Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/24/1995 01:36 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
         SB 115 UNIFORM INTERSTATE FAMILY SUPPORT ACT                         
 ART PETERSON, of the law firm Dylan & Findley, testified in his              
 role as a Uniform Law Commissioner for Alaska.  SB 115 represents             
 the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), promulgated by             
 the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws                
 (NCCUSL) to replace the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support             
 Act (URESA), also promulgated by the NCCUSL.  In several decades of           
 experience with URESA, enacted by all jurisdictions, numerous                 
 problems arose; the most significant being the problem of multiple            
 jurisdiction and multiple court orders.  Multiple court orders can            
 conflict with each other, cause confusion for both the obligee and            
 obligor, prevent the child from receiving the appropriate amount of           
 support, and cause confusion in the administrative agencies and               
 courts.  SB 115 resolves those problems by providing for the                  
 avoidance of multiple court orders.  SB 115 was created in 1992,              
 after a several year study by NCCUSL.  It has already been adopted            
 by 21 states and has been introduced in several other states this             
 year.  This legislation is anticipated to eventually replace URESA            
 in all jurisdictions.                                                         
 Number 518                                                                    
 SENATOR ADAMS stated the Attorney General's Office is interested in           
 deleting the reference to the Alaska Rule of Administration 9.  He            
 asked Mr. Peterson's position on that deletion.                               
 MR. PETERSON responded he would support the deletion.  He noted the           
 bill title would need to be amended, as well as Section 6 on page             
 26.  He stated the Supreme Court voted to adopt that Rule change,             
 therefore its inclusion is unnecessary.                                       
 Number 530                                                                    
 MARILYN MAY, Assistant Attorney General, concurred with Mr.                   
 Peterson's description of the amendment.  She verified the Rule               
 change was made by the Supreme Court.                                         
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked how SB 115 would impact a divorced couple                
 whose support order was issued in Alaska, but have since moved at             
 separate times to Oregon.  MS. MAY stated UIFSA provides a method             
 for determining which state has continuing exclusive jurisdiction,            
 and it is only that state that has the power to modify an existing            
 support order.  In the scenario described, the Alaska order would             
 remain in effect until one of the parties requested a modification            
 of the order.  That could occur in Oregon, because under UIFSA that           
 would most likely be the state with exclusive jurisdiction.  Either           
 party could make the request of the Oregon tribunal.                          
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if that is existing law.  MS. MAY stated under           
 existing law it is possible there could be two separate orders.               
 The Alaska order would remain in effect but a new order might be              
 established in Oregon.  If one of the parties moved back to Alaska,           
 Alaska could collect on its order, which could differ from the                
 amount on the Oregon order.  Currently under URESA, there can be              
 two orders of differing amounts.  The law provides that a person              
 cannot double collect, however there is often argument about which            
 amount is to be collected.  Under UIFSA, if a party requested                 
 Oregon to modify the Alaska order, it would be modified and the               
 Alaska order would no longer be effective.                                    
 Number 564                                                                    
 SENATOR GREEN asked if ample provision exists for everyone to be              
 represented in court, or at all levels of the hearing process so              
 that there are no surprises.  MS. MAY commented that UIFSA is more            
 clear than URESA in that way, and provides a specific right to be             
 represented by an attorney.  It allows states to establish or                 
 modify orders administratively if allowable under state law.                  
 GLENDA STRAUBE, Director of the Child Support Enforcement Division            
 (CSED), stated the most important part of SB 115 is the elimination           
 of the multiple order system which is a nationwide problem.  The              
 most difficult collection cases for CSED are the interstate cases,            
 which comprise 44 percent of the caseload.  If SB 115 is enacted,             
 CSED estimates additional collections of $340,000 per year for the            
 state share of the AFDC reimbursement, and about $680,000 in direct           
 payments to children in non-AFDC cases.  CSED does not anticipate             
 any additional operating expenditures.  The bill standardizes forms           
 across state lines and allows direct income withholding.                      
 STUART HALL, Ombudsman, emphasized that enactment of SB 115 will              
 assist many who sought the Ombudsman's help with CSED.  In FY 94              
 and 95 to date, the Ombudsman's Office has assisted almost 1700               
 individuals with complaints against CSED, many of whom were                   
 custodial parents who depend on CSED to collect support from an               
 out-of-state parent.  A large number of those complaints came from            
 single parents concerned about the slow pace of case establishment            
 and child support collection.  SB 115 will streamline the                     
 establishment process and prompt speedier collections, and would              
 help reduce the Ombudsman's caseload.  The bill will allow an                 
 Alaska order to be taken to another state, and to obtain payments             
 directly from employers.                                                      
 Number 577                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR questioned the number of the Ombudsman's cases                 
 related to CSED.  MR. HALL responded approximately two-thirds of              
 their cases involve CSED.  He has discussed those complaints with             
 Ms. Straube and Commissioner Condon.  SB 115 would significantly              
 streamline the process and reduce the level of clientele                      
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the frustration stems from the fact that              
 CSED decides which order will be enforced when multiple orders                
 exist.  MR. HALL stated he was unqualified to answer that question,           
 but repeated that the frustration stems from the fact that multiple           
 orders exist.                                                                 
 MR. PETERSON noted that Senator Taylor was correct, and added that            
 SB 115 would streamline the process by providing for agency                   
 enforcement of the orders, simplify the process, eliminate some of            
 the court backlog, and thereby minimize delays.  When multiple                
 court orders are challenged, a lengthy procedure takes place, and             
 the courts have to resolve the issue.  Under UIFSA, that problem              
 will be eliminated, therefore subsequent handling of the order will           
 be simplified.                                                                
 Number 554                                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR spoke of the high transient population in Alaska,              
 and attributed the large number of out-of-state cases to that fact.           
 He thought the State of Alaska was handling a lot of enforcement              
 cases for people living elsewhere, instead of the state agency                
 where the client resides.  He cited previous testimony from CSED,             
 in which the fact that Alaska was opting to go with the most                  
 expensive of the multiple orders without justification, was                   
 disclosed.  He was concerned that policy be curtailed.                        
 SENATOR TAYLOR also discussed the fact the legislature needs to               
 eventually make a policy call on the Aid to Families with Dependent           
 Children (AFDC) program when both divorced parents have been judged           
 to be competent parents but custody is awarded to one parent.  When           
 the custodial parent chooses to go on AFDC for six months, he                 
 believes the CSED should issue an automatic petition to move those            
 children to the other parent who is willing to support them and has           
 a job.                                                                        
 Number 535                                                                    
 MS. STRAUBE replied CSED has no legal jurisdiction over custody or            
 visitation rights.  SENATOR TAYLOR spoke about the effect of the              
 layoff in Wrangell on his constituents, and that most of those                
 paying child support probably cannot afford to hire an attorney to            
 request a reduction in payments.  MS. STRAUBE explained if the                
 support order was administratively established, a person can                  
 directly request a modification, at no cost.  SENATOR TAYLOR asked            
 if out-of-state orders can be modified directly by CSED.  MS.                 
 STRAUBE responded they cannot.                                                
 SENATOR GREEN asked for clarification of the modification process.            
 MS. STRAUBE replied CSED can modify administrative orders directly,           
 and if, after reviewing financial records, the modification is                
 approved, a change of 15 percent is made.                                     
 TAPE 95-25, SIDE B                                                            
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if CSED modifies payments if the support order           
 is a court order, and the recipient requests an increase based on             
 an increase in the obligor's income.  MS. MAY responded that only             
 the court can change a court order.  The CSED can provide forms,              
 but the parent must appear in court.                                          
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked Ms. May to work with committee staff to draft            
 language to delete the reference to the Alaska Rule of                        
 Administration 9, as requested by Senator Adams.  She agreed to do            
 so.  He announced a proposed committee substitute would be brought            
 before the committee at the next meeting.                                     
         SB 115 UNIFORM INTERSTATE FAMILY SUPPORT ACT                         
 SENATOR TAYLOR brought SB 115 back before the committee.  SENATOR             
 ADAMS moved to adopt Amendment #1 as follows.                                 
 Page 1, line 3, delete: "amending Alaska Rule of                              
    Administration 9;"                                                         
 Page 26, lines 13-15, delete Section 6                                        
 Page 26, lines 19-21 should read:                                             
 Sec. 8.  AS 25.25.313(c), added by sec. 3 of this Act, take                  
 effect January 1, 1996 only if AS 25.25.313(c) receives the                   
 two-thirds majority of each house required by art. IV, sec.                   
 15, Constitution of the State of Alaska.                                      
 SENATOR ADAMS noted the Department did not contest any of the                 
 changes when discussed in the House.                                          
 There being no objection to the adoption of the amendment, the                
 motion carried.                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS moved SB 115 as amended from the Judiciary Committee            
 with individual recommendations.  There being no objection, the               
 motion carried.                                                               

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