Legislature(2007 - 2008)BELTZ 211

03/20/2007 09:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS


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Audio Topic
09:01:17 AM Start
09:03:29 AM Confirmation Hearing: Talis Colberg, Lieutenant Governor Designee
09:11:50 AM SB92
09:29:38 AM SB115
09:58:34 AM HCR3
10:05:52 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Confirmation Hearing: TELECONFERENCED
Lieutenant Governor Designee -
Talis Colberg
+= SB 92 LIMITED LICENSE IGNITION INTERLOCK TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ SB 115 GIFT CARDS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ HCR 3 SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH TELECONFERENCED
Moved HCR 3 Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            SENATE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                         March 20, 2007                                                                                         
                           9:01 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Lesil McGuire, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Gary Stevens, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Hollis French                                                                                                           
Senator Lyda Green                                                                                                              
Senator Con Bunde                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CONFIRMATION HEARING: Lieutenant Governor Designee                                                                              
          Talis Colberg                                                                                                         
     CONFIRMATION ADVANCED                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 92                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to ignition  interlock requirements; relating to                                                               
limited  driver's license  privileges  for  persons convicted  of                                                               
driving  while  under the  influence  of  an alcoholic  beverage,                                                               
inhalant, or  controlled substance and requiring  certain persons                                                               
to utilize  ignition interlock devices  to qualify for  a limited                                                               
driver's license;  relating to probation for  driving while under                                                               
the influence  of an alcoholic beverage,  inhalant, or controlled                                                               
substance,  and  refusal  to  submit  to  a  chemical  test;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 115                                                                                                             
"An  Act relating  to gift  certificates and  gift cards,  and to                                                               
unclaimed property; and  making a violation of  certain gift card                                                               
prohibitions an unlawful trade practice."                                                                                       
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 3                                                                                               
Relating  to   proclaiming  April  of  2007   as  Sexual  Assault                                                               
Awareness Month.                                                                                                                
     MOVED HCR 3 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB  92                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: LIMITED LICENSE IGNITION INTERLOCK                                                                                 
SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) FRENCH                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
02/21/07       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/21/07       (S)       STA, JUD, FIN                                                                                          
03/13/07       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/13/07       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/13/07       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/20/07       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BELTZ 211                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB 115                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: GIFT CARDS                                                                                                         
SPONSOR(S): STATE AFFAIRS                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
03/12/07       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/12/07       (S)       STA, L&C                                                                                               
03/20/07       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BELTZ 211                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HCR  3                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH                                                                                     
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MEYER                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
02/12/07       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/12/07       (H)       HES                                                                                                    
02/27/07       (H)       HES AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
02/27/07       (H)       Moved Out of Committee                                                                                 
02/27/07       (H)       MINUTE(HES)                                                                                            
02/28/07       (H)       HES RPT 7DP                                                                                            
02/28/07       (H)       DP:    CISSNA,    NEUMAN,    FAIRCLOUGH,                                                               
                         GARDNER, SEATON, ROSES, WILSON                                                                         
03/01/07       (H)       TRANSMITTED TO (S)                                                                                     
03/01/07       (H)       VERSION: HCR  3                                                                                        
03/02/07       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/02/07       (S)       STA                                                                                                    
03/20/07       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BELTZ 211                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
TALIS COLBERG, Designee                                                                                                         
Lieutenant Governor Designee and Attorney General                                                                               
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Spoke to his nomination as Lieutenant                                                                     
Governor Designee.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DOUG WOOLIVER, Administrative Attorney                                                                                          
Alaska Court System                                                                                                             
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions regarding SB 92.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
RODNEY DIAL, Lieutenant                                                                                                         
Alaska State Troopers                                                                                                           
Ketchikan, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions regarding SB 92.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MARIT CARLSON VAN DORT, Staff                                                                                                   
to Senator Lesil McGuire                                                                                                        
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SB 115 on behalf of Senator                                                                     
McGuire, Sponsor.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
RACHEL LEWIS                                                                                                                    
Unclaimed Property                                                                                                              
Department of Revenue                                                                                                           
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Explained state unclaimed property process.                                                               
                                                                                                                                
HEATH HILYARD, Staff                                                                                                            
to Representative Carl Gatto                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions regarding SB 115.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SUZANNE CUNNINGHAM, Staff                                                                                                       
to Representative Kevin Meyer                                                                                                   
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented HCR 3 on behalf of Representative                                                               
Meyer, Sponsor.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHRIS ASHENBRENNER, Interim Program Administrator                                                                               
Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault                                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Spoke in favor of HCR 3.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LESIL MCGUIRE called the Senate State Affairs Committee                                                                 
meeting to order at 9:01:17 AM. Senators Green, French, Bunde,                                                                
Stevens and McGuire were present at the call to order.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
^Confirmation   Hearing:  Talis   Colberg,  Lieutenant   Governor                                                               
Designee                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MCGUIRE announced  the consideration  of Talis  Colberg as                                                               
Lieutenant Governor Designee.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
TALIS  COLBERG, Lieutenant  Governor  Designee,  said he  doesn't                                                               
plan  to fill  the role,  but if  necessary he  could uphold  the                                                               
duties  of the  lieutenant governor  including reviewing  citizen                                                               
initiatives  and   referendum,  gaveling  the   legislature  into                                                               
session,  filing   state  regulations,   commissioning  notaries,                                                               
heading  the  historical commission,  and  serving  as a  zealous                                                               
custodian of the state seal.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:03:29 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE asked about Alaska electing its attorney general.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. COLBERG said  six months ago that sounded  reasonable to him,                                                               
because  anything  that  breaks  up the  concentration  of  power                                                               
serves  the people.  But there  are downsides  to having  elected                                                               
attorney generals.  It sets up  an opposition to  legislative and                                                               
gubernatorial agendas  that could  work to  the detriment  of the                                                               
people  if used  for political  purposes. There  would an  agenda                                                               
that formed in  the course of the campaign, and  that could drive                                                               
staffing decisions  on a political  basis. But either  way works,                                                               
he said.  The governor's  choice of  successor to  the lieutenant                                                               
governor does not have to be the attorney general, he explained.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BUNDE  said he  tends  to  oppose  an election  for  the                                                               
attorney general.  He suggested  exploring the federal  model for                                                               
succession to the governorship.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. COLBERG  said he encountered  some surprise from  people when                                                               
they learned that the governor could pick the* successor.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE admitted that he didn't know that.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:06:57 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MCGUIRE moved  to forward  the  name of  Talis Colberg  as                                                               
lieutenant   governor   designee   to   a   joint   session   for                                                               
consideration. Hearing no objections, it was so ordered.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 9:07:51 AM from 9:09:27 AM.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
           SB  92-LIMITED LICENSE IGNITION INTERLOCK                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE announced the consideration of SB 92.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH  said the rural  exemption in SB 92  was discussed                                                               
at  the last  hearing. The  bill  allows the  department to  list                                                               
areas  in the  state where  the  ignition interlock  will not  be                                                               
required. The  interlock providers  are willing  to go  to remote                                                               
villages if three  or four offenders need the  device. He created                                                               
a list  of where  the DUIs [driving  under the  influence] occur.                                                               
Many places in the state have one  or two DUIs per annum. He gave                                                               
the examples of Nondalton, Noorvik,  Nulato, and others that only                                                               
had one DUI  per year. The requirement of the  interlock in those                                                               
areas would  serve as a  de facto disqualification of  a person's                                                               
ability  to drive  during probation.  He said  it strikes  him as                                                               
unfair. The bill  is a balanced approach, and  the department can                                                               
be trusted to apply it in a firm but evenhanded way, he stated.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:11:50 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE asked about "rug" courts.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DOUG  WOOLIVER,  Administrative  Attorney, Alaska  Court  System,                                                               
said he  ran conviction  data on  various locations.  "Rug court"                                                               
stands for "rural user group" in the old computer system.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BUNDE said  that no  matter  how small  a community  is,                                                               
every  person  deserves  the same  protection  by  the  interlock                                                               
device  as those  who live  in Anchorage.  He asked  Mr. Wooliver                                                               
about the list of DUI convictions in various communities.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. WOOLIVER said those are the convictions for 2006.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:13:45 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE noted that Craig,  Wrangell, Dillingham, Bethel and                                                               
Unalaska have  a substantial number  of convictions,  and perhaps                                                               
the goal could be achieved with a population cutoff.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. WOOLIVER  said some convictions  in Bethel would  include the                                                               
surrounding   communities  that   have   no   courts.  Only   the                                                               
communities   with  courts   are  counted,   so  some   of  those                                                               
convictions would include the surrounding villages.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BUNDE noted  there is  still a  substantial number,  and                                                               
those  citizens of  Bethel  should have  the  same protection  as                                                               
Anchorage citizens. He  said he didn't have the  magic number. He                                                               
understands  that in  places with  small populations  someone may                                                               
have  to wait  three years  to have  another DUI  in the  area in                                                               
order  to get  a  device. But  certainly in  places  the size  of                                                               
Kotzebue  or  Dillingham,  the  citizens  should  have  the  same                                                               
protection, he stated.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:15:50 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH  said he agrees,  especially with  those examples.                                                               
It is the  tiny little places, "that  it just seems to  be out of                                                               
reach."  Regarding  a population  cutoff,  "we  wouldn't want  to                                                               
eliminate  tiny  towns  that are  on  the  road  system-Coldfoot,                                                               
Paxton, places like that."                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GREEN  asked about the new  language on line 9  of page 1                                                               
regarding municipalities.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH said  the idea  is to  get every  municipality in                                                               
line so that when each enforces  its DUI laws, the requirement is                                                               
not  circumvented. A  lot of  DUI prosecution  in Anchorage  goes                                                               
through the  municipal prosecutor's office and  not through state                                                               
law. It is for uniformity, he said.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:18:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MCGUIRE  said she  would like to  see where  the department                                                               
ultimately decides to allow exemptions.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH  said perhaps the  department can provide  a draft                                                               
of that list as the bill moves along.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:19:38 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BUNDE said  he had  offered a  conceptual amendment.  He                                                               
withdrew it  and moved  conceptual Amendment  2. He  is concerned                                                               
about  a lack  of  direction  to the  people  who administer  the                                                               
exemption.  Amendment  2  requires  the department  to  base  the                                                               
exemption on off-the-road population size and volume of DUIs.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH  said perhaps  a  conceptual  amendment could  be                                                               
firmed up  in the next committee,  and it can include  the volume                                                               
of DUIs,  population size, and  proximity to a  larger population                                                               
on a road system. He said  he wouldn't want to exempt Paxton, but                                                               
a larger, totally isolated community may have to be exempt.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MCGUIRE asked  Senator Bunde  if  he wanted  to offer  the                                                               
amendment.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 9:22:08 AM to 9:22:39 AM.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEVENS said  this is not necessarily a  violation with a                                                               
geographical limit because a villager may drive in Anchorage.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH also  noted that  a villager  who is  arrested in                                                               
Anchorage may go back to the village.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:24:18 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MCGUIRE asked for assistance  with the conceptual amendment                                                               
and how to determine the availability of the device.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
RODNEY  DIAL, Lieutenant,  Alaska State  Troopers, Department  of                                                               
Public Safety (DPS),  said there would be a  higher percentage of                                                               
DUI convictions  in the  small, remote  communities that  are the                                                               
result of  a serious injury  from a  snow machine or  car because                                                               
these communities have little, if  any, traffic enforcement. That                                                               
might  play a  part in  safety concerns,  he said,  although snow                                                               
machines can't  use the  device. Any  community connected  to the                                                               
road system should not be exempt, he opined.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:26:16 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MCGUIRE  said if the  bill were left alone,  the department                                                               
would  make the  determination. She  asked about  population size                                                               
and the volume of DUIs.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. DIAL  said the volume of  DUIs seems reasonable. Many  of the                                                               
communities are  exempt from insurance requirements,  and perhaps                                                               
the same criteria could be used for device exemptions.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH said he will work on the bill.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE said  he will withdraw the  amendment while Senator                                                               
French solidifies the language. If  someone was involved in a DUI                                                               
that involved  a serious  injury, that may  be another  factor to                                                               
take into consideration.  The device won't go on  a snow machine,                                                               
but a person could still lose a drivers license, he suggested.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE  told Senator French  that he can bring  the change                                                               
in the form of a committee substitute.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
She  announced she  would  set  SB 92  aside  until the  Thursday                                                               
meeting.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                       SB 115-GIFT CARDS                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:29:38 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MCGUIRE announced the consideration of SB 115.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MARIT CARLSON VAN  DORT, Staff to Senator Lesil  McGuire, said SB                                                               
115 is  the response  to a dramatic  increase in  consumer demand                                                               
for convenient gift options and  consumer frustration with hidden                                                               
fees and  restrictions. Several states  have addressed  the issue                                                               
by  limiting  expiration  dates   and  fees.  The  bill  includes                                                               
electronic gift  cards, similar  to debit cards,  as well  as the                                                               
more traditional  gift certificates issued by  businesses. SB 115                                                               
will  ensure that  gift cards  will  retain their  full value  in                                                               
perpetuity and will not be  subject to expiration dates, dormancy                                                               
fees,  service fees  or  anything that  will  reduce their  total                                                               
redemption   value.  Exclusions   include  awards   or  promotion                                                               
programs; donations;  bank-issued gift  cards; or cards  that can                                                               
be used  at multiple  locations. Cards  that remain  unclaimed by                                                               
the owner  for more than  three years are presumed  abandoned and                                                               
will be subject to reporting to the state as unclaimed property.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:31:49 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE asked  about the business perspective.  He spoke of                                                               
a certificate  for a discount  of any  purchase over $50,  but it                                                               
had a time limit.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MCGUIRE  said  awards   and  promotions  are  specifically                                                               
exempted. The bill refers to gift  cards, and she gave an example                                                               
of  giving  someone a  gift  card  from  Borders Books,  and  the                                                               
receiver would not have to rush out  and use the gift card at the                                                               
risk of losing  the value of the card. The  consumer complaint is                                                               
that some  gift cards lose value  over time, "so the  three years                                                               
seems to be kind of a reasonable time period."                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEVENS  asked for statistics on  unclaimed gifts because                                                               
he heard there  are enormous amounts of money  that merchants get                                                               
the benefit of. It  is a great benefit to the  merchant to sell a                                                               
gift card that no one ever uses, he surmised.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:34:33 AM                                                                                                                    
RACHEL  LEWIS, Administrator,  Unclaimed Property,  Department of                                                               
Revenue, said  nationally $58  billion worth  of gift  cards were                                                               
sold last year,  and it is estimated that $8  billion will not be                                                               
redeemed.  Some  businesses  are   reporting  that  as  unclaimed                                                               
property and  some roll it  into income. This bill  will identify                                                               
that  that money  belongs to  the consumers  who purchased  those                                                               
cards. It is continuing to grow every year, she stated.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE asked for Alaska statistics.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. LEWIS  said about  $58,000 have been  reported to  the state.                                                               
Use of gift  cards is pretty new  in the last five  years, but it                                                               
is snowballing. She  noted that a lot of companies  in Alaska are                                                               
setting up their books to monitor  gift cards. Alaskans use a lot                                                               
of gift cards, she added.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:36:24 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE asked if the $58,000 was unclaimed.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. LEWIS said that is what has been turned over to the state.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEVENS  asked what  happens to the  property and  if the                                                               
state can use a Barnes and Noble gift card, for example.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:36:57 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEWIS said since 1986 Alaska  has had about $88 million worth                                                               
of  unclaimed  property,   including  payroll  checks,  insurance                                                               
reimbursements,   old  bank   accounts,  stocks,   mutual  funds,                                                               
dividends  and re-investment  plans. About  $23 million  has been                                                               
returned  to the  owners.  What  is not  claimed  is  put in  the                                                               
general fund  and used for all  Alaskans, adding up to  about $58                                                               
million since 1986. The state  is usually transferring $3 million                                                               
to $9 million each year as companies update their books.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEVENS  asked about the  process for a  gift certificate                                                               
that a person doesn't claim.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. LEWIS  said every year  companies review their books  for any                                                               
outstanding liability. After the  three-year dormancy period they                                                               
would file  an unclaimed  property report with  the state  if the                                                               
last known  address of the  recipient is in the  state, otherwise                                                               
it will go the state where the business is incorporated.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:39:10 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH  said   Section  4  makes  a   card  valuable  in                                                               
perpetuity, but after  three years an unclaimed  card is presumed                                                               
abandoned.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. LEWIS explained that the card  is good in perpetuity with the                                                               
state. The business  removes it from its  liability account after                                                               
three years, but  the card is still good if  it has been reported                                                               
to the state, "and you can  claim your money through the State of                                                               
Alaska unclaimed property office."                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH said  his family  forgets to  use them.  He asked                                                               
what happens  if a merchant tells  him his card is  expired. "How                                                               
would I then  know that I can  get my money back  from the state?                                                               
Would they have  to tell me?" He asked, "If  they won't honor it,                                                               
how do I figure out that it's actually good in perpetuity?"                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:40:57 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEWIS said some details will  be on the card. A business will                                                               
need to  honor the  card or  refer you to  whatever state  it has                                                               
turned the money over to.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MCGUIRE said  a  lot of  consumers  have complained  about                                                               
this. Alaska  has many  folks who  buy gift  cards, which  may be                                                               
geographical  or   because  Alaskans  are  lazy.   People  become                                                               
disappointed  when the  gift card  loses  value. A  gift card  is                                                               
money  into the  businesses coffers  just like  buying a  jacket.                                                               
"What  you're seeing  companies do  is,  kind of,  come back  and                                                               
double dip."  This is a consumer  protection bill, and it  is not                                                               
unfair to  a business. The  business has received the  benefit of                                                               
that purchase, she stated.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:43:12 AM                                                                                                                    
HEATH HILYARD,  Staff to Representative Carl  Gatto, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, said  the original version had  an expiration period                                                               
of seven  years, which  is what Massachusetts  does, and  then it                                                               
was changed  to "in perpetuity" to  maximize consumer protection.                                                               
The gift card  will forever hold its value. After  three years it                                                               
is considered  abandoned but it is  up to the retailer  on how to                                                               
handle  it. Representative  Ramras said  the gift  cards for  his                                                               
business always  retain their  value, so as  a business  owner he                                                               
has  no problem.  Once  it  is reported  as  unclaimed, then  the                                                               
business can honor  it and report that back to  the state, or the                                                               
business  can  send  the  customer   to  the  unclaimed  property                                                               
division to recover the value of the card.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:45:37 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  HILYARD  spoke of  the  lingering  balance on  a  business's                                                               
books. Many  retailers do continue  to value the gift  cards. The                                                               
intent  was to  get at  the "open  universe cards"  that are  now                                                               
specifically  exempted.   These  cards  open  a   temporary  bank                                                               
account, like at Key Bank or  Wells Fargo, for example, but those                                                               
are regulated  by federal laws,  so the bill cannot  regulate the                                                               
main offenders that the sponsor  really wanted to address. But in                                                               
his investigations  he found that  there are larger  retailers in                                                               
the state that "still are kind of abusive."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE  said the committee  can set the  termination point                                                               
anywhere,  including seven  years or  in perpetuity.  Most states                                                               
are dealing  with this somehow, she  said. The goal was  to think                                                               
about  the maximum  value to  the  consumer with  respect to  the                                                               
limitations of federal laws.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:47:53 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH said  the bill says the card  is valuable forever,                                                               
but  when  the consumer  tries  to  use  an abandoned  card,  the                                                               
consumer may be set up to be disappointed.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:48:49 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. HILYARD said, "If you made  the expiration period the same as                                                               
the  unclaimed property,  then  that would  negate  the need  for                                                               
unclaimed property in these devices."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MCGUIRE  discussed  four   options:  making  the  deadline                                                               
commensurate  with the  unclaimed  property statute-three  years;                                                               
eliminating it so  it would be the same;  using the Massachusetts                                                               
model of  seven years; or  having it retain value  in perpetuity.                                                               
She agreed it might cause consumer confusion.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE  said when he  buys a jacket  he is not  charged an                                                               
activation  fee and  he  is not  charged if  he  doesn't use  his                                                               
jacket. "So there  is some double dipping in  there." He endorses                                                               
that aspect,  but questions the  practicality. He asked  how much                                                               
paperwork  is generated  for a  person  requesting the  remaining                                                               
value on a  gift card. He asked  if the state can  use that money                                                               
prior to a  person reclaiming it. "Does your  division make money                                                               
or does it cost money" he asked.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:51:05 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. LEWIS  said processing  claims is  automated, and  gift cards                                                               
are a very small portion of  them. There is an online system, "so                                                               
I do not think it would cost the state very much money."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE  said she  thinks the state  is making  money: "$58                                                               
million since 1986?"                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE  asked if any  companies have complained  about the                                                               
proposed legislation, particularly the double dippers.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE said no one has.  Merchants can choose to sell gift                                                               
cards  if it  generates income.  She suggested  making the  terms                                                               
clear. She  thinks merchants  will choose to  keep the  gift card                                                               
system because of its popularity.  "And I still think they'll get                                                               
the benefit of having those customers come in."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE  said the business  gets the money upfront  and can                                                               
make use of the money. He  surmised that businesses expect that a                                                               
certain percentage of cards will never be redeemed.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MCGUIRE said  it  is a  clever business,  but  it is  also                                                               
convenient for the lazy shoppers.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:53:39 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GREEN  said she bought gift  cards for the kids  and paid                                                               
an upfront fee. She asked if that would be addressed.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE said that would not be allowed.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GREEN  asked about removing  the term  "certificate" from                                                               
the bill and if it is addressed somewhere else.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. VAN DORT said it was  intended to be removed, and she thought                                                               
it was  defined somewhere.  She read:  and gift  certificates are                                                               
included under the definition of gift cards.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE noted  page 3, lines 29-31, where it  said a device                                                               
that is  usable up  to its  face amount.  "So we're  changing the                                                               
definition and including it, so it's all encompassing."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:55:17 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GREEN said it is confusing.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. HILYARD said, "Our version  opted for 'gift card' and…we went                                                               
for a  more generic term  that broadly includes  gift certificate                                                               
as  it currently  exists,  but  now we  also  include gift  card,                                                               
because it is a specific type of device."                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH  said he  shares Senator  Green's concern.  A gift                                                               
card is  plastic and certificates  are paper. He questioned  if a                                                               
consumer would  realize they are  both under the same  rules. The                                                               
title  mentions  both, and  it  would  be  clearer if  both  were                                                               
referred to throughout the bill.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:56:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MCGUIRE said she will ask  the drafter about it. A consumer                                                               
likely sees  the distinction  between a  certificate and  a card,                                                               
she  surmised.  She  said  she  would  hold  SB  115  over  until                                                               
Thursday.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
             HCR  3-SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE announced the consideration of HCR 3.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SUZANNE CUNNINGHAM, Staff to  Representative Kevin Meyer, sponsor                                                               
of HCR  3, said  this resolution proclaims  April 2007  as Sexual                                                               
Assault Awareness Month.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:58:34 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  CUNNINGHAM said  sexual  assault is  a  difficult topic  but                                                               
given the  status of this crime  in Alaska, it deserves  to be at                                                               
the  forefront. The  resolution recognizes  the need  for greater                                                               
awareness,  prevention and  education.  By  observing the  month,                                                               
schools, state  agencies, and individuals are  encouraged to seek                                                               
out  or  sponsor activities  to  increase  public awareness.  The                                                               
sexual assault statistics  provide a sobering reality.  It is one                                                               
of the most violent and  underreported crimes in Alaska. Alaska's                                                               
forcible  rape  rate  is  2.5  times  higher  than  the  national                                                               
average, and  child sexual  assault is six  times higher.  A 2006                                                               
opinion  poll  found  that  75   percent  of  those  polled  have                                                               
experienced  or   know  someone  who  has   experienced  domestic                                                               
violence or sexual  assault. Over the past  years the legislature                                                               
has  made laws  tougher. There  is a  need to  work with  service                                                               
providers  and agencies  to increase  awareness and  services for                                                               
victims.  She  said  HCR  3   seeks  to  support  sexual  assault                                                               
survivors and their loved ones  and advocate for increased public                                                               
safety and victim rights.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:00:25 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR BUNDE said the legislature  worked on revisions to sexual                                                               
assault laws  last year, and a  reporter called him and  said the                                                               
judicial  council reported  that the  recidivism rate  for sexual                                                               
assault is way  down. The unspoken question was why  get so tough                                                               
on sex  crimes because of  that. He  said he rejected  such logic                                                               
because the crime is so underreported. He asked for comments.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. CUNNINGHAM said Representative Meyer  has served on the board                                                               
of Standing  Together against Rape  and has worked on  this issue                                                               
since becoming  elected. She thinks  he would say that  one crime                                                               
is enough. Interpersonal violence is devastating, she stated.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:02:17 AM                                                                                                                   
CHRIS  ASHENBRENNER, Interim  Program  Administrator, Council  on                                                               
Domestic Violence  and Sexual Assault,  said she hasn't  read the                                                               
aforementioned  report  but  quoted  Representative  Fairclough's                                                               
response. "Sex  offenders get smarter after  they're caught." She                                                               
noted that the  report only looked back four  years. She recalled                                                               
a  conversation with  a woman  who  was assaulted  by her  uncle.                                                               
Reporting  the crime  disrupted  her family,  her  aunt could  no                                                               
longer support herself because the man  was sent to jail, and the                                                               
whole village was  mad at her. When the man  returned and started                                                               
offending her  again, she never  told. The resolution is  the key                                                               
to  getting the  statistics lowered.  "We  have to  get out  into                                                               
those schools; we  have to talk to the children;  we have to talk                                                               
to the communities  to get to the point where  when that child in                                                               
that community tells that her uncle is raping her, there isn't a                                                                
person in that community that doesn't censor that behavior." She                                                                
said this resolution is part of the whole puzzle.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEVENS moved HCR 3 from committee with individual                                                                      
recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). Hearing no                                                                         
objection, it was so ordered.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE adjourned the Senate State Affairs Committee                                                                      
meeting at 10:05:52 AM.                                                                                                       

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