Legislature(2017 - 2018)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
04/10/2017 01:30 PM JUDICIARY
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ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE April 10, 2017 1:35 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator John Coghill, Chair Senator Mia Costello Senator Kevin Meyer Senator Pete Kelly Senator Bill Wielechowski MEMBERS ABSENT All members present COMMITTEE CALENDAR CONFIRMATION HEARINGS Alaska State Commission for Human Rights Drew Phoenix - Fairbanks David A. Barton - Anchorage - CONFIRMATIONS ADVANCED Alaska Judicial Council Lynn Gallant - Anchorage - CONFIRMATION ADVANCED SENATE BILL NO. 58 "An Act relating to the Department of Law public advocacy function to participate in matters that come before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission." - HEARD & HELD COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 108(JUD) "An Act adopting and relating to the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act; and relating to a specific electronic communications power that a principal may select for an agent under the statutory form power of attorney." - MOVED CSHB 108(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 100 "An Act relating to municipal liens." - MOVED SB 100 OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL NO. 106 "An Act allowing appropriations to the civil legal services fund from court filing fees." - MOVED SCS HB 106(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION BILL: SB 58 SHORT TITLE: DEPT OF LAW: ADVOCACY BEFORE FERC SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR 02/13/17 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 02/13/17 (S) RES, JUD, FIN 03/20/17 (S) RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205 03/20/17 (S) Heard & Held 03/20/17 (S) MINUTE(RES) 03/22/17 (S) RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205 03/22/17 (S) Moved SB 58 Out of Committee 03/22/17 (S) MINUTE(RES) 03/23/17 (S) RES RPT 2DP 4NR 1AM 03/23/17 (S) DP: GIESSEL, COGHILL 03/23/17 (S) NR: HUGHES, VON IMHOF, STEDMAN, MEYER 03/23/17 (S) AM: WIELECHOWSKI 04/10/17 (S) JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg) BILL: HB 108 SHORT TITLE: FIDUCIARY ACCESS TO DIGITAL ASSETS SPONSOR(s): CLAMAN 02/08/17 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 02/08/17 (H) L&C, JUD 03/08/17 (H) L&C AT 3:15 PM BARNES 124 03/08/17 (H) Heard & Held 03/08/17 (H) MINUTE(L&C) 03/10/17 (H) L&C AT 3:15 PM BARNES 124 03/10/17 (H) Moved HB 108 Out of Committee 03/10/17 (H) MINUTE(L&C) 03/13/17 (H) L&C RPT 7DP 03/13/17 (H) DP: SULLIVAN-LEONARD, STUTES, WOOL, JOSEPHSON, BIRCH, KNOPP, KITO 03/24/17 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120 03/24/17 (H) Heard & Held 03/24/17 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 03/29/17 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120 03/29/17 (H) Moved CSHB 108(JUD) Out of Committee 03/29/17 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 03/31/17 (H) JUD RPT CS(JUD) NT 2DP 5NR 03/31/17 (H) DP: LEDOUX, CLAMAN 03/31/17 (H) NR: EASTMAN, KOPP, KREISS-TOMKINS, FANSLER, REINBOLD 04/05/17 (H) TRANSMITTED TO (S) 04/05/17 (H) VERSION: CSHB 108(JUD) 04/06/17 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 04/06/17 (S) JUD 04/10/17 (S) JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg) BILL: SB 100 SHORT TITLE: MUNICIPAL LIENS: AUTHORITY FOR & PRIORITY SPONSOR(s): EGAN BY REQUEST 03/29/17 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 03/29/17 (S) JUD 04/07/17 (S) JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg) 04/07/17 (S) Heard & Held 04/07/17 (S) MINUTE(JUD) 04/10/17 (S) JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg) BILL: HB 106 SHORT TITLE: CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES FUND SPONSOR(s): FANSLER 02/06/17 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 02/06/17 (H) JUD, FIN 02/15/17 (H) JUD AT 1:30 PM GRUENBERG 120 02/15/17 (H) Heard & Held 02/15/17 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 02/20/17 (H) JUD AT 1:30 PM GRUENBERG 120 02/20/17 (H) Moved HB 106 Out of Committee 02/20/17 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 02/22/17 (H) JUD RPT 3DP 1NR 02/22/17 (H) DP: KOPP, FANSLER, CLAMAN 02/22/17 (H) NR: REINBOLD 03/06/17 (H) FIN AT 1:30 PM HOUSE FINANCE 519 03/06/17 (H) Heard & Held 03/06/17 (H) MINUTE(FIN) 03/16/17 (H) FIN AT 1:30 PM HOUSE FINANCE 519 03/16/17 (H) Moved HB 106 Out of Committee 03/16/17 (H) MINUTE(FIN) 03/17/17 (H) FIN RPT 6DP 4NR 03/17/17 (H) DP: KAWASAKI, ORTIZ, GUTTENBERG, GRENN, SEATON, FOSTER 03/17/17 (H) NR: WILSON, PRUITT, THOMPSON, TILTON 03/24/17 (H) TRANSMITTED TO (S) 03/24/17 (H) VERSION: HB 106 03/27/17 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 03/27/17 (S) JUD, FIN 04/07/17 (S) JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg) 04/07/17 (S) Heard & Held 04/07/17 (S) MINUTE(JUD) 04/10/17 (S) JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg) WITNESS REGISTER DAVID A. BARTON, Appointee Alaska State Commission for Human Rights Anchorage, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Testified as appointee to the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights. DREW PHOENIX, Appointee Alaska State Commission for Human Rights Fairbanks, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Testified as appointee to the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights. LYNNE GALLANT, Appointee Alaska Judicial Council Anchorage, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Testified as appointee to the Alaska Judicial Council. ED SNIFFEN, Assistant Attorney General Civil Division Regulatory Affairs & Public Advocacy (RAPA) Department of Law Anchorage, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced SB 58 on behalf of the administration. SARA PERMAN, Staff Representative Matt Claman Alaska State Legislature Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Provided supporting information for HB 108. DEBRA BEHR, Member Alaska Delegation Uniform Law Commission Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 108. SENATOR DENNIS EGAN Alaska State Legislature Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 100 KATHY WASSERMAN, Executive Director Alaska Municipal League Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 100. BILL FALSEY, Municipal Attorney Municipality of Anchorage Anchorage, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 100. MARY SCHLOSSER, Staff Representative Zach Fansler Alaska State Legislature Juneau, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Provided supporting information related to HB 106. NIKOLE NELSON, Executive Director Alaska Legal Services Corporation Anchorage, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Provided supporting data for HB 106. JOSHUA HEMSAPH, representing himself Anchorage, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of the appointment of Drew Phoenix for a position on the State Commission for Human Rights. REVEREND DR. MARTIN ELDRED, representing himself Eagle River, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of the appointment of Drew Phoenix for a position on the State Commission for Human Rights. REVEREND MICHAEL BURKE, representing himself Anchorage, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of the appointment of Drew Phoenix for a position on the State Commission for Human Rights. REVEREND JULIA SEYMOUR, representing herself Anchorage, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of the appointment of Drew Phoenix for a position on the State Commission for Human Rights. ACTION NARRATIVE 1:35:31 PM CHAIR JOHN COGHILL called the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee meeting to order at 1:35 p.m. Present at the call to order were Senators Costello, Kelly, Wielechowski, and Chair Coghill. Senator Meyer joined the committee during the introductory remarks. ^Confirmation Hearings CONFIRMATION HEARINGS Alaska State Commission for Human Rights Alaska Judicial Council 1:37:19 PM CHAIR COGHILL announced the first order of business would be confirmation hearings of governor appointments to boards and commissions. He asked David Barton to tell the committee about his interest in serving on the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights. 1:38:30 PM DAVID A. BARTON, Appointee, Alaska State Commission for Human Rights, Anchorage, Alaska, said works for the Northwest ADA Information Center, specializing in technical assistance and training for disability laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act. He brings that expertise to the commission. He has provided training and technical assistance across the state for employers and state and local government bodies. His interest in serving on the commission is to ensure that disability receives more focus for nondiscrimination. CHAIR COGHILL asked if he had attended any commission meetings. MR. BARTON said no but he attended an orientation meeting. CHAIR COGHILL asked his perspective of the current human rights statutes as they relate to the commission's work. MR. BARTON clarified that he is not an advocate; his role has been as a neutral party to help both the person with a disability and the employer understand the law and court rulings and come to some sort of resolution. That is what makes him a good candidate for the commission. 1:44:31 PM SENATOR MEYER noted he is a cancer survivor and asked why his resume says his interest in starting a marijuana business may be a conflict of interest. MR. BARTON replied he wanted full disclosure if he did decide to open a marijuana business. SENATOR KELLY asked if he is familiar with the resolution the Human Rights Commission passed on November 2 regarding gender identity and sexual orientation. MR. BARTON said no. SENATOR KELLY explained his question is based on resolution that indicates that the current commission wants regulatory authority to address discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This is despite the fact that the current human rights statutes do not include that. He read the resolution. He asked Mr. Barton if he understands that the commission is charged with carrying out the existing statutes. MR. BARTON answered yes. SENATOR KELLY asked if he believes the commission has the authority to promulgate and enforce regulations that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity even though that is not in the statutes. MR. BARTON replied not if it's not in the statute at this time. 1:49:31 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if he received a two-page letter from anyone in the legislature with written questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. MR. BARTON said no. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if it would indicate that discrimination was occurring if one candidate was asked a series of questions about sexual orientation and gender identity and another candidate was not asked those questions. MR. BARTON said he'd need more details. CHAIR COGHILL said it's hypothetical and he didn't know that he'd push for an answer, "but the even handedness of asking questions of both appointees is probably the place to go." SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if it would indicate there was discrimination if one candidate was asked a detailed series of questions and another candidate was not asked the questions. MR. BARTON replied he would not say it is discrimination to ask candidates different questions. SENATOR KELLY said he started to ask Mr. Barton the same questions he sent Mr. Phoenix, but his first answer indicated he understands the role of the Human Rights Commission. 1:52:06 PM CHAIR COGHILL thanked Mr. Barton for being willing to serve. MR. BARTON thanked the committee for the opportunity and offered to answer additional questions as they might come up. CHAIR COGHILL stated that the committee would next hear from Drew Phoenix, appointee to the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights. He asked Mr. Phoenix to proceed as he saw fit. 1:53:19 PM DREW PHOENIX, Appointee, Alaska State Commission for Human Rights, Fairbanks, Alaska, suggested it might be easier if he responded to questions as Senator Kelly asks them. SENATOR KELLY asked Mr. Phoenix if he supports the Human Rights Commission action when it passed Resolution 2016-02 concerning regulations about sexual orientation and gender identity. MR. PHOENIX stated that he does support the resolutions. "It furthers the commission's mission of protecting Alaskans from discrimination. And it's consistent with the developing body of law interpreting the term 'sex.'" SENATOR KELLY asked if the developing body of law is state or federal law. MR. PHOENIX replied both the federal EEOC and the April 4, 2017 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals opinion in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College that "sex" includes "sexual orientation." SENATOR KELLY asked if he believes that the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights currently has the authority to promulgate and enforce regulations that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. MR. PHOENIX replied: The commission has the authority to adopt procedural and substantive regulation to define terms found in the Alaska Human Rights Law. So interpreting the term "sex" to include "sexual orientation" is consistent with the federal EEOC as well as the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Given that, I believe the commission would be within its authority to interpret the term as these two entities have done so. But as with any administrative body, there are limits to the authority to promulgate regulations, but these limits are generally worked out in the process of adopting the regulation such as the legislature's Administrative Regulation Review Committee, which would examine and comment on any proposed regulations or within the core system. Without a thorough briefing, I would not be prepared to say today that the commission does not have the authority to adopt a regulation interpreting the term "sex." SENATOR KELLY asked if a school would be guilty of discrimination if it prohibited a student who is biologically male, but whose gender identity is female, from using the girl's bathroom and joining the girl's athletic team. 1:57:45 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI called a point of order. He said he assumes that this hypothetical question will be prohibited just as his earlier question was deemed hypothetical and thus prohibited. CHAIR COGHILL asked Senator Kelly if he could narrow his question. SENATOR KELLY replied, "I just want to know if the candidate would think that the Human Rights Commission has the authority to claim that discriminatory based on the Alaska statutes. If you don't want to allow that, it's fine." CHAIR COGHILL said the question is fine, but the hypothetical nature is problematic. SENATOR KELLY said Mr. Phoenix isn't as much a concern as the comments and direction the current Human Rights Commission is taking. "If the candidate wants to serve the state of Alaska, all right. I don't want to put them on any kind of undue cross examination. I'm more concerned about the commission and if this well-meaning person wants to join the commission, God bless him. I may not vote for him, but I kind of want to know what they're going to do with a commission that is already a little bit rogue." He withdrew any further questions. CHAIR COGHILL asked Mr. Phoenix if he wanted to comment on the Senator's point. MR. PHOENIX asked if he was referring to the hypothetical on the high school student. CHAIR COGHILL mentioned the gender identity bill being debated in another committee and the controversy over bathroom use based on gender at birth as opposed to gender identity. He posited that the issue would make its way into the Human Rights Commission if it hasn't already. MR. PHOENIX said he believes there is a lot of misunderstanding about what it means to be transgender. He continued: There is no risk posed to the public by allowing transgender individuals to use the bathroom that corresponds to their identity. And there is no evidence of a problem with abuse of gender identity protections for the purpose of accessing bathrooms. On the other hand, study after study suggests that the rate of suicide among transgender youth goes down in places where there are greater legal protections. But of course, the courts will have to consider the evidence and the current state of the law when determining whether illegal discrimination has occurred. CHAIR COGHILL advised that the committee was trying to determine how he would look at the law and if he would defer to the legislature for policy calls. And I think both you and Mr. Barton have got a depth of knowledge in your respective arenas and we were just trying to figure out - and I even called Mr. Barton an advocate and I think I even called you an advocate because when you're knowledgeable in a certain area, certainly that is going to become a focus for being on the commission. So those are legitimate areas for discussion and I think you just nailed it saying that the law would be your driver, if I understand correctly. MR. PHOENIX replied, "That is correct." CHAIR COGHILL thanked Mr. Phoenix and noted that four people wanted to testify on his behalf. He advised that the public testimony would be heard during the last 15 minutes of the meeting. 2:03:30 PM CHAIR COGHILL asked Lynne Gallant to tell the committee about her interest in serving on the Alaska Judicial Council. 2:03:54 PM LYNNE GALLANT, Appointee, Alaska Judicial Council, Anchorage, Alaska, said she works part time as a neonatal nurse at Providence Alaska Medical Center. When Governor Walker was elected, she applied for the Board of Nursing as a professional and the Alaska Judicial Council as a public member. She attended her first meeting several weeks ago when the council evaluated 17 applicants for the two Anchorage Superior Court positions. It was an eye opening and interesting experience and she looks forward to continuing that work if confirmed. CHAIR COGHILL asked what was new or surprising when she attended the meeting. MS. GALLANT said she was struck by the quality of the attorneys and public members on the council and with the diligence with which they reviewed and evaluated the judicial candidates. CHAIR COGHILL thanked Ms. Gallant for being willing to serve. MS. GALLANT mentioned pending legislation and offered her perspective on professional versus public members that serve on boards and commissions. SENATOR KELLY asked if Board of Nursing members are confirmed by the legislature. MS. GALLANT replied she did not believe so. CHAIR COGHILL stated that the names considered today would be forwarded to the full legislature for consideration. SB 58-DEPT OF LAW: ADVOCACY BEFORE FERC 2:11:27 PM CHAIR COGHILL announced the consideration of SB 58. 2:12:17 PM ED SNIFFEN, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, Regulatory Affairs & Public Advocacy (RAPA), Department of Law, Anchorage, Alaska, introduced SB 58 on behalf of the administration. He reminded the members that public utilities and pipelines in Alaska are regulated by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA). The RCA pays for the regulations by assessing the utilities a regulatory cost charge (RCC), which is passed along to consumers through their utility bills. To ensure that the public interest is protected, the attorney general is allowed by statute to participate before the RCA to make sure those rates are just and reasonable; DOL also receives part of that regulatory cost charge. MR. SNIFFEN said he had a short PowerPoint to help explain what the regulatory cost charge is and where it comes from. What is the regulatory cost charge (RCC)? The RCC is a fee assessed on public utilities and pipelines that are regulated by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA). It is created by AS 42.05.254 and AS 42.06.286. Who Pays RCCs? Utilities and pipelines that are regulated by the RCA, including over 125 public utilities and about 20 common carrier pipelines with in-state deliveries. These utilities and pipelines may pass the charge on to customers that benefit from RCA regulation. Each year, the RCA assesses RCCs to utilities and pipelines based on the amount of work required for each industry sector. What does the RCC pay for? The money collected in the RCC provides funding for the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA), which is responsible for the economic regulation of public utilities and intrastate common carrier pipelines in Alaska, and the Regulatory Affairs and Public Advocacy (RAPA) section in the Department of Law, which is charged with advocating for the public interest in matters related to the economic regulation of public utilities and pipelines. It pays for just and reasonable rates for utility and pipeline customers. How much is it? Total RCCs cannot exceed 0.87 percent of the adjusted gross revenue (revenue derived from operations in Alaska) of the regulated utilities and pipelines. Statute allocates that 0.87 percent between the RCA and RAPA. RCCs funding the RCA cannot exceed 0.7 percent and RCCs funding RAPA cannot exceed 0.17 percent. RAPA's 2017 Budget. For 2017, the statutory cap for the Department of Law was $2,374,390. The budget submitted last year was for $2,333,700, which is $40,690 under the cap. The pie chart shows that DOL spent about 7 percent of the time on pipeline matters that came before the RCA; the rest of the time was spent on utility matters. SB 58 doesn't ask to grow the size of the pie; it would just allow DOL to change the shape of the pieces. What would SB 58 change? This bill does not change the 0.17 percent RCC cap or create new authority for the attorney general to participate in matters before FERC. The bill will allow some costs incurred by the department in matters before FERC (TAPS pipeline tariffs) in the pipeline RCC. This bill might increase the amount of RCC allocated to pipelines. Because the size of the "pie" is not changing, an increase in the pipeline RCC would reduce the RCC paid by utilities. 2:16:52 PM How would SB 58 impact consumers? Pipelines can pass the RCC on to customers for in-state shipments. This increase would not be significant because the cost is spread across all regulated pipelines and each unit of oil or gas shipped. For example, adding $100,000 to the pipeline RCC for the last two quarters of 2016 would increase the pipeline RCC surcharge by about 0.041 percent. A $10,000 billing to a pipeline customer would increase by $4.10. The $4.10 surcharge helps ensure the $10,000 bill is "just and reasonable." Why now? For over 30 years, outside counsel has represented the state on FERC pipeline matters. To reduce costs, DOL is developing the necessary expertise and bringing more of this work in-house. In the process of budgeting for this increased in-house workload and searching for budget efficiencies, it came to our attention that the RCC may be an appropriate funding source. Will SB 58 impact AK LNG? No. Is there a check on RCC spending? Yes. RCCs to fund RAPA cannot exceed the 0.17 percent cap. RAPA's budget is submitted to the RCA for review of RAPA's certified costs in a public docket where any interested party can comment. 2:18:23 PM SENATOR MEYER asked if the attorney general him/herself participates as a party before the RCA or his or her designee. MR. SNIFFEN replied the attorney general designee, generally someone in the RAPA section. SENATOR COSTELLO asked if the RCA has an opinion on the bill. MR. SNIFFEN replied DOL has talked with the RCA on several occasions and it has not voiced opposition. CHAIR COGHILL noted that, as judiciary chair, he has not received any negative comments from the RCA. SENATOR MEYER informed members that RCA Commissioner Norm Rokeberg testified in support of the bill in a previous committee. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked how much the statutory cap would need to be increased to fully cover RAPA's budgetary needs. MR. SNIFFEN estimated that the 0.17 percent cap would need to be increased to 0.23 percent. CHAIR COGHILL thanked Mr. Sniffen and announced he would hold SB 58 in committee for further review. HB 108-FIDUCIARY ACCESS TO DIGITAL ASSETS 2:21:06 PM CHAIR COGHILL announced the consideration of HB 108. [CSHB 108(JUD) was before the committee.] 2:21:28 PM SARA PERMAN, Staff, Representative Matt Claman, Alaska State Legislature, stated that this legislation is a companion to Senator Hughes's bill regarding fiduciary access to digital assets. Both sponsors believe this topic is important because Alaska has a large and rapidly growing senior population. The House Judiciary Committee passed a committee substitute (CS) that adopts the language in SB 16. She deferred explanation to Ms. Behr. 2:22:35 PM DEBRA BEHR, Member, Alaska Delegation, Uniform Law Commission, Juneau, Alaska confirmed that CSHB 108(JUD) incorporates the material in SB 16. The only major difference was in Section 1 that deals with the Alaska statutory power of attorney form. Someone who uses the statutory form found on page 3, lines 26- 28, can affirm that they want their fiduciary to have access to their electronic communications. She provided an example to demonstrate the importance of an individual either signing the online tool or giving explicit authority to access their electronic communications. This is a statutory form that needs to be changed, she said CHAIR COGHILL found no questions and solicited a motion. 2:25:16 PM SENATOR COSTELLO moved to report CSHB 108(JUD), version R, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). SENATOR COGHILL found no objection and CSHB 108(JUD) was reported from the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee. SB 100-MUNICIPAL LIENS: AUTHORITY FOR & PRIORITY 2:26:10 PM CHAIR COGHILL announced the consideration of SB 100. SENATOR DENNIS EGAN, sponsor of SB 100, Alaska State Legislature, stated that the bill has no opposition. 2:27:04 PM KATHY WASSERMAN, Executive Director, Alaska Municipal League, Juneau, Alaska, described SB 100 as a housekeeping bill that will fix an unintended consequence and allow municipalities to again file leans. They were prohibited following the Cutler v. Kodiak Island Borough decision. She noted the letters of support from Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks, Kenai, Sitka, and Kodiak. 2:28:16 PM BILL FALSEY, Municipal Attorney, Municipality of Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska, advised that the Anchorage Assembly last year identified a legislative priority to change state law and restore the ability of municipalities to protect citizens by recording liens. SB 100 would accomplish that goal. It addresses an unintended consequence of a lawsuit concerning disgruntled citizens who filed liens against the personal property of the Anchorage mayor and various assembly members. He said that municipal liens were swept into the same net when that nefarious practice was eliminated. He suggested members look at Title 34 and the variety of liens the legislature allows for citizens to secure their debts. 2:30:26 PM CHAIR COGHILL found no questions and solicited a motion. 2:30:50 PM SENATOR COSTELLO moved to report SB 100, version J, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). CHAIR COGHILL announced that without objection, SB 100 is reported from the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee. HB 106-CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES FUND 2:31:16 PM CHAIR COGHILL announced the consideration of HB 106 and noted that this was the second hearing. He asked the sponsor's staff if she had anything to add before he proposed an amendment. 2:31:55 PM MARY SCHLOSSER, Staff, Representative Zach Fansler, Alaska State Legislature, pointed out that 48 other states fund organizations like the Alaska Legal Services Corporation and 33 of those states use court fees to do so. CHAIR COGHILL observed that this is a funding source that has been debated for many years and he struggles with designated financing. He advised that he would offer an amendment to reduce the appropriation from 25 percent to five percent. 2:33:41 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked what percentage other states use to fund their civil legal services organizations. MS. SCHOLSSER said it varies depending on the size of the state. She suggested Ms. Nelson might have additional information. 2:34:48 PM NIKOLE NELSON, Executive Director, Alaska Legal Services Corporation, Anchorage, Alaska, agreed with Ms. Scholsser that the funding is based on the population of the state. Large states such as Texas provide $8-9 million in a straight appropriation plus $14-15 million in a fee appropriation. Wyoming, which is comparable to Alaska, appropriates $1.3 in filing fees per year. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked how much Alaska currently appropriates. MS. NELSON replied the appropriation for ALSC is currently $450,000. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI observed that HB 106 would bring Alaska close to Wyoming. CHAIR COGHILL mentioned the amendment he intended to offer. 2:36:13 PM SENATOR COSTELLO noted that ALSC is prohibited from participating in certain cases, one of which is cases where a private attorney would take the case on a contingency fee basis. She asked, "How do you find out whether or not an attorney would take such a case?" MS. NELSON said there are two means. First, ALSC does not take personal injury cases because private attorneys typically take those types of cases on a contingency fee basis. Second, ALSC does not take cases it determines a private attorney might be willing to take. In that instance ALSC requires the person to get three refusals from the private bar. 2:37:19 PM SENATOR MEYER asked if some lawyers do pro bono work on these cases. MR. NELSON said yes; over 100 cases per year are taken on by private attorneys through ALSC's pro bono program. She estimated that private attorneys volunteered over $0.5 million hours in donated hours last year. SENATOR MEYER asked if private attorneys contribute financially. MS. NELSON said yes through a private giving campaign. CHAIR COGHILL advised that the bill would provide just short of $500,000 and his amendment would reduce it to $100,000. He solicited a motion. 2:39:06 PM SENATOR COSTELLO moved Amendment 1, labeled 30-LS0397\A.1. AMENDMENT 1 OFFERED IN THE SENATE BY SENATOR COGHILL TO: HB 106 Page 1, line 8: Delete "25" Insert "five" CHAIR COGHILL objected to explain that the appropriation would be reduced from 25 percent to 5 percent. He shared that he would have difficulty moving the bill without the amendment. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI objected to Amendment 1, asserting that the ALSC is funded at a much lower rate than it should be. He reviewed some of the documentation in the bill packet including the May 2000 Alaska Supreme Court Access to Civil Justice Taskforce report that recommended funding ALSC at the 1982 level, at a minimum. If that were the case, their inflation adjusted budget would be over $10 million. Five percent does not go far enough, he said. CHAIR COGHILL said he didn't blame him for objecting, but he could not support this funding source when state agency budgets are being cut so drastically. SENATOR COSTELLO mentioned the prohibition against dedicated funding and observed that even without the amendment, there is no guarantee that 25 percent [of court filing fees] would be appropriated to the ALSC fund. CHAIR COGHILL agreed that the legislature has the ability to designate but is not allowed to dedicate funds. He asked Senator Wielechowski if he maintained his objection. 2:42:34 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI noted his minority standpoint and withdrew his objection. SENATOR MEYER asked the chair if he withdrew his objection. CHAIR COGHILL said yes and solicited a motion. 2:43:11 PM SENATOR COSTELLO moved to report HB 106, as amended, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). CHAIR COGHILL announced that without objection SCS HB 106(JUD) is reported from the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee ^Confirmation Hearings CONFIRMATION HEARINGS 2:44:17 PM CHAIR COGHILL opened public testimony on the appointment of Drew Phoenix to the State Commission for Human Rights. 2:44:21 PM JOSHUA HEMSAPH, representing himself, Anchorage, Alaska, testified in support of the appointment of Drew Phoenix to the State Commission for Human Rights. He said he has known Mr. Phoenix for five years during which he served in a range of positions. As an ordained minister he has always demonstrated the meaning of compassion and standing for justice. These are two traits that are vital to the commission. Mr. Hemsaph said he came to know Mr. Phoenix when he served as the first paid executive director for Identity Inc., Alaska's statewide LGBTQ education service organization. Together they worked with the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation to encourage local business to adopt inclusive workplace practices. In that capacity Mr. Phoenix became a go-to resource for workplaces looking to update their policies. He asserted that Mr. Phoenix is highly qualified and committed to the values and organizing principles of the State Commission on Human Rights which is why he was appalled to hear the questions that were directed toward Mr. Phoenix at the last meeting. "The commission is an apolitical body designed to fact- find and set policy that protects both employees and employers. Any line of questioning that puts politics or other subjects ahead of the work of the commission is disrespectful to the appointees, the commission, and the people of Alaska whom this body governs and serves." He urged the committee to move forward with the confirmation of Mr. Phoenix. CHAIR COGHILL said the questioning was not meant to be disrespectful. "Things do get political in the political arena." 2:47:07 PM REVEREND DR. MARTIN ELDRED, representing himself, Eagle River, testified in support of the appointment of Drew Phoenix to the State Commission for Human Rights. He said he has known Mr. Phoenix since 2009 and has worked with him on a variety of projects supporting equal rights and education to break down the barriers and misconceptions particularly of the transgender community. Mr. Phoenix is an intelligent, articulate individual who is passionate and compassionate for those who are struggling with what they see as changes in the world. "Drew does a good job of educating in a gentle way. He is a good friend, he is a colleague, and I think he could only help our state as we continue to seek to be the best we can as a state and guarantee the individual rights for all people in our state." 2:48:59 PM REVEREND MICHAEL BURKE, representing himself, Anchorage, Alaska, testified in support of the appointment of Drew Phoenix to the State Commission for Human Rights. He said he worked with Mr. Phoenix over a period of seven years on several different community issues. They disagreed on several things - including some of the items discussed earlier today, but three things stand out. First, he is not an ideology; he works to bring people together and identify common ground. Second, he listens to understand and he makes careful distinctions. Third, he is a calm and reasonable voice. 2:51:36 PM REVEREND JULIA SEYMOUR, representing herself, Anchorage, Alaska, testified in support of the appointment of Drew Phoenix to the State Commission for Human Rights. She said she has known Mr. Phoenix since 2011 and worked with him on a variety of issues. She said as an Alaskan woman, the mother of two small children, the wife of a lieutenant colonel in the Army, and a Christian minister, Mr. Phoenix is one of the most compassionate Alaskans she knows. He has the ability to listen patiently to people who disagree with him and respond with grace when he's under fire. "As was in evidence in last week's questioning and in testimony today." She said Alaska could not be better served. "We need people from a wide body of backgrounds and skillsets to be aware of what the rights of people are, how to pay attention to the competition, how to encourage the legislature to continue to help us to be the Great Land and frontier that is appealing to all kinds of people that we know we are. Drew is really the candidate for that position." 2:53:00 PM CHAIR COGHILL stated that in accordance with AS 39.05.080, the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee reviewed the following and recommends the appointments be forwarded to a joint session for consideration: Alaska Police Standards Council - Bryce Johnson; Board of Governors of the Alaska Bar - William Granger; State Commission for Human Rights - David A. Barton and Drew Phoenix; and Alaska Judicial Council - Lynn Gallant. He reminded members that signing the reports regarding appointments to boards and commissions in no way reflects individual members' approval or disapproval of the appointees, and that the nominations are merely forwarded to the full legislature for confirmation or rejection. 2:54:21 PM There being no further business to come before the committee, Chair Coghill adjourned the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee meeting at 2:54 p.m.