Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/02/1998 08:00 AM House STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE April 2, 1998 8:00 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Jeannette James, Chair Representative Ivan Ivan, Vice Chairman Representative Ethan Berkowitz Representative Joe Ryan Representative Kim Elton Representative Mark Hodgins MEMBERS ABSENT Representative Al Vezey COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE BILL 464 "An Act relating to state veterans' home facilities." - TECHNICAL CHANGE IN TITLE FOR CSHB 464(STA) SENATE BILL 309 "An Act relating to the use of force by peace officers and correctional officers." - MOVED HCSSB 309(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 22(STA) Relating to promotion of Kids Voting Alaska programs. - MOVED CSSCR 22(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL 44 "An Act relating to admission to an Alaska Pioneers' Home." - MOVED CSHB 44(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE (* First public hearing) PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 464 SHORT TITLE: NURSING CARE AT STATE VETERANS' HOME SPONSOR(S): STATE AFFAIRS Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 3/04/98 2499 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 3/04/98 2499 (H) MLV, STATE AFFAIRS 3/19/98 (H) MLV AT 4:30 PM CAPITOL 124 3/19/98 (H) MINUTE(MLV) 3/20/98 2680 (H) MLV RPT 1DP 5NR 3/20/98 2680 (H) DP: FOSTER; NR: RYAN, MULDER, KOTT, 3/20/98 2680 (H) MASEK, JOULE 3/20/98 2680 (H) FISCAL NOTE (ADM) 3/20/98 2680 (H) ZERO FISCAL NOTE (DHSS) 3/31/98 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 3/31/98 (H) MINUTE(STA) 4/02/98 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: SB 309 SHORT TITLE: USE OF NONLETHAL AND DEFENSIVE WEAPONS SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) WARD, Donley, Halford, Green, Mackie, Leman, Pearce, Taylor Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 2/16/98 2525 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 2/16/98 2526 (S) STA, JUD 2/26/98 (S) STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ ROOM 211 2/26/98 (S) MINUTE(STA) 3/03/98 (S) MINUTE(STA) 3/04/98 2734 (S) STA RPT 3DP 1NR 3/03/98 2734 (S) DP: GREEN, MACKIE, WARD NR: DUNCAN 3/03/98 2734 (S) ZERO FISCAL NOTE (COR) 3/13/98 (S) JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ ROOM 211 3/13/98 (S) MINUTE(JUD) 3/18/98 (S) JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ ROOM 211 3/18/98 (S) MINUTE(JUD) 3/19/98 (S) MINUTE(RLS) 3/19/98 2894 (S) JUD RPT 1DP 1NR 1AM 3/18/98 2894 (S) DP: TAYLOR NR: PARNELL AM: ELLIS 3/18/98 2894 (S) ZERO FN ADM) 3/19/98 2894 (S) PREVIOUS ZERO FN (COR) 3/20/98 2918 (S) RULES TO CALENDAR 3/20/98 3/20/98 2920 (S) READ THE SECOND TIME 3/20/98 2920 (S) ADVANCED TO THIRD READING UNAN CONSENT 3/20/98 2920 (S) READ THE THIRD TIME SB 309 3/20/98 2920 (S) COSPONSOR(S): DONLEY, HALFORD, GREEN 3/20/98 2920 (S) MACKIE, LEMAN, PEARCE, TAYLOR 3/20/98 2921 (S) PASSED Y18 N- E2 3/20/98 2921 (S) ADAMS NOTICE OF RECONSIDERATION 3/23/98 2957 (S) RECONSIDERATION NOT TAKEN UP 3/23/98 2958 (S) TRANSMITTED TO (H) 3/24/98 2722 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 3/24/98 2722 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY 3/31/98 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 3/31/98 (H) MINUTE(STA) 4/02/98 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: SCR 22 SHORT TITLE: KIDS VOTING ALASKA PROGRAMS SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) MILLER, Pearce, Ellis, Phillips, Mackie, Taylor, Leman, Lincoln, Kelly, Sharp, Duncan, Hoffman, Green Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 2/06/98 2422 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 2/06/98 2422 (S) STATE AFFAIRS 2/26/98 (S) STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ ROOM 211 2/26/98 (S) MINUTE(STA) 3/02/98 (S) MINUTE(RLS) 3/02/98 2700 (S) STA RPT CS 5DP SAME TITLE 3/02/98 2700 (S) DP: GREEN, DUNCAN, MILLER, MACKIE, WARD 3/02/98 2700 (S) ZERO FISCAL NOTE TO SB & CS (S.STA) 3/04/98 2735 (S) RULES TO CALENDAR 3/4/98 3/04/98 2738 (S) READ THE SECOND TIME 3/04/98 2738 (S) STA CS ADOPTED UNAN CONSENT 3/04/98 2738 (S) COSPONSOR(S): MACKIE, TAYLOR, LEMAN, 3/04/98 2738 (S) LINCOLN, KELLY, SHARP, DUNCAN, 3/04/98 2738 (S) HOFFMAN, GREEN 3/04/98 2738 (S) PASSED Y20 N- CSSCR 22(STA) 3/04/98 2740 (S) TRANSMITTED TO (H) 3/06/98 2532 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 3/06/98 2532 (H) STATE AFFAIRS 3/31/98 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 3/31/98 (H) MINUTE(STA) 4/02/98 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HB 44 SHORT TITLE: ADMISSION TO PIONEERS' HOMES SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVES(S) BRICE Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 1/13/97 39 (H) PREFILE RELEASED 1/3/97 1/13/97 39 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 1/13/97 39 (H) STA, HES, FINANCE 3/31/98 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 3/31/98 (H) MINUTE(STA) 4/02/98 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 WITNESS REGISTER CRAIG JOHNSON, Legislative Administrative Assistant to Senator Jerry Ward Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 423 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-4921 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on behalf of Senator Ward, sponsor of SB 309. MARY GORE, Legislative Assistant to Senator Mike Miller Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 107 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-3803 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on behalf of Senator Miller, sponsor of SCR 22. REPRESENTATIVE TOM BRICE Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 426 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-3466 POSITION STATEMENT: Presented HB 44. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 98-45, SIDE A Number 0001 CHAIR JEANNETTE JAMES called the House State Affairs Standing Committee meeting to order at 8:00 a.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives James, Berkowitz, Ryan, Elton, and Hodgins. Representative Ivan arrived at 8:20 a.m. HB 464 - NURSING CARE AT STATE VETERANS' HOME CHAIR JAMES announced the first order of business is HB 464, "An Act relating to state veterans' home facilities." CHAIR JAMES noted the committee amended the title of HB 464 and passed CSHB 464(STA) out on March 31, 1998. She reported the drafter suggested a new title change. "An Act authorizing state veterans' home facilities to provide nursing home care with related medical services." Number 0009 CHAIR JAMES asked if there were objections to the title change. There being none, CSHB 464(STA) moved from the House State Affairs Standing Committee. SB 309 - USE OF NONLETHAL AND DEFENSIVE WEAPONS CHAIR JAMES announced the next order of business would be SB 309, "An Act relating to the use of force by peace officers and correctional officers," sponsored by Senator Jerry Ward. Number 0017 CRAIG JOHNSON, Legislative Administrative Assistant to Senator Jerry Ward, Alaska State Legislature, came before the committee to present the sponsor statement. He indicated this is a very simple bill. He stated that technology has somewhat caught up with some of our laws and said the way the law currently reads is that any projectile fired from a weapon capable of firing a lethal projectile is considered a lethal weapon. He explained that SB 309 removes the incapacitating rounds that the police officers use in situations that are not intended to permanently injure or kill someone. It takes them off the list of nonlethal weapons. He referred to an article from the Anchorage Daily News entitled, "Bullet stops suicide", which is in the committee members' packets. He said the incident described in the newspaper happened after Senator Ward filed SB 309. He indicated they didn't plan it, but it couldn't have happened at a better time. Mr. Johnson explained that it was a situation where a woman was holding herself hostage with a knife, threatening to commit suicide. The police department determined that the best way to stop this attempt was to use a beanbag round. He noted that it prevented an officer from having to go in and disarm the individual; it protected her life and it protected his life. MR. JOHNSON noted that this bill was generated as a request from the Anchorage Police Department SWAT Team. He pointed out that Senator Ward's son-in-law is a member of the Anchorage SWAT Team. He indicated that the SWAT team doesn't feel like they're protected. He said if they use one of these rounds under specific orders from their supervisors with proper training, there is still the opportunity that they could face liability based upon using a lethal firearm in a nonlethal situation. Number 0045 REPRESENTATIVE JOE RYAN stated that on the surface, SB 309 doesn't appear to have any problems. He then asked what if a peace officer/guard used a nonlethal firearm and he's a little close and causes grievous bodily harm or death. He said a person can be killed if they're close enough from the (indisc.) on a blank round. He said he is concerned about taking the liability away from police officers, especially prison guards, and he is concerned that someone will get hurt and the peace officer/guard will walk free. He asked how the legislature can make sure that the officers are responsible for their actions. MR. JOHNSON said, "The bill clearly states that operating within the guidelines and by a fully-trained officer." He said the bill would not cover an officer who has not been properly trained or is not operating within the specified guidelines set forth by the Department of Corrections. The bill would not cover someone who blatantly did it. This bill would cover the rare accident. SB 309 does not indemnify someone from being sued. He said if an officer acts negligent, they should be held responsible for their actions. Number 0067 REPRESENTATIVE RYAN said if he inadvertently kills someone, it's manslaughter. If a public employee inadvertently kills someone, it's a civil law suit and he indicated that that bothers him that public employees are not tried under the same criminal statutes that any other citizen would be. He said he does not trust any officers or guards because if you don't watch them, they will do some of the worst things that have ever been done. CHAIR JAMES said she would like to respond to Representative Ryan's last statement from her position on that issue. Speaking only for herself, she said there is a world of people who make mistakes; and there is a world of people who have the wrong attitude and are not trustworthy. She said she is not willing to take the position that no one is trustworthy. She likes to believe that everyone is trustworthy and when she finds they are not, then she will know that. She can't live in fear of every single person. Number 0080 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON stated that he does not see a distinction between correctional officers who are employed by the state or correctional officers who are employed by a private firm. He asked what the definition of a peace officer is. MR. JOHNSON advised that there is a statutory definition of peace officer and correctional officer. He noted that one of the amendments proposed in a previous committee mentioned "guard" throughout the legislation and the Department of Corrections testified on behalf of that bill in support of it and asked to have the term "guard" changed to "correctional officers." They found that correctional officers have no status in statute, where guard did, and it would have required a substantial rewrite to make that change. He then referred to Representative Elton's question regarding the definition of peace officer. He indicated that private correctional officers are very new to Alaska and he does not know if they have defined that yet. He commented that the operative term in the bill is "properly trained." If a correctional officer has been through the SWAT team training and has been trained to use the nonlethal firearm and beanbags, he thinks they would fall under this legislation. He reiterated that "proper training" and "under orders" covers that area. Number 0095 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked if "proper training" would be defined by the court. MR. JOHNSON replied he believes it's a police standard that they would have to meet. Currently, there are only about half a dozen police officers in Anchorage that are trained to use the nonlethal firearms, which is the SERT (Special Emergency Reaction Team) team and the SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) team. He indicated that they are highly trained and go through regular psychological testing, which is the type of training that would have to be met prior to anyone being allowed to use the nonlethal weapons and be covered by this legislation. If a police officer used the nonlethal weapon and was not properly trained they would be liable and this legislation would not be in effect. Number 0104 REPRESENTATIVE ETHAN BERKOWITZ commented that he has worked with a number of police officers and correctional officers and in response to Representative Ryan's comments, he would venture to say that their degree of trustworthiness is "higher than in this body." He said in his way of thinking, this bill is simple; it just defines nonlethal firearms. He said, "These ballistics that you show in here clearly are not designed for lethal purposes. But like anything they can be used in a lethal fashion and there's no exemption under this statute when these are used in a lethal fashion. And there's no immunization. Part of this, it seems to me this is a straight-forward definitional bill." CHAIR JAMES noted for the record that Representatives Ivan is present. Number 0113 REPRESENTATIVE MARK HODGINS agreed with Representative Berkowitz on the nonlethal firearm definition, however, he would like a definition of "defensive weapon." He indicated he would like to know if a "357" is a defensive weapon, as well as stun guns and pepper sprays. He said there are numerous weapons that might be used that would fit under the definition of defensive weapon. MR. JOHNSON responded that this was designed primarily for prison guards who may be in a riot situation. Regarding the different types of weapons that fall under the definition of defensive weapon, he indicated that the way that the statute reads currently is "any projectile fired from a weapon capable of firing a lethal projectile is considered a lethal projectile" even though they were not designed to do so. He is not certain that there is a projectile designed for a 357 that's designed not to be lethal. The statutes cover pepper spray and the other types of net guns that are fired out of a special weapon. This bill is designed to address that very narrow definition of what a lethal projectile is. If a person fired a 357 in a defense mode, that's not what this bill is designed to do. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said it seems the concerns that Mr. Johnson raised are addressed in a nonlethal definition. He indicated the definition of nonlethal as it is used in the statute is the projectile and that defines what type of firearm is being used. He said "defensive weapon" has no meaning and it's vague and he thinks the intent of this bill is covered by using the nonlethal firearm definition. Number 0138 REPRESENTATIVE RYAN said he has a question about the physical properties. He gave an example using a 12-gauge shotgun and asked what is the range on the shotgun before a shot delivers "X" amount of force and a shot that could concentrate that force and cause some serious harm and/or penetration. MR. JOHNSON explained that the design of bag is such that when it hits on a corner, the lead shot expands. It is designed to distribute the weight evenly, less so if it hits flat. He indicated that's where the "proper training" and "under direction" comes in. He said he would be remiss to say that people have not been injured by this. When a police officer has to make a decision whether or not to fire a projectile, it is a very unique situation similar to the suicide situation addressed earlier, but not to the level of a police officer taking their revolver out and firing it, but at a level below that. He said the police view it as a long baton. If you hit someone in the head with a baton, you can do serious damage, but if a person is properly trained and needs to subdue a suspect and if it's used properly, it's a very effective tool. Mr. Johnson referred to the suicide case and said the way the law is currently written, the officer that fired the projectile was equivalent to an officer pulling out his 38 mm and shooting the woman in the arm. He said that situation would be totally frowned upon and the officer would be in a lot of trouble, but by statute it's the same because he fired a lethal projectile. He noted that it is the belief of the sponsor that a person acting under training, under the rules of engagement of the Department of Corrections, should not be held accountable as if they pulled out their 38 revolver out and shot someone. He indicated that the purpose of the statute is only for projectiles fired from weapons capable of firing a lethal projectile. It's a fairly narrow definition of what this does. It doesn't take in the new technologies of the nets and the phone and the pepper sprays, but those are not designed to be fired from weapons capable of firing lethal projectiles. CHAIR JAMES said, "The feelings I have on this bill is that I think that it has gone through other committees and come out this way. I'm a little uncomfortable with the defensive weapons that you say that it's the load that makes the determination, not the physical- ness of the weapon. This does have a Judiciary referral, which I feel real comfortable with [Representative] Brian Porter on that and his police experience. I guess without anyone giving me any real ways that we need to amend this bill, I would be comfortable sending it on to Judiciary where it will get another review." Number 0180 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ made a motion to delete "(1)" and ", or (2) defensive weapon" on page 1, line 8, to so it would read: "...use includes the use of a nonlethal firearm." Also, on page 1, line 9, to delete "or a defensive weapon" so it would read "...a nonlethal firearm does not amount to the use of deadly force...." CHAIR JAMES asked whether there was any objection. REPRESENTATIVE RYAN asked Mr. Johnson if the sponsor would be comfortable with the amendments made by Representative Berkowitz. MR. JOHNSON said any time there's a change to someone's bill, there's a certain level of uncomfortableness. He indicated that the bill was drafted with the assistance of the Anchorage Police Officers Association and their attorneys, and it is based on a bill that was drafted out of Iowa and they basically had the same problem. He said, "This bill has been thought out by people who know more about this than I and probably more than the sponsor does." He noted that it was done at the request of the Anchorage Police Department with a lot of input. He said until he can communicate with the sponsor, attorneys, and other people that had input, the sponsor might want to have the opportunity to review the amendment by Representative Berkowitz before it is enacted. Number 0205 CHAIR JAMES said the definition of "defensive weapons" is broad. She indicated that she doesn't expect legislators/staffers to submit legislation to the committee without the possibility of it being amended, and she feels a little uncomfortable that Mr. Johnson is not able to respond to the amendment. However, if the committee passes the amendment and the bill moves to the Judiciary Committee, she would suggest - if the amendment is not a good amendment and if Mr. Johnson has a good argument that it should not be changed - that the sponsor has a right to bring that up when they present the bill to the Judiciary Committee. She indicated if this was the last committee of referral she would like to hold the bill and check with the sponsor, but since it is not, she would rather not hold the bill. MR. JOHNSON reiterated that he still has a certain level of uncomfortableness. CHAIR JAMES said she understands that Mr. Johnson can't tell about another person's comfort level. Number 0216 REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS said he wanted more information on the mechanics of the bill. He said if the committee changes the bill and then it's changed back to it's present form in the next committee because of an argument, he asked, "Does that mean that that is a [committee substitute] CS and it has to go back through the Senate side?" CHAIR JAMES advised that two things can happen: they could amend the bill in committee today and it can go to the Judiciary Committee and Judiciary can take the original bill and not the amended one. She explained that Judiciary cannot take their CS, but they can take the one that State Affairs passes out, and/or if they wanted to, they can do a different CS. She indicated that anytime there is a change to a bill on one side or the other, the bill has to go back for concurrence. She remarked that intense scrutiny of a legislation is certainly warranted. Number 0227 CHAIR JAMES again asked if there was an objection to the motion made by Representative Berkowitz. There being no objection, it was so ordered. Number 0229 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ made a motion to move HCSSB 309 as amended out of committee with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal notes. There being no objection, HCSSB 309(STA) moved out of the House State Affairs Standing Committee. CSSCR 22(STA) - KIDS VOTING ALASKA PROGRAMS CHAIR JAMES announced the next order of business is CSSCR 22(STA), Relating to promotion of Kids Voting Alaska programs, sponsored by Senator Miller. Number 0236 MARY GORE, Legislative Assistant to Senator Mike Miller, Alaska State Legislature, indicated there isn't a sponsor statement because it is self-explanatory. Basically the resolution supports Kids Voting Alaska program which began in Fairbanks in 1992. She stated Kids Voting is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization funded by businesses, (primarily Alyeska, National Bank of Alaska and Carrs Quality Center) and is operated by hundreds of volunteers across the state. MS. GORE said the goal is to teach Alaska youth about the fundamental democratic principals of voting and promote good lifelong voting habits. The curriculum will be taught in at least 35 school districts during the school year and during the next general election. About 90 percent of kids eligible around the state (120,000) will have the opportunity to vote in the general election. MS. GORE indicated she heard about the program through Senator Duncan's staff who actually worked the polls in Juneau, and her kids started talking at the dinner table about the different issues that were going to be on the ballot and about the different people that were up for election. They started encouraging their parents. The children said, "We need to vote mom, we have to go to the poll on the day that they're going to have the election." Ms. Gore said she couldn't say if there was a larger turn out at the polls in Juneau, but she does know that one family felt it was unqualified success just based on the discussion that it led to at their own dinner table. Number 0251 REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS noted this is a good idea. He asked if it's self-explanatory and there's no reason for a sponsor statement why is there a committee substitute. MS. GORE replied in a committee on the Senate side they added two more people that they wanted the resolution sent to. REPRESENTATIVE RYAN said he tracked the kids' voting candidates, their votes versus the general election, and there was a wide disparity between how the kids voted from what they heard in school and how the general population voted. He indicated it favored people not particularly in his party. CHAIR JAMES stated, in that respect, there is that concern and especially in the conservative ranks. She said she shares the concern for the education that we're giving our children not being balanced in many cases. A balanced education is very important and we shouldn't be on one side or the other of the issue. Chair James mentioned the teachers in the North Pole school have done a very good job of making it balanced. MS. GORE noted that the program itself, the curriculum, is designed to be nonpartisan. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ observed the students are voting the right way because they're studying the issues. Number 0271 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN IVAN made a motion to move CSSCR 22(STA) out of committee with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal note. There being no objection, CSSCR 22(STA) moved out of the House State Affairs Standing Committee. HB 44 - ADMISSION TO PIONEERS' HOMES CHAIR JAMES announced the last order of business would be HB 44, "An Act relating to admission to an Alaska Pioneers' Home," sponsored by Representative Tom Brice. Number 0282 REPRESENTATIVE TOM BRICE said the idea of HB 44 came to him during some discussion he was having with some people who were trying to gain admission to the Alaska Pioneers' Home. He informed the committee that the people he spoke with were concerned that the rates were going to grow so fast that they were going to be unable to afford them. He told the committee if a person got on the waiting list for the Pioneers' Home in January under a fixed income which they could afford at that time, and perhaps in a year when they finally gain admittance, that that amount of income would not be sufficient to cover the costs associated with getting in. He said it was suggested that it be put in statute that at the time a person gets on the waiting list, that they be locked in at that rate. He said locking a person in at that rate causes some major constitutional issues about equal protection and equal access, but what can be done is ensuring that a person would not be disqualified from entering the Pioneers' Home based upon their ability to pay. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE noted that the Department of Administration made a suggestion to Section 1 on page 1 beginning on line 9 which reads: An applicant who is otherwise qualified for admission to the home may not be disqualified for admission based on failure to make an initial payment or provide security for the monthly payments provided for in the agreement entered into AS 47.55.030(a) if the commissioner of administration determines that the applicant is financially unable to make the payment or provide the security. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said instead of using the wording "based on failure to make an initial payment" it could be based on some type of statement that the applicant is financially unable to make the initial payment. He said "failure" means a person doesn't pay, even though they might be financially able to, but they don't. CHAIR JAMES suggested using the term "inability" instead of "failure." REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said that would be fine. Number 0303 REPRESENTATIVE RYAN asked, "Isn't this the way the Pioneers' Home was originally set up? That the old people when they reach a certain age they have a place to go." REPRESENTATIVE BRICE stated that we all know what the original purpose of the Pioneers' Home was for. He said he is not quite sure it's necessarily there anymore, but he does know that in the scheme of things, it's very important that the state work with the community in providing long-term care. He said the bill would definitely add a certain amount of comfort in those making application that they know they would not be denied access to the Pioneers' Home based upon ability. CHAIR JAMES said the Pioneers' Home was originally intended for pioneers who had lived in Alaska for 25 years and for those people who were here at statehood. She pointed out that the law cannot require a person to be a pioneer, therefore, the Pioneers' Home has to be open to anyone who has lived in Alaska for one year. Now the Pioneers' Home is a state-paid nursing facility. She said over the last few years the rates have been greatly increased because it is such an expensive operation. Even at the rates people are being charged, it still does not cover the costs. She indicated that all of the people in the Pioneers' Homes are not paying what it costs, but those who can are paying a much higher fee. She noted that there's been a lot of distress from the pioneers on that issue because even though they have the money to pay, they have other things they like to do with their money besides pay for their board and room. When the rates kept rising, they began to worry that they wouldn't be able to stay there anymore. Number 0322 CHAIR JAMES noted that the legislature passed legislation a couple of years ago that said if a person is already in a pioneer home and if the rates increased so that person would not be able to pay anymore, that they can't be kicked out. She said when she evaluates the legality of it with equal protection, if there are some people who are in the pioneer homes who don't have to pay, then the people who are qualified to be in there should be owed the same benefit. If we don't do that, that there might be an opportunity to challenge that. Chair James commented that pioneer homes are an extremely expensive way to provide a home for these people and pointed out that there are other assisted-living homes available, which are much less expensive and more efficient so that people can live more of a normal life instead of an institutional life. In conclusion she said, "We don't have enough places that's why there's a waiting list and I think this is a good way to go on this issue, but it doesn't cover the whole concern that we have, and it's a big one. And I've been very frustrated with this whole issue for the six years I've been here, as to how to manage the growing cost of the pioneers homes. Not necessarily because it doesn't provide a good home for some people, but that it is so extremely costly more than other systems." Number 0337 REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS noted that there is a zero fiscal note and said if people are going to be allowed not to pay, it seems there would be some sort of fiscal note generated. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said, "It's current policy, it's not statute, but it is policy, and as we know, policies can change with the winds of the wind that someone will not be denied admittance. So they are currently doing this." He said his concern is that under the constant pressures that Chair James has brought forth that that policy will change. And that some time in the future it could be reasonably assumed that the administration of the Pioneers' Home would definitely base one's acceptance upon ability to pay. Number 0348 REPRESENTATIVE RYAN made a motion to replace the word "failure" with the word "inability" on page 1, line 10. There being no objection, it was so ordered. Number 0350 REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS made a motion to move HB 44 out of committee as amended with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal note. There being no objection, CSHB 44(STA) moved out of the House State Affairs Standing Committee. REPRESENTATIVE HODGINS noted that Representative Vezey has not been in committee and he has not seen committee packets for him and asked if he is still on the committee. CHAIR JAMES informed the committee that she requested from the leadership to have Representative Vezey replaced. She indicated that the leadership asked her for a list of five names whom she would like on the committee and she gave them a list of four people and she is waiting for a replacement. She pointed out that the replacement has to have certain qualifications and they must be a majority member. CHAIR JAMES announced that the committee would hear SB 105 on Saturday, April 4, regarding ethics and said it is the only item on the agenda. She noted that there is a majority caucus on Saturday as well and asked if any of the members would not be at the meeting. She noted that there wouldn't be enough majority members in attendance for Saturday's committee meeting, therefore, they would not be able to move SB 105 out of committee that day. ADJOURNMENT Number 0377 CHAIR JAMES adjourned the House State Affairs Standing Committee meeting at 8:57 a.m.