Legislature(1997 - 1998)

05/07/1998 09:09 AM Senate FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                  SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                   
                         7 May 1998                                          
                         9:09 A.M.                                           
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.                                                        
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                  
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                  
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                  
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                  
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.                                            
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                  
Co-chair  Sharp  queried  whether   the  amount  of  Medicaid                  
appropriated  by the  state  had failed  to  reach the  whole                  
(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                  
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,                  
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                  
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                  
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.                                             
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.                          
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.                                                             
Co-chair Sharp adjourned the meeting at 11:10 p.m.                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects