Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 120

04/13/2009 01:00 PM JUDICIARY


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 213 UNEMPLOYMENT AMENDMENTS:TRIBES/NPO TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+ SJR 10 ADOPT S. 371 IN CONGRESS TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 13, 2009                                                                                         
                           1:12 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Jay Ramras, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Nancy Dahlstrom, Vice Chair                                                                                      
Representative John Coghill                                                                                                     
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Carl Gatto                                                                                                       
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATE JOINT RESOULTION NO. 10                                                                                                  
Urging the United States Congress to adopt S. 371, the                                                                          
Respecting States Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of                                                                 
2009.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED SJR 10 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 213                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to contributions, interest, penalties, and                                                                     
payments under the Alaska Employment Security Act; and providing                                                                
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 213 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SJR 10                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: ADOPT S. 371 IN CONGRESS                                                                                           
SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) THOMAS                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
02/27/09       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/27/09       (S)       JUD                                                                                                    
03/13/09       (S)       JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/13/09       (S)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
03/16/09       (S)       JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/16/09       (S)       Moved SJR 10 Out of Committee                                                                          
03/16/09       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
03/18/09       (S)       JUD RPT 4DP                                                                                            
03/18/09       (S)       DP: FRENCH, THERRIAULT, WIELECHOWSKI,                                                                  
                         MCGUIRE                                                                                                
03/27/09       (S)       TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                                                                     
03/27/09       (S)       VERSION: SJR 10                                                                                        
03/30/09       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/30/09       (H)       JUD                                                                                                    
04/13/09       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 213                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: UNEMPLOYMENT AMENDMENTS: TRIBES/NPO                                                                                
SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
04/01/09       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/01/09       (H)       L&C, JUD                                                                                               
04/08/09       (H)       L&C REFERRAL WAIVED                                                                                    
04/13/09       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR JOE THOMAS                                                                                                              
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of SJR 10.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
JOSEPH HARDENBROOK, Staff                                                                                                       
Senator Joe Thomas                                                                                                              
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  On behalf of the sponsor, Senator Thomas,                                                                
provided a comment during discussion of SJR 10.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
GUY BELL, Assistant Commissioner                                                                                                
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Labor & Workforce Development (DLWD)                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Along with Dr. Nelson, presented HB 213 on                                                               
behalf of the governor, sponsor by request.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
THOMAS W. NELSON, D.Ed., Director                                                                                               
Central Office                                                                                                                  
Division of Employment Security                                                                                                 
Department of Labor & Workforce Development (DLWD)                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Along with Mr. Bell, presented HB 213 on                                                                 
behalf of the governor, sponsor by request.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:12:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAY  RAMRAS called the  House Judiciary  Standing Committee                                                             
meeting  to order  at 1:12  p.m.   Representatives Ramras,  Lynn,                                                               
Holmes,  Dahlstrom,  and Coghill  were  present  at the  call  to                                                               
order.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SJR 10 - ADOPT S. 371 IN CONGRESS                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:12:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
SENATE  JOINT  RESOLUTION  NO.   10,  Urging  the  United  States                                                               
Congress  to  adopt S.  371,  the  Respecting States  Rights  and                                                               
Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2009.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:12:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR JOE THOMAS, Alaska  State Legislature, sponsor, explained                                                               
that  SJR  10 urges  passage  of  the federal  Respecting  States                                                               
Rights and  Concealed Carry Reciprocity  Act of  2009 - S.  371 -                                                               
which  would establish  a  nationwide  reciprocity agreement  for                                                               
carrying concealed  firearms.  Such nationwide  reciprocity would                                                               
allow a citizen who is permitted  to carry a concealed firearm in                                                               
his/her own  state to do  so in  other states with  similar laws,                                                               
though the  person must  follow the  laws of  the state  in which                                                               
he/she is  traveling, including laws restricting  the carrying of                                                               
firearms in certain locations; furthermore,  under S. 371, anyone                                                               
who is  prohibited by federal  law from carrying a  firearm would                                                               
continue  to  be so  prohibited.    Many states  currently  offer                                                               
reciprocity agreements with other  states that have similar laws,                                                               
but such agreements can change  or lapse, making it difficult for                                                               
the bearer of  a concealed firearm to keep track  of which states                                                               
offer  reciprocity.   Passage of  the  federal legislation  would                                                               
ensure that Alaskans could enjoy  the same rights as residents in                                                               
other states with  concealed carry laws.   In conclusion, Senator                                                               
Thomas urged  support of  SJR 10  and Alaskans'  Second Amendment                                                               
right.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:14:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOSEPH  HARDENBROOK,  Staff,  Senator Joe  Thomas,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  on behalf  of the  sponsor,  Senator Thomas,  added                                                               
that  the House  Judiciary Standing  Committee is  SJR 10's  sole                                                               
committee of referral in the House.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:15:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM moved to report  SJR 10 out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There being no objection,  SJR 10 was reported  from the                                                               
House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HB 213 - UNEMPLOYMENT AMENDMENTS:TRIBES/NPO                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
[Contains brief discussion  of SB 178, the  Senate companion bill                                                               
to HB  213, and SB 170,  the Senate bill into  which the language                                                               
of SB 178 was inserted.]                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:16:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 213, "An  Act relating to contributions, interest,                                                               
penalties,  and payments  under  the  Alaska Employment  Security                                                               
Act; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:16:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GUY  BELL, Assistant  Commissioner, Office  of the  Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of Labor  & Workforce  Development (DLWD),  explained                                                               
that passage  of HB  213 is  required in order  for the  State to                                                               
comply with the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA).                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:17:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
THOMAS W.  NELSON, D.Ed., Director,  Central Office,  Division of                                                               
Employment Security, Department of  Labor & Workforce Development                                                               
(DLWD), added  that Alaska is  part of a  nationwide unemployment                                                               
insurance  system,  and has  agreed  to  operate its  program  in                                                               
conformance with federal law -  specifically 26 U.S.C. 3304 - and                                                               
regulations for the administration  of the unemployment insurance                                                               
program.   In order  to be  in compliance  with the  FUTA, Alaska                                                               
must now  also cover  services performed  by employees  of tribal                                                               
entities, and  must give  federally-recognized tribes  the choice                                                               
of  becoming  reimbursable  employers   for  purposes  of  paying                                                               
unemployment  insurance   taxes.    Alaska  has   always  covered                                                               
employees of federally-recognized  tribal entities, but currently                                                               
only those entities on the  U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)                                                               
list  of Native  entities  eligible for  services  from the  U.S.                                                               
Bureau of  Indian Affairs  (BIA) are to  be offered  this choice,                                                               
and there are a total of  229 Alaska Native entities on the DOI's                                                               
latest list [included in members' packets] dated April 4, 2008.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DR.  NELSON  explained  that  if  such  an  entity  chooses  this                                                               
reimbursement  method,  the  entity  would  be  subject  to  more                                                               
stringent  rules   such  as   having  to   pay  100   percent  of                                                               
unemployment  insurance  benefits  and 100  percent  of  extended                                                               
benefits, would  be under additional scrutiny  for late payments,                                                               
and would  be required to post  a surety bond.   Because of this,                                                               
it may  not benefit a  Native entity  to select this  option, but                                                               
the department  is prepared  to work with  each of  them, one-on-                                                               
one, to  layout the tax  history and  current tax rate  that each                                                               
employer has  so that the entity  can make informed choices.   If                                                               
State  law  conforms   to  federal  requirements,  [contributory]                                                               
employers  in Alaska  would continue  to receive  an annual  FUTA                                                               
credit totaling  5.4 percent,  currently valued  at approximately                                                               
$111  million, and  Alaska would  continue to  receive its  "base                                                               
fund" to  administer the unemployment  insurance program  - [this                                                               
base  fund] is  currently  valued at  approximately $20  million.                                                               
Dr. Nelson,  in response to  questions, said that [the  bill] was                                                               
prepared  before  the  start  of   the  legislative  session  but                                                               
required modification  before its  introduction, and that  it has                                                               
an immediate effective date.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:21:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BELL, in  response to questions, said that there  is a Senate                                                               
companion bill -  [SB 178]; that the text of  that companion bill                                                               
has been added  to another piece of legislation -  [SB 170]; that                                                               
the  administration supports  [HB 213]  as a  stand-alone [bill];                                                               
that the  component now in [SB  170] that would enable  the State                                                               
to  comply with  the American  Recovery and  Reinvestment Act  of                                                               
2009 (ARRA) is  not supported by the administration;  and that SB
170 passed the Senate this morning.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL surmised that SB  170 would be referred to                                                               
the HFIN committee.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DR. NELSON,  in response to  further questions, said  that Alaska                                                               
has been  out of  compliance [with the  FUTA] for  several years;                                                               
that from the perspective of  the unemployment insurance program,                                                               
[HB 213's  proposed changes] are primarily  housekeeping changes,                                                               
addressing a method  of registering federally-recognized entities                                                               
so as  to be able  to pay  the appropriate taxes,  and clarifying                                                               
the  definitions  of  the  term  "employer";  that  the  proposed                                                               
changes  won't  give entities  an  unfair  business advantage  or                                                               
affect  their  current  tax  rates  or  require  them  to  become                                                               
reimbursable employers.   The analysis  done thus far  shows that                                                               
the   majority  of   entities   would   benefit  from   remaining                                                               
contributory employers, since they  currently only pay 76 percent                                                               
of  the  benefits,   with  the  remainder  being   borne  by  the                                                               
employee's contributions.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:25:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BELL, in  response to further questions, said that  HB 213 is                                                               
completely  neutral  from  a tax  collection  perspective.    The                                                               
unemployment   insurance  program   is   supported  entirely   by                                                               
employers  and employees,  with the  funding being  maintained by                                                               
the federal  government and kept  solvent by taxes paid  into the                                                               
fund;  the  State administers  the  program,  but it's  based  on                                                               
federal  laws.   Again,  HB  213  allows  Alaska to  comply  with                                                               
federal  law.   There  are  two  methods of  paying  unemployment                                                               
insurance:   one is  through paying a  tax applicable  to private                                                               
employers  and most  other entities,  and the  other is  to be  a                                                               
reimbursable  employer, which  requires  the  employer to  become                                                               
self insured, reimbursing the system  for actual benefits paid to                                                               
employees that worked last for that employer.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DR.  NELSON,  in response  to  more  questions, said  that  local                                                               
political  subdivisions and  private  nonprofit corporations  are                                                               
also  reimbursable employers;  some  examples  include Nine  Star                                                               
Enterprises,  Inc., Southeast  Regional Resource  Center (SERRC),                                                               
and Adult Learning Programs of Alaska.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. BELL  clarified that such  entities have the option  of being                                                               
self insured,  but, again, a  number of employers may  choose not                                                               
to be  self insured  because they  would then  be liable  for 100                                                               
percent  of the  benefits,  so  generally it  can  often be  less                                                               
expensive to "go on to a tax rate" [as a contributory employer].                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DR. NELSON, in response to  questions, reiterated portions of his                                                               
earlier  explanation, adding  that  contributory employers  would                                                               
pay,  up  front,  a  rate  based on  their  history  of  employee                                                               
turnover.   In response to  further questions, he  concurred that                                                               
compliance with  the FUTA as  it relates  to federally-recognized                                                               
tribal  entities would  protect  the whole  FUTA  system for  all                                                               
Alaskan employers.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  characterized the  aforementioned  DOI's                                                               
list  of Alaska's  federally-recognized tribal  entities as  well                                                               
established.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:34:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM moved to report  HB 213 out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There being no objection,  HB 213 was reported  from the                                                               
House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 1:35 p.m. to 1:39 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS  noted that in  the committee  room later on  in the                                                               
day there  would be a  [caucus] meeting between  a representative                                                               
of  the DOL  and  Bush caucus  members to  discuss  the issue  of                                                               
monopolies and  duopolies [as  they pertain  to fuel  pricing] in                                                               
rural Alaska,  and that members  of the House  Judiciary Standing                                                               
Committee are invited to attend.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:40:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 1:40 p.m.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB192 HJUD Pkt. 4.13.09.pdf HJUD 4/13/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 192
HB2123BillPacket.pdf HJUD 4/13/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB2123
SB96 HJUD Pkt 4.13.08.pdf HJUD 4/13/2009 1:00:00 PM
SB 96
HB36 HJUD Pkt. 4.13.09.pdf HFIN 3/15/2010 1:30:00 PM
HFIN 3/16/2010 9:00:00 AM
HJUD 4/13/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 36
HB21326GH1045A.pdf HJUD 4/13/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB2132
SJR10BillPacket.pdf HJUD 4/13/2009 1:00:00 PM