Legislature(1997 - 1998)

1998-02-02 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

1998-02-02                     House Journal                      Page 2200
HB 375                                                                       
HOUSE BILL NO. 375 by the House Rules Committee by request of                  
the Governor, entitled:                                                        
"An Act relating to children in need of aid matters and                       
proceedings; relating to murder of children, criminally negligent              
homicide, kidnapping, criminal nonsupport, the crime of indecent               
exposure,  and  the  crime  of endangering the welfare of a child;             

1998-02-02                     House Journal                      Page 2201
HB 375                                                                       
relating to registration of certain sex offenders; relating to                
sentencing for certain crimes involving child victims; relating to             
the state medical examiner and reviews of child fatalities; relating           
to teacher certification and convictions of crimes involving child             
victims; relating to access, confidentiality, and release of certain           
information concerning the care of children, child abuse and                   
neglect, and child fatalities; authorizing the Department of Health            
and Social Services to enter into an interstate compact concerning             
adoption and medical assistance for certain children with special              
needs; authorizing the establishment of a multidisciplinary child              
protection team to review reports of child abuse or neglect;                   
relating to immunity from liability for certain state actions                  
concerning matters involving child protection and fatality reviews             
and children in need of aid; relating to persons required to report            
suspected child abuse or neglect; relating to foster care placement            
and to payment for children in foster and other care and the waiver            
of certain foster care requirements; relating to the access to certain         
criminal justice information and licensure of certain child care               
facilities; amending Rule 218, Alaska Rules of Appellate                       
Procedure; amending Rules 1, 3, 15, 18, and 19, Alaska Child in                
Need of Aid Rules; and providing for an effective date."                       
was read the first time and referred to the Health, Education & Social         
Services, Judiciary and Finance Committees.                                    
The following fiscal note applies:                                             
Indeterminate fiscal note, Office of the Governor/Various Depts.,              
The Governor's transmittal letter dated January 30, 1998, appears              
"Dear Speaker Phillips:                                                        
More than 15,500 reports of child abuse or neglect were filed last year        
in Alaska.  National statistics have shown Alaska has the highest rate         
of child abuse and neglect among all 50 states with 38 substantiated           
cases  for  every  1,000  children  in  the  state's  population.  These       

1998-02-02                     House Journal                      Page 2202
HB 375                                                                       
disturbing numbers have steadily increased since the 1980's along with         
increases in substance abuse and domestic violence.  One abuse feeds           
another.  The cycle must stop.  We are shirking our greatest                   
responsibility if we don't face this tragedy head on and demand the            
tools, laws and resources to put an end to it.                                 
This child protection bill I am transmitting to you today is my                
Administration's effort to improve Alaska's laws to protect our children       
and prevent the crime that inevitably results when abused kids become          
angry teens and adults.  This bill is part of my Smart Start for Alaska's      
Children initiative  a comprehensive approach to breaking the cycle            
of abuse and neglect, stopping family violence, preventing crime, and          
working together for a bright future for all of Alaska's children.             
The bill makes many changes in Alaska law to protect children and              
prevent crime.  The most significant include:                                  
	- Updating the child in need of aid laws to put children first and            
make sure every effort is made to reunify the family when appropriate,         
and to expedite making the child legally eligible for permanent                
placement when reunification is clearly not in the child's best interest.      
	- Increasing penalties for people who kill or harm children by                
abuse or neglect.                                                              
	- Establishing a child fatality review team and facilitating the              
sharing of information to improve our legal tools to investigate child         
fatalities and more comprehensively address situations that put Alaska         
children at risk.                                                              
	- Requiring incarcerated sex offenders to register as sex offenders           
prior to release from prison.                                                  
	- Improving criminal laws regarding criminal nonsupport of                    
children by heightening penalties to be sure parents who are able, but         
choose not to support their children are appropriately punished.               

1998-02-02                     House Journal                      Page 2203
HB 375                                                                       
	- Authorizing the Department of Health and Social Services to                 
enter into the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance           
to facilitate adoption of hard-to-place children when they move from           
state to state.                                                                
I have proposed attacking Alaska's escalating problem with child abuse         
on three major fronts: health care, prevention programs, and                   
intervention when children are in peril.  Earlier this session, I              
introduced a bill to expand Medicaid eligibility for children, giving our      
kids a chance for a healthy start in life.  That legislation, along with       
several initiatives in my proposed budget, boosts programs such as             
Healthy Families and Head Start to prevent child abuse through                 
education and counseling.  This bill completes my Smart Start package          
by providing the necessary intervention tools to stop abusive situations.      
It represents my Administration's effort to say we will not allow this         
harmful situation to continue.  I urge you to give this bill and my            
entire Smart Start package thorough and swift attention.                       
							Tony Knowles