Legislature(1995 - 1996)

05/06/1995 08:30 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  SENATE BILL 115                                                              
       "An  Act relating  to the  establishment, modification,                 
       and enforcement of support orders and the determination                 
       of parentage  in  situations involving  more  than  one                 
       state;  amending  Alaska   Rule  of  Administration  9;                 
       amending Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure 79 and 82; and                 
       providing for an effective date."                                       
  STEWART  HALL, OFFICE OF THE  OMBUDSMAN, spoke in support of                 
  SB 115.   He stated that passage of the bill would help many                 
  people who have sought help  through the Ombudsman's Office.                 
  He  summarized  that  enactment  of  the  legislation  would                 
  streamline the  process by providing  speedier collection of                 
  payments.  He urged favorable consideration of the bill.                     
  DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, explained that the proposed                 
  bill  was  two  bills  rolled  into  one.   The  first  bill                 
  addresses the Uniform Interstate  Family Support Act (UIFSA)                 
  which  would  eliminate  the  multiple  order system.    She                 
  commented that the current system is unfair and difficult to                 
  manage.   The legislation  would  establish one  continuing,                 
  exclusive jurisdiction and determination would be defined in                 
  that  legislation.    This  was  written  from  the  federal                 
  guidelines and has been implemented by other states.                         
  Ms. Straube pointed  out that 44%  of the agency's  caseload                 
  involves  inter-state cases.    Once  another state  becomes                 
  involved,  the  situation  becomes  complicated  because  of                 
  individual state laws.                                                       
  The legislation would also generate additional collection of                 
  $340  thousand  per year  of  the  State's share  of  Alaska                 
  Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) reimbursements.                      
  Ms. Straube continued, the second  portion of the bill would                 
  result in  the administrative paternity establishment.   New                 
  federal guidelines  require that  75% of  all child  support                 
  orders  must be  established within  six months.   She noted                 
  that unfortunately, to  establish orders, paternity  must be                 
  established.    The legislation  would  allow administrative                 
  establishment of  paternity, at  the same  time providing  a                 
  "due process".    Without the  legislation  passed,  federal                 
  timeliness will not  be met.   Ms. Straube pointed out  that                 
  the  Senate Finance  Committee  amended the  legislation  in                 
  order to create  a "disestablishment" of paternity  and that                 
  the Department is concerned about that change.                               
  Representative Parnell asked if other state exemptions would                 
  be recognized for garnishment by Alaska.                                     
  ATTORNEY GENERAL,  DEPARTMENT OF  LAW, ANCHORAGE,  responded                 
  that  the  statute   provides  that   in  a  direct   income                 
  withholding situation, the  employer should treat the  order                 
  which  came  from another  state  as  if it  came  from that                 
  specific state.  She commented that  in Alaska, there are no                 
  exemptions for child support.                                                
  Representative Parnell noted that a percentage of the annual                 
  income would be  used to determine the amount  available for                 
  garnishment.   He questioned  the concern  that the  current                 
  Administration has with the "disestablishment" of paternity.                 
  Ms.  Straube  noted that  genetic  testing is  currently not                 
  required, consequently, the State would be looking at places                 
  of paternity not  yet established by  the courts.  She  said                 
  that the  State could be  faced with  people who had  done a                 
  voluntarily  acknowledgement,  following  with  the  default                 
  Discussion followed between Representative  Parnell, Ms. May                 
  and Ms. Straube regarding the disestablishment of paternity.                 
  Representative Martin asked  what was being repealed  in the                 
  legislation.  Ms. May stated that  Chapter 25 is the Uniform                 
  Reciprocal Enforcement Support  Act (URESA)  and that it  is                 
  the precursor to  Uniform Law  encompassed in SB  115.   She                 
  continued, previous to  that law, the URESA was  the uniform                 
  law enacted by all the States.                                               
  Ms. Straube noted  that modification  occurs when there  has                 
  been  a   significant  change  either  way.     In  the  new                 
  legislation, modification will be taken from the moment that                 
  all parties  have served  and notified  that the  process is                 
  occurring.  Retroactive modification will not allow a person                 
  to go back before filing.  Ms.  Straube concluded that it is                 
  a federal  mandate to  allow people  to file  modifications.                 
  There are no costs associated with filing a modification.                    
  Representative Martin asked why the modification request was                 
  being made.   Ms.  Straube advised  that the  Senate Finance                 
  Committee  added  that  portion  of  the bill  and  that  it                 
  addresses "disestablishment" of paternity.  Ms. May directed                 
  that the purpose  of that aspect  of the legislation was  to                 
  allow the person  who disestablishes not  to be required  to                 
  pay arrearage.                                                               
  Representative  Brown  asked  if  all  the  civil  rules  of                 
  procedural  changes  would  relate  to  disestablishment  of                 
  paternity.   Ms. May stated that they are not all related to                 
  disestablishment.  She  responded to Representative  Brown's                 
  question regarding  how the rule  was changed.   She  stated                 
  that  under the  legislation, if  an  obligee prevails  in a                 
  matter before the  court, the obligor may be assessed costs;                 
  if an obligor prevails, the court may not assess fees, costs                 
  or expenses against the obligee.                                             
  Representative  Parnell asked if  a requirement  exists that                 
  the father  be informed  of his  right to  file a  paternity                 
  suit.  Ms. Straube  explained that the father would  need to                 
  respond   within    thirty   days   regarding    the   suit.                 
  Representative Parnell asked if the same circumstances would                 
  exist with the Notice  of Repeal.  Ms. Straube  replied that                 
  when the father is notified that  they have lost the appeal,                 
  they are then notified that they  have the right to judicial                 
  Representative    Parnell    examined    that   one    could                 
  administratively   start   proceedings   to  determine   the                 
  paternity  of the  child,  although at  the  same time,  the                 
  legislation would not allow the father to disestablish their                 
  paternity  obligation  through  the  courts.    Ms.  Straube                 
  explained that portion had  not been a part of  the original                 
  legislation,  although,   now  that  it   is  included,  the                 
  Department  is not  testifying  to  have  it removed.    She                 
  commented that the  issue in regards to  disestablishment is                 
  far bigger.  In order to establish paternity, the court will                 
  look at two concerns:                                                        
       1.   Does the genetic test prove a 95% or better chance                 
            who the father is; or                                              
       2.   Has    the    father    provided    a    voluntary                 
  If   either  circumstance  has   occurred,  that  person  is                 
  adjudicated to be the father.                                                
  Representative  Parnell  asked  the  fiscal  impact  of  the                 
  "disestablishment" section of the bill.   Ms. Straube stated                 
  that it  will affect  the  Department and  that effect  will                 
  depend on the "run" resulting from  the action.  She thought                 
  that  there  would  be  many  more requests  then  currently                 
  Ms.  Straube  commented   that  the   courts  do  not   have                 
  established standards.   They  look at  the entire  picture.                 
  She felt that it would be  a lot of power delegated to  that                 
  Representative  Brown  MOVED  to  adopt   to  Amendment  #1.                 
  [Attachment   #1].      Representative    Mulder   OBJECTED.                 
  Representative  Parnell  thought  that  the amendment  would                 
  establish a system which  could disestablish paternity, then                 
  granting  the   agency  authority  to   create  regulations.                 
  Representative Mulder remarked that  the amendment would add                 
  additional unnecessary laws on the books.                                    
  Representative  Grussendorf  pointed   out  the   tremendous                 
  expense to the Department in establishing the paternity of a                 
  child.      He   spoke   in   support  of   the   amendment.                 
  Representative  Parnell  pointed out  that  the cost  of the                 
  genetic testing would be assessed  against the petitioner if                 
  paternity was established.                                                   
  Ms. Straube spoke  to the tremendous costs  currently within                 
  the  Department.  She  added that punitive  fathers have the                 
  right  at  all  times  to  go  to  court  to "disestablish".                 
  Representative Mulder  countered the tremendous  expense "to                 
  go" to court.                                                                
  (Tape Change, HFC 95-115, Side 1).                                           
  Representative   Brown  asked  if   the  Division   had  fee                 
  establishing authority.  Ms. Straube noted that they do have                 
  it for genetic  testing.   Representative Brown stated  that                 
  agencies do not have the authority to establish fees  unless                 
  the   Legislature  provides   that  authority.     She  then                 
  questioned the legal recourse that  an adoptive parent would                 
  have.    Ms.  Straube stated  that  the  Senate provided  an                 
  amendment   on  Page  30,   Line  30,   stating:  "...unless                 
  established  by   court"  which  would   specifically  cover                 
  adoption paternity concern.                                                  
  A roll call was taken on the MOTION to adopt Amendment #1.                   
       IN FAVOR:      Brown, Grussendorf                                       
       OPPOSED:       Parnell,  Therriault,   Kelly,  Kohring,                 
                      Martin, Mulder, Foster                                   
  Representatives Navarre and Hanley were  not present for the                 
  The MOTION FAILED (2-7).                                                     
  Representative Therriault distributed and  briefly discussed                 
  an amendment provided to the Committee as drafted by Senator                 
  Rieger.  [Attachment #2].                                                    
  CS  SB  115   (FIN)  was  HELD  in   Committee  for  further                 

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