Legislature(2005 - 2006)BELTZ 211

04/27/2005 01:30 PM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 27 MUNI PROP TAX EXEMPTION FOR POLICE HOMES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ HB 121 SERVICE AREAS IN SECOND CLASS BOROUGHS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 121(2d RLS)) Out of Committee
*+ SB 188 BULK FUEL REVOLVING LOAN FUND CAP TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 188(CRA) Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
= SB 179 MINERALS TAX/PAYMENTS TO MUNIS IN LIEU
Heard & Held
      CSHB  27(FIN)-MUNI PROP TAX EXEMPTION FOR POLICE HOMES                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GARY STEVENS  announced HB  27  to be  the next  order  of                                                               
business.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:36:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG, Co-Sponsor, said  the purpose of HB  27                                                               
is to encourage law enforcement officers to purchase and live  in                                                               
homes in  certain areas  of a municipality  that are  in need  of                                                               
more police protection.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
The bill  gives municipalities the option  to enact an  ordinance                                                               
to  exempt up  to $150,000  of assessed  valuation on  a  primary                                                               
permanent residence of a law enforcement officer who lives in  an                                                               
area  the municipality  recognizes as  high crime.  He  clarified                                                               
that  municipalities may  not  enact such  an  ordinance  without                                                               
passing this type of legislation.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  defined an eligible  area as "either  a                                                               
weed  and seed  program, a  renaissance or,  alternatively as  an                                                               
area that  has a higher occurrence  of crime than a  municipality                                                               
as a whole. Or it could meet both A and B."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
He  said   co-sponsor,  Representative  Chenault  believes   this                                                               
legislation would be helpful in Nikiski and he believes it  would                                                               
be helpful in parts of Anchorage.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:39:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GARY  STEVENS  asked if  it's  true  that  this  isn't  an                                                               
obligation; it's an opportunity for a municipality.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG agreed.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BERT STEDMAN  questioned why this couldn't be handled  at                                                               
a local level.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG replied  it can, but under AS  29.45.050                                                               
an enabling state law is required.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEDMAN  asked if  there  is a  reason that  firefighters                                                               
aren't included.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG replied  that  would be  a  good  idea.                                                               
Currently  volunteer  firefighters  and  EMS  personnel  have   a                                                               
$10,000 exemption under another provision.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEDMAN  said he  was referring to  fulltime paid  rather                                                               
than volunteer firefighters.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he  wasn't sure it  would help  as                                                               
much to have  a firefighter on the  block as a policeperson,  but                                                               
he  wouldn't have  a problem  with including  firefighters if  it                                                               
would help keep crime down.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:42:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS WAGONER asked for an explanation of the  statement                                                               
that two  or more individuals  are eligible for  an exemption  on                                                               
the same property.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG explained  that particular language  was                                                               
taken from  the subsection  dealing with volunteer  firefighters.                                                               
The idea  is that the  exempted valuation wouldn't  be more  than                                                               
$300,000  for  a single  property.  This  would  accommodate  the                                                               
instances in which  one law enforcement officer marries  another,                                                               
but wouldn't extend  to multiple family members  that are in  law                                                               
enforcement or groups of officers going together to buy a  single                                                               
residence.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS asked if  this would apply  only to  actively                                                               
employed law enforcement officers.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said the  intent is to  cover just  the                                                               
actively employed, but the municipal ordinance would address  the                                                               
particulars.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS noted Mr. Van  Sant, the state assessor,  was                                                               
available for questions.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHIEF WALT MONEGAN,  Anchorage Police Department (APD), spoke  in                                                               
support  of HB  27.  Over  the years  several  different  housing                                                               
incentives  have been  offered  and  about 12  APD  members  have                                                               
participated.  That indicates  that the  proposal has  merit,  he                                                               
said.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
He   supports  the   bill  because   neighborhoods  feel   safer;                                                               
neighborhoods  get to  know the  resident officer;  officers  are                                                               
reminded  that they  are  citizens  in the  community;  and  they                                                               
provide positive  role models for  youth. Certainly, the  program                                                               
would aid in officer recruitment and retention. Finally, he  said                                                               
he supports including firefighters in the bill.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:49:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WAGONER questioned whether police officers were aware  of                                                               
the bill.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHIEF  MONEGAN replied  some are  and the  union  representatives                                                               
keep members informed as well.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WAGONER asked if he'd gotten any feedback.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHIEF MONEGAN  replied officers  are waiting to  see whether  the                                                               
program becomes available.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR JOHNNY  ELLIS stated  support for  the bill  and said  he                                                               
represented some of the low-income high-crime areas in  Anchorage                                                               
and he knows that if  cops make a decent salary and live in  more                                                               
affluent neighborhoods  it fosters bad  feelings. Hopefully  this                                                               
will encourage folks  that could afford to  live in better  areas                                                               
to  move into  less affluent  areas because  that would  help  to                                                               
improve those neighborhoods.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHIEF  MONEGAN  said  when  neighborhoods  benefit  there  is  an                                                               
operational benefit for the  department in that crime goes  down.                                                               
It's  a  plus to  see  neighborhoods change  complexion  for  the                                                               
better, he said.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:53:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SERGEANT   MIKE  COUTURIER,   Representative,  Anchorage   Police                                                               
Department  Employee   Association  (APDEA),   stated  that   the                                                               
association  supports HB  27. His  job includes  recruitment  and                                                               
retention  and  this  will  be  a  distinct  aid   in  attracting                                                               
applicants. More than likely, he said, the primary use will  come                                                               
from  officers  that  are  attracted  from  out  of  state.   The                                                               
association has the information on its web site and  members have                                                               
already shown interest in the idea.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GARY STEVENS  recapped this would be  at the option of  the                                                               
local government and it could exempt city police  departments and                                                               
state  troopers.  He  asked  if  that  was  Sergeant  Couturier's                                                               
understanding.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SERGEANT COUTURIER said yes.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GARY STEVENS observed that the comments had  been positive.                                                               
He was asked  to hold the bill  to review several issues, but  it                                                               
would be  dealt with quickly  at the  next hearing. CSHB  27(FIN)                                                               
was held in committee.                                                                                                          

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