Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/11/1994 01:50 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 ACT) before the committee as the next order of business.                      
 JOHN MALLONEE, Deputy Director, Child Support Enforcement Division,           
 Department of Revenue, said SB 302 addresses one of the most                  
 complex and complicated areas of child support.  Passage of the               
 legislation will improve services to case parties involved in the             
 interstate enforcement of child support orders by clarifying the              
 process and moving to a one order system honored by all states                
 which have passed this uniform law.  Currently, eight states have             
 passed this uniform law and 25 other states have it in their                  
 current session.                                                              
 Mr. Mallonee said that while the bill contains many provisions, the           
 most significant is the one maintaining only one valid order at one           
 time.  Under the current interstate laws, there can be several                
 orders in effect at one time in several states.  This creates much            
 confusion - obligors can be paying and be current in one state and            
 have arrears and not be meeting their child support payments in               
 other states because there is not one order in effect at one time.            
 Number 182                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE asked if this Act is a mandate of the federal                  
 government.  MR. MALLONEE answered that it has not been mandated by           
 the federal government at this time.  Uniform Law Commissioners,              
 who look at laws that need to be uniform throughout the states,               
 have recommended passage of this particular law and repealing the             
 Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA).                        
 SENATOR LITTLE asked if there has been any opposition to the                  
 legislation.  MR. MALLONEE answered that he does not know of any              
 opposition to it, although an attorney in Anchorage, who represents           
 a group of obligors, has suggested some minor changes to it.                  
 Number 214                                                                    
 There were several questions raised on the waiving by a "tribunal"            
 of the petitioner's filing fee or other costs.  DONNA PAGE, Senior            
 Hearing Officer, Department of Revenue, clarified that the bill was           
 drafted using the word "tribunal" because, currently, child support           
 is established both by the courts and by the agency.  Right now,              
 URESA is not used very much by the agency because in order to use             
 URESA, they have to go to court and that causes a huge backlog of             
 their work in trying to get it through the court system.  She                 
 explained if the word "tribunal" is used and the agency is included           
 in this Act, as opposed to the way it is done in URESA, the agency            
 will use the Act and in a much more expeditious manner                        
 administratively establish child support in an interstate case.  If           
 a state has jurisdiction over a child support case, another state             
 cannot create another child support order.  The child support                 
 agency can be the entity that takes another state's order and                 
 enforces it or modifies it if that is appropriate.  MR. MALLONEE              
 added that the modification must come from the state that has                 
 continued exclusive jurisdiction in the case.                                 
 Number 340                                                                    
 Mr. Mallonee and Ms. Page responded to several questions from                 
 committee members on how the information is currently shared                  
 between states, how this Act will enable the state to function                
 better in collecting child support payments, and how a state gains            
 jurisdiction over a child support case.                                       
 Number 500                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE asked for an explanation of the term "default                  
 order."  MR. MALLONEE responded that in the establishment of a                
 notice of finding a financial responsibility, the number one thing            
 that the agency does is attempt to locate information on what an              
 individual makes by checking Department of Labor statistics, as               
 well as requesting information from the person.  A default order is           
 only set once they have no information.  The courts do the same               
 thing, and in many cases, they set it using a $60,000 figure.  If             
 they ask the person to provide financial information and they do              
 not, the court normally sets it using $60,000, which is the maximum           
 in the guidelines.                                                            
 Number 531                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR commented that he understands the concern and the              
 desire to make certain that people conduct themselves in an                   
 appropriate fashion, but he thinks the entire weight of the State             
 of Alaska, the Attorney General's office and the Child Support                
 Enforcement Agency are set up for one purpose only and that is to             
 gain money.                                                                   
 Number 590                                                                    
 SENATOR HALFORD asked what would happen if the word "tribunal" were           
 changed to "court" throughout the bill.  MS. PAGE responded that              
 she thought that the situation would be the same as it is now.  She           
 thinks it is necessary to have it "tribunal" in order to make it              
 easy for the administrative agency to administratively respond to             
 interstate cases.  If they can't, they have other statutes that               
 allow them to do what they are doing now, and that is to establish            
 an Alaska order every time they've got an interstate case.                    
 TAPE 94-34, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 050                                                                    
 SENATOR HALFORD said it is absolutely asinine to have a minimum               
 payment level of $50, which is nothing, and the obligor is getting            
 money under the table to avoid having to pay more child support,              
 while at the same time, he is driving around in a new truck.  He              
 suggested it would be better to go back into the 90.3 statute and             
 rewrite new minimum and maximum payments, and say that is the                 
 degree of motion that the system has got.  He added that the court            
 has said that in the case of that set of rules, they would like to            
 see that done.                                                                
 Number 068                                                                    
 LARAINE DERR, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Revenue, said she            
 just recently assumed the administrative responsibility for child             
 support, and she thinks there are problems in every area.  She                
 stated this bill is one way of starting to fix an interstate                  
 problem and addresses the problem of an individual having multiple            
 court orders and which one should be followed.                                
 Number 115                                                                    
 SENATOR HALFORD stated the current system is a mess and he is not             
 willing to make a system work any better that is not worth fixing.            
 Number 130                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked Mr. Mallonee to comment on the federal aspects           
 of the program.  MR. MALLONEE said 66 percent of operating expenses           
 of the entire child support program is federally funded.  They also           
 receive incentives anywhere from 6 to 10 percent based on the AFDC            
 collections that they return, of which 50 percent goes to the state           
 to replace its share of the AFDC and 50 percent goes to the federal           
 government to replace their share of the AFDC.  In most cases, they           
 have more than 100 percent of their budgeted expenses covered by              
 federal funds.  Therefore, the federal government has laid down               
 some fairly significant rules in the child support area based on              
 giving funding to these programs.  He reiterated that this                    
 particular program is not mandated by the federal government, as              
 yet, but he suspects that before too many more years the federal              
 government will mandate this program or something similar.  He also           
 agreed that there are a lot of problems within the system, and one            
 of the most complicated ones that creates a lot of confusion and              
 hardship to a lot of people is the interstate one.                            
 Number 160                                                                    
 There being no further testimony or questions on SB 302, SENATOR              
 TAYLOR stated he would like to hold the bill in committee to take             
 a closer look at it.                                                          

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