Legislature(2001 - 2002)

02/19/2002 03:40 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                    
                 SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                                                                               
                        February 19, 2002                                                                                       
                            3:40 p.m.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Gene Therriault, Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Randy Phillips, Vice Chair                                                                                              
Senator Ben Stevens                                                                                                             
Senator Bettye Davis                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Rick Halford                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 23                                                                                             
Relating to declaring April 6, 2002, as Alaska Tartan Day.                                                                      
     MOVED SCR 23 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 87                                                                                                              
"An Act  providing special absentee  ballots for voters  in remote                                                              
areas."                                                                                                                         
     MOVED SB 87 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 190                                                                                                             
"An   Act  relating   to  guardianships,   conservatorships,   and                                                              
protective  orders;  relating to  the  actions  of the  office  of                                                              
public  advocacy concerning  guardianships  and  conservatorships;                                                              
relating  to  the  appointment  and  duties  of  a  court  visitor                                                              
appointed for  a patient  through the  office of public  advocacy;                                                              
amending Rule 77,  Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure;  and providing                                                              
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                              
SCR 23 - No previous action to record.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SB 87 - See State Affairs minutes dated 5/05/01 and                                                                             
        2/10/02.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SB 190 - No previous action to record.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Dan Henderson                                                                                                                   
No address provided                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SCR 23                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator Georgianna Lincoln                                                                                                      
Alaska State Capitol, Room 11                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of SB 87                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Sara Boario                                                                                                                     
Staff to Senator Lincoln                                                                                                        
Alaska State Capitol, Room 11                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Introduced SB 87                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Gayle Fenumiai                                                                                                                  
Division of Elections                                                                                                           
P.O. Box 110017                                                                                                                 
Juneau, AK 99811-0017                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT: Explained provisions of SB 87                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Yuri Morgan                                                                                                                     
Staff to Senator Wilken                                                                                                         
Alaska State Capitol, Room 514                                                                                                  
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced SB 190                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Brant McGee                                                                                                                     
Department of Administration                                                                                                    
Office of Public Advocacy                                                                                                       
        th                                                                                                                      
900 W. 5 Ave Ste 525                                                                                                            
Anchorage, AK 99501-2090                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions on SB 190                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 02-02-9, SIDE A                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  GENE   THERRIAULT  called   the  Senate  State   Affairs                                                            
Committee  meeting to  order at  3:40 p.m.  Present were  Senators                                                              
Stevens, Phillips  and Chairman Therriault. Senator  Davis arrived                                                              
at 3:45 p.m.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The first order of business was SCR 23.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
                    SCR 23-ALASKA TARTAN DAY                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  RANDY   PHILLIPS,  prime  sponsor,  explained   the  bill                                                              
declares April  6, 2002  Alaskan Tartan Day,  which is  a Scottish                                                              
holiday. He introduced  the bill last year and was  asked to do so                                                              
again this year.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DAN HENDERSON  testified via teleconference  in hearty  support of                                                              
the  resolution. He  informed  members that  in  1995 the  Alaskan                                                              
Scottish community  learned that  Canada celebrates Tartan  Day on                                                              
April  6  each  year.  They  thought this  was  a  good  idea  and                                                              
approached their legislators  to do the same. Since  1997, the day                                                              
has been celebrated across the Lower 48.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  noted the  language is  identical to  that in                                                              
the  resolution from  the previous  year and  the attached  fiscal                                                              
note is zero.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There was no additional testimony.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
He asked for the will of the committee.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS  made a  motion to move  SCR 23 and  accompanying                                                              
fiscal note from committee with individual recommendations.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
There being no objection, SCR 23 moved from committee.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
                 SB  87-SPECIAL ABSENTEE BALLOTS                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GEORGIANNA  LINCOLN, bill  sponsor, thanked  the committee                                                              
for hearing  the bill  and said  Sara Boario  would introduce  the                                                              
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SARA BOARIO,  chief of  staff to  Senator Lincoln, explained  that                                                              
purpose  of the  bill  is to  offer  a voter  living  in a  remote                                                              
location  the  opportunity  to  vote using  the  60  day,  special                                                              
advance absentee  ballot. In current statute, only  voters living,                                                              
working, or  traveling outside the  United States are  eligible to                                                              
use this type  of absentee ballot. However, distance,  terrain and                                                              
natural  conditions have  prevented  voters in  remote areas  from                                                              
reaching a  community with a polling  station or from  receiving a                                                              
ballot by  mail. Absentee ballots  are now mailed out  three weeks                                                              
prior to an election.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
The Division of  Elections already distributes the  special 60 day                                                              
special  advance absentee  ballot  so this  legislation would  not                                                              
impose  any  administrative  difficulties.  The bill  has  a  zero                                                              
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
During  the  previous  hearing,  there  were  concerns  about  the                                                              
interpretation   of   the  words,   "remote"   and   "reasonable."                                                              
legislative  legal advised  them  to review  how  the Division  of                                                              
Elections   applies  their   current   regulations  to   determine                                                              
permanent absentee  voters. This should provide  a good indication                                                              
of how  they would apply  SB 87 to  determine which  remote voters                                                              
would be eligible  to receive the special ballot.  The regulations                                                              
to  review are  6 AAC  25.650. One  of  the criteria  used by  the                                                              
division to  identify permanent  absentee voters  is if  the voter                                                              
"resides in a remote area in Alaska  or distance, terrain or other                                                              
natural  conditions  deny  the  voter  reasonable  access  to  the                                                              
polling  place."  The  definition   of  "remote"  is  inherent  in                                                              
regulation  and in  the bill  and  the key  phrase is  "reasonable                                                              
access." In  the past, courts  have interpreted "reasonable"  as a                                                              
matter or  degree, which  depends upon the  specific facts  of the                                                              
case. The Division of Elections reviews  the specific facts of the                                                              
permanent absentee  voters and as Gayle Fenumiai  indicated in her                                                              
follow up  letter of  January 22, 2002,  voters who would  benefit                                                              
from  this   bill  are  uniquely   identified  within   the  voter                                                              
registration system.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
She  said  Ms. Fenumiai  addressed  the  concern  expressed  about                                                              
people taking  responsibility to  exercise their  duty to  vote in                                                              
her recent letter. Voters are taking  the necessary steps to apply                                                              
for the  absentee ballot  but they don't  receive them in  time to                                                              
vote. In  more urban  areas, additional  accommodations have  been                                                              
made for absentee  voters. There are now absentee  voting stations                                                              
at international  airports and  at UAA and  UAF so in  addition to                                                              
the  regular mail-in  absentee ballots  absentee  voters in  urban                                                              
areas have a back up system to make their vote count.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
They have also  been asked to discuss the by-pass  mail system and                                                              
how that  might affect the bill.  Some people believe  the changes                                                              
proposed by Senator Ted Stevens and  Representative Don Young will                                                              
hurt mail  and passenger service  to Bush Alaska and  others think                                                              
it will  at least save  the system.  Under the current  structure,                                                              
the U.S.  Postal Service is losing  over $100 million per  year in                                                              
Alaska. Without  the proposed changes  the Postal Service  will be                                                              
forced to  eliminate the  service altogether,  which could  have a                                                              
devastating  impact on both  mail and  passenger service  to rural                                                              
Alaska. Opposing  forces have  stalled Representative  Young's HR.                                                              
3444 and the last report from Senator  Stevens was not optimistic.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  asked whether  an individual that  wants this                                                              
ballot would make application to  the regional election supervisor                                                              
and  be added  to the  list as  a  person that  qualifies for  the                                                              
special 60 day absentee ballot.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR LINCOLN  advised Ms. Fenumiai  was on line to  answer that                                                              
type of question.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
GAYLE FENUMIAI  explained voters that are designated  as permanent                                                              
absentee voters  in the voter  registration system, still  need to                                                              
apply for an  absentee by-mail ballot. This bill  would allow them                                                              
to receive the 60 day advance ballot  but they would still need to                                                              
complete an absentee by-mail ballot application.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  asked how individuals would be  cleared to be                                                              
eligible for permanent absentee voting.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  FENUMIAI said  individuals who  are  identified as  permanent                                                              
absentee  voters  are  mailed  absentee   ballot  applications  at                                                              
specific  times  during  the  year. If  the  division  received  a                                                              
registration form from a voter who  lived in one of the areas they                                                              
have designated as  rural due to remoteness or  lack of reasonable                                                              
access to  a polling place, their  record is flagged,  which would                                                              
trigger  their receiving  a by-mail application.  The voter  would                                                              
still need  to complete  the application  to receive  any kind  of                                                              
absentee ballot.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked her if  she had any idea how many people                                                              
might be affected with the passage of the bill.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI said she didn't have  any numbers to offer and didn't                                                              
know whether  every voter that might  qualify would apply  for the                                                              
special 60 day absentee ballot.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  LINCOLN   asked  Ms.  Fenumiai  if  she   hadn't  already                                                              
identified nearly  1,000 people that would qualify  to receive the                                                              
special ballot.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI said  that is correct; Shelly Growden,  the elections                                                              
supervisor  from Fairbanks,  reported  she has  over 1,000  voters                                                              
living  in remote  areas that  have been  classified as  permanent                                                              
absentee  voting areas.  Any of  these individuals  that apply  to                                                              
vote would be eligible to receive the special ballot.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT commented Ms.  Growden's move to the Fairbanks                                                              
Division  of Motor Vehicle  office is  a loss  to the Division  of                                                              
Elections.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
There were  no committee  substitutes or  amendments offered.  The                                                              
bill had a zero fiscal note.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
He asked for the will of the committee.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DAVIS  made a  motion to  move SB  87 and attached  fiscal                                                              
note from committee with individual recommendations.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
There being no objection, SB 87 moved from committee.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
             SB 190-GUARDIANSHIPS; CONSERVATORSHIPS                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  announced it was  not his intent to  move the                                                              
bill from committee  that day. Bill sponsor, Senator  Gary Wilken,                                                              
informed  the Chair  he  would present  language  for a  committee                                                              
substitute at a subsequent hearing.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
YURI MORGAN, staff to Senator Gary  Wilken, introduced the bill as                                                              
the result  of a  yearlong review  of the  guardianship system  in                                                              
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
The  1998 Alaska  Guardianship Study,  conducted  by the  McDowell                                                            
Group  of Juneau,  found  the  Alaska  guardianship system  to  be                                                              
complex and confusing.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
In  that same  year,  the  12 member  Long  Term Care  Task  Force                                                              
recommended   the  Department  of   Administration  give   serious                                                              
consideration to  the recommendations given in the  McDowell Group                                                              
study.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
In  June   1999,  the  Division   of  Senior  Services   formed  a                                                              
stakeholder  group  to  review the  recommendations  and  reach  a                                                              
consensus  on  the  needed changes  to  the  guardianship  system.                                                              
Stakeholders  included  representatives   from  the  Alaska  Court                                                              
System, court visitors, the Office  of Public Advocacy, the Alaska                                                              
Mental Health  Trust Authority and  other advocacy groups  for the                                                              
trust  beneficiaries, for-profit  guardian  companies and  private                                                              
guardians for Alaskans. SB 190 incorporates  the following statute                                                              
changes as recommended by the stakeholder group:                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
   · Clarifies the role of an attorney who represents a ward or                                                                 
     respondent                                                                                                                 
   · Creates an interim guardian                                                                                                
   · Allows the expanded use of private for-profit guardianship                                                                 
     services                                                                                                                   
   · Clarifies that a guardian may also serve as a conservator                                                                  
   · Requires a report on the availability of a private guardian                                                                
     or conservator be on an annual basis instead of every six                                                                  
     months                                                                                                                     
   · Clarifies that the Office of Public Advocacy (OPA) may not                                                                 
     use improper pressure to influence recommendations                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:00 p.m.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT called  a brief  at ease  to wait for  Brandt                                                              
McGee.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:10                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  called the  meeting back  to order.  He noted                                                              
Senator  Wilken's anticipated  CS adds  language to  the bill;  it                                                              
doesn't necessarily replace the proposed language.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
He said  he had several  questions that  he wanted entered  in the                                                              
record.  First,  he  has  anecdotal   evidence  that  OPA  is  not                                                              
following the  requirement that a  public guardian must  report to                                                              
the  court every  six  months on  the efforts  to  find a  private                                                              
guardian  or  conservator.  He expressed  concern  that  the  bill                                                              
proposes  to change  the reporting  from  every six  months to  an                                                              
annual basis. He  would like to understand what has  been going on                                                              
and the reasoning behind the change.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Section 1 states, "The principal  duty of an attorney representing                                                              
a  ward or  respondent  is to  represent  the  ward or  respondent                                                              
zealously.  Zealous  representation  includes  at  least  personal                                                              
interviews…."  He said  he's also  concerned because  a number  of                                                              
times he's heard that some of these  individuals appear before the                                                              
court  and  have   never  met  the  person  they   are  supposedly                                                              
representing.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
He  asked  Mr. McGee  to  comment  on  the  bill and  discuss  the                                                              
additional  sections the committee  will be  asked to consider  in                                                              
the possible CS.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. BRANDT  MCGEE from the Department  of Public Advocacy  said he                                                              
would give a brief sectional analysis.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Section 1 is designed to separate  the duties of an attorney and a                                                              
guardian ad  litem.  Those terms  are used interchangeably  in the                                                              
1982 statute  and they  are separate  and distinct functions.  The                                                              
role of  the attorney  is to represent  the wishes  of his  or her                                                              
client and the role  of a guardian ad litem is  to represent their                                                              
best interests. Both  roles cannot be played at  once. Although an                                                              
attorney  can switch  roles and become  a guardian  ad litem,  the                                                              
roles  must  be performed  sequentially,  not  at the  same  time.                                                              
Deleting  the   latter  part  of  subsection  3   clarifies  this.                                                              
Subsequent sections  in the bill  further clarify  the distinction                                                              
between an attorney and a guardian ad litem.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Sections  2-5  are  devoted  to   the  new  legal  term,  "interim                                                              
guardianship."  Currently  there are  only  emergency and  regular                                                              
guardianships. If one files for a  regular guardianship, it may be                                                              
months   before  that   guardianship   is  considered.   Emergency                                                              
petitions  are  generally filed  even  though the  specific  legal                                                              
criteria may not  be met. The purpose of the  interim guardianship                                                              
is to  provide another  choice for the  court and the  petitioner.                                                              
This language is adopted pursuant  to the McDowell report in 1998.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Section  6-7 expands  the definition  of those  types of  entities                                                              
thatmay  be appointed  as  guardian. For-profit  corporations  are                                                              
specifically  added to  clear up  the  previous confusion  because                                                              
they haven't been specifically identified.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Section  8 says  the  guardian  has the  powers  and  duties of  a                                                              
conservator   unless  another   distinct   conservator  has   been                                                              
appointed.  This will  be  beneficial for  financial  institutions                                                              
that sometimes  question whether a guardian can  perform financial                                                              
functions as well.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Section  9 clarifies  the role  of an  attorney as  in Section  1.                                                              
Under  current  ethical  standards,   it's  not  possible  for  an                                                              
attorney to also be a guardian ad litem.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Section  10  changes from  6  months  to annually,  the  reporting                                                              
requirement for  a public guardian  on efforts to find  a suitable                                                              
private guardian  or conservator. The  only way a  public guardian                                                              
learns an  alternative to  guardianship is  if someone  else steps                                                              
forward.  There is  little need  for a  search for  such a  person                                                              
because those searches  are conducted by the visitor  prior to the                                                              
appointment of anyone  to act as guardian. Public  guardians would                                                              
immediately bring a motion to change  guardianship if they learned                                                              
of another  available person because this  is one of the  few ways                                                              
they have to control their caseload.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Section 11  is intended to further  preclude the Office  of Public                                                              
Advocacy from exercising any undue  influence over persons who are                                                              
acting as OPA contractors.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Section  12 recognizes  the  difficulty a  visitor  might have  in                                                              
locating any express  wishes regarding medication  and changes the                                                              
wording accordingly.  Current law imposes an impossible  burden on                                                              
the visitor.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Section 13  also deals with the  roles of attorneys  and guardians                                                              
ad litem.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT referred  to  Sections 6  & 7  and asked  why                                                              
there is a prioritized system listed  in Section 6 while Section 7                                                              
says the priorities are not binding.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MCGEE  said  that  is  essential   because  there  are  often                                                              
inappropriate people in those categories.  There must be a way for                                                              
the court to  use discretion to rule out certain  people who might                                                              
be appointed,  but  are inappropriate  guardians or  conservators.                                                              
The  court shouldn't  be forced  to appoint  an individual  simply                                                              
because they  fall in a  higher level  of priority. Of  course the                                                              
court would  use discretion  and have to  show cause  for ignoring                                                              
the priorities.  He said  he hasn't heard  of many conflicts  over                                                              
this.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT said  the concern  he has  heard is that  the                                                              
private associations  or non-profits  are ranked above  the public                                                              
guardian  but the visitor,  who is  a state  employee, refers  the                                                              
majority of the cases to the public guardian.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. MCGEE  said the visitor is  a private contractor, not  a state                                                              
employee.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN   THERRIAULT   said   when   he  was   sitting   on   the                                                              
Administration  Budget  Subcommittee,  he remembers  hearing  that                                                              
caseloads were high. However, when  he was back in the district he                                                              
would hear from private attorneys  and people working for the non-                                                              
profits that they couldn't get cases  referred to them because the                                                              
public guardians  had them  all. With that  in mind,  the proposed                                                              
deletion in Section 10 raises questions.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MCGEE  said that  for  many  years two  private  guardianship                                                              
agencies  in  the Fairbanks  area  have  alleged  that OPA  is  in                                                              
competition  with them  for cases  because  the only  way OPA  can                                                              
justify their  budget is to continue  to add cases. They  say they                                                              
are not being  appointed cases because he is telling  visitors not                                                              
to recommend  appointment of  those entities.  He said  neither of                                                              
those  allegations   is  true.  Legislative   auditors  thoroughly                                                              
examined  the  competition  charge  prior to  issuing  their  most                                                              
recent report. They found the charges  to be completely untrue and                                                              
their recommendation  was that  the private guardianship  agencies                                                              
needed to do  more outreach to improve their  competitive economic                                                              
position. He  said OPA has  no interest  in taking any  new cases;                                                              
his guardians  have in  excess of  80 cases  apiece now,  which is                                                              
over three  times the load  when they  took over this  function in                                                              
1985. Based  on national  standards, they  have justification  for                                                              
hiring six new guardians. It's clear  they don't need new cases to                                                              
justify their existing budget.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  asked how they were handling  the requirement                                                              
to report to the  court at least once every six  months on efforts                                                              
to find a private guardian or conservator.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. MCGEE  said he has  never heard of  anyone making a  report on                                                              
that and has never seen such a report.  At the same time, he knows                                                              
of no instances  where a public guardian didn't  immediately bring                                                              
it  to  the attention  of  the  court  if they  found  a  suitable                                                              
substitute guardian.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT  asked if  those  cases are  generally  moved                                                              
through  the court  and the  guardianship  is passed  to a  family                                                              
member or private guardian.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MCGEE  said typically  guardianship  is  passed to  a  family                                                              
member;  he doesn't  know  if  such cases  have  been  moved to  a                                                              
private  guardianship  entity. He  knows  there  is a  significant                                                              
level of distrust of private guardianship  entities throughout the                                                              
system.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  asked him to address other areas  of the bill                                                              
that have language proposed for inclusion in the bill.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MCGEE said  he has  spoken with  Senator  Wilken's staff  and                                                              
Terry  Banister from  the Legislative  Affairs  Agency about  some                                                              
ideas he  has in light  of support findings  issued in  the spring                                                              
and  fall  of  2001 regarding  one  of  the  private  guardianship                                                              
entities.  First,   he  proposes  that  the  level   of  reporting                                                              
requirements be  increased for private guardianship  entities that                                                              
are  paid for  their  services.  This  includes a  provision  that                                                              
requires a  CPA audit  of their organization  on an annual  basis.                                                              
Further, he  proposes that they be  required to provide  a monthly                                                              
accounting of  the charges  they make for  their services  to each                                                              
client  and  to  get  court approval  if  they  charge  more  that                                                              
$1,000.00 per  month for  a client. The  reports would be  sent to                                                              
both  the probate  court  and the  Office  of  the Long-Term  Care                                                              
Ombudsman.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Currently  there  is  no  significant  control  over  the  billing                                                              
activity of  private guardianship  entities and their  reports are                                                              
not  required  to  have  any detail  regarding  their  charges  to                                                              
clients.  They are  able  to bill  whatever  they  choose and  the                                                              
billing is  submitted to an account  rather than to  an individual                                                              
who will review the bill.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
The court system is responsible for  receiving the reports but has                                                              
never been staffed  to perform investigations other than  on an ad                                                              
hoc  basis. If  someone  speaks up,  they  will  always appoint  a                                                              
visitor to investigate the circumstances,  but there is no regular                                                              
review of billing practices of private guardianship agencies.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There is no state  government entity that is an  obvious candidate                                                              
for this function. The court system  has no desire to add to their                                                              
list of non-adjudicated functions  and the OPA is an inappropriate                                                              
entity  to  investigate   complaints  about  or   monitor  private                                                              
guardianship agencies.  First they would be charged  with being in                                                              
competition   with  these  agencies   and  second,   they  provide                                                              
representation and advocacy not investigative services.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
The Office  of the Long-Term  Care Ombudsman is  suggested because                                                              
many of  the individuals that  are protected under  long-term care                                                              
are   also  guardianship   cases.   Additionally,   they  are   an                                                              
investigative agency with the skill to perform investigations.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  asked if the state is able to  recoup some of                                                              
the  expenses  incurred  in  a  guardianship  case  in  which  the                                                              
incapacitated individual has resources.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. MCGEE  said they  recoup money from  all their clients  unless                                                              
doing  so would  cause  undo  hardship.  They collect  a  standard                                                              
$40.00 per month charge from each  client; even those who are only                                                              
receiving  state and federal  assistance  because of their  mental                                                              
capacity are  charged. They recoup  about $250,000.00 a  year, and                                                              
most of it  comes from the individual's permanent  fund dividends.                                                              
However, they don't  have the ability to charge  those individuals                                                              
that have additional  resources more than $40.00  per month unless                                                              
a significant financial transaction is conducted.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT  asked  how  this  compares  to  the  private                                                              
guardians.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MCGEE  said  they  are able  to  charge  whatever  they  want                                                              
whenever they want, but the great  benefit to private guardianship                                                              
entities  is  that there  is  no  cost  to  the public  for  their                                                              
services. In  1989 when the  Community Advocacy Project  of Alaska                                                              
(CAPA)  was first  organized, they  were  very supportive  because                                                              
they believed  private  guardianship entities  would be an  option                                                              
for individuals with  resources to pay for their  own guardianship                                                              
services  and OPA  would not  be  involved. They  continued to  be                                                              
supportive  for many years  until "things  frankly kind  of turned                                                              
sideways with respect to their operations."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked what happened.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. MCGEE said  they do not receive the annual  visitor reports on                                                              
private guardianship entities, but  when incapacitated individuals                                                              
are rendered indigent, OPA inherits  the cases and finds that many                                                              
are "a  mess."  Also,  the former  executive director  stole about                                                              
$475,000.00 from  the program, which  provided a real  wakeup call                                                              
for many within the system.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Two things  are increasing their  caseloads. First is  the graying                                                              
of  Alaska and  second,  more people  are  becoming  aware of  the                                                              
benefits of guardianships.  The only way to reduce  their incoming                                                              
caseload  is through  private guardianship  entities  so they  are                                                              
completely supportive of the concept.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN   THERRIAULT   asked  how   he   found   out  about   the                                                              
embezzlement.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MCGEE said  he received  a call  from  the current  executive                                                              
director of CAPA  in the summer of 2000. The  other information he                                                              
has  is contained  in the  findings  of the  probate and  superior                                                              
courts in cases in 2001.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked whether the individual was indicted.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. MCGEE  said he was not,  but he is still  under investigation.                                                              
He added that the records of CAPA in Anchorage burned.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT agreed  that with  the aging  of the  Alaskan                                                              
population, this  will become a larger  issue. He said he  wants a                                                              
better understanding  before moving forward on the  bill and would                                                              
like to  see the additional  language Mr.  McGee has  for possible                                                              
inclusion in the CS.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SB 190 was held in committee.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before  the committee, the meeting                                                              
was adjourned at 4:45 p.m.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                

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