Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

02/26/2009 08:00 AM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 10 MUNICIPAL TAXES: COSTS/EXEMPTIONS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 10(CRA) Out of Committee
*+ HB 106 VILLAGE & REGIONAL PUB.SAFETY OFFICERS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 106(CRA) Out of Committee
*+ HJR 15 CHANGE NAME OF MT. MCKINLEY TO DENALI TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHJR 15(CRA) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HB 106-VILLAGE & REGIONAL PUB.SAFETY OFFICERS                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:27:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MUNOZ  announced that the  next order of  business would                                                               
be HOUSE BILL NO. 106, "An  Act relating to village public safety                                                               
officers and regional public safety officers."                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:28:05 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HERRON  moved to  adopt proposed  CSHB 106,  Version 26-                                                               
LS0402\E,  Luckhaupt, 2/25/09,  as the  working document.   There                                                               
being no objection, Version E was before the committee.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:28:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ELIZABETH  HENSLEY, Intern,  Representative Reggie  Joule, Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  speaking on behalf of  the sponsor, explained                                                               
that HB 106 attempts to  change the Village Public Safety Officer                                                               
(VPSO)  program  to  enable   municipalities  to  administer  and                                                               
receive  grant funding  for the  VPSO program.   The  legislation                                                               
seeks  to  ensure all  villages  in  Alaska  have  a VPSO.    She                                                               
mentioned that this  has been in the works for  about five years.                                                               
Ms.  Hensley  further  explained  that  HB  106  will  allow  the                                                               
Northwest Arctic  Borough to take  over the VPSO program,  as the                                                               
community desires.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:30:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REGGIE JOULE,  Alaska State  Legislature, related                                                               
that [the proposal in HB 106]  is a joint effort between Maniilaq                                                               
Association and the Northwest Arctic Borough.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:31:10 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HERRON  pointed out  that there  has been  a significant                                                               
change  in  the  focus  of   the  legislation  from  boroughs  to                                                               
municipalities.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HENSLEY explained  that the  change was  recommended by  the                                                               
commissioner's office to make it  possible for boroughs and other                                                               
subdivisions of the state to  administer the program.  Therefore,                                                               
legislation wouldn't  be required  for a  community in  which the                                                               
Native corporation is unable to administer the program fully.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:32:16 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT  inquired as  to  how  the VPSO  programs                                                               
currently  being  performed by  the  Native  corporation will  be                                                               
transferred to the municipalities.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. HENSLEY  clarified that the  VPSO program is working  well in                                                               
Southwest Alaska, and  thus the intent is to  let those continue.                                                               
The intent  [with HB 106]  is to  allow more flexibility  so that                                                               
another  entity  is  allowed  to  run the  VPSO  program  when  a                                                               
nonprofit corporation isn't able to do so.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT inquired as  to who determines the program                                                               
is or isn't working.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HENSLEY   explained  that   Maniilaq  Association   and  the                                                               
Northwest  Arctic Borough  have,  along  with the  commissioner's                                                               
office, discussed  [the need  for the  program to  be run  by the                                                               
municipality].   She said  that the  aforementioned would  be the                                                               
model when a  change is made.  She noted  that the commissioner's                                                               
office  does  the  contracting in  conjunction  with  the  Native                                                               
corporation or the borough.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:35:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   CISSNA  opined   that  the   VPSO  presence   is                                                               
imperative  in  a  community.    She  then  inquired  as  to  the                                                               
different powers  that communities assume, such  as public health                                                               
and police powers.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  pointed out that Representative  Cissna had                                                               
specified the  level of  powers that  a borough  may assume  as a                                                               
political  subdivision.   For  example, as  a  home rule  borough                                                               
Barrow  has  assumed  the  power of  health  and  public  safety.                                                               
However, that's  not the  case in  the Northwest  Arctic Borough.                                                               
He  noted that  some incorporated  municipalities have  their own                                                               
police  departments.    This   legislation  wouldn't  impact  the                                                               
aforementioned.  He reiterated that  the Northwest Arctic Borough                                                               
and  Maniilaq  Association have  worked  toward  this end  for  a                                                               
number of  years and this  legislation merely allows  the borough                                                               
to  take over  the  agreement with  the  state; this  legislation                                                               
allows the commissioner the flexibility to allow such.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:37:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT inquired  as  to  why municipalities  and                                                               
boroughs weren't included in the management of VPSOs initially.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE related  his understanding  that it  was an                                                               
effort to  work with  the outlying communities  in the  state and                                                               
keep the  program at the local  level.  Furthermore, at  the time                                                               
the VPSO program was established there weren't many boroughs.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT  inquired as to how  the Native nonprofits                                                               
feel about HB 106.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE  said  that  he hasn't  heard  from  anyone                                                               
because the intent  is to provide flexibility with  regard to who                                                               
can provide  the VPSO program.   There is  no intent to  take the                                                               
VPSO program away from the nonprofit associations.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:40:06 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   MILLETT  inquired   as  to   whether  there   is                                                               
preferential  treatment with  regard to  what entity  assumes the                                                               
VPSO program.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. HENSLEY opined  that the preference is in regard  to what the                                                               
community is asking  for and what entities have  the capacity and                                                               
will to  provide the VPSO program.   At this time,  the Northwest                                                               
Arctic  Borough feels  it has  the capacity  to provide  the VPSO                                                               
program.  Ms.  Hensley said she didn't imagine there  would be an                                                               
automatic preference, nor is such reflected in HB 106.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:41:14 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER inquired  as to  why HB  106 is  necessary                                                               
since  an  organized  municipality  surely  has  the  ability  to                                                               
contract and receive funds to manage a VPSO program.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. HENSLEY  explained that in  order to participate in  the VPSO                                                               
program, this legislation must be  passed.  She then informed the                                                               
committee that the VPSO program  has many components, including a                                                               
training  component,  a  financial component,  and  a  discussion                                                               
component.    The  goal  is  to have  a  VPSO  in  every  village                                                               
possible, which  HB 106 would  help achieve faster.   She related                                                               
that in the  Northwest Arctic Borough there is one  VPSO and nine                                                               
villages without VPSOs.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  explained that HB 106  is necessary because                                                               
the borough doesn't have the  financial wherewithal to assume the                                                               
public safety  powers it could as  a borough.  Therefore,  HB 106                                                               
enables the  state to  contract with the  borough to  provide the                                                               
service without the borough having to assume the broader powers.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:45:28 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR HERRON  noted his support for  HB 106.  He  then related                                                               
his  understanding that  originally  there were  many tribal  and                                                               
village public safety  officers and thus there was  the desire to                                                               
start the program within that framework.   He said he supports HB
106 because there could be instances  in which one wants to groom                                                               
individuals  within   the  community   to  be   VPSOs,  municipal                                                               
officers, and  ultimately state troopers.   The program  offers a                                                               
good approach to building careers  for young people in Alaska, he                                                               
opined.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:47:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA,  recalling  her time  on  the  [municipal                                                               
level]   public   safety   finance  subcommittee,   related   her                                                               
observation of the difficulty in  increasing the number of VPSOs.                                                               
She  asked  if  [the  VPSO program]  is  like  an  administrative                                                               
partnership and the role of  [the Department of Public Safety] is                                                               
both financial and administrative.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:48:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOSEPH  MASTERS,  Commissioner,   Department  of  Public  Safety,                                                               
clarified that HB  106 isn't intended to change  the VPSO program                                                               
or  how  it  interacts  with  the  nonprofit  corporations.    He                                                               
explained that  the VPSO is a  state program and not  intended to                                                               
provide  officers to  boroughs or  municipalities, but  rather is                                                               
only intended  to allow  DPS to provide  VPSO grants  to villages                                                               
through  other entities  [besides Native  corporations] that  can                                                               
better administer the  program.  With regard to  why boroughs and                                                               
cities  didn't   initially  participate  in  the   VPSO  program,                                                               
Commissioner Masters related that the  intent was to place safety                                                               
officers in  communities with  a population  of less  than 1,000.                                                               
This  would  be a  cooperative  relationship  between the  state,                                                               
regional corporations,  and the  individual villages to  have the                                                               
most effective program.   The VPSO wasn't intended to  be a total                                                               
state   or   government   program   without   local   input   and                                                               
collaboration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:51:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  HERRON  recalled a  time  when  the attitude  from  the                                                               
Alaska State Troopers  was that VPSOs were  unwanted, although he                                                               
said he understood that's not the current attitude.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS   opined  that  often  the   focus  on  law                                                               
enforcement   efforts  and   strategies   is   driven  from   the                                                               
commissioner  through to  the deputy  commissioners  and down  to                                                               
those who actually  administer the programs and  initiatives.  He                                                               
said  he  wasn't  comfortable  characterizing  the  attitudes  of                                                               
previous commissioners or departmental  leadership with regard to                                                               
the  VPSO  program.   However,  he  related  that his  rural  law                                                               
enforcement  strategy is  to increase  the  effectiveness of  the                                                               
troopers  and  the  local  level   efforts,  including  the  VPSO                                                               
program.   Commissioner Masters stated  that the VPSO  program is                                                               
absolutely  necessary  in order  to  be  effective in  rural  law                                                               
enforcement.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:54:22 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HARRIS   recalled  the  difficulty   with  drugs,                                                               
alcohol,  huffing, and  etcetera in  rural  areas.   Some of  the                                                               
remedy   to  the   aforementioned  issues   has  been   more  law                                                               
enforcement  in the  area.   However, it's  difficult to  place a                                                               
trooper in  every village.   He  asked if HB  106 helps  to bring                                                               
access to  a VPSO in  many of the  smaller communities.   He also                                                               
asked if HB 106 helps with  recruitment for the VPSO program from                                                               
the local areas.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  MASTERS  specified  that this  legislation  doesn't                                                               
necessarily add  VPSOs to communities that  wouldn't already have                                                               
been eligible to have VPSOs.   The department continues to try to                                                               
expand the  capacity of the  VPSO program.  This  legislation, he                                                               
explained,  allows those  areas  that  can't effectively  manage,                                                               
recruit,  and retain  VPSOs  to have  another  entity manage  the                                                               
program and  fill the positions.   In  the case of  the Northwest                                                               
Arctic  Borough, HB  106 would  allow another  entity, an  entity                                                               
that's  better equipped  to  manage the  program,  to manage  it.                                                               
Therefore,  this legislation  does make  [DPS] more  effective in                                                               
placing  VPSOs  in  communities in  those  areas.    Commissioner                                                               
Masters  then  related  his  support  for  HB  106,  although  he                                                               
mentioned  some reservations  with some  of the  language in  the                                                               
legislation.   He noted  that he has  voiced those  concerns with                                                               
the  sponsor  and  intends  to work  on  those  concerns  between                                                               
committees.    In  further  response  to  Representative  Harris,                                                               
Commissioner  Masters confirmed  that his  office works  with the                                                               
governor's  office   regarding  all   legislation  on   which  he                                                               
testifies.   However, he said  that he hasn't had  a conversation                                                               
with the governor on HB 106 specifically.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:59:47 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BOB  SCHAEFFER,   Public  Services  Director,   Northwest  Arctic                                                               
Borough, reviewed the  history of the VPSO program.   He recalled                                                               
when the VPSO  program was established in the  1970s, and related                                                               
that  it did  work.   At  the time  the  Red Dog  Mine wasn't  in                                                               
existence  and  the  finances  of   the  villages  were  minimal.                                                               
However, once the  Red Dog mine opened, the salaries  in the area                                                               
changed the  income levels.   The aforementioned resulted  in the                                                               
VPSO program  becoming ineffective because  no one could  be paid                                                               
enough  to come  to  the  villages and  there  were no  benefits.                                                               
Furthermore, there was  no support and very  little vacation time                                                               
allowed.   For  the last  five to  six years  it has  been almost                                                               
impossible  to  find folks  to  fill  the VPSO  positions  simply                                                               
because of the  low salary.  Furthermore,  the infrastructure and                                                               
buildings constructed  in the 1970s  have deteriorated.   He then                                                               
recalled that in 1986 the  Northwest Arctic Borough established a                                                               
public  safety  commission  to  address  the  borough  resident's                                                               
concerns  regarding public  safety in  general.   Ultimately, the                                                               
borough assembly  requested that the borough  administration find                                                               
ways to  address the lack  of public safety.   He noted  that the                                                               
Northwest Arctic  Borough is  a small  borough that  doesn't have                                                               
the  resources to  take control  of  public safety.   The  public                                                               
safety commission  met multiple  times and  asked if  the borough                                                               
would like  to take  over public safety  functions.   In closing,                                                               
Mr.  Schaeffer specified  that the  Northwest  Arctic Borough  is                                                               
looking  for  a mechanism  to  [provide  public safety]  and  the                                                               
belief  is that  the  borough  could put  more  resources in  the                                                               
program   and  likely   become  more   successful  in   terms  of                                                               
recruitment.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:07:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUE  STANCLIFF, Special  Assistant, Office  of the  Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of  Public Safety,  related  that  the department  is                                                               
committed  to  work  with  the  sponsor  regarding  concerns  the                                                               
department has.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:08:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SIIKAURAQ  MARTHA  WHITING,   Mayor,  Northwest  Arctic  Borough,                                                               
related the Northwest  Arctic Borough's support for HB  106.  She                                                               
further  related that  public  service in  law  enforcement is  a                                                               
borough priority.   Currently, the  VPSO program  is administered                                                               
by the  Maniilaq Association, a  regional nonprofit  that's doing                                                               
all it  can to provide  [public safety]  in the villages.   There                                                               
are  many challenges,  including  finding local  people who  will                                                               
pass the  background check, low  salaries, lack of  housing, lack                                                               
of jail facilities, long training  periods outside the community,                                                               
and lack  of holding  cells.   There is  also the  challenge that                                                               
people don't want to bust friends  and family.  The borough is up                                                               
for those challenges,  she opined.  In 2006  the Northwest Arctic                                                               
leadership  team assigned  the Northwest  Arctic Borough  to take                                                               
the lead in  public safety through the  borough's public services                                                               
department,  although the  borough  doesn't have  a mechanism  to                                                               
                                                th                                                                              
administer  the VPSO  program.   On  February 24   the  Northwest                                                               
Arctic Borough Assembly passed a  resolution in support of HB 106                                                               
and  recently  hired  a  public safety  manager  to  manage  this                                                               
program.  Ms. Whiting emphasized  that the smaller communities of                                                               
the state  deserve this  basic service  and the  Northwest Arctic                                                               
Borough  is ready  to  assume the  responsibility  [for the  VPSO                                                               
program].   The borough  already partners  with the  Alaska State                                                               
Troopers, the  Kotzebue Police Department, and  continues to meet                                                               
with DPS  to succeed.  She  related that the borough  wants to be                                                               
proactive  in crime  prevention  by  providing public  awareness,                                                               
ease,  and involvement.    She mentioned  using  local elders  to                                                               
teach discipline,  responsibility, self control,  and leadership.                                                               
As  a community-based  organization,  the borough  is looking  at                                                               
preventing crimes  and building a  healthier community.   In 2007                                                               
the  borough hosted  a  law enforcement  summit  with DPS  during                                                               
which  the statewide  needs for  public safety  were reviewed  in                                                               
order to  glean ideas as  to what would  work in terms  of public                                                               
safety  in the  Northwest  Arctic  Borough and  the  region as  a                                                               
whole.  Recommendations from the  communities will be reviewed by                                                               
the commission  and the activities  will be prioritized  in order                                                               
to achieve  long-sustaining public safety  in the villages.   Ms.                                                               
Whiting then relayed that there  is a congressional appropriation                                                               
from the  US Department of Justice  in the amount of  $500,000 to                                                               
the  Northwest  Arctic  Borough  to  provide  VPSO  training  and                                                               
planning opportunities.   In  conclusion, Ms.  Whiting reiterated                                                               
support for HB 106.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:15:08 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MUNOZ, upon  determining no one else  wished to testify,                                                               
closed public testimony.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:15:14 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  HERRON  moved to  report  CSHB  106, Version  LS0402\E,                                                               
Luckhaupt,   2/25/09,   out    of   committee   with   individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no  objection,   CSHB  106(CRA)  was  reported   from  the  House                                                               
Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:15:47 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 9:15 a.m. to 9:21 a.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 10 - Sectional.pdf HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 10
CSHB106- 26-LS0402E.PDF HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 106
HB 10 -- SCS CSHB67(CRA).pdf HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 10
HB 67
HB 10 -- CSHB67(FIN)am.pdf HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 10
HB 67
HB10.pdf HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 10
HB106 Sectional.doc HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 106
HB106 Sponsor Statement.doc HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 106
HB 10 Sponsor Statement.doc HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 10
HB 10 letters of support.PDF HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 10
HB 10 Ltrs of Support II.PDF HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 10
HB10-Fiscal Note-COM-CRA-2-20-09.pdf HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 10
HB106-Fiscal Note-DPS-DET-02-23-09.pdf HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 106
HJR 15 AMENDMENT 1.doc HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HJR 15
HJR 15 Sponsor Statement.doc HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HJR 15
HJR15 AMENDMENT 2.doc HCRA 2/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HJR 15