Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/02/1995 03:37 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
               SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                                
                        February 2, 1995                                       
                           3:37 p.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Bert Sharp, Chairman                                                  
 Senator Randy Phillips, Vice-Chairman                                         
 Senator Loren Leman                                                           
 Senator Dave Donley                                                           
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 Senator Jim Duncan                                                            
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 SENATE BILL NO.  6                                                            
 "An Act relating to registration of a motor vehicle and suspension            
 of a driver's license for failure to appear in court or failure to            
 pay a fine."                                                                  
 SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 4                                            
 Naming the Poet Laureate of Alaska.                                           
 SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 11                                                    
 Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska               
 relating to terms of legislators.                                             
 SENATE BILL 37                                                                
 "An Act relating to treatment of permanent fund dividends for                 
 purposes of determining eligibility for certain benefits; and                 
 providing for an effective date."                                             
 SSTA - 2/2/95                                                                 
 SB  40 (APPROP: AHFC TO GENERAL FUND) was scheduled but not taken             
 up at this date.                                                              
 SSTA - 2/2/95                                                                 
 SCR  3 (LONG RANGE FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMISSION) was scheduled but           
 not taken up at this date.                                                    
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 SB 6 - No previous senate committee action.                                   
 SCR 4 - No previous senate committee action.                                  
 SJR 11 - No previous senate committee action.                                 
 SB 37 - No previous senate committee action.                                  
 SB 40 - No previous senate committee action.                                  
 SCR 3 - See State Affairs committee minutes for 1/26/95.                      
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Senator Robin Taylor                                                          
 State Capitol, Juneau, Alaska, 99801-1182¶465-3873                            
   POSITION STATEMENT: prime sponsor of SB 6                                   
 First Sergeant Joe D'Amico                                                    
 Alaska State Troopers, Department of Public Safety                            
 Anchorage, AK ¶269-5412                                                       
   POSITION STATEMENT: was available to answer                                 
       questions regarding SB 6                                                
 Juanita Hensley, Chief, Driver Services                                       
 Div. of Motor Vehicles, Dept of Public Safety                                 
 P.O. Box 20020, Juneau, AK 99811-0020¶463-5860                                
   POSITION STATEMENT: testified on SB 6                                       
 Josh Fink, Aide to Senator Kelly                                              
 State Capitol, Juneau, Alaska, 99801-1182¶465-3822                            
   POSITION STATEMENT: prime sponsor of SJR 11                                 
 Elmer Lindstrom, Special Assistant to the Commissioner                        
 Department of Health & Social Services                                        
 P.O. Box 110601, Juneau, AK 99811-0601¶465-3030                               
   POSITION STATEMENT:  opposed to SB 37                                       
 Rupe Andrews                                                                  
 American Association of Retired Persons                                       
 9750 Third Ave. NW, Seattle, WA 98125¶789-7422                                
   POSITION STATEMENT: opposed to SB 37                                        
 Sherrie Markin Goll, Alaska Women's Lobby, Kidpac                             
 P.O. Box 22156, Juneau, AK 99802¶463-6744                                     
   POSITION STATEMENT:  opposed to SB 37                                       
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 TAPE 95-2, SIDE A                                                             
 ssta - 2/2/95                                                                 
 Number 001                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN SHARP calls the Senate State Affairs Committee to order at           
 3:36 p.m. and brings up SB 6 as the first order of business.  The             
 chairman calls the first witness.                                             
 Number 022                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR, prime sponsor of SB 6, relays information contained           
 in his sponsor statement.  Senator Taylor thinks SB 6 will increase           
 revenue to the state because it is an impetus for people to pay               
 outstanding fines.                                                            
 CHAIRMAN SHARP notes that Juanita Hensley and Joe D'Amico, both               
 from the Department of Public Safety, are available to answer                 
 Number 083                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY asks if the administration has a position on SB 6.             
 Number 088                                                                    
 JUANITA HENSLEY, Chief, Driver Services, Div. of Motor Vehicles,              
 Dept. of Public Safety (DPS), says she is present to testify on the           
 technical affect SB 6 would have on DPS and how SB 6 would be                 
 administered.  She guesses that the administration would be neutral           
 on this legislation at this time.                                             
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asks Ms. Hensley if it would be "do-able" to pick              
 these fines off the computer at the time of re-registration.                  
 Number 105                                                                    
 MS. HENSLEY replies SB 6 would allow the court system to suspend a            
 person's driver's license for failure to appear in court to pay a             
 moving violation.  Also, for those communities that have parking              
 offenses, an electronic update of the vehicle record could be                 
 placed by the municipality on the offender's motor vehicle file.              
 Before DPS would register a vehicle, DPS would require the                    
 registrant to show proof of having paid their parking and traffic             
 fines.  This bill does allow, and would require, a reinstatement              
 fee upon reissuance of driver's licenses.  So that would be a                 
 revenue generator for the state.                                              
 Number 123                                                                    
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS makes a motion to discharge SB 6 from the              
 Senate State Affairs Committee with individual recommendations.               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, orders SB 6 released from               
 committee with individual recommendations.                                    
 SSTA - 2/2/95                                                                 
                SCR  4 POET LAUREATE OF ALASKA                               
 Number 135                                                                    
 SENATOR SHARP brings up SCR 4 as the next order of business before            
 the Senate State Affairs Committee and calls the first witness.               
 Number 139                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN, prime sponsor of SCR 4, relays information contained           
 in his sponsor statement.                                                     
 Number 159                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY asks Senator Leman if the legislature must confirm             
 a poet laureate every two years.                                              
 SENATOR LEMAN replies that is his understanding.  Senator Leman               
 does not know if the term could be renewed.                                   
 SENATOR DONLEY guesses that, since the poet laureate is approved by           
 a resolution of the legislature, the term would only be good for              
 the term of the legislature.                                                  
 Number 180                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY makes a motion to discharge SCR 4 from the Senate              
 State Affairs Committee with individual recommendations.                      
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, orders SCR 4 released from              
 committee with individual recommendations.                                    
 SSTA - 2/2/95                                                                 
             SJR 11 LIMITING TERMS OF LEGISLATORS                            
 Number 184                                                                    
 SENATOR SHARP brings up SJR 11 as the next order of business before           
 the Senate State Affairs Committee and calls the first witness.               
 Number 190                                                                    
 JOSH FINK, Aide to Senator Kelly, the prime sponsor of SJR 11,                
 reads the sponsor statement on SJR 11.                                        
 Number 246                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN notes that under SJR 11, persons could serve four               
 full two-year terms as a Representative, and then serve two full              
 four-year terms in the Senate, before being required to retire.  So           
 it would not limit a person to serving eight years in the                     
 legislature, but 16 years in the legislature.  Senator Leman                
 supports SJR 11, it is an improvement over present circumstances.             
 He also thinks the "out" time should be four years, and not two               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP adds that term limits tend to be implemented by                
 voters at the ballot box.                                                     
 Number 291                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY thinks SJR 11 is a reasonable proposal.  However, he           
 is concerned that the legislature look at what affect SJR 11 may              
 have on the balance and separation of powers between the executive,           
 judicial, and legislative branches of government in Alaska.                   
 Senator Donley feels uncomfortable supporting term limits while not           
 exploring other aspects of the constitution he thinks need                    
 SENATOR LEMAN makes a motion to discharge SJR 11 from the Senate              
 State Affairs Committee with individual recommendations.                      
 Number 315                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY asks the chairman if he would be willing to have a             
 committee meeting so other elements in the state constitution which           
 he feels should be revised can be discussed.  He is interested in             
 looking at the areas of: how the legislature can call a special               
 session; providing for legislative confirmation of members to                 
 boards of public corporations; and considering making the attorney            
 general an elected office.  The public wants better government, not           
 just term limits, and Senator Donley thinks the areas he previously           
 mentioned would help.  He also thinks there should be an option for           
 key positions in the legislature, such as the Speaker of the House,           
 the President of the Senate, and perhaps the Finance Committee                
 chairpersons, to be full-time, year-round positions.  It would be             
 good if the legislature could have at least a couple full-time                
 persons to represent it, in order to counter full-time personnel in           
 the executive branch.  Senator Donley supports SJR 11, but feels              
 uncomfortable passing term limits without amending some of the                
 other items in the state constitution that he feels need changes.             
 CHAIRMAN SHARP likes Senator Donley's comments and thinks the                 
 committee should plan a worksession for the issues raised.  The               
 chairman would like to see some legislative oversight for public              
 Number 363                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN thinks the legislature could have a shorter session             
 length too, and he would like to add that subject to any discussion           
 on possible amendments to the state constitution.                             
 Number 372                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no further discussion or objection, orders            
 SJR 11 released from committee with individual recommendations.               
 SSTA - 2/2/95                                                                 
       SB  37 END PERMANENT FUND DIVIDEND HOLD HARMLESS                      
 Number 375                                                                    
 SENATOR SHARP brings up SB 37 as the next order of business before            
 the Senate State Affairs Committee and calls the first witness.               
 Number 380                                                                    
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS, prime sponsor of SB 37, says the bill would           
 eliminate what he sees as a tax on permanent fund dividends: the              
 hold-harmless provision for people receiving public assistance.               
 The hold-harmless provision amounted to a reduction of $41.45 to              
 each permanent fund dividend last year.  Senator Phillips relays              
 information contained in his sponsor statement.                               
 Number 402                                                                    
 ELMER LINDSTROM, Special Assistant to Commissioner Perdue,                    
 Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS), states the                     
 department is opposed to SB 37.  Previous administrations have                
 considered elimination of the hold-harmless provision and have                
 concluded that elimination is neither desirable nor cost-effective.           
 Mr. Lindstrom states elimination of the provision would lead to               
 additional administrative costs.  Mr. Lindstrom reads a prepared              
 statement.  DHSS submitted six fiscal notes with analysis and a               
 synopsis of a study showing spending patterns of dividends by                 
 persons receiving public assistance to the committee.  Mr.                    
 Lindstrom adds that the premise of the hold-harmless program is               
 that all Alaskans are entitled to share equally in the permanent              
 fund dividend program.                                                        
 Number 455                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN does not agree with Mr. Lindstrom's assertion that              
 eliminating the hold-harmless provision would have the practical              
 effect of denying persons on public assistance a permanent fund               
 dividend.  By eliminating the provision, Senator Leman thinks the             
 drain on the federal and state treasuries caused by welfare                   
 benefits will be reduced.  Senator Leman wants to know if DHSS has            
 talked to line staff in the Division of Public Assistance about who           
 is going on public assistance, and why they are coming to Alaska.             
 Senator Leman says Alaska's public assistance programs are a magnet           
 for people from other states, and that people he has talked to from           
 the line staff think the hold harmless provision is part of what is           
 attracting people from other states.  Senator Leman wants to know             
 how DHSS came to it's position statement, when line staff in the              
 Division of Public Assistance are making an assertion different               
 from Mr. Lindstrom's.                                                         
 Number 490                                                                    
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS adds he has heard comments similar to those            
 Senator Leman has heard from line staff.                                      
 Number 495                                                                    
 MR. LINDSTROM says SB 37 deals specifically with the permanent fund           
 dividend's hold-harmless provision.  There has been much discussion           
 lately relating to the much broader question of welfare reform.  If           
 we could all wipe the slate clean, and there were no public                   
 assistance programs, and we were going to start from the beginning            
 to develop a program to meet the needs of the needy people of this            
 state and this country, the program certainly would not look at all           
 like the programs in existence today.  But the programs that are in           
 place today are the programs DHSS must administer.  DHSS                      
 recognizes, as does everyone, that there are problems that need to            
 be fixed.  However, the programs serve a valuable purpose: that of            
 providing basic sustenance for many poor people.  It works very               
 well for the majority of people on the programs.  The majority of             
 DHSS's AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) caseload                
 turns over every two years.  So there are problems with a                     
 percentage of the population, and that needs to be looked at.  SB             
 37, when translated to terms of a rateable reduction in benefits,             
 would approach an 8% reduction in benefits to persons on public               
 Number 526                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asks Mr. Lindstrom if the figures on the fiscal                
 notes represent the federal share of benefits lost, or the federal            
 and state shares.                                                             
 MR. LINDSTROM replies that the hold-harmless provision applies to             
 the state and federal shares of benefits.                                     
 Number 540                                                                    
 RUPE ANDREWS, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP),                 
 states the AARP is strongly opposed to SB 37.  About 40,000                   
 Alaskans receive AFDC, so children would be affected substantially            
 by this legislation.  AARP also fails to see any benefit to the               
 state by eliminating the hold-harmless, as it will cause an                   
 increase to the general fund budget of about 1.5 million dollars.             
 In regards to Senator Phillips concern that the cost of continuing            
 the hold-harmless provision will increase in years to come, the               
 AARP asks that the legislature consider the option of perhaps                 
 capping the amount taken to fund the provision at, say, $40.  The             
 AARP is not aware of a great number of Alaskans being concerned               
 with the reduction of their permanent fund dividends to fund the              
 hold-harmless provision.  Mr. Andrews recalls that when the hold-             
 harmless provision was initiated, Alaskans felt proud to be able to           
 help other Alaskans.                                                          
 Number 558                                                                    
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS says a lot of his constituents object to the           
 hold-harmless provision.  They consider it a tax on their permanent           
 fund dividends.                                                               
 Number 565                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN asks Mr. Andrews if he thinks forced compassion feels           
 better than voluntary compassion.                                             
 MR. ANDREWS responds that voluntary compassion feels better, but as           
 he understands it, the hold-harmless provision was enacted by the             
 legislature, through representative government elected by the                 
 people.  Since then, the AARP has not heard that much objection to            
 the provision.  Apparently Senator Leman and Senator Phillips are             
 hearing objection in their districts now.  Mr. Andrews says the               
 AARP would rather see a cap on the amount taken for hold harmless,            
 rather than eliminate it altogether.                                          
 Number 584                                                                    
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS states he has opposed the hold-harmless                
 provision, permanent fund dividends, and voted against everything             
 from the beginning.                                                           
 SIDE B                                                                        
 Number 590                                                                    
 SHERRIE MARKIN GOLL, Alaska Women's Lobby, KIDPAC, states the                 
 groups she represents oppose SB 37.  From her point of view, the              
 permanent fund dividends are not earned income, and are not                   
 something that any one person, rich or poor, has earned or deserves           
 more than another person.  The hold-harmless provision is not a               
 tax, recipients who complain about the provision are still                    
 benefitting by $950 that they would not have had before.  When a              
 person of moderate or high-income receives a dividend, it is simply           
 discretionary income.  When a poor person receives a permanent fund           
 dividend, it is spent on necessities, and it is spent in Alaska.              
 Ms. Goll thinks SB 37 would favor persons of moderate and high-               
 income who do not need the additional money.  Ms. Goll suggests               
 looking at capping the amount of permanent fund dividends to save             
 money, instead of continuing to provide free money to people who              
 have no needs while taking money away from the state's poorest                
 Number 554                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN states his objective is to make sure that those in              
 need are properly taken care of.  He thinks the current public                
 assistance programs are inefficient.  He wants recipients of                  
 assistance to become self-sufficient.  Senator Leman states SB 37             
 will not take away a person's right to receive a permanent fund               
 Number 532                                                                    
 MS. GOLL doesn't think SB 37 will lead to self-sufficiency for                
 public assistance recipients.  It will lead to people getting of              
 assistance, and then reapplying as soon as they are eligible again.           
 It will not lead to self-sufficiency.                                         
 Number 512                                                                    
 MR. LINDSTROM suggests, as a technical point, that the effective              
 date of SB 37 be changed.  The current effective date of January 1,           
 1996, will fall right in the middle of the period of time in which            
 the hold-harmless provision is in effect, causing perhaps half of             
 the public assistance recipients to be held-harmless, while the               
 other half are not.  DHSS prefers either an effective date prior to           
 October 1, 1995, or prior to October 1, 1996.                                 
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS notes that the committee substitute for SB             
 37 has an effective date of July 1, 1995.                                     
 CHAIRMAN SHARP notes the existence of a committee substitute.                 
 Number 496                                                                    
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS moves the adoption of CSSB 37 (STA).                   
 Number 494                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, states CSSB 37(STA) has been            
 adopted in lieu of the original bill.                                         
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asks the pleasure of the committee.                            
 Number 490                                                                    
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS makes a motion to discharge SB 37 from the             
 Senate State Affairs Committee with individual recommendations.               
 Number 488                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, orders SB 37 released from              
 committee with individual recommendations.                                    
 Number 475                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN SHARP adjourns the Senate State Affairs Committee meeting            
 at 4:35 p.m.                                                                  

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