Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

02/13/2018 03:15 PM House STATE AFFAIRS

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
-- Please Note Time Change --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         HB 325-PRISONER COMPUTER USE; REENTRY SERVICES                                                                     
3:18:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that the first  order of business                                                               
would be HOUSE BILL NO. 325,  "An Act relating to computer use by                                                               
prisoners;  and   relating  to   an  exemption  from   the  State                                                               
Procurement  Code for  contracts for  rehabilitation and  reentry                                                               
3:18:32 PM                                                                                                                    
DEAN WILLIAMS, Commissioner, Department  of Corrections (DOC), on                                                               
behalf of the  House Rules Committee by request  of the governor,                                                               
stated that  HB 325  is important legislation  for the  state and                                                               
DOC  in  terms  of  reentry.   He  explained  that  the  proposed                                                               
legislation has  two pieces.  The  first would expand the  use of                                                               
an inmate's  ability to use  a computer for reentry  services and                                                               
for  legal services  during incarceration.   One  example of  the                                                               
importance of that provision is that  it would allow an inmate to                                                               
use a computer to apply  for Medicaid before he/she was released.                                                               
The current  statutes don't  consider that  use of  the computer.                                                               
He added that it would also  allow an inmate to apply for reentry                                                               
services,  such  as  housing.   The  proposed  legislation  would                                                               
clarify that these are approved uses  of a computer for an inmate                                                               
who is due to return to the community.                                                                                          
3:20:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  inquired as  to the current  computer policy                                                               
for inmates.                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS  responded that the current  policy is more                                                               
restrictive;  in current  statute, approved  use is  strictly for                                                               
employment and does not include reentry services.                                                                               
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS stated  that  the second  part  of HB  325                                                               
would  offer the  most  important  means for  DOC  to change  the                                                               
system and the  way reentry is done in the  state.  He maintained                                                               
that it is  not the intent of the proposed  legislation to target                                                               
any  business or  sector of  reentry services.   He  relayed that                                                               
Alaska  has had  the same  reentry housing  Community Residential                                                               
Center  (CRC)  model for  over  20  years;  this section  of  the                                                               
proposed  legislation   would  allow  the  opportunity   for  the                                                               
commissioner of  DOC to  have more  flexibility in  entering into                                                               
contract with smaller halfway house entities.                                                                                   
COMMISSIONER   WILLIAMS  explained   that   under  the   proposed                                                               
legislation, DOC  would provide  a menu  of options  for released                                                               
prisoners returning  to their  communities.   He said  that under                                                               
the current model,  there are very specific rules  about how CRCs                                                               
are structured  and what  is required,  such as  the requirements                                                               
for cameras and  staffing.  The proposed  legislation would allow                                                               
DOC  to bypass  procurement  rules when  entering into  contracts                                                               
with CRCs.   This would "open the doors" for  DOC to place people                                                               
nearing the  end of their  sentences in smaller locations  in the                                                               
community with like  individuals; these would be  houses for five                                                               
to ten  people.  He  reiterated that HB  325 would allow  DOC the                                                               
opportunity  to expand  what  it  does in  terms  of reentry  and                                                               
halfway houses.                                                                                                                 
3:23:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP expressed  that  he  is uncomfortable  with                                                               
diminishing  the procurement  process  and  granting someone  the                                                               
sole  authority  to  enter into  contracts;  for  any  government                                                               
entity, there is a procurement process  for a reason.  He said if                                                               
state procurement  requires cameras or other  monitoring security                                                               
devices to be  used, he has a problem with  someone deciding that                                                               
it is  not applicable.   He  inquired as  to why,  if there  is a                                                               
problem  with procurement  - such  as no  need for  cameras or  a                                                               
specified  number of  places -  it is  not addressed  through the                                                               
procurement  code.    He  added  that he  is  "big  fan"  of  the                                                               
procurement process and due diligence.                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS  replied that  he understands  the concern.                                                               
He  maintained  that  it  would   be  difficult  to  address  the                                                               
procurement  rules   for  this   one  specific   purpose  without                                                               
disrupting  the process  for  all other  situations  in which  it                                                               
makes  sense.    He  said  that   one  of  the  reasons  for  the                                                               
procurement process is  to get the best value for  the dollar and                                                               
to  have  a fair,  competitive  process.    He offered  that  the                                                               
problem  is that  procurement rules  and the  entire request  for                                                               
proposal (RFP) process has excluded  small operators by virtue of                                                               
the process; it is cumbersome and  difficult.  He stated that the                                                               
halfway houses currently operating  are more expensive than would                                                               
be residential facilities.   He emphasized that this  is no fault                                                               
of the current contractors, but of  the system.  He said that the                                                               
reason for the  greater expense is that putting 40-50  men into a                                                               
halfway house  is a model that  is full of problems  and trouble.                                                               
There  is drug  trafficking,  and  inmates don't  want  to go  to                                                               
halfway houses  because they are too  large.  He relayed  that he                                                               
understands  the  nervousness  about  exceptions  to  procurement                                                               
rules but  suggested that HB  325 would  allow DOC to  enter into                                                               
contracts  with  smaller  locations  that  are  successful.    He                                                               
offered  that  putting  people into  halfway  houses  six  months                                                               
before  release  would  save  the  state  money.    The  proposed                                                               
legislation would  allow smaller  non-profits, tribes,  and small                                                               
for-profit  companies to  build  smaller locations  that are  not                                                               
constricted by the CRC model.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP asked  why DOC  couldn't just  redefine the                                                               
purchasing  code   for  the  department,  that   is,  change  the                                                               
procurement  requirements when  soliciting  bids.   He  suggested                                                               
that  DOC could  develop criteria  for large  facilities and  for                                                               
small facilities, but  still have procurement put out  an RFP and                                                               
do its due diligence.                                                                                                           
3:28:27 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS responded  that  it is  difficult to  find                                                               
operators of small  facilities who are willing to  go through the                                                               
RFP  process.   He  said that  even  if he  changes  some of  the                                                               
conditions of  the RFPs, he is  still asking a very  small entity                                                               
to go through the process.  He  gave as an example Kara Nelson of                                                               
Haven House  Juneau, who has been  operating the home for  a long                                                               
time with tremendous success.   He said that as the commissioner,                                                               
he is looking to support  those smaller halfway houses around the                                                               
state  in  many locations.    He  stated  that the  workload  for                                                               
preparing  an  RFP  is extremely  cumbersome  and  would  require                                                               
multiple  staff.   He reiterated  that  the proposed  legislation                                                               
offers a better alternative.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  offered that DOC is  requesting sole source                                                               
authority  to enter  into a  reasonable contract.   He  asked how                                                               
zoning issues would be handled for the houses.                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS replied, "That's not  going to change."  He                                                               
confirmed that DOC would have to abide by zoning policies.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP asked whether there would be public notice.                                                                
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS  responded  that  he  assumes  that  would                                                               
3:30:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  expressed that he is  absolutely opposed to                                                               
bypassing  a procurement  process.   He  compared the  difference                                                               
between  the   two  procedures  to  the   distinction  between  a                                                               
democracy  and  a  dictatorship:   dictatorships  are  incredibly                                                               
efficient in  getting a  job done; democracies  are "messy."   He                                                               
stated that  the procurement process  is messy sometimes,  but it                                                               
protects  the public  and the  state in  assuring that  funds are                                                               
expended responsibly.   He  added that  "things can  go sideways"                                                               
with sole  source and no  competitive engagement.   He challenged                                                               
DOC to consider  new models.  He gave as  example all the options                                                               
today for  lodging besides hotels  - Airbnb and  Vacation Rentals                                                               
by Owner  (VRBO).  He  offered that he commends  the commissioner                                                               
for  the  initiative  but  maintained  that  there  needs  to  be                                                               
competition.   He suggested there may  be a means to  achieve the                                                               
Commissioner's  objective in  a  manner that  is competitive  and                                                               
protects  the   public.    He  said   he  supported  out-of-state                                                               
incarceration,  especially   if  it  involves   significant  cost                                                               
savings and public benefit.                                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS relayed  that  he  is imploring  committee                                                               
members  to  consider the  following:    the  cost to  the  state                                                               
because  of the  competitive  process, although  well-intentioned                                                               
when designed 20  years ago, is greater than the  cost of keeping                                                               
an  inmate  in  prison.    He  stated  that  he  appreciates  the                                                               
recommendation for developing  a new model and new  system; it is                                                               
easy to say but difficult to do,  because there is no way to fund                                                               
smaller operations that  have been established out  of good will.                                                               
He  relayed  that  the  proposed legislation  is  an  attempt  to                                                               
clearly and  transparently develop  multiple other bed  spaces in                                                               
the system.   He  reiterated that he  appreciates the  desire for                                                               
competition to protect the state  and avoid unilateral decisions;                                                               
however, he  is looking for  flexibility to put people  in places                                                               
for much less cost.                                                                                                             
3:35:08 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked for a  brief description of the spaces                                                               
for  which DOC  would be  soliciting, and  an explanation  of why                                                               
they would be good for the state.                                                                                               
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS  answered  that   he  needs  the  proposed                                                               
legislation  because he  needs places  like Haven  House, MyHouse                                                               
Mat-Su  Homeless  Youth  Center  (MyHouse)  in  Wasilla,  Alaska,                                                               
operated by Michelle Overstreet,  and other small operations that                                                               
do not have the capacity to  "go through an involved RFP process"                                                               
so that  DOC can pilot  some of those efforts.   He said  that he                                                               
needs  places where  inmates have  connections and  relationships                                                               
with people  in that  local community  before they  are released.                                                               
He  maintained that  does not  happen within  the current,  large                                                               
halfway house  structure.  He  offered that developing  a smaller                                                               
halfway  house structure  is one  solution that  avoids rewriting                                                               
the statutory (indisc.) around the CRC model.                                                                                   
3:36:17 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX related that  she is uncomfortable with the                                                               
proposed provision;  if a small  organization cannot  fulfill the                                                               
RFP  requirements, then  DOC should  consider  revising its  RFP.                                                               
She  suggested an  RFP  for big  projects and  an  RFP for  small                                                               
projects.   She  maintained  that  there is  a  reason the  state                                                               
developed the procurement laws and  she is not convinced "we need                                                               
to throw out  the baby with the bath water  with respect to those                                                               
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS  asked how he could  convince the committee                                                               
that  DOC  is looking  for  pilot  opportunities to  improve  the                                                               
model.    He  opined  that   the  provision  under  the  proposed                                                               
legislation "does  not throw the  baby out with the  bath water."                                                               
He  asked  to be  allowed  to  demonstrate  a changed  model  and                                                               
reduced cost.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX stated that she  does not see why DOC could                                                               
not  accomplish  what  the  commissioner  has  suggested  with  a                                                               
revised procurement policy.   She reiterated that  there could be                                                               
one procurement  policy for a  large facility, and another  for a                                                               
small one.   She asserted that a procurement  policy shouldn't be                                                               
written so that a regular person cannot use it.                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS replied that  procurement statutes are very                                                               
firm;  the  reason  he  is  asking for  exceptions  is  to  avoid                                                               
rewriting  the   procurement  statutes  to  exempt   the  smaller                                                               
operations from all the requirements of  an RFP process.  He said                                                               
that he  views the exception  in the proposed legislation  as way                                                               
to pilot DOC's effort.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX maintained  that Commissioner  Williams is                                                               
asking the  legislature to  change a  law; committee  members are                                                               
uncomfortable  with the  proposed change;  therefore, perhaps  he                                                               
should ask for a change that committee members can accept.                                                                      
3:39:17 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK   relayed  that  he  is   aware  that  every                                                               
department  wants to  "get out  from underneath"  the procurement                                                               
codes; the  legislature has battled  that desire for  many years.                                                               
He said  that the  one that  bothers him the  most is  the Alaska                                                               
Energy Authority (AEA)  procurement policy.  He  relayed that the                                                               
corporation  attempted to  write its  own policy;  it got  into a                                                               
great deal of  trouble; the 2009 report pointed out  how bad that                                                               
policy was;  and instead  of being the  "best practices,"  it was                                                               
the  "worst practices."    He expressed  his  hesitancy with  any                                                               
department  being  excluded  from   the  procurement  code.    He                                                               
maintained that the  procurement code was well  written and gives                                                               
a wide  variety of  conditions for a  wide variety  of scenarios.                                                               
He  mentioned that  the state's  policy includes  veterans hiring                                                               
preferences, best  value contracting, and many  methods proven to                                                               
be  effective.    He  recalled that  the  state  has  centralized                                                               
procurement  to be  performed  by one  department,  which is  the                                                               
Department  of Administration  (DOA).   He added  that there  are                                                               
checks and  balances and an  appeal process.  He  reiterated that                                                               
the state has  a good procurement process; if DOC  want to have a                                                               
trial project,  then it should  change the specifications  on the                                                               
contract and  choose a length of  time for the trial  period.  He                                                               
offered that  the legislature could  work with DOC to  identify a                                                               
model  in the  procurement  code  that would  work  best for  the                                                               
3:41:29 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  referred  to  portions  of  Section  2,  as                                                               
follows:   page  3, lines  15-16, which  read, "Procurement  Code                                                               
applicable to contracts.  Except as provided in  AS 36.30.850 and                                                               
(b)  of  this  section";     page  3,  line  20-23,  which  read,                                                               
"commissioner  or  the  commissioner's   designee  shall  make  a                                                               
determination  that the  payment for  rehabilitation and  reentry                                                               
services will  promote the use of  community-based and culturally                                                               
relevant  rehabilitative  and  reentry services  most  suited  to                                                               
provide support"; and  page 3, line 27, which  read, "will assist                                                               
the individual  to remain in the  individual's chosen community."                                                               
He maintained that these are two very important provisions.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL  relayed that he watched  a public television                                                               
[360  North] documentary,  [entitled "Inside  Out Leaving  Prison                                                               
Behind"], that followed  three people who were  released from the                                                               
Lemon  Creek Correctional  Center (LCCC)  in Juneau.   He  stated                                                               
that  the documentary  highlights  Haven House  and declared,  "I                                                               
thought it  was remarkable."   He explained  that Haven  House is                                                               
not a barred prison, but a house,  with just a few residents.  He                                                               
maintained  that it  appeared to  be the  right approach;  if you                                                               
want to return someone to society  it should be with support.  He                                                               
conceded that  the old system  is not working and  expressed that                                                               
the state needs to take a fresh  look.  He offered that he is not                                                               
familiar with  the technical aspects  of the  procurement process                                                               
but  assumes  that  like most  processes  associated  with  state                                                               
government, it is  cumbersome.  He said  that an easy-to-fill-out                                                               
form can turn into 8-12 pages of "junk."                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  asserted  that  for someone  living  in  an                                                               
isolated, remote  community, he/she  might not want  to be  in an                                                               
Anchorage  halfway house  but  be closer  to  his/her family  and                                                               
support system.   The smaller community might be  preferable.  He                                                               
said  that he  doubts  that there  are many  people  who want  to                                                               
operate halfway houses, but for those  that do, there should be a                                                               
process  to enable  that.   That process  may mean  rewriting the                                                               
procurement  code  entirely  or  allowing for  an  exemption,  as                                                               
proposed under  HB 325.  The  type of facility that  the proposed                                                               
legislation would apply  to is not a  million-dollar facility for                                                               
400 residents,  but a  scaled back "VRBO"  approach.   He offered                                                               
that  one might  think people  would want  to be  incarcerated in                                                               
Arizona, but for someone to  visit an incarcerated family member,                                                               
he/she would  not want to  travel to  Arizona every weekend.   He                                                               
opined  that the  proposed legislation  is  a step  in the  right                                                               
3:44:40 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON   offered  that  anyone  that   has  been                                                               
involved with  government knows that procurement  is a cumbersome                                                               
process.    She  said  that   she  initially  got  involved  with                                                               
government  because of  people "running  rampant" on  procurement                                                               
codes.  She maintained that  everyone wants government to operate                                                               
like a  business until they realize  that the cost of  abiding by                                                               
the procurement process is worth the return.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON offered  that local  governments need  to                                                               
weigh  in on  the possibility  of reentry  facilities located  in                                                               
neighborhoods.   She said that  DOC may support reentry  homes in                                                               
neighborhoods, but the  residents are not always  pleased to have                                                               
certain  types  of  facilities   in  their  neighborhoods.    She                                                               
mentioned financial  reasons for that attitude  - property values                                                               
and property  crimes.  She added  that the smaller the  home, the                                                               
higher  the  cost;  there  are  savings  associated  with  larger                                                               
facilities.  She  said that in Palmer, the police  were called to                                                               
a hotel that  was a group home for criminals;  she emphasized the                                                               
importance   of  getting   input   from   police  and   municipal                                                               
governments.     She  concluded  by  saying   that  the  proposed                                                               
legislation may sound good from  DOC's perspective but may not be                                                               
as good of an idea for the residents of the neighborhood.                                                                       
3:47:28 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  WILLIAMS  described   what  currently  happens,  as                                                               
follows:   the  DOC could  release many  prisoners on  electronic                                                               
monitoring; if  they have no place  to go, they end  up in places                                                               
like  the hotel  Representative Johnson  mentioned.   If DOC  can                                                               
contract  with  smaller facilities,  someone  is  there to  offer                                                               
"adult babysitting."   He  said that  DOC does  not need  all the                                                               
cameras and  bars; it  needs adult  supervision for  the released                                                               
prisoners;  and that  requires much  less money.   He  emphasized                                                               
that with  small operations, there would  be substantial savings.                                                               
He asserted  that reentry homes in  Soldotna, Wasilla, Anchorage,                                                               
and many  other places have  been successful; once  the prisoners                                                               
have completed their sentences, they do very well.                                                                              
COMMISSIONER WILLIAMS stated that  he understands the committee's                                                               
reluctance to  allow the  procurement exemptions;  but emphasized                                                               
that there  is a  need for opportunity  and flexibility  for DOC.                                                               
He  said  that the  neighbors  of  these facilities  become  very                                                               
friendly; they are not worried  about the facility being in their                                                               
neighborhood,  but  about  no adult  supervision  for  people  on                                                               
electronic monitoring with  no place to live or  a terrible place                                                               
to  live.   He asserted  that is  why the  recidivism rate  is 65                                                               
percent and has  been 65 percent for 20 years.   He insisted that                                                               
DOC cannot release  50-100 men to one location and  expect it "to                                                               
go well";  there is drug  trafficking inside these  large halfway                                                               
houses.    He  insisted  that  he  means  no  disrespect  to  the                                                               
contractors by  his testimony; they  have made  improvements; and                                                               
it  is not  their  problem but  the  problem of  the  state.   He                                                               
maintained  that DOC  needs other  opportunities and  another way                                                               
forward to bring down the recidivism rate.                                                                                      
3:50:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS opened public testimony on HB 325.                                                                         
3:51:01 PM                                                                                                                    
TALIA EAMES, Program Coordinator, Central Council of the Tlingit                                                                
and Haida Tribes of Alaska (Tlingit & Haida), paraphrased from                                                                  
written testimony, as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                  
     My  name  is   Talia  Eames  and  I  am   here  as  the                                                                    
     coordinator  for   Tlingit  &  Haida's   Second  Chance                                                                    
     Reentry  Program.  I  am   also  a  10-year,  decorated                                                                    
     veteran  of the  United States  Air Force.  Gunalchesh                                                                     
     for allowing  me the opportunity to  testify in support                                                                    
     of House Bill 325.                                                                                                         
     When I worked as a  caseworker for the reentry program,                                                                    
     I  met  with over  300  men  and women  returning  from                                                                    
     incarceration.    Although  the  program  was  open  to                                                                    
     tribal  and  non-tribal  members, Alaska  natives  were                                                                    
     overwhelmingly  represented in  my office.  One of  the                                                                    
     most significant hurdles  for individuals released from                                                                    
     incarceration is access to  services. The services they                                                                    
     can access  may not be culturally  appropriate or broad                                                                    
     enough to give them the  tools they need to lower their                                                                    
     risks of recidivating. From  lack of transportation the                                                                    
     moment they  are released, to finding  housing, medical                                                                    
     care,  employment, identification  cards, or  substance                                                                    
     use treatment, returning citizens  face huge hurdles to                                                                    
     their  own  well-being.   There  are  no  comprehensive                                                                    
     reentry  services  in  Southeast   Alaska  and  of  the                                                                    
     services   that    do   exist,    cultural   components                                                                    
     incorporated  into  these  approaches are  either  non-                                                                    
     existent or underdeveloped.                                                                                                
     In addition  to the need  for strong sober  support and                                                                    
     guidance  to services,  many tribal  members have  lost                                                                    
     touch  with their  tribal  identity while  incarcerated                                                                    
     and experience  broken ties with their  Native families                                                                    
     due   to   addictions    and   violations   in   trust.                                                                    
     Participants  in the  Second  Chance Program  regularly                                                                    
     cited  the need  for cultural  identity but  had to  be                                                                    
     self-taught   due  to   these  circumstances,   limited                                                                    
     resources,  and  being  paroled away  from  their  home                                                                    
     communities  where  the  knowledge lives.  The  healing                                                                    
     associated   with   practicing   cultural   traditions,                                                                    
     learning clan  identity and having  pride in  where you                                                                    
     come  from  is  something   long  respected  by  Native                                                                    
     American people and can assist in reducing recidivism.                                                                     
     Due to the uniqueness of  Alaska tribes having only one                                                                    
     reservation and no criminal  jurisdiction in the state,                                                                    
     our  tribes  have  limited  established  infrastructure                                                                    
     when it  comes to  creating reentry  and rehabilitative                                                                    
     programs. This  often results  in tribal  entities that                                                                    
     are unable to compete  under current procurement codes.                                                                    
     This   also  means   that  many   programs  are   being                                                                    
     established without  the invaluable resources  that our                                                                    
     tribes hold. Allowing the State  of Alaska an exemption                                                                    
     in   current   procurement   rules  would   open   many                                                                    
     possibilities in empowering tribes  to care for our own                                                                    
     in  the reentry  process. A  cheaper bid  is just  that                                                                    
     when  it cannot  reduce recidivism  and keeps  open the                                                                    
     proverbial  "revolving  door."  The  future  of  public                                                                    
     safety  and  healthy  communities relies  in  promoting                                                                    
     programs that  truly help the formerly  incarcerated to                                                                    
     keep  them  from returning  to  prison;  in my  work  I                                                                    
     recognize these programs to be  where we strengthen our                                                                    
     broken  tribal  members  by  incorporating  traditional                                                                    
     sources  of healing  and knowledge  in the  reentry and                                                                    
     rehabilitative  support systems.  Therefore, I  support                                                                    
     House Bill 325 and ask that you consider the same.                                                                         
MS. EAMES  added to her  testimony that  reentry is not  one size                                                               
fits all,  and the current model  is too large and  does not work                                                               
well.     Smaller  models  can  build   relationships  and  build                                                               
successful returning citizens.                                                                                                  
3:54:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  asked what,  in Alaska's  procurement codes,                                                               
makes local  establishments trying to provide  services unable to                                                               
MS. EAMES answered  that Tlingit & Haida has  not established re-                                                               
entry  and rehabilitation  services, because  its focus  has been                                                               
other aspects of  being a tribal organization.   She offered that                                                               
it  is  hard to  be  competitive  with  agencies that  have  been                                                               
offering these services for a long  time.  She stated that Alaska                                                               
has  been  providing services  the  same  way  for a  long  time;                                                               
recidivism  rates  are very  high;  perhaps  it  is time  to  try                                                               
something new, smaller, and that can build people up.                                                                           
3:56:00 PM                                                                                                                    
KARA NELSON,  Director, Haven House Juneau,  testified that Haven                                                               
House Juneau  is a peer-led,  faith-based recovery  residence for                                                               
women coming  home after incarceration.   She added that  it also                                                               
provides non-residential  services for anyone who  requests them.                                                               
She  explained that  her  organization has  had  to develop  some                                                               
personal relationships  to create change, because  it doesn't fit                                                               
into many of  the funding streams.  She relayed  that Haven House                                                               
Juneau  is a  small non-profit;  staff can  access the  prison to                                                               
provide  peer  support, do  pre-release  work  with inmates,  and                                                               
"build community."   She  added that  her organization  does work                                                               
with men at times.                                                                                                              
MS. NELSON  stated that she  is in full support  of HB 325.   She                                                               
mentioned  that people  wanted  to see  changes  in the  criminal                                                               
justice  system,   she  supported   that  effort,  and   now  her                                                               
organization is unable  to take advantage of  the funding streams                                                               
and expand.   She  said that  she is not  well educated  on state                                                               
procurement but knows  that Haven House Juneau does  not fit into                                                               
that  procurement model;  it cannot  take advantage  of RFPs  for                                                               
reinvestment, nor  can it  receive any  support through  DOC, the                                                               
State of Alaska, and other state funding sources.                                                                               
MS. NELSON relayed that she has  been in contact with many of the                                                               
operators of houses across the  state and can answer questions on                                                               
how  the houses  are set  up and  "not in  my back  yard" (NIMBY)                                                               
issues.   She maintained  that the  proposed legislation  is very                                                               
important for developing community and moving forward.                                                                          
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS asked  whether there are ways  the RFP could                                                               
be written  differently so that  her organization could  fit into                                                               
that process.                                                                                                                   
MS. NELSON  responded that  the only RFPs  that she  has reviewed                                                               
are the  ones resulting  from Senate Bill  91 [passed  during the                                                               
Twenty-Ninth Alaska  State Legislature,  2015-2016].   She stated                                                               
that  her facility  houses up  to eight  women; it  has developed                                                               
professional training for recovery  coaching and for peer support                                                               
and for  forensic support  inside and outside.   She  pointed out                                                               
that  because she  does  not have  a  professional degree,  these                                                               
training programs  are not  considered clinical.   She  said that                                                               
for sober  houses, clinical staff  and a more  institutional type                                                               
structure is required.                                                                                                          
4:00:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH  asked for  a  description  of Haven  House                                                               
Juneau and what it offers.   He stated that procurement is merely                                                               
a matter of describing what it  is one is offering, what services                                                               
are provided, and how much it costs.                                                                                            
MS. NELSON  responded that her  facility is considered a  Level 2                                                               
recovery  residence -  a designation  determined by  the National                                                               
Association of Recovery  Residences (NARR) accreditation process;                                                               
therefore, it  uses that  standard.   Under that  standard, Haven                                                               
House  Juneau provides  a  bed, peer  support  24/7, reentry  and                                                               
recovery coaches, and a program  that residents must follow.  The                                                               
program  includes  attending  meetings, securing  a  sponsor  for                                                               
mentoring, and abiding by a curfew.   There is a person who lives                                                               
in  the  house to  oversee  curfew  and  provide a  safe,  stable                                                               
presence  in the  evening.   She  added that  she  has one  staff                                                               
person and about five volunteers  to surround the released women,                                                               
their families, and anyone else  that the organization is working                                                               
with in the community.                                                                                                          
MS. NELSON  stated that on  a larger scale, the  organization has                                                               
developed relationships  across the  state with other  people who                                                               
have  open homes.   She  maintained that  the operators  of these                                                               
homes are all in contact to  have the best practices and policies                                                               
in place.  She asserted that  these homes must be good neighbors;                                                               
and by  being good neighbors,  the operators have  shifted hearts                                                               
and  minds and  demonstrated what  recovery actually  looks like.                                                               
She  said that  Haven House  Juneau doesn't  only have  residents                                                               
with addictions; currently  in the home there is  a woman without                                                               
additions, who came out of  prison with difficult charges and who                                                               
needed the  support.  She added  that she works closely  with DOC                                                               
and the Division of Probation and Parole (DPP).                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  offered that Ms. Nelson  could describe the                                                               
operation and bid  it.  He asked  for the duration of  time for a                                                               
resident to stay in the home.                                                                                                   
MS. NELSON  replied that she  can have  someone live at  the home                                                               
for  up  to  two  years.    She added  that  there  is  a  30-day                                                               
probationary period for residents  and living there is voluntary.                                                               
She works  with DOC  and the  City and  Borough of  Juneau codes.                                                               
She stated  that in  Juneau, the ordinance  was changed  to allow                                                               
the home  to be in  a residential  neighborhood; it was  a 2-year                                                               
battle.   She  mentioned  that there  are  different permits  for                                                               
different locations in Alaska.                                                                                                  
4:03:52 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP  relayed that he  thinks of a  halfway house                                                               
as  transitional living;  the purpose  is  to transition  someone                                                               
back into  society.  He  offered that with that  transition comes                                                               
coaching,  guidance, counseling,  and  other  opportunities.   He                                                               
asked if  that is still  being done.   He said that  anyone still                                                               
interested in drugs could use them in  or out of a small or large                                                               
facility; it  is apparent  from the  news that  there is  still a                                                               
drug   problem  in   major  facilities.      He  suggested   that                                                               
susceptibility  to drug  use occurs  regardless of  who surrounds                                                               
the resident.   He asked whether  the two-year maximum stay  is a                                                               
requirement of release and if it is variable.                                                                                   
MS. NELSON answered  that the length of time is  dependent on the                                                               
person and her situation.  She  stated that in her program, staff                                                               
use  individual  action  plans   (IAPs)  and  work  on  long-term                                                               
employment  goals with  residents.   She said  the home  offers a                                                               
"culture"  of recovery;  regardless  of substance  use or  mental                                                               
health disorders,  recovery is  the focus.   She relayed  that 99                                                               
percent of  the time,  residents are  dealing with  substance use                                                               
and  mental  health disorders.    She  offered that  the  smaller                                                               
environments have  a culture  in which  residents can  see others                                                               
successfully reenter society.   She said that  Haven House Juneau                                                               
has a very strict  program:  it is not just a  place to live; the                                                               
resident  meets with  someone once  a week  to review  her goals;                                                               
staff  are there  to give  rides and  help with  peer support  to                                                               
guide residents  through the process; there  are urinary analyses                                                               
(UAs) and breathalyzer tests as well.                                                                                           
4:06:40 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL asked  Ms. Nelson  whether it  was necessary                                                               
for   her  to   follow  the   conventional  procurement   process                                                               
MS.  NELSON  responded   that  she  is  not   familiar  with  the                                                               
procurement process.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  asked  whether   she  has  a  contract  for                                                               
operation  of Haven  House Juneau  and if  it required  a lengthy                                                               
MS. NELSON replied  that Haven House Juneau  cannot be considered                                                               
a halfway  house due  to the current  procurement policies.   She                                                               
said that the organization works  very closely with institutional                                                               
and  field probation  officers,  and  with DOC.    She said  that                                                               
sometimes DOC will  release someone who is  not technically still                                                               
incarcerated.   She  maintained  that HB  325  would allow  Haven                                                               
House Juneau  to take  in people  still serving  their sentences.                                                               
She  added that  currently the  home can  have people  with ankle                                                               
monitors who  are still  serving their sentences,  but it  is not                                                               
like a  CRC to  which prisoners are  furloughed.   She maintained                                                               
that this  is the change that  needs to occur for  the small home                                                               
to work and  be utilized.  She mentioned other  places around the                                                               
state that are piloting this model.                                                                                             
4:08:52 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL  summarized by  saying  that  under HB  325,                                                               
small facilities like  Haven House Juneau could  take people, who                                                               
are  not technically  released from  prison,  into halfway  house                                                               
situations.  He clarified that  currently Haven House Juneau is a                                                               
voluntary program.                                                                                                              
MS. NELSON responded yes.                                                                                                       
4:09:34 PM                                                                                                                    
NICOLE BORROMEO,  Executive Vice  President and  General Counsel,                                                               
Alaska  Federation  of  Natives  (AFN),  testified  that  AFN  is                                                               
excited about the  potential that HB 325  presents; she commended                                                               
Commissioner  Williams for  devising  a creative  solution.   She                                                               
relayed that AFN is not so  much focused on procurement rules but                                                               
on what  is right  and in the  best interest of  the state.   She                                                               
stated  that  currently  Alaska  has   a  broken  process.    She                                                               
maintained  that the  probation and  parole system  is incredibly                                                               
expensive;  it doesn't  work;  and it  leads  to rural  offenders                                                               
being  permanently stranded  in  the larger  cities -  Anchorage,                                                               
Fairbanks, Juneau,  and Ketchikan.   She said  that AFN  has been                                                               
working  with  Commissioner Williams  and  his  staff to  find  a                                                               
creative solution to  return these offenders back  to their homes                                                               
and do it in a fiscally responsible manner.                                                                                     
MS.  BORROMEO relayed  that she  encourages the  committee to  be                                                               
open to the proposal  under HB 325.  She said  that change can be                                                               
scary; she asked them not to  let "perfect be the enemy of good,"                                                               
because what is proposed under the  legislation is a good idea in                                                               
concept.  She stated that she  would like to provide education to                                                               
committee  members on  the benefits  of private  programs to  the                                                               
Native community.                                                                                                               
4:12:08 PM                                                                                                                    
TERRIA WALTERS  testified that  she is the  founder of  Fallen Up                                                               
Ministries,  a faith-based  organization.   She  stated that  she                                                               
supports HB 325,  because her organization works  with people who                                                               
are currently  incarcerated and are coming  out of incarceration.                                                               
She relayed  that she  was formerly incarcerated,  has been  in a                                                               
halfway house, and  is now with almost 13 years  of sobriety from                                                               
methamphetamine and opioid  addiction.  She stated  that from her                                                               
experience and from  what people who have been  in halfway houses                                                               
report, there  are massive amounts  of drugs there.   When people                                                               
who have been through drug  addiction treatment are released from                                                               
prison and  are trying to stay  in recovery, then are  put into a                                                               
place with  a great deal  of drugs, it is  an issue.   She stated                                                               
that her  son passed  away two  and a half  years ago;  her son's                                                               
father is currently incarcerated for  a federal offense; he is in                                                               
recovery for the first time, but his roommates are getting high.                                                                
MS. WALTERS  relayed that small  houses are more  personal; there                                                               
are peer support specialists who  can help individuals transition                                                               
back into  the community by  giving rides, help with  resumes and                                                               
job  applications,  help  with  clothing,  and  help  them  build                                                               
relationships with family  members.  She maintained  that the old                                                               
system does  not work and  has not worked for  a long time.   She                                                               
urged  the  committee to  reconsider  the  transition process  of                                                               
prisoners.   She said that  Fallen Up Ministries is  looking into                                                               
opening  transitional housing;  the  organization  is in  Palmer,                                                               
which has  no such facility  for released prisoners to  live hear                                                               
their  families.   She maintained  that the  proposed legislation                                                               
would  open  many doors  for  individuals  needing this  type  of                                                               
4:15:44 PM                                                                                                                    
BILLY CHRISTENSEN testified that he  is on the board of directors                                                               
of Fallen Up Ministries.   He commended Commissioner Williams for                                                               
introducing HB  325; Alaska obviously  needs change, and  it must                                                               
start somewhere.  He relayed  that the current procurement policy                                                               
prevents people like  Kara Nelson, who has  a successful business                                                               
model, from  getting the  type of funding  she needs  to continue                                                               
being  successful and  have  her organization  grow  to its  full                                                               
potential.  He commended Ms. Nelson for her work.                                                                               
MR.  CHRISTENSEN  offered  that  cost is  currently  one  of  the                                                               
biggest issues for  the State of Alaska and  changing the current                                                               
procurement  process  is key.    He  referred to  testimony  that                                                               
Alaska Natives  are getting  trapped in  the cities  with halfway                                                               
houses.   He  maintained  that  there is  a  homeless problem  in                                                               
Anchorage,  and  many  people are  being  released  from  halfway                                                               
houses  with  nowhere  to  go,  no skills,  and  no  money.    He                                                               
maintained that HB  325 would help set people up  for success and                                                               
allow for smaller reentry homes.                                                                                                
4:18:32 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHELLE OVERSTREET,  Executive Director, MyHouse  Matsu Homeless                                                               
Youth  Center (MyHouse),  testified that  MyHouse is  a (indisc.-                                                               
coughing)  that is  a stop-in  center for  homeless youth,  which                                                               
offers food, clothing,  showers, and laundry.  She  said that its                                                               
job training  program has  a 90 percent  success rate  in helping                                                               
youth remain housed; of the  youth that complete the job training                                                               
internship, 98 percent  are still housed two years  later, and 80                                                               
percent are working at a job at  or above the level at which they                                                               
were trained.                                                                                                                   
MS. OVERSTREET  stated that  she is  in support of  HB 325.   She                                                               
mentioned that  MyHouse has two  transitional housing  units that                                                               
can house  five to seven  young people  - one for  male residents                                                               
and  one for  female  residents.   She stated  that  in 2016,  60                                                               
percent of  its young  men reentered  society, and  that occurred                                                               
without [public] funding for the  services that MyHouse provided.                                                               
She  said that  although she  has not  calculated the  recidivism                                                               
rate,  she is  certain that  it  is not  the 75  percent that  is                                                               
normal for that age range.   She offered that MyHouse can provide                                                               
wrap-around services that include  mental health and peer support                                                               
on-site   for  recovery   services  through   networking.     She                                                               
maintained that  the recovery statistics for  the organization is                                                               
"mind-blowing"; however, it does not  qualify for funding for the                                                               
services it provides.   She said that the  local prisoner reentry                                                               
program has  funding, but  MyHouse does  not qualify  because its                                                               
age  range  is only  to  age  24.   She  said  that the  question                                                               
becomes:   "Do you want  to do recidivism prevention  between the                                                               
ages of 18 and  24, or do you want to leave it  until they are 25                                                               
and older?"  She  maintained that the answer is:   "We want to do                                                               
it  when they're  younger."   She asserted  that MyHouse  has not                                                               
experienced  any police  issues with  housing or  complaints from                                                               
neighbors.  It has live-in peer support staff.                                                                                  
MS. OVERSTREET summarized by saying  that she believes Alaska can                                                               
do  a better  job.   She mentioned  that some  people at  Cordova                                                               
Center [halfway house] in Anchorage  relapse the day they arrive,                                                               
and MyHouse receives a request to  take them.  She asked that the                                                               
committee  support HB  325  and help  her be  able  to serve  the                                                               
prisoner population more effectively.                                                                                           
4:21:54 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that HB 325 would be held over.                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB325 Sponsor Statement 2.05.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
HB325 Sectional Analysis ver A 2.5.2018.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
HB325 ver A 2.05.18.PDF HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
HB325 Fiscal Note DOC 2.05.18.PDF HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
HB325 Supporting Document-Letter DHSS 2.13.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
HB319 Sponsor Statement 2.6.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 319
HB325 Supporting Document-Letter DHSS 2.13.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
HB325 Supporting Document testimony, T Eames CCTHITA 2.15.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 3/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 325
HB319 Ver. A 2.6.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 319
HB319 Supporting Document - AMIA Letter of Support 2.9.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 319
HB319 Supporting Document - NCSL Report 2.8.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 319
HB319 Supporting Document - Marijuana Control Board Minutes 2.8.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 319
HB319 Fiscal Note DCCED 2.9.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 319
HB319 Fiscal Note DPS 2.9.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HB 319
HJR21-Sponsor Statement 2.01.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HJR 21
HJR21 ver D 2.05.18.PDF HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HJR 21
HJR21 Fiscal Note-LEG-SESS-02-09-18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HJR 21
HJR21 Supporting Documents - Letters of Support 2.01.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HJR 21
HJR21- Additional Document- Sessions Memo 2.01.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HJR 21
HJR21- Additional Document- Walker Letter to Sessions 2.01.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HJR 21
HJR21- Additional Document-Governor's Letter to Attorney General 2.01.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HJR 21
HJR21 Additional Documents - FinCen on Marijuana Regulation Department of Treasury 2.01.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HJR 21
HJR21 Additional Documents - Murkowski and Warren Letter to Sessions 2.01.18.pdf HSTA 2/13/2018 3:15:00 PM
HSTA 2/15/2018 3:15:00 PM
HJR 21