Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/06/2004 03:40 PM Senate STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE SENATE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE April 6, 2004 3:40 p.m. TAPE (S) 04-26 MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Gary Stevens, Chair Senator John Cowdery, Vice Chair Senator Bert Stedman Senator Gretchen Guess MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Lyman Hoffman COMMITTEE CALENDAR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 494(FIN) am "An Act relating to the methods of disbursement of money by the state, including employment compensation, unemployment payments, and permanent fund dividends, and to bank investments and deposits by the state; and providing for an effective date." MOVED CSHB 494(FIN) OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 30 Urging the United States Congress to amend the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. MOVED SJR 30 OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 219 "An Act relating to offenses against unborn children." MOVED SB 219 OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 29 am Relating to support for therapeutic courts for repeat driving while under the influence offenders. MOVED HCR 29 am OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 447(JUD) "An Act making corrective amendments to the Alaska Statutes as recommended by the revisor of statutes; and providing for an effective date." MOVED CSHB 447(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION BILL: HB 494 SHORT TITLE: ELECTRONIC PAYMENT FOR STATE BUSINESS SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) KOTT 02/16/04 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 02/16/04 (H) FIN 03/04/04 (H) FIN AT 1:30 PM HOUSE FINANCE 519 03/04/04 (H) Heard & Held 03/04/04 (H) MINUTE(FIN) 03/19/04 (H) FIN AT 1:30 PM HOUSE FINANCE 519 03/19/04 (H) -- Meeting Canceled -- 03/22/04 (H) FIN AT 1:30 PM HOUSE FINANCE 519 03/22/04 (H) Moved CSHB 494(FIN) Out of Committee 03/22/04 (H) MINUTE(FIN) 03/24/04 (H) FIN RPT CS(FIN) 8DP 1NR 03/24/04 (H) DP: MEYER, HAWKER, MOSES, CHENAULT, 03/24/04 (H) FATE, FOSTER, HARRIS, WILLIAMS; 03/24/04 (H) NR: JOULE 03/24/04 (H) TRANSMITTED TO (S) 03/24/04 (H) VERSION: CSHB 494(FIN) AM 03/26/04 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 03/26/04 (S) STA, FIN 04/06/04 (S) STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211 BILL: SJR 30 SHORT TITLE: AMEND & FUND NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) ELLIS 02/16/04 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 02/16/04 (S) STA, HES 04/01/04 (S) STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211 04/01/04 (S) Scheduled But Not Heard 04/06/04 (S) STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211 BILL: SB 219 SHORT TITLE: OFFENSES AGAINST UNBORN CHILDREN SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) DYSON 05/11/03 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 05/11/03 (S) STA, JUD 04/06/04 (S) STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211 BILL: HCR 29 SHORT TITLE: SUPPORT THERAPEUTIC COURTS SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) HEINZE 02/16/04 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 02/16/04 (H) JUD 03/01/04 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120 03/01/04 (H) Moved Out of Committee 03/01/04 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 03/03/04 (H) JUD RPT 6DP 1NR 03/03/04 (H) DP: GARA, HOLM, GRUENBERG, OGG, 03/03/04 (H) ANDERSON, MCGUIRE; NR: SAMUELS 03/22/04 (H) TRANSMITTED TO (S) 03/22/04 (H) VERSION: HCR 29 AM 03/24/04 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 03/24/04 (S) STA, JUD 04/06/04 (S) STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211 BILL: HB 447 SHORT TITLE: 2004 REVISOR'S BILL SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL 02/09/04 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 02/09/04 (H) STA, JUD 02/24/04 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 02/24/04 (H) Moved CSHB 447(STA) Out of Committee 02/24/04 (H) MINUTE(STA) 02/26/04 (H) STA RPT CS(STA) 4DP 1NR 02/26/04 (H) DP: HOLM, LYNN, COGHILL, WEYHRAUCH; 02/26/04 (H) NR: BERKOWITZ 03/18/04 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120 03/18/04 (H) Moved CSHB 447(JUD) Out of Committee 03/18/04 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 03/22/04 (H) JUD RPT CS(JUD) 5DP 03/22/04 (H) DP: ANDERSON, GRUENBERG, SAMUELS, 03/22/04 (H) GARA, MCGUIRE 03/24/04 (H) TRANSMITTED TO (S) 03/24/04 (H) VERSION: CSHB 447(JUD) 03/26/04 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 03/26/04 (S) STA, JUD 04/06/04 (S) STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211 WITNESS REGISTER Sue Stancliff Aide to Speaker Pete Kott Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced HB 494 Kim Garnero Director, Division of Finance Department of Administration PO Box 110200 Juneau, AK 99811-0200 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 494 Dana Owen Staff to Senator Johnny Ellis Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced SJR 30 for sponsor Senator Fred Dyson Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor SB 219 Wes Keller Staff to Senator Dyson Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions on SB 219 Karen VosBerg Alaska Right to Life No address provided POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SB 219 Cassandra Johnson Executive Officer, Alaska Pro Choice Alliance Anchorage, AK 99513 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SB 219 Pauline Utter No address provided POSITION STATEMENT: Opposes SB 219 Kevin Clarkson No address provided POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 219 Robin Smith No address provided POSITION STATEMENT: Opposes SB 219 Vicki Halcro Anchorage Director of Public Marketing No address provided POSITION STATEMENT: Opposes SB 219 Regina Manteufel Regina's Rooming House No address provided POSITION STATEMENT: Opposes SB 219 Jennifer Rudinger Executive Officer ACLU P.O. Box 201844 Anchorage, AK 99520 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SB 219 Representative Bob Lynn Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SB 219 Jon Bittner Staff to Representative Cheryll Heinze Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced HCR 29 for the sponsor Cheryll Heinze Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HCR 29 Pamela Finley Revisor of Statutes Legal and Research Services Division Legislative Affairs Agency Alaska State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced CSHB 447(JUD) ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 04-26, SIDE A CHAIR GARY STEVENS called the Senate State Affairs Standing Committee meeting to order at 3:40 p.m. Present were Senators Cowdery, Stedman and Chair Gary Stevens. CSHB 494(FIN)-ELECTRONIC PAYMENT FOR STATE BUSINESS CHAIR GARY STEVENS announced CSHB 494(FIN) to be up for consideration. SUE STANCLIFF, staff to Speaker Kott, paraphrased the following sponsor statement: CSHB 494(FIN) makes necessary changes to the methods of how the State of Alaska disburses funds. This change will save the state costs of issuing checks and warrants and resolve issues pertaining to time of disbursement and undistributed collections. Currently, the state issues approximately 96,500 checks and warrants per month. Unemployment Insurance Benefits: 28,000 Division of Finance to vendors & non-venders: 50,000 Child Support recipients: 13,000 PERS & TRS Retirees: 2,500 Payroll- active employees 3,000 This legislation has the potential of saving the State of Alaska considerable funds when factoring in the reduction of check fraud, reissuing of lost or stolen checks, postage, check printing cost, reduced bank service fees, and reduced labor cost. In addition, this would benefit businesses and citizens that receive funds via direct deposit or mail delivery. There would be no check cashing fees, it would reduce liability of check fraud, and customers could use debit or credit cards at businesses. She said it's worth noting that since 1994, the administration has gone from no direct deposits to 89 percent direct deposits in 2003. This is a considerable change, but there are more savings to be had. For instance, the Division of Finance currently works with 50,000 venders and just 500 of those are set up to handle electronic transfers. That number could be improved and there are a number of other areas such as Workers Compensation that are ready for review. CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked her to speak to the issue of fraud and electronic transfers. MS. STANCLIFF opined that check fraud is already an issue and electronic transfers would eliminate that. SENATOR STEDMAN referred to page 6, line 18 and asked whether people that aren't comfortable with electronic transfer could opt out of electronic transfer and have a warrant issued. MS. STANCLIFF said that would be an option. CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked Kim Garnero whether she had any comments. KIM GARNERO, Director, Division of Finance, stated that the State of Alaska is enthusiastic about this business procedure and noted that the 500 venders that receive electronic transfers will receive over $1 billion from the State this year. They are in the process of making it possible for consumers to use electronic transfers as well. The rules are somewhat different than the ones for business, but the Division of Finance expects to have that capability by the end of the year. However, there are exceptions and risk management has advised that they don't favor electronic transfers for Worker's Compensation because it may be a disincentive to return to work. Currently they are in the process of updating their procurement boilerplate and although they can't impose it retroactively, it will be a requirement for new agreements. Finally, they are looking at a statewide debit card. SENATOR COWDERY asked how difficult it would be to opt out of electronic payments in favor of a warrant. MS. GARNERO said it's optional at this point and the Department of Law has advised that a hardship waiver would be necessary if electronic payments became mandatory. CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked for a motion. SENATOR COWDERY motioned to move CSHB 494(FIN) from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. He also asked for unanimous consent. There being no objection, it was so ordered. SJR 30-AMEND & FUND NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT CHAIR GARY STEVENS announced SJR 30 to be up for consideration. DANA OWEN, staff to Senator Johnny Ellis, sponsor, explained that SJR 30 asks Congress to revisit the No Child Left Behind Act. He read the following sponsor statement: School districts across Alaska and the nation are increasingly discovering that the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the most far reaching intrusion of federal control into education in the nation's history, imposes mandates that are awkward at best and counterproductive at worst. Moreover, these federal mandates are under funded, further burdening already strained budgets. Much of the problem lies in the act's one-size-fits- all approach. Policies that may appear workable from the vantage of Washington, D.C., turn out to be obstacles to success in practice. For example, under the act many excellent teachers would be prevented from teaching subjects they fully understand. An advanced degree in economics or physics would not qualify a teacher to teach basic mathematics, presenting a serious problem in small Alaska schools where a single person typically teaches all sciences and math. Schools are also required to demonstrate adequate yearly progress as defined by the act, not just for the majority of students, but for each subgroup defined in the act. Under this provision, many very successful schools can find themselves labeled as failing. Each year of failure brings increasingly harsh sanctions that would significantly drive up costs for school districts. Passage of SJR 30 would add Alaska's voice to those nationwide that are speaking out about problems with the No Child Left Behind Act. States as diverse as Arizona, Vermont, Hawaii, Virginia and Utah have seen legislative efforts protesting the burdens placed on them by the act. Some states and school districts are even considering opting out of federal oversight altogether. While such a drastic step would mean losing federal education grants and perhaps other monies, these states and school districts believe that the cost of complying with the act would be greater than the federal dollars they receive. SJR 30 recognizes that Alaska had taken strong steps to improve school performance even before passage of the federal law and asks that Congress give states more flexibility and greater financial support in meeting the act's mandates. SENATOR STEDMAN referred to page 2, line 25 and asked which changes they'd like to see Congress make. MR. OWEN noted that there are a number of suggested changes in the packets, but they aren't endorsing any specific changes because they recognize that the complaints regarding the act are so strong and diverse that it would be a huge effort for the Alaska Legislature to outline specific changes. It's better to send the legislation back to the drafters. It was a strong bipartisan Congressional effort that produced the bill and the original authors are best suited to address changes. Many states have outlined suggestions and the sponsor statement highlighted a very few. SENATOR STEDMAN asked for confirmation that the resolution would go unattached in that case. MR. OWEN said that's correct. CHAIR GARY STEVENS remarked that it's problematic in small communities where teachers teach multiple subjects even though they don't have advanced degrees in those subjects and may not meet the requirements. The fact that they may be very fine teachers wouldn't be taken into account. MR. OWEN agreed that is one of the main failures of the act. The sciences are an excellent example. Someone may have an advanced degree in physics or economics but they wouldn't be qualified to teach mathematics. That's a huge burden in small schools, he said. CHAIR GARY STEVENS repeated that this is a problem and a good reason to ask for relief. He asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR STEDMAN motioned to move SJR 30 from committee with the attached fiscal note and individual recommendations. There being no objection, it was so ordered. SB 219-OFFENSES AGAINST UNBORN CHILDREN CHAIR GARY STEVENS announced SB 219 to be up for consideration. SENATOR FRED DYSON, sponsor, explained that this bill models other legislation enacted in other states. It says that if a perpetrator murders or assaults a pregnant woman and causes damage or death to the unborn child then the perpetrator may be charged with two crimes. AS 11.41 is amended to accommodate the model legislation adding manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide of an unborn child. An abortion or other customary and standard procedures are specifically exempted from penalty under this law. CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked for a comparison to the federal law. SENATOR DYSON replied they are similar in wording, but he introduced this because the federal law goes forward only in federal jurisdictions or in the commission of a federal crime. SENATOR STEDMAN referred to page 1, lines 6, 8, and 12 and asked why line 12 didn't include the words "with intent" as lines 6 and 8 do. SENATOR DYSON explained that arson, kidnapping, and sexual assault are hard to infer that there is intent to harm the unborn child. WES KELLER, staff to Senator Dyson, pointed out that the operational clause is found on page 2, line 4. SENATOR STEDMAN referred to page 2, line 27 and asked about the selection of the verbage "unborn child" rather than "fetus" and whether the selection might not cause problems. MR. KELLER said the language is purposeful. He could show case law from other states indicating that the terminology didn't make any difference in how the court ruled. It's just that Fetus is Latin and he prefers to use plain language so the layperson is able to understand. SENATOR STEDMAN restated the intent and said he assumes it's a direct result of the well-publicized and reprehensible California case. SENATOR DYSON agreed. KAREN VOSBERG, executive director, AK Right to Life, distributed copies of a petition that was signed by over 1,000 people, at the Palmer State Fair stating that they believe that if a pregnant woman is murdered there are two victims rather than one. CHAIR GARY STEVENS wanted to clarify that the people that signed the petition were in support of the bill. MS. VOSBERG agreed then said the federal law was signed into law April 1, 2004. Prior to this act, an unborn child was not recognized as a victim of a violent crime. To date more than 29 states have signed similar legislation, which has no affect on legal abortion, she said. She urged passage of the bill. CASSANDRA JOHNSON, executive director of the AK Pro-Choice Alliance testified via teleconference to say that this bill isn't about protecting pregnant women because it doesn't increase the charges for assaulting pregnant women. Also there is no exemption in the bill for the woman who inadvertently causes harm to her fetus due to alcohol use, poor nutrition or attempted suicide. This is the wrong approach, she said, and urged the committee not to pass the bill. PAULINE UTTER testified via teleconference to urge that the committee not pass the bill and read a letter from Anna Quinlan stating the same. KEVIN CLARKSON, attorney, testified via teleconference in support of the bill. The purpose of the act is to extend to unborn children, the same protection of the criminal law that applies to those who have been born alive. Referring to Senator Stedman's earlier question regarding no intent language in subsection 3, he stated that is because that is the typical felony murder provision and the intent is already provided by the underlying felony offense. He gave examples of voids in the law that the bill seeks to fill and stated that the bill doesn't involve abortion. He urged passage of the bill. 4:20 p.m. CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked whether he would comment on the concern that there is no exemption in the bill in cases of alcoholism, attempted suicide or if a woman didn't know she was pregnant. MR. CLARKSON replied there are intent requirements in the bill that must be met before the charge can be levied. The opportunity for the act to be applied against a woman who wants her child, but is negligent in causing the death of her child is a stretch, he opined. ROBIN SMITH testified via teleconference from Anchorage that the bill is the latest attempt by the Alaska Legislature to limit reproductive freedom. She said the language in the bill makes it clear that it is not about protecting pregnant women. It is about giving separate, legal rights to the fetus thereby undermining a woman's right to reproductive freedom. She urged the committee to hold the bill. VICKI HALCRO, Anchorage director of public affairs and marketing for Planned Parenthood of Alaska, testified via teleconference in opposition to SB 219. 4:30 p.m. TAPE 04-26, SIDE B She said that the dangerous reality of the bill is that it vests a fetus with the rights of the pregnant woman, which is the first step in eroding a woman's right to choose. Nowhere in the legislation is harm to a pregnant woman resulting from an involuntary termination of her pregnancy mentioned. In fact, women are not mentioned at all in the bill yet violence against women continues to be a huge problem in Alaska. The bill shifts the focus away from the women who are really the victims of these crimes. She urged the committee to hold the bill. REGINA MONTEUFEL testified via teleconference from Anchorage in opposition to the bill. She runs a rooming house in Anchorage and has lost track of the number of women that have had abortions in her rooming house. The stories are all tragic. It's sad that this is a state that doesn't spend more effort on preventing abortions and addressing domestic violence. CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked her to speak to the bill. MS.MONTEUFEL said she is against the bill. JENNIFER RUDINGER, executive director of the Alaska Civil Liberties Union, testified via teleconference and said most of the points she was going to cover were covered by Robin Smith, Vicky Halcro, Cassandra Johnson and Pauline Utter. She said she couldn't find the language Mr. Clarkson said was present exempting a pregnant woman from prosecution from harming her own fetus. If that's the intent of the bill, then the bill should be amended, she suggested. She said she would like to go on record in opposition to SB 219 because the bill is misguided. There are better ways to prosecute people who commit violent crimes against pregnant women. REPRESENTATIVE BOB LYNN testified in support of SB 219 saying there is a similar bill in the House. There was no further testimony. SENATOR COWDERY made a motion to move SB 219 with accompanying fiscal notes and asked for individual recommendations and unanimous consent. There being no objection, it was so ordered. HCR 29-SUPPORT THERAPEUTIC COURTS am CHAIR GARY STEVENS announced HCR 29 to be up for consideration. JON BITTNER, staff to Representative Cheryll Heinze, explained that alcoholism in Alaska is a serious problem and one of the ways to combat it is through the therapeutic court system. Therapeutic courts have a proven success rate and are significantly cheaper for the state. REPRESENTATIVE CHERYLL HEINZE, sponsor, added that the daily cost of the wellness court program is about $22 per day or about $11,000 over an 18 month period. In comparison, the average cost of traditional incarceration is $113 per day. That's a difference of $50,000 per offender. Currently the largest supplier of mental health treatment in the country is the correctional system. This is expensive and ineffective. People with substance abuse problems aren't helped when they are locked away without any treatment options. When released from prison, those people are simply dried drunks. The addiction has not been addressed and it's likely that those individuals will re-offend as a result of their addiction. She pointed out that the recidivism rate for incarcerated alcohol and drug abusers is around 67 percent nationwide while the recidivism rate for wellness court is around 25 percent. The disparity in the success rate is attributed to the use of Naltrexone, a drug that inhibits alcohol cravings, coupled with community based treatment programs and cognitive behavioral therapy. To treat someone with an addiction, you must treat the cause, she said. HCR 29 am asks that the Legislature show its support for therapeutic courts, particularly in regard to crimes related to driving under the influence. (DUI). It asks the Department of Law and the Public Defender agency to actively participate in the startup of therapeutic courts in areas with high incidents of DUI offenses and strong local support. "Therapeutic courts are effective, they're inexpensive, and they work," she said. CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked for a brief description of what happens in a therapeutic court for alcohol abuse. REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE explained that the program is voluntary. The individual must agree to participate and to take the drug Naltrexone and to maintain contact with and report back to the court. SENATOR BERT STEDMAN asked if this is for first time or multiple offenders and noted that after three DUIs you lose your driving privilege so it's too late. REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE replied it's for repeat offenders and although it may be too late for the person to drive it's not too late for them as a person. SENATOR STEDMAN asked for assurance that this wouldn't take the teeth out of the DUI laws. REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE assured him it would not. SENATOR JOHN COWDERY asked whether she believes that incarceration has an effect on an alcoholic. REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE opined it exacerbates the problem. CHAIR GARY STEVENS said a person in the therapeutic court system might live at home and maintain their job as compared with the individual that is incarcerated and isolated from family and society. REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE agreed. An individual that is under the auspices of the therapeutic court is able to be a productive citizen over the course of the 18 month program. SENATOR COWDERY asked if the individual takes Naltrexone for four months. 4:40 p.m. Senator Guess joined the meeting. REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE replied the program is 18 months, but she'd get back to him with regard to how long participants take Naltrexone. SENATOR COWDERY asked why the participants don't pay all costs rather than just a portion. REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE didn't have an answer. SENATOR COWDERY recounted an anecdotal story. CHAIR GARY STEVENS noted that the fiscal note is from the court system indicating no fiscal impact. There being no further questions, he asked for a motion. SENATOR STEDMAN made a motion to move HCR 29 am from committee with attached fiscal notes and individual recommendations. There being no objection, it was so ordered. CSHB 447(JUD)-2004 REVISOR'S BILL PAMELA FINLEY, revisor of statutes, stated for the record that the purpose of the revisor bill is to clean up the statutes and remove errors. She advised that there is a sectional analysis accompanying the bill that explains each change. Many of the changes are clean ups from the Executive Orders (EO) from the previous session. A copy of the sectional analysis may be found in the bill file. SENATOR JOHN COWDERY recalled that she had come before him previously with revisions and asked when that was. MS. FINLEY explained that there is a revisor bill each year. CHAIR GARY STEVENS noted that this is quite an undertaking each year. MS. FINLEY explained that there are a number of ways to find the errors. When bills are prepared errors are noted, sometimes members of the public draw attention to errors, and the Attorney General's Office and other line agencies sometimes note errors. In addition to that, each year her office examines in depth between six and eight titles in statute and they often find errors that way. SENATOR COWDERY asked whether her office pays attention to the intent behind bills. MS. FINLEY replied that they do keep the intent in mind. There were no further questions. SENATOR STEDMAN made a motion to move CSHB 447(JUD) from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. There being no objection, it was so ordered. CHAIR GARY STEVENS adjourned the meeting at 5:00 pm.