Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

02/25/2010 09:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ SB 266 VIOLENT CRIMES EMERGENCY COMPENSATION TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 266 Out of Committee
*+ SB 278 LEAVE FOR MILITARY SPOUSES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
          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.                                                                                         

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