Legislature(2017 - 2018)SENATE FINANCE 532

04/03/2017 09:00 AM Senate FINANCE

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Audio Topic
09:19:10 AM Start
09:19:45 AM SB54
10:10:19 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Scheduled but Not Heard
Scheduled but Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 54(FIN) Out of Committee
                 SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                       April 3, 2017                                                                                            
                         9:19 a.m.                                                                                              
9:19:10 AM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Senator Anna MacKinnon called the Senate Finance Committee                                                                      
meeting to order at 9:19 a.m.                                                                                                   
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Lyman Hoffman, Co-Chair                                                                                                 
Senator Anna MacKinnon, Co-Chair                                                                                                
Senator Click Bishop, Vice-Chair                                                                                                
Senator Mike Dunleavy                                                                                                           
Senator Peter Micciche                                                                                                          
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
Senator Natasha von Imhof                                                                                                       
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Juli  Lucky, Staff,  Senator  Anna  MacKinnon; Senator  John                                                                    
Coghill,  Sponsor;  Jordan  Shilling,  Staff,  Senator  John                                                                    
Coghill;  John Skidmore,  Criminal  Division, Department  of                                                                    
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender Agency, Anchorage.                                                                             
SB 54     CRIME AND SENTENCING                                                                                                  
          CSSB 54(FIN)  was REPORTED  out of  committee with                                                                    
          "no    recommendation"    and   with    one    new                                                                    
          indeterminate fiscal  note from the  Department of                                                                    
          Corrections  and  four previously  published  zero                                                                    
          fiscal  notes: FN1  (DPS), FN2  (LAW), FN3  (DHS),                                                                    
          and FN5 (AJS).                                                                                                        
HB 57     APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS                                                                                  
          HB 57 was SCHEDULED but not HEARD.                                                                                    
HB 59     APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET                                                                                          
          HB 59 was SCHEDULED but not HEARD.                                                                                    
SENATE BILL NO. 54                                                                                                            
     "An Act  relating to crime  and criminal  law; relating                                                                    
     to violation  of condition of release;  relating to sex                                                                    
     trafficking;  relating   to  sentencing;   relating  to                                                                    
     probation; relating  to the pretrial  services program;                                                                    
     and providing for an effective date."                                                                                      
9:19:45 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair MacKinnon  noted that  the public hearing  had been                                                                    
taken on the legislation on March 28, 1017.                                                                                     
Vice-Chair   Bishop  MOVED   to  ADOPT   proposed  committee                                                                    
substitute  for  SB  54,  Work  Draft  30-LS0461\N  (Martin,                                                                    
Co-Chair MacKinnon OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                     
9:20:30 AM                                                                                                                    
JULI LUCKY,  STAFF, SENATOR  ANNA MACKINNON,  explained that                                                                    
the  CS incorporated  the  amendments  that were  previously                                                                    
adopted by the  committee and could be found  in Sections 18                                                                    
and 19.                                                                                                                         
Co-Chair MacKinnon WITHDREW her OJBEJCTION.                                                                                     
There being NO further OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                            
9:21:50 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Hoffman  MOVED to ADOPT Amendment  1, 30-LS0461\N.1                                                                    
(Martin, 3/31/17)(copy on file).                                                                                                
Co-Chair MacKinnon OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                     
Co-Chair  Hoffman explained  that  the  amendment offered  a                                                                    
compromise  between   the  90-day  and   360-day  sentencing                                                                    
Co-Chair  MacKinnon  invited the  sponsor  to  speak to  the                                                                    
9:23:04 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  JOHN COGHILL,  SPONSOR, relayed  that he  supported                                                                    
the amendment.  He stated that  the Alaska  Criminal Justice                                                                    
Commission  (ACJC) had  debated  the issue  hotly. He  hoped                                                                    
that  a sentencing  range could  be found  that held  people                                                                    
accountable for C felonies, and  those who should be offered                                                                    
other diversionary  sentencing under a court  order. He felt                                                                    
that the  amendment gave  significant discretion  to judges,                                                                    
while staying true to the principle of diversion.                                                                               
9:24:38 AM                                                                                                                    
JORDAN SHILLING,  STAFF, SENATOR  JOHN COGHILL,  agreed with                                                                    
the sponsor and  added that the amendment  would address the                                                                    
conflicts with the  DUI statute raised by  the Department of                                                                    
Senator  Dunleavy asked  about  sentencing  ranges in  other                                                                    
Mr. Coghill  replied that he  could not answer  the question                                                                    
at this time.                                                                                                                   
9:25:25 AM                                                                                                                    
JOHN  SKIDMORE,   CRIMINAL  DIVISION,  DEPARTMENT   OF  LAW,                                                                    
testified  that the  amendment would  address conflict  with                                                                    
the DUI statute  in an appropriate manner. He  said that the                                                                    
department was concerned with the  amount of discretion that                                                                    
the amendment  would provide  to judges.  He said  that when                                                                    
looking at the ranges of  what other states do for low-level                                                                    
felonies,  Alaska  was the  lowest  in  the nation  for  the                                                                    
sentencing discretion given to  judges. He relayed that with                                                                    
the amendment the state would still  be one of the lowest in                                                                    
the nation  for sentencing discretion. He  stressed that the                                                                    
department respected  that the  issue was a  policy decision                                                                    
that  the  legislature  had  to make  but  asked  that  when                                                                    
setting  appropriate policy,  the  legislature consider  the                                                                    
issues  surrounding rehabilitation  for substance  abuse and                                                                    
violent crimes.                                                                                                                 
9:30:05 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator von Imhof wondered  how "low-level offender" related                                                                    
to  "first time  offender". She  said that  the conversation                                                                    
was about first-time offenders and not low-level offenders.                                                                     
Mr.  Skidmore clarified  that  when he  used  the term  "low                                                                    
level"  he  was  referring  to  the  classification  of  the                                                                    
offense. He continued that Class  C felonies were the lowest                                                                    
level felony  that existed within  the state.   He explained                                                                    
that  the state's  presumptive  sentencing  scheme began  by                                                                    
saying  that  a  first-time  felony offense  had  a  certain                                                                    
presumption, a  second felony  had another,  and a  third or                                                                    
above  had  yet another.  He  reiterated  that a  first-time                                                                    
felony offence  meant that  the person had  not had  a prior                                                                    
felony  within  the  past ten  years;  a  first-time  felony                                                                    
offence did  not mean  that a  person did  not have  a prior                                                                    
criminal history.                                                                                                               
9:32:01 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator von Imhof stated that  second and third felonies had                                                                    
significant  sentencing in  accordance  with  the bill.  She                                                                    
thought it  was important to highlight  that they discussion                                                                    
was  bout first-time  offenders.  She  understood that  most                                                                    
low-level also meant first-time in most states.                                                                                 
Mr.  Skidmore answered  in the  affirmative. He  shared that                                                                    
when he  had reviewed  the practice  of other  states, there                                                                    
had  been 26  that  had a  range  for first-time,  low-level                                                                    
felonies, from  zero to  1 year  all the way  to zero  to 20                                                                    
years. He added  that an additional 14  states that required                                                                    
some jailtime,  whether it was a  year or six months,  up to                                                                    
14 years.   He concluded  that most other states  provided a                                                                    
wider  discretion for  their  courts  that Alaska  currently                                                                    
9:33:21 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  von   Imhof  asked  about  active   jail  time  and                                                                    
rehabilitation programs.  She wondered why  a rehabilitation                                                                    
program could  not last beyond  190 days, especially  it the                                                                    
program was  successful. She though that  jailtime and rehab                                                                    
programs should be one in the same.                                                                                             
Mr.  Skidmore replied  that the  authority of  the court  to                                                                    
order specific sentencing guidelines  was the main question,                                                                    
and  how long  the  court could  order someone  to  be in  a                                                                    
residential  rehabilitation program.  He  said  that if  the                                                                    
committee were  to adopt  a range  of zero  to 120  days the                                                                    
courts  would   be  limited  in  ordering   a  defendant  to                                                                    
residential treatment  to 120 days. He  recommended that the                                                                    
committee consider the amount  of residential treatment that                                                                    
the court would  be authorized to order. He said  that if it                                                                    
were decided to authorize more  than 120 days, a presumptive                                                                    
range for  active jailtime  of more than  120 days  would be                                                                    
necessary for authorization under Alaska case law.                                                                              
9:35:18 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Hoffman  understood that  successful rehabilitation                                                                    
occurred  when individuals  were  willing participants,  and                                                                    
that those that were court ordered had lower success rates.                                                                     
9:36:05 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator   Dunleavy   wondered   about   judge's   sentencing                                                                    
discretion for more serious violent crimes.                                                                                     
Mr. Skidmore stressed that the  Department of Law was not in                                                                    
support  of  the  amendment. He  said  that  the  department                                                                    
believed that zero to 1  year was the appropriate discretion                                                                    
that ought to be provided  to the courts. He reiterated that                                                                    
the policy decision before the  committee was whether or not                                                                    
to adopt an active  range of zero to 120 days,  or zero to 1                                                                    
9:37:35 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Dunleavy  understood that  under the  amendment, 120                                                                    
days would  be the  maximum sentence  for even  more serious                                                                    
and violent crimes.                                                                                                             
Mr. Skidmore replied in the affirmative.                                                                                        
Senator Dunleavy understood  that a judge would  not be able                                                                    
to go beyond the 120-day cap.                                                                                                   
Mr. Skidmore answered in the affirmative.                                                                                       
9:38:30 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Micciche  understood that  the amendment  offered 18                                                                    
months  of potential  imprisonment  but 120  days of  active                                                                    
Mr. Skidmore replied in the affirmative.                                                                                        
Senator Micciche  clarified that  there had  been precedence                                                                    
set that defined residential treatment as imprisonment.                                                                         
Mr. Skidmore restated  that the case was Nygren  v. State of                                                                    
Alaska (1980).                                                                                                                  
Senator  Micciche said  that  he wanted  to  help with  more                                                                    
active intervention in drug related crimes.                                                                                     
Mr. Skidmore  referred back to  an earlier example  case, in                                                                    
which an  individual was  convicted of  theft in  the second                                                                    
degree - a  theft of over $1000. He said  that there had not                                                                    
been  another conviction  made and  the  original theft  had                                                                    
been  determined  to be  the  result  of supporting  a  drug                                                                    
habit. The offender had violated  probation by continuing to                                                                    
use controlled  substances and he  had recommended  that the                                                                    
court send them  to residential treatment. He  said that the                                                                    
defense  had argued  that the  original offense  had been  a                                                                    
Class C felony, which meant that  the judge did not have the                                                                    
authority  to  impose  jailtime  or  send  the  offender  to                                                                    
residential treatment.                                                                                                          
9:41:14 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Micciche wondered  whether  the  Nygern case  could                                                                    
result in a statutory change.                                                                                                   
Mr. Skidmore  stated that  Nygren was an  older case  and he                                                                    
could  not  recall  the  exact premise  upon  which  it  was                                                                    
decided. He  was unsure whether a  simple statute alteration                                                                    
would be able to address the issue.                                                                                             
9:42:35 AM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Bishop asked whether Mr.  Skidmore had an idea of                                                                    
how  long it  took  an  offender to  get  in to  residential                                                                    
Mr. Skidmore  relayed that the  commission had  identified a                                                                    
need  for   more  treatment  programs   in  the   state.  He                                                                    
understood  that there  was  a waiting  period  to get  into                                                                    
residential  treatment  programs.  He  reiterated  that  the                                                                    
issue at hand was whether  judges should have the authority,                                                                    
and the next  issue would be whether the  resources would be                                                                    
available to serve that authority.                                                                                              
Vice-Chair Bishop  pointed out that regardless  of whether a                                                                    
judge  had the  authority,  if there  were  no resources  to                                                                    
carry  out the  terms of  the  sentence then  the point  was                                                                    
9:44:11 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator von Imhof reiterated concern  that there were enough                                                                    
beds to accommodate court ordered rehab.                                                                                        
Mr. Skidmore  could not speak  to whether there  were enough                                                                    
beds or  not, he shared  that he  had heard talk  that there                                                                    
were  not   enough  within  state.   He  shared   that  many                                                                    
individuals  left the  state for  residential treatment.  He                                                                    
felt that  serving those people  in-state would be  a better                                                                    
scenario.  He stressed  the importance  of providing  within                                                                    
the law and appropriate framework for judges to act.                                                                            
9:45:33 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  von   Imhof  categorized   the  1-year  cap   as  a                                                                    
bargaining tool for the department  and queried whether that                                                                    
cap would  improve recidivism numbers. She  wondered whether                                                                    
120 days was enough of  a bargaining tool for the department                                                                    
to get  a fair suite  of options to address  certain crimes.                                                                    
She asked  where the presumptive  range of zero to  18 month                                                                    
would apply.                                                                                                                    
Mr. Skidmore  responded that 90  to 95 percent of  the cases                                                                    
in the  criminal justice system  were resolved  through plea                                                                    
negotiations. He said that if  the negotiations started with                                                                    
only  probation  then that  would  be  taken off  the  table                                                                    
during negotiations. He stressed  that some incentive had to                                                                    
be  offered  in  order  to negotiate  without  reducing  the                                                                    
offence from  a felony to  a misdemeanor. He said  that this                                                                    
reduction would  mean the difference between  supervised and                                                                    
unsupervised  probation,  which  was  related  to  offenders                                                                    
following their  terms of probation.  He reiterated  that it                                                                    
was a question of what was appropriate for public safety.                                                                       
9:48:27 AM                                                                                                                    
Mr.  Skidmore  said that  under  the  proposed amendment  18                                                                    
month was  the amount of  time that could be  suspended; the                                                                    
court could impose a sentence of  18 months with all but 120                                                                    
days suspended. He furthered that  the 120 days would be the                                                                    
jailtime  that   a  person  would  serve   upfront  and  the                                                                    
additional time  suspended would be the  potential sanctions                                                                    
that  would  be  imposed  for violations  of  conditions  of                                                                    
probation.  The  court would  not  be  authorized to  impose                                                                    
additional active  jailtime absent a violation  of probation                                                                    
under the amendment.                                                                                                            
9:49:26 AM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
9:50:21 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Dunleavy queried  whether  the  Office of  Victim's                                                                    
Rights supported the amendment.                                                                                                 
Mr. Skidmore  replied that he  had not spoken to  the office                                                                    
since  the amendment  had  been proposed.  He  said that  in                                                                    
previous conversations  the office had supported  the 1-year                                                                    
cap that was currently found in the legislation.                                                                                
9:50:55 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Micciche assumed that  every prosecutor in the state                                                                    
would attempt to procure the  maximum level of incarceration                                                                    
and  that every  defense attorney  would attempt  the lowest                                                                    
number of days of incarceration.                                                                                                
Mr. Skidmore  stated that  it would be  a mistake  to assume                                                                    
that prosecutors  would advocate  for the highest  amount of                                                                    
incarceration.  He  provided   two  supporting  stories.  He                                                                    
stressed  that SB  54 was  proposing half  of the  past cap,                                                                    
when the data reflected that  the average of the majority of                                                                    
past cases was 120 days.  He understood that this would seem                                                                    
to suggest that 120 days was  the right number to choose but                                                                    
he  highlighted the  120 days  was an  average and  that the                                                                    
courts needed  to retain  discretion to  address cases  on a                                                                    
case by case basis.                                                                                                             
9:53:44 AM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
9:54:06 AM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair MacKinnon solicited comments  on the amendment from                                                                    
Quinlan   Steiner,   Director,   Public   Defender   Agency,                                                                    
Department of Administration.                                                                                                   
QUINLAN  STEINER,  PUBLIC  DEFENDER AGENCY,  ANCHORAGE  (via                                                                    
teleconference), he believed that  it was important that the                                                                    
committee   consider   that  over   sentencing   lower-level                                                                    
offenders  could  cause  them   to  fail  at  rehabilitation                                                                    
attempts;   the  when   confronted   by   the  system   some                                                                    
individuals   responded  negatively.   He  noted   that  the                                                                    
amendment   would   increase   costs   and   undermine   the                                                                    
availability  of treatment  for  individuals  that were  not                                                                    
going  to  jail.  He  lamented   that  one  of  the  biggest                                                                    
challenged in  the state was  the availability  of treatment                                                                    
when a person  was ready. He said that with  the proposal of                                                                    
120 days,  with up to 18  months suspended, up to  18 months                                                                    
in  jail could  be  imposed  for a  violation  and the  more                                                                    
modest approach  in terms of  rehabilitation could  be taken                                                                    
at  the C  Felony  conviction, other  alternatives could  be                                                                    
available  including longer-term  treatment. He  stated that                                                                    
the  average   sentences  described  by  Mr.   Skidmore  had                                                                    
resulted  in very  high recidivism  rates. He  believed that                                                                    
the  120  days  struck   a  balance  between  the  community                                                                    
condemnation angle and maximizing public safety.                                                                                
9:57:48 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator  Micciche  suggested  that  a  first  time  Class  C                                                                    
offender would be more likely  to become a second time Class                                                                    
C  offender  than  a  person  who  had  never  committed  an                                                                    
Mr. Quinlan  replied that  he did not  recall any  data that                                                                    
suggested that the  level of a person's  first offense would                                                                    
make a difference in the level of a second offense.                                                                             
Senator Micciche asked whether  the categories of C felonies                                                                    
should be  examined in the  future. He wondered  whether the                                                                    
sentencing  ranges for  C felonies  should be  split between                                                                    
crimes  that  involved  weapons  from  the  other  C  felony                                                                    
Mr.  Quinlan stated  that the  commission had  discussed the                                                                    
concept  but  did  not  recall  data  to  substantiate  that                                                                    
differentiating would  have any benefit. He  said that often                                                                    
the driving  force in  most cases was  drugs or  alcohol. He                                                                    
thought that  further discussion  of the  issue could  be of                                                                    
interest to the commission.                                                                                                     
10:00:54 AM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
10:01:03 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair Hoffman  recapped the various  opinions surrounding                                                                    
the amendment.                                                                                                                  
Co-Chair  Hoffman  WITHDREW  Amendment  1.  There  being  NO                                                                    
OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                                   
10:02:35 AM                                                                                                                   
Vice-Chair   Bishop  thought   that  there   was  room   for                                                                    
improvement  in  the  area of  presumptive  ranges  and  the                                                                    
Nygren Rule. He emphasized  the importance of rehabilitation                                                                    
programs for  Class C  offenders. He  believed that  many of                                                                    
the public safety issues in  the state were drug and alcohol                                                                    
10:04:54 AM                                                                                                                   
Senator Dunleavy stressed  that the issue was  not an "exact                                                                    
science." He  expressed appreciation  for the work  that had                                                                    
so far been done on the issues surrounding public safety.                                                                       
10:05:54 AM                                                                                                                   
Vice-Chair  Bishop  MOVED  to report  CSSB  54(FIN)  out  of                                                                    
Committee   with   individual    recommendations   and   the                                                                    
accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                      
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                    
CSSB  54(FIN)  was  REPORTED  out   of  committee  with  "no                                                                    
recommendation" and  with one new indeterminate  fiscal note                                                                    
from  the  Department  of Corrections  and  four  previously                                                                    
published  zero  fiscal notes:  FN1  (DPS),  FN2 (LAW),  FN3                                                                    
(DHS), and FN5 (AJS).                                                                                                           
10:06:25 AM                                                                                                                   
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
10:09:30 AM                                                                                                                   
Co-Chair MacKinnon discussed housekeeping.                                                                                      
10:10:19 AM                                                                                                                   
The meeting was adjourned at 10:10 a.m.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 54 SFC CS Work Draft version N.pdf SFIN 4/3/2017 9:00:00 AM
SB 54
SB 54 Amendment 1 Hoffman.pdf SFIN 4/3/2017 9:00:00 AM
SB 54
HB 57 Funding for University of Alaska, sustainable energy programs.pdf SFIN 4/3/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 57
HB 57 Public Testimony Muse.pdf SFIN 4/3/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 57
SB 57 Carlson Spring Revenue Projections.pdf SFIN 4/3/2017 9:00:00 AM
SB 57
HB 57 Knudtson education funding.pdf SFIN 4/3/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 57
HB 57 Public Ed Admin Costs and holding classrooms harmless.pdf SFIN 4/3/2017 9:00:00 AM
HB 57