Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/29/2003 01:42 PM Senate STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
            HB  14-PERMANENT FUND ALLOWABLE ABSENCES                                                                        
JIM POUND,  staff to Representative  Hugh Fate,  paraphrased from                                                               
the sponsor statement.                                                                                                          
     HB  14 makes  changes to  existing statute  and defines                                                                    
     the legal  definition of family. Once  passed into law,                                                                    
     the  Permanent  Fund  Division  of  the  Department  of                                                                    
     Revenue  will be  able to  clearly consider  the family                                                                    
     through first cousins for the  purpose of granting this                                                                    
     By changing the language, a  family member will be able                                                                    
     to provide care  for a terminally ill  family member in                                                                    
     their final days without being  penalized by the state.                                                                    
     This  expansion of  existing language  defines a  legal                                                                    
     family member  as related through  blood to  the second                                                                    
     degree,  under  the  rules   of  canon  law,  marriage,                                                                    
     adoption, or guardianship.                                                                                                 
     This addition  to existing language will  show Alaskans                                                                    
     that we do  believe the family is more than  one or two                                                                    
     generations. The  family is still the  strongest single                                                                    
     unit   that  makes   this  state   great,  and   we  as                                                                    
     legislators need to acknowledge that by passing HB 14.                                                                     
He noted there  were several proposed amendments.  When the House                                                               
amended the  bill on the  floor, the definition of  family became                                                               
too broad. The amendments address that oversight.                                                                               
SENATOR  COWDERY  asked  if  the   definition  of  family  member                                                               
included those involved in same-sex  marriages and long-term non-                                                               
marriage relationships.                                                                                                         
MR.  POUND  replied  same-sex   marriages  are  specifically  not                                                               
SENATOR  COWDERY   asked  how   divorced  individuals   would  be                                                               
MR. POUND  explained the  bill uses canon  law to  define family,                                                               
which would affect members of a divorced family.                                                                                
SENATOR COWDERY  questioned the  number of  people that  might be                                                               
MR. POUND acknowledged he didn't know.                                                                                          
CHAIR GARY  STEVENS informed members  the discussion  centered on                                                               
version \A.A and the proposed amendment was \AA.1.                                                                              
SENATOR FRED DYSON expressed bewilderment.                                                                                      
CHAIR  GARY  STEVENS pointed  to  page  3,  lines 3-5  and  read,                                                               
"'family  member'   means  a  person   legally  related   to  the                                                               
individual  through  blood  to   the  second  degree  of  kindred                                                               
computed under  the rules  of canon  law, marriage,  adoption, or                                                               
guardianship."  The proposed  amendment  would delete  "marriage,                                                               
adoption, or  guardianship" and insert "through  blood, marriage,                                                               
or adoption" on  line 5. It would also delete  "blood" on page 3,                                                               
line 4 and insert "guardianship or,".                                                                                           
MR. POUND agreed.                                                                                                               
SENATOR HOFFMAN noted that the phrase  on page 2, line 7 "parent,                                                               
spouse, sibling, child, or stepchild;"  was replaced with "family                                                               
member;" but wasn't changed in paragraph (6).                                                                                   
MR. POUND acknowledged it was an oversight.                                                                                     
SENATOR  DYSON  questioned  whether there  was  discussion  about                                                               
MR. POUND  said the  original bill  was directed  strictly toward                                                               
grandparents and during the House  floor debate they expanded the                                                               
term to  "family" in  the event  the definition  of a  family was                                                               
changed in the future.                                                                                                          
SENATOR  DYSON asked  if it  was Mr.  Pound's understanding  that                                                               
grandparents  are  included  as   family  members  through  blood                                                               
relation to the second degree.                                                                                                  
MR. POUND  said second degree, without  the amendments, stretches                                                               
to second  cousin, which is part  of the reason for  the proposed                                                               
amendments.  That   expansion  is  greater  than   intended,  but                                                               
grandparents are certainly included as written.                                                                                 
SENATOR DYSON asked how the amendment included grandparents.                                                                    
MR. POUND  replied it  was based  on canon  law and  the marriage                                                               
process.  The canon  law definition  of marriage  deals primarily                                                               
with three generations of the existing family.                                                                                  
SENATOR DYSON  asked that  it be  part of the  record that  it is                                                               
clearly   understood  that   the  canon   law  concept   includes                                                               
grandparents  and  that  Representative  Fate and  the  House  of                                                               
Representatives is not against grandparents.                                                                                    
MR. POUND assured him that was correct.                                                                                         
CHAIR GARY STEVENS  agreed that the term "canon  law" didn't make                                                               
it clear that grandparents were included.                                                                                       
SENATOR GRETCHEN  GUESS wasn't  sure why the  term canon  law was                                                               
used.  She then  asked whether  second cousins  were included  or                                                               
MR. POUND  advised second  cousins would not  be included  if the                                                               
amendments were adopted.                                                                                                        
SENATOR GUESS requested an explanation for using canon law.                                                                     
CHAIR GARY STEVENS  said he was interested in  the explanation as                                                               
MR. POUND replied Representative Kerttula  wanted to use the term                                                               
to define family.                                                                                                               
SENATOR DYSON  suggested holding the bill  so that Representative                                                               
Kerttula could offer an explanation for using canon law.                                                                        
CHAIR GARY STEVENS agreed he  wasn't comfortable passing the bill                                                               
from committee at that time.                                                                                                    
SENATOR COWDERY had no objection.                                                                                               
SENATOR  HOFFMAN asked  that Mr.  Pound  also find  out how  many                                                               
people were  affected currently and  the projected number  if the                                                               
bill were  to pass. In addition,  he asked how many  members from                                                               
one family could qualify under the providing care provision.                                                                    
MR. POUND  pointed out page  2, line 11  makes it clear  just one                                                               
person would qualify.                                                                                                           
SENATOR GUESS  said it wasn't  clear that just one  family member                                                               
could qualify.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR GARY STEVENS  pointed out the bill didn't  limit the number                                                               
of family members who could qualify to travel.                                                                                  
SENATOR  GUESS  added  she  would  be  interested  to  learn  why                                                               
paragraph (7) was changed while (6) and (8) were not.                                                                           
MR.  POUND acknowledged  it was  an  oversight due  to the  House                                                               
floor amendments.                                                                                                               
CHAIR GARY STEVENS recapped the  requested changes and held HB 14                                                               
in committee.                                                                                                                   

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