Legislature(1997 - 1998)

02/04/1997 03:38 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                 SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                                
                        February 4, 1997                                       
                           3:38 p.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Lyda Green, Chairman                                                  
 Senator Jerry Ward, Vice-chair                                                
 Senator Jerry Mackie                                                          
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 Senator Jim Duncan                                                            
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 SENATE BILL NO. 67                                                            
 "An Act relating to the imposition of criminal sentences; and                 
 amending Rule 32.2, Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure."                      
  MOVED CSSB 67(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                          
 EXECUTIVE ORDER 98                                                            
  HEARD AND HELD                                                               
 EXECUTIVE ORDER 99                                                            
  HEARD AND HELD                                                               
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 SB 67 - No previous Senate committee action to report.                        
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Sam Kito III, Special Assistant                                               
 Dept. of Transportation & Public Facilities                                   
 3132 Channel Drive                                                            
 Juneau, AK  99801-7898                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Discussed EO 98                                        
 Senator Rick Halford                                                          
 Alaska State Capitol                                                          
 Juneau, Alaska  99801-1182                                                    
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Sponsor of SB 67                                       
 Chris Christensen                                                             
 Staff Counsel                                                                 
 Alaska Court System                                                           
 303 K St.                                                                     
 Anchorage, AK  99501-2084                                                     
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Commented on SB 67                                     
 Paul Sweet                                                                    
 P.O. Box 1562                                                                 
 Palmer, AK  99645                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Commented on SB 67                                     
 Commissioner Ron Otte                                                         
 Department of Public Safety                                                   
 P.O. Box 111200                                                               
 Juneau, AK  99811-1200                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Discussed EO 99                                        
 Commissioner Mark Boyer                                                       
 Department of Administration                                                  
 P.O. Box 110200                                                               
 Juneau, AK  99811-0200                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Discussed EO 99                                        
 Juanita Hensley                                                               
 Driver Services                                                               
 Department of Public Safety                                                   
 P.O. Box 20020                                                                
 Juneau, AK  99811-0020                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Discussed EO 99                                        
 Mike Lessmeier                                                                
 Lessmeier and Winters                                                         
 One Sealaska Plaza, Suite 303                                                 
 Juneau, AK  99801                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Discussed EO 99                                        
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 TAPE 97-2, SIDE A                                                             
 Number 00                                                                     
  CHAIRMAN LYDA GREEN  called the Senate State Affairs Committee               
 meeting to order at 3:38 p.m.  Present were Senators Green, Ward,             
 Mackie, and Miller.  The first order of business before the                   
 committee was EO 98.                                                          
  SAM KITO , Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the Department           
 of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT/PF), gave the                    
 following description of EO 98.  Under the current state government           
 structure, three departments are involved in administering the                
 commercial vehicle program: the Department of Public Safety (DPS),            
 the Department of Commerce and Economic Development (DCED) and                
 DOT/PF.  EO 98 transfers the responsibility for administering all             
 relevant functions of this program to DOT/PF.  DOT/PF currently               
 issues regulations relating to overweight and oversize vehicles.              
 DCED currently issues overweight and oversize permits in compliance           
 with regulations adopted by DOT/PF, through the Division of                   
 Measurement Standards.  DCED also operates the state's ten fixed              
 weigh stations.  DPS provides safety and secondary size and weight            
 enforcement through its commercial vehicle program and provides               
 overall law enforcement authority for that program.                           
  MR. KITO   continued.  The commercial vehicle program is essential           
 to the preservation and safety of the state's highway system.                 
 Because of the fragmented structure of that program, the                      
 Administration believes a consolidation of the three components               
 will result in increased efficiency both internally, and for                  
 highway users.  All three departments were involved in the                    
 construction of EO 98, and a public hearing with agency members,              
 the Alaska Trucking Association and other industry groups was held.           
 Staffing and funding requirements will not change under EO 98.                
 Staff will be transferred to DOT/PF with the exception of two state           
 trooper positions which will remain within DPS.  Although the                 
 transfer will not require additional funding, it will require                 
 changes to departmental budgets once EO 98 is implemented.  In                
 addition to the transfer of the commercial vehicle program, the               
 functions of the Division of Measurement Standards will be                    
 administered by DOT/PF.                                                       
 Number 092                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN GREEN    noted she has reviewed information about the ongoin        
 regulation review and changes within DOT/PF and asked if any of the           
 regulations under review apply to the programs proposed to be                 
 transferred under EO 98.   MR. KITO  replied regulations that impact          
 the commercial vehicle program are already in place and no changes            
 are anticipated.                                                              
  CHAIRMAN GREEN  questioned whether increased efficiency and/or               
 savings are expected outcomes of EO 98.   MR. KITO  said no savings           
 are expected, but increased efficiency is expected and will be most           
 apparent to the industry.  The trucking permit process will be                
 completed at one office, rather than three, which will decrease the           
 amount of consumer time needed to comply with regulations.                    
 Number 118                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN GREEN  asked whether any functions, required by statute,            
 are not being performed by the departments at this time.   MR. KITO           
 was unable to answer the question.  He added DOT/PF hopes the                 
 consolidation will enable the department to keep tabs on the                  
 overweight/oversize vehicles on the state's highways.                         
  CHAIRMAN GREEN  asked Mr. Kito to be more specific about industry            
 support.   MR. KITO  answered DOT/PF has a letter of support from             
 Frank Dillon who represents the Alaska Trucking Association.                  
  SENATOR MACKIE  questioned whether DOT/PF has investigated ways to           
 realize financial savings through the consolidation.   MR. KITO               
 stated DOT/PF hopes to gain some financial efficiencies and to                
 apply them to more active enforcement and support of the commercial           
 vehicle program.  DOT/PF does not foresee a cost savings but does             
 foresee a level of service increase.                                          
 Number 148                                                                    
  SENATOR WARD  asked if one of the program's functions is on the Old          
 Seward Highway in the Huffman Business Park.   MR. KITO  replied the          
 Division of Measurement Standards currently oversees that location.           
 DOT/PF plans, as a long term goal, to bring all of the components             
 of the division under one roof.                                               
  SENATOR WARD  questioned whether one of the original concepts for EO         
 98 was to resolve the fact that there is no place for any                     
 commercial trucks to stop and get to that facility.   MR. KITO  was           
 unaware of that issue.                                                        
 There was no further testimony on EO 98.                                      
                  SB  67 TRUTH IN SENTENCING                                 
  SENATOR RICK HALFORD,  sponsor of SB 67, explained SB 67 requires a          
 judge, when imposing a sentence, to explain the minimum possible              
 amount of time that can be served under the sentence.  The current            
 sentencing process does not live up to the intent of the victim's             
 rights amendment to the Alaska Constitution.  The intent of SB 67             
 is to require judges to notify others of the approximate amount of            
 prison time that will actually be served under the sentence                   
  SENATOR MACKIE  asked if SB 67 requires a court rule change.                 
  SENATOR HALFORD  answered it does.   SENATOR MACKIE  questioned              
 whether SB 67 would limit the amount of a sentence reduction                  
 possible for "good time."   SENATOR HALFORD  said it would not                
 restrict any sentencing criteria, it only requires a judge to                 
 explain the amount of time that may actually be served.                       
 Number 220                                                                    
  CHRIS CHRISTENSEN , General Counsel to the Alaska Court System,              
 informed committee members the Supreme Court has taken no position            
 on SB 67 but does have several concerns with the bill.   As drafted           
 by the Division of Legal Services, SB 67 is not workable.  The                
 Supreme Court has ruled, on several occasions, that there is very             
 little inherent judicial authority given to judges when imposing              
 sentences.  In Alaska, sentencing is considered a legislative                 
 prerogative: judges are bound by the sentencing statutes passed by            
 the Legislature.  When a person is convicted of a felony, a                   
 sentencing hearing is scheduled, usually several months in the                
 future.  The Alaska Constitution requires a judge to consider a               
 variety of factors when imposing a sentence.  Those factors                   
 include: reformation, reaffirmation of community norms, public                
 safety, and condemnation of the conduct.  The Department of                   
 Corrections (DOC) prepares a presentencing report while those                 
 factors are being considered by the judge; that report contains               
 background information and a criminal record.  During the                     
 sentencing hearing, the district attorney, the public defender or             
 private defense attorney, and victims make statements about an                
 appropriate sentence.  With that information, the judge determines            
 the sentence.                                                                 
  MR. CHRISTENSEN  explained SB 67 requires judges to state the                
 earliest possible release date to the day.  Exact calculations are            
 often complicated and can take DOC up to two days to complete.                
 Some defendants are placed in different jails around the state,               
 particularly offenders originally arrested in the bush.  The number           
 of days spent in each jail must be determined, as well as the                 
 amount of time released on bail, disciplinary problems that                   
 occurred while in jail, the type of offense, whether the offense              
 carries a mandatory, mandatory minimum, or presumptive term, and              
 whether consecutive or concurrent sentences are to be served.  SB
 67 does not recognize that a judge's statement regarding the                  
 minimum sentence a person might serve if parole is granted becomes            
 part of the sentence.  If the judge made an error, that error might           
 cause a defendant to be released earlier or later than planned; if            
 later, he/she may file a law suit for post conviction relief.                 
  MR. CHRISTENSEN  requested the committee to consider the following           
 conceptual amendments.  The first amendment would change the word             
 "incarceration" to "imprisonment" throughout SB 67, to conform with           
 Titles 12 and 33.  The second change would allow the judge to state           
 the approximate, rather than exact, time a prisoner would be                  
 eligible for parole.  He requested SB 67 make very clear that                 
 approximate minimums stated by the judge are provided for                     
 informational purposes only and are not part of the sentence, and             
 that the prisoner has no appeal right if the judge makes an error.            
 Number 293                                                                    
  SENATOR MACKIE  felt SB 67 touches on an area that outrages many             
 people and asked why DOC calculations cannot be completed in the              
 amount of time that elapses between the conviction and sentencing.            
  MR. CHRISTENSEN  explained a judge does have statutory authority to          
 restrict discretionary parole if the judge believes the offender              
 cannot be rehabilitated or that public safety would be jeopardized.           
 In most cases the judge has a good idea of when the person will be            
 eligible for parole but making the calculation to the day is time             
  MR. CHRISTENSEN  commented one alternative is to hold two sentencing         
 hearings.  All parties would make statements at the first hearing.            
 DOC would then prepare the calculations.  At the second hearing,              
 the judge would state the sentence on the record.  That alternative           
 would have a tremendous fiscal impact.  He explained under Alaska             
 statutes, judges make the initial determination in setting a                  
 sentence, but once a person has been remanded into the custody of             
 DOC, it becomes the responsibility of the Executive Branch,                   
 including the Board of Parole, to decide whether the terms of the             
 sentence are met and when a person is eligible for parole.  Parole            
 is completely speculative: a judge has no idea whether the Board of           
 Parole will grant an early release for good time.                             
 Number 344                                                                    
  SENATOR MACKIE  clarified he was questioning whether it is possible          
 for a judge to receive the DOC calculations prior to the final                
 sentencing.   MR. CHRISTENSEN  explained the judge is not supposed to         
 prepare a sentence prior to the sentencing hearing.  The judge is             
 supposed to take, and consider, statements from the district                  
 attorney, defense attorney, and victims first.  That is why two               
 hearings would be necessary.                                                  
  SENATOR MACKIE  questioned at what point the judge determines the            
 sentence.   MR. CHRISTENSEN  indicated the judge is required to state         
 the sentence orally, on the record, and then provide a written                
 judgment.  The oral statement overrides if there is a discrepancy             
 between the oral and written statement.  Once the judge has read              
 the presentencing report, and has received recommendations from               
 DOC, he/she must hear the oral arguments from the district and                
 defense attorneys, and the victims, prior to deciding on the                  
  SENATOR MACKIE  asked why a judge cannot just say, "This person is           
 sentenced to x amount of years, with x suspended, and he/she will             
 serve x amount of time."  That would inform the victim's family how           
 much of the sentence will be served.                                          
 Number 376                                                                    
  MR. CHRISTENSEN  answered judges can set specific sentences for some         
 of the more serious felonies, but overall, the sentencing statutes            
 are extremely complex.                                                        
 Number 383                                                                    
  SENATOR WARD  asked Mr. Christensen if the calculation process               
 cannot be completed in two hours, but instead takes two days.   MR.           
 CHRISTENSEN  replied he has been advised by DOC that in some cases            
 it can be done in one hour, but other cases take up to two days.              
 He discussed the sentence calculation for an offender recently                
 convicted on nine separate counts ranging from a misdemeanor to an            
 unclassified felony.  Each count is treated differently in the                
 sentencing statutes: some counts require a mandatory sentence, some           
 require a mandatory minimum sentence, some require presumptive                
 sentences, some require sentences be stacked consecutively, and               
 some allow concurrent sentences.  The judge, being familiar with              
 the statutes, has a ball park figure of when the person might first           
 be eligible for parole.  The Court System is proposing the judge              
 advise the victims, and others in the courtroom at the time, of the           
 ball park figure.                                                             
  SENATOR MACKIE  asked, once the judge issues the final sentence, how         
 much time it would take for the judge to be advised as to the exact           
 date the offender would first be eligible for release.   MR.                  
 CHRISTENSEN  believed the statute requires the Court System to                
 forward the paperwork to DOC within 30 days.  DOC can typically               
 make the calculation within 10 days to two weeks after receipt.               
 Once DOC completes the calculation, it sends copies to the Board of           
 Parole and the inmate.  If a copy was sent to the Court System from           
 DOC, it could be attached to the sentencing judgment so that it               
 would be available for public review in the file.                             
  SENATOR HALFORD  asked if that information is currently available to         
 the public.   MR. CHRISTENSEN  said it is not available from the              
 Court System, and he was unsure whether it was available from DOC.            
 Number 432                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN GREEN  asked Senator Halford if he thought this problem             
 could be worked out with the Court System and a resolution                    
 presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee.   SENATOR HALFORD                
 replied changing the term "incarceration" to "imprisonment"                   
 throughout the bill, and adding the word "approximate" would                  
 maintain the intent of SB 67, and avoid the trap of requiring a               
 second hearing.   Any delay at any point in the process will cause            
 more heartache to family members of victims who have been terribly            
 abused.   The delay should be avoided, but the truth about the                
 approximate time to be served should be available to them as soon             
 as possible.                                                                  
 Number 432                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN GREEN  announced it was her intention to move SB 67 out of          
 the State Affairs Committee at this time and have a committee                 
 substitute ready for the next committee of referral.                          
  SENATOR MACKIE  moved to remove the word "incarceration" and replace         
 it with the word "imprisonment" throughout SB 67.   CHAIRMAN GREEN            
 identified the amendment as Amendment #1.  There being no objection           
 to the motion, Amendment #1 was adopted.                                      
 The committee took a brief at ease and then took teleconference               
  PAUL SWEET , testifying from Palmer, asked how a judge could                 
 estimate the approximate length of a sentence to be served when a             
 person is sentenced to 133 years, but becomes eligible for release            
 after 16 years.                                                               
 Number 458                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN GREEN  responded SB 67 does not address the type of concern         
 expressed by Mr. Sweet, assuming Mr. Sweet's concern is the                   
 reduction in time served.                                                     
  SENATOR HALFORD  asserted it was his intent to avoid the kind of             
 aberrations referred to by Mr. Sweet.  The object of dealing with             
 truth in sentencing is to inform interested parties of what may               
 actually happen.  One never knows what will happen on appeal, but             
 at least the judge can state the approximate time the offender will           
 actually have to serve under the sentence imposed.                            
  MR. SWEET  asked if that would apply after an appeal, at which time          
 the sentence is reduced substantially.   SENATOR HALFORD  replied it          
 cannot apply to an appeal; when people are represented at no cost             
 to themselves, they continuously appeal the case until the process            
 runs out.  At least on appeal, the judge will be required to again            
 state the approximate time to be served.  Every time the actual               
 time to be served must be stated before the victims and families,             
 the system will be encouraged to decide sentences that are more               
 representative of what the victims and families expect the                    
 punishment to be.                                                             
  SENATOR MACKIE  asked Senator Halford if he has investigated whether         
 the DOC calculation can be made available to the Court System or              
 victims during the time period between the conviction and                     
 presentencing hearing.   SENATOR HALFORD  responded that will add             
 another process that will add a burden to the Court System and a              
 fiscal note to the bill.  Requiring an approximate amount of time             
 to be served be stated will avoid a second hearing and resolves the           
 problem.  The exact date is not as important as informing people              
 whether the release will occur in 3 years or 6 years.  The object             
 is to get the decision made in a timely manner and in front of the            
 injured parties.                                                              
  SENATOR MACKIE  clarified he was wondering how the victim's family           
 could find out the actual date of release after it has been                   
 Number 500                                                                    
  MR. CHRISTENSEN  replied that information is not available from the          
 Court System but he was unsure whether it was available from DOC.             
 There is a statute that allows victims to provide their addresses             
 to DOC so they can be notified of the release of offenders.                   
  SENATOR MACKIE  asked Senator Halford to investigate whether that            
 process can provide some resolution to the problem.  He moved to              
 adopt Amendment #2:                                                           
  Page 2, lines 5, 8, 23, and 26: insert the word "approximate"                
  prior to the word "minimum."                                                 
 There being no objections to Amendment #2, it was adopted.                    
  CHAIRMAN GREEN  asked the sponsor to review Amendment #2 to ensure           
 the word "approximate" is inserted in all necessary places                    
 throughout the bill for the purpose of conformity, as that is the             
 committee's intent.                                                           
  SENATOR MACKIE  moved CSSB 67 out of committee with individual               
 recommendations.  There being no objection to the motion, CSSB 67             
 moved to the next committee of referral.                                      
  COMMISSIONER RON OTTE , Department of Public Safety (DPS), described         
 DMV's functions.  Each year about 3 million Alaskans access DMV by            
 mail, or at the counter.  Over the last 13 years, through federal             
 requirements and state legislation, about 54 programs have been               
 added to DMV.  As an example, about $780,000 of DMV's budget is               
 used to support federally mandated directives and protects $56                
 million in federal highway funds.  Alaskans are very frustrated               
 they cannot comp                                                              
 lete a simple business transaction in a timely manner.  New                   
 business technologies need to be applied to DMV transactions, yet             
 DMV is struggling to provide basic counter service.  Limited                  
 resources in DPS must be prioritized: the life/safety issues have             
 taken priority while the business side of the programs within DPS             
 have rarely been addressed.  The Department of Administration has             
 the resources and technical expertise to make the necessary                   
  COMMISSIONER BOYER , Department of Administration (DOA), stated many         
 other states have attempted to "fix" their Divisions of Motor                 
 Vehicles and have failed, yet he remains firmly convinced that                
 despite limited resources, DMV has made incremental improvements              
 but needs to make another incremental improvement to benefit                  
 customers waiting in line.  DOA is a two-sided department: half is            
 focussed largely on senior related programs, the Office of Public             
 Advocacy, APOC, and the Public Defender Agency; the other half is             
 fixed on things the government needs to operate such as general               
 services, accounting, personnel, information services, and                    
 financial services.  The second half enables government agencies to           
 perform better.  The Legislature has been concerned about                     
 inadequate customer service at DMV and has taken the initiative to            
 make improvements.  The biennial registration effort was designed             
 to diminish long lines.  DMV expects that effort to reduce lines by           
 10 percent.  DOA can apply the tools needed to improve DMV business           
 transactions, such as point of sale transactions with the use of              
 credit cards, and interactive voice transactions.  DOA has been               
 working on the development of the RFP for credit card acceptance              
 for DMV transactions, authorized by the Legislature.  Those                   
 transactions can occur 24 hours per day, seven days per week on a             
 toll free number.                                                             
   TAPE 97-2, SIDE B                                                           
 Number 537                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN  asked whether the toll free number will provide               
 services for agencies other than DMV.   COMMISSIONER BOYER  replied           
 other agencies have probably researched toll free lines but DOA's             
 focus has been specific to DMV.                                               
  COMMISSIONER BOYER  discussed opportunities on the internet.  The            
 State of Massachusetts has developed an on-line interactive                   
 transaction system that has been operating for three years.                   
 Residents can file tax returns with an interactive voice response             
 system.  The State of Massachusetts also has an interactive web               
 page for all DMV transactions.  That system is partnered with a               
 banking institution so that transactions are as secure as possible.           
 Nationally 41 to 42 percent of all homes have computers, a large              
 percentage of those have internet access.  DOA anticipates                    
 developing an on-line internet presence by June or July of this               
 year.  Such a system will provide access to two new lines into DMV.           
 Those are two examples of business applications DOA can apply to              
 DMV's operations quickly and easily because it is the normal way of           
 doing business within DOA.  He emphasized DOA is very interested in           
 expanding DMV "storefronts" by maximizing opportunities to conduct            
 transactions and is discussing the possibilities with banking                 
 institutions in Alaska.                                                       
 Number 497                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN GREEN  asked if one could also make those transactions in           
 other state offices, thereby providing a "one-stop" shopping                  
 opportunity.   COMMISSIONER BOYER  replied focussing several state            
 services in one place offers another storefront opportunity for               
 transactions and can be accomplished.                                         
  COMMISSIONER BOYER  described some strategic partnerships that are           
 key to moving business out of the DMV lines to point of contact               
 areas.  DOA and DMV have focussed on moving some of the business              
 transactions to automobile dealers.  Currently, the transactions              
 involved in purchasing a new automobile can take from one to eight            
 weeks.  A pilot program is being designed that will allow all                 
 transactions to be processed at once by the automobile dealer.                
 That program should save dealers and buyers a tremendous amount of            
 time.  Those types of partnerships with the private sector will               
 enhance services to the public.  He believes DMV's current budget             
 is adequate to achieve necessary changes.  DOA does not intend to             
 request an increased appropriation in DMV's operating budget.  He             
 expects, after one year to eighteen months, significant                       
 improvements in customer service to have occurred, and perhaps the            
 opportunity to manage DMV with fewer financial resources.   He does           
 not believe, under the current system, customer service can be                
 improved without increased funding.                                           
 Number 448                                                                    
  SENATOR MACKIE  stated he was skeptical of the transfer at first,            
 but understands how technology is the key to improved services.               
  SENATOR WARD  asked if the State of Massachusetts requires a pre-            
 insurance policy before one can get a drivers license.                        
  COMMISSIONER BOYER  was unfamiliar with that requirement.   SENATOR          
 WARD  believed proof of insurance becomes part of the DMV database            
 in Massachusetts.                                                             
  JUANITA HENSLEY , Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles, was            
 not sure whether the State of Massachusetts requires proof of                 
 insurance at the time of vehicle registration, or has direct on-              
 line service to verify insurance coverage.                                    
  SENATOR WARD  thought the State of Massachusetts has used an                 
 insurance database for at least five years.  He asked how many                
 states have been unsuccessful with DMV transfers because they tried           
 to over-privatize operations.   MS. HENSLEY  was aware of one state           
 experiencing difficulties because it privatized services too                  
 quickly.  That state is now reassessing some of its programs to               
 design internal audits to oversee the privatization firms and                 
 ensure that documents are secure.                                             
  COMMISSIONER OTTE  informed the committee that Ms. Hensley will be           
 attending a symposium on privatization and he hopes a DOT/PF staff            
 member will attend.                                                           
 Number 407                                                                    
  SENATOR WARD  commented he has received many mixed signals about             
 privatization, primarily about defining the benefits and keeping a            
 measuring tool on it.                                                         
  MS. HENSLEY  remarked the American Association of Motor Vehicle              
 Administrators is sponsoring the privatization symposium.  The                
 Association put together a working group, which she chairs, to                
 study the nationwide privatization issue.  She hopes to find out              
 what is or is not working, so that Alaska does not have to reinvent           
 the wheel.                                                                    
  SENATOR WARD  noted Michigan and either Florida or Colorado are              
 using the same hardware for their DMV programming.                            
 Number 385                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN GREEN  discussed her concern about DPS' decision to no              
 longer enforce AS 28.20.270 (Suspension for nonpayment of                     
 judgments) and stated her dissatisfaction with the reasons given              
 for that decision.  She asked what measures are being taken to                
 restore enforcement of that statute.   COMMISSIONER OTTE  shared              
 Senator Green's concern, and informed the Senate Finance Committee            
 during the previous session that the increase in fixed costs would            
 require the elimination of 14 positions.  Positions from that                 
 program were identified as some of those to be eliminated.  Ms.               
 Hensley explained to the committee why cutting that program would             
 be the best solution given the options.  Commissioner Otte added              
 the degradation of those kinds of services is the reason he has               
 been discussing solutions with Commissioner Boyer.  He believes               
 there are remedies available to restore that program in the                   
 foreseeable future contingent upon legislation pending this year.             
  JUANITA HENSLEY  said that program was chosen for nonenforcement             
 last year after she reviewed the variety of programs requiring                
 license suspension, such as habitual traffic violations, failure to           
 pay child support, minor consumption, drunk driving, lack of                  
 insurance, and others.  She felt non-enforcement of AS 28.20.270              
 would have the least impact on the public.  She does not believe              
 the insurance industry would have been satisfied with any program             
 that she cut.  In 1986 the Legislature passed the mandatory                   
 insurance law with sufficient personnel to administer AS 28.20.270.           
 In 1987, four of the six positions were cut.  Over the last 10                
 years, DMV lost 33 positions, added 31, and added 58 programs.  To            
 get DMV on its feet, initiatives and efficiencies, requiring new              
 technology, are needed.                                                       
 Number 295                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN GREEN  asked about current legislation that might help.             
  MS. HENSLEY  answered a bill has been introduced in the House which          
 will require the insurance industry to report to a database so that           
 DMV can access that information for vehicle registration purposes.            
 The database would also allow on-line verification of insurance at            
 the time of an accident.  That would free employees from current              
 paper shuffling activities that are required for verification.                
  CHAIRMAN GREEN  asked if current law requires drivers to be insured          
 or to prove one's financial ability to pay for damages.   MS.                 
 HENSLEY  explained there are two laws: one requires proof of                  
 insurance; the other requires an at-fault driver to prove damages             
 were paid if the driver was not insured at the time of an accident.           
  CHAIRMAN GREEN  remarked although the probability of non-enforcement         
 of AS 28.20.270 was presented to the Senate Finance Committee, that           
 committee did not approve that action.  She asked Commissioner                
 Boyer his intention regarding reinstatement of that program.                  
  COMM  ISSIONER BOYER  replied he intends to leverage opportunities           
 technologically and join forces with the private sector to reduce             
 the time it takes to process transactions to free employees to do             
 higher level work.   CHAIRMAN GREEN  asked what the time line would           
 be.   COMMISSIONER BOYER  estimated, if DOA is successful                     
 implementing the interactive voice and internet services as                   
 scheduled, and DMV funding remains constant, AS 28.20.270 could be            
 enforced in early fall.                                                       
 Number 256                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN GREEN  said she anticipates some difficulty in implementing         
 the proof of insurance at point of sale system.  She questioned               
 whether there is any other legislation that might directly impact             
 reinstatement of AS 28.20.270.   MS. HENSLEY  answered if Chairman            
 Green is suggesting charging a fee for processing suspension files,           
 that could be done provided the Legislature appropriate funds to              
 DMV to process the work.  DMV already brings in $29 million which             
 is deposited in the general fund every year, and another $7 million           
 is collected for municipalities.   CHAIRMAN GREEN  asked if those             
 funds go to the DMV budget.   MS. HENSLEY  said they do not.                  
  SENATOR WARD  recalled, during the debate on the mandatory insurance         
 bill, the State of Massachusetts program was presented as a model             
 because its DMV transactions were contingent upon proof of                    
 insurance which was available in a database.  Critics asserted the            
 intent of that program was to make insurance companies rich, but              
 proponents pointed to the number of people harmed by uninsured                
 drivers.  During the vote in Alaska, he understood a database would           
 be created with the insurance companies paying the cost however               
 that never occurred.                                                          
  COMMISSIONER   OTTE  was unaware of that debate but indicated a bill         
 has been introduced that would provide for the type of database               
 referred to by Senator Ward.    SENATOR WARD  said that very subject          
 was discussed in 1984 and he agreed with the idea at that time.               
 CHAIRMAN GREEN  repeated her concern that such a system would be              
 tough to impose.  She announced EO 98 and EO 99 would be held over            
 to the next meeting.                                                          
 Number 195                                                                    
  SENATOR MACKIE  expressed concern that DPS chose not to enforce a            
 statute and asked whether funds to restore that function are in               
 DMV's budget request this year, and what those costs would be.                
  COMMISSIONER OTTE  replied funds are not included in this year's             
 budget request.  There were four full time positions that managed             
 that program.  He,  Commissioner Boyer and DMV staff are convinced            
 if the changes that have been discussed can be made, that program             
 can be re-established with the existing budget.  The frustration              
 over the situation is shared by DMV employees.  A similar issue               
 occurred on Hillside.  DPS was mandated, by law, to answer calls in           
 that area, when in fact state troopers were pulled out of there.              
 The state troopers were very frustrated by the situation.                     
  MIKE LESSMEIER  testified on behalf of State Farm Insurance Company.         
 State Farm is very concerned about the failure to enforce AS                  
 28.20.270 and believes a practical, not theoretical, remedy is                
 needed now.  Lack of enforcement of AS 28.20.279 affects a system             
 created over a number of years to protect Alaska drivers.  The                
 mandatory insurance law included mandated offers of uninsured and             
 underinsured motorist coverage and the ability to collect from                
 uninsured drivers.  The lack of that ability affects every single             
 Alaskan who buys an insurance policy and is injured by an uninsured           
 driver.  State Farm believes, rather than discussing a theoretical            
 solution to the problem, a real solution should involve collecting            
 a fee from the uninsured party.  That solution would generate                 
 revenue and provide funds to hire staff.  Regarding the                       
 effectiveness of Alaska's mandatory insurance law, all mandatory              
 insurance proposals that were enacted in the country were examined            
 during the debate of that legislation.  Massachusetts' mandatory              
 insurance program was the most expensive in the country and was not           
 very effective because the enforcement mechanism was not in place.            
 Alaska's program included points of proof: if accident damage                 
 amounted to over $500, or a certain kind of citation was issued,              
 those were coupled with mandated offers of uninsured and                      
 underinsured motorist coverage.  Those two provisions were added to           
 an existing strong Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act.  That             
 system has worked well - the problem is one part of the puzzle is             
 now missing.                                                                  
 There being no further testimony,  CHAIRMAN GREEN  adjourned the              
 meeting at 5:04 p.m.                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects