Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211

04/09/2009 09:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSSB 37(STA) Out of Committee
Moved HB 170 Out of Committee
Moved HB 139 Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
             HB 170-REPEAL AUTHORITY FOR DAY FINES                                                                          
9:45:00 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD announced the consideration of HB 170.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE  CHENAULT, Alaska State Legislature,  said HB
170 repeals  the authority for  day fines, which were  called for                                                               
in  HB 119  that  passed  in 1994.  The  court  system created  a                                                               
committee to  establish the fine  schedule, but it  found several                                                               
problems  with the  implementation  of the  fine and  recommended                                                               
that the legislature solve the  problems. Those problems included                                                               
not  knowing   what  misdemeanors  were  included;   time  delays                                                               
associated with  the judge  making written  findings; determining                                                               
defendant  income;   conflicts  with  ordering   substance  abuse                                                               
treatment;  concerns  over the  levels  of  fines; and  the  time                                                               
allowed to  pay the  fines. Legislation  was introduced,  but not                                                               
passed, that  addressed the  court's issues  with the  day fines.                                                               
Without  the  changes,  courts   cannot  implement  the  day-fine                                                               
provisions. Occasionally  there is a  law that doesn't  work, and                                                               
it is the duty of the legislature to eliminate it.                                                                              
9:47:57 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH asked  about the  original intent  of the  bill's                                                               
sponsor. Was it to create bigger fines and less jail time?                                                                      
TOM  WRIGHT,  Staff,  to Representative  Chenault,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,   said  the   original   bill   was  introduced   by                                                               
Representatives Foster and Ulmer. The  intent was to rectify some                                                               
problems, and the court made recommendations that never worked.                                                                 
SENATOR FRENCH  said, "That  was my read  of their  report. Their                                                               
report back  was sort of  like a throwing  up of their  hands. We                                                               
can't make  this work unless  the legislature takes  more action.                                                               
It's never  happened." He  prosecuted a  lot of  misdemeanors for                                                               
six years, and he never saw  a day fine imposed. They are sitting                                                               
on the books taking up space. It is good to reduce the clutter.                                                                 
9:49:36 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KOOKESH asked what a day fine is.                                                                                       
MR. WRIGHT  said there is a  definition from 1993. Day  fines are                                                               
also called  structured fines or  unit fines. They  are immediate                                                               
sanctions that allow  the court to fine an offender  based on the                                                               
type of offense  and offender's ability to pay. It  is based on a                                                               
person's gross daily income.                                                                                                    
CHAIR MENARD said the word is misleading to the general public.                                                                 
DOUG  WOOLIVER,  Administrative  Attorney, Alaska  Court  System,                                                               
said   the   court   doesn't  take   positions   on   substantive                                                               
legislation, but it  has no objection to removing  a statute that                                                               
hasn't ever worked.                                                                                                             
9:51:28 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MEYER  moved  to  report  HB  170  from  committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  attached  fiscal note(s).  There                                                               
being no objection, HB 170 moved out of committee.                                                                              

Document Name Date/Time Subjects