Legislature(2011 - 2012)BUTROVICH 205

02/17/2011 09:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
= SB 61 2011 REVISOR'S BILL
Moved CSSB 61(STA) Out of Committee
= SB 26 FEE/TAX EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN VEHICLES
Moved CSSB 26(STA) Out of Committee
= SB 30 RETURN OF SEIZED PROPERTY
Moved CSSB 30(STA) Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            SENATE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                       February 17, 2011                                                                                        
                           9:02 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bill Wielechowski, Chair                                                                                                
Senator Joe Paskvan, Vice Chair                                                                                                 
Senator Albert Kookesh                                                                                                          
Senator Kevin Meyer                                                                                                             
Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 26                                                                                                              
"An Act exempting vehicles fueled solely by electricity or                                                                      
compressed natural gas from motor vehicle registration fees and                                                                 
taxes; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSSB 26(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 61                                                                                                              
"An Act making corrective amendments to the Alaska Statutes as                                                                  
recommended by the revisor of statutes; and providing for an                                                                    
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSSB 61(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 30                                                                                                              
"An Act providing for the release of certain property in the                                                                    
custody of a law enforcement agency to the owner under certain                                                                  
conditions."                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSSB 30(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB  26                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: FEE/TAX EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN VEHICLES                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) MCGUIRE                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
01/19/11       (S)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/7/11                                                                                
01/19/11       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/19/11       (S)       STA, FIN                                                                                               
01/27/11       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
01/27/11       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
01/27/11       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/15/11       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
02/15/11       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/15/11       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/17/11       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB  61                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: 2011 REVISOR'S BILL                                                                                                
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
01/24/11       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/24/11       (S)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
02/15/11       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
02/15/11       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/15/11       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/17/11       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB  30                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: RETURN OF SEIZED PROPERTY                                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): DYSON                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
01/19/11       (S)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/7/11                                                                                
01/19/11       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/19/11       (S)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
02/03/11       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
02/03/11       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/03/11       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/17/11       (S)       STA AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
GENEVIIVE WOJTUSIK, Staff to Senator Lesil McGuire                                                                              
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions on SB 26.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
KATHERINE KURTZ, Assistant Revisor of Statutes                                                                                  
Legal Services                                                                                                                  
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented and explained the proposed                                                                      
amendment to SB 61.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DYSON, Sponsor of SB 30                                                                                                 
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced proposed CS to SB 30.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHUCK KOPP, Staff to Senator Dyson                                                                                              
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION  STATEMENT:  Explained  changes   in  CSSB  30  for  the                                                             
sponsor.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
VICTOR KESTER, Executive Director                                                                                               
Alaska Office of Victims Rights                                                                                                 
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 30.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
LES SYREN, Attorney                                                                                                             
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 30.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DOUG WOLVER, Administrative Attorney                                                                                            
Alaska Court System                                                                                                             
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions regarding SB 30.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:02:26 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BILL WIELECHOWSKI called the  Senate State Affairs Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 9:02  a.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order  were   Senators  Paskvan,  Giessel,  Kookesh,   and  Chair                                                               
Wielechowski. Senator Meyer arrived soon thereafter.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
         SB  26-FEE/TAX EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN VEHICLES                                                                      
                                                                                                                              
9:02:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  announced the  first order of  business would                                                               
be SB 26.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  noted the committee had  previously adopted a                                                               
CS, making version  X the working document. He  explained the new                                                               
fiscal note  has now arrived,  and shows a  cost to the  state of                                                               
$2,000 for FY12 and an  indeterminate change in revenues, because                                                               
it  is impossible  to project  the number  of vehicles  that will                                                               
qualify.  The Department  of Motor  Vehicles  (DMV) projects  the                                                               
initial revenue loss  to be small, but acknowledges  it will grow                                                               
as alternative fueled vehicles gain  in popularity. He also noted                                                               
the special  fee for hybrids  will sunset after three  years, and                                                               
the special  fee for vehicles  fueled exclusively  by alternative                                                               
fuels  will sunset  after  seven years,  so  the revenue  impacts                                                               
appear to be insignificant.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GENEVIIVE  WOJTUSIK, staff  to Senator  McGuire, said  the fiscal                                                               
note  has  not changed,  because  it  is indeterminate  how  many                                                               
vehicles will  be affected, but she  said the DMV has  no problem                                                               
with the bill going forward.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR Paskvan  moved to report  CS for  SB 26, version  X, from                                                               
committee  with   individual  recommendations   and  accompanying                                                               
fiscal note(s).                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  announced   that  without  objections,  CSSB                                                               
26(STA) passed from the Senate State Affairs standing committee.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:05:18 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI announced a brief at-ease.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                   SB  61-2011 REVISOR'S BILL                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:06:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI announced consideration of SB 61.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
KATHERINE KURTZ,  Assistant Revisor, Legislative  Legal Services,                                                               
said that  after hearing questions  from the committee  and doing                                                               
additional research,  she concluded  that Section 3  of SB  61 is                                                               
unclear. It could represent a  substantive change. She stated she                                                               
would prefer  to pull the  section out  of the revisor's  bill at                                                               
this point.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  if it  is  legal to  do a  substantive                                                               
change in a revisor's bill.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. KURTZ  responded it is  better to handle  such a change  in a                                                               
substantive bill.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI agreed  that  there are  better vehicles  for                                                               
that  change. He  noted the  committee had  a proposed  amendment                                                               
before them, identified as [27-LS0152\B.1.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI   offered  Amendment  1,  and   objected  for                                                               
discussion purposes                                                                                                             
                            AMENDMENT 1                                                                                     
                                                  27-LS0152\B.1                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
    OFFERED IN THE SENATE                                                                                                       
    TO:  SB 61                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
    Page 2, lines 2 - 7:                                                                                                        
    Delete all material.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
    Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. KURTZ said  the amendment removes Section 3 from  the B draft                                                               
of the bill.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KOOKESH asked if the section  will need to be put back in                                                               
later on.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.KURTZ answered  that she would  like to review the  issue over                                                               
the interim.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  if could  there be  a legal  challenge                                                               
because of this section, if the bill is not changed.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. KURTZ responded it is conceivable.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KOOKESH asked if SB 61 has a referral to the judiciary.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI said yes.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.KURTZ said it was her recommendation to take out Section 3.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI removed his objection  to the amendment. There                                                               
being no further objection, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  PASKVAN  moved  to  report   SB  61,  as  amended,  from                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations  and attached  fiscal                                                               
note(s).                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI announced that  without objection CSSB 61(STA)                                                               
moved from the Senate State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:14:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI announced a brief at ease                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                SB  30-RETURN OF SEIZED PROPERTY                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:16:03 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI announced consideration of SB 30.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PASKVAN moved to adopt  the proposed committee substitute                                                               
(CS) to SB 30, labeled 27-LS-0344\M, as the working document.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI objected for discussion purposes.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRED  DYSON, sponsor of  SB 30, said  the CS is  a better                                                               
product.  It  includes  provisions  that clarify  what  kinds  of                                                               
evidence  are  excluded  from  being  returned.  They  have  also                                                               
inserted the Office  of Victims' Rights (OVR)  as the gate-keeper                                                               
for assistance in return of property.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHUCK KOPP,  staff to  Senator Fred Dyson,  explained that  SB 30                                                               
provides property  owners with a clearly  identifiable process to                                                               
petition the court for recovery  of their property which is being                                                               
held  as evidence.  The CS  was drafted  in response  to concerns                                                               
that  giving  victims a  direct  voice  in those  situations  may                                                               
result in too  many requests for hearings. The OVR  is willing to                                                               
assume an intermediary role in  such requests. If a preponderance                                                               
of  evidence shows  that the  victim does  own the  property, OVR                                                               
could contact the  law enforcement agencies and see  if they have                                                               
a  claim on  the property.  If  OVR believes  the victim's  claim                                                               
exceeds that  of the law  enforcement agency, it can  request the                                                               
agency to ask  for a hearing. Once that request  is received, the                                                               
agency has ten  days to request a hearing. If  a criminal case is                                                               
already pending,  the hearing will  be before the court  that has                                                               
jurisdiction. If  no criminal case  is pending, the  hearing will                                                               
be before  the district or  superior court where the  property is                                                               
physically  located.  The burden  of  proof  is preponderance  of                                                               
evidence,  and  the court  may  impose  reasonable conditions  on                                                               
return of property to the owner.  Section 2 of the CS establishes                                                               
within  Title  24, Chapter  65,  the  authority  for the  OVR  to                                                               
request  return of  property  from a  law  enforcement agency  on                                                               
behalf of a victim. A victim is  defined as any person who is the                                                               
owner of property in the custody of a law enforcement agency.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:23:43 AM                                                                                                                    
VICTOR  KESTER, Executive  Director,  Alaska  Office of  Victims'                                                               
Rights  (OVR), said  the OVR  is  ready to  assist crime  victims                                                               
attain  a  mechanism  to  ask  the  court  for  return  of  their                                                               
property.  The OVR  wants to  work with  others in  a responsible                                                               
fashion. They also want to be  sure that this proposed statute is                                                               
within  the boundaries  of law  and ethics  and does  not present                                                               
challenges.  He noted  there  has been  concern  this may  impede                                                               
certain  functions   of  law  enforcement.  Under   the  proposed                                                               
legislation,  the  crime victim  would  come  to OVR,  OVR  would                                                               
investigate, and if they determine  the victim has a valid claim,                                                               
they would ask the agency for  a hearing on behalf of the victim.                                                               
If the  agency fails  to return  the property, it  has to  file a                                                               
request with the court for a hearing.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI said that was also his understanding.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:26:15 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. KESTER  said his main concern  would be the volume  of cases.                                                               
He believes the legislation is necessary,  but if there is a high                                                               
volume of requests, a fiscal note might be needed later.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PASKVAN asked about victim confidentiality.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. KESTER replied  the proposed legislation would  not alter the                                                               
existing broad confidentiality protections for crime victims.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  about potential  concerns over  fiscal                                                               
impacts.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. KESTER answered  his preliminary assessment is  that it would                                                               
not require  additional staff.  For example,  200 cases  during a                                                               
fiscal  year would  have an  impact, but  he doesn't  expect that                                                               
many  cases. The  problem is  relatively rare.  SB 61  would help                                                               
crime victims.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:31:33 AM                                                                                                                    
LES SYREN, attorney, stated that  his client owns a jewelry store                                                               
in Anchorage. In  2007, he received a phone call  from the police                                                               
in the middle  of the night and  was asked to come  to his store.                                                               
The police served  a search warrant on the  property, and removed                                                               
took about  $5,000 worth  of merchandise  from the  store, saying                                                               
they believed  it might  be stolen property.  A few  months later                                                               
the  attorney asked  for return  of  the property,  but he  never                                                               
heard back from  the police. Years went by. His  client was never                                                               
charged,  never told  that he  was a  suspect. This  property was                                                               
merchandise, and some was actually  on lay-away. When people came                                                               
in  to get  their  merchandise,  the store  had  to return  their                                                               
money. Mr. Syren said wrote to  the police chief again last week,                                                               
but  he  has not  yet  heard  back.  His  client is  suffering  a                                                               
financial loss.  He doesn't  want to  see frivolous  requests for                                                               
return  of property,  but  this one  is not.  His  client has  no                                                               
relief.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PASKVAN  asked if  the agency has  any evidence  that the                                                               
property belonged to someone else.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. SYREN  answered not that he  knows, but he has  heard nothing                                                               
from the police.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PASKVAN asked  when the police have  taken property, does                                                               
this come within the definition of a crime victim.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SYREN responded  that is  a very  good question.  The police                                                               
have taken his client's property without telling him why.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  PASKVAN  asked  if  his  client  can  provide  proof  of                                                               
ownership.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. SYREN said he would be glad to.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  PASKVAN questioned  whether  this  situation would  fall                                                               
within the definition of a crime victim.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. KOPP  responded that  Section 2  of the  committee substitute                                                               
says  "crime victim"  includes any  person  who is  the owner  of                                                               
property in the custody of a law enforcement agency.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  asked if there  is dispute over who  owns the                                                               
property,  could  OVR  be  in  the  position  of  representing  a                                                               
criminal.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. KOPP explained  that vetting would happen  during the initial                                                               
investigation. Sometimes it  can take the police a  while to sort                                                               
out what happened. These cases are  vetted before they make it to                                                               
court. OVR would learn the story from the investigation.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:40:18 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI  said the  CS does  not appear  to give  OVR a                                                               
decision with regard to filing a  case with the court. It appears                                                               
to be mandatory.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. KOPP replied that the reference  on page 2, line 1 to "shall"                                                               
request a hearing  refers to the law enforcement  agency. OVR has                                                               
the authority to conduct an investigation  and they can ask for a                                                               
hearing. Once they do request  it, the law enforcement agency has                                                               
ten days to request a hearing.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DYSON  said he  appreciates all  the questions.  He noted                                                               
that  last  year  the  Alaska   Peace  Officers  Association  had                                                               
endorsed a  similar bill, but  this year  they had one  person on                                                               
the board who didn't want to  endorse it. He speculated that once                                                               
the word gets out that this  mechanism exists, the police will be                                                               
more vigorous  in returning property  quickly. Making  the victim                                                               
whole is a duty.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:44:59 AM                                                                                                                    
DOUG WOLVER,  Administrative Attorney, Alaska Court  System, said                                                               
he met with  the sponsor's staff and also sent  the proposed bill                                                               
to several judges  for comment. The court is  always neutral when                                                               
it  comes  to legislation,  but  several  judges asked  what  the                                                               
standard of proof  for ownership would be. The  CS clarifies that                                                               
it is a preponderance of the  evidence. The next question was how                                                               
cases that  don't get filed as  criminal cases in court  would be                                                               
handled.  The CS  establishes that  either  superior or  district                                                               
court would have jurisdiction.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KOOKESH asked Mr. Wolver  to clarify how the police would                                                               
have the property if they haven't caught the perpetrator.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WOLVER responded  they  could find  it in  a  pawn shop,  or                                                               
through  a search  warrant. He  noted that  many property  crimes                                                               
don't get prosecuted.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KOOKESH asked if any judges didn't like the bill.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.   WOLVER  said   they  don't   take  official   positions  on                                                               
legislation. They  don't see as  an issue  with this bill,  but a                                                               
request would not normally come to them.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI asked  if the judges were  concerned about the                                                               
potential for a flood of claims into the court system.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. WOLVER  replied he did not  hear concern about that  from the                                                               
judges. He noted that fiscal  notes are educated guesses. In this                                                               
case, DOL  has an undetermined  fiscal note. They  probably won't                                                               
see many cases, but it is hard to know.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KOOKESH  said if there is  a flood of cases  then we know                                                               
there is a problem.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PASKVAN asked if there would be a filing fee involved.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WOLVER said  he had  not thought  of that,  but there  would                                                               
probably just  be a  motion unless there  was no  underlying case                                                               
involved. In that case, there might be a filing fee.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:50:19 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR PASKVAN moved to report CS for SB 30, version M, from                                                                   
committee with individual recommendations and accompanying                                                                      
fiscal notes.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI announced that without objection, CSSB                                                                       
30(STA) passed from the Senate State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:51:38 AM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Wielechowski adjourned the Senate State Affairs Standing                                                                  
Committee at 9:51 a.m.                                                                                                          

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