Legislature(1999 - 2000)
04/15/2000 09:20 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 311 "An Act eliminating a requirement that a social security number be provided by an applicant for a hunting or sport fishing license or tag." REPRESENTATIVE JOHN COGHILL, SPONSOR testified in support o HB 311. The legislation would repeal the requirement to provide a social security number on hunting or sport fishing licenses or tags. He observed that there is a larger issue regarding the use of social security numbers for identification. He observed that federal law requires the use of social security numbers for a number of documents including recreational licenses. He suggested that the use of social security numbers on hunting or sport fishing licenses or tags is less secure than on other records such as marriage licenses. The federal code does not specifically identify that licenses being addressed. Representative Coghill referred to a memorandum by Terry Lauterbach dated March 23, 1999. Ms. Lauterbach concluded that the legislation could jeopardize federal funds for child enforcement. He noted that other states have challenged the federal requirement without consequences. He observed that "recreational license " is not defined in federal code. He suggested that the federal requirement could be challenged on the basis of security. Recreational licenses are sold in a number of businesses in the state of Alaska. He observed that the effective date would be January 1, 2001. He maintained that it would be easier to obtain social security numbers from hunting and fishing licenses than from a marriage or driver's license. Co-Chair Therriault observed that cases of stolen identity have occurred through the use of social security numbers. It can be difficult and expensive to straighten out cases of stolen identity. Representative J. Davies observed that social security numbers were added on hunting and fishing licenses when state welfare reform legislation was updated to comply with federal code. He expressed concern that overturning the federal requirement would create difficulty. Co-Chair Therriault observed that the original legislation, which was passed, to come into compliance had a sunset date. (TAPE CHANGE, HFC 00 - 121, SIDE 2) Co-Chair Therriault noted that states that have not included hunting and fishing licenses did not lose funds. Representative Coghill spoke in support of the legislation. He noted that the whole issue has to be revisited in the next year under the current statute. He maintained that a challenge to the federal requirement is worthy and necessary. Vice Chair Bunde stated that he knows someone who had his or her identity stolen through his or her social security number. He observed that the person's credit was negatively impacted for five years. While he acknowledged the problem he expressed concern that the legislation is "like plugging a hole in a dike." He suggested that it is easy to obtain social security numbers in a variety a ways. He stated that he would support the proposal if it wouldn't result in the loss of federal funds. He added that social security numbers on hunting and fishing licenses has assisted child support enforcement. Representative Austerman observed that there is a bigger long-term issue. He referred to the memorandum by Ms. Lauterbach and noted that funds could be affected. Representative Coghill acknowledged that the legislation would not resolve the greater problem [of identity theft] but emphasized that the dialog needs to be started. He maintained that the challenge is worthy and pointed out that there is a security issue. Representative Coghill maintained that the legislation would be a vote of confidence in the people of Alaska. He stressed that the federal government would assume that the state of Alaska is willing to incorporate the information without a challenge. Representative Phillips questioned the impact to the state. She observed that the Department of Fish and Game would have costs associated with changing forms. She stressed that there is no way to assure safety in this day and age of technology. Representative Coghill observed that the effective date was chosen to allow the department to print forms for the following year without additional cost. In response to a question by Representative Austerman, Representative Coghill pointed out that inclusion of the social security number is mandatory. Representative J. Davies acknowledged that identity theft is a problem, but did not think the legislation was the way to solve the problem. He observed that there are businesses that will research a person's social security number and other financial information for $35 dollars. He expressed concern that TANF and other federal funds could be lost. He observed that other states have begun challenges and recommended that the state of Alaska wait to see where the challenges go or at least get an opinion from the Attorney General. DENNY KAY WEATHERS, ANCHORAGE testified via teleconference in support of the legislation. She observed that her son lost a piece of identification that was found and used to run up phone charges. She does not have a social security number and is not employed. She pointed out that a social security number is only required for employment by the federal government, however the state of Alaska requires social security numbers (SSN) for hunting and fishing licenses. She stressed that non-residents are not required to have a social security number. She provided members with CRS Report for Congress, November 21, 1991, The Social Security Number: Chronology of Federal Developments Affecting Its Use (copy on file). She reviewed the report. The federal Tax Reform Act of 1976 authorizes states to use Social security numbers in administration of any tax, general public assistance, driver's license or motor vehicle registration law and to require individuals affected by such laws to furnish their SSNs to the states. In addition, states are permitted to use Social security numbers for requests for information from any agency operating pursuant to the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program and the Child Support and Establishment of Paternity program. The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 gave the secretary of Transportation authority to require that states to include a SSN on commercial vehicle licenses. Ms. Weathers stressed that SSN information was intended to be confidential. She observed that SSNs are required for commercial fishing permits. Fishing tenders come from all over. Commercial fishermen are required to give their SSN and name to fish tenders. Ms. Weathers continued support for a challenge to the federal requirement to include social security numbers. She observed that other states are challenging the federal mandate for inclusion of Social security numbers. She observed that there are challenges in the states of Idaho, New Mexico, Michigan, Montana and North Carolina. She added that some individuals do not give their Social security numbers on religious basis. She concluded that section 3 of the Statehood Act states that anything repugnant to the United States Constitution or the principals of the Declaration of Independence would be unlawful. She concluded that allowing the federal government to legislate for the state is against these principals. She maintained that there are no federal laws requiring social security numbers, only federal mandates. Ms. Weathers quoted Article I, Section 2 state of Alaska Constitution: "All political power is inherent in the people. All government originates with the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the people as a whole." She urged the legislature to uphold the people's right to not have a social security number. LARRY PERSILY, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE testified in opposition to HB 311. He observed that the Child Support Enforcement Division statutes sunset in the next year. He stressed that there is legislation in Congress to overturn requirements for SSN on hunting and fishing and recreational licenses. He suggested that a resolution could be passed requesting Congress to overturn the requirement. He acknowledged that there are some individual states fighting the requirement. Indications are that the federal government will penalize states that do not enforce federal requirements and that they will loss their federal funds for child support and TANF. He pointed out that there were options to avoid vendors from seeing SSNs. Applicants can go to a Fish and Game office or apply by mail. If someone does not have a SSN they can fill out an affidavit and attach it to their application. He observed that the Child Support Enforcement Division cannot suspend a recreational license. Only those convicted of criminal non-support or contempt can loose their license. Personal uses and subsistence uses are unaffected. Co-Chair Therriault noted that the zero fiscal note shows the potential loss of revenue. Co-Chair Mulder MOVED to report CSHB (JUD) out of Committee with the accompanying fiscal note. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. CSHB 311 (JUD) was REPORTED out of Committee with "no recommendation" and a fiscal impact note by the Department of Revenue, published 4/10/00.