Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/16/1997 01:10 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                             
                          April 16, 1997                                       
                             1:10 p.m.                                         
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
 Representative Joe Green, Chairman                                            
 Representative Brian Porter                                                   
 Representative Norman Rokeberg                                                
 Representative Jeannette James                                                
 Representative Eric Croft                                                     
 Representative Ethan Berkowitz                                                
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
 Representative Con Bunde, Vice Chairman                                       
 COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                            
 HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 7                                                  
 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Alaska             
 prohibiting the imposition of state personal income taxation, state           
 ad valorem taxation on real property, or state retail sales                   
 taxation without the approval of the voters of the state.                     
      - FAILED TO MOVE OUT OF COMMITTEE                                        
 CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 67(JUD)                                                
 "An Act relating to the imposition of criminal sentences; and                 
 amending Rule 32.2, Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure."                      
      - MOVED CSSB 67(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                    
 (* First public hearing)                                                      
 PREVIOUS ACTION                                                               
 BILL:  HJR 7                                                                  
 SHORT TITLE: VOTER APPROVAL FOR NEW TAXES                                     
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MARTIN                                          
 JRN-DATE       JRN-PG             ACTION                                      
 01/13/97        23    (H)   PREFILE RELEASED 1/3/97                           
 01/13/97        23    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 01/13/97        23    (H)   STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY, FINANCE                 
 02/27/97              (H)   STA AT  8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                       
 02/27/97              (H)   MINUTE(STA)                                       
 02/27/97       501    (H)   STA RPT  1DP 1DNP 4NR                             
 02/27/97       502    (H)   DP: HODGINS                                       
 02/27/97       502    (H)   DNP: ELTON                                        
 02/27/97       502    (H)   NR: JAMES, BERKOWITZ, DYSON, IVAN                 
 02/27/97       502    (H)   FISCAL NOTE (GOV)                                 
 02/27/97       502    (H)   REFERRED TO JUDICIARY                             
 04/16/97              (H)   JUD AT  1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                       
 BILL:  SB 67                                                                  
 SHORT TITLE: TRUTH IN SENTENCING                                              
 SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S)  HALFORD, Green, Donley, Kelly, Taylor,                
 Leman, Sharp, Pearce, Torgerson,  Mackie, Miller, Phillips;                   
 REPRESENTATIVE(S) Croft, Kemplen                                              
 JRN-DATE       JRN-PG             ACTION                                      
 01/29/97       161    (S)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 01/29/97       161    (S)   STA, JUD                                          
 02/04/97              (S)   STA AT  3:30 PM BELTZ ROOM 211                    
 02/04/97              (S)   MINUTE(STA)                                       
 02/06/97       249    (S)   STA RPT  CS  4DP        SAME TITLE                
 02/06/97       249    (S)   DP: GREEN, MILLER, WARD, MACKIE                   
 02/06/97       249    (S)   ZERO FN TO SB & CS (COURT)                        
 02/10/97       267    (S)   FN TO SB & CS (LAW)                               
 02/13/97       341    (S)   FIN REFERRAL ADDED FOLLOWING                      
 02/21/97              (S)   JUD AT  1:30 PM BELTZ ROOM 211                    
 02/26/97              (S)   JUD AT  1:30 PM BELTZ ROOM 211                    
 02/26/97              (S)   MINUTE(JUD)                                       
 03/05/97       566    (S)   JUD RPT  CS  4DP 1NR      SAME TITLE              
 03/05/97       566    (S)   DP: TAYLOR, MILLER, PEARCE, PARNELL;              
 03/05/97       566    (S)   NR:  ELLIS                                        
 03/05/97       566    (S)   ZERO FNS TO CS (DPS-2, LAW)                       
 03/05/97       566    (S)   PREVIOUS ZERO FN APPLIES (COURT)                  
 03/12/97              (S)   FIN AT  9:00 AM SENATE FINANCE 532                
 03/12/97       688    (S)   FIN RPT  5DP (JUD)CS                              
 03/12/97       688    (S)   DP: SHARP, PEARCE,                                
 03/12/97       688    (S)   PHILLIPS, PARNELL, DONLEY                         
 03/13/97              (S)   RLS AT 10:45 AM FAHRENKAMP RM 203                 
 03/13/97              (S)   MINUTE(RLS)                                       
 03/13/97       718    (S)   FN TO JUD CS (S.FIN/CORR)                         
 03/12/97       688    (S)   PREVIOUS ZERO FNS (COURT, DPS-2, LAW)             
 03/13/97       718    (S)   RULES TO CALENDAR  3/13/97                        
 03/13/97       720    (S)   READ THE SECOND TIME                              
 03/13/97       720    (S)   JUD  CS ADOPTED UNAN CONSENT                      
 03/13/97       720    (S)   ADVANCED TO THIRD READING                         
                             UNAN CONSENT                                      
 03/13/97       720    (S)   READ THE THIRD TIME  CSSB 67(JUD)                 
 03/13/97       720    (S)   COSPONSORS: KELLY, TAYLOR, LEMAN,                 
 03/13/97       720    (S)   PEARCE, TORGERSON, MACKIE, MILLER,                
 03/13/97       720    (S)   PASSED Y20 N-                                     
 03/13/97       721    (S)   COURT RULE(S) SAME AS PASSAGE                     
 03/13/97       726    (S)   TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                
 03/14/97       661    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 03/14/97       661    (H)   JUDICIARY, FINANCE                                
 04/16/97              (H)   JUD AT  1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                       
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE TERRY MARTIN                                                   
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 Capitol Building, Room 502                                                    
 Juneau, Alaska 99811                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 465-3783                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Prime Sponsor of HJR 7.                                  
 BRAD PIERCE, Senior Policy Analyst                                            
 Office of Management                                                          
 Office of the Governor                                                        
 P.O. Box 110020                                                               
 Juneau, Alaska 00811                                                          
 Telephone:  (907) 465-3008                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided testimony on HJR 7.                             
 BRETT HUBER, Legislative Assistant                                            
    to Senator Rick Halford                                                    
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 Capitol Building, Room 129                                                    
 Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 465-4958                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Spoke on behalf of sponsor of SB 67.                     
 MARGOT KNUTH, Assistant Attorney General                                      
 Criminal Division                                                             
 Department of Law                                                             
 P.O. Box 110300                                                               
 Juneau, Alaska  99811                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 465-3600                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided department's position and answered              
                      questions regarding SB 67.                               
 ACTION NARRATIVE                                                              
 TAPE 97-58, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN JOE GREEN called the House Judiciary Standing Committee to           
 order at 1:07 p.m.  Members present at the call to order were                 
 Representatives Brian Porter, Jeannette James, Ethan Berkowitz and            
 Chairman Joe Green.  Representative Rokeberg arrived at 1:10 p.m.             
 and Representative Eric Croft arrived at 1:11 p.m.                            
 HJR 7 - VOTER APPROVAL FOR NEW TAXES                                          
 CHAIRMAN GREEN announced that the committee would first consider              
 HJR 7, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of             
 Alaska prohibiting the imposition of state personal income                    
 taxation, state ad valorem taxation on real property, or state                
 retail sales taxation without the approval of the voters of the               
 Number 045                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE TERRY MARTIN, Prime Sponsor of HJR 7, advised                  
 members that over the years, people of East Anchorage, which was              
 his district, as well as people all over the state were concerned             
 about taxation since it was repealed.  Representative Martin                  
 pointed out that Alaska was one of the states where a simple                  
 majority was needed in order to impose a personal tax, of one                 
 nature or another, on the people.  He did not believe that                    
 technique provided the people any voice at all in the matter of               
 taxation.  Representative Martin noted that most states required a            
 two-thirds majority vote, and one state required a four-fifths                
 majority vote by both houses in order to approve the imposition of            
 a personal tax prior to it going to the people.                               
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN thought that it was either 21 or 24 states              
 that required final approval of a tax be by the people.  He noted             
 that oddly enough, people were very considerate of what type of tax           
 was brought before them and they would approve or not approve.                
 Representative Martin believed the voice of the people was the most           
 important things that helped develop the country.                             
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN pointed out that the resolution had been                
 considered by the previous legislature and it was passed on to the            
 floor where they were four votes short of reaching a two-thirds               
 majority vote.  He advised members that the Constitution was                  
 supposed to be the voice of the people and taxation should be a               
 part of that voice.                                                           
 Number 245                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES referred to a backup document                  
 contained in member's bill files titled 1995 State Tax Revenues,              
 Source:  U.S. Bureau of the Census and Bureau of Economic Analysis,           
 and asked Representative Martin if he knew how they arrived at                
 those numbers.  She pointed out that it stated that the per capita            
 dollars of state tax revenues was $3,185 in Alaska, which was 13.6            
 percent of personal income, and ranked one in percentage of                   
 personal income.  Representative James stated that she assumed they           
 were talking about all taxes, including severance taxes, but                  
 probably not royalties because those were not necessarily taxes.              
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN advised members that his office had talked to           
 the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economics on two occasions                
 after the national reports had been published and asked what                  
 criteria they were using.  He stated that basically, it showed the            
 total amount of revenues that came into a state through taxing, and           
 they did not break it down much as to whether it was personal tax,            
 corporation tax, severance tax, or what.  They just note that a               
 state received perhaps $3 billion in taxes, and they then break it            
 down per capita.                                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES advised members that one of the things that              
 distressed her was that everyone liked to make a comparison between           
 the state of Alaska and the rest of the world, and they usually did           
 it on a per capita basis, or possibly per 100,000 people.  She                
 expressed that Alaska was unique compared to other states because             
 of its size and much of the state being unorganized.                          
 Representative James pointed out that if oil taxes and severance              
 taxes were included in the data it would reflect Alaska differently           
 because those funds go into the state's coffer, whereas in the                
 other states most of those monies go into private pockets.  She               
 advised members that she did not have much faith in the data                  
 provided by the Census Bureau or Bureau of Economic Analysis.                 
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN advised members that John Manley, his                   
 legislative assistant, had written to the National Conference of              
 State Legislatures (NCSL), and provided special information as to             
 how Alaska taxes were broken down.  He noted also that the NEA                
 Magazine broke down what Alaska paid out towards education and made           
 the state look very bad as to not supporting education.                       
 Representative Martin advised members that Mr. Manley compiled a              
 lot of information from the University and from kindergarten                  
 through high school and sent it to the University of Illinois.  He            
 noted that they finally received a response which acknowledged good           
 points had been displayed.  Representative Martin pointed out that            
 they had stated that Alaska was one of the cheapest in the nation             
 in providing support to the University.  He stated that after                 
 sending back an extensive amount of information, their response was           
 that they would make an honest effort in providing more realistic             
 information in their next annual report.                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES advised members that she would like to see a             
 comparison between Alaska and the rest of the states and she                  
 believed it would show that Alaska was paying less than the other             
 states if they only counted the taxes paid out of pocket.  She                
 stated that she would also like to have a comparison on the amount            
 of federal taxes the state of Alaska paid.  Representative James              
 expressed that if Alaska could get the federal government to give             
 Alaska a tax break, the state could afford to pay some of its own,            
 although she felt that would be pretty hard to do.                            
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN felt it was necessary that Alaska work as a             
 team with NCSL who administered those reports.                                
 Number 560                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN stated if the resolution were to pass, because of              
 all the various programs the state of Alaska had compared to many             
 of the other states, of providing money to the public, would it be            
 less likely that when taxes were needed there would be less                   
 likelihood for the proletariat to vote in favor of a tax, simply              
 because there were still sources of revenue coming into the state.            
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN stated that from what he had been observing,            
 and yesterday in Anchorage when there was a vote taken on the bond            
 issue, that there was overwhelming support because they saw the               
 need and did not mind the increase in property taxes on the                   
 bonding.  He stated that if the legislature, or the governing body,           
 present a picture to the people and the people realized they were             
 in charge of the purse string, they would support it.                         
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER stated that if the bill were law and the                
 people voted in favor of a state sales tax and the legislature                
 wanted to change the rate of that sales tax, if that require voter            
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN stated that it would go before the people for           
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER pointed out that the wording said; a law                
 establishing a sales tax on personal income tax would have to be              
 approved.  It did not say amending an existing tax, it just spoke             
 to "establishing".                                                            
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN thought it spoke to an increase in a personal           
 tax of one nature or another also.  He stated that members could              
 add the word "increase".                                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG advised members it was his                     
 understanding a State ad valorem tax on real property currently               
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN agreed, and again that would come into effect           
 with an increase in that tax; however, it appeared the word                   
 "increased" had been dropped from the bill.                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG advised members he was concerned about that           
 and as a member of the House Special Committee on Oil and Gas they            
 had the opportunity to hear reports as to the development of a                
 trans-Alaska gas pipeline.  A recommendation brought forward in               
 that committee was the need to reform the state's tax regime in               
 order to create an incentive for investment in the state of Alaska.           
 Representative Rokeberg advised members that among those mentioned            
 was the ability to lower, particularly, the ad valorem taxes on               
 capital equipment and materials used for the construction of a gas            
 pipeline.  He stated that, keeping that in mind, to make that work            
 so eventually the municipalities and the state of Alaska would be             
 kept whole, there would be a lowering of taxes, or potentially an             
 abatement of those taxes for a period of time, and after the                  
 pipeline reached a level of profitability under contractual, long             
 term obligations, those taxes could be increased.  Representative             
 Rokeberg felt the ad valorem taxes would be one of the primary                
 methods of being able to create a sliding scale type of taxation on           
 those kinds of assets.  He stated that an amendment such as HJR 7             
 would absolutely bar any kind of negotiations like that.                      
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN advised members that as used in the                     
 resolution, ad valorem was meant to be the real property of an                
 individual, not as an ad valorem tax on the property of                       
 corporations, unless they would assume a corporation was a person.            
 CHAIRMAN GREEN did not see the resolution drafted that way.                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG agreed with Chairman Green                            
 REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CROFT asked if it was the sponsor's intent to             
 get voter approval for a decrease in taxes.                                   
 Number 966                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN stated that he was addressing the imposition            
 of a new tax, or increase in personal taxes, or personal real                 
 property.  He stated that a decrease in taxes would not need voter            
 BRAD PIERCE, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Management and                  
 Budget, Office of the Governor, advised members the administration            
 did not have a firm position on the resolution.  He pointed out               
 that changing the Constitution that would result in the legislature           
 losing one of its powers was fairly serious business.  Mr. Pierce             
 advised members that the administration saw the resolution as a               
 basic difference between the Governor's pledge not to use permanent           
 fund earnings without a vote of the people.  He noted that the                
 permanent fund was established after statehood by a vote of the               
 people.  Mr. Pierce stated that, clearly, when the framers of the             
 state's Constitution wrote the provision which stated that the                
 power of taxation shall never be surrendered, it was felt that the            
 legislature should not give that power away to municipalities, or             
 to others.  Mr. Pierce advised members that those were the                    
 fundamental concerns of the resolution.                                       
 MR. PIERCE stated that it was also the administration's feeling               
 that giving up the responsibility to tax would make closing the               
 fiscal gap much harder because it foreclosed the legislature's                
 option to act.  He noted that there was also the law of unintended            
 consequences that the state could end up with a very strange tax              
 structure if HJR 7 were to be in place.  Mr. Pierce advised members           
 that Washington state, because they had never wanted an income tax            
 had ended up taxing everything that moved, which resulted in a very           
 regressive tax structure.  He pointed out that Alaska already had             
 a fairly strange tax structure with 80 percent of the state's                 
 general fund coming from oil revenues.                                        
 Number 1215                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ETHAN BERKOWITZ asked how problematic it could be if           
 the state could not respond quickly to a change in circumstances.             
 He noted that Representative Rokeberg brought up the instance of              
 changing the state's tax structure in order to develop a gas                  
 pipeline, and asked if there were any other projects that would be            
 affected by the state's inability to change the tax structure                 
 MR. PIERCE did not believe so; however, the idea was that it would            
 limit the state's options to deal with the state's fiscal                     
 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ stated that in other jurisdictions tax               
 inducements had been offered for corporations to relocate, and                
 asked if the implementation of HJR 7 would impede the state's                 
 ability to do that.                                                           
 MR. PIERCE stated that if Representative Berkowitz was speaking to            
 an offer of credits, he was not sure, but felt someone from the               
 Department of Law could respond to that question.                             
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG pointed out that the Governor had                     
 introduced a bill where corporations hiring welfare recipients                
 would receive a $1000 tax credit.  He advised members he was also             
 introducing a bill, along those same lines, about Alaskan                     
 residents, and HJR 7 would tie his hands, the governor's hands, as            
 well as the legislature's.  Representative Rokeberg expressed that            
 if the price of oil went to $8 per barrel it would be necessary to            
 look at existing taxes in the state, and do some restructuring of             
 CHAIRMAN GREEN pointed out that many members would recall when the            
 price of oil did decrease to nearly $8 per barrel a number of years           
 REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES did not see the same fear of not               
 being able to move quickly and pointed out that the state was not             
 poor, and if there was an emergency, there were reserves available            
 to use.  She stated that she, as a State Representative, was                  
 willing to impose state taxes on the public when the public was               
 willing and ready, but not before.  Representative James felt that            
 HJR 7 could be used in that manner as to how the people felt about            
 an increase in taxes.  She asked if Mr. Pierce could think of any             
 specific circumstance, other than a drastic drop in oil prices,               
 that would cause the legislature to act faster than having to wait            
 for a vote of the people.                                                     
 MR. PIERCE advised members that he could not think about anything             
 off the top of his head; however, pointed out that they were                  
 talking about a constitutional amendment, and to change the State's           
 Constitution it would be necessary to wait for another general                
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES advised members that she had a real problem              
 with a state ad valorem tax on real property, and did not know how            
 that could be defined to mean personal property, as opposed to                
 other than personal property because she felt the ownership of                
 property was varied in so many ways.  Representative James stated             
 that if the issue would be put to the public she would like that              
 language removed, and only pose the question as to state tax on               
 personal income and state retail sales tax, which were the only two           
 broad based taxes that were of great concern.                                 
 Number 1463                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG pointed out the mention of the Governor's             
 desire to have some type of voting mechanism for the appropriation            
 of permanent fund earnings, and asked if that legislation had been            
 introduced to that effect.                                                    
 MR. PIERCE stated that there was no pending legislation at the                
 present time.                                                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT asked if a retail sales tax would be imposed             
 on all products and if alcohol, tobacco and gas taxes would go to             
 the vote of the people as well.                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES stated that those would be whole sale taxes.             
 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT advised members that when discussing the bill            
 which would allow alcohol to be taxed at a higher rate that North             
 Pole implemented a bed tax that allowed them to tax alcohol.  He              
 pointed out that he had not thought of a bed tax as a sales tax               
 prior to that; however, felt in that case, it was an innovative               
 approach that got him thinking that maybe sales tax was a lot more            
 broad than he thought it was.                                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN stated that in local government, the public             
 had the opportunity to vote on ship taxes and bed taxes and stated            
 that he had no problem in doing that at the state level if the                
 public wanted to vote on an alcohol tax or cigarette tax.                     
 CHAIRMAN GREEN advised members that he supported the thought that             
 an increase in taxes or imposition of new taxes should be the will            
 of the people, as was stated by Representative James, and thought             
 most members felt that way.  He noted that the legislature was in             
 the mode of trying to reduce the cost of government to the point              
 that the people would say, that is enough, and now we're going to             
 have to find other sources of revenue.  Chairman Green advised                
 members that in order to get at the intent of the proposed                    
 legislation, which would be the undeniable will of the people by              
 some sort of an advisory vote or polling type mechanism, that there           
 was a concern as to how often, and under what circumstances, the              
 legislature should approach the people for voter approval.                    
 Chairman Green pointed out that if that was done very often, to him           
 that would be an abrogation of the responsibility of the                      
 Number 1630                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN pointed out that during the Cowper                      
 Administration the advisory vote relating to education endowment              
 was not approved by the people, and now the Lt. Governor had just             
 approved an advisory vote on education.  He stated that by giving             
 the people the power, as in HJR 7, it would be the final voice of             
 the people.                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES pointed out that other states required a two             
 thirds majority vote, and sometimes even a three quarter majority             
 vote, which was not the case in the state of Alaska, and she asked            
 why that would not be a better way to go.                                     
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN advised members that his personal desire was            
 to get a final voice of the people.  He noted that in the past even           
 the founding fathers wanted to require a super majority, under                
 certain elections, and it had always failed because when it came to           
 the people they wanted true democracy of a simple majority.                   
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES advised members that in Fairbanks, a sales tax           
 had been presented on the ballot seven times and sometimes the                
 voters said no, and she pointed out also the situation with the               
 school bonding issue of being put to the people three different               
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN stated that Anchorage had turned down some of           
 the bonding packages in the past as well.                                     
 CHAIRMAN GREEN advised members that there was an issue brought up             
 in the House State Affairs Committee the previous year regarding              
 requiring a varying degree of public percentage with a simple                 
 majority and a two thirds majority, and there had been quite a bit            
 of discussion that a specific percentage might not be gotten.  He             
 noted that Representative Martin had indicated that other states              
 required an 80 percent voter approval and asked if such a high                
 percentage had ever been reached.                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN advised members that he was speaking to a               
 percentage of the voters, that that would always be a simple                  
 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT advised members that he was interested in the            
 idea of a referendum where the people had the ability to cancel out           
 any law enacted by referendum during the next election, and he                
 thought that was phrasing HJR 7 in the negative, where the                    
 legislature passed a tax and the people come back at the next                 
 election and said no.  He asked why that process would not be a               
 better approach, or a statute that stated that any tax put on the             
 books shall automatically be placed before the public for a                   
 referendum vote.                                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN advised members that was how some other                 
 states operated; however, Alaska's Constitution stated that the               
 power of taxation should never be surrendered, and the people could           
 not address a tax either through an initiative or a referendum.  He           
 stated that in the state of Alaska the referendum was almost                  
 worthless because the time restraints for the people to get the               
 necessary signatures was almost impossible.                                   
 Number 1989                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT asked if that was a judicial decision or an              
 attorney general opinion.                                                     
 REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN advised members that the Constitution made it           
 very clear that the people not have control of the state's purse              
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG advised members that he agreed with                   
 Representative Martin's concept in terms of making sure that the              
 public had an opportunity to be known and heard when it came to tax           
 policies.  He stated that any change that the legislature might               
 consider on that issue in the future was a huge state change of               
 public policy.  Representative Rokeberg stated that having voter              
 input and the people having that ability he felt was very                     
 important; however, HJR 7 was abrogating the legislature's entire             
 constitutional responsibility, and he was very concerned about that           
 and felt it was the wrong approach, although he agreed with the               
 concept.  Representative Rokeberg advised members he was also                 
 concerned about the testimony members had heard regarding the                 
 Governor's opinion about the earnings reserve fund, which he felt             
 was really extraordinary, adding that that would be a usurpation of           
 legislative power.                                                            
 Number 2015                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER pointed out that the issue before the                   
 committee had been discussed in previous legislatures and he                  
 respected the sponsor's position and feelings on that particular              
 area of the law.  Representative Porter advised members that he had           
 a different foundation of thought in that area and did not think it           
 was appropriate in a state that had the usual tax structure that              
 Alaska had that could be impacted by a single factor.  He stated              
 that to put into place an absolute bar that could occur for up to             
 two years to be able to respond to that kind of emergency, to him             
 was irresponsible and he could not support it.                                
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES moved to amend HJR 7, on line 9, after                   
 "income," delete [a State ad valorem tax on real property].  There            
 being no objection, Amendment 1, HJR 7 was adopted.                           
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG expressed that he was distressed because he           
 had told the people in his district that he wanted to make sure               
 they had an ability to vote on the imposition of taxes; however, he           
 did not believe that was what HJR 7 did.  He stated that the shift            
 of power, as in HJR 7, went well beyond what he thought should be             
 granted.  Representative Rokeberg pointed out that there had been             
 discussion as to whether the state should go to a statewide sales             
 tax, versus an income tax, and he felt the only way to get a gauge            
 on that issue was to have an advisory vote, if needed.                        
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES agreed with the statements of Representative             
 Rokeberg and was not afraid of putting the proposed resolution on             
 the floor for a vote, and because of that moved to report CSHJR
 7(JUD) out of committee with individual recommendations and                   
 attached fiscal note.  Representative Porter objected.                        
 CHAIRMAN GREEN requested a roll call vote.  In favor:                         
 Representative James.  Opposed:  Representative Porter, Rokeberg,             
 Croft, Berkowitz and Chairman Green.  Representative Bunde was                
 absent.  CSHJR 7(JUD) failed to move out of committee by a vote of            
 5 to 1.                                                                       
 CSSB 67(JUD) - TRUTH IN SENTENCING                                            
 [Contains discussion of SB 25.]                                               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN advised members they would next consider CSSB
 67(JUD), "An Act relating to the imposition of criminal sentences;            
 and amending Rule 32.2, Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure."                  
 Number 2231                                                                   
 BRETT HUBER, Legislative Assistant to Senator Rick Halford, Prime             
 Sponsor, advised members that Senator Halford introduced SB 67 to             
 provide victims of crime, their families and the general public an            
 honest and accurate assessment of the time which would actually be            
 served by a person convicted of a crime.  Mr. Huber noted that SB
 67 was consistent with the Victim's Rights Constitutional Amendment           
 that was passed by the legislature and ratified by popular vote in            
 MR. HUBER advised members that their bill packets included a                  
 sponsor statement, sectional analysis and various letters of                  
 support.  He pointed out that the bill was heard on Senate side in            
 the State Affairs, Judiciary and Finance committees, and passed the           
 full body by a vote of 20 to 0 on March 13, 1967                              
 MR. HUBER advised members the proposed legislation was fairly                 
 straight forward and he would provide a brief overview if the                 
 Chairman would like.                                                          
 Number 2283                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ gathered that the intent of the proposed             
 legislation was for the purpose of protecting victims to ensure               
 that they know when defendants were going to be released from state           
 MR. HUBER explained that the intent of the bill was to make sure              
 the public had a more accurate assessment of time actually served             
 when a sentence is handed down by the court.                                  
 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked if one of the components was to know           
 when a defendant was going to be released.                                    
 MR. HUBER did not know if the bill expressly stated that.  He                 
 advised members that the intent was merely that when a sentence is            
 rendered by the court that the public, the victims and those                  
 affected would have an understanding of what the actual minimum               
 time required to serve would be under the imposed sentence.                   
 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked what Mr. Huber's understanding was             
 of how sentences were currently rendered.                                     
 MR. HUBER felt that was a fairly broad question and asked if                  
 Representative Berkowitz could narrow it down some.                           
 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ stated that it appeared that the whole               
 point of the bill was that judges were not saying enough in court,            
 and he was curious to know what the sponsor thought judges were               
 saying in court that would necessitate the proposed legislation.              
 MR. HUBER advised members that it was the Senator's understanding             
 that when a judge imposed a sentence that the length of time                  
 necessary to serve depended on whether there was a mandatory                  
 sentence for the crime committed, and other variables, but the                
 judge basically passed a sentence down of "X" amount of time.  He             
 noted that qualifiers were included, suspension of a portion of the           
 sentence, concurrent sentences, et cetera.  What was not being                
 disclosed, at the time of sentence, was what the minimum amount of            
 time would be when considering things such as mandatory or                    
 discretionary parole.  Mr. Huber advised members that was the                 
 intent of the proposed legislation, to make sure the minimum, or              
 actual amount of time that could possibly be served be a part of              
 the information relayed to the people in the courtroom at the time            
 of sentencing.                                                                
 CHAIRMAN GREEN noted that it was also imposed that an individual              
 could not be released prior to serving two thirds of his/her                  
 sentence, or greater than one third time paroled.                             
 MR. HUBER advised members that the bill did nothing to change how             
 current sentences were imposed, or existing mandatory or                      
 discretionary parole provisions.  It merely brought some sunshine             
 into the process of what those sentences would compute into when              
 considering mandatory and discretionary parole provisions.                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if, currently, people who had been convicted             
 of a crime would be required to serve at least two thirds of the              
 sentence handed down by the courts.                                           
 MR. HUBER stated that, currently, people convicted of a crime were            
 eligible to receive credit for good time, which was one third of              
 the imposed sentence.  He explained that discretionary parole                 
 provided the opportunity for criminals to be released prior to the            
 time of a mandatory parole, which could be substantially less than            
 the two thirds requirement.                                                   
 Number 2430                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES noted that she did not completely understand             
 mandatory and discretionary parole; however, she did understand               
 what the legislation was purporting to accomplish.  Representative            
 James advised members that her concern was if a judge imposed a               
 long sentence, but then after considering all the variables that              
 had to be relayed to the audience in the courtroom that the                   
 individual could be released within a much lesser time period than            
 the original sentence, would more than likely distress people a               
 lot.  Representative James assumed that was why the courts did not            
 provide all that information at the time of sentencing.                       
 MR. HUBER advised members that was exactly the situation the                  
 sponsor was attempting to address.  Senator Halford believed that             
 the public ought to know what the sentences that were being passed            
 down translated into under the current parole provisions.                     
 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES believed there were cases when the state's               
 correctional facilities were full, and in order to accommodate that           
 problem, select individuals would be paroled early in order to free           
 up bed space.  She pointed out that she believed the department               
 provided early releases within the framework of what is, or what              
 was not allowed, although sometimes she felt that a much earlier              
 release could take place than anyone ever anticipated.                        
 TAPE 97-58, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ explained that once a defendant is                   
 sentenced, he/she is under the custody of the Department of                   
 Corrections and they have control over release by parole.  He                 
 advised members that a convicted person is required to serve two              
 thirds of his/her sentence, at which time the individual would be             
 eligible for good time; however, pointed out that good time could             
 be taken away by the department for various reasons.                          
 Representative Berkowitz stated with respect to a three year                  
 sentence, the person would be illegible for parole in two years,              
 but if the prisoner messed up in some manner, he/she would be                 
 required to serve the full imposed sentence of three years.                   
 MR. HUBER advised members it was his understanding that that                  
 computation was actually made by the Department of Corrections at             
 the time they receive the prisoner after the sentence had been                
 imposed.  He stated that good time was basically an automatic                 
 credit on account.  Mr. Huber noted that there was the opportunity            
 to remove the good time, if a person conducted some type of                   
 misbehavior while incarcerated.  Mr. Huber stated that the                    
 Department of Corrections also had the authority to reinstate the             
 person's good time after it had been removed.                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER advised members it was his understanding that           
 it would be possible to compute and advise a victim at the time of            
 sentencing what the earliest release date could be, although it               
 would not necessarily be the exact time because of the department's           
 ability to take away good time earned because of behavior problems.           
 Number 77                                                                     
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG referred to the fiscal note in the amount             
 of $715,000, and asked what those funds would be expended towards.            
 He asked, because it was federal money, if it had been marked for             
 a specific use.                                                               
 MR. HUBER advised members it was federal money that was available             
 through Federal Truth in Sentencing construction funds for prison             
 facilities.  He noted that the current fiscal note, prepared by the           
 Senate Finance Committee, reflected a $650,000 possible capture of            
 federal funds.  Mr. Huber advised members that those federal funds            
 would require a 10 percent match, which would be $65,000 in general           
 funds, leaving $715,000 that would be available to the legislature            
 to appropriate towards the construction of correctional facilities,           
 if they so chose to accept and appropriate those funds.                       
 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if that was a three year program.                        
 MR. HUBER advised members there were three years left in that                 
 program, and the estimate of $650,000 was the amount that the state           
 of Alaska would have qualified for had the provision and the                  
 language included in section 2 of the bill been in place.  He noted           
 that it was possible that that amount would be reduced from                   
 $650,000, over time, as other states qualify for those funds.                 
 Number 133                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG was pleased to see a positive fiscal note,            
 especially in the Department of Corrections, of which he was a                
 member of the budget subcommittee.  He asked if the court, upon               
 sentencing, had the duty to inform the victim of the defendant's              
 release date.                                                                 
 MR. HUBER advised members that as he understood the procedure, a              
 sentence was imposed both orally and within a sentencing report               
 that was a document of the courts and available to the victims;               
 however, he knew of no specific mandate for the court to supply               
 that information to the victims.                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG pointed out that as the legislature expands           
 on the issue of victim's rights a problem had surfaced as to who              
 really was the victim.                                                        
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER saw nothing in the bill that would require              
 any specific notifications other than providing an explanation of             
 the sentence at the time the sentence was rendered and recorded.              
 Number 206                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT asked for clarification of the fiscal note and           
 the $650,000.                                                                 
 MR. HUBER advised members that the Department of Corrections had              
 prepared a fiscal note that did reflect the $65,000 match and                 
 expenditures, and showed a $715,000 capital expenditure.  He stated           
 that the problem that the Senate Finance Committee had was that it            
 was not yet determined by the legislature whether they should                 
 receive and expend those funds, so the Senate Finance Committee did           
 not feel comfortable with committing to that in the fiscal note.              
 Mr. Huber advised members that the analogy on page two of the                 
 fiscal note would explain that.                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT asked if what was being said was that the                
 state did not know where they would spend those funds, but knew               
 they would likely be received.                                                
 MR. HUBER advised members that there were guidelines as to where,             
 or how those funds could be spent, which was for the construction             
 or renovation of correctional facilities that would result in                 
 providing additional bed space.                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT asked if that would include any capital                  
 expenditure relative to a correctional facility.                              
 MR. HUBER noted that Margot Knuth, with the Department of Law,                
 could address those questions specifically.                                   
 Number 318                                                                    
 MARGOT KNUTH, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division,                  
 Department of Law, advised members there was a violent offender               
 incarceration and truth in sentencing incentive grant program that            
 the Department of Justice made available to states.  She explained            
 that the state of Alaska had not qualified for the truth in                   
 sentencing part of the grant program yet.  Ms. Knuth pointed out              
 that there had been a recent change made by the federal department            
 that would make it easier for states to qualify.  She advised                 
 members that previously, in order to qualify for truth in                     
 sentencing funds, the state would have had to increase the amount             
 of time that the state's prisoners serve from two thirds of the               
 sentence, to 85 percent.                                                      
 MS. KNUTH pointed out that truth in sentencing still required that            
 a prisoner serve 85 percent of their sentence, but the Department             
 of Justice had changed that to say that the 85 percent of the                 
 prison sentence was just the sentence of actual incarceration time            
 and the state would not have to include supervised release time,              
 which was what Alaska had with the mandatory parole system for                
 anyone with a sentence of over two years.  Ms. Knuth advised                  
 members that was termed the "Minnesota Exception"; the way of                 
 bifurcating a sentence in statute, but did not change how long                
 state prisoners would actually serve.                                         
 MS. KNUTH stated that the funds were to be used to reduce                     
 overcrowding or increase bed space which could be done in many                
 different ways.  She explained that existing facilities could be              
 renovated, and there was a provision that allowed sharing with                
 municipalities; the theory being that a municipality would do                 
 something with their misdemeanants that would free up some bed                
 space for the violent felons.  Ms. Knuth stated that those funds              
 could also be used for expansion planning purposes, but it had to             
 be a capital expenditure, not used for operating expenses.                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if it could be used in some manner for the               
 prisoners that had been sent outside Alaska.                                  
 MS. KNUTH advised members that there was a provision for using                
 privatized facilities.  The theory there, again, was that it would            
 free up some hard beds in Alaska for other offenders.                         
 CHAIRMAN GREEN believed the Arizona facility involved an operating            
 expense, rather than a capital expense.                                       
 MS. KNUTH agreed, and that was why the booklet containing all the             
 criteria was as thick as it was.  Ms. Knuth advised members that              
 based on the status of the proposed legislation that currently the            
 state could apply for those funds before the upcoming deadline                
 date, and the federal government would then look to see whether the           
 legislation was enacted and the state would be considered, at that            
 point, whether Alaska would qualify or not.  Ms. Knuth pointed out            
 that the question was how many more states were doing the same                
 thing as Alaska, simultaneously, for qualification of those funds.            
 She noted that there were only 17 states that qualified last year,            
 and as the number of states increase, the pot of money that was               
 being distributed would dissipate a little bit.                               
 MS. KNUTH pointed out that Alaska had just been approached by one             
 of the small states in the east who would like to work on creating            
 a floor, or a minimum amount that each state could get, which would           
 be of tremendous assistance to the state of Alaska.  She stated               
 that it would not cost the states like California and Florida that            
 much because they were getting so much money, but it could bring              
 Alaska into the $1 million to $2 million range.                               
 Number 538                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked if the intent of the federal                   
 matching funds was to provide more rights to the victims of a                 
 MS. KNUTH advised members the intent was to foster protection of              
 the public, and victims were some of the most interested persons in           
 the state's criminal justice system.                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ pointed out there was other proposed                 
 legislation which dealt with the victim notification system, and he           
 felt that possibly added some teeth to SB 67.  The other                      
 legislation provided for notification of the victim when the                  
 prisoner was going to be released, and Representative Berkowitz               
 asked if the implementation of the victim notification system would           
 qualify as renovation under the federal scheme.                               
 MS. KNUTH did not believe the federal funds could be used in that             
 manner because it specifically requires those funds be applied                
 towards capital expenditures to increase bed space within the                 
 prison system.                                                                
 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if Minnesota had the same type of system as              
 Alaska which included an automatic probation or release date.                 
 MS. KNUTH advised members that Minnesota did have the same type of            
 system and explained that at the conference, there was a panel of             
 three different ways that states with determinant sentencing could            
 qualify, and sitting right in the middle was Minnesota to assist              
 states like Alaska to realize that there had been a change and                
 could now qualify for those funds.  She stated that it was a part             
 of the executive branch's decision, on the federal level, that they           
 did not have an interest in coercing the state to increase the                
 length of time that Alaska prisoners stay incarcerated because that           
 was terribly expensive.  Ms. Knuth advised members that if the                
 state was required to go from 66 percent to 85 percent of sentences           
 for Alaska prisoners, that the price tag on that would never                  
 motivate the state to participate; however, she pointed out that              
 truth in sentencing, in itself, was a good goal because there were            
 misconceptions about how long a person would be incarcerated.                 
 Number 690                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT referred to the booklet Ms. Knuth had and                
 referred to page 7, it stated that in order to receive a grant the            
 state would have to certify by October 26, 1997, that the state had           
 adopted policies that provide for the rights and needs of crime               
 victims.  It went on to say that the state should provide notice to           
 victims concerning case and offender status.  Representative Croft            
 pointed out that the state would have to certify, by October, that            
 it was notifying victims of the status of their offender, of which            
 he assumed most importantly would be the release date.                        
 MS. KNUTH stated that was correct and was a statutory and                     
 constitutional obligation that the Executive now had, and the state           
 was fulfilling that obligation through paralegals and district                
 attorneys offices, as well as through the Department of Corrections           
 when a victim provides the information that they want to be                   
 notified of the offender's release date.                                      
 MS. KNUTH advised members that an automated victim notification               
 system would have the advantage because you could input the                   
 information and it then calls a phone number repeatedly for a                 
 period of several days until the right code is entered in to                  
 provide that information.  She said another part of that system               
 came with a 900 phone number that costs $1.80 for the first minute            
 and 95 cents a minute thereafter that would allow anyone to call              
 the number to find out if a particular person was incarcerated,               
 where at and what their release date was at that time, and that               
 could relieve the state of the burden of having to provide that               
 type of information.  Ms. Knuth expressed that the department was             
 receiving over 400 calls a day requesting information about who was           
 in custody, where they were incarcerated and when would they be               
 released.  Ms. Knuth stated if the department were to receive over            
 500 calls a day, the requestor would have to pay a fee for that               
 information, and that charge would be enough to cover the expense             
 of implementing an automated victim notification program.                     
 Number 830                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT wanted to make the argument that a capital               
 expenditure for equipment to notify victims could in some cases, be           
 a way to save bed space.  He pointed out that there had been a lot            
 of discussion about moving certain classes of offenders into                  
 halfway houses and saving money through that method.                          
 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT noted that there had been some controversy on            
 that issue because in halfway houses there was more of a potential            
 for the offender to walk away and commit a crime.  Representative             
 Croft stated that if an offender were released to a soft bed, which           
 would free up hard bed space, and the victim was notified of the              
 release date from a soft bed facility, that that would be a method            
 of reducing prison overcrowding.                                              
 MS. KNUTH felt there was merit to the argument presented by                   
 Representative Croft; however, the federal grant program specified            
 how those funds could be utilized and it would be necessary to use            
 those funds for construction purposes, either through remodeling              
 existing facilities, or building new facilities.  She added that              
 she would be glad to look further into the suggestion made by                 
 Representative Croft.                                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved to report CSSB 67(JUD) out of committee           
 with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note.                     
 Representative Berkowitz objected for the purpose of discussion.              
 Number 962                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ expressed that the bill, in its present              
 form, did not provide for much more than what already happened in             
 court, and he felt that if the state was intent on providing                  
 victims protection and provide notification of an offender's                  
 release date that there was a vehicle for that purpose.  He noted             
 that SB 25 was the victim notification bill and he might offer an             
 amendment to CSSB 67(JUD) that would shoehorn in SB 25 where                  
 appropriate.  Representative Berkowitz pointed out that both bills            
 addressed the same topic and consistent with the intent and it                
 would be at zero cost to the state.                                           
 CHAIRMAN GREEN advised members that his concern was that the                  
 amendment appeared to be substantial and members had not had a                
 chance to review its effect.  He noted that the committee had a               
 standing rule that required advanced notice of proposed amendments            
 in a timely fashion.  Chairman Green pointed out that there was a             
 motion on the floor and was not sure Representative Berkowitz                 
 proposal fit under the motion before the committee.  Chairman Green           
 stated that Representative Porter could withdraw his motion for the           
 purpose of discussing the idea put forth by Representative                    
 Number 1086                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated that Ms. Knuth had expressed that              
 the state already had a statutory and constitutional requirement to           
 notify victims presently, and asked if the change would be the                
 automated program discussed earlier.                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ stated that as he understood the                     
 notification process that the Department of Law had a difficult               
 time in locating people and that it was very time intensive                   
 process.  He advised members that the automated system would                  
 eliminate all the wasted labor that was being taken away from                 
 ongoing cases.  Representative Berkowitz explained that it would              
 free up personnel in the Department of Law to pursue current/active           
 cases, and there would be a greater likelihood of contacting                  
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER declared a point of order.  He pointed out              
 that what was being discussed was a bill in another committee.                
 Representative Porter explained that he had discussed, with the               
 maker of the amendment very briefly, the notion that that might               
 qualify; however, he felt it would be more appropriately formed               
 into an amendment, after researching the federal guidelines to see            
 if it would even qualify, which could occur in the House Finance              
 Committee, the next committee of referral.                                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN agreed with those comments because it was addressing           
 a finance issue.                                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG called for the question.                              
 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ withdrew his objection.  There being no              
 objection, CSSB 67(JUD) was reported out of committee.                        
 Number 1625                                                                   
 There being nothing further to come before the committee, Chairman            
 Green adjourned the House Judiciary Committee at 2:20 p.m.                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects