Legislature(1997 - 1998)
02/04/1997 03:38 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 TRANSFERRING CERTAIN FUNCTIONS FROM DCED AND DPS TO DOT/PF HEARD AND HELD EXECUTIVE ORDER 99 TRANSFERRING CERTAIN FUNCTIONS FROM DPS TO DOA 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 DUE TO TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES, SENATOR HALFORD'S TESTIMONY WAS NOT RECORDED. 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 imposed. 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 consuming. 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 sentence. 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 testimony. 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 determined. 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. EO99 TRANSFERRING CERTAIN FUNCTIONS FROM DPS TO DOA 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 changes. 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.