Legislature(2015 - 2016)HOUSE FINANCE 519
03/24/2016 09:30 AM FINANCE
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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 affirmatively. Representative Wilson asked about the cost of the current year's audit. Ms. Pierson deferred to Kris Curtis in the audience. 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 sunset. 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 procedures. 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 extension. 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 RECONVENED