Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/05/2004 08:05 AM House STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 241-MUNICIPAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION                                                                                       
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that the  first order of  business was                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 241, "An  Act relating to optional exemptions from                                                               
municipal property taxes on residential property."                                                                              
[Before the  committee, adopted  as a work  draft on  January 27,                                                               
2004, was the  committee substitute (CS) for HB  241, Version 23-                                                               
LS0851\D, Cook, 1/22/04.]                                                                                                       
Number 0200                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON,  at the request of  Chair Weyhrauch, moved                                                               
to  withdraw  Version D  and  place  Version  A back  before  the                                                               
Number 0214                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  asked if there  was any objection.   There being                                                               
none,  he clarified  that HB  241, Version  A [the  original bill                                                               
version] was before the committee.                                                                                              
Number 0235                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  [moved to  adopt] Amendment 1,  which read                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     Page 1 Line 7                                                                                                              
     After the word "subsection," add the words "may or"                                                                    
     Page 1 Line 11                                                                                                             
     Delete Sec. 2                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON explained that  the new wording would allow                                                               
the municipality  or borough  to have the  option of  applying or                                                               
not  applying for  the  exemption  to the  tax  base for  special                                                               
taxing areas.                                                                                                                   
Number 0322                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH   objected  [to  the  motion],   for  discussion                                                               
Number 0340                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  suggested the wording,  "subsection may                                                               
be implied", implies  that it "may or  may not."  He  said it was                                                               
implicit in "may" that it "may or may not."                                                                                     
Number 0389                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   SEATON   accepted   Representative   Berkowitz's                                                               
suggestion as a friendly amendment.                                                                                             
Number 0483                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH stated that Amendment  1, as amended, would read,                                                               
"In [page 1], line 7, delete the word 'not'."                                                                                   
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH withdrew  his  objection and  asked for  further                                                               
objections.   There  being  none, Amendment  1  [as amended]  was                                                               
Number 0533                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  turned  to Amendment  2,  labeled  23-                                                               
LS0851\A.1, Cook, 2/4/04, which read:                                                                                           
     Page 2, following line 4:                                                                                                  
          Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                    
      "* Sec. 3.  AS 29.45.050 is amended by adding a new                                                                   
     subsection to read:                                                                                                        
          (s)  A municipality may by ordinance designate an                                                                     
     area within  its boundaries  as a  high crime  area and                                                                    
     exempt from  taxation an amount  not to  exceed $10,000                                                                    
     of the assessed value of  real property within the area                                                                    
     that  is owned  and occupied  as a  permanent place  of                                                                    
     abode by a peace officer."                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG explained  Amendment  2  would allow  a                                                               
municipality  to pass  an ordinance  that  designates high  crime                                                               
areas and  allows a  tax exemption for  police officers  who move                                                               
into such  areas.   He said it  would be only  a small  amount of                                                               
money; therefore, it would be more of a symbolic gesture.                                                                       
Number 0635                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  asked for  the definition  of a  "high crime                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  replied that  it would  be left  to the                                                               
municipality - if  it wishes - to define the  high crime area and                                                               
allow the tax exemption.                                                                                                        
Number 0739                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ,  in response  to a suggestion  by Chair                                                               
Weyhrauch  to  add  a  hold   harmless  provision  by  which  any                                                               
municipality  that adopts  this ordinance  would not  seek offset                                                               
from the State of Alaska for  any decline in local revenues, said                                                               
he doesn't  believe municipalities receive any  [revenue] at this                                                               
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH explained  that such  a provision  would prevent                                                               
future legislatures  from being  assaulted by  municipalities for                                                               
this exemption.                                                                                                                 
The committee took an at-ease from 8:14 a.m. to 8:18 a.m.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  moved  to   adopt  Amendment  2  [text                                                               
provided previously].                                                                                                           
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH objected  for discussion purposes.   He offered a                                                               
first amendment to Amendment 2, as follows:                                                                                     
     A municipality adopting such an ordinance may not seek                                                                     
       funding from the state to cover a municipal budget                                                                       
     shortfall caused by the adoption of the ordinance.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he had  no objection.   [The first                                                               
amendment to Amendment 2 was treated as adopted.]                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE   BERKOWITZ  asked   about   the   cost  [of   the                                                               
ordinance].  He inquired if the  amount would be $200 a year [per                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  reiterated that  it  would  be a  very                                                               
small amount - more "symbolic than anything else."                                                                              
Number 0916                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  asked if  the peace  officer needed  to be                                                               
employed by the municipality [to  qualify for the exemption].  He                                                               
asked for the definition of peace officer.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  specified that  peace officer  would be                                                               
defined by the ordinance.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON explained  he  was trying  to clarify  who                                                               
qualified for the exemption.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG clarified that  the ordinance, not state                                                               
law, would define peace officer.   The local municipalities could                                                               
limit [the  exemption] to local  peace officers, if  they wished,                                                               
or to  local and state peace  officers.  He explained  the intent                                                               
is to give local municipalities the authority to decide.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ pointed out  that AS 01.10.060 specifies                                                               
the definition of peace officer.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  said  he  still  wants  to  leave  the                                                               
decision to the municipalities.                                                                                                 
Number 1199                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG moved a  second amendment to Amendment 2                                                               
that read, "by a peace officer, as defined in the ordinance."                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ pointed  out additional  definitions of                                                               
peace officer in Titles 11, 16, and 18.                                                                                         
Number 1230                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  asked if there  was any objection to  the second                                                               
amendment  to Amendment  2,  which he  clarified  would add,  "as                                                               
defined  in the  ordinance" after  "peace officer"  on line  7 of                                                               
Amendment 2.   There being no objection, the  second amendment to                                                               
Amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                                                        
Number 1280                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH asked  if there  was any  further discussion  of                                                               
Amendment  2.   He maintained  his objection  to Amendment  2 [as                                                               
amended] and asked for a roll call.                                                                                             
A  roll  call vote  was  taken.   Representatives  Seaton,  Lynn,                                                               
Berkowitz,  and  Gruenberg voted  in  favor  of Amendment  2  [as                                                               
amended].      Representative   Weyhrauch   voted   against   it.                                                               
Therefore, Amendment 2,  as amended, was adopted by a  vote of 4-                                                               
Number 1315                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON moved to report CSHB 241, Version 23-                                                                     
LS0851\A,   as  amended,   out  of   committee  with   individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no objection,  CSHB 241(STA)  was reported  from the  House State                                                               
Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                                     

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