Legislature(2003 - 2004)
02/05/2004 08:05 AM House STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 committee. 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 purposes. 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 adopted. 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 area." 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 point. 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 officer]. 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- 1. 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.