Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/14/1996 09:10 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                   
                        February 14, 1996                                      
                            9:10 A.M.                                          
  SFC-96, #24, Sides 1 & 2                                                     
  SFC-96, #25, Side 1                                                          
  CALL TO ORDER                                                                
  Senator  Rick Halford,  Co-chair,  convened  the meeting  at                 
  approximately 9:10 A.M.                                                      
  In  addition  to  Co-chairman  Halford,  Co-chairman  Frank,                 
  Senators Phillips,  Sharp, Donley,  Rieger and  Zharoff were                 
  present when the meeting was convened                                        
  Also  Attending: Representative  Con  Bunde; Patty  Swenson,                 
  Administrative  Assistant  to  Rep.  Bunde; Anne  Carpeneti,                 
  Criminal  Division,   Department   of   Law;   Tom   Wright,                 
  Administrative   Assistant  to   Rep.  Ivan;   Bob  Jenkins,                 
  Executive Director, Alaska  Public Broadcasting  Commission;                 
  Bob  Bartholomew, Deputy  Director,  Income  & Excise  Audit                 
  Division,  Department  of  Revenue; Dave  Tonkovich,  Fiscal                 
  Analyst,  Legislative   Finance  Division;   and  aides   to                 
  committee members.                                                           
  SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                          
       CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 38(JUD) am                                        
       "An  Act relating  to criminal sentencing;  relating to                 
  good time      credit; relating to the availability for good                 
  time credit for     offenders  convicted  of  certain  first                 
  degree murders; relating      to definite sentences, parole,                 
  good time credit, pardon,     commutation    of    sentence,                 
  modification or reduction of  sentence,  reprieve, furlough,                 
  and service of sentence at a  correctional       restitution                 
  center for offenders with at least      three serious felony                 
  convictions; and amending Alaska Rule of     C r i m i n a l                 
  Procedure 35."                                                               
  Testimony was given  by the  sponsor of the  bill, Rep.  Con                 
  Bunde.  Amendment  #4, submitted by Senator Donley was moved                 
  and adopted.   Amendment #2  was withdrawn and  Amendment #3                 
  failed  adoption.  SCSCSHB  38 (FIN)  was reported  out with                 
  fiscal  notes  from   the  Alaska   Court  System,   $167.9;                 
  Department   of   Public   Safety,   zero;   Department   of                 
  Corrections, zero; Department of Law, $213.3; Senate Finance                 
  Committee/Department  of  Administration   (Public  Defender                 
  Agency), $106.6  and Senate Finance  Committee/Department of                 
  Administration (Office of Public Advocacy), $106.6.                          
       HOUSE BILL NO. 269                                                      
       "An Act relating  to credits against certain  taxes for                 
       contributions to certain  public educational radio  and                 
       television networks and stations  and to endowments for                 
  public    educational  radio  and  television networks;  and                 
  providing for  an effective date."                                           
  Testimony was  given in  support of  HB 269  by Tom  Wright,                 
  Administrative Assistant to Representative  Ivan.  Testimony                 
  was also  given by  Bob Bartholomew.   HB  269 was  held for                 
  further discussion.                                                          
       HOUSE BILL NO. 38                                                       
       "An Act  relating to  criminal sentencing;  relating to                 
  the  availability  for   good  time  credit   for  offenders                 
  convicted of   certain  first  degree  murders; relating  to                 
  mandatory life      imprisonment, parole, good  time credit,                 
  pardon, commutation      of   sentence,    modification   or                 
  reduction of sentence, reprieve,   furlough, and service  of                 
  sentence at a correctional    restitution     center     for                 
  offenders with at least three      s e r i o u s f e l o n y                 
  convictions; and amending Alaska Rule of                                     
  CriminalProcedure 35."                                                       
  Representative Con Bunde was invited  to join the committee.                 
  Co-chairman Halford advised that amendment #1 was previously                 
  adopted and that amendments #2, 3 and 4 would be reviewed.                   
  Senator  Zharoff  called  attention  to  a letter  from  the                 
  Department of  Law correcting  their position   on  the bill                 
  that  they  neither  support  nor  oppose HB  38.    Senator                 
  Phillips appreciated letter from Anne Carpeneti.                             
  Senator Donley referred to amendment #4 and the existing law                 
  requiring mandatory  ninety-nine  year  sentences  for  very                 
  serious classes of  homicide.   This amendment would  extend                 
  the  prohibition  on  good time  to  those  crimes currently                 
  subject  to   the  mandatory   ninety-nine   year  term   of                 
  imprisonment.  An ascending level of punishment must be kept                 
  for more serious crimes and homicide  ought to have the most                 
  serious level of punishment in the statutes.                                 
  Senator Rieger commented on release  under furlough and what                 
  types exist.   Senator Donley  stated there is  furlough for                 
  personal family matters,  the early furlough  program, death                 
  in the family; furlough also refers  to when the prisons are                 
  overcrowded  and  they decide  to  let someone  loose early.                 
  This is  a special  classification not  relevant to  parole,                 
  probation, mandatory  or discretionary  parole.   This is  a                 
  creative way to free up room in the prisons.                                 
  Representative  Bunde  advised  furlough   only  applies  to                 
  medical, family visitation or funeral and  furloughed person                 
  would be accompanied by a corrections  officer.  In cases of                 
  murder there is no furlough.  Discussed "good time".                         
  Senator Rieger referenced the medical  furlough and when the                 
  measure was pushed through so federal  funds could be picked                 
  up for medical care and doesn't want to catch something here                 
  that will cost the State a lot of money.                                     
  Senator Donley stated  that his  amendment #4 just  conforms                 
  this to  the prohibition  on any  type of  furlough for  the                 
  third  strike bill.  Someone who falls  in this  category is                 
  banned from any type of furlough.                                            
  Representative  Bunde  commented  that   there  is  furlough                 
  allowed  but  they  must  be  accompanied by  a  corrections                 
  Senator  Frank  asked  for  further  clarification  on  this                 
  amendment.    Senator  Donley  stated  that any  third  time                 
  offender who falls under this bill would not be eligible for                 
  furloughs or good time.  This would include anyone under the                 
  ninety-nine year  mandatory homicide statute also.   Senator                 
  Sharp also commented  on the amendment regarding  good time.                 
  Co-chairman Halford concurred  and stated there would  be no                 
  fiscal impact on this amendment.  He also voiced his concern                 
  that  no    administration  would  try  to  furlough  people                 
  convicted of the worst aggravated murder.                                    
  Representative Bunde  also concurred  and felt  amendment #4                 
  did not fall out of the scope of the bill.                                   
  Co-chairman and Senator Phillips  discussed Senator Rieger's                 
  comments on  medical furlough and  the costs.    Co-chairman                 
  Frank  also  voiced concern  over  release  of  a long  term                 
  prisoner  with terminal illness and  then they could pay for                 
  their own medical.                                                           
  Co-chairman Halford advised that WITHOUT OBJECTION amendment                 
  Senator Donley introduced amendment #3  and his concern over                 
  "good  time" for multiple offenders. A reoffender can be put                 
  back in for the term of their probation or any discretionary                 
  parole period but  they don't  lose their good  time.   This                 
  bill will take away  good time between the second  and third                 
  Representative Bunde commented that "good time" only applies                 
  after you are  the third time  loser.  A second  time felony                 
  offender could still get  out on good time.   Senator Donley                 
  advised  that the amendment  #3 provided that  a second time                 
  felony  offender  would  lose  good  time earned  for  first                 
  offense.  Senator Phillips agreed.                                           
  Senator Frank  asked if second offense would  generally be a                 
  presumptive  sentence  and  Senator Donley  advised  that  a                 
  second felony offense  would be.   The judge  would have  no                 
  discretion in the sentence other than  with aggravators.  He                 
  would  have flexibility  in  dealing with  how  much of  the                 
  former mandatory  and  discretionary parole  that  could  be                 
  reinstated.  An  offender under this amendment would have to                 
  go back  and serve any good  time earned in addition  to the                 
  sentence.     Senators  Donley  and  Phillips   discussed  a                 
  hypothetical armed robbery and how  under this amendment the                 
  "good time" earned for the second  stretch would be lost and                 
  the offender would have to  go back and serve any  good time                 
  earned on the  first offense.   A judge  would be  prevented                 
  from running this concurrent with the sentence imposed.                      
  Representative  Bunde voiced  concern in  protection of  the                 
  public and what can be afforded.   This amendment would have                 
  significant fiscal impact.  The  idea is laudable but  would                 
  prefer that it be drawn as a  separate bill.  He agreed with                 
  Senator Phillips that the concept of his  bill is to lock up                 
  the offender but doesn't feel that  locking up a second time                 
  felony offender for an additional  three years, earned "good                 
  time", would serve as  a detriment.  Would rather  achieve a                 
  bill for the worst predators that is still affordable.                       
  Senator Donley  called to  the attention  of his  colleagues                 
  that we are  faced with  a federal mandate  that states  are                 
  complying with for truth in  sentencing, which requires that                 
  an  85%  standard  be adopted.    States  not  adopting this                 
  standard will lose  federal funds.  Our  liberal "good time"                 
  provision   would   not    comply   with   this    standard.                 
  Representative Bunde agreed  that this was a  good amendment                 
  and would support a new bill.                                                
  Senator Phillips commented  on the  fiscal impact and  would                 
  this kill the bill.    Representative Bunde advised  that he                 
  made a number of compromises that he would  not have made if                 
  not concerned about the fiscal  impact.  Co-chairman Halford                 
  will defer to the sponsor.                                                   
  Senator Zharoff voiced concern in keeping  the criminals off                 
  the street and  that by imposing  service of "good time"  on                 
  second  felony offense this would  keep the offender off the                 
  street long enough  so they would not commit the same  crime                 
  again.   Representative  Bunde  concurs  with  the  premise.                 
  Department of  Corrections is  constitutionally required  to                 
  rehabilitate people and "good time" is  used as a reward for                 
  rehabilitation.   "Good  time" keeps    convicts  reasonably                 
  happy and something  to work  towards.  The  fiscal drag  of                 
  including this amendment  will keep  the three strikes  bill                 
  from passing.  However, Senator Zharoff felt that keeping an                 
  offender in for a longer period of time would mean that upon                 
  release they would be in an older age group  and therefore a                 
  lessor   potential   of    committing   a   third   offense.                 
  Representative Bunde agreed  but would  rather see the  good                 
  pass  now  than  wait  for  the  perfect which  may  not  be                 
  Upon a vote taken amendment #3 FAILED ADOPTION.                              
  Senator Donley introduced amendment #2. The maximum monetary                 
  penalty for murder is $500,000.   Under Alaska State law the                 
  maximum is only $75,000.  Under the amendment class A felony                 
  should  be $250,000  and  $500,000  for  homicide.   We  are                 
  severely  under the     Federal standards and  courts should                 
  have  the  discretion  to  issue these  kinds  of  fines  if                 
  appropriate  in these serious  cases.   Representative Bunde                 
  agreed with the  goal but not the vehicle.   It goes outside                 
  the scope of the basic three strikes bill.  The gain  is not                 
  worth the challenge  to the  bill.  Would  support a  second                 
  bill on this matter.                                                         
  Senator Halford inquired as  to if a fine proposal  was ever                 
  received from  the Court System.   Senator Rieger  stated he                 
  would be  happy to work  with Senator Donley on  a day fines                 
  bill that he  has in subcommittee  to see if some  penalties                 
  can be drafted that make some sense.                                         
  Senator Donley WITHDRAWS  amendment #2 pending  consultation                 
  with the  prosecutors.  The  bill is discretionary  and only                 
  gives judges more options.                                                   
  Senator  Sharp  MOVES  SCSCSHB  38  (FIN)  as  amended  with                 
  accompanying fiscal notes with individual recommendations.                   
  Senator  Donley  commented  on  discrepancy  between  public                 
  defender and prosecutor  fiscal notes.  He had  no objection                 
  to moving the  bill and Co-chairman Halford agreed.  Senator                 
  Donley felt it  would be important  to talk to the  criminal                 
  justice folks; specifically in Bethel  there is a full  time                 
  public   defender  but   the   prosecutor   just  flies   in                 
  occasionally.  A serious need for additional prosecutors was                 
  indicated.  This also included Kotzebue.  Appropriate fiscal                 
  notes  would  help  deal  with  this imbalance  between  the                 
  prosecutors and the defense.   Co-chairman Halford stated he                 
  was willing  to changing  the recommendation  on the  fiscal                 
  notes.  Senator Frank  commented on how this money  could be                 
  allocated  between  OPA  and  the  Public  Defender.    Some                 
  discussion was held regarding possible allocations.  Senator                 
  Rieger  inquired   would  there  be  a  slow   down  on  the                 
  calendaring of trials because of the budget.  Senator Donley                 
  again referred to the collateral attacks as discussed at the                 
  last hearing.  Senator Frank commented on the possibility of                 
  limiting  the use  of  funds to  look at  prior convictions.                 
  Senator  Donley said  that he  was  still looking  into this                 
  Co-chairman  Halford stated   that there  was a  proposal to                 
  amend the fiscal notes splitting an equal amount between the                 
  public defenders  and the  public advocates.   NO  OBJECTION                 
  being heard SCSCSHB 38 (FIN) with individual recommendations                 
  and  modifications  to the  fiscal  notes was  MOVED  out of                 
       HOUSE BILL NO. 269                                                      
       "An Act relating  to credits against certain  taxes for                 
       contributions to  certain public educational  radio and                 
       television networks  and stations and to endowments for                 
  public    educational  radio  and  television networks;  and                 
  providing for  an effective date."                                           
  Tom Wright, staff to Representative Ivan was invited to join                 
  the committee and  offered this testimony regarding  HB 269.                 
  Referred to work draft numbered  9-LS0937\Z.  Changes in  CS                 
  title reflect the  removal of those sections  addressing the                 
  fisheries taxes from  the CS.  Sections  2, 4, 6, 8,  and 10                 
  would  reduce  the amount  of the  tax  credit for  the next                 
  $300,000 in contributions from  100% to 90%.   Also included                 
  is a  change in the sunset  date from December  31, 2000, to                 
  December 31,  2001.  Sections 3, 5, 7,  9 and 11 the changes                 
  in  these  sections  reflect  the  amended  portion  of  the                 
  sections where the  contribution for  the next $300,000  has                 
  been  reduced  from 100%  to 90%.    Credits may  not exceed                 
  $320,000  through  December 31,  2001.   The  amount  in the                 
  version passed by  the House  totaled $350,000.   In the  CS                 
  previously before  you sections  12 through  16 establishing                 
  credits for fisheries taxes were deleted.   The section that                 
  allowed tax credits for shared revenues in the fish taxes by                 
  both the state  and municipalities  was also deleted.  Final                 
  change was in  the effective  date in section  13 which  was                 
  changed from January  1, 1966 to  January 1, 1997.   Advised                 
  co-chairman Halford that this would  require a resolution on                 
  a title change and a new fiscal note.                                        
  Co-chairman Halford  noted that  the fiscal  notes are  two-                 
  sided;   one   being  a   savings   in  the   Department  of                 
  Administration and  the  other  is  a revenue  loss  in  the                 
  Department  of Revenue.   No conclusion has  been reached at                 
  this time.   Requested document  showing existing University                 
  credit system, the proposed changes in the original bill and                 
  the  proposed  changes  in  the  CS  so questions  on  first                 
  $100,000,  the  next  "X"  amount,  the percentage  and  the                 
  limitation  on  the  overall   percentage  of  business   or                 
  corporations  tax  return  can  be focused  on.    Then  the                 
  negative  revenue  fiscal  note  can  be balanced  with  the                 
  beneficial fiscal note in the administration fiscal note.                    
  Tom Wright indicated  that a fiscal  note was received  from                 
  the Department of Revenue based on the present CS.                           
  Co-chairman   Frank   voiced   concern  over   institutional                 
  advertising on a  public broadcasting  station.  Tom  Wright                 
  said  that  Public   Broadcasting  Commission  could  better                 
  address  the  concerns.    Senator  Sharp also  voiced  same                 
  concerns.  Would also like to see, whenever any publicity is                 
  given on a donation resulting from legislation, a disclaimer                 
  in the  news  article  stating these  funds  are  an  actual                 
  reduction of this  corporation's tax liability to  the State                 
  of Alaska.   Co-chairman Frank  and Senator Sharp  discussed                 
  the fact that the public is deceived on this matter.                         
  Senator Phillips  deals with  the subcommittee that  handles                 
  public television and  noted that if public  television were                 
  eliminated  then  there  would be  a  balance  regarding the                 
  current  State  share general  fund  dollars.    Co-chairman                 
  Halford  advised  that  the latest  fiscal  note  reads $2.6                 
  million per year.  Co-chairman Frank discussed   question of                 
  distribution  of  our  public treasury.    Money  for public                 
  broadcasting has  been appropriated in a lump  sum basis and                 
  it  has  been doled  out in  a  fair fashion  throughout the                 
  State.  Concern  for smaller stations in  outlying areas and                 
  that  this  may be  the only  communication system  in rural                 
  Alaska.  Senator Phillips responded as to division  of funds                 
  between public radio and public television.  Senator Halford                 
  cautioned  the  effect  of  cuts   on  smaller  area  public                 
  broadcasting  stations and  possible options  that  could be                 
  Tom  Wright  informed the  committee  there is  a non-profit                 
  public  broadcast  endowment   trust  benefiting  the  small                 
  stations.  It  represents all  public broadcast stations  at                 
  this time and can be donated  to by anyone in order to  help                 
  the small stations out.                                                      
  Senator Zharoff voiced concern about advertising also.                       
  Bob Jenkins, Executive Director,  Alaska Public Broadcasting                 
  Commission was invited to  join the committee.  He  said the                 
  Alaska  Public Broadcasting  Commission fully  supports this                 
  bill  and  is  consistent with  long-term  planning  that is                 
  ongoing.   Federal grant  of $954,000  funded the  satellite                 
  interconnection.    Several  regional  radio  networks  have                 
  formed consortiums to share facilities.  Advised co-chairman                 
  Frank that public broadcasting  stations are restricted from                 
  accepting  advertising.    Explained function  of  endowment                 
  trust.  Co-chairman Halford felt there would be less concern                 
  about the taxpayer choices  if it were going through  a more                 
  public system rather than a trust.  Mr. Jenkins advised that                 
  the two are  interrelated and  interdependent.  Pointed  out                 
  the sunset provision and  its primary benefit may be  in the                 
  five-year  period  to  fuel  a  trust  that  works  off  the                 
  endowment principal.                                                         
  Bob  Bartholomew,  Deputy  Director,  Income  &  Excise  Tax                 
  Division was  invited to  join the  committee and  explained                 
  that no more  than a $320,000  credit could be taken  across                 
  all the  taxes.  There is  a limit of $320,000  covering all                 
  the taxes.  Explained attempt to  estimate the increase that                 
  would  happen  both  on education  institution  side  of the                 
  credit or the  public broadcasting and the  current estimate                 
  of what the total potential loss in revenue is.  The maximum                 
  contribution would be limited to $400,000 and $320,000 would                 
  be credited against state  taxes.  Tax liability   cannot be                 
  reduced below  fifty percent.    Multiple corporations  must                 
  file  under  parent  corporation and  the  parent  takes the                 
  credit.  A  quick overview was  given.  Voiced concern  over                 
  the  intent  of  credit and  noted  that  the department  is                 
  willing  to discuss  the  problems.   In  answer to  Senator                 
  Zharoff's  question advised that the fiscal note is based on                 
  current legislation.  It is not a high figure when the trend                 
  over the  past few years  is looked at.   Tried to  strike a                 
  balance  between  the  old and  new  corporations  and their                 
  (tape changed to SFC-96, #25, Side 1                                         
  Co-chairman Halford questioned regarding maximum exposure on                 
  large corporations  and difficulties  faced  by the  smaller                 
  corporations and the combination of credits.                                 
  Bill held before the committee awaiting  further information                 
  from the Department of Administration.                                       
  The meeting was adjourned at approximately 10:41 A.M.                        

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