Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
02/25/2010 09:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 266-VIOLENT CRIMES EMERGENCY COMPENSATION 9:02:43 AM CHAIR MENARD announced the first order of business to come before the committee was SB 266. GRIER HOPKINS, staff to Senator Thomas, said SB 266 proposes to increase the amount that victims of violent crimes can receive in emergency compensation from the Violent Crimes Compensation Board (VCCB). The current amount of $1500 is inadequate and has not been increased since 1975; SB 266 proposed an increased limit of $3500. Emergency compensation is primarily for relocation and counseling for families and victims whose safety and well-being are at risk. Emergency compensation can also be awarded for verifiable lost wages and security measures. The VCCB meets about five times annually and several weeks or months can go by before a claim is fully considered; emergency awards can be issued in the meantime. The Victim's Compensation Fund receives about 70 percent of its appropriations from the state in the form of withheld permanent fund dividends from felons. The remaining 30 percent comes from a federal grant that the VCCB must apply for annually. Emergency compensation is deducted from the final amount given to the victim and SB 266 does not increase the overall cap of $40,000 that an individual can receive. The fiscal impact to the state is zero. SENATOR KOOKESH joined the meeting. 9:05:03 AM SENATOR FRENCH asked if a sufficient pot of money is available to pay out emergency claims. MR. HOPKINS replied that the increased emergency amount should not be a problem. SENATOR FRENCH asked if the VCCB supports SB 266. MR. HOPKINS replied yes; the VCCB was the impetus behind SB 266. GERAD GODFREY, Chair, Violent Crimes Compensation Board (VCCB), Department of Administration, said emergency compensation was put in place for those in dire need during the interim between VCCB board meetings. 9:07:41 AM The allowable amount for emergency compensation has been at $1500 since 1975. Adjusted for inflation, that would amount to over $6000 today. The VCCB considers three criteria for an emergency award: lost wages, counseling and relocation. These needs cannot wait ten or eleven weeks for the next VCCB meeting. He provided an example of a female cooperating with the police after being beaten or assaulted. If the perpetrator threatens to find and harm her, relocation cannot be delayed but $1500 is often not enough for a plane ticket or a deposit on a new apartment. He explained that up to $1500 per victim is allowable in emergency funding. If the woman has two children, she will get up to $4500 to relocate her family. However, just one woman would only receive $1500. Without the ability to award more than $1500 between VCCB meetings, that woman is stuck. 9:10:32 AM MR. GODFREY clarified that SB 266 does not give victims more money overall but rather gives them more, up front, of what they are going to get. SENATOR KOOKESH referred to the table "Violent Crimes Compensation Board: New Claims Received by Location of Crime" and asked about the seven out-of-state cases. MR. GODFREY replied that anyone in Alaska, who is a victim of a violent crime here, whether he or she is a resident or not, is eligible for compensation. The seven out-of-state cases could include a person who was victimized while visiting Alaska or victims who have relocated near a support network in another state. Victims must demonstrate why going to another place is best for them. 9:14:17 AM KATE HUDSON, Administrator, Violent Crimes Compensation Board (VCCB), Department of Administration, clarified that the seven out-of-state claims are people residing outside of Alaska but claiming compensation from Alaska. They were either victims of crime while visiting Alaska or are relatives of homicide victims travelling to attend a funeral in Alaska. She said the vast majority of claimants are Alaska residents but statute does allow compensation for visitors. She pointed out that an Alaskan resident, who is victimized in another state, would be compensated under that state's program. 9:15:52 AM CHAIR MENARD closed public testimony. SENATOR FRENCH moved to report SB 266 from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). There being no objection, the motion carried.