Legislature(1993 - 1994)
01/19/1994 01:36 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 28 "An Act relating to the penalty for providing alcoholic beverages to a person under the age of 21; and providing for an effective date." REPRESENTATIVE BILL WILLIAMS provided members with written testimony in support of CSHB 28 (JUD) (copy on file). He summarized his written remarks. He noted that CSHB 28 (JUD) would make providing alcohol to a minor a class "C" felony on the second offense, if the offender had been convicted within the past five years. MARGOT KNUTH, CRIMINAL DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF LAW expressed concern that the legislation would not accomplish the sponsor's desired goal as a deterrent. She pointed out that the Superior Court has a busier docket than the District Court. She estimated that the offense would receive greater attention as a serious misdemeanor than as a less serious felony. Ms. Knuth emphasized that the legislation would result in additional costs to the state. She pointed out that felony charges would have to go before a grand jury and/or have a preliminary hearing. She added that felony cases generally result in supervision. She did not think that offenders of the offense would warrant costly supervision. Representative Parnell asked if the Superior Court could delegate cases to the District Court. Ms. Knuth replied that cases could not be heard by the District Court unless 2 the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor. Ms. Knuth preferred the revision made in the House Judiciary Committee to the original legislation. House Bill 28 was amended in the House Judiciary Committee to reduce the felony penalty from the first to the second offense. Representative Martin suggested that the legislation would be a good deterrent. Representative Brown asked if a parent could legally provide alcohol to their own under age child. Ms. Knuth explained that statutes that provide permission for a parent to allow their child to consume alcohol would not be altered. The right to consume alcohol in a religious ceremony would not be effected. The legislation would only change the penalty for existing crimes. Ms. Knuth estimated that a superior court judge would issue a lesser sentence than a district court judge because of the seriousness of the offenses before their court. Representative Williams emphasized that the "slap on the wrist" approach is not effective. He asserted that a stiffer penalty is needed. In response to a question by Co-Chair MacLean, Ms. Knuth explained that a bootlegger involved in providing alcohol to a minor would have additional charges brought against them. Representative Navarre asked if the legislation would affect minors who provide alcohol to other minors. Ms. Knuth explained that the age of majority would be 18 for the offense. Minors under the age of 18 would be referred to the Division of Family and Youth Services. JEANNEANE HENRY, KETCHIKAN testified on behalf of the legislation. She asserted that minors are not psychologically prepared for the consumption of alcohol. She strongly urged the Committee to adopt stronger penalties for providing alcohol to minors. Ms. Knuth interjected that the Department of Law feels that alcohol consumption by minors is a serious problem. She stressed the need for stronger enforcement of existing laws. Representative Hoffman spoke in support of the legislation. He felt that the penalty should match the crime. Ms. Knuth reiterated that the Superior Court may not issue a stiffer sentence. Representative Brown questioned the zero fiscal note issued by the Department of Law. Ms. Knuth emphasized that the 3 Department of Law would try to do more with less. On behalf of the sponsor, Representative Foster provided members with Amendment 1 (copy on file). Representative Williams explained that the amendment provides that if a person dies or is seriously injured as a result of alcoholic beverages furnished to a minor, the person who furnished the alcohol would have committed a felony, even if it is a first offense. Representative Therriault expressed concern that the penalty is based on the outcome of the act. He observed that the intent of the defendant would not differ whether the minor is injured or causes another to be injured. (Tape Change, HFC 94-7, Side 1) Representative Foster WITHDREW AMENDMENT 1. In response to a question by Co-Chair MacLean, Ms. Knuth described other non violent felony crimes. Representative Foster MOVED to report CSHB 28 (JUD) out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the accompanying fiscal notes. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. CSHB 28 (JUD) was reported out of Committee with a "do pass" recommendation and with a zero fiscal note by the Department of Law; two zero fiscal notes by the Department of Administration; and with a zero fiscal note by the Department of Public Safety; a fiscal impact note by the Department of Revenue; a fiscal impact note by the Department of Corrections; a fiscal impact note by the Alaska Court System.