Legislature(2019 - 2020)ADAMS 519

03/19/2020 09:00 AM House FINANCE

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                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                      March 19, 2020                                                                                            
                         9:03 a.m.                                                                                              
9:03:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Vice-Chair Ortiz called the  House Finance Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 9:03 a.m.                                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Dan Ortiz, Vice-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Ben Carpenter                                                                                                    
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Gary Knopp                                                                                                       
Representative Bart LeBon                                                                                                       
Representative Kelly Merrick                                                                                                    
Representative Colleen Sullivan-Leonard                                                                                         
Representative Cathy Tilton                                                                                                     
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Neal Foster, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Jennifer Johnston, Co-Chair                                                                                      
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Senator Cathy Giessel, Sponsor;  Jane Conway, Staff, Senator                                                                    
Cathy  Giessel;  Senator  Peter Micciche,  Sponsor;  Michael                                                                    
Willis,   Staff,  Senator   Peter  Micciche;   Kris  Curtis,                                                                    
Legislative Auditor, Alaska Division of Legislative Audit.                                                                      
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Cynthia  Montgomery,  Advanced  Practice  Registered  Nurse,                                                                    
Anchorage; Michael  Alexander, Doctor, Chief  of Psychiatry,                                                                    
Alaska  Psychiatric  Institute,   Anchorage;  Jeff  Edwards,                                                                    
Executive Director, Alaska Parole Board;                                                                                        
CSSB 120(HSS)                                                                                                                   
         ADMINISTRATION OF PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATION                                                                              
          CSSB 120(HSS) was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                     
          further consideration.                                                                                                
SB 137    EXTEND BOARD OF PAROLE                                                                                                
          SB 137 was HEARD and HELD in committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Ortiz reviewed the agenda for the meeting.                                                                           
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 120(HSS)                                                                                               
     "An Act relating to administration of psychotropic                                                                         
     medication to a patient without the patient's informed                                                                     
     consent; and providing for an effective date."                                                                             
9:04:06 AM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Ortiz  invited the sponsor  and her staff  to the                                                                    
SENATOR  CATHY  GIESSEL,  SPONSOR,  explained  that  SB  120                                                                    
related to  the administration of  psychotropic medications.                                                                    
She  emphasized  that  the   legislation  was  an  emergency                                                                    
response bill requested by  the Alaska Psychiatric Institute                                                                    
(API). The state  had a shortage of  psychiatrists which was                                                                    
impacting  API.  Presently,  they had  one  psychiatrist  on                                                                    
staff. The  provider was  on call  24/7 working  long hours.                                                                    
The  bill proposed  to improve  patient safety  during those                                                                    
times when the psychiatrist was  not present at the hospital                                                                    
and unable  to be  reached by  cell phone at  a time  when a                                                                    
patient crisis was occurring.                                                                                                   
Senator  Giessel  continued  that  psychotropic  drugs  were                                                                    
medications  prescribed  or  administered in  a  psychiatric                                                                    
crisis.  The individuals  that  were  hospitalized had  very                                                                    
serious   psychiatric  issues.   When   a   patient  had   a                                                                    
psychiatric crisis,  it was  an emergency.  The goal  was to                                                                    
protect the  patient, people around the  patient, and staff.                                                                    
Psychotropic  medications   were  administered  to   help  a                                                                    
patient  calm down.  She listed  several of  the medications                                                                    
used. Only one of the  drugs was a controlled substance. The                                                                    
rest  of them  were  medications  that physician  assistants                                                                    
(PA) and  advanced practice  registered nurses  (APRN) could                                                                    
prescribe  and  administer. However,  there  was  a rule  in                                                                    
place requiring  that the  psychiatrist be  consulted before                                                                    
the  medication  was  administered. Senate  Bill  120  would                                                                    
authorize  the  PA or  APRN  who  was  with the  patient  to                                                                    
administer the medication, thereby,  calming the patient and                                                                    
protecting  the patient  and others  nearby. Currently,  the                                                                    
psychiatrist  was  the only  person  that  could conduct  an                                                                    
initial assessment on a patient  and prescribe medication in                                                                    
a crisis. By allowing the APRN  or the AP the opportunity to                                                                    
administer needed  medication, it  would keep  everyone much                                                                    
safer.  She added  that because  of  API's issues,  patients                                                                    
with  behavioral health  issues often  times assault  people                                                                    
and end  up in  jail. The  more that could  be done  to help                                                                    
patients  get   immediate  care   to  ramp  down   a  crisis                                                                    
situation,  the  more patients  would  be  protected from  a                                                                    
worse environment.                                                                                                              
Vice-Chair Ortiz relayed the names of available testifiers.                                                                     
9:09:36 AM                                                                                                                    
JANE CONWAY,  STAFF, SENATOR CATHY GIESSEL,  explained there                                                                    
were only  2 sections in the  bill. She was happy  to review                                                                    
them if it was the will of the committee.                                                                                       
Vice-Chair Ortiz  indicated the  committee would move  on to                                                                    
9:09:56 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative LeBon  asked if additional training  would be                                                                    
necessary for  a PA or  APRN to administer  the medications.                                                                    
Senator Giessel deferred to the  representative from API who                                                                    
could  better  answer  the  question.  She  noted  that  the                                                                    
medications fell within  the scope of practice for  a PA and                                                                    
APRN. She  also pointed  out that the  practitioners working                                                                    
in the  environment at API  understood the treatment  of the                                                                    
patients with specialized needs.                                                                                                
Representative LeBon restated  his question about additional                                                                    
training. He wondered if PAs and  APRNs would be able to act                                                                    
immediately. Senator Giessel believed  so but would to defer                                                                    
to the APRN online.                                                                                                             
CYNTHIA  MONTGOMERY,  ADVANCED  PRACTICE  REGISTERED  NURSE,                                                                    
ANCHORAGE, responded  that APRNs  and PAs that  practiced at                                                                    
API were very  familiar with the medications  that were used                                                                    
in  crisis periods.  They were  often  the same  medications                                                                    
already  prescribed  on  a  daily   basis  to  patients.  No                                                                    
additional training would be necessary.                                                                                         
9:12:20 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Knopp had a question  for Dr. Alexander if he                                                                    
was available.  He referred  to the  fifth paragraph  in the                                                                    
sponsor  statement  which   read:  "The  psychiatrist  being                                                                    
unfamiliar  with the  case may  decline to  prescribe needed                                                                    
medication."  He   wondered  if  there  was   any  reason  a                                                                    
psychiatrist would not want to have a drug administered.                                                                        
MICHAEL  ALEXANDER,  DOCTOR,  CHIEF  OF  PSYCHIATRY,  ALASKA                                                                    
PSYCHIATRIC INSTITUTE,  ANCHORAGE, replied  that all  of the                                                                    
mid-level   practitioners  including   PAs  and   APRNs  had                                                                    
previously  been   in  a  position  of   prescribing  crisis                                                                    
medications. About a  year prior it was  discovered that the                                                                    
law did  not include  mid-level practitioners.  He continued                                                                    
that when  the laws  were originally  established, mid-level                                                                    
practitioners were not working at  API. In 2007, when he was                                                                    
working  at API,  it  was  unheard of  to  have a  mid-level                                                                    
provider  working at  the facility.  Mid-level practitioners                                                                    
started working at  API in 2010 or 2011.  Currently, API had                                                                    
four   mid-level  providers   who  had   been  administering                                                                    
psychotropic drugs  for the previous several  years until it                                                                    
was discovered that the law prevented them from doing so.                                                                       
Representative  Knopp   was  wondering  if  there   was  any                                                                    
scenario  in   which  a  patient  should   not  receive  the                                                                    
medication.  However, it  sounded like  it was  a matter  of                                                                    
updating  statutes   with  changing  times.   Dr.  Alexander                                                                    
responded, "That is correct."                                                                                                   
9:15:09 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Josephson  asked Dr. Alexander if  he thought                                                                    
the  bill  should  read  that  the  mid-level  practitioners                                                                    
should be able to provide medication via teleconference.                                                                        
Dr.  Alexander  responded  that traditionally  in  the  past                                                                    
mid-level    practitioners   had    been    able   to    via                                                                    
teleconference. The  Alaska Psychiatric Institute was  not a                                                                    
24-hour  manned facility.  Mid-level practitioners  provided                                                                    
on-call  services just  like physicians.  They worked  their                                                                    
regular  day then  took  calls from  home  through the  call                                                                    
system.  In  the night  there  was  an on-call  provider  to                                                                    
direct services, but no one was physically in the building.                                                                     
Representative Josephson  asked the protocol.  Dr. Alexander                                                                    
responded that providers received  calls from nurses working                                                                    
on  the  floors  who  would evaluate  the  patient.  If  the                                                                    
patient  went into  a psychotic  state and  became extremely                                                                    
violent,   a  nurse   on  duty   would   call  the   on-call                                                                    
psychiatrist or  mid-level practitioner. They  would discuss                                                                    
the  case and  start a  crisis period  providing medications                                                                    
over objection.  The following  morning, the  provider would                                                                    
interview  the  patient  and decide  if  the  crisis  period                                                                    
should  continue  or end.  The  process  was done  over  the                                                                    
Representative  Josephson  asked   the  credential  for  the                                                                    
person administering medication.  Dr. Alexander replied that                                                                    
a registered nurse would be giving the medication.                                                                              
Vice-Chair  Ortiz recognized  that Representative  Carpenter                                                                    
had joined the meeting.                                                                                                         
Representative  Sullivan-Leonard  asked  if there  had  been                                                                    
increased  situations with  patients which  had necessitated                                                                    
the  legislation. Dr.  Alexander  responded  that there  had                                                                    
been a  number of incidents  in which staff or  patients had                                                                    
been assaulted. He  wanted to ensure that  the institute was                                                                    
a safe place equipped with all of the right tools.                                                                              
Representative Sullivan-Leonard confirmed  that the need for                                                                    
the  legislation  was  based  on  the need  to  be  able  to                                                                    
immediately control a situation  that could become dangerous                                                                    
when it occurred at API.  She wondered if her assessment was                                                                    
accurate. Dr. Alexander responded  that API needed immediate                                                                    
help to control a situation  whether a patient was trying to                                                                    
hurt themselves or others.                                                                                                      
Representative Wool asked if there  were limitations to what                                                                    
an APRN or  a PA could prescribe.  Senator Giessel responded                                                                    
that  presently an  APRN had  the  privilege of  independent                                                                    
practice  in Alaska,  and full  prescriptive authority.  The                                                                    
Advanced   Practice   Nurse   could   prescribe   controlled                                                                    
substances if  they had applied  and received a  DEA number.                                                                    
The same was  true for a PA except that  they practiced in a                                                                    
collaborative  agreement with  a  physician. Typically,  PAs                                                                    
were  rather  independent  and   with  a  DEA  number  could                                                                    
prescribe and administer controlled substances.                                                                                 
9:20:55 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Wool assumed that if  an APRN or a PA already                                                                    
had  DEA  approval  to write  prescriptions  for  controlled                                                                    
substances they could already do  what was being proposed in                                                                    
the bill. He asked if he was correct.                                                                                           
Senator Giessel replied  that there was a law  in place that                                                                    
prior to 2010 there were no  PAs and APRNs in API. There was                                                                    
also  a  rule  in  place  that  only  a  psychiatrist  could                                                                    
authorize the  administration of medications which  the bill                                                                    
was trying to change. She pointed  to page 1, line 11 of the                                                                    
bill. She read directly from  the bill: "Harm to the patient                                                                    
or another person as determined  by the licensed physician."                                                                    
She  was   adding:  "or  physician  assistant   or  advanced                                                                    
practice  registered   nurse."  She   was  reading   from  a                                                                    
committee substitute. Next,  she referred to page  2, line 4                                                                    
which  read:  "The  medication  is  ordered  by  a  licensed                                                                    
physician,   physician  assistant,   or  advanced   practice                                                                    
registered nurse." The same was  repeated on line 16. It was                                                                    
an update  to get  rid of the  restrictive law  currently in                                                                    
Representative Wool thought the  law already allowed PAs and                                                                    
APRNs  to   prescribe  controlled  substances  with   a  DEA                                                                    
endorsement.  He asked  for additional  clarity. Ms.  Conway                                                                    
responded that it  was a section of  law (AS.47.30.838) that                                                                    
governed  Psychotropic  medications  in  crisis  situations.                                                                    
Currently,  the  only person  that  could  determine that  a                                                                    
person was in  a crisis situation was a  physician. The bill                                                                    
added  PAs  and  APRNs  to  the list  of  those  that  could                                                                    
prescribe  medications immediately.  Rather  than having  to                                                                    
call  the  psychiatrist,  they  would be  able  to  make  an                                                                    
assessment on the scene.                                                                                                        
Representative  Wool brought  up  the issue  of a  patient's                                                                    
consent.  He   relayed  he  had  experience   working  in  a                                                                    
psychiatric  hospital  in Boston  that  had  about the  same                                                                    
number of patients  as API. He relayed  that anytime someone                                                                    
had to  administer drugs  a doctor had  to be  called first.                                                                    
The process could be done  over the phone. He suggested that                                                                    
the law would allow a PA or  an APRN to be called avoiding a                                                                    
conversation with a doctor entirely.  He remarked that there                                                                    
should be more  than one physician at API, a  matter that he                                                                    
thought  should  be  dealt  with as  soon  as  possible.  He                                                                    
wondered  why a  doctor  could not  be  contacted within  72                                                                    
hours.  He understood  the immediacy  of an  acute situation                                                                    
and the need  for someone to be  medicated quickly. However,                                                                    
he thought  a physician could  be reached within 3  days. He                                                                    
asked for clarification.                                                                                                        
9:26:14 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Giessel thought  Representative Wool  was referring                                                                    
to  the  section  on  page  2, beginning  with  line  15  in                                                                    
Section C. She  explained that it  was referring to  line 4.                                                                    
She  read from  the  bill: "The  medication  is ordered  and                                                                    
valid  for only  24 and  may be  renewed for  a total  of 72                                                                    
hours." The  restriction was in  current law and  related to                                                                    
the renewal  of the  medication previously  administered. If                                                                    
the  person  was  requiring the  medication  for  72  hours,                                                                    
further  intervention might  be necessary.  She deferred  to                                                                    
Dr. Alexander.                                                                                                                  
Dr. Alexander responded  that in order for  API to prescribe                                                                    
medications  with patients  who  did not  want  to take  any                                                                    
medications the  institute had to  either appeal to  a judge                                                                    
for permission  or enter  a crisis  period. Judges  were not                                                                    
available for 72 hours  considering weekends. Court occurred                                                                    
at  the institute  3 days  per week.  Often times,  the time                                                                    
between  court  days  was significant.  It  allowed  API  to                                                                    
administer medications  over 72  hours. The client  was seen                                                                    
immediately  the following  day  with necessary  adjustments                                                                    
being  made.  Being able  to  prescribe  medication for  the                                                                    
period allowed  API to get  control. Otherwise,  the patient                                                                    
might   receive  a   medication,  but   reoffend  once   the                                                                    
medication wore  off. He added  that for every day  a person                                                                    
was  psychotic,  it became  more  difficult  to control  and                                                                    
maintain  safety.  The  length  of  time  a  person  was  on                                                                    
medication  was  limited because  a  decision  by the  court                                                                    
would be necessary for any length of time.                                                                                      
9:30:37 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Sullivan-Leonard wondered  why the  bill was                                                                    
referred  to the  House Finance  Committee  rather than  the                                                                    
House Health  and Social Services  Committee, as  the fiscal                                                                    
notes  were  zero-impact notes.  She  wondered  if the  bill                                                                    
would  be heard  in  the House  Health  and Social  Services                                                                    
Committee. Senator Giessel did not know.                                                                                        
Representative  Sullivan-Leonard  commented that  it  struck                                                                    
her  curiosity because  of a  zero-impact  fiscal note.  She                                                                    
wondered if the bill would be  heard in the House Health and                                                                    
Social Services  Committee or the  House Labor  and Commerce                                                                    
Vice-Chair Ortiz  offered that the deputy  commissioner from                                                                    
DHSS was available for questions.                                                                                               
Representative Sullivan-Leonard questioned  the route of the                                                                    
bill. She  asked if the  Medical Board had taken  a position                                                                    
on the bill. Senator Giessel  responded that she had several                                                                    
letters of  support. She  noted the  authors of  the support                                                                    
letters.  She  mentioned that  the  bill  was heard  in  the                                                                    
Senate  Health   and  Social  Services  Committee   with  no                                                                    
objections to the legislation.                                                                                                  
Representative Josephson asked  Ms. Conway for clarification                                                                    
about mid-level practitioners being on  the seen at the time                                                                    
of an  incident versus  on the  phone. Ms.  Conway responded                                                                    
that   the   representative   was   correct.   A   mid-level                                                                    
practitioner  might not  be on  the  scene. Senator  Giessel                                                                    
added that clarity was critical.  The practitioners were not                                                                    
new  healthcare providers.  She relayed  that the  APRNs and                                                                    
PAs  had  been  practicing  at   API  for  10  years.  Nurse                                                                    
practitioners practiced  independently in Alaska  since 1984                                                                    
with prescriptive authority. She  could not confirm the same                                                                    
longevity for PAs, but they were not new clinicians.                                                                            
9:34:41 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wool thought  it  was  astonishing that  the                                                                    
patients would  be jailed  for their  behavior. He  asked if                                                                    
calling the police  was a recent phenomenon. He  asked if it                                                                    
happened   elsewhere.  Senator   Giessel  deferred   to  Dr.                                                                    
Alexander. Dr. Alexander responded that  it was not a recent                                                                    
phenomenon  or  limited  to   API.  The  Alaska  Psychiatric                                                                    
Institute  tried   diligently  to   keep  patients   at  the                                                                    
facility.  However, the  institute  also tried  to keep  its                                                                    
staff  safe. In  the prior  year,  there had  been over  100                                                                    
assaults on staff by patients.  He clarified that not all of                                                                    
the  patients that  did the  assaulting were  sent to  jail.                                                                    
However, the staff  had the right to file  charges against a                                                                    
Representative  Tilton wanted  to  know  whether a  guardian                                                                    
could  give  permission  to  administer  drugs  rather  than                                                                    
having  to  get permission  from  a  court. Senator  Giessel                                                                    
deferred to  Dr. Alexander. Dr.  Alexander replied  that the                                                                    
statute specified  that once  a patient  arrived at  API, no                                                                    
guardian or  any other representative  of the  patient could                                                                    
mandate any kind  of medication other than  by going through                                                                    
a  crisis  period  or  going  to  court.  He  thought  API's                                                                    
attorney could cite the statute.                                                                                                
9:38:48 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Josephson   thanked  the  sponsor   for  the                                                                    
legislation.  He  clarified   his  previous  statement.  His                                                                    
intended point  was to make them  a new group that  would be                                                                    
dually  authorized  to   expressly  administer  or  deputize                                                                    
others  to administer  psychotropic  drugs. Senator  Giessel                                                                    
appreciated   Representative    Josephson's   remarks.   She                                                                    
reminded  members  that until  recently,  when  the law  was                                                                    
noted  by  someone  else,  the PA  and  APRN  were  actually                                                                    
functioning in the role.                                                                                                        
Vice-Chair Ortiz  announced that amendments were  due by the                                                                    
end of the day at 5:00 p.m.                                                                                                     
SENATE BILL NO. 137                                                                                                           
     "An Act extending the termination date of the Board of                                                                     
     Parole; and providing for an effective date."                                                                              
9:40:16 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  PETER MICCICHE,  SPONSOR, indicated  that his  bill                                                                    
would  extend  the termination  date  of  the Alaska  Parole                                                                    
Board from June 30, 2020 to  June 30, 2025 with an immediate                                                                    
effective date.                                                                                                                 
MICHAEL WILLIS,  STAFF, SENATOR PETER MICCICHE,  relayed the                                                                    
bill  extended  the Board's  termination  date  to June  30,                                                                    
2025, for  5 years. He  reviewed the auditor's  opinion that                                                                    
the  Board   was  serving  in   the  public's   interest  by                                                                    
effectively evaluating  prisoners' likelihood  of recidivism                                                                    
and whether  they pose a  threat to the public.  The auditor                                                                    
recommended   that  the   legislature  extend   the  Board's                                                                    
termination  date 5  years instead  of the  maximum 8  years                                                                    
because  of  recent  changes to  the  Board's  statutes  and                                                                    
responsibility  revisions. The  legislative auditor  and the                                                                    
director  of  the Alaska  Parole  Board  were available  for                                                                    
questions.  He thanked  members for  their consideration  of                                                                    
the bill.                                                                                                                       
Representative  Knopp  asked  about the  personnel  services                                                                    
line of the fiscal note in  the amount of $1.7 million which                                                                    
equated to  approximately $144,000 per individual.  He asked                                                                    
if  the monies  were for  full-time staff.  Senator Micciche                                                                    
deferred to Jeff Edwards.                                                                                                       
9:43:23 AM                                                                                                                    
JEFF  EDWARDS,  EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR,  ALASKA  PAROLE  BOARD,                                                                    
responded that  the board members were  considered part-time                                                                    
non-state employees.  They received  an honorarium.  If they                                                                    
worked a  half day, they were  paid for a half  day. If they                                                                    
worked a full day, they were  paid for a full day. They were                                                                    
not full-time state employees.                                                                                                  
Representative Knopp  asked if  the monies were  for support                                                                    
staff  rather than  the Board.  Mr.  Edwards responded  that                                                                    
himself  and  his  staff  were  included  in  the  personnel                                                                    
services line.                                                                                                                  
Representative Carpenter  asked how  many staff  Mr. Edwards                                                                    
had. Mr. Edwards responded, "Eleven."                                                                                           
Representative Carpenter  asked why the Board  needed eleven                                                                    
staff plus the director. Mr.  Edwards replied that the Board                                                                    
added staff  as a  result of  the passage of  SB 91.  It was                                                                    
well documented in  the audit what occurred in  terms of the                                                                    
number of hearings. The review  and preparation for hearings                                                                    
was  very  concentrated  and   the  Parole  Board  conducted                                                                    
thousands of hearings  per year. The Alaska  Board of Parole                                                                    
rotated through  every correctional facility four  times per                                                                    
year.  In some  of the  remote locations  hearing were  done                                                                    
telephonically. The  Board went  to each  of the  prisons on                                                                    
the  road  system to  interview  inmates.  The workload  was                                                                    
intensive. Every  review for  individual cases  was immense.                                                                    
His  office had  to review  an individual  essentially since                                                                    
birth  until the  events of  the crime,  their institutional                                                                    
conduct, their  release plan, and  more. Putting all  of the                                                                    
information  together   for  the   Board  to   consider  was                                                                    
9:46:34 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wool   noted  Mr.  Edwards   comments  about                                                                    
thousands  of hearings  occurring  per year  and the  labor-                                                                    
intensive preparation  work. He supposed board  members were                                                                    
working close to full-time. Mr.  Edwards thought they worked                                                                    
about  three-quarters  of  the   time.  He  indicated  board                                                                    
members  worked a  lot from  home reviewing  case files.  In                                                                    
addition,  they did  preliminary  hearings,  which could  be                                                                    
equated  to a  bail  hearing, throughout  the months.  Board                                                                    
members worked close to full-time.                                                                                              
Representative Knopp  commented that he had  an acquaintance                                                                    
on the  Board. He sat with  the person after the  passage of                                                                    
SB 91 and was applaud there was not a full-time workforce.                                                                      
Vice-Chair Ortiz  announced that amendments were  due by the                                                                    
end of the day at 5:00 p.m.                                                                                                     
9:49:00 AM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
9:49:02 AM                                                                                                                    
KRIS  CURTIS,   LEGISLATIVE  AUDITOR,  ALASKA   DIVISION  OF                                                                    
LEGISLATIVE  AUDIT, indicated  the audit  could be  found in                                                                    
members' packets  and was dated  May 8, 2019.  The statutory                                                                    
changes that  happened after May  9, 2019 were  not included                                                                    
in  the audit.  She  reported that  there  was a  background                                                                    
information section  that described  an overview  of parole.                                                                    
She drew  attention to  the bottom  of page  8 of  the audit                                                                    
report  which  discussed  how  SB   91  changed  the  parole                                                                    
statutes  and  how  it impacted  the  Board's  workload  and                                                                    
procedures. She read from the audit report:                                                                                     
     Senate  Bill  91  significantly  changed  the  statutes                                                                    
     effective    January   2017.    First,   it    expanded                                                                    
     discretionary  parole  for  all  offenders  except  for                                                                    
     unclassified offenders  and for class A  sex offenders.                                                                    
     Prior  to SB  91  offenders who  committed their  first                                                                    
     class B  felony and up  to their second class  C felony                                                                    
     were  eligible for  discretionary parole  after serving                                                                    
     25 percent  of their  sentences. Post SB  91, generally                                                                    
     any  offenders who  committed a  number of  A, B,  or C                                                                    
     felonies were  eligible for discretionary  parole after                                                                    
     serving one-quarter  of their sentences  broadening who                                                                    
     was   eligible.    Secondly,   SB   91    removed   the                                                                    
     discretionary  parole   application  requirement  which                                                                    
     meant  that prior  to SB  91 a  prisoner initiated  the                                                                    
     parole  process  by  filing  an  application.  Not  all                                                                    
     eligible Prisoners  would file an application.  Post SB
     91,  the application  requirement  was  removed, and  a                                                                    
     mandate  was established  that  all eligible  prisoners                                                                    
     would be  subject to consideration of  parole and would                                                                    
     have a  hearing. The changed significantly  altered how                                                                    
     the Board  approached the parole hearings.  Thirdly, SB
     91 shortened the  technical revocation hearing timeline                                                                    
     providing less time to conduct the hearings.                                                                               
Ms. Curtis  turned to the  report conclusions on page  11 of                                                                    
the  audit.  Legislative  Audit  concluded  that  the  Board                                                                    
responded in  an effective and efficient  way to significant                                                                    
changes in  the parole  laws. The Board  conducted meetings,                                                                    
made  parole  decisions,  set parole  conditions,  and  held                                                                    
revocation   hearings   in   accordance  with   state   law.                                                                    
Legislative Audit was recommending  a 5-year extension which                                                                    
was 3 years less than the  8 years allowed in statute solely                                                                    
in recognition that their statutes  continued to change. She                                                                    
believed it  was prudent to have  increased oversight during                                                                    
the period of change.                                                                                                           
Ms. Curtis continued  that there were several  tables in the                                                                    
report  to help  communicate the  Board's activities  during                                                                    
the audit period. She drew  attention to page 12, Exhibit 5.                                                                    
As discussed  in the background  information section,  SB 91                                                                    
changed  eligibility standards  and removed  the application                                                                    
requirement. She  pointed out  the impact  on the  number of                                                                    
discretionary parole  hearings conducted. The  number ramped                                                                    
up in  2017 and 2018.  The increase in  discretionary parole                                                                    
hearings  included a  significant  number  of hearings  that                                                                    
prisoners  did not  attend, referred  to as  "no shows."  No                                                                    
shows  were  the  result   of  eliminating  the  application                                                                    
process  and  mandating  that  hearings   be  held  for  all                                                                    
eligible  prisoners   regardless  of  whether   they  wanted                                                                    
Ms. Curtis  relayed that according to  the Board's executive                                                                    
director,  a  prisoner might  not  want  parole for  various                                                                    
reasons including not wanting  to sign the parole conditions                                                                    
-  wanting  to  leave   the  facility  with  no  conditions.                                                                    
Initially,  after  SB 91  passed,  parole  officers and  the                                                                    
Board held hearings for no shows  in a similar manner as for                                                                    
prisoners  that   attended  the  hearing.  It   was  not  an                                                                    
effective  use  of  resources  given  that  parole  was  not                                                                    
granted if a prisoner did not attend a hearing.                                                                                 
Ms.   Curtis  reported   that  the   Board  recognized   the                                                                    
inefficient  use  of  their   resources  and  changed  their                                                                    
procedures  in November  2017. The  new procedures  required                                                                    
institutional parole  officers to complete  condensed parole                                                                    
packets  and held  abbreviated  hearings  to facilitate  the                                                                    
process.  As shown  in Exhibit  6, no  shows represented  21                                                                    
percent  of  discretionary  parole   hearings  in  2017  and                                                                    
29 percent in 2018.                                                                                                             
Ms.  Curtis  conveyed that  according  to  Board staff,  the                                                                    
increase  in   discretionary  parole  hearings  led   to  an                                                                    
increase in  revocation hearings.  She referred to  page 14,                                                                    
Exhibit  7.  She pointed  to  the  jump  in 2017  which  was                                                                    
partially offset  in 2018  by the  use of  an administrative                                                                    
sanction  and an  incentive program  that allowed  probation                                                                    
officers to impose sanctions without  a hearing for the most                                                                    
common  technical violations  based on  a guide  prepared by                                                                    
Department of Corrections (DOC) management.                                                                                     
Ms. Curtis  continued that the Board  effectively coped with                                                                    
the increase in hearings by  traveling to facilities 4 times                                                                    
per year  instead of  2 and  hired additional  staff. Senate                                                                    
Bill 91 authorized  5 additional staff members  to cope with                                                                    
the increase.                                                                                                                   
9:54:24 AM                                                                                                                    
Ms. Curtis referred to the  recommendations on page 18. None                                                                    
of the  recommendations were significant enough  to decrease                                                                    
the  auditor's recommended  term of  extension. The  reduced                                                                    
extension  was solely  because of  their changing  statutes.                                                                    
Recommendation  1  was   for  the  executive   director   to                                                                    
improve  procedures  to  ensure final  revocation  hearings                                                                     
were   performed   timely.  Legislative    Audit  conducted                                                                     
testing  and  found  that  16 percent   were not  performed                                                                     
within  120 days  after  a parolee's  arrest.  The hearings                                                                     
were late by 5-12 days.                                                                                                         
Ms.  Curtis   moved  to   Recommendation   2.  The  auditor                                                                     
recommended   that  the  Board's  executive  director   work                                                                    
with  the commissioner  of  DOC to  improve  the quality  of                                                                    
telephonic   hearings.  The  auditor   found  poor  quality                                                                     
telephone   systems    at   4  of   the   13   correctional                                                                     
facilities     including     Yukon-Kuskokwim,     Wildwood,                                                                     
Fairbanks,   and   Highland   Mountain.   These  facilities                                                                     
accounted  for  14 percent  of  the  parole  and revocation                                                                     
hearings for calendar years 2015 through 2018.                                                                                  
Ms.  Curtis reviewed  Recommendation   3. The  Board  should                                                                    
take steps  to ensure  regulations  were  properly updated.                                                                     
During  the  audit  she  found  two regulations   that  were                                                                    
not correctly updated due to human error.                                                                                       
Ms.   Curtis   moved  to   the   final  recommendation    on                                                                    
page 20.  Recommendation   4 suggested   that  the director                                                                     
of  DOC's  Division   of  Administrative   Services   should                                                                    
take   steps   to  ensure   that   the  Alaska   Correction                                                                     
Offender    Management     System    complied    with    the                                                                    
Information   Securities    Standards,   a   national   best                                                                    
practice.  She did  not include  the details  of weaknesses                                                                     
to  avoid exploit.   The information   was communicated   to                                                                    
management in a separate confidential letter.                                                                                   
Ms.  Curtis  reported  that responses   to the  audit  began                                                                    
on  page 31  with  the governor's   response.  The governor                                                                     
did  not comment  on whether  to  extend the  Alaska  Parole                                                                    
Board.  On page 33,  the DOC  commissioner  agreed with  the                                                                    
recommendations   and indicated  they  were  moving forward                                                                     
with  corrective  action  within the  constraints  of  their                                                                    
budget.  On page  35, the  board  chair concurred  with  the                                                                    
3  recommendations   directed  to  the  Board.   The  report                                                                    
went on to describe the corrective actions.                                                                                     
Representative Wool asked about  the changes made with HB 49                                                                    
[Legislation passed  in 2019 related to  crimes, sentencing,                                                                    
drugs, thefts, and reports] and  whether SB 91 undid much of                                                                    
what  was  implemented. Ms.  Curtis  did  not know,  as  the                                                                    
report was dated  May 8, 2019 and the bill  was passed after                                                                    
the date.                                                                                                                       
Senator Micciche  reminded members  that the bill  was about                                                                    
extending the Board. The finances  associated with the 5 new                                                                    
positions resulting from  SB 91 because there  was no longer                                                                    
a discretionary parole application  process which forced the                                                                    
process. Since  then, as  a result of  HB 49,  the provision                                                                    
had been removed which might  reveal that the positions were                                                                    
no longer  needed. He  referred to page  1, Exhibit  2 which                                                                    
showed  the positions.  Five  of them  were  new because  of                                                                    
SB 91. After  the following year through  the budget process                                                                    
it was  likely that  the costs could  be reduced.  The issue                                                                    
should be watched through the next budget process.                                                                              
Vice-Chair Ortiz  indicated that the amendments  were due by                                                                    
5:00 p.m. in  the afternoon of the present  day. He reviewed                                                                    
the agenda for  the afternoon. He reminded  members that the                                                                    
agenda would be fluid.                                                                                                          
9:58:53 AM                                                                                                                    
The meeting was adjourned at 9:59 a.m.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 120 Comparison Flowchart 2-26-2020.pdf HFIN 3/19/2020 9:00:00 AM
SHSS 2/28/2020 1:30:00 PM
SB 120
SB 120 Sponsor Statement 1.30.2020.pdf HFIN 3/19/2020 9:00:00 AM
SHSS 2/28/2020 1:30:00 PM
SB 120
SB 137 Parole-Board Sunset Audit 20-20116-19.pdf HFIN 3/19/2020 9:00:00 AM
SFIN 3/11/2020 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 2/18/2020 3:30:00 PM
SB 137
SB 137 Sponsor Statement v.M 031720.pdf HFIN 3/19/2020 9:00:00 AM
SB 137
HB 187 Public Testimony Rec'd by 031820 (2).pdf HFIN 3/19/2020 9:00:00 AM
HB 187