Legislature(2017 - 2018)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/05/2017 01:30 PM House FINANCE

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Audio Topic
02:07:32 PM Start
02:08:50 PM Confirmation Hearing: Alaska Mental Health Trust Board of Trustees
02:44:37 PM HB60
04:16:30 PM HB127
04:47:48 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to 2:00 PM --
+ Confirmation Hearing: Mental Health Board of TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 127                                                                                                            
     "An Act  relating to  a permanent  fund dividend  for an                                                                   
     individual   whose   conviction    has   been   vacated,                                                                   
     reversed,   or   dismissed;    and   relating   to   the                                                                   
     calculation   of  the  value   of  the  permanent   fund                                                                   
     dividend  by including payment  to individuals  eligible                                                                   
     for a  permanent fund dividend  because of  a conviction                                                                   
     that has been vacated, reversed, or dismissed."                                                                            
4:16:30 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SCOTT  KAWASAKI,  SPONSOR, provided  a  brief                                                                   
overview of the  legislation. He reminded the  committee that                                                                   
the  state  relinquished  incarcerated   Alaskans  rights  to                                                                   
their  Permanent Fund  Dividends  (PFD).  He elaborated  that                                                                   
the   legislation  provided   the  PFD   to  Alaskans   whose                                                                   
convictions were vacated,  reversed, or dismissed. If passed,                                                                   
those  eligible  must  apply  for the  PFD  within  120  days                                                                   
following  the  new  judgment  or  within  120  days  of  the                                                                   
effective  date  of the  bill.  He  believed that  the  state                                                                   
providing  PFD's to individuals  wrongfully convicted  helped                                                                   
them reestablish  a normal  life. It  was incumbent  upon the                                                                   
legislature to recognize  the injustice. He pointed  out that                                                                   
last year  that state had  the highest number  of individuals                                                                   
with overturned convictions that were wrongly incarcerated.                                                                     
Co-Chair Foster  stated that Vice-Chair  Gara would act  as a                                                                   
stand-in chair of the meeting.                                                                                                  
4:19:34 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Foster OPENED Public Testimony.                                                                                        
4:19:39 PM                                                                                                                    
APRIL  MONROE, SELF,  FAIRBANKS  (via teleconference),  spoke                                                                   
in favor of the  legislation. She shared that she  had done a                                                                   
lot  of advocacy  work on  the  issue. She  stressed that  it                                                                   
would be a travesty  to deny a person their  dividend because                                                                   
of  a  wrongful  conviction. She  could  not  imagine  anyone                                                                   
opposing the legislation.                                                                                                       
4:21:22 PM                                                                                                                    
BARBARA  BRINK,  ALASKA  INNOCENCE  PROJECT,  ANCHORAGE  (via                                                                   
teleconference),  spoke in favor of  HB 127. She  thanked the                                                                   
co-sponsors  of  the  bill.  She  shared  that  she  was  the                                                                   
volunteer president  of the project's  board and  relayed her                                                                   
extensive  career involving  indigent criminal  defense  as a                                                                   
state and federal  public defender attorney over  the last 35                                                                   
years. She  elucidated that  under the  current law  a person                                                                   
lost  eligibility   for   the  PFD  if   sentenced  or   were                                                                   
incarcerated for  a felony conviction. The bill  was "stating                                                                   
the  obvious"  for  individuals  found not  guilty,  or  when                                                                   
convictions  were  vacated  or   reversed,  or  charges  were                                                                   
dismissed. The  legislation recognized  that a person  should                                                                   
be  eligible for  the PFD  under the  stated conditions.  She                                                                   
provided  an  example of  a  person  found not  guilty  after                                                                   
being  convicted  of  a  DUI  who  could  have  his  driver's                                                                   
license  reinstated.  She  emphasized  that  the  legislation                                                                   
continued  to  right a  wrong  and  let "truth  and  justice"                                                                   
prevail.  The  measure  was  not a  compensation  bill  or  a                                                                   
punitive  damage  claim. She  offered  the example  of  Texas                                                                   
that  statutorily  provided  $80  thousand for  each  year  a                                                                   
person  was imprisoned  due  to  a wrongful  conviction.  She                                                                   
thanked the committee.                                                                                                          
4:25:06 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative   Thompson   wondered    whether   a   vacated                                                                   
conviction  still carried  the felony  conviction. Ms.  Brink                                                                   
remarked that the  language was tricky. She  responded that a                                                                   
vacated  sentence  did  not infer  innocence  but  a  vacated                                                                   
conviction  lead   to  a   re-trial  or  dismissed   charges.                                                                   
Dismissed  charges or  acquittal  meant that  the person  was                                                                   
innocent  and  not  convicted   of  a  crime.  Representative                                                                   
Thompson  noted  that a  portion  of  inmates PFD's  went  to                                                                   
their  healthcare while  incarcerated  and  the remainder  to                                                                   
victim's compensation.  He wondered  whether the  money spent                                                                   
on  healthcare  would be  deducted  from  the PFD  money  the                                                                   
person now qualified  for. Ms. Brinks responded  that the PFD                                                                   
had not been issued  for medical costs and that  was a common                                                                   
misconception.  The person was  completely disqualified  from                                                                   
receiving   their  PFD   while   in  prison.   Representative                                                                   
Thompson  relayed   that  he  had  heard  from   the  Victims                                                                   
Compensation Board  and Department of Corrections  (DOC) that                                                                   
they  applied   for  the  PFD   in  lieu  of   the  convicted                                                                   
individual and  a percentage was  divided among  the inmate's                                                                   
health  care and  victim's  compensation.  He wanted  further                                                                   
Representative    Wilson   indicated   that    Representative                                                                   
Thompson  was correct and  the percentage  that DOC  received                                                                   
was used collectively for all inmates medical prison costs.                                                                     
Vice-Chair  Gara  did  not  believe  that  wrongly  convicted                                                                   
individuals could be compensated enough for the injustice.                                                                      
4:29:41 PM                                                                                                                    
MARVIN ROBERTS,  SELF, FAIRBANKS (via teleconference),  spoke                                                                   
in support  of HB  127. He  was one  of the "Fairbanks  Four"                                                                   
who  had  been  wrongfully  incarcerated  for  18  years.  He                                                                   
thanked all  of the  legislators who  supported the  bill. He                                                                   
indicated that  the result  of the bill  would go a  long way                                                                   
to  help him  and  his family  and all  wrongfully  convicted                                                                   
Vice-Chair Gara sincerely apologized for what happened.                                                                         
4:31:17 PM                                                                                                                    
CRYSTAL SISTO,  SELF, FAIRBANKS  (via teleconference),  spoke                                                                   
in favor  of HB 127.  She related that  she was close  to one                                                                   
of the "Fairbanks  Four." George Frese, one of  the four, was                                                                   
the father of  Ms. Sisto's daughter, who lost  her father and                                                                   
his emotional  and financial  support 18  years ago  when she                                                                   
was  3 years  old. She  suggested  that the  PFD money  would                                                                   
substantially help  Mr. Frese rebuild his life  and reconnect                                                                   
with his family  which presently included  grandchildren. She                                                                   
relayed her daughters  support for the bill  and informed the                                                                   
committee  that she  had lost  faith in the  system from  her                                                                   
experience. She urged support for the bill.                                                                                     
4:33:17 PM                                                                                                                    
MISTY NICKOLI,  SELF, FAIRBANKS  (via teleconference),  spoke                                                                   
in support of HB  127. She shared that she had  advocated for                                                                   
the  Fairbanks Four  and that  George Frese  was her  cousin.                                                                   
She offered  that she was  struggling to reconcile  her sense                                                                   
of  belonging and  trust with  the judicial  system. The  PFD                                                                   
was  unjustly confiscated  from  the four  and  she felt  the                                                                   
bill was one step toward reestablishing justice and equity.                                                                     
4:35:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SCHERRY BYERS,  SELF, FAIRBANKS  (via teleconference),  urged                                                                   
support  for HB  127. She  relayed  that she  was a  licensed                                                                   
clinical  social worker  and worked  in  bush villages  since                                                                   
1984. She  spoke of sadness  and frustration that  the effort                                                                   
to prove  the four's  innocence took over  $1 million  in pro                                                                   
bono  attorney  work  and  intense   community  support.  She                                                                   
wanted people  to truly understand  that "everyone  knew that                                                                   
the four  were not guilty." She  recounted that the  four men                                                                   
were  just  graduating  high  school at  the  time  of  their                                                                   
wrongful conviction  and were  robbed of their  opportunities                                                                   
to develop  work and career lives.  She felt that was  a very                                                                   
significant  part of the  story unrelated  to the PFD  issue.                                                                   
She added  that at least  three out of  the four  were Alaska                                                                   
natives.  She believed  that  the  PFD money  was  rightfully                                                                   
theirs.  She thought  that if  the legislation  did not  pass                                                                   
people would keep fighting the issue.                                                                                           
Vice-Chair  Gara remarked  that  Representative Kawasaki  was                                                                   
educating his fellow legislators about the issue.                                                                               
4:39:12 PM                                                                                                                    
EVAN EADS,  SELF, FAIRBANKS  (via teleconference),  supported                                                                   
HB 127.  He spoke of  an event he  attended on behalf  of the                                                                   
Fairbanks Four. He  stated that the event was  moving for the                                                                   
attendees  and for the  four men  themselves. He thought  the                                                                   
bill  was  a small  gesture:  returning  something  that  was                                                                   
unjustly  confiscated.  He  thought  it was  not  a  partisan                                                                   
issue and supported passage of the bill.                                                                                        
4:41:17 PM                                                                                                                    
MARNA  SANFORD,  TANANA  CHIEFS  CONFERENCE,  FAIRBANKS  (via                                                                   
teleconference),  supported HB  127 and  advocated for  post-                                                                   
conviction  release  reform.  She  agreed  with  all  of  the                                                                   
previous  testifiers.   She  thought  the  bill   was  a  "no                                                                   
brainer." She  appreciated Representative Kawasaki's  support                                                                   
and urged for passage of the bill.                                                                                              
4:43:21 PM                                                                                                                    
VIRGINIA  MCCARTY,  SELF,  FAIRBANKS   (via  teleconference),                                                                   
supported  HB  127. She  relayed  that  she had  no  specific                                                                   
KATHLEEN  PETERS ZURAY,  SELF,  TANANA (via  teleconference),                                                                   
stated her  and her  husband's support  and urged members  to                                                                   
support HB 127.  She wanted to see the PFD's  restored to the                                                                   
four wrongfully convicted men.                                                                                                  
4:45:11 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Gara CLOSED Public Testimony for HB 127.                                                                             
HB  127  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in  committee   for  further                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 127 Supporting Documents- Supporting Letters 3.20.17.pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 127
HB127 Opposing Documents- Letters of Opposition 3.20.17.pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 127
HB127 Sectional Analysis ver A 3.20.17.pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 127
HB127 Sponsor Statement 3.20.17.pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 127
HB127 Supporting Document- Annual PFD Individual Payouts 3.20.17.pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 127
HB127 Supporting Document- Support Screenshot 3.20.17.pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 127
HB60 Sponsor Statement - Governor's Transmittal letter.pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 60
HB60 Supporting Document - DOR Presentation - 4.5.17.pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 60
HB60 Motor Fuel Tax Briefing - 5 April 2017.pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 60
Motor Fuel Tax Background Information.pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 60
HB 60 DOC (005HB 60 Opposition Documents 4.5.17.pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 60
HB 60 Opposition Letter.pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 60
HB 60 SILC Position Paper Two Cents for Transit (Recovered) (004).pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 60
HB 60 Support Documents 4.5.17.pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 60
HB60 Supporting Document - DOR Presentation - 4.5.17.pdf HFIN 4/5/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 60