Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/28/1994 09:10 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN brings up SB 302 (UNIFORM INTERSTATE FAMILY SUPPORT            
 ACT) as the next order of business and asks that representatives              
 from the Department of Revenue join the committee at the table.               
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN announces the committee has a committee substitute             
 that incorporates about four changes that the Alaska Family Support           
 Group suggested.  The chairman states it is his understanding that            
 the Department of Revenue has no objection to the changes.                    
                                                                               
 Number 227                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER makes a motion to adopt CSSB 302(STA) in lieu of the           
 original bill.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 229                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN, hearing no objection, notes the committee                     
 substitute has been adopted in lieu of the original bill.  The                
 chairman asks Ms. Babcock to review the changes to SB 302.                    
                                                                               
 Number 239                                                                    
                                                                               
 PORTIA BABCOCK, Committee Aide, Senate State Affairs Committee asks           
 the representatives of the Department of Revenue if they met with             
 Mr. Kirk of the Alaska Family Support Group.                                  
                                                                               
 LARAINE DERR, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Revenue says the             
 department met with Mr. Kirk, but there is only one change the                
 department agreed on with Mr. Kirk.  The change was on page 13,               
 line 17.  The change involved non-disclosure of information in                
 exceptional circumstances.  Ms. Derr says Mr. Kirk suggested other            
 changes, but the department did not agree with him that those                 
 changes needed to be made.                                                    
                                                                               
 DONNA PAGE, Senior Hearing Officer, Department of Revenue says the            
 department didn't necessarily disagree with Mr. Kirk, but the                 
 change on page 13 was the only change the department felt had to be           
 made.  The department didn't have an opinion one way or the other             
 on most of Mr. Kirk's concerns, because his concerns did not affect           
 the agency.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 256                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. BABCOCK states the first change is on page 4, lines 24 and 25.            
 it would add language stating a tribunal may dismiss a case for               
 improper venue.                                                               
                                                                               
 The Department of Revenue has no position on that change.                     
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks Ms. Page if she can enlighten the committee as            
 to the meaning of "improper venue."                                           
 Number 280                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. PAGE responds Mr. Kirk's concern was that this jurisdictional             
 statement was very broad.  Mr. Kirk wanted to agency to have the              
 right to dismiss a case for improper venue.  If no party of a                 
 support order lives in the state, the state does not really have              
 any interest in the case.                                                     
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if that change would do any disservice to the             
 bill.                                                                         
                                                                               
 MS. PAGE does not think it would.  The act is intended to have the            
 child support order in the state where someone involved in the                
 order lives, so that it can be enforced.                                      
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if there is any discussion among committee                
 members.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 291                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR says he is concerned about the use of the term                 
 "tribunal".  It is being used to describe both an agency of the               
 executive branch, and the court system.  He thinks it is dangerous            
 to recognize a state agency as a tribunal, and would hope that                
 agency would not have the same powers and authorizations that a               
 superior court would have.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 300                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. PAGE responds the bill was purposely written to include the               
 administrative agency as a tribunal.  The administrative agency as            
 tribunal can only do what is already authorized by law.  This would           
 solve a problem by having the administrative agency operate under             
 the same laws the court system operates under, insofar as having              
 one child support order, one time, and one place.  Right now, the             
 agency is part of the problem.  People move to Alaska, and Alaska             
 starts a new support order, even though there may be an existing              
 support order in their home state.  You then find obligors having             
 a child support order they're paying on in Alaska, and another                
 state attaching their income tax return, because the other state              
 does not know there is an existing child support order in Alaska.             
                                                                               
 Number 325                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if there are any objections to this change.               
 The chairman asks Ms. Babcock to move on to the second change.                
                                                                               
 Number 327                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. BABCOCK states the next change is on page 13, line 16, insert:            
 "..upon a finding by the court."                                              
                                                                               
 MR. MALLONEE notes the committee substitute does not say                      
 "...finding by the court", but "...finding by the tribunal".                  
                                                                               
 MS. BABCOCK says the original bill just stated "...upon a finding."           
 She thinks the legislative drafter must have decided to use the               
 term tribunal.  The insertion was supposed to read, "...upon a                
 finding by the court."                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 354                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR says he continues to have a problem understanding              
 how we can take the enforcement branch of government, which is                
 often the initiating party (CSED), and call them a tribunal.                  
 Unless this is being mandated by federal law, he does not find that           
 attractive thinking.  Would anyone in the room like the legislature           
 to do the same thing with the District Attorney's Office, or the              
 Internal Revenue Service?  Shall we give them the power of being a            
 tribunal?                                                                     
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks Senator Taylor if he is speaking in favor of an           
 amendment.                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR thinks an amendment would be appropriate to at least           
 designate the court.                                                          
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if the department has any response to changing            
 "...upon a finding by the tribunal.", to "...upon a finding by the            
 court."                                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 379                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. MALLONEE states the department has no objection to that one               
 change.  In response to Senator Taylor's remarks, he says that                
 where a tribunal is referred to in SB 302, it does specify that the           
 tribunal has only those powers as otherwise dictated in statute.              
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR says he is uncomfortable with the existing power               
 CSED has to modify outstanding orders, based upon abilities to do             
 things, as far as service requirements are concerned, that were               
 significantly streamlined just for CSED.  He does not think CSED              
 should have but about half the authority they do.  Judges should be           
 involved in the process.  CSED is there for one purpose: it's there           
 to enforce support orders.  It's not there to listen to people who            
 have lost their job and have been out of work for four months.                
 It's there to enforce support orders, and they will zealously do              
 that, if they've got to go out and take your income tax, take your            
 permanent fund, take 50% of whatever you're earning, even though              
 you're current on your support, and then apologize later.  Those              
 are the calls Senator Taylor receives from constituents.                      
                                                                               
 Number 400                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR DUNCAN asks if SB 302 has been referred to Judiciary.                 
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN responds SB 302 is going to the Judiciary Committee.           
                                                                               
 SENATOR DUNCAN tells Senator Taylor to relax.                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR says he is just concerned with the tendency to                 
 empower an agency over the court system.                                      
                                                                               
 Number 405                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER makes an amendment to page 13, line 16, to                     
 substitute the word "court" for the word "tribunal".                          
                                                                               
 Number 407                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if everyone understands that amendment, and if            
 there is any objection to the amendment.  Hearing none, the                   
 chairman notes that the amendment has been adopted.  The chairman             
 asks Ms. Babcock to review the third change.                                  
                                                                               
 Number 411                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. BABCOCK states the next change is on page 13, line 22,                    
 eliminate subsection (b), leaving (a) and (c).                                
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if someone from the Department of Revenue could           
 explain what that change would do.                                            
                                                                               
 Number 417                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. PAGE replies this change affects the superior court, and the              
 department does not have a position on the change one way or the              
 other.  It would allow the court to assess fees against an obligor.           
 Mr. Kirk's objection was that subsection (b) didn't allow the                 
 assessment of fees against an obligee (the custodial parent).                 
                                                                               
 Number 423                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN summarizes that by deleting subsection (b), the                
 playing field would be leveled.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 425                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. PAGE adds that the court currently only assesses fees in child            
 support cases, as a rule, when they feel one side or the other has            
 not been cooperative and is acting in bad faith.                              
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks Ms. Page that, by deleting subsection (b), the            
 legislature would not be changing existing policy.                            
                                                                               
 MS. PAGE responds that is correct.                                            
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if there is any objection to that change.                 
 Hearing none, the chairman notes the change has been adopted.  The            
 chairman asks Ms. Babcock to review the fourth change for the                 
 committee.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 430                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. BABCOCK states the fourth change is on page 21, line 1, adding            
 language, "...except to the extent that a party was reasonably                
 unable to respond."                                                           
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if the department has any comment on that                 
 change.                                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 446                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. MALLONEE says the only thing that bothers him about that change           
 is it would leave CSED wide open to a number of discussions over              
 long periods of time about what is "...reasonably unable to                   
 respond."                                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 449                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks what the current CSED guidelines are regarding            
 that subject.                                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 452                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. MALLONEE replies that at this time, it is a simple matter of              
 responding to a notice within the allowable given time frame for              
 that particular notice.  He thinks there needs to be language                 
 giving the department indication as to what is reasonable.  That              
 type of subjective language makes it very difficult for                       
 interpretation.  What Mr. Mallonee considers reasonable may not be            
 considered reasonable by another person.  He thinks it is going to            
 be time consuming for CSED to figure out what the definition of               
 reasonable might be.  He thinks reasons for not responding in a               
 timely manner should be quantified in the bill.                               
                                                                               
 Number 461                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks Mr. Mallonee if there is currently discretion             
 on the part of CSED to waive time requirements for responding to              
 notices if a person has good reason for not responding within the             
 allowable time period.                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 464                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. MALLONEE responds CSED regularly re-hears cases when a person             
 does not respond in a timely manner.                                          
                                                                               
 MS. PAGE adds that hearing officers will make adjustments if                  
 justice requires it.  However, not all cases reach the formal                 
 hearing level.                                                                
                                                                               
 MR. MALLONEE points out that all cases have the right and the                 
 opportunity for a formal hearing.                                             
                                                                               
 Number 475                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR comments he is concerned with the language on page             
 20, line 30, "...precludes further contest of the order...."   He             
 thinks that language would preclude any appeals.                              
                                                                               
 MS. PAGE agrees, saying if it came to her as an appeals officer,              
 she would have to follow the statute.  Ms. Page affirms that is not           
 the case today.                                                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR says that it then is a major change.                           
                                                                               
 Number 494                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks why having this language in SB 302 is                     
 necessary.  The chairman asks if it is part of UIFSA.                         
                                                                               
 Number 495                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. MALLONEE replies the whole bill came out of the standard UIFSA            
 legislation put out by the Uniform Law Commissioners.  He thinks              
 that language is intended to require timely contestation of support           
 orders.  Why wasn't the order contested within the time period                
 allowed?                                                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR states he can answer that question.  The obligor has           
 to go hire an attorney, he's already behind, CSED is already taking           
 every dime he has, he's trying to support a new family, and he's              
 been out of work for a while.  Then CSED says, "Why didn't he                 
 assert the support order?"  Because the obligor is not given free             
 counsel, though the obligee is given free counsel.  Senator Taylor            
 comments he would not have so much problem supporting SB 302 if               
 there was any kind of balance to the process.  Dealing with CSED is           
 like dealing with the IRS.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 520                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. PAGE points out that the language Senator Taylor is referring             
 to applies to a child support order from another state.  This                 
 simply gives Alaska the right to enforce an order from another                
 state.                                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 529                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR says he understands that, and wants to give an                 
 example of why he does not think that is good language.  A                    
 prosecutor in Oregon decided to zealously prosecute non-paying                
 obligors in child support cases.  This prosecutor decided to                  
 prosecute those cases which would fall under felony violations.  As           
 a district court judge, Senator Taylor says he received a 50,000$             
 felony warrant on a Wrangell resident.  Why?  Because this man has            
 not paid support for his five children for seven years.  This man             
 happened to live across the street from Senator Taylor, and his               
 five kids had been living with him that whole period of time.  This           
 man's ex-wife had been lying to the welfare people.  Would this               
 language preclude this man from coming forward to contest the child           
 support claim?                                                                
                                                                               
 MS. PAGE responds that the obligor would always have the                      
 opportunity to respond, as long as they act in a timely manner.               
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR comments that is assuming the obligor gets his mail.           
                                                                               
 Number 546                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN suggests to Senator Taylor that he either offer an             
 amendment at this time, or work on the language when it gets to the           
 Judiciary Committee.  The chairman makes a motion to delete                   
 "...except to the extent that a party is reasonably unable to                 
 respond."  The chairman asks if there is any objection to that                
 amendment.  Hearing none, he notes the language has been deleted.             
 The chairman asks if there is any more discussion on SB 302.                  
                                                                               
 Number 559                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER makes a motion to discharge SB 302 from the Senate             
 State Affairs Committee with individual recommendations.                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR objects to that motion, and says he thinks the work            
 should be done in the State Affairs Committee.                                
                                                                               
 Number 561                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN, hearing the objection, states last time Senator               
 Taylor offered to work on an amendment, he failed to do so.  The              
 chairman says he would be happy to discuss an amendment if Senator            
 Taylor cares to offer one.                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks for a show of hands on whether to discharge SB
 302 from the State Affairs Committee.  The motion carries three to            
 one, and so SB 302 is discharged from the Senate State Affairs                
 Committee.                                                                    

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