Legislature(2017 - 2018)HOUSE FINANCE 519

03/31/2017 01:30 PM FINANCE

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved CSHB 49(FIN) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 31                                                                                                             
     "An Act  requiring the Department  of Public  Safety to                                                                    
     develop   a   tracking   system  and   collection   and                                                                    
     processing  protocol  for  sexual  assault  examination                                                                    
     kits;  requiring  law   enforcement  agencies  to  send                                                                    
     sexual assault  examination kits for testing  within 18                                                                    
     months  after collection;  requiring  an inventory  and                                                                    
     reports  on untested  sexual assault  examination kits;                                                                    
     and providing for an effective date."                                                                                      
1:37:14 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GERAN TARR,  SPONSOR, explained  the purpose                                                                    
of  the  bill.  She  summarized that  HB  31  addressed  the                                                                    
problems  regarding  sexual  assault  examination  kits  and                                                                    
implemented  a  better system  to  process  them. She  cited                                                                    
victim reporting  data from 2015 that  indicated 7,662 rapes                                                                    
occurred annually in Alaska. She  estimated that roughly 100                                                                    
sexual assaults  occurred in  the state  since the  bill was                                                                    
referred to  the House  Finance Committee  52 days  ago. She                                                                    
provided background on the bill  to assist understanding the                                                                    
current committee substitute (CS).  She learned that in 2014                                                                    
a  national effort  began  to address  the  backlog of  many                                                                    
thousands of  sexual assault examination kits  left untested                                                                    
across the country. The federal  government had made funding                                                                    
available to  test the  backlog of kits  it states  that met                                                                    
the  requirement to  produce a  completed audit  of untested                                                                    
kits.  Simultaneously, the  governor initiated  a leadership                                                                    
role,  undertook the  audit,  and  received a  multimillion-                                                                    
dollar  grant  from  the   federal  Department  of  Justice.                                                                    
Consequently, the  original version  of HB 31  addressed the                                                                    
subsequent  procedures  for  handling the  kits  to  prevent                                                                    
backlogs in  the future that included  a standard processing                                                                    
protocol and  a timeline for  processing the kits  within 18                                                                    
months  of  collection.  The   audit  discovered  that  "the                                                                    
situation  in  Alaska  was dismal,"  more  problematic  than                                                                    
anticipated,  and  required  more  information  to  properly                                                                    
address the backlog. She explained  that the new CS included                                                                    
provisions for more assessment  and information to establish                                                                    
the scope  of the  current problem  along with  training and                                                                    
reporting  protocols. She  referred to  the "Explanation  of                                                                    
Changes" document (copy on file)  that explained the changes                                                                    
to HB  31 from the  original version A  to the CS.  She read                                                                    
the summary of provisions in version A:                                                                                         
     1. Requires a tracking system for all sexual assault                                                                       
     examination kits                                                                                                           
     2. Requires a standard protocol for collection and                                                                         
     processing of kits                                                                                                         
     3. Requires all kits be tested within 18 months                                                                            
     4. Requires law enforcement agencies to conduct an                                                                         
     inventory of untested kits and required DPS to prepare                                                                     
     a report on untested kits                                                                                                  
Representative  Tarr turned  to  the new  version  J CS  and                                                                    
pointed out that it did  not include the 18-month time limit                                                                    
on testing.  She detailed that the  information requested in                                                                    
the CS  would determine  what was required  to meet  the 18-                                                                    
month  testing  standard.  In   the  intervening  time,  the                                                                    
provisions  that  required   additional  training,  improved                                                                    
victim reporting,  and completing  the inventory  would help                                                                    
"reform the broken system." She  communicated that Section 1                                                                    
and Section  2 required  law enforcement training  in sexual                                                                    
assault   that  further   defined   existing  statute.   One                                                                    
conclusion  stemming  from  the  process  to  date  was  the                                                                    
inconsistencies  in  response   among  the  law  enforcement                                                                    
entities  when  inquiring  about the  number  of  backlogged                                                                    
kits.  The  goal  of  section  1 and  section  2  created  a                                                                    
standard  protocol  for  training  of  all  law  enforcement                                                                    
officers  in  the  state.  She   mentioned  that  section  3                                                                    
provided  definitions. She  noted  that  Section 4  required                                                                    
protocol development  for three  different types  of reports                                                                    
associated  with sexual  assault and  the examination  kits.                                                                    
She  revealed that  the federal  Office of  Violence Against                                                                    
Women,  released  a  white  paper  regarding  the  types  of                                                                    
reports a victim of sexual  assault should have the right to                                                                    
choose to  file. The reporting  recognized that  the victims                                                                    
should be allowed  to choose how they wanted  to engage with                                                                    
law enforcement  after an assault. She  exemplified that one                                                                    
of  the  reasons  for multiple  types  of  reporting  helped                                                                    
protect the  victims of sexual  assault related  to domestic                                                                    
violence. She described the three  types of allowable victim                                                                    
reports and read the following:                                                                                                 
     a. Law Enforcement Report                                                                                                  
     A victim chooses to obtain  a medical forensic exam and                                                                    
     chooses to participate in the criminal justice system.                                                                     
     b. Medical Report                                                                                                          
     A victim chooses to obtain  a medical forensic exam but                                                                    
     at the time chooses to  not participate in the criminal                                                                    
     justice  system.   Evidence  and  information   to  law                                                                    
     enforcement   is  released   with  victim   identifying                                                                    
     information. A  medical reporting victim can  choose to                                                                    
     have evidence tested.                                                                                                      
     c. Anonymous Report                                                                                                        
     A victim chooses to obtain  a medical forensic exam but                                                                    
     at  that  time  chooses   to  not  participate  in  the                                                                    
     criminal  justice system.  Evidence and  information to                                                                    
     law enforcement is  released without victim identifying                                                                    
     information.   An   anonymous   reporting   victim   is                                                                    
     consenting to evidence storage only.                                                                                       
Representative   Tarr  informed   the  committee   that  the                                                                    
evidence for the kit must  be collected within 72 hours. The                                                                    
three types of reporting  mechanisms recognized that not all                                                                    
assault victims wanted to press  charges or press charges at                                                                    
the  time  of  the  assault   but  allowed  for  the  timely                                                                    
collection of  evidence in  the event  the victim  wanted to                                                                    
move forward  in the  future. She  continued with  the third                                                                    
item in the bill:                                                                                                               
     3.  Requires law  enforcement  agencies  to conduct  an                                                                    
     inventory of untested kits and  required DPS to prepare                                                                    
     a report on untested kits                                                                                                  
Representative  Tarr conveyed  that  the initial  governor's                                                                    
audit took a voluntary approach  and not all law enforcement                                                                    
entities  participated.  She  referenced  page  4,  lines  6                                                                    
through 10 of the CS and read the reporting requirements:                                                                       
     (1) the number of untested sexual assault examination                                                                      
     kits stored by each law enforcement agency or                                                                              
     (2) the date each untested sexual assault examination                                                                      
     kit was collected; and                                                                                                     
     (3) a plan for addressing the backlog and prevention                                                                       
     of a backlog of untested sexual assault examination                                                                        
1:46:37 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Tarr  commented that  the next step  would be                                                                    
to figure  out how to  test the  backlog. She pointed  to an                                                                    
article  in  the  Anchorage  Daily  News  titled  "Anchorage                                                                    
Serial  Rapist Sentenced  to 70  Years in  Prison" (copy  on                                                                    
file). She relayed that the  perpetrator named, Clifford Lee                                                                    
engaged  in numerous  sexual assaults  in  2014. One  victim                                                                    
managed  to  escape,  which  lead to  his  arrest.  The  DNA                                                                    
evidence connected  him to  assaults in  2004 and  2001. The                                                                    
conviction emphasized  the "power"  and "value" of  the type                                                                    
of evidence collected in the  kits. Historically, the belief                                                                    
was that there was one  perpetrator and one victim. However,                                                                    
the view  was found not to  be true; the truth  pointed to a                                                                    
"staggering number"  of serial  perpetrators for  both child                                                                    
sexual abuse  and adult sexual  assault, and the  news story                                                                    
highlighted  the  behavior.  Previously, in  cases  where  a                                                                    
perpetrator was  known to the  victim, DNA evidence  was not                                                                    
collected. She noted  that DNA evidence was  a "powerful way                                                                    
to link the offenders to other crimes."                                                                                         
1:49:49 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Tarr spoke  of a  group of  businesswomen in                                                                    
Detroit who  fundraised thousands of dollars  to address the                                                                    
backlog of untested kits and  reiterated that the effort was                                                                    
a national  movement. Many other states  were addressing the                                                                    
problem in the  similar manner as Alaska.  She reported that                                                                    
1 in 5 women  and 1 in 59 men will  be sexually assaulted in                                                                    
their  lifetime  and alluded  to  the  high rate  of  sexual                                                                    
assault in Alaska.  She believed that the  evidence from the                                                                    
backlog  will  lead  to  the arrest  of  many  other  serial                                                                    
perpetrators making communities safer.                                                                                          
Representative Tarr noted that  there was no cost associated                                                                    
with the CS.  She explained that the fiscal  note (FN1 (DPS)                                                                    
attached to  the original bill appropriated  funding for the                                                                    
18-month testing  requirement and  the cost of  the database                                                                    
for  tracking.  She  commented  that  both  provisions  were                                                                    
removed in the CS and an  updated fiscal note would be zero.                                                                    
The  Public  Safety  Training  Academy  currently  performed                                                                    
sexual assault  training and the  provision in the  CS added                                                                    
more  specific requirements  and standardized  the approach.                                                                    
She  continued that  the Department  of Public  Safety (DPS)                                                                    
would not incur  costs to carry out the  reporting and would                                                                    
prepare the  report inhouse with  existing staff.  The three                                                                    
reporting  options did  not warrant  additional funding  nor                                                                    
the  costs  to  test  the kits.  Existing  statute  provided                                                                    
payment for victims  not able to pay for  the sexual assault                                                                    
1:53:48 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wilson asked  whether  the information  from                                                                    
the kits  were currently  tracked and if  the municipalities                                                                    
kept records  and interfaced with the  state. Representative                                                                    
Tarr answered  that the  state currently  kept track  of the                                                                    
number of kits  tested and untested at the  state crime lab.                                                                    
She  indicated that  the passage  of the  bill would  compel                                                                    
municipalities to  respond to  the information  request. She                                                                    
indicated that  basic reporting would be  required but would                                                                    
not be  a significant burden  to local law  enforcement. The                                                                    
department  would compile  the information  and include  the                                                                    
data in the report to the legislature.                                                                                          
1:55:14 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wilson asked  what the  local municipalities                                                                    
did  with  the  kits  and  wondered  who  tested  the  kits.                                                                    
Representative  Tarr guessed  that the  municipal kits  were                                                                    
sent to  the state crime  lab, but  it was unknown  how many                                                                    
kits were untested.  Some of the kits  were sitting untested                                                                    
in  an   evidence  room  because   of  factors   related  to                                                                    
particular cases or the perpetrator  was known to the victim                                                                    
and  the kit  was  deemed irrelevant.  However,  due to  the                                                                    
current  knowledge  concerning   serial  offenders,  it  was                                                                    
important  to  test  as  many  kits  as  possible  with  the                                                                    
victims'  consent. She  emphasized  the  importance for  the                                                                    
state  to  know  the  number of  untested  kits  sitting  in                                                                    
evidence  rooms.  Representative  Wilson asked  whether  law                                                                    
enforcement had  to get permission  from the victim  to ever                                                                    
test the kit  or utilize the evidence and if  it was related                                                                    
to  the three  choices of  victims' reports.  Representative                                                                    
Tarr  answered  in  the affirmative  and  relayed  that  the                                                                    
victim had  the right to  decline testing for  evidence. She                                                                    
shared that the choice was  difficult for her to accept. The                                                                    
white paper  persuaded her  that the  choice of  leaving the                                                                    
kit untested was a best practice for the victim.                                                                                
1:57:29 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Gara  inquired whether the fiscal  note reflected                                                                    
one  component  of   the  legislation.  Representative  Tarr                                                                    
responded  that the  fiscal  note  reflected two  eliminated                                                                    
components from the original bill.  She expounded that after                                                                    
additional data becomes  available the 18-month requirement,                                                                    
when  addressed in  the  future, could  be  extended due  to                                                                    
costs.  The  cost  for  testing  each  kit  was  roughly  $1                                                                    
thousand  to  $1.5 thousand  or  more  depending on  whether                                                                    
further testing  was warranted. She pointed  to the database                                                                    
provision  in the  legislation and  shared that  discussions                                                                    
were  in  progress to  determine  whether  the database  and                                                                    
tracking could be accomplished  in-house. She indicated that                                                                    
several databases were  currently in use such  as the Alaska                                                                    
Public   Safety   Information   Network.  The   idea   under                                                                    
discussion   was  whether   a  tracking   system  could   be                                                                    
incorporated  into the  existing Public  Safety data  bases.                                                                    
She  was  also contracted  by  a  vendor who  implemented  a                                                                    
tracking  system   for  other  states.  She   surmised  that                                                                    
"holding  back"  on the  tracking  component  allowed for  a                                                                    
continued comprehensive examination of  the right option for                                                                    
the state.                                                                                                                      
1:59:52 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Gara  relayed that  the fiscal  note in  front of                                                                    
him was not zero and wondered  whether a new fiscal note was                                                                    
forthcoming.    Representative   Tarr    replied   in    the                                                                    
2:00:21 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Grenn cited public  testimony from Lisa Hurst                                                                    
(copy on file) who reported  that a federal grant called the                                                                    
Sexual   Assault  Forensic   Exam  -   Inventory,  Tracking,                                                                    
Reporting  (SAFE-ITR) was  available  and could  be used  to                                                                    
establish rape kit  tracking systems. He asked  if the grant                                                                    
had been considered. Representative  Tarr responded that the                                                                    
state had received  funds from the grant.  She conveyed that                                                                    
the grant  use was  complex. Grant  funds were  currently in                                                                    
use  for a  portion of  testing kits  from the  Alaska State                                                                    
Troopers  and the  Anchorage  Police  Department (APD).  The                                                                    
grant also  supplied some  funding for  training individuals                                                                    
to  assist in  kit testing  at the  crime lab.  However, the                                                                    
funds  were   insufficient  to  test  the   entire  backlog.                                                                    
Consequently, she  included the new provision  to finish the                                                                    
statewide audit to determine how  to prioritize the backlog,                                                                    
the  associated costs,  and the  appropriate time  limit for                                                                    
untested kits moving forward.                                                                                                   
2:02:00 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster OPENED Public Testimony for HB 31.                                                                              
2:02:07 PM                                                                                                                    
MAJOR   JEFF  LAUGHLIN,   DEPUTY   DIRECTOR,  ALASKA   STATE                                                                    
TROOPERS, DEPARTMENT OF  PUBLIC SAFETY (via teleconference),                                                                    
spoke in support  of the bill. He confirmed the  change to a                                                                    
zero fiscal note that would  be forthcoming. He related that                                                                    
DPS  had   sufficient  staff  and  support   to  manage  the                                                                    
reporting requirements and the  crime lab efforts. He wanted                                                                    
to thank the committee for its support.                                                                                         
2:04:13 PM                                                                                                                    
JAYNE  ANDREEN,   INTERIM  DIRECTOR,  COUNCIL   ON  DOMESTIC                                                                    
VIOLENCE AND  SEXUAL ASSAULT,  DEPARTMENT OF  PUBLIC SAFETY,                                                                    
supported HB  31. She  explained how  the bill  would impact                                                                    
victims  of sexual  assault.  She  communicated that  sexual                                                                    
assault was about "power" and  in the immediate aftermath of                                                                    
the  crime it  was essential  to return  the victims  power.                                                                    
Therefore,  victims  were  encouraged  to do  2  things:  to                                                                    
obtain  a  physical  examination  and  let  law  enforcement                                                                    
gather  any forensic  evidence as  quickly as  possible. She                                                                    
declared  that  the bill  provided  "three  levels of  power                                                                    
back" to the victim so they  could take their time to decide                                                                    
the  level  of  participation   with  the  criminal  justice                                                                    
system. Victims could always choose to process a kit later.                                                                     
2:06:06 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Tilton  asked whether there was  a statute of                                                                    
limitations for  testing the kits  or pressing  charges. Ms.                                                                    
Andreen responded that a statute  of limitations existed but                                                                    
that most victims  only need a matter of weeks  or months to                                                                    
2:07:02 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster CLOSED public testimony for HB 31.                                                                              
He indicated he  would set HB 31 aside. He  asked members to                                                                    
submit  any  amendments  to  the bill  to  his  staff,  Jane                                                                    
Pierson by Monday, April 3, 2017.                                                                                               
HB  31  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB049 CBPL Follow up 3.28.17 to House Finance Hearing on 3.6.2017.pdf HFIN 3/31/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 49
HB 49 Amendment 1 Kawasaki-Wilson.pdf HFIN 3/31/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 49
HB 31 - Support Documents - Public Testimony 3.30.17.pdf HFIN 3/31/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 31
HB 141 - Support Documents letters 3.29.17.pdf HFIN 3/31/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 141
HB 141 HFIN questions memo _Fansler.pdf HFIN 3/31/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 141
HB 141 Supporting Documents Ilisagvik 3.16.17.pdf HFIN 3/31/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 141
HB31- Explaination of Changes.pdf HFIN 3/31/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 31
HB 141 ATC letter of support March 2017.pdf HFIN 3/31/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 141