Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/20/2001 04:07 PM 022

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 22-DIVERSE COMMUNITY/CONDEMN HATE CRIMES                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR JAMES announced  that the only order  of business before                                                               
the committee  would be HOUSE  JOINT RESOLUTION NO.  22, Relating                                                               
to a  diverse community; condemning  a recent  racially motivated                                                               
attack;  and  requesting  the Municipality  of  Anchorage  police                                                               
department  to conduct  a conclusive  investigation  and to  take                                                               
rapid  action against  the perpetrators.   [Before  the committee                                                               
are SCS CSHJR 22(STA) am S and CSHJR 22(RLS).]                                                                                  
Number 0020                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR WARD  reviewed a document  prepared by his staff.   This                                                               
document outlines  the changes  by the Senate.   He  informed the                                                               
committee of  the following changes  to CSHJR 22(RLS),  which are                                                               
encompassed in SCS CSHJR 22(STA) am S:                                                                                          
     Page 1, line 6, "incredibly" was deleted.                                                                                  
     Page 1, lines 8-9, "WHEREAS" clause was deleted.                                                                           
     Page 1, lines 12-13, "WHEREAS" clause was deleted.                                                                         
        Page 1, line 15, "to build bridges with the" was                                                                        
     replaced with "an understanding with the".                                                                                 
      Page 1, line 15, before "discrimination", "unlawful"                                                                      
     was inserted.                                                                                                              
     Page 2, line 4, "and business" was deleted.                                                                                
     Page 2, line 6, The "WHEREAS" clause was changed to                                                                        
     read as follows:                                                                                                           
          "WHEREAS federal law 18 U.S.C. 245 makes it                                                                         
          unlawful by the commission of certain acts to                                                                         
          prevent a person from exercising a "federally                                                                         
          protected right" when the assailant is motivated                                                                      
       by bias based on race, religion, national origin,                                                                        
          or color;"                                                                                                            
     Page 2, lines 16 and 17, before "discrimination",                                                                          
     "unlawful" was inserted.                                                                                                   
     Page 2, line 20, before "unacceptable", "reprehensible                                                                     
     and" was inserted.                                                                                                         
     Page 2, line 22, "continue its" was replaced with                                                                          
     "complete a".                                                                                                              
     Page 2, lines 25-29, was deleted.                                                                                          
     Page 2, lines 30-31, was deleted.                                                                                          
     Page 3, line 3, "racism and" was replaced with                                                                             
Number 0424                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  WARD related  his understanding  that insertion  of the                                                               
word "unlawful" by  the Senate drew much attention  in the House.                                                               
He  informed  the  committee  that  he was  in  support  of  that                                                               
amendment because of his belief  that there are "lawful and legal                                                               
and appropriate  forms of discrimination."   Therefore, he wanted                                                               
to   differentiate   between    the   aforementioned   forms   of                                                               
discrimination  and unlawful  discrimination.    For example,  he                                                               
informed  the committee  that as  an Alaskan  Native and  Vietnam                                                               
combat veteran, he  is eligible for 160 acres of  land.  However,                                                               
those  [Alaskans]  that were  in  Vietnam  that [are  not  Alaska                                                               
Native] aren't eligible  for such.  Co-Chair   Ward characterized                                                               
the   aforementioned   example    as   appropriate   and   lawful                                                               
discrimination because  he wasn't  in Alaska to  sign up  for the                                                               
land  allotment with  the  Bureau of  Indian  Affairs.   Co-Chair                                                               
Ward noted  other forms  of lawful  discrimination such  as being                                                               
the  membership  of  a  Native  corporation  or  eligibility  for                                                               
CO-CHAIR  JAMES related  her  belief that  the  objection to  the                                                               
insertion of  "unlawful" was that  this case was, because  it was                                                               
racial  discrimination, lawful  and  by  inserting "unlawful"  it                                                               
seemed to draw attention to the fact that maybe it wasn't.                                                                      
Number 0617                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   BERKOWITZ  said   that  his   interpretation  of                                                               
"unlawful"  is  tepid  because   when  one  criticizes  "unlawful                                                               
racism"  one  is criticizing  things  that  are already  illegal.                                                               
Furthermore, one  of the  definitions of  discrimination is:   "A                                                               
prejudiced act."   One of the  definitions of prejudice is:   "An                                                               
irrational  hatred or  suspicion of  a specific  group, race,  or                                                               
religion."   Therefore,  [prejudice] is  what is  being condemned                                                               
and it doesn't have to be illegal to condemn it.                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WARD returned  to his  example  that because  he is  an                                                               
Alaska  Native and  Vietnam  combat veteran,  he  is allowed  160                                                               
acres.  He asked if that is discrimination.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS  remarked that  Co-Chair Ward  is correct                                                               
to some  extent in that  there are many types  of discrimination.                                                               
However, HJR 22 relates to  a specific racially motivated attack.                                                               
Therefore,  he  suggested  creating  another  resolution  if  the                                                               
desire is to address the other types of discrimination.                                                                         
CO-CHAIR JAMES  asked what Representative Williams  thought about                                                               
deleting "unlawful" and replacing it with "racial".                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  pointed out  that doing such  is beyond                                                               
the ability of this conference committee.                                                                                       
CO-CHAIR  JAMES agreed,  but noted  that such  [powers] could  be                                                               
Number 0800                                                                                                                     
SENATOR DAVIS  emphasized that comparing Co-Chair  Ward's example                                                               
to this resolution  is like comparing apples  and oranges because                                                               
the  situation  before  the  committee   is  a  racial  incident.                                                               
Senator  Davis interpreted  the insertion  of "unlawful"  to mean                                                               
that one can  do anything to anyone as long  as it's not illegal.                                                               
Why  would one  allow  that  concept or  message  to  be sent  to                                                               
children, she asked.   She said that is the  only problem she has                                                               
with [SCS CSHJR 22(STA) am S].                                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR JAMES  announced that she  is personally opposed  to any                                                               
form   of  discrimination.     However,   there  is   a  lot   of                                                               
discrimination that isn't illegal.   Therefore, she felt that the                                                               
type  of  discrimination being  addressed  in  HJR 22  should  be                                                               
defined.   She agreed  that "unlawful" takes  the focus  and thus                                                               
shouldn't be  included; however, she  expressed the need  to have                                                               
some [language] in order to  indicate that the legislation speaks                                                               
to a particular type of discrimination.                                                                                         
Number 0930                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  KELLY recalled  that Co-Chair  James  felt that  "racial                                                               
discrimination" would be  appropriate.  However, he  said that he                                                               
didn't believe that  language would "get to it"  because there is                                                               
racial  discrimination in  Alaska  as well.    For example,  non-                                                               
Natives  can't belong  to a  Native corporation.   Senator  Kelly                                                               
remarked, "The  list of  things that  we give  to people  in this                                                               
state  is, it's  exhaustive with  how we  discriminate racially."                                                               
Therefore, the choices  are to not discriminate at all  or not to                                                               
racially  discriminate, which  is problematic  due to  the lawful                                                               
racial  discrimination that  already exists.   He  felt that  the                                                               
choice  [has to  be] "unlawful  discrimination" because  although                                                               
the  act speaks  to a  specific  incident, the  language is  very                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  WILLIAMS maintained  that a  non-Native can  be a                                                               
shareholder of a Native corporation,  although a non-Native can't                                                               
vote.    Representative Williams  turned  to  the resolution  and                                                               
asked if the  desire is to send  a strong message or  to water it                                                               
SENATOR KELLY answered that he wanted to send a strong message.                                                                 
CO-CHAIR JAMES asked  if this incident would be just  as bad if a                                                               
group such  as women or elderly  people was targeted.   She asked                                                               
if this is worse because Natives were targeted.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  DAVIS  said that  regardless  of  the race,  this                                                               
incident would have been bad  and just as important [to address].                                                               
Representative Davis related her  understanding that there was no                                                               
debate  in  the  House  regarding  only  having  "discrimination"                                                               
language.   However,  now some  seem  to have  concerns with  the                                                               
CO-CHAIR WARD  returned to Representative Williams'  comments and                                                               
remarked  that everyone  has felt  discrimination.   However,  he                                                               
said  that   he  has  a   problem  with  [language]   that  isn't                                                               
interpreted.   Although  he  believes the  three  youths will  be                                                               
prosecuted, he was interested in  enhancing existing laws to make                                                               
[discrimination] more  difficult.   Co-Chair Ward  reiterated his                                                               
stance that he couldn't support  this resolution without the term                                                               
"unlawful."     However,  he  would  consider   legislation  that                                                               
addresses name calling, et cetera.                                                                                              
Number 1327                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  JAMES said  that she  agreed with  Senator Davis.   Co-                                                               
Chair James related  her belief that this incident was  an act of                                                               
discrimination   because  a   particular   group  was   targeted.                                                               
Furthermore, the  crime would remain  the same regardless  of the                                                               
group targeted.   However,  there is a  another element  that has                                                               
been  discussed lately  and that  is hate  crime.   A hate  crime                                                               
involves  the intent  or  mindset.   Co-Chair  James related  her                                                               
understanding that  intent does  make a  difference in  regard to                                                               
the outcome.   Therefore, she  felt that this incident  was worse                                                               
because a specific  group was targeted based on  the groups race,                                                               
but she wasn't sure how to get at that degree of difference.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ reiterated  the definition of prejudice,                                                               
which is the definition of  discrimination and said, "To me, what                                                               
discrimination is, is  quite clear and if we're  going to condemn                                                               
it, lets condemn it."                                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR JAMES  disagreed and said that  Representative Berkowitz                                                               
is  using   a  contemporary  meaning  of   discrimination.    She                                                               
emphasized  that the  word discriminate  means to  choose between                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said that he  didn't want to discuss the                                                               
etymology of words.  However,  the definition that makes sense in                                                               
this context  is the  definition of  discrimination that  he read                                                               
Number 1499                                                                                                                     
SENATOR KELLY pointed out that  when words are unclear, modifiers                                                               
are used to further clarify the  meaning of the word.  Therefore,                                                               
"unlawful" serves that purpose.                                                                                                 
CO-CHAIR WARD reiterated  that the only way he  will support this                                                               
resolution  is with  the insertion  of "unlawful."   He  remarked                                                               
that there should be added  emphasis on this incident because the                                                               
three youths were bigots who  sought a particular race to attack.                                                               
"If our  laws are not  strong enough to  take care of  that, then                                                               
... that's  our fault,"  he said   Co-Chair Ward  also reiterated                                                               
his lack of trust in the public interpreting the laws.                                                                          
CO-CHAIR JAMES  inquired as to  the committee's opinion  of using                                                               
the word "prejudice."                                                                                                           
SENATOR DAVIS clarified that she  isn't saying that Senators Ward                                                               
and Kelly  are wrong for  wanting the word "unlawful."   However,                                                               
she felt  both should be  held accountable for what  happens with                                                               
this resolution.  She expressed  [disbelief] that the legislature                                                               
would get  "hung up" on a  simple resolution simply because  of a                                                               
lack of  trust in  the system  to say  and do  what is  right and                                                               
wrong.    However, she  emphasized  that  there is  a  difference                                                               
between special privileges and discrimination.                                                                                  
SENATOR  DAVIS remarked  that this  resolution  has already  been                                                               
watered down enough.  However, she  expressed the need to work on                                                               
it.    Perhaps  the  fifth   "WHEREAS"  could  read  as  follows:                                                             
"WHEREAS  Anchorage has  a responsibility  to  take a  leadership                                                             
role in  creating a climate  of tolerance" and  insert additional                                                               
language to make the statement stronger.                                                                                        
CO-CHAIR  JAMES   said  that   she  appreciated   Senator  Davis'                                                               
direction because  the chore  is to  develop something  that both                                                               
sides can  agree upon.   Therefore, she requested  that committee                                                               
members think [about a language  change].  However, she felt that                                                               
powers of free conference would have to be obtained first.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ disagreed because  he felt this could be                                                               
put to a vote.                                                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR JAMES announced that she wouldn't do that.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  pointed out,  "The choice  would belong                                                               
to any member of this committee who made a motion."                                                                             
CO-CHAIR  WARD   requested  that   the  avenues  of   fixing  the                                                               
[language] within the document or  creating a new document not be                                                               
Number 1783                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR JAMES  explained her belief  that this  resolution can't                                                               
be  fixed   [under  the   committee's  current   powers]  because                                                               
"unlawful" is not acceptable by  the House.  Co-Chair James said,                                                               
"I'm  not willing  to  put a  motion  on the  floor  and get  the                                                               
sufficient amount of votes  and get out of here.   I want to have                                                               
six of  us agree on something."   She related her  belief that it                                                               
can happen.                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR WARD  referred to the  seventh "WHEREAS" that  says that                                                             
it's illegal to commit  a crime.  He pointed out  that a crime is                                                               
already illegal  and asked if  there is agreement on  that point.                                                               
He also  asked if  this body  should be  putting out  a statement                                                               
that says "makes it illegal to commit a crime".                                                                                 
CO-CHAIR JAMES  pointed out  that there  is already  agreement on                                                               
the seventh "WHEREAS."   She asked if the  "unlawful" language is                                                             
the only place where there is disagreement.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ replied  no and  directed attention  to                                                               
the fact  that the Senate deleted  the next to the  last "FURTHER                                                             
RESOLVED."  That  provision seems to be  a fairly straightforward                                                             
declaration  of  intent  by  the   legislature.    Therefore,  he                                                               
inquired as to why that was removed.                                                                                            
CO-CHAIR   JAMES identified the  issues needing attention  as the                                                               
"unlawful" language and the fourth "FURTHER RESOLVED."                                                                        
Number 1947                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  DAVIS  informed  the committee  that  the  Senate  State                                                               
Affairs Committee  determined that the resolution  should be more                                                               
precise and  thus a  new committee  substitute (CS)  was drafted.                                                               
That  new   CS  didn't  have   the  fourth   "FURTHER  RESOLVED".                                                             
Therefore,  the  resolution that  came  before  the Senate  floor                                                               
didn't have that provision.                                                                                                     
SENATOR  KELLY  said  that  the  fourth  "FURTHER  RESOLVED"  was                                                             
probably   removed  because   that   language  is   traditionally                                                               
"WHEREAS" language.                                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR JAMES pointed out that the language has a pledge.                                                                      
SENATOR DAVIS informed  the committee that there  was no item-by-                                                               
item debate by the Senate State Affairs Committee.                                                                              
CO-CHAIR JAMES remarked that the language seems innocuous.                                                                      
SENATOR KELLY  indicated that the  language was  probably deleted                                                               
due to  the "fair and equitable  treatment for all who  ... visit                                                               
Alaska" language.  Those who  visit the state aren't treated fair                                                               
and equitable because they are  charged different rates for their                                                               
licenses and they  don't receive a dividend.  He  noted that this                                                               
is speculation.                                                                                                                 
Number 2068                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  JAMES asked  if the  committee could  agree to  put the                                                               
fourth "FURTHER RESOLVED" back in.                                                                                            
CO-CHAIR WARD  said that  although he didn't  see a  problem with                                                               
returning that  language, he  wasn't prepared to  vote to  do so.                                                               
He  expressed  the  need  to  determine  whether  someone  had  a                                                               
compelling reason for its deletion.                                                                                             
CO-CHAIR JAMES announced her belief  that the committee would not                                                               
be able to come to consensus today  because in order to do so the                                                               
committee  would  need [the  appropriate  powers]  to change  the                                                               
language.   Therefore,  she expressed  the desire  to pursue  the                                                               
language that would bring the committee to consensus.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  remarked that  the longer the  delay on                                                               
the  issue,  the   more  it  looks  as  if   the  legislature  is                                                               
equivocating on this issue.                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR JAMES opposed Representative Berkowitz' comment.                                                                       
SENATOR  KELLY  interjected  that a  resolution  really  resolves                                                               
CO-CHAIR JAMES agreed.   However, this resolution  was created so                                                               
that  the legislature  would recognize  this horrible  act.   She                                                               
didn't believe there  was a person in the  legislature who didn't                                                               
believe  this  was a  horrible  act.    Therefore, she  felt  the                                                               
legislature should  be able  to verbalize it.   Although  she did                                                               
believe the committee could come  together, she didn't believe it                                                               
could  be  done  with  existing language.    Therefore,  she  was                                                               
willing to request changes in the  language if she knew there was                                                               
something  to go  to.    Co-Chair James  related  her belief,  in                                                               
regard to the fourth "FURTHER  RESOLVED," that everyone should be                                                             
treated fair  and equitable.   The argument that  visitors aren't                                                               
treated fairly and equitably doesn't hold water in her opinion.                                                                 
Number 2180                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR WARD  expressed the  need to  develop a  resolution that                                                               
condemns the actions  of these three youths.   Co-Chair Ward said                                                               
that he was baffled with the conflict over this resolution.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  expressed the need for  this resolution                                                               
to do more than condemn.                                                                                                        
CO-CHAIR JAMES  interjected that  [condemning] is about  all that                                                               
can be done with a resolution.                                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR  WARD  interjected  that  passage  of  a  law  would  be                                                               
required if the desire is to do something else.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ  refuted  Co-Chair Ward's  comment  and                                                               
pointed out that  the resolution could express the  need for [the                                                               
legislature]   to  assert   leadership  and   other  methods   of                                                               
intolerance   could  be   rejected.     Representative  Berkowitz                                                               
mentioned  that  pursuant  to taking  this  action  [legislators]                                                               
received  mail from  a white  supremacist group.   Therefore,  he                                                               
didn't believe  the way  to respond  to such is  to back  off and                                                               
address one small incident.                                                                                                     
TAPE 01-1, SIDE B                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  continued by  saying that  once someone                                                               
bully's him,  it is  appropriate to standup  to that  person with                                                               
clear and  unambiguous language.   Therefore, that's  what should                                                               
be done.                                                                                                                        
CO-CHAIR  WARD agreed,  but  noted that  [CSHJR  22(RLS)] is  not                                                               
Number 2220                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  KELLY said  that is  why  the term  "unlawful" is  being                                                               
discussed  because   without  it,  the  language   is  ambiguous.                                                               
Furthermore, if the  desire is to do more than  condemn an act or                                                               
future commissions of  that act, then it  will probably [require]                                                               
more than  a resolution.  There  will be resistance to  a broader                                                               
CO-CHAIR JAMES  remarked that  there should  have been  a resolve                                                               
that expressed sorrow for the victims of this attack.                                                                           
CO-CHAIR  JAMES  requested  that  committee  members  attempt  to                                                               
develop language  without using  "unlawful discrimination."   She                                                               
proposed requesting  special powers of free  conference on Monday                                                               
so that the committee could meet Monday afternoon.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  announced that he was  opposed to going                                                               
to special  powers of  free conference until  more work  has been                                                               
CO-CHAIR WARD  said that he  wasn't willing  to give up  the term                                                               
"discrimination."   Furthermore, he said  that there should  be a                                                               
resolution and a law about this.                                                                                                
SENATOR  DAVIS   pointed  out  that  Senator   Lincoln  has  such                                                               
legislation  and  the governor's  office  is  working on  several                                                               
laws.    Therefore,  that  isn't  the  problem.    Senator  Davis                                                               
remarked  that  she  didn't  see that  the  committee  is  making                                                               
progress  and thus  she inquired  as  to why  the Co-Chair  would                                                               
choose not to vote on this matter if someone wanted to do so.                                                                   
Number 2097                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  JAMES stressed  that  she is  embarrassed  that such  a                                                               
wrong act happened in Anchorage  and the legislature can't put it                                                               
on paper  and agree.  She  acknowledged that there is  the option                                                               
of letting this resolution die, but  she felt that would make the                                                               
legislature  look worse.   Therefore,  Co-Chair James  begged the                                                               
committee to  come together  to develop  something that  it could                                                               
agree upon.                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR WARD  noted his agreement with  Co-Chair James' request.                                                               
He then made a motion to adjourn.                                                                                               

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