Legislature(2003 - 2004)
02/24/2004 01:54 PM House FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 th 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 Committee. 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.