STATEMENT: in favor of SB 302 Donna Page, Senior Hearing Officer Department of Revenue P.O. Box 110400, Juneau, AK 99811-0400¶465-2330 POSITION STATEMENT: in favor of SB 302 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 94-19, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN LEMAN calls the Senate State Affairs Committee to order at 9:08 a.m. The chairman notes that the committee does not yet have a quorum, but will take testimony. Number 011 CHAIRMAN LEMAN brings up SB 255 (STATE POLICY ON HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMT) as the first order of business before the Senate State Affairs Committee. The chairman calls the prime sponsor of SB 255 as the first witness. Number 022 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS, prime sponsor of SB 255, says the bill will establish a state policy on human resource development for state government agencies, and require public officials responsible for education and training programs to coordinate their programs. He is introducing this legislation because he is one of the members of the Alaska Job Training Council. Ms. Call can better explain what SB 255 attempts to do. There are several zero fiscal notes. Number 040 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS says on page 3, lines 5-7 an amendment was added that would require a legislative audit every four years. CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if there are any questions for Senator Phillips. Hearing none, the chairman asks Ms. Call if she would like to testify. Number 050 DEBRA CALL, Chairperson, Alaska Job Training Council says she does not have any testimony to add, but is available to answer questions. Ms. Call states the council oversees the Alaska Job Training Partnership Act (AJTPA), and also advises the governor on human resource policy in the state. Ms. Call says she currently works as the employment and training program director for Peak Alaska Ventures, which is wholly owned in the Cook Inlet Region. Peak Alaska Ventures is also 50% of the Peak Oil Field Service Company. Peak currently employs over 500 people. MS. CALL says she supports SB 255 because she thinks the State of Alaska needs to have a human resource development policy. She currently works with many of the entities addressed by the bill. She has found that each entity has its' own rules and guidelines governing human resource development, and so sees a need for coordination. Number 096 CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanks Ms. Call for her testimony. The chairman asks about the phrase used several times throughout SB 255, "...productive work force, and have an opportunity to earn a living wage." He asks also about the term "employment opportunities". His question is, should we not also encourage people to enter into their own business opportunity, and not just refer to people becoming employees, but also becoming small business owners. Number 120 MS. CALL responds that the Alaska Job Training Council focuses about 90% of it's energy on job training to work with established industries. She believes there is funding available through the Department of Community & Regional Affairs and other entities to give people the opportunity to start their own businesses. She is aware that it was not included in SB 255 because they wanted to focus on training to help those people who really did not have the entrepreneurial spirit. Number 142 CHAIRMAN LEMAN says he understands why the bill is written the way it is, but as a follow up question, asks Ms. Call if she thinks it would do disservice to the intent of the bill to include verbiage addressing entrepreneurial activity. Number 151 MS. CALL replies she does not see a problem with adding language addressing entrepreneurial activity. However she does know that some programs are just focused on training and education. It is something that could be added, but she hesitates because many of the entities do not have the background to provide that type of training. Number 163 CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanks Ms. Call, and says the committee will probably add wording addressing entrepreneurial activity. The chairman appreciates what Ms. Call is trying to accomplish, and totally supports that, but also wants to acknowledge that there may be situations where it would be preferable for someone to have their own business. CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if anyone else wishes to testify on SB 255. Hearing none, he announces the committee will hold SB 255 to work on language addressing entrepreneurial activity, and bring the bill back up for consideration on Monday. Number 175 CHAIRMAN LEMAN brings up HB 49 (ABSENTEE VOTING & USE OF FAX) as the next order of business before the Senate State Affairs Committee. The chairman invites the prime sponsor to join the committee at the table to testify. Number 180 REPRESENTATIVE TERRY MARTIN, prime sponsor of HB 49, states the idea of the bill is to catch up with modern times. Alaska is the largest state in the union, and probably has more travel problems, for numerous reasons. Representative Martin thinks those problems disenfranchise some people from the right to vote, and having modern means at their disposal to use in voting would help solve the problem. Using fax machines to vote was allowed by emergency regulation during the Persian Gulf Crisis and War. Representative Martin states he was told 54 people voted by fax machine at that time. Voting by fax can work; it can remain confidential. REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN says the U.S. Justice Department has analyzed the confidentiality laws in many states, and says the minor chance of losing confidentiality in voting is minimal compared to the loss of the right to vote. Many states are getting involved in voting by electronic means. HB 49 goes a lot further than what was originally intended. In the House Finance Committee, Representative Brown proposed some good amendments, which were added. The original intent was to start off on a smaller scale, but the majority of people wanted to go for the program completely. At this point, HB 49 would allow anyone to vote electronically by the time of the general election. REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN thinks HB 49 is a good bill. He introduces Mr. Swanson from the Division of Elections to fill in the details of the process. Representative Martin informs the committee he needs to go to another meeting, and that his aide, Mr. Anderson, will speak for the bill. Number 239 TOM ANDERSON, Aide to Representative Martin, states HB 49 will allow the faxing of a request for an absentee ballot application, for the Division of Elections to fax the application to the requestor, for the requestor to fax the filled out application back to the Division of Elections, for the ballot to be faxed to the requestor, and then for the voter (requestor) to fax the ballot back to the Division of Elections. MR. ANDERSON says there are two provisions the requestor must fulfill to vote via fax: one, they must sign a secrecy waiver, which basically states they are giving up their right to secrecy and one person will see their ballot, and secondly, the absentee voter must take an oath. The faxed absentee ballot application must be received four days before the election, compared to seven days before the election for a mailed request. HB 49 does not allow for electronic voter registration. HB 49 defines "state election", so that it is clear the electronic transmission of absentee ballots will not be used in state-run REAA (Regional Education Attendance Area) elections, coastal resource area board elections, or local option elections. Finally, persons eligible to vote absentee by electronic ballot would be anyone within the state who is not in their respective election districts, anyone in another part of the U.S., and anyone outside the U.S. So basically, anyone who is outside their election district could vote by electronic transmission if they follow the guidelines and parameters set up in HB 49. If passed, persons could begin voting by electronic transmission in the 1994 general election. Number 278 CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanks Mr. Anderson and notes the existence of a memorandum from Legislative Counsel Jack Chenoweth regarding a proposed technical amendment. According to the memo, an amendment made on the floor of the House of Representatives was not reflected in the title, and this technical amendment would simply change the title to reflect the change made on the house floor. The only change between the version passed in the house and the Senate State Affairs committee substitute adds Mr. Chenoweth's proposed technical amendment. Number 299 SENATOR ELLIS makes a motion to adopt SCS CSHB 49(STA) in lieu of CSHB 49(FIN) AM. Number 300 CHAIRMAN LEMAN, hearing no objection, notes SCS CSHB 49(STA) has been adopted in lieu of CSHB 49(FIN) AM. The chairman asks Mr. Swanson if he has any testimony he would like to add. Number 303 JOE SWANSON, Director, Division of Elections says the division supports HB 49. The division feels strongly that the state has entered modern times and voting by electronic transmission should be allowed. He feels this would give some people an advantage in voting that they may not have had before. There were some early concerns regarding confidentiality, but the division feels it can preserve as much of the confidentiality process as possible through regulations. MR. SWANSON states there was also some discussion of potentiality for fraud. However, the division did not see any opening in HB 49 allowing the potential for fraud in the voting process. Number 316 CHAIRMAN LEMAN says his main concern would be ballot security and the potential for fraud. If the division can be sure of ballot security, he thinks HB 49 is a good idea. Number 320 MR. SWANSON replies the intent is to have two people in the Division of Elections Anchorage office assigned to this program. All absentee voting by fax would be done through one office. An individual in the Division of Elections would receive the fax, make sure everything on the ballot was clear, remove the name, and put the ballot in the ballot box. The faxed document would be put in an envelope, sealed, and kept for records for seven years. Number 330 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks how the division will ensure that the person who voted by fax isn't going to vote again. Number 333 MR. SWANSON responds all absentee voting is done by number, by individual. When a faxed ballot comes in, that ballot is checked in the division's computer and voter registration system. It would be virtually impossible for someone to vote twice and the division not catch it. Number 344 SENATOR DUNCAN asks if people will be able to register to vote by fax. Number 350 MR. SWANSON replies there is nothing currently in statute prohibiting the Division of Elections to allow persons to vote by fax. If someone faxed the division a registration form, the division would accept it if it was properly filled out and notarized. There is nothing in regulation or statute addressing registration by electronic transmission. Number 357 SENATOR DUNCAN asks Mr. Swanson if the motor-voter bill will address electronic registration. MR. SWANSON says the motor-voter bill does not address electronic voter registration. However, electronic registration is not prohibited. Number 376 SENATOR ELLIS asks if there is any requirement under HB 49 for confirmation of receipt of the fax by the Division of Elections. MR. SWANSON says the intent was to put provision in regulation to send notices of receipt. He agrees whole-heartedly with Senator Ellis that receipt of faxes received should be made. Number 388 SENATOR ELLIS asks Mr. Swanson what he thinks about addressing receipt of faxes in the legislation. MR. SWANSON responds he would have no problem with that. Number 393 MR. ANDERSON states, in response to Senator Duncan's question on registering to vote by electronic transmission, that at the top of page three of the bill is a provision that he may want deleted. CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks Mr. Anderson what the discussion in the house was regarding the provision on page three disallowing registering to vote by electronic transmission. MR. ANDERSON says no one raised the issue, that he can recall. He certainly is not opposed to deleting that provision. Number 402 SENATOR DUNCAN asks if, in Mr. Swanson's opinion, that provision prohibits registering to vote by electronic transmission. Number 405 MR. SWANSON responds that provision only prohibits registration by electronic transmission at the same time a person applies for a ballot by electronic transmission. CHAIRMAN LEMAN thinks that is probably a valid concern for the time being, just to help maintain security of the election process. MR. SWANSON again states that the provision on page three addressing electronic transmission of registration does not prohibit electronic transmission of registration. Number 409 SENATOR ELLIS comments that many other nations, including a number of European nations allow same-day registration and voting, and do not have problems with fraud. He is not proposing that, but does not want people to have the impression that it would be an impossible or unreasonable thing to do. Number 425 SENATOR ELLIS asks if all steps must be done by fax, or if someone could, for example, request the absentee ballot in person, but vote by fax. MR. SWANSON responds a person does not have to do all steps in the process by fax, but could mix and match any of the steps. SENATOR ELLIS asks if there are other states that currently do what HB 49 proposes to do. Number 432 MR. ANDERSON replies seven other states allow some form of fax. HB 49 is modeled on the Montana law. They allow faxing for the complete process. He believes one other state allows faxing for the entire process also. He does not believe any other state other than Montana allows the faxing of the marked ballot itself. Number 436 SENATOR ELLIS remarks that there have been several high-profile election fraud cases in the country recently, and a number of those involved absentee ballots. SENATOR ELLIS asks if the bill was originally intended to address the needs of overseas military personnel. MR. ANDERSON says HB 49 was not drafted to address the particular needs of overseas military personnel. Representative Martin received some calls from Peace Corps volunteers and some other individuals, military included, but it was not designed primarily to answer the needs of military personnel. The intent was to implement the program in segments, starting first with people outside the United States. But Representative Brown had the foresight to suggest opening it up to everyone outside their own district. SENATOR ELLIS agrees that everyone should have equal access to voting by fax, rather than just overseas Peace Corps volunteers and military personnel. He asks if Representative Martin agrees that the program should be open to everyone. MR. ANDERSON confirms that Representative Martin agrees 100% that the program be available to everyone who might need to utilize it. Representative Martin assumed it might be too difficult to implement on a large scale, but was happy to change the bill. Number 456 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if there is further committee discussion. Hearing none, he announces HB 49 will be held in order to work on it. He expects the committee will move the bill on Monday. Number 460 CHAIRMAN LEMAN brings up SB 302 (UNIFORM INTERSTATE FAMILY SUPPORT ACT) as the next order of business before the Senate State Affairs Committee. Joining the committee from the Department of Revenue is Ms. Derr, Mr. Mallonee, and Ms. Page. Number 469 LARAINE DERR, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Revenue, says the department has provided the committee members with a comparison between ERISA and UIFSA. CHAIRMAN LEMAN thanks Ms. Derr for the comparison and says he has looked through it. The chairman asks Mr. Kirk to testify. Number 489 KENNETH KIRK, testifying from Anchorage, states he is speaking for himself, though he does work with and act as legal counsel for Family Support Group. He also emphasizes that he is in favor of SB 302 and UIFSA, though it may not sound like it because he intends to air some very specific criticisms of SB 302. UIFSA is needed because the present URISA system has a real potential to ruin people's lives. Mr. Kirk says he has seen situations where there are two different orders from two different states, both of which are valid and enforceable, which are completely inconsistent with one another. MR. KIRK states he faxed a copy of a letter, which was originally sent to William Grant Cowell (sp?), about the original draft of the legislation before it was put into SB 302, to the Senate State Affairs Committee on March 22, 1994. Mr. Kirk does not know if he sent it in time for it to be included in the bill packets, but he hopes the committee had time to look at it, because most of the criticisms he has are contained in that letter. Number 503 MR. KIRK states he will review his biggest concerns. First, it does not appear anyone has taken the time to harmonize SB 302 with AS 25.27, which is the CSED (Child Support Enforcement Division) statute. He thinks there are potential problems related to conflict between the provisions of SB 302 and AS 25.27. He suggests legislative counsel review AS 25.27 for purposes of making AS 25.27 more consistent with UIFSA. His second concern relates to specific things he thinks should be changed in SB 302, without causing any harm to the overall intent of the bill. On page 4, line 24, the language gives the state jurisdiction over the non-resident. That language is not constitutional, pursuant to a case called Burnham (sp?) v. Superior Court. It is also bad public policy, is unfair, and should be eliminated. For instance, someone who has never had any connection with Alaska, but their ex-spouse moved here with the kids, flies up to Alaska periodically to see the children or to accompany them out of state. When the out-of-state parent flies up to see the children, they can then be handed a complaint and summons in a child support case, and will then be subject to Alaska's laws on child support, rather than the laws of the place in which that person actually resides. So Mr. Kirk sees a problem with that, as a public policy matter. MR. KIRK also sees a problem on page 10, line 9, subsection (b) regarding tribunals. Mr. Kirk states there are several powers contained in SB 302 which are not proper for administrative agencies of the state to have, including citing a person for criminal contempt, and the issuance of bench warrants. Mr. Kirk would hope that if SB 302 is passed, CSED will recognize that they do not really have that authority, and they will not try to issue bench warrants and hold people in criminal contempt. It would be much easier to simply delete that provision from SB 302, rather than go to court over it. Since the bill states CSED can use any other remedies already in law, that provision could be left out. MR. KIRK's next concern is with Section 25.25.312 on page 13, starting on line 16, NONDISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION IN EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES. Mr. Kirk states this is inconsistent with 25.27.275, which states the agency shall relate the information about the location of a child if the obligor is current in child support and there is a visitation or joint custody order in effect. His second concern with Section 25.25.312 is that it is ex parte, which means the obligor does not even get a chance to present their side of the story. The custodial parent can simply tell the enforcement officer that the non-custodial parent is dangerous, or scares them, or something like that, and without any contest, all of a sudden there is what appears to be a permanent order in place. There is no provision set up for appeal at a formal hearing, so the non-custodial parent might not even get to contest that order. Finally, there are no real standards for it, it is a very broad statement. CSED does not have any expertise with regard to issues relating to the health, safety, or liberty of the child, or of domestic violence. That should be left with the courts, not with CSED. Or at the least, there should be better standards and an appeals process. MR. KIRK states he also has a concern with the next section of the bill, Section 25.25.313, COSTS AND FEES. What this provision would essentially do is require the obligee, when they lose an appeal, to pay the entire attorney's fee bill for the other side. But if the obligee wins, all the obligee is entitled to is, at most, about one-quarter to one-third of attorney's fees. So SB 302 would basically set up unequal standards for the custodial parent to the obligee. The mind-set between too many of these laws is that the obligee is the "bad guy". All the obligee has ever done wrong, necessarily, is that some judge decided at some time that the obligee's children would be better off spending most of their time with the other parent. There may not even be that, if there has never actually been a court case, such as if the child was born out of wedlock or the marriage was terminated through dissolution. That whole section, 25.25.313, should be dropped. Number 565 MR. KIRK states Section 25.25.608, which precludes any further contest of the order with respect to a matter that could have been asserted at the time of registration, should be "softened" up a bit in default cases. In both court cases and administrative cases, if a person has a good-faith reason for not responding, you will often be allowed to re-open a case. Situations like this are common in Alaska. A person gets served the day before going out on a crab processor for six months, and in the meantime defaults on an order. This section would appear to completely preclude a person from any opportunity to re-open the matter later for redetermination. Number 574 MR. KIRK states he will be in Juneau March 24th and 25th for a Correctional Industries Commission meeting and would be glad to meet with legislators or staff to help work on SB 302 any time the commission is not taking care of business, if anyone wishes to do so. He acknowledges the complexity of SB 302, and is not always sure himself how the bill will play out in practice, but recognizes that some people may be less sure of it than he, and so would like to make himself available to work on it. He can be reached at the above phone number. MR. KIRK thanks the committee members for their time. Number 580 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if the Department of Revenue could meet with Mr. Kirk to discuss his concerns. TAPE 94-19, SIDE B Number 583 MS. DERR says the department has not talked to Mr. Kirk before, and would like to review his suggestions before commenting on them. The department can meet with Mr. Kirk while he is in Juneau. DONNA PAGE, Senior Hearing Officer, Department of Revenue says the department has considered some of the concerns mentioned by Mr. Kirk and can explain them to him. CHAIRMAN LEMAN gives Ms. Page a copy of the letter faxed to the committee by Mr. Kirk. The chairman asks if anyone else wishes to testify today on SB 302. Hearing none, he announces the committee will hold SB 302 over to work on. Number 568 CHAIRMAN LEMAN adjourns the Senate State Affairs Committee meeting at 9:54 a.m.