Legislature(1997 - 1998)
03/12/1997 09:08 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Senate Bill No. 67 "An Act relating to the imposition of criminal sentences; and amending Rule 32.2, Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure." Co-Chair Sharp stated that SB 67 did not have a fiscal note and that it was his intention to pass the bill out of committee. BRETT HUBER, STAFF, SENATOR RICK HALFORD, explained that SB 67 provided victims of crime and their families, as well as the general public with a more honest and accurate assessment of the time that was actually expected to be served of someone who was convicted of a crime. He noted that the legislation was consistent with the victims' rights constitutional amendment, which was passed by the legislature and ratified by popular vote in 1994. Mr. Huber began a sectional explanation of the bill and related that Section 1 short titled the legislation as the Truth in Sentencing Act of 97. Section 2 of the bill consisted of language from the Department of Law (DOL) and the Department of Corrections (DOC); the federal program for truth in sentencing was put into place the prior year and provided funding for states that met the federal guidelines. Although the language in Section 2 of the bill did not change any provisions regarding how a sentence was imposed or served, it was expected to capture $617,000 in federal funds in FY98. He explained that the federal pool of funds would stay in place for 3 more years, but that the amount might be reduced as other states began to qualify for the program; DOL and DOC anticipated the funding to be at least $500,000 annually for next 4 years. Section 3 represented a written declaration in the sentence report; at the time of sentencing, the judge would be required to state an approximate time that was actually expected to be served under the provisions of good time, mandatory parole, and discretionary parole. He explained that a 10 year sentence did not often mean 10 years actually served in the judicial system. He relayed that Section 4 addressed concerns by DOL and DOC, and that the sections essentially stated that the informational portion of the sentence could not be used against the court in a future appeal. Section 5 reflected a court rule change and provided for an oral statement at the time of sentencing; at sentencing the judge would make an oral statement as to the approximate minimum of the actual time that would be served. Section 5 also contained language that took away the informational portion of the sentence as a basis of appeal. He concluded that Sections 6 and 7 addressed the court rule changes. Senator Donley wondered why the fiscal notes were zeroed and observed that the notes did not have any mention of the possible federal funding. Mr. Huber responded that the fiscal note from DOL originally had reflected costs; the concern had been that if the bill could be used for a basis for appeal, there might be additional court challenges. Furthermore, if the desire was that there needed to be an exact "to the day" determination of expected served time, it would cause additional work for the prosecutor's office and DOC. He offered that the concerns from DOL regarding the bills potential costs had been addressed in a Senate Judiciary Committee CS. He observed that the fiscal note had been zeroed, but offered that he did not know why the $617,000 in federal fund capture was not included in the note. Senator Donley stated that there should at least be a notation somewhere on the fiscal note that discussed the $617,000 in federal funding and inquired if there was any mention of the funding in the note. Mr. Huber responded that he did not see any mention of the funding that DOL had testified about in the Senate Judiciary Committee in the current fiscal note. Co-Chair Sharp inquired if a positive fiscal note would be from DOC or DOL. Mr. Huber responded that the federal funding pool provided for prison facilities construction and that the note would be from DOC. He stated that the DOL attorney, Margo Knuth, who had worked with the sponsor, was currently detached to DOC. He reiterated that he did not know why the federal funding did not appear on the fiscal note. Co-Chair Sharp suggested that the bill be passed out of committee with instructions to get clarification from DOL and DOC regarding a possible positive fiscal note to accompany the legislation. Senator Donley observed that the bill's sponsor could draw up a fiscal note that accurately reflected their understanding of the status of the federal funding. Co- Chair Sharp mentioned that the sponsor could draft a fiscal note for the Senate Finance Committee that was based on the testimony in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Donley added that the new note could be taken up under subsequent business. Co-Chair Sharp requested that the sponsor supply the committee with a new fiscal note either in the current day or the next. Mr. Huber responded in the affirmative. Senator Donley stated that he did not want to hold up the bill in committee, but rather that the bill could be passed out and the fiscal note could be revisited a day or 2 later. Co-Chair Sharp agreed and added that the record should reflect the possible upcoming fiscal note from the Senate Finance Committee. Senator Donley MOVED to REPORT CSSB 67(JUD) out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. CSSB 67(JUD) was REPORTED out of committee with a "do pass" recommendation and with two previously published zero fiscal notes from the Department of Public Safety, a previously published zero fiscal note from the Alaska Court System, a previously published zero fiscal note from the Department of Law, and with a forthcoming new fiscal impact note from the Senate Finance Committee.