Legislature(2017 - 2018)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/12/2018 01:30 PM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ SB 122 OCS CITIZEN REVIEW PANEL TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= SB 124 ABORTION PROCEDURES; CHILD SURRENDER TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                SB 122-OCS CITIZEN REVIEW PANEL                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:33:13 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL announced the consideration  of SB 122. Speaking as                                                               
the  sponsor, he  stated  that the  bill  transfers the  Citizens                                                               
Review Panel from the Office  of Children's Services (OCS) to the                                                               
Office of the Ombudsman.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
RYNNIEVA MOSS, Staff, Senator  Coghill, Alaska State Legislature,                                                               
Juneau, Alaska, introduced  SB 122 on behalf of  the sponsor. She                                                               
explained that federal  law mandates that all  states establish a                                                               
Citizens  Review   Panel  to  oversee  the   operation  of  child                                                               
protective services  and make recommendations on  ways to improve                                                               
the process. In 2005, the  legislature solidified its support for                                                               
the Citizens Review Panel in statute and provided funding.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
The bill  proposes to transfer  oversight of the  Citizens Review                                                               
Panel  from  the  Office  of  Children's  Services  (OCS),  which                                                               
delivers  child  protective  services,   to  the  Office  of  the                                                               
Ombudsman.  The role  of the  ombudsman is  to ensure  that state                                                               
government is  serving Alaskans as efficiently,  effectively, and                                                               
equitably  as  possible.  They  do  this  through  case  specific                                                               
investigations.  The role  of  the Citizens  Review  Panel is  to                                                               
ensure  that  the  Office  of   Children's  Services  is  serving                                                               
Alaska's families  as efficiently,  effectively and  equitably as                                                               
possible.  They   do  this  through  outreach,   evaluation,  and                                                               
advocacy. The mission of the  Office of the Ombudsman aligns well                                                               
with that  of the Citizens Review  Panel (CRP) and will  give CRP                                                               
the autonomy  to more independently  review the  child protective                                                               
services that are provided by  the Office of Children's Services.                                                               
The   Ombudsman's  Office   accepts   citizen  complaints   about                                                               
municipal,  state,  and  federal   agencies  and  personnel.  The                                                               
ombudsman may investigate to determine  if there is a problem and                                                               
may  seek  an  appropriate  remedy.  The  Citizens  Review  Panel                                                               
currently  does not  review individual  cases but  encourages the                                                               
grievance process and contacting the ombudsman.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. MOSS directed  attention to a chart of  the complaints lodged                                                               
with the  ombudsman about the  Office of Children's  Services. In                                                               
2017, 250  complaints were filed  and 136 were  investigated. The                                                               
ombudsman does not investigate cases  if a grievance has not been                                                               
filed or if the case is being litigated.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:38:31 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. MOSS provided the following sectional analysis for SB 122.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
She noted that the new language in .400 says that there                                                                         
will be at least one panel member from each of the five OCS                                                                     
administrative regions in the state.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Section 1.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     AS 24.55.400.  Establishes the Citizen Review  Panel in                                                                  
     the legislative  branch of  state government  under the                                                                    
     office  of the  ombudsman  and instructs  the panel  to                                                                    
     emphasize public participation in  the panel's work and                                                                    
     to bring all the stake holders on the panel.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     The panel will meet at  least every three months and it                                                                    
     will establish guidelines for its operation.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Gives   the   panel   the  authority   to   investigate                                                                    
     individual cases if it deems necessary.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
She said she believes the ombudsman would do the individual                                                                     
investigations.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     AS 24.55.405.  Requires the  panel to  reviews policies                                                                  
     and procedures  of OCS  on an  annual basis  and review                                                                    
     reports submitted  annually to the  federal government.                                                                    
     The  panel is  given statutory  authority to  recommend                                                                    
     and  advocate for  changes  to  the department's  child                                                                    
     protection services.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     It requires OCS to provide  the CRP the following state                                                                    
     plans submitted to the federal government annually:                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
          State plan for grants for child abuse or neglect                                                                      
          prevention and treatment programs. (42 U.S.C.                                                                         
          5106a(b)).                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
          State plan for delivery  of child welfare services                                                                    
          prepared jointly  by the  state and  the Secretary                                                                    
          Health  and  Human  Services. (42.  U.S.C.  621  -                                                                    
          629m).                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     AS 24.55.410. Mandates that OCS  SHALL consult with the                                                                  
     CRP and  assist the panel  in carrying out  its duties,                                                                    
     including  providing case-specific  information to  the                                                                    
     panel.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. MOSS said  the duties of the department  in .410 include                                                                    
establishing  procedures  for   sharing  administrative  and                                                                    
case-specific  information;  coordinating  outreach  efforts                                                                    
with  communities with  panel  activities; and  coordinating                                                                    
activities  of  the panel  with  the  taskforce on  criminal                                                                    
justice.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     AS  24.55.415. Makes  information  delivered  at a  CRP                                                                  
     meeting confidential  and the CRP must  follow the Open                                                                    
     Meetings Act  giving public notice and  restricting the                                                                    
     CRP members from meeting privately.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     AS 24.55.420. Provides for  public outreach  and public                                                                  
     comment.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     AS  24.55.425.  Provides  for the  CRP  to  prepare  an                                                                  
     annual  report   to  be  available  to   the  governor,                                                                    
     legislature  and  public.  Requires  OCS  to  submit  a                                                                    
     written  response to  the report  within six  months of                                                                    
     its release.  Requires the panel and  the department to                                                                    
     prepare   a   joint   report  [evaluating   the   child                                                                    
     protective  system] to  the  governor, legislature  and                                                                    
     public every three years.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     AS 24.55.430. Sets  a penalty of up to  $2,500 for each                                                                  
     violation of confidentiality a person is convicted.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     AS 24.55.435. Provides immunity  for panel members from                                                                  
     liability in panel actions.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     AS 24.55.440. Definitions.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
          Department is the DHSS.                                                                                               
          Panel is the Citizens Review Panel                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. MOSS said the language in Section 2 is new and lists in                                                                     
detail the confidential information that would be available                                                                     
to the panel.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     *Sec.  2.   Gives  the   CRP  access   to  confidential                                                                  
     documents regarding child protection cases.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     *Sec. 3. Repeals  the Alaska Statutes that  put the CRP                                                                  
     under the jurisdiction of DHSS.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     *Sec.  4. Requires  DHSS  to do  a  two-year review  of                                                                  
     existing  processes for  reviewing  and overseeing  the                                                                    
     work of  OCS and outline  a plan to  reduce duplication                                                                    
     and improved coordination  amongst agencies involved in                                                                    
     child protection.  The report will be  delivered to the                                                                    
     senate secretary,  house chief clerk, the  governor and                                                                    
     the general public.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 5. Gives  the office  of the  ombudsman regulatory                                                                  
     authority.                                                                                                                 
     Sec. 6. Transition language that allows existing panel                                                                   
       members to serve out their term on the panel even                                                                        
     though it has been moved from the department.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
      The bill does not have an effective date. [Thus, it                                                                       
     would go into effect 90 days after it is signed by the                                                                     
     governor.]                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:45:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL  listed who was  available to answer  questions. He                                                               
clarified that  the Office  of Children's  Services is  under the                                                               
Department of  Health and Social  Services and the Office  of the                                                               
Ombudsman resides in the legislative branch.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:46:00 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COSTELLO asked  if she  had discussed  the scope  of the                                                               
report called  for in Section 4  with the department, and  how it                                                               
was received.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MOSS  said  the  department  is neutral  on  the  bill.  The                                                               
ombudsman  will  establish  the   scope  of  the  report  through                                                               
regulation and the policies of the Citizens Review Panel.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR COGHILL  shared that  OCS has never  had time  to establish                                                               
regulations  for  this  report.  "When  you  ask  the  Office  of                                                               
Children's Services  to do things,  it's like asking  somebody to                                                               
tie their shoes while they're running."                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:47:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SHOWER  referenced  the  duties  of  the  department  in                                                               
Section 1.  He asked what  she perceives "consult with  the panel                                                               
periodically" to mean.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. MOSS said the two entities currently communicate monthly.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  COGHILL  described  it as  an  as-needed  and  as-required                                                               
basis.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:49:24 PM                                                                                                                    
KATE BURKHART,  Ombudsman, Office of the  Ombudsman, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  Juneau,  Alaska,  expressed  appreciation  for  the                                                               
attention  on the  role of  the Citizens  Review Panel,  which is                                                               
critical to the  child protective services system.  The Office of                                                               
the Ombudsman  has frequent and  ongoing contact with  the people                                                               
engaged with that system. She said  she is very familiar with the                                                               
idea of  colocation of agencies  with similar missions.  Prior to                                                               
becoming ombudsman, she  was the executive director  of three co-                                                               
located  planning  councils  for  the Department  of  Health  and                                                               
Social Services.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
She said  that for the model  to work the missions  and values of                                                               
the  organizations must  be aligned  and there  must be  adequate                                                               
management  and resources.  She  noted that  her office  provided                                                               
some comment  to the  sponsor about  management. As  drafted, the                                                               
bill  places the  Citizens  Review  Panel in  the  Office of  the                                                               
Ombudsman  for budgetary  purposes only.  She said  she would  be                                                               
working  with   Ms.  Moss   on  that   because  that   creates  a                                                               
fiscal/agent relationship,  which is not the  level of management                                                               
that co-location anticipates.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BURKHARDT said  she  believes that  co-location  of the  two                                                               
organizations  will  help support  the  mission  of the  Citizens                                                               
Review  Panel  and  augment  the   work  of  the  Office  of  the                                                               
Ombudsman.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:51:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  COGHILL   stated  he   would  hold   SB  122   for  future                                                               
consideration.                                                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 124 - Letter of Support - Pro Life Alaska.pdf SJUD 3/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 124
SB 124 - Letter of Support - Alaska Family Action.pdf SJUD 3/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 124
SB 124 - Letters of Opposition #2.pdf SJUD 3/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 124
SB 124 - Letters of Opposition.pdf SJUD 3/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 124
SB 122 - CRP 2017-2018 Workplan.pdf SJUD 3/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 122
SB 122 - CRP-2017 Annual-Report.pdf SJUD 3/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 122
SB 122 - OCS Response to CRP 2017 Annual Report.pdf SJUD 3/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 122
SB 122 - Sectional Summary.pdf SJUD 3/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 122
SB 122 - Sponsor Statement.pdf SJUD 3/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 122
SB 122 - Version J.PDF SJUD 3/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 122
SB 122 - CRP-BIA Providers Conference Presentation.pdf SJUD 3/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 122