Legislature(1997 - 1998)
05/07/1998 09:09 AM Senate FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
MINUTES SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE 7 May 1998 9:09 A.M. TAPES SFC-98, Tape 160, Sides A and B CALL TO ORDER Senator Bert Sharp, Co-chair, convened the meeting at approximately 9:09 a.m. PRESENT In addition to Co-chair Sharp, Senators Pearce, Phillips, Donley, Torgerson, and Parnell were present at the meeting. Also present: Gail Fenumiai, Director, Division of Elections, Office of the Governor; Jim Baldwin, Office of the Attorney General, Department of Law; Senator Mike Miller; Robert Briggs, Attorney, Disability Law Center of Alaska; Nancy Weller, Chief Medical Assistant, Division of Medical Assistance, Department of Health and Social Services; Representative Jerry Sanders; Representative Fred Dyson, Sponsor; Jayne Andreen, Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault; Laurie Hugenin, Director, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault; Anne Carpeneti, Criminal Division, Department of Law. SUMMARY INFORMATION HB 245 DOM.VIOL; ASSAULT; VICTIM/WITNESS CONTACT SCS CSHB 245(HES) was REPORTED out of committee with a "do pass" recommendation and two indeterminate fiscal notes by the Department of Administration and the Department of Corrections and two zero notes by the Department of Administration and the Department of Public Safety. CSHB 257(FIN) am VOTING & ELECTIONS SCS CSHB 257(FIN) was REPORTED out of committee with a "do pass" recommendation and attached fiscal note by the Office of the Governor. HB 303 EXTEND COUNCIL ON DOM.VIOL. & SEX.ASSAULT HB 303 was REPORTED out of committee with a "do pass" recommendation and zero notes by the House State Affairs Committee. CSHB 459(FIN)am MEDICAL ASSISTANCE: DISABLED & OTHERS SCS CSHB 459(FIN) was REPORTED out of committee with a "do pass" recommendation and fiscal notes by the Department of Health and Social Services. HB 488am ROYALTY OIL & GAS DEVEL. ADV. BOARD CSHB 488(FIN) was REPORTED out of committee with a "do pass" recommendation and attached fiscal note by the Department of Natural Resources. HOUSE BILL 257 "An Act relating to elections, to election officials and election workers, to voter registration, and to candidates for election; and providing for an effective date." Co-chair Sharp provided history of the bill, including changes made to meet federal guidelines on purging voting lists. GAIL FENUMIAI, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF ELECTIONS, OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR, provided an overview of the House version of the legislation. She reported that Sections 1 through 4 dealt with maintenance procedures for voter lists, which the Senate Finance Committee had heard and passed earlier in the session. The provision would bring the state into compliance with federal law and would eventually reduce the size of Alaska's voter lists as well as get them more accurate. She noted that the division was not currently able to remove people from the list unless asked to do so by the voter; the division had to follow the precise details outlined in the federal National Voter Registration Act. Ms. Fenumiai continued that Sections 5 and 8 of the bill would provide authority for the division to conduct elections using optical scanning ballot tabulation equipment, the new system the state would purchase in the current year. The division would then have authority to use the equipment and should thereby avoid legal challenges for using it. Ms. Fenumiai turned to Section 6 of HB 257, addressing absentee voting by personal representative. The process would streamline the absentee vote by personal representative, making it easier for both the representative and the voter. It would also add safeguards; the personal representative would be required to show identification and sign a register when using it for the first time. Co-chair Sharp queried the process. Ms. Fenumiai clarified that before the representative would be issued a ballot for the first time they would have to show identification and sign a register. Ms. Fenumiai noted that Section 7 of the bill would deal with absentee voting by facsimile; the division was proposing to extend the application deadline to 5 p.m. the day before the election. Currently, the deadline was four days before the election; after implementing that deadline into statute, the division had found there were many people who were not able to participate because of extenuating circumstances. The division felt the measure would better serve the needs of the voters. Senator Torgerson asked how municipal elections would be affected by the facsimile section. Ms. Fenumiai replied that local municipal ordinance would determine whether voting by facsimile was allowed. Ms. Fenumiai explained that Sections 9 through 12 of the bill would make technical changes to the official election pamphlet. Section 13 would add federal language from the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which would eliminate the state's requirement to pay unemployment taxes for election workers who made less than $1,000 in one calendar year (approximately 2,500 workers); there would be a cost savings of $10,000 to the division every election year (reflected in the fiscal note). Ms. Fenumiai added that the fiscal note attached to the bill was strictly for the list maintenance procedures. Co-chair Sharp asked whether the division was expecting to have the electronic voting devices available for the primary and general elections. Ms. Fenumiai responded that the devices would be available for both elections. Co-chair Sharp asked whether the devices were the ones that had been on display on the second floor. Ms. Fenumiai responded in the affirmative. Co-chair Sharp noted that completing the item was a priority for the lieutenant governor. Senator Torgerson MOVED to ADOPT Work Draft SCS CSHB 257(FIN) (Version "R" dated 5/6/98) as a working document before the committee. There being no objection, it was so ordered. JIM BALDWIN, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF LAW, spoke to the CS. He thought there were two sections that needed to be addressed on the record because the department expected litigation. He stated that the CS could prevent litigation in the next election cycle. Mr. Baldwin detailed that Sections 14 and 15 of the bill would retroactively forgive failure to file a legislative financial disclosure (LFD), a filing required for a candidate for office. Section 16 would have the effect of excusing the failure to file by an incumbent candidate. He referred to a situation in which a filing was not made by April 15 (as required by law); it was made six days late. Section 16 would make a retroactive change in the law that would apply to the particular candidate, make the filing timely, and remove any necessity for the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) from going forward and acting on the late filing. SENATOR MIKE MILLER reported that the CS had been introduced at his request to provide clear intent for the record. Currently, the deadline for filing conflict of interest statements was April 15. The section would move the date back one month; the conflict of interest statements would have to be filed on March 15. There would be a grace period of up to 30 days after March 15 as well, which was not allowed under current law. The intent was that APOC would immediately realize when someone failed to file and would notify the individual right away that the form was not on file. The individual would then have until April 15 to file the form. Currently, the form had to be filed by April 15; the new section would provide an earlier filing date and a grace period if there was a failure to file. He stressed that the net effect was that everything still had to be filed by April 15 under both the old and new laws. Senator Miller reported that he sat on the Conference Committee that had drafted the piece of legislation when it became law in 1992. He stated that it was not the intent of the Conference Committee that there would be the same penalty for willful failure to file as there was for late filing. The current law stipulated the same penalty for refusal to file as late filing, which was an oversight. He believed that someone could file a blank statement, with only their name, and comply with the current law, while someone filing on April 16 with a full statement suffered a drastic penalty. He added that Section 15 was a retroactive clause for the current year. Senator Phillips asked whether the lists would be purged for the current year under the bill. Ms. Fenumiai replied that the division would not be able to start working on the list until January 1999. Senator Pearce MOVED to REPORT SCS CSHB 257(FIN) out of committee with individual recommendations and the attached fiscal note. Co-chair Sharp pointed out that the fiscal note was about the same for the Division of Elections as the fiscal note seen previously. There being no objection, it was so ordered. SCS CSHB 257(FIN) was REPORTED out of committee with a "do pass" recommendation and attached fiscal note by the Office of the Governor. HOUSE BILL 459 "An Act establishing new eligibility for medical assistance for certain disabled persons and giving their eligibility for services the highest priority among optional services and groups under the medical assistance program; amending the definition of 'personal care services in a recipient's home' as used in the medical assistance program; moving midwife services from being the first to being the seventh service eliminated under the medical assistance program when there is insufficient funding; adjusting the priority of optional services and optional eligible groups under the medical assistance program in order to reflect the new priorities given to the newly-eligible disabled persons and to midwife services but without otherwise changing the relative order of the other optional services and optional groups; relating to catastrophic illness assistance; establishing a medical assistance program for chronic and acute medical conditions; and providing for an effective date." Co-chair Sharp provided history of the bill in committee, including concerns about the midwife section. He noted that the sponsor was indifferent to whether the section was in the legislation or not. Senator Phillips MOVED Amendment 1. ROBERT BRIGGS, ATTORNEY, DISABILITY LAW CENTER OF ALASKA, informed the committee that the center was neutral on the position of whether the midwives section should be changed. He opined that the midwifery provisions of the bill should be deleted if the committee was inclined to not act on the bill because of the mix of the two different subjects in the bill. Mr. Briggs maintained that the bill was very important to the disability community and that the proposed amendment would accomplish what was needed. Senator Pearce OBJECTED to the amendment. Senator Donley commented that the amendment would change the title of the bill. There was a discussion about procedure related to changing the title. Senator Donley stated that there had been compelling testimony the day before about the position of the Health, Education, and Social Services Committee related to midwife services; there could be a large potential savings for the program, which would free up funds to provide the services listed. Co-chair Sharp queried whether the amount of Medicaid appropriated by the state had failed to reach the whole list. NANCY WELLER, CHIEF MEDICAL ASSISTANT, DIVISION OF MEDICAL ASSISTANCE, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES (DHSS), responded that the first five services on the list were not covered (midwives, clinical social workers, psychologists, chiropractors, and advanced nurse practitioners). She added that there were three types of advanced nurse practitioners that were mandatory under federal law and covered under the Medicaid program: nurse midwives, pediatric nurse practitioners, and family practice nurse practitioners. Senator Phillips questioned coverage for chiropractors. Ms. Weller responded that chiropractors were only funded for children. Co-chair Sharp asked whether a fiscal note had been prepared by DHSS that at least projected the savings. He noted the additional cost for disabled premiums. Ms. Weller replied that when the amendment was proposed in the House Finance Committee, DHSS reported that it did not have experience with certified direct-entry midwives, though it anticipated there could be some cost savings. There were very few such midwives in Alaska. However, DHSS supported the inclusion of direct-entry midwives in the Medicaid program and had proposed a different way of including direct-entry midwives in the program in the governor's child health insurance program bill, but the change was acceptable to the department. Co-chair Sharp noted that he had kept hearing that there would be savings using the midwives rather than doctors. He asked whether the amounts could be estimated or projected on a per-person basis. He wanted to see the numbers on a fiscal note. Ms. Weller replied that it was possible there could be savings; the department had not received information from the midwives association of how many clients it projected seeing. She stated the issue was more about access to the types of services the clients wanted for maternity and delivery care. She added that certified direct-entry midwives could provide home deliveries. Senator Parnell thought the department should be able to get numbers related to the projected savings. He wanted DHSS to estimate the possible savings. Co-chair Sharp agreed and wanted to see something in writing, at least an estimate in the narrative. He wanted a fiscal note backing up a claim for savings. Senator Parnell asked whether the department could provide the information if the bill moved out of committee. Ms. Weller replied that she would do her best. Co-chair Sharp spoke to expected meetings and possible delays. He requested that a fiscal note be supplied to the committee with projected estimates of how many people would be affected so that the committee could have something to base a decision on. He was concerned that people who would be moved down the list would be upset. Senator Donley agreed that the department should provide the information. He noted that birthing services would be an alternative to doctor services; he did not think expenses would increase, but only decrease. Co-chair Sharp also wanted the total amount paid out to adult dental services, which would be dropped off the list. Senator Parnell thought that would miss the point because people who were eligible could go to a doctor and get reimbursed under the list already for pregnancy-related services; they would go to a midwife instead and get the service provided at less expense. He thought those were the numbers needed from the department. He hoped the department could also say that no other services would be lost as a result of the savings. Co-chair Sharp wanted to see the total cost paid out for adult dental with a comparison with total anticipated savings. He was concerned that people would be upset because they did not qualify for adult dental expenses because the list was changed; he wanted to be able to say that DHSS had assured the committee in a fiscal note. Ms. Weller pointed out that the projected number for adult dental was $4 million per year, limited to emergency treatment of pain and acute infection. She anticipated the services would continue. She recalled intent language in the budget the year prior to restore services 6 through 19; the services were restored with program savings October 12, 1997. Co-chair Sharp suggested moving midwives to position 6 instead of 15, if there was money available. Senator Donley thought the suggestion might be reasonable; however, the title specifically said 1 to 14; the other suggestion would require a title amendment as well. Co-chair Sharp assumed a simple title change could be approved as long as the schedule was adjusted to qualify. He did not think midwife services had gone up to $4 million (the cost of the adult dental). Co-chair Sharp SET ASIDE HB 459 until later in the meeting (pending receipt of the new fiscal note by DHSS). HOUSE BILL 488 "An Act relating to the Alaska Royalty Oil and Gas Development Advisory Board." REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS explained that the bill was an attempt to change the Alaska Royalty Oil and Gas Development Advisory Board in favor of public representation. He reported that the board was currently composed of three commissioners and three public members who had to have a petroleum background. He believed that replacing the commissioner of the Department of Revenue with the commissioner of the Department of Community and Regional Affairs, and the addition of public members with little or no ties with the petroleum industry would result in the board taking more of an interest in the up-front negotiation of crude contracts for local refining and encourage price and supply benefits for Alaskans. Senator Donley MOVED to REPORT HB 488 am out of committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. There being no objection, it was so ordered. CSHB 488(FIN) was REPORTED out of committee with a "do pass" recommendation and attached fiscal note by the Department of Natural Resources. HOUSE BILL 303 "An Act extending the termination date of the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault; and providing for an effective date." Senator Parnell noted that the bill requested extension of the council to the year 2002. He believed the extension was necessary because of the way federal grants were structured. Senator Pearce MOVED to REPORT HB 303 out of committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. There being no objection, it was so ordered. HB 303 was REPORTED out of committee with a "do pass" recommendation and zero notes by the House State Affairs Committee. HOUSE BILL 245 "An Act relating to assault in the fourth degree; relating to the definition of 'crime involving domestic violence' in AS 11; relating to unlawful contact with a victim or witness; relating to rehabilitation programs for perpetrators of domestic violence; amending Rule 5(b), Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure and Rule 404(b), Alaska Rules of Evidence; and providing for an effective date." REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON, SPONSOR, explained that the bill would accomplish four things related to domestic violence. First, it would prohibit domestic violence perpetrators from using their one allowed phone call to call the victim or witnesses in order to intimidate them between the time of arrest and arraignment. He pointed out that the problem had been a significant one. Representative Dyson continued that second, the bill would provide for progressively stiffer presumptive sentences for repeat offenders. Third, it would set standards for the batterers and anger management programs that judges often assigned for perpetrators. Fourth, it would allow (under carefully controlled circumstances) that prior related acts were admissible. The prosecution could ask the judge to admit prior acts (out of the presence of the jury) if there had been a pattern of abuse by the perpetrator that the prosecution wanted to bring forward. Jayne Andreen, Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, testified in support of HB 245. The council believed the four things defined by Representative Dyson were important to strengthen the protection of victims of domestic violence. The first issue (preventing the perpetrator from having phone contact with the victim) had been brought to the council's attention by a police officer who believed there was a problem. She noted that often two officers would be called to a scene. When the officers determined there was probable cause and made an arrest, one officer would take the alleged offender back to be booked and to make a phone call. Sometimes the other officer was at the scene taking the statement of the victim and collecting evidence. In current statute, within 12 hours after an arrest, the alleged offender must be arraigned; at that point the court would decide whether or not there should be contact with the victim. The council believed the 12 hours was important to protect the victim from further intimidation or coercion. Ms. Andreen continued that the item related to minimum prison terms for offenders would apply to fourth-degree assault. The council believed the item was important in terms of giving offenders the information that the crime was serious and had further consequences if it was repeated. The part of the bill addressing the court's ability to approve programs such as anger-management would strengthen language already in statute so that the courts would only used approved programs. LAURIE HUGENIN, DIRECTOR, ALASKA NETWORK ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT, voiced support for the bill and noted written testimony submitted. Senator Donley pointed to page 4, lines 2 through 4, related to prohibiting the defendant from indirect contact with the witness. He asked about the constitutional right to contact witnesses to find out what they would say. ANNE CARPENETI, CRIMINAL DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF LAW, replied that the provision on page 4, lines 4 through 7, gave authority to the judge in sentencing a defendant. After the defendant was convicted, the court would be allowed, although not mandated, under certain circumstances [interruption by tape ending]. [SFC-98, Tape 160, Side B] Senator Parnell MOVED to REPORT SCS CSHB 245(HES) out of committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. There being no objection, it was so ordered. SCS CSHB 245(HES) was REPORTED out of committee with a "do pass" recommendation and two indeterminate fiscal notes by the Department of Administration and the Department of Corrections and two zero notes by the Department of Administration and the Department of Public Safety. RECESSED 10:10 AM. ADJOURNMENT Co-chair Sharp adjourned the meeting at 11:10 p.m.