Legislature(2015 - 2016)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

02/27/2015 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY

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                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       February 27, 2015                                                                                        
                           1:31 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Lesil McGuire, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator John Coghill, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Mia Costello                                                                                                            
Senator Peter Micciche                                                                                                          
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Bill Wielechowski                                                                                                       
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 51                                                                                                              
"An Act  relating to the  Uniform Interstate Family  Support Act,                                                               
including jurisdiction  by tribunals  of the  state, registration                                                               
and  proceedings  related  to support  orders  from  other  state                                                               
tribunals,  foreign   support  orders,  foreign   tribunals,  and                                                               
certain  persons  residing  in  foreign  countries;  relating  to                                                               
determination  of parentage  of  a child;  and  providing for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 49                                                                                                              
"An Act allowing appropriations to  the civil legal services fund                                                               
from court filing fees."                                                                                                        
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB  51                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: UNIFORM INTER.CHILD SUPPORT;PARENTAGE                                                                              
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
02/11/15       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/11/15       (S)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
02/18/15       (S)       JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
02/18/15       (S)       <Above Item Removed from Agenda>                                                                       
02/18/15       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
02/27/15       (S)       JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
BILL: SB  49                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES FUND                                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): MCGUIRE                                                                                                             
02/11/15       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/11/15       (S)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
02/27/15       (S)       JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
CAROL BEECHER, Director                                                                                                         
Child Support Services                                                                                                          
Administrative Services                                                                                                         
Department of Revenue (DOR)                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Introduced SB 51 on behalf of the                                                                        
STACY STEINBERG, Chief Assistant Attorney General                                                                               
Civil Division                                                                                                                  
Collections and Support Section                                                                                                 
Department of Law (DOL)                                                                                                         
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Explained that 42 U.S. Code 666(f) is the                                                                
federal law that says each state must pass and have in effect                                                                   
UIFSA 1996.                                                                                                                     
NIKOLE NELSON, Executive Director                                                                                               
Alaska Legal Services Corporation (ALSC)                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:                                                                                                           
ANDREW GAMBLE, Jr, representing himself                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Said he's a Vietnam veteran speaking in                                                                  
support of SB 49.                                                                                                               
GERALD "SANDY" ROBERTS, representing himself                                                                                    
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 49.                                                                           
ROBBIN SMITH, representing herself                                                                                              
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 49.                                                                           
MARIE DARLIN, representative                                                                                                    
AARP Alaska                                                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 49.                                                                           
DENISE DANIELLO, Executive Director                                                                                             
Alaska Commission on Aging                                                                                                      
Division of Senior and Disabilities Services                                                                                    
Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)                                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 49.                                                                           
NANCY MEADE, General Counsel                                                                                                    
Office of the Administrative Director                                                                                           
Administrative Staff                                                                                                            
Alaska Court System                                                                                                             
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions related to SB 49.                                                                     
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:31:43 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  LESIL   MCGUIRE  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 1:31  p.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order were Senators Costello, Coghill, and Chair McGuire.                                                                       
          SB  51-UNIFORM INTER.CHILD SUPPORT;PARENTAGE                                                                      
1:31:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MCGUIRE announced  the  consideration  of SB  51. "An  Act                                                             
relating to the Uniform Interstate  Family Support Act, including                                                               
jurisdiction  by   tribunals  of  the  state,   registration  and                                                               
proceedings   related  to   support  orders   from  other   state                                                               
tribunals,  foreign   support  orders,  foreign   tribunals,  and                                                               
certain  persons  residing  in  foreign  countries;  relating  to                                                               
determination  of parentage  of  a child;  and  providing for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
1:32:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CAROL BEECHER,  Director, Child Support  Services, Administrative                                                               
Services,  Department  of  Revenue  (DOR), introduced  SB  51  on                                                               
behalf of the administration. She  explained that the bill amends                                                               
the Uniform  Interstate Family Support Act  (UIFSA), which Alaska                                                               
passed  into law  in 1996.  The law  was amended  in 2006  to add                                                               
definitions  and  clarifications.   The  2008  amendments  (UIFSA                                                               
2008), which  are incorporated  in SB 51.  UIFSA 2008  will allow                                                               
U.S. children to receive child  support when one party resides in                                                               
a  different  country.  She  noted that  many  countries  do  not                                                               
process  child  support  orders  in   the  absence  of  a  treaty                                                               
To  provide  some  context  for  the  bill,  she  explained  that                                                               
Alaska's child support program is  authorized under Title IV-D of                                                               
the Social  Security Act and  is matched with 66  percent federal                                                               
funds and  34 percent  state funds. In  FY2015 the  federal match                                                               
was $19 million.  In 2014 the Division of  Child Support Services                                                               
collected approximately  $112 million;  90 percent  goes directly                                                               
to families  and 10 percent  goes to reimburse federal  and state                                                               
government for welfare and foster care assistance.                                                                              
The  Uniform Interstate  Family Support  Act was  written by  the                                                               
Uniform Law  Commission to provide  a framework for  dealing with                                                               
the  enforcement of  orders between  states. Alaska  passed UIFSA                                                               
into law  in 1996 and  all other  jurisdictions had passed  it by                                                               
1998.   In   2007,  the   U.S.   signed   the  Hague   Convention                                                               
("Convention")  on the  international recovery  of child  support                                                               
and other forms  of family maintenance. In 2008,  the Uniform Law                                                               
Commission amended  UIFSA to incorporate the  changes mandated by                                                               
the  Convention.  In  September  2014, Public  Law  113-183,  the                                                               
Preventing Sex  Trafficking and  Strengthening Families  Act, was                                                               
signed into  law. It  requires that  IV-D child  support programs                                                               
pass UIFSA  2008 into law  by July  1, 2015. Federal  funding for                                                               
the  IV-D Child  Support Program  is a  condition of  passage. To                                                               
ensure  uniformity,  the  language  of  UIFSA  2008  may  not  be                                                               
amended. Once  passed, the  new section will  not go  into effect                                                               
until all jurisdictions  have passed it. The treaty  will then go                                                               
back  through  the  congressional process  for  ratification  and                                                               
thereafter go through the process in the Netherlands.                                                                           
Currently, 12 states  have enacted UIFSA 2008 and  20 states have                                                               
introduced legislation.  The remaining states are  in the process                                                               
of drafting the bills.                                                                                                          
1:37:14 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COSTELLO  asked by what authority  the federal government                                                               
can remove funding if the state doesn't pass UIFSA 2008.                                                                        
STACY   STEINBERG,  Chief   Assistant  Attorney   General,  Civil                                                               
Division,  Collections and  Support  Section,  Department of  Law                                                               
(DOL),  explained that  42 U.S.  Code 666(f)  is the  federal law                                                               
that says  each state must  pass and  have in effect  UIFSA 1996.                                                               
Public Law 113-183,  which passed in September,  amended that law                                                               
and requires  each state to  adopt UIFSA  2008 as a  condition of                                                               
receiving federal funding for the state's child support program.                                                                
SENATOR COSTELLO expressed  the wish that states had  a more true                                                               
voice  in  regards  to  making  such  important  changes  without                                                               
risking the loss of federal funds.                                                                                              
1:39:03 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL asked if the formula remains the same.                                                                          
MS. BEECHER confirmed that's correct.                                                                                           
SENATOR  COGHILL asked  if the  federal law  works well  with the                                                               
child support compact between states.                                                                                           
MS. BEECHER  responded that  she believes that  UIFSA is  the law                                                               
that states use when they interact on child support matters.                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  offered his understanding  that the  Uniform Law                                                               
Commission is trying to line up an international treaty.                                                                        
MS. BEECHER clarified that once  all the states have passed UIFSA                                                               
2008  Congress  will  ratify  the  treaty.  Moreover,  it  is  an                                                               
excellent   vehicle  for   states  to   enforce  child   support,                                                               
particularly  for children  who reside  in  the U.S.  and have  a                                                               
parent in a foreign country.                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  asked if  the state has  input when  the Uniform                                                               
Law Commission meets.                                                                                                           
MS.  STEINBERG answered  yes. The  commissioners met  in 2007  or                                                               
2008 in  Montana and  a representative from  the State  of Alaska                                                               
attended  and   gave  input.   The  commissioners   reviewed  the                                                               
procedural terms  of the Convention that  foreign countries agree                                                               
to and  added a  new article to  UIFSA to  specifically implement                                                               
the provisions of the Convention.                                                                                               
SENATOR  COGHILL  asked  what  the  pro and  con  debate  was  in                                                               
MS. STEINBERG  said she wasn't aware  of any pro and  con debate,                                                               
but both the  Senate and House unanimously  passed the Preventing                                                               
Sex Trafficking  and Strengthening  Families Act,  which requires                                                               
states to adopt UIFSA 2008. Ratification was done in 2010.                                                                      
SENATOR COGHILL offered his understanding  that this is a take it                                                               
or leave it decision.                                                                                                           
MS. STEINBERG  agreed; she  added that she  and Ms.  Beecher were                                                               
available  to  answer  questions  now or  after  the  meeting  to                                                               
provide more  input. She noted  that she also provided  members a                                                               
lot of information,  including a copy of the  Convention, to help                                                               
the committee  understand the  provisions and  how it  works with                                                               
child support.                                                                                                                  
1:43:58 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE joined the committee.                                                                                          
SENATOR  COGHILL said  he doesn't  object to  treaties, but  they                                                               
make him nervous.                                                                                                               
MS. STEINBERG offered to give a sectional analysis.                                                                             
CHAIR MCGUIRE  asked Ms. Steinberg  to discuss the  sections that                                                               
contain substantive changes.                                                                                                    
1:48:09 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. STEINBERG told the committee  that Sections 77 and Section 78                                                               
clarify  the 2001  amendment to  UIFSA that  relates to  making a                                                               
controlling order determination for  child support. She continued                                                               
to review the substantive changes, starting with Section 79.                                                                    
     Section 79 amends AS 25.25 to add new sections:                                                                          
     Jurisdiction to  modify child support order  of foreign                                                                  
     country.  Provides  that  when  a  foreign  country  no                                                                  
     longer has  or refuses to exercise  jurisdiction over a                                                                    
     child  support   modification,  Alaska  may   act  over                                                                    
     individuals  subject to  the  personal jurisdiction  of                                                                    
     the  court without  consent and  even when  persons are                                                                    
     not  residents of  this  state and  the  order that  is                                                                    
     issued will be controlling.                                                                                                
     Procedure to  register child  support order  of foreign                                                                  
     country  for modification.  Provides  that  a party  or                                                                  
     child support  enforcement agency  can file  a petition                                                                    
     to modify a foreign registration or at another time.                                                                       
SENATOR  COGHILL  asked who  the  signatories  are of  the  Hague                                                               
Convention. He  specifically asked about Asian  countries because                                                               
of the large Asian population in Alaska.                                                                                        
MS.  STEINBERG replied  about 30  companies, including  the U.S.,                                                               
have signed  on. She named  them and  confirmed that no  Asian or                                                               
South  American   countries  had  signed  on   and  ratified  the                                                               
1:53:13 PM                                                                                                                    
     Section 80 amends AS 25.25.71  to remove the procedures                                                                  
     on  parentage  and  creates  definitions  for  sections                                                                    
     25.701  to  25.713 regarding  initiating,  registering,                                                                    
     contesting,  enforcing, and  modifying support  orders.                                                                    
     Definitions     include     "application,"     "central                                                                    
     authority,"   "convention   support   order,"   "direct                                                                    
     request,"   "foreign   central   authority,"   "foreign                                                                    
     support   agreement,"   and  "United   States   central                                                                    
     Section 81 amends AS 25.25 by adding new sections:                                                                       
     Applicability. Provides that  sections 25.701 to 25.713                                                                  
     only  apply  to  child support  proceedings  under  the                                                                    
     Hague Convention.                                                                                                          
     Relationship  of  child   support  services  agency  to                                                                  
     United  States  central  authority. Provides  that  the                                                                  
     federal  Department of  Human  Services has  recognized                                                                    
     the Alaska child support services  agency as the agency                                                                    
     that may act under the convention.                                                                                         
     Initiation by child support  services agency of support                                                                  
     proceeding  under the  convention.  Specifies that  the                                                                  
     Alaska   child   support   services   agency   provides                                                                    
     enforcement  services in  child support  proceedings to                                                                    
     establish,  modify,   and  enforce  child   support  in                                                                    
     foreign and domestic proceedings.                                                                                          
     Direct  request.   Provides  that  an   individual  may                                                                  
     request  to  establish,  modify,  or  enforce  a  child                                                                    
     support order  under the applicable laws  of the state,                                                                    
     but does not require  the child support services agency                                                                    
     to provide  assistance to the petitioner  who is filing                                                                    
     the request.  This section  provides that  the statutes                                                                    
     applying to the  convention do not prohibit  the use of                                                                    
     the simplified  and expedited rules  in Alaska  law for                                                                    
     recognition and enforcement of foreign support orders.                                                                     
     Registration of convention  support order. Provides the                                                                  
     necessary  documents  to  register  a  foreign  support                                                                    
     order  including: the  order  and  verification of  its                                                                    
     enforceability in  the country it came  from, the total                                                                    
     arrears, and the due process  rights of the respondent.                                                                    
     This section provides  that the court does  not have to                                                                    
     register  an  order  if  it  finds  that  it  would  be                                                                    
     contrary to public policy and  must promptly notify the                                                                    
     parties if the order is not registered.                                                                                    
     Contest   of  registered   convention  support   order.                                                                  
     References   to  statutes   that  apply   to  contested                                                                    
     registration  of  a  support  order  and  provides  the                                                                    
     regulations for  registering a support order  under the                                                                    
     Hague  Convention,   specifically  the   timelines  for                                                                    
     contesting  registration and  the basis  for contesting                                                                    
     the registration.                                                                                                          
     Recognition  and enforcement  of registered  convention                                                                  
     support order.  Provides the circumstances  under which                                                                  
     Alaska may refuse  to register a support  order that is                                                                    
     under the Hague Convention.                                                                                                
     Partial enforcement.  Provides that when one  part of a                                                                  
     foreign order can  be enforced and one  part cannot the                                                                    
     court shall enforce the part that can be enforced.                                                                         
     Foreign  support agreement.  Provides  the terms  under                                                                  
     which  a foreign  support agreement  can be  recognized                                                                    
     and enforced in Alaska.                                                                                                    
     Modification   of  convention   child  support   order.                                                                  
     Provides that an Alaska tribunal  cannot modify a child                                                                    
     support order when  the obligee is still  a resident of                                                                    
     the foreign  country where the order  was issued unless                                                                    
     that obligee  agrees that Alaska has  jurisdiction, the                                                                    
     foreign court refuses to  exercise jurisdiction, or the                                                                    
     order  could not  be registered  because of  a lack  of                                                                    
     jurisdiction,  fraud, or  lack of  authenticity of  the                                                                    
     order in the foreign jurisdiction.                                                                                         
     Personal   information;   limit    on   use.   Personal                                                                  
     information under these section is  only to be used for                                                                    
     the purposes for which it was gathered.                                                                                    
     Record  in  original   language;  English  translation.                                                                  
     Provides that  a record of  the court  proceedings from                                                                    
     the foreign  country must be  in its  original language                                                                    
     and  if  not  in  English must  come  with  an  English                                                                    
     Sections  82  through  84  makes  conforming  technical                                                                  
     Section 85  clarifies that  uniformity is  promoted and                                                                  
     Section  86  repeals   AS  25.25.205(f),  25.25.206(c),                                                                  
     25.25.301(b), and 25.25.401(c).  These sections address                                                                    
     spousal support. A new  section, 25.25.281 will address                                                                    
     spousal support. See Section 25 of the bill.                                                                               
     Section 87 Applicability. Adds  that the effective date                                                                  
     applies  to proceedings  that are  started on  or after                                                                    
     the  effective  date  of  this act  to  any  action  to                                                                    
     determine  parentage, or  register, recognize,  modify,                                                                    
     or enforce an order or agreement.                                                                                          
     Section  88 Transition  provisions.  Provides that  the                                                                  
     Department   of  Revenue   may  adopt   regulations  to                                                                    
     implement changes by this act.                                                                                             
     Section 89  Revisor's instruction. Directs  the revisor                                                                  
     to  change  the headings  or  catch  lines for  certain                                                                    
     affected sections of the chapter.                                                                                          
     Section  90  Effective  date.  Section  88  addressing,                                                                  
     addressing regulations, is effective immediately.                                                                          
     Section 91  Effective Date. The  Act is  effective July                                                                  
     1, 2015.                                                                                                                   
1:55:56 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL asked if current statutory regulations will need                                                                
to be changed.                                                                                                                  
MS. STEINBERG replied none have been identified.                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL observed that the capacity for public comment on                                                                
regulations appears to be limited.                                                                                              
MS.  STEINBERG  replied there  is  a  public comment  period  for                                                               
regulations.  Responding to  a further  comment,  she said  there                                                               
isn't be much  flexibility but the regulations that  are in place                                                               
will probably be sufficient.                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL asked  if this  helps  or hinders  communication                                                               
between states and nations.                                                                                                     
MS.  STEINBERG  replied  UIFSA makes  interstate  enforcement  of                                                               
collecting support  much more efficient  and effective.  The goal                                                               
of  the  multilateral  treaty  is   to  extend  that  to  foreign                                                               
2:01:14 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL spoke  to the importance of  getting the original                                                               
order right.                                                                                                                    
MS.  STEINBERG agreed,  and added  that the  other goal  in child                                                               
support enforcement is  the requirement for all states  to have a                                                               
uniform  set  of child  support  guidelines  that can  be  easily                                                               
SENATOR COSTELLO asked  how many Alaska children  are involved in                                                               
child  support services  and  how many  have  parents in  foreign                                                               
MS.  BEECHER  advised  that  about  49,000  Alaska  children  are                                                               
currently  in a  child support  case. Based  on a  sample survey,                                                               
about 42 percent have a parent who lives outside the U.S.                                                                       
SENATOR COGHILL  expressed interest in  knowing how many  are and                                                               
are not European.                                                                                                               
MS.  BEECHER  responded  that,  based  on  the  sample,  a  large                                                               
majority are German.                                                                                                            
CHAIR MCGUIRE  thanked the  presenters for the  work they  do for                                                               
2:04:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MCGUIRE  announced  she  would  hold  SB  51  for  further                                                               
                SB  49-CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES FUND                                                                            
2:04:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MCGUIRE announced  the  consideration of  SB  49. "An  Act                                                               
allowing  appropriations to  the civil  legal services  fund from                                                               
court  filing  fees." She  explained  that  she  introduced  this                                                             
legislation  after getting  involved with  Alaska Legal  Services                                                               
Corporation (ALSC)  to help  women who  were victims  of domestic                                                               
Speaking as sponsor,  she explained that she  introduced the bill                                                               
in  previous  legislatures  to   look  at  funding  Alaska  Legal                                                               
Services  from  the  punitive  damages  fund.  The  current  bill                                                               
proposes taking 25 percent of the  annual filing fees paid to the                                                               
Alaska  Court  System.  She believes  that  ALSC  should  receive                                                               
adequate  funding because  it serves  people who  would otherwise                                                               
not have legal representation.                                                                                                  
2:06:10 PM                                                                                                                    
NIKOLE   NELSON,  Executive   Director,  Alaska   Legal  Services                                                               
Corporation (ALSC), explained  that ALSC is a  nonprofit law firm                                                               
that has been  providing free legal help  for low-income Alaskans                                                               
for the past  45 years. Their mission is to  ensure that everyone                                                               
is  treated fairly  in  the justice  system.  ALSC provides  free                                                               
legal  help so  people can  protect their  livelihoods, families,                                                               
health,   and  safety.   They  provide   individual  advice   and                                                               
representation,  self-help  materials, community  education,  and                                                               
clinics.  The work  is done  by  regional staff  attorneys in  11                                                               
offices statewide and a network of pro-bono volunteers.                                                                         
She reviewed  the types of  cases and highlighted that  last year                                                               
ALSC provided direct representation in  2,600 cases and served an                                                               
estimated   43,000   individuals   through  their   website.   An                                                               
additional   2,000   people   attended  self-help   clinics   and                                                               
workshops. She  reported that a  recent outcome study  found that                                                               
ALSC  was  successful getting  positive  results  for clients  86                                                               
percent  of the  time, and  that there  was a  5:1 return  on the                                                               
funds invested in the program.                                                                                                  
2:10:15 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. NELSON  highlighted the  problem that ALSC  had to  turn away                                                               
one person  for each  one it helped  last year due  to a  lack of                                                               
resources.  In  1984 ALSC's  appropriation  was  $1.2 million  to                                                               
serve   a  poverty   population  of   about  40,000.   Today  the                                                               
appropriation  is $550,000  and the  poverty population  is about                                                               
106,000. She  urged the committee  to help ensure that  access to                                                               
justice is  a reality for  all Alaskans,  not just those  who can                                                               
afford an attorney. Passing SB  49 would allow the legislature to                                                               
appropriate  up to  25 percent  of the  Court System  filing fees                                                               
into the  civil legal services  fund. The legislature  would then                                                               
have discretion  to appropriate that  amount each year  to Alaska                                                               
Legal Services Corporation or  other organizations providing free                                                               
legal aid to low-income Alaskans.                                                                                               
2:12:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL   asked  what   other  funding   ALSC  receives,                                                               
including private sources.                                                                                                      
MS. NELSON replied a variety  of federal, state and private funds                                                               
make up  the $4.2  million budget. ALSC  receives funds  from the                                                               
federal government, community partners,  private fund raising and                                                               
foundation support.                                                                                                             
SENATOR COGHILL asked how the federal government provides funds.                                                                
MS. NELSON explained that Congress  makes an annual appropriation                                                               
to  the  national  Legal  Services  Corporation  and  each  state                                                               
receives  a  share  based on  its  poverty  population.  Although                                                               
Alaska's poverty  population is  growing, the  poverty population                                                               
in the  Lower 48  is growing  at a much  higher rate  so Alaska's                                                               
share of the appropriation is reduced.                                                                                          
SENATOR COGHILL asked how ALSC  is connected to the federal Legal                                                               
Services Corporation.                                                                                                           
MS. NELSON clarified  that the Legal Services  Corporation is not                                                               
a federal  agency, but it  receives an annual  appropriation from                                                               
Congress and  then disburses grants  to recipients in  each state                                                               
based on the poverty population in the particular state.                                                                        
SENATOR  COGHILL asked  how much  the Legal  Services Corporation                                                               
receives from Congress on an annual basis.                                                                                      
MS. NELSON  replied she  didn't have  that information;  she only                                                               
knew what ALSC has received.                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL  expressed concern  that  the  state is  already                                                               
paying for legal services through  the Public Defender Agency and                                                               
the Office of  Public Advocacy, but acknowledged  that ALSC cases                                                               
cover a larger  breadth. He said he appreciates  and respects the                                                               
work that ALSC has done  helping victims of domestic violence and                                                               
veterans, but he  struggles with the time spent  on larger social                                                               
questions like  the Pebble Mine issue.  "Sometimes we're actually                                                               
helping you sue the state. Sometimes  the state is a bad actor; I                                                               
get it.  Sometimes it's a  larger social question; you  don't get                                                               
me on that," he said.                                                                                                           
MS. NELSON clarified  that Alaska is not an  outlier in receiving                                                               
federal grant monies and that  ALSC is not duplicating legal work                                                               
of state agencies.                                                                                                              
She further clarified that Alaska  Legal Services Corporation did                                                               
not take a  position on the merits of the  Pebble Mine case. ALSC                                                               
filed  an  amicus brief  when  the  case  was before  the  Alaska                                                               
Supreme Court addressing the question  of whether or not pro-bono                                                               
attorneys have  to disclose all  their finances.  ALSC's position                                                               
was that  it would be a  barrier to getting private  attorneys to                                                               
volunteer their time  if it would require that  they disclose all                                                               
their personal finances.                                                                                                        
SENATOR COGHILL expressed appreciation for the explanation.                                                                     
2:20:34 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE  stated support for  the merits of the  bill and                                                               
clarified that ALSC  only takes on civil cases. It's  a pool that                                                               
isn't available elsewhere, he said.                                                                                             
SENATOR  COGHILL  expressed concern  about  the  cost benefit  of                                                               
taking  cases to  the Alaska  Supreme  Court and  asked for  help                                                               
putting it in context.                                                                                                          
MS. NELSON  replied ALSC  takes on  about 2,600  individual cases                                                               
each  year and  a  very  small number  (perhaps  one percent)  go                                                               
before the  Alaska Supreme  Court. Examples of  the cases  at the                                                               
trial court  level might  include a  victim of  domestic violence                                                               
who was  awarded custody  of her children.  If it's  appealed the                                                               
next stop is  the supreme court and  ALSC has to follow  it up to                                                               
ensure that the mother retains  custody. There isn't anybody else                                                               
to stand in  and preserve her rights. When any  case is appealed,                                                               
the   victim  needs   representation   through  the   complicated                                                               
appellate system to preserve their rights.                                                                                      
SENATOR  COGHILL expressed  concern with  establishing a  funding                                                               
stream that is "free."                                                                                                          
CHAIR MCGUIRE opened public testimony.                                                                                          
2:27:12 PM                                                                                                                    
ANDREW  GAMBLE, Jr,  representing himself,  Juneau, Alaska,  said                                                               
he's a  Vietnam veteran speaking in  support of SB 49.  He shared                                                               
the story of  Alaska Legal Services Corporation  helping him when                                                               
he  tried  to  settle  his mother's  estate.  They  returned  his                                                               
quality of life.                                                                                                                
2:31:31 PM                                                                                                                    
GERALD  "SANDY" ROBERTS,  representing  himself, Juneau,  Alaska,                                                               
testified in  support of SB  49. He shared  the story of  being a                                                               
three-tour Vietnam  veteran who  was injured  in the  service. He                                                               
was  reinjured years  later but  unable to  get veteran  benefits                                                               
because his  records were  lost or  destroyed. If  someone hadn't                                                               
finally suggested he go to  the Alaska Legal Services Corporation                                                               
for help, he would probably be a veteran on the streets.                                                                        
SENATOR  COSTELLO  thanked both  veterans  for  their service  to                                                               
their country.                                                                                                                  
2:37:22 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBBIN SMITH, representing  herself, Anchorage, Alaska, testified                                                               
in support  of SB 49. She  shared that the Alaska  Legal Services                                                               
Corporation  gave  her the  courage  to  fight back  against  the                                                               
domestic violence in  her life. They provided  support and helped                                                               
her navigate  the legal system to  get a divorce and  get custody                                                               
of her children.                                                                                                                
2:40:08 PM                                                                                                                    
MARIE  DARLIN,  representative,   AARP  Alaska,  Juneau,  Alaska,                                                               
testified in  support of SB 49.  She noted the letter  of support                                                               
in  the  packets  that  articulates  AARP's  support  for  having                                                               
alternative  mechanisms for  funding  the  Alaska Legal  Services                                                               
Corporation. In  particular, ALSC has a  long, successful history                                                               
of service to older Alaskans.                                                                                                   
2:41:29 PM                                                                                                                    
DENISE DANIELLO, Executive Director,  Alaska Commission on Aging,                                                               
Department  of Health  and Social  Services (DHSS),  testified in                                                               
support  of  SB 49.  She  highlighted  that seniors  have  unique                                                               
financial, health  care, and social  needs. Many live on  a fixed                                                               
income and  receive extensive  help from  ALSC. She  informed the                                                               
committee that several years ago  the commission and ALSC applied                                                               
for a grant  through the U.S. Administration on  Aging to provide                                                               
workshops  for  seniors  to  help   establish  wills,  powers  of                                                               
attorney,  conservatorships,  and  guardianships. The  money  was                                                               
used to support travel for an  ALSC attorney to go to communities                                                               
that didn't  have an ALSC  presence. Helping seniors  gain access                                                               
to the civil justice system was greatly appreciated, she said.                                                                  
2:43:30 PM                                                                                                                    
NANCY  MEADE,  General  Counsel,  Office  of  the  Administrative                                                               
Director, Administrative  Staff, Alaska Court  System, introduced                                                               
SENATOR  COSTELLO asked  what impact  the bill  will have  on the                                                               
Court System.                                                                                                                   
MS. MEADE replied  the Court System does not  anticipate a fiscal                                                               
impact should  SB 49  pass. All  the fees  that are  collected go                                                               
straight  to  the  general  fund  and  the  court  has  no  input                                                               
SENATOR  COSTELLO asked  how much  the Court  System collects  in                                                               
filing fees.                                                                                                                    
MS. MEADE advised that the amount  doesn't vary much from year to                                                               
year. In  FY2014 the  court collected  $2,252,900; 25  percent of                                                               
that  is $563,225.  Looking back  five years,  25 percent  of the                                                               
totals  range  from  $563,000  to $660,000.  She  noted  that  in                                                               
response  to the  state's fiscal  picture, the  supreme court  is                                                               
considering raising  the filing fees  by July 1 to  coincide with                                                               
the new  fiscal year.  Based on  the information  she's received,                                                               
that could  mean the court  would collect  up to $1  million more                                                               
per year.                                                                                                                       
SENATOR COSTELLO asked if the filing fees vary.                                                                                 
MS. MEADE  replied the court  administrative rules list  the fees                                                               
based on the court. For example,  the filing fee for an appeal is                                                               
$150 and the  filing fee in superior court for  a divorce or some                                                               
other civil  matter is  also $150.  If the case  can be  filed in                                                               
district court  because the amount  in controversy is  lower, the                                                               
filing fee  is $90.  There are waivers  for indigent  parties and                                                               
the court doesn't collect filing  fees from state agencies, which                                                               
means there are no filing fees for criminal cases.                                                                              
2:48:41 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MICCICHE asked Ms. Nelson  to address whether or not poor                                                               
Alaskans have more availability  to legal representation than the                                                               
average Alaskan  because Senator  Coghill's question  about equal                                                               
access and the cost benefit of cases is legitimate.                                                                             
MS.  NELSON explained  that ALSC  attorneys meet  once a  week to                                                               
talk about which cases to take  on. They are prioritized based on                                                               
family safety and economic stability,  although some grants allow                                                               
prioritization in  other areas.  The economic benefit  study that                                                               
looked at the  outcomes of ALSC's work showed that  80 percent of                                                               
the cases were settled without going to court.                                                                                  
SENATOR MICCICHE asked if additional  funding would allow ALSC to                                                               
expand its  scope and  perhaps take on  civil cases  that Senator                                                               
Coghill fears because they're social or environmental in nature.                                                                
MS. NELSON  answered no;  ALSC's core function  is to  serve low-                                                               
income people in  civil cases when they  can't get representation                                                               
anywhere else. They  would not move into  environmental or social                                                               
work if they had additional resources.                                                                                          
SENATOR COGHILL  disclosed that  he worked  with ASLC  on veteran                                                               
allotments. He reiterated that before  the legislature provides a                                                               
funding  stream, he  wants assurance  that all  needy people  are                                                               
2:55:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   MCGUIRE  stated   support  for   Alaska  Legal   Services                                                               
Corporation  and  the  safety  net  it  provides  for  low-income                                                               
CHAIR MCGUIRE held SB 49 in committee for further consideration.                                                                
2:57:23 PM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair McGuire  adjourned the Senate Judiciary  Standing Committee                                                               
meeting at 2:57 p.m.                                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB51 Sectional Analysis.pdf SJUD 2/27/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SB51 Doc_1 Uniform Law Commission Summary.pdf SJUD 2/27/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SB51 Doc_2 UIFSA (2008) Why States Should Adopt.pdf SJUD 2/27/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SB51 Doc_3 Uniform Law Commission Map of States.pdf SJUD 2/27/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SB51 Doc_4 UIFSA Testimony_Beaver.pdf SJUD 2/27/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SB51 Doc_5 Letter to House State Affairs Committee.pdf SJUD 2/27/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SB51 Doc_6 Supporting At-Risk Kids Act.pdf SJUD 2/27/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SB51 Doc_7 HCCH International Recovery of Child Support.pdf SJUD 2/27/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SB51 Doc_8 HCCH Countries.pdf SJUD 2/27/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SB51 Doc_9 US Senate Press Release.pdf SJUD 2/27/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SB51 Doc_10 Public Law Strengthening Families Act.pdf SJUD 2/27/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 51
SB51 Doc_11 Title 42 Public Health and Welfare.pdf SJUD 2/27/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 51