Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/24/2004 01:54 PM House FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 357                                                                                                            
     An Act relating to restitution; and providing for an                                                                       
     effective date.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  RALPH  SAMUELS   stated  that  HB  357  would                                                                   
require  judges to order  restitution  from criminals  in all                                                                   
cases where  a victim  suffered a financial  loss.   He added                                                                   
that when  financial losses of  victims are ignored  or given                                                                   
less priority  than the rights  of criminals, they  are being                                                                   
victimized  again.   HB  357 would  require  judges to  order                                                                   
restitution  in every  case  where a  victim  has suffered  a                                                                   
financial loss.   Under present law, a judge may,  but is not                                                                   
required to  do so.  The  change would ensure  that offenders                                                                   
are ordered  to make realistic  restitution payments  to help                                                                   
make the victim whole within a reasonable period of time.                                                                       
Representative  Samuels  added that  the  bill would  clarify                                                                   
that  a minor  who has  been ordered  to  pay restitution  be                                                                   
required to do so beyond their 19 birthday.                                                                                     
STEVE  BRANCHFLOWER, (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  OFFICE                                                                   
OF VICTIM RIGHTS,  ANCHORAGE, offered to answer  questions of                                                                   
the Committee, noting that he supports the bill 100%.                                                                           
Representative  Stoltze inquired  if there  were any  reasons                                                                   
for  not   implementing  the  legislation.     Representative                                                                   
Samuels  responded  that  the   Constitution  indicates  that                                                                   
intent.   The legislation  creates a  statute to follow  that                                                                   
Constitution.  He  stated that a victim would  want a payment                                                                   
schedule   in   order   to   make    that   person   "whole".                                                                   
Representative  Stoltze  reiterated  that  it  would  be  the                                                                   
Legislature implementing the provisions  of the Constitution.                                                                   
He pointed  out that  more people voted  for that  than voted                                                                   
against the Permanent Fund Dividend.                                                                                            
DIANE  WENDLANDT,   (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),   CHIEF                                                                   
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY  GENERAL, CORRECTIONS SUPPORT,  DEPARTMENT                                                                   
OF LAW,  ANCHORAGE, offered  to answer  any questions  of the                                                                   
LINDA   WILSON,  (TESTIFIED   VIA   TELECONFERENCE),   PUBLIC                                                                   
DEFENDER  OFFICE,  DEPARTMENT OF  ADMINISTRATION,  ANCHORAGE,                                                                   
testified that  even though the State Constitution  does give                                                                   
the right  to restitution,  it is  important that the  victim                                                                   
exercise  that right  and that  "requiring restitution"  when                                                                   
the victim does not request it, could be problematic.                                                                           
Representative Samuels referenced  Page 1, Line 4, explaining                                                                   
that the  victim could decline  restitution.  There  could be                                                                   
cases in  which, a family  member would not want  restitution                                                                   
or put a financial  mark on that person.  Restitution  can be                                                                   
declined and that language is currently in the bill.                                                                            
Representative  Fate  asked  if  there were  any  Statute  of                                                                   
Limitations on either making a  payment program or the payout                                                                   
in the  future.  Representative  Samuels advised that  if the                                                                   
person  were convicted  of  the crime,  then  the Statute  of                                                                   
Limitation  would  apply.   The  legislation  becomes  active                                                                   
during the sentencing phase.                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Harris noted  his  concern with  the  indeterminate                                                                   
fiscal  notes.   Representative Samuels  understood that  the                                                                   
Department  of  Law and  the  Public Defender  Agency  voiced                                                                   
concern  that  there  might  be   more  restitution  hearings                                                                   
resulting  from passage  of the  legislation.   He argued  it                                                                   
could go either  way, and noted that he did  not support that                                                                   
concept.    Representative  Samuels  thought it  would  be  a                                                                   
minimal impact to the agencies.                                                                                                 
Representative Foster MOVED to  report CS HB 357 (JUD) out of                                                                   
Committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  with  the                                                                   
accompanying fiscal notes.  There  being NO OBJECTION, it was                                                                   
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
CS HB  357 (JUD)  was reported  out of  Committee with  a "do                                                                   
pass" recommendation  and with  indeterminate note #1  by the                                                                   
Department  of Administration  and indeterminate  note  #2 by                                                                   
the Department of Law.                                                                                                          

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