Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/22/2003 10:06 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 23(JUD)                                                                                              
     "An Act relating to court-ordered restitution and compensation                                                             
     following a criminal conviction."                                                                                          
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Co-chair  Wilken explained  that this bill  pertains to restitution                                                             
for  crime  victims  and  specifies   that,  "the  court  may  value                                                            
volunteer labor  when considering  restitution for crimes  against a                                                            
non-profit corporation."                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  BRUCE WEYHRAUCH, the  bill's sponsor, informed  that                                                            
this legislation  was introduced in  response to a Court  of Appeals                                                            
ruling  that overturned  an  awarded  restitution from  a  convicted                                                            
defendant  to  a non-profit  entity  for  volunteer labor  that  was                                                            
required  to audit  the financial  records of  the organization.  He                                                            
shared  that  in this  case,  Demers  v. State,  42  P.3d.1  (Alaska                                                          
App.2002), the  Court ruled that the Legislature did  not intend for                                                            
the affected  legislative  statutes to  be read  "so broadly"  as to                                                            
allow non-profits  to recover this kind of a value.  Furthermore, he                                                            
disclosed,  that while the Supreme  Court did not rule on  the case,                                                            
two  Supreme   Court  justices  requested   further  interpretation                                                             
regarding the restitution statute.                                                                                              
Representative  Weyhrauch pointed  out that this bill would  allow a                                                            
non-profit,  which is  the victim of  a crime,  "to recover  for the                                                            
value  of goods  provided  by  volunteers  if  it was  necessary  to                                                            
alleviate  or mitigate  the affects  of the  defendant's crime."  He                                                            
stressed  that in order to  gain support  for this legislation  from                                                            
the Administration, the  Court System, and other concerned entities,                                                            
"the  victim"   in  the  bill  is   identified  as  the   non-profit                                                            
organization  rather  than  the individual  volunteers  who  provide                                                            
labor to support the non-profit's position in the proceedings.                                                                  
Co-Chair Green  asked for verification  that this legislation  would                                                            
not allow such  things as a special  interest litigant "in  any form                                                            
to be the recipient of  the good faith" award to a non-profit entity                                                            
"that's been violated or offended."                                                                                             
Representative  Weyhrauch responded  that,  "there is absolutely  no                                                            
intent in this  bill, in the criminal context, to  provide that kind                                                            
of benefit  to any  non-profit in  any other form."  He stated  that                                                            
this issue  has been widely  discussed "to  ensure that that  is not                                                            
the intent whatsoever."                                                                                                         
Senator  Taylor  contended  that  this  legislation  is  limited  to                                                            
criminal rather  than civil activity.  He expounded that  "it should                                                            
not  be  construed"  that  the  Legislature  intends  "that  similar                                                            
actions that  take place  in a civil matter  where a civil  judgment                                                            
might be  brought, that as  part of that  judgment, a non-profit  be                                                            
applying  for fees or costs  incurred by  volunteers in prosecuting                                                             
their  civil  judgment."   He stressed   that  the  intent  of  this                                                            
"narrowly drafted" legislation  is to not affect anything other than                                                            
criminal activity.                                                                                                              
Representative Weyhrauch concurred.                                                                                             
Co-chair Wilken  thanked the Committee for placing  the clear intent                                                            
of this legislation on the record.                                                                                              
Senator  Taylor  moved  to  report  the  bill  from  Committee  with                                                            
individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal note.                                                                        
There being no objection,  CS HB 23(JUD) was REPORTED from Committee                                                            
with zero fiscal note #2 from the Department of Administration.                                                                 
AT EASE 10:31 AM / 10:32 AM                                                                                                     

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