Legislature(1993 - 1994)

01/19/1994 01:36 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  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                 
                                                                               
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  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                 
                                                                               
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  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.                                                         

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