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12 Bills covering issues from over-due child support
to job training signed into law


June 30, 2004

Anchorage, Alaska - Governor Frank Murkowski on Tuesday signed into law 12 bills passed during the regular session of the Legislature, covering issues ranging from real estate brokers to Permanent Fund dividend applications, from child support to theraputic courts, and from rural housing to job training.

HB 513, sponsored by Eagle River Rep. Pete Kott, changes the name of the Child Support Enforcement Agency to the Child Support Services Agency. This change more accurately reflects the mission of the agency as a service provider for parents and children. The bill also closes a loophole in the driver's license suspension program.

Current law allows the suspension of a driver's license when more than four months child support payments are due and following a 150-day administrative review and appeal process. However, an individual could make a payment on the 151st day, receive their license and if delinquent, the 150 review would have to start all over.

The bill closes the loophole to not require subsequent 150 day review periods, when substantial non-compliance can be shown within two years of the initial revocation.

HB 514, also sponsored by Rep. Kott, addresses cases of long-overdue child support. Alaska currently has more than 14,000 cases where a parent is more than $10,000 in arrears or has failed to make a payment for more than 24 months. Often, a parent unable to collect child support has no choice but to turn to public assistance to help raise his or her children. "This is very significant legislation," Murkowski said. "It will help address the problem by giving the Child Support Agency and the state additional tools to enforce child support payment orders."

Specifically, the bill (1) elevates the crimes of criminal nonsupport and aiding the nonpayment of support class C felonies; (2) clarifies the authority of the courts to order delinquent parents to take specific action to meet their child support obligations; and (3) requires the agency to create an arrears forgiveness program as an incentive for parent to make payments.

HB 29, sponsored by Anchorage Rep. Norman Rokeberg, was brought forward by the Alaska Association of Realtors and is a product of several years' work by an industry task force. The bill amends the real estate statutes to create a new article codifying the relationship and duties between a real estate licensee and a buyer, seller, lessor, or lessee. "This important change establishes guidelines spelling out who the agent represents, when an agent can represent more than one client, and the disclosure and consent requirements for those relationships," Murkowski said.

HB 418, also sponsored by Rep. Rokeberg, extends the Real Estate Commission until June 30, 2008. Without this legislation, the commission would have ended June 30, 2004. "With more than 2,000 licensed real estate professionals in Alaska, the Real Estate Commission plays an important role in helping ensure Alaskans are represented by qualified, competent and ethical agents when buying and selling residential and commercial properties," Murkowski said.

HB 451 extends the pilot program for the therapeutic courts in Anchorage and Bethel until June 30, 2006. It also makes permanent a superior court judgeship in the Third Judicial District (Anchorage), which is set to expire June 30, 2004. While the therapeutic courts have been able to claim success with dealing with recidivism, a complete evaluation and publication of their results will not be available until after the courts are due to sunset on June 30, 2004. The bill extends the therapeutic courts for two more years to fully evaluate the impact of the pilot program.

HB 285, sponsored by Anchorage Rep. Lesil McGuire, adopts the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, which has been adopted by 44 other states and the District of Columbia. "The primary objective of this Act is to establish the legal equivalence of electronic records and signatures with paper writings and manually signed signatures," Murkowski said. "This update to our statutes will facilitate Alaskans' transactions with parties both within and outside our state."

HB 385, also sponsored by Rep. McGuire, creates a rebuttable presumption that a parent who has a history of perpetuating domestic violence may not be awarded sole legal custody of a child. "No Alaskan should live with domestic violence and decisions to seek help should not be clouded by a fear of losing custody of your child," Murkowski said. "Thanks to the work of Rep. McGuire and many individuals and organizations around the state, we now have a law that will help protect Alaska's children and ensure we do not punish a battered co-parent by awarding custody to the parent who has been the abuser."

HB 536, sponsored by Anchorage Rep. Cheryll Heinze, grants a 90-day extension to file for a Permanent Fund dividend application for members of the armed forces who qualify for hostile fire or imminent danger pay. "This bill also allows an individual who would have otherwise been eligible and was receiving hostile fire or imminent danger pay, 90 days to file for a 2003 and 2004 dividend," Murkowski said. "This bill is a reflection of our support for the military and those who place their lives on the line in order to defend our nation and preserve our freedoms."

HB 421, sponsored by Anchorage Rep. Tom Anderson, provides a procedure for the reconveyance of a deed of trust which was collateral for an obligation which has been
paid in full, but no request for reconveyance has been received by the trustee. The procedure establishes notice requirements and timelines for such a reconveyance.

HB 123, sponsored by Unalaska Rep. Carl Moses, re-allocates funds appropriated to the Alaska Workforce Investment Board to include funding for the Southwest Alaska Vocational and Education Center (SAVEC) in King Salmon and the YUUT Elitnaurviat, Inc. People's Learning Center in Bethel. "As we work to create new job opportunities in rural Alaska, we need to make sure we have a trained workforce to fill those jobs," Murkowski said. "This bill will help provide local training to fill jobs within the region."

SB 274, sponsored by the governor, was introduced because the rural teacher-housing loan program currently on the books does not work for rural Alaska. "We changed the very restrictive language and expanded the loan program to apply to multi-family units that may be either owner-occupied or non-owner occupied," Murkowski said. "This change should provide an incentive to develop additional housing in small communities, which will also be available to teachers. The bill also changes the housing assistance revolving loan fund. This is a very important provision ­ the current revolving loan fund is insufficient to meet the demands for loans in rural Alaska. By managing its assets differently, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation could continue to originate, purchase, and refinance loans for small community housing as well as building materials for renovations and improvements to small community housing."

SB 279, also sponsored by the governor, provides a total of $45 million dollars in AHFC bond proceeds for capital projects throughout Alaska. Approximately $20 million will be used for village clean water and sewer improvements. "The bill represents an efficient use of state resources, in non-general fund dollars, to improve public health, economic development and quality of life that follow when adequate water and sewer facilities are constructed in rural villages," Murkowski said.


Source of News Release:

Office of the Governor
Web Site


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