Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

03/11/2010 08:00 AM House STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 336(STA) Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
          HB 400-VIOLENT CRIMES EMERGENCY COMPENSATION                                                                      
[Contains brief mention of SB 266.]                                                                                             
9:17:44 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN  announced that the  next order of business  was HOUSE                                                               
BILL NO.  400, "An  Act relating  to emergency  compensation from                                                               
the Violent Crimes Compensation Board."                                                                                         
9:18:00 AM                                                                                                                    
NANCY  MANLY,  Staff,  Representative   Bob  Lynn,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  introduced HB  400 on  behalf of  the sponsor,  the                                                               
House  State  Affairs Standing  Committee,  which  is chaired  by                                                               
Representative Lynn.   She said  the HB 400 proposes  to increase                                                               
the  limit  that  victims  of   violent  crimes  can  receive  in                                                               
emergency compensation  from $1,500  to $3,500.   This  limit has                                                               
not  been  increased since  1975  and  is limited  to  relocation                                                               
costs,  verifiable lost  wages, and  counseling for  families and                                                               
victims  whose safety  and well-being  are  at risk.   Ms.  Manly                                                               
explained  that  the  cost  for   these  emergency  expenses  has                                                               
increased   substantially  over   the   years,   and  $1,500   is                                                               
insufficient to  cover deposit  and first  and last  month rents,                                                               
especially when  a family or  dependents are involved.   She said                                                               
emergency  awards  are  necessary   because  the  Violent  Crimes                                                               
Compensation Board (VCCB) meets only  five times per year, and it                                                               
can  be 10-11  weeks before  a claim  is considered.   Ms.  Manly                                                               
reported  that the  compensation fund  receives approximately  70                                                               
percent  of its  appropriations from  the  state in  the form  of                                                               
felons' garnished  permanent fund  dividends and 30  percent from                                                               
federal grants.  She said the  money does not "lapse" once placed                                                               
in the fund.  The compensation  is deducted from the final amount                                                               
given  to the  victim, and  any excess  award must  be repaid  to                                                               
VCCB.   The bill would  not increase  the overall cap  of $40,000                                                               
that can be awarded to a  victim, and there is zero fiscal impact                                                               
on the state, she concluded.                                                                                                    
9:19:37 AM                                                                                                                    
GRIER   HOPKINS,  Staff,   Senator  Joe   Thomas,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, provided information related to  HB 400 on behalf of                                                               
Senator Thomas,  sponsor of SB 266,  a companion bill to  HB 400.                                                               
He relayed  that the VCCB fund  was established in 1972,  with an                                                               
emergency  compensation limit  of $500.   Three  years later,  in                                                               
1975,  that limit  was increased  to  $1,500.   Mr. Hopkins  said                                                               
calculated for inflation  today, that same $1,500  would have the                                                               
purchasing power of  approximately $6,000.  He said  VCCB came to                                                               
the $3,500  proposed in HB 400  based on the average  rental cost                                                               
of  $1,200-$1,500 per  month,  doubled to  cover  first and  last                                                               
month's rent,  with a deposit.   He listed the  allowable reasons                                                               
for giving  out emergency compensation,  as previously  stated by                                                               
Ms.  Manly.    He  added  that  victims  must  show  a  plan  for                                                               
relocation and  give a reason  for it.   Money for  counseling is                                                               
paid  directly to  the provider  or  for out-of-pocket  expenses.                                                               
Lost wages  must be verified  by either producing three  years of                                                               
tax returns  for those  who are self-employed  or pay  stubs from                                                               
the employer, and, at that point,  money is awarded at 80 percent                                                               
of the full value "to account for taxes that would be removed."                                                                 
MR. HOPKINS  said claims  submitted to  the board  have increased                                                               
steadily since  1972.   In fiscal  year 2009  (FY 09),  the board                                                               
paid out $25,547 for 22 emergency  claims, twelve of those to the                                                               
$1,500 limit.   In FY 10,  to date, 24 emergency  cases have been                                                               
awarded for a total of $29,699.   Mr. Hopkins urged the committee                                                               
to support  the passage  of HB  400, thus  helping VCCB  aide the                                                               
victims of crime across the state.                                                                                              
9:21:49 AM                                                                                                                    
KATE  HUDSON, Administrator,  Violent  Crimes Compensation  Board                                                               
(VCCB), reported that in FY 09,  the board awarded a total of 478                                                               
claims,  22 of  which were  by emergency  award.   She said  that                                                               
illustrates that the  board does not pay out  emergency awards to                                                               
everyone who  asks; the cases must  be deserving ones.   She said                                                               
she makes the  initial review to determine  eligibility, then she                                                               
submits those  cases that  she thinks  need emergency  rewards to                                                               
the board,  and the  board then determines  whether or  not those                                                               
cases merit  emergency awards.   Ms.  Hudson emphasized  that the                                                               
current $1,500 limit  is negatively affecting people  who need to                                                               
be relocated, because that amount of  money does not go far for a                                                               
family with  two or  three dependents  trying to  move to  a safe                                                               
place,  pay a  deposit,  pay  the rent,  and  get  settled.   She                                                               
offered to answer questions from the committee.                                                                                 
MS.  HUDSON, in  response  to  Representative Johnson,  explained                                                               
that   her  initial   review  is   to  determine   whether  basic                                                               
eligibility  requirements have  been  met, which  means there  is                                                               
information   from  police   showing  "sufficient   evidence  for                                                               
compensable  crime."   She confirmed  that the  board meets  five                                                               
times a  year, and she  said two out  of the three  board members                                                               
have to respond to her via telephone  or e-mail to let her know a                                                               
case can be approved for emergency  award, at which point she can                                                               
process the check  for the victim.  That claim  would be taken to                                                               
the  board  at  its  next meeting  for  "gratification"  and,  if                                                               
applicable, further award,  she concluded.  In  response to Chair                                                               
Lynn, she said the response of  the board usually comes within 24                                                               
hours, at  which point the  timing is  a question of  how quickly                                                               
the check  can process through internal  accounting procedures in                                                               
the  Department of  Administration.   Generally,  she said,  that                                                               
takes 5-7 working days.                                                                                                         
9:25:21 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.   HUDSON   responded   to  a   series   of   questions   from                                                               
Representative Gatto.   First, she said  although not impossible,                                                               
because  of inbuilt  mechanisms  it is  highly  unlikely that  an                                                               
undeserving  individual  would get  an  award.   Next,  she  said                                                               
guidelines  have been  set out  in statute  for making  an award.                                                               
Furthermore, federal statute states that  VCCB is a payer of last                                                               
resort.  Therefore, if the victim  has other sources that can pay                                                               
for  medical expenses,  they would  have  to be  used before  the                                                               
board could  give out  money to  that victim.   Ms.  Hudson added                                                               
that the  board is  not allowed  to make an  award for  "pain and                                                               
suffering."   Finally,  she offered  her  understanding that  the                                                               
board has  not run out of  money, but has come  close some years.                                                               
She  reminded   the  committee,   "As  state  funding   or  state                                                               
expenditure on  awards to  victims increases,  so, too,  does the                                                               
federal grant,  because the way  the federal grant  is calculated                                                               
is that  we receive 60 cents  for every dollar we  spend in state                                                               
money.   So, as  state expenditure increases,  so do  our federal                                                               
9:28:35 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. HUDSON, in response to  Representative Petersen, said victims                                                               
of domestic violence  and sexual assault make up  a large portion                                                               
of those who  submit claims for violent  crimes compensation, but                                                               
total less that  50 percent of the total claims.   In response to                                                               
a follow-up  question, she  agreed that  a week  can seem  like a                                                               
long time to wait for compensation  for a person who is a victim,                                                               
but unfortunately the  turnaround time is limited  by some extent                                                               
by  how quickly  the accounting  staff can  process checks.   She                                                               
said in extreme situations, there  are domestic violence shelters                                                               
available to women.                                                                                                             
9:30:45 AM                                                                                                                    
GERAD  G.  GODFREY,  Chair, Violent  Crimes  Compensation  Board,                                                               
echoed  Mr.  Hopkins'  statements  that  the  cap  for  allowable                                                               
emergency  compensation  has not  been  raised  since 1975,  and,                                                               
adjusted for  inflation, that has  resulted in a  differential of                                                               
over $6,000.  He said the  board typically receives between 5 and                                                               
10  applications between  its board  meetings.   Typically  those                                                               
applications  come from  domestic violence  situations that  have                                                               
been ongoing.   Mr. Godfrey  explained, "One of  the requirements                                                               
of  a  person when  they  apply  for  compensation is  that  they                                                               
cooperate with law  enforcement."  He said the board  needs to be                                                               
ready to  take advantage of  "the moment of opportunity"  for the                                                               
victim.  He relayed that some  victims have had their husbands or                                                               
live-in boyfriends  threaten to  kill them  when they  make bail.                                                               
The  mental  health  and  physical  safety of  a  woman  in  this                                                               
situation is affected.                                                                                                          
MR.  GODFREY  indicated that  a  woman  with minor  children  can                                                               
combine the  amount of  money she  gets from  the board  for each                                                               
child and  for herself  to get  herself and  her children  out of                                                               
danger; however, a  woman who is on her own  will have difficulty                                                               
covering first and last months'  rent and a security deposit with                                                               
only $1,500, let alone get a plane  ticket out of town to be with                                                               
close  friends or  family.    Mr. Godfrey  said  time  is of  the                                                               
essence; the  board does not want  a woman harmed because  it was                                                               
not  able to  give her  money fast  enough or  because the  money                                                               
given was insufficient.                                                                                                         
MR. GODFREY  acknowledged the past work  of Representatives Gatto                                                               
and   Gruenberg  related   to  having   arson  included   in  the                                                               
considerations  for   emergency  compensation.     Regarding  the                                                               
previous   question  from   Representative  Gatto,   Mr.  Godfrey                                                               
recalled two instances when the  board was used fraudulently, but                                                               
said the board  has created policies to keep  that from happening                                                               
again.   He then  related that  VCCB does not  have the  means to                                                               
explore anyone's  solvency or insolvency, but  he reiterated that                                                               
the  board is  a "payer  of last  resort."   He reemphasized  the                                                               
importance of  expediency in  getting women  and children  out of                                                               
dangerous situations.                                                                                                           
9:37:06 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. GODFREY, in response to  a question from Chair Lynn regarding                                                               
confidentiality, said the board  treats any information regarding                                                               
a  victim's whereabouts  as  confidential.   Whether  or not  the                                                               
victim keeps  her location a  secret depends on  certain factors.                                                               
He explained  that domestic violence  is cyclical,  and sometimes                                                               
women  contact their  abuser; however,  when a  victim is  at the                                                               
point where she  is ready to work with police  and the board, she                                                               
is usually in a position of  resolve and will attempt to keep her                                                               
location a mystery.                                                                                                             
9:39:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON  directed attention to a  handout in the                                                               
committee  packet, entitled,  "Violent Crimes  Compensation Board                                                               
New Claims  Received By Location  Of Crime."   She noted  that in                                                               
2009,  most  of the  violent  crimes  claims were  received  from                                                               
Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Palmer,  and Wasilla.  However, she                                                               
also noted that there are locations  on the list that submitted a                                                               
lot of  claims in relation to  their populations.  She  asked Mr.                                                               
Godfrey if the  board has observed certain patterns  in crimes by                                                               
location, and has been able to  figure out the reasons behind the                                                               
crimes in those areas.                                                                                                          
9:41:03 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  GODFREY   responded  that  the   board  could  only   do  so                                                               
empirically.   He said the board  has not tasked its  staff to do                                                               
an analysis  on the data available,  but he said the  board would                                                               
be amenable in  doing so at the request of  the legislature.  Mr.                                                               
Godfrey noted  the number of  crimes by  area and then  noted the                                                               
type of  crime for which someone  asks compensation.  He  said he                                                               
thinks there are places that  are underrepresented based on their                                                               
population and  the type  of predominate  work in  the area.   He                                                               
compared Kodiak and  Ketchikan, and opined that  Kodiak is "under                                                               
represented  for its  population."   He indicated  one factor  to                                                               
consider is that  victims in an area are just  learning about the                                                               
existence of  the board.   He said  it is difficult  to determine                                                               
whether people  in one area  just don't  know about the  board or                                                               
are not  applying.   He concluded  that the  board would  love to                                                               
have no need to exist.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON  suggested   that  VCCB  could  gather                                                               
information  regarding   extenuating  circumstances   of  violent                                                               
crimes that  then could be  shared with legislators to  help them                                                               
when addressing the issue of prevention.                                                                                        
9:44:37 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  GODFREY responded  that that  is something  that a  previous                                                               
administrator was tasked  with finding out.  He  said the board's                                                               
office  receives a  wealth of  information related  to crime  and                                                               
victimization.   This  information comes  through claims,  police                                                               
records, and  court records.  He  named some of the  factors that                                                               
were selected to be highlighted:   alcohol use, drug use, and sex                                                               
crimes.    He  said  the   board's  administrator  compiled  this                                                               
information  mainly for  its own  purposes, although  the results                                                               
were  shared with  the legislature.   He  said perhaps  the board                                                               
could compile  similar information for  the next fiscal  year and                                                               
present  that information  to  the legislature.    He stated  his                                                               
belief that that is valuable data  "if somebody knows where to go                                                               
with it and what to do with it."                                                                                                
9:46:18 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN closed public testimony.                                                                                             
9:46:25 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  GODFREY, in  response to  Representative  Johnson, said  the                                                               
board does not compensate shelters,  but exists and is willing to                                                               
assist a person  who has come from a shelter.   Likewise, he said                                                               
the board  does not compensate  the Alaska Native  Medical Center                                                               
for fulfilling  its mission  of providing  health care  to Alaska                                                               
Natives, including  those without health  care.  He  noted, "That                                                               
has been  a point  of contention with  the Alaska  Native Medical                                                               
Center over the years."                                                                                                         
9:47:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG moved to report  HB 400 out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.  There being no objection,  HB 400 was reported out of the                                                               
House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 HB0400A.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 400
02 2-26-10 HB 400 Sponsor Statement PDF.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 400
03 HB400-DOA-DAS-03-05-10.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 400
04 HB 400 Sample of Emergency Awards from Fiscal Year 2009.docx.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 400
05 HB400 VCCB Awards 2009 graphs - 1.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 400
06 HB400 VCCB Awards 2009 graphs - 2.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 400
HB336-Fiscal Note-CED-RCA-3-3-10.pdf HCRA 3/9/2010 8:00:00 AM
HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 336
07 HB400 VCCB Claims Chart.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 400
08 HB400 VCCB Emergency Awards FACTS (1).pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 400
09 HB 400 VCCB Emergency awards FACTS (2).pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 400
00 3-10-10 HB 336 Changes from Version A to Version R.doc.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 336
01 3-10-10 CS for HB 336 STA Version R.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 336
02 HB0336A.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 336
HB 336 Sponsor Statement.pdf HCRA 3/9/2010 8:00:00 AM
HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 336
HB 336 letters of support.pdf HCRA 3/9/2010 8:00:00 AM
HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 336
01 HB 251 Version R.pdf HSTA 3/9/2010 8:00:00 AM
HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 251
02 HB 251 Sponsor Statement.pdf HSTA 3/9/2010 8:00:00 AM
HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 251
03 HB 251 LETTER Alaska Towing Assn.pdf HSTA 3/9/2010 8:00:00 AM
HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 251
HB251-CED-COM-3-8-10.pdf HSTA 3/9/2010 8:00:00 AM
HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 251
HB251-DOT&PF-COM-3-8-10.pdf HSTA 3/9/2010 8:00:00 AM
HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 251
01 Electronic Bill Packet for HB 349.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 349
02 HB349-DHSS-SPC-03-08-10.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 349
01 HB0348A.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 348
02 HB 348 Sponsor Statement.PDF HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 348
03 HB 348 Sectional Analysis.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 348
04 HB348-DOA-DOPLR-03-08-10.pdf HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 348
05 HB 348 Legal Memo.PDF HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 348
06 HB 348 Personnel Board stories.PDF HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 348
07 HB 348 relevant statutes.PDF HSTA 3/11/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 348