Legislature(1999 - 2000)
04/10/2000 01:45 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 311 - NO SOC SEC. # REQ'D ON HUNT/FISH LICENSE CO-CHAIR MASEK announced that the first order of business was 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, JR., Alaska State Legislature, sponsor of HB 311, stated that HB 311 is a bill asking for the elimination of AS 16.05.330(e), which requires that the social security number (SSN) be provided on hunting and fishing licenses. He indicated that it was brought to his attention by several constituents who found it very objectionable, when they went to get their hunting and fishing license, to have to supply their social security numbers. The SSN was never intended to be used as a means of identification, he said. It was meant to be used for tracking benefits for those who were paying into the social security system. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 was to help track down "dead-beat dads." A variety of other licenses require SSNs, which he also objects to, but this is where they wanted to start [the legislation]. He believes that HB 311 will deprive Alaska of the 77 million in federal funding that is given to the state by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. Number 0410 REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS requested clarification that the elimination of the social security [number requirement] would not affect any federal funds that the state receives. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL responded: I asked that question as well, and the answer is maybe - I don't know. But because it is required on so many other licenses and we are complying with that, I'd say no. I don't have a definitive answer on that, but, in my view, what is the money worth if we have to give so much private and personal information out? I think the whole Act, itself, is wrong. This is just the beginning place to start the discussion. And certainly on licenses this is not a requirement in our fish and game area." Number 0506 CO-CHAIR MASEK referred to the fiscal note in the packet where it states, "The federal funding lost will be over $14 million a year for child support and $63 million a year for public assistance." REPRESENTATIVE BARNES recalled there being a federal law relating to SSNs that precludes people from having to use them. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL indicated that he did not know the answer. He said, with regard to Representative Masek's comment on the fiscal note, that he is not sure it is a good legal [point] because the U.S. Code does not mention the licenses specifically but just says "recreational." He pointed out that although it could be construed as "recreational," he thinks that they have a good case to say that under particular circumstances they are not going to require it. He still believes that it is within their latitude to do that and that the fiscal note is questionable. Number 0730 REPRESENTATIVE VIC KOHRING, Alaska State Legislature, stated that he supports HB 311. Referring to Representative Barnes' question, and said when the Social Security Act was passed in 1913, there was concern that the number would be used for identification purposes; therefore - according to a reliable source - there was a major proviso in the federal legislation that said the SSN was not for identification purposes. REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING said he strongly objects to the requirement of a SSN as a condition for issuing a driver's license. He noted that several of his constituents have expressed concern with it, as well, because they believe that it is a violation of their constitutional right to privacy. He asked that the committee entertain an amendment that would take away the mandated requirement of a SSN being issued to obtain a driver's license. He further stated that when social security cards were issued, the cards clearly noted that they were not to be used for identification purposes. The issue has become so substantial that there is a court case pending in the Palmer District Court, he noted. REPRESENTATIVE BARNES indicated she had received a note from her staff saying that federal law used to prohibit use of SSNs for identification, but Congress has since changed the law to allow it. Number 1129 TOM CARPENTER, Owner, Whiskey Ridge Trading Company, testified via teleconference from Cordova. He indicated that he is also a commercial fisherman and a vendor of Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) licenses and tags. The problem he sees with the SSN being required is as follows: Each year, half of the residents and nonresidents are frustrated and angry that they are required to divulge their SSNs to purchase a hunting or fishing license. It causes more stress and confusion for him, because if he does not make them put their SSNs down, then the vendor is held liable. Probably 10 percent of those people refuse to buy a license and are fishing or hunting without one. Also, the state is losing funding. MR. CARPENTER said the SSN is solely a tracking number for the U.S. government. He thinks the state should be outraged and stand up for itself for once, because the state has been insulted plenty. He wondered about the foreign visitors who have no number; they are still allowed to purchase a hunting and fishing license, but they are not required to put a SSN down. This proves that it is only the U.S. government that is using that number as a tracking source, he said, because they have no reason to track foreign visitors. Alaska should consider why other states are not requiring it, he concluded. Number 1388 MARK CHRYSON testified via teleconference from Wasilla, indicating he is a resident of District 28, Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Borough, and is the President of the Alaska Independence Party. He said he is in favor of HB 311, which repeals the law that is in violation of the 1974 Privacy Act. There is a federal law that states that if the information is required and it is misused, there is a $10,000 fine; therefore, he wondered whether that money will come out of the state's pocket if the court case in Palmer proves that the law is unconstitutional. MR. CHRYSON explained that people in the Mat-Su Borough have stopped purchasing hunting and fishing licenses or stopped renewing their driver's licenses, which means that the state is losing money. The Constitution of the State of Alaska has the right to privacy, he noted, which none of the other states have. Alaskans need to stand up for themselves, he said. He referred to Representative Kohring's comment about the 1913 Social Security Act, where it states that the SSN was never to be used for identification purposes. Mr. Chryson said the Privacy Act of 1974 has yet to be repealed. He noted that the SSN is a private number between the individual and the Social Security Administration for the "retirement account." However, currently it is being used, as Representative Coghill pointed out, as a national identification number. Many of the representatives have heard horror stories about identity fraud and corruption - people stealing other people's SSNs. He concluded by saying the people of District 28 want the bill repealed. Number 1688 ERIC WEATHERS testified via teleconference from Cordova. A commercial fisherman, he spoke in full support of HB 311 but asked that commercial fishing licenses and driver's licenses be added to it. He said that he will not become a burden on the government, because when people accept money from the government, they become a servant to it. The majority of the people in Alaska do not owe child support and will not collect welfare; there is only a small percentage. The federal government, by "blackmailing" the state to collect SSNs, asserts that "we" are all its subjects. He quoted Samuel Adams: If we love wealth better than liberty and tranquility of servitude better than the animated contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsel or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands of those that feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you. May posterity forget that you were a countryman. MR. WEATHERS stressed that he will not give his SSN to anyone, which makes him a criminal; therefore, passing HB 311 will be keeping those people who choose to support themselves out of jail. Number 1789 JAMES GARHART testified via teleconference from Wasilla. He stated that he is a resident of New York currently domiciled in Alaska. He noted that in the Constitution of the State of Alaska, under Article VIII, Section 3, Common Use, it says, "Wherever occurring in their natural state, fish, wildlife, and waters are reserved to the people for common use." He pointed out that nowhere in the constitution does it say, "... are reserved to the people who provide their social security number." He told members: I did some background work on this, and I found Section 7 of public law, 93-579. And basically what that says is anybody can ask you for your social security number, but if you don't give it to them that they cannot deny you any right, benefit or privilege. MR. GARHART indicated that he had gone fishing last year without a state-issued fishing license. He referred to the comment made earlier that foreigners do not have to provide a SSN and said it irks him that foreigners can come in and get access to a share of the fish that are supposedly constitutionally protected for the people. He urged members to move HB 311 out of the committee. Number 2013 DENNY KAY WEATHERS testified via teleconference from Cordova. She noted that a staff member had informed her that HB 311 would most likely die in committee. She indicated that she was outraged by that statement because it meant that the fate of the bill had already been decided before the voice of the people was even heard. She stated that HB 311 is a great piece of legislation and a good start in returning sovereignty to the state. She requested that the committee include in the bill noncommercial driver's licenses and commercial fishing permits and crew licenses. MS. WEATHERS said there is no federal law requiring that the state must obtain a SSN for rights, benefits or privileges. In 1935, the social security was enacted as a federal Act, not a state Act. In 1971, the Social Security Administration (SSA) issued a task force report on issues raised by non-program social security use; the report proposed that the SSA take a conservative position and do nothing to promote the use of a SSN as an identifier. In 1974, Ms. Weathers noted, Congress enacted the Privacy Act; 93-579 limits the governmental use of the SSN. The federal, state and local governments are prohibited from withholding a right, benefit or privilege from a person simply because the individual refuses to furnish his or her SSN, she said, except under certain circumstances. She concluded that the state is only required by federal law to give a SSN for those people receiving federal benefits. She stressed that she hopes that the legislators will stand up for Alaska and quit selling out. Number 2253 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES stated that she does not appreciate anyone saying that she has sold out. She noted that everyone signed up to testify was in support of HB 311. She asked Representative Masek if she would entertain a motion to move HB 311 from the committee. REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER said that she is a little bit offended by some of the people testifying because the tenure implies that the committee members are not in favor of the bill. She also does not like to be told that she is a sellout. She said she came into the committee meeting with the intention of moving the bill out, but some of the testimony makes her uncomfortable. She added that she is in favor of moving the bill. Number 2339 BARBARA MIKLOS, Director, Child Support Enforcement Division (DCED), Department of Revenue, testified via teleconference from Anchorage. She noted that people have testified that it is not part of federal law; however, it is. It is required that people who are applying for fishing and hunting licenses provide their SSNs. It is not necessarily a federal requirement that the state has to adopt, but if the state does not adopt it, there is approximately $77 million in federal funding at stake. She agrees with many of the people testifying on the issues, she said, but the federal government was very clear that [the state] would lose all the child support funding, which is approximately $14 million, as well as the public assistance (IV-A) funding. She added that the requirements are in the Social Security Act. REPRESENTATIVE BARNES indicated that the question of losing $77 million is a question for the Finance Committee. She made a motion to move HB 311 from committee with individual recommendations and asked for unanimous consent. There being no objection, HB 311 moved from the House Resources Standing Committee.