Legislature(2015 - 2016)HOUSE FINANCE 519

03/24/2016 09:30 AM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time --
Moved CSHB 77(FIN) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Moved CSHB 231(FIN) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Moved CSHB 222(FIN) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 231                                                                                                            
     "An Act extending the termination date of the Board of                                                                     
     Parole; and providing for an effective date."                                                                              
Vice-Chair  Saddler MOVED  to ADOPT  the proposed  committee                                                                    
substitute  for  HB  231 (FIN),  Work  Draft  (29-LS1138\H).                                                                    
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                    
JANE   PIERSON,   STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE   STEVE   THOMPSON,                                                                    
explained  that  the  change   in  the  bill  shortened  the                                                                    
extension date  from 2022 to  2019 providing 3  years before                                                                    
the  termination  came  before the  legislature  again.  The                                                                    
parole  was a  board that  might go  through changes  if the                                                                    
state changed its criminal statutes.                                                                                            
Representative Wilson  asked if  an audit would  be required                                                                    
as  a result  of changing  the date.  Ms. Pierson  responded                                                                    
Representative Wilson  asked about  the cost of  the current                                                                    
year's audit.  Ms. Pierson  deferred to  Kris Curtis  in the                                                                    
Representative  Wilson  requested  getting the  answer  from                                                                    
whomever was appropriate.                                                                                                       
Co-Chair  Thompson  noted  that  Representative  Pruitt  had                                                                    
joined the meeting.                                                                                                             
ESTER  MIELKE,  STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE   BOB  LYNN,  had  no                                                                    
further comments.                                                                                                               
9:36:47 AM                                                                                                                    
KRIS  CURTIS,   LEGISLATIVE  AUDITOR,  ALASKA   DIVISION  OF                                                                    
LEGISLATIVE  AUDIT,  responded  to  Representative  Wilson's                                                                    
question. She  explained that  the audit  took approximately                                                                    
700 hours  and the cost  per hour was  about $70 for  FY 15.                                                                    
The total cost of the audit was approximately $50 thousand.                                                                     
Representative Wilson asked whether  a change in dates would                                                                    
have  made  a difference  to  the  audit. She  thought  that                                                                    
changes  to the  parole board  could still  be made  and the                                                                    
sunset could be extended in  the normal process for statute.                                                                    
Ms.  Curtis concurred  that  changes could  be  made to  the                                                                    
parole board  outside of the  sunset process. The  office of                                                                    
Legislative  Audit  had  no opinion  concerning  the  sunset                                                                    
date. It would be up to  the policy makers to decide whether                                                                    
it was worth the extra cost.                                                                                                    
Representative Wilson  wondered if  the time  between audits                                                                    
influenced their  costs. She remarked  that the  last sunset                                                                    
was much longer than the  current audit being discussed. She                                                                    
wondered if  the cost  would be $50  thousand no  matter the                                                                    
Ms. Curtis responded  that if the time between  audits was a                                                                    
shorter period  the cost would  be less because it  would be                                                                    
completed  more  quickly.  However,   due  to  the  dramatic                                                                    
changes  to  the  landscape  it could  be  a  longer  audit.                                                                    
Several  factors  impacted  the  length  of  an  audit.  She                                                                    
relayed  that if  everything stayed  the  same typically  an                                                                    
audit took less time.                                                                                                           
Co-Chair Thompson  indicated Representative Gara  had joined                                                                    
the committee.                                                                                                                  
9:39:12 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Guttenberg mentioned  that  there were  four                                                                    
recommendations  from   the  audit  but   expressed  concern                                                                    
regarding the  report. The  findings included:  Parole board                                                                    
files   did   not    consistently   contain   all   required                                                                    
information,  notifications to  offenders  and victims  were                                                                    
not sufficiently documented, changes  to regulations did not                                                                    
address  statutory  requirements,  and the  audit  contained                                                                    
several   deficiencies  that   could  affect   security  and                                                                    
consistency  of data.  He asked  about the  severity of  the                                                                    
findings in  terms of the  functioning of the  parole board.                                                                    
He asked how  far out of alignment these  findings were from                                                                    
normal practices.                                                                                                               
Ms.  Curtis  responded  that  none  of  the  recommendations                                                                    
impacted  the auditor's  recommendation  for extension.  She                                                                    
furthered that  the auditor would have  recommended the full                                                                    
8 years, the maximum allowed  in statute, had there not been                                                                    
a concern for  the need for oversight. The reason  had to do                                                                    
with the change in the  risk assessment tool towards the end                                                                    
of  the  audit.  The  auditors  were not  able  to  see  and                                                                    
evaluate its impact. The auditors  did not consider SB 91 in                                                                    
the audit  recommended. The board was  operating fairly well                                                                    
and professionally. She  explained that whenever Legislative                                                                    
Audit  conducts an  audit  it  considered documentation  and                                                                    
9:41:28 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative Guttenberg asked if  the office was lacking a                                                                    
filing  clerk   position  which   could  be   affecting  the                                                                    
efficiency of operations.                                                                                                       
Ms. Curtis answered that it  was the interaction between the                                                                    
board and  the department. Some of  the documentation issues                                                                    
had  to   do  with   the  interactions   with  institutional                                                                    
correctional officers  and to  what degree  they documented.                                                                    
It also  had to  do with what  degree they  were effectively                                                                    
using the  management system to  document. It was  not about                                                                    
missing a  staff person, but about  the coordination between                                                                    
the board and the department.                                                                                                   
Representative Guttenberg  wondered if it was  for training.                                                                    
Ms. Curtis  replied that  it was just  being aware  of where                                                                    
they were at and a willingness to improve.                                                                                      
Co-Chair Thompson OPENED public testimony.                                                                                      
Co-Chair Thompson CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                      
Representative Wilson  was not going  to stop the  bill from                                                                    
moving forward.  However, she was comfortable  with the date                                                                    
currently on  the bill. She did  not see any red  flags that                                                                    
would constitute  a date change  to 3 years.  She understood                                                                    
there were several  moving pieces but believed  all could be                                                                    
completed  and the  checks and  balances could  be performed                                                                    
without  adding more  work for  the auditors.  She preferred                                                                    
not to change the date.                                                                                                         
Co-Chair  Thompson   had  taken  pending   legislation  into                                                                    
consideration  that  could alter  what  the  state would  be                                                                    
doing in the future.                                                                                                            
9:44:03 AM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Gara agreed  with Representative  Wilson. He                                                                    
thought it  took time  and money to  have the  auditors come                                                                    
before   the  committee.   He  suggested   a  5-year   board                                                                    
Representative Gara  MOVED to ADOPT a  conceptual amendment:                                                                    
Extend the Board  of Parole to 2021, a 5  year extension [as                                                                    
opposed to the committee substitute's  proposal to 2019, a 3                                                                    
year  proposal] in  Section 1,  page  1 of  the bill.  There                                                                    
being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                          
Vice-Chair Saddler relayed  that HB 231 had  a single fiscal                                                                    
note  from  the Department  of  Corrections.  It called  for                                                                    
$1,017,500  from undesignated  general funds  and $1,019,400                                                                    
from  interagency  receipts.  There   was  a  total  ongoing                                                                    
expense  of  $1,019,400  which was  a  continuation  of  the                                                                    
existing funding.                                                                                                               
Vice-Chair Saddler MOVED to report  CSHB 231(FIN) as amended                                                                    
out  of Committee  with individual  recommendations and  the                                                                    
accompanying fiscal  note. There being NO  OBJECTION, it was                                                                    
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
CSHB  231 (FIN)  was REPORTED  out of  committee with  a "do                                                                    
pass" recommendation  and with a  new fiscal impact  note by                                                                    
the Department of Corrections.                                                                                                  
9:47:03 AM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
9:48:57 AM