Legislature(1997 - 1998)

05/05/1998 08:40 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 375                                                             
"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; 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."                                                        
Representative Kelly explained that Amendment #5 would                         
replace the most substantive changes as recommended in the                     
previous proposed amendments.  [Copy on File].                                 
that the new version of Amendment #5 would create "clean-                      
up" language.  He pointed out that Page 2 of the old                           
version of Amendment #5 would be deleted and would be                          
replaced with Amendment #11. [Copy on File].                                   
Representative Martin inquired if this would create a                          
twelve-month waiting period for a hearing.                                     
LAW, acknowledged that the wait would be long, although,                       
within the context of the bill, the State would be going                       
before the Court, requesting that the State terminate                          
services to return the child to the home.                                      
Representative Kelly MOVED to adopt the new version of                         
Amendment #5.  Representative J. Davies MOVED to amend                         
Amendment #5 with Amendment #12.  [Copy on File].                              
Representative Kelly OBJECTED.                                                 
Representative J. Davies explained that Amendment #12 would                    
reverse a couple of deletions made in Amendment #5, which                      
remove the references to domestic violence.  He noted that                     
the purpose of HB 375 is to address child safety and those                     
circumstances in which the child is placed at risk. A                          
reference contained in Amendment #12 speaks to the issue of                    
how domestic violence affects the safety of a child.                           
Representative Kelly replied that the bill addresses the                       
child's best interest with a judge delegated with the                          
authority to consider the child's best needs.  He commented                    
that the portions deleted are addressed.  He believed that                     
the inclusion of Amendment #12 would be an expansion of the                    
domestic violence laws, which would be better addressed in                     
a separate bill.                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON indicated support for language                       
recommended by Representative Kelly.  Representative J.                        
Davies asked if the consideration of domestic violence                         
would limit the considerations of other concerns.                              
Representative Dyson responded that it is presumed that a                      
judge would have the "tools" needed to evaluate the harm a                     
child is suffering as a factor to determine the child's                        
best interest.  Discussion followed among Committee members                    
regarding the child's placement with relationship to                           
witnessing domestic violence within the home.                                  
Representative Kelly remarked that language addressing that                    
concern was contained in Title 25.                                             
Ms. Wibker advised that the Department of Law would not be                     
involved in Title 25 cases which address two parties                           
getting a divorce.  Representative J. Davies asked where                       
the safe place for the child be.                                               
ASSAULT, JUNEAU, agreed that there was language contained                      
in Title 25 which addresses child custody and contested                        
custody between two parents.  She recommended that an                          
underlying premise, which needs to be addressed, is the                        
fact that domestic violence is harmful for children.  The                      
impact of even being exposed to domestic violence has on                       
children is serious.  At this time, estblished in Court, a                     
rebuttal presumption is used to address contested child                        
custody cases.  When there has been a history of domestic                      
violence between the parents, the established presumption                      
is that it would not be in the best interest of the child                      
to be placed in the custody of the batterer.  At this time,                    
it is up to the non-offending parent to prove to the Court                     
why the child should not be placed with the batterer.  She                     
emphasized that the rebuttal presumption shifts the focus                      
of where the burden of proof stands from the victim on to                      
the batterer.                                                                  
A roll call vote was taken on the motion to adopt Amendment                    
IN FAVOR:  Grussendorf, Moses, J. Davies                                       
OPPOSED:  G. Davis, Kelly, Kohring, Martin, Mulder                             
Representatives Foster, Therriault and Hanley were not                         
present for the vote.                                                          
The MOTION FAILED (3-5).                                                       
There being NO FURTHER OBJECTION to the new version of                         
Amendment #5, it was adopted unamended.                                        
Representative Kelly MOVED to adopt the new Amendment #10.                     
[Copy on File].  Representative Mulder OBJECTED for the                        
purpose of discussion.                                                         
that the language of the amendment would allow the foster                      
parent the ability to access the child's records.  Ms.                         
Wibker noted that the Department of Law supports that                          
language.  Ms. Torkelson noted that the Department of                          
Health and Social Services had provided the proposed                           
language.  Representative Mulder WITHDREW his OBJECTION.                       
There being NO FURTHER OBJECTION, the new Amendment #10 was                    
Representative Kelly MOVED to adopt Amendment #11.                             
Representative J. Davies OBJECTED.  Representative Kelly                       
noted that the proposed section presented the greatest                         
struggle for the entire working group.  New federal law                        
indicates that some form of emotional damage must be                           
addressed.  Each state can determine how they want to                          
address the rule.  He noted that group had agreed upon the                     
language "mental injury".  He continued, the definition was                    
narrowed down, defining the term and resulting in Amendment                    
Representative J. Davies commented that there is a typo in                     
the amendment placement.  Mr. Campbell agreed, pointing out                    
that it should indicate Page 26, Lines 6 & 7 and Page 57,                      
Line 20.  Representative Kelly stated that the proposed                        
amendment would define what "mental injury" is, bringing                       
the bill a long way from the emotional abuse concern.                          
Representative J. Davies asked the significance of placing                     
"witness" at the end of the amendment.                                         
ANCHORAGE, replied that it would be a "witness" in the                         
preceeding and that witness could either review the child's                    
records or testify based on a hypothetical situation.                          
Representative J. Davies asked if it would be detrimental                      
to drop the word.  Ms. Nelson explained that language came                     
from an already existing child welfare act.  Ms. Wibker                        
explained that a qualified expert witness is a "term of                        
art".  There is a specific statute which deals with                            
testimony provided by an expert; it does not require that                      
the expert witness be at the scene of a crime.                                 
Representative J. Davies WITHDREW the OBJECTION to the                         
language of Amendment #11.  There being NO FURTHER                             
OBJECTION, it was adopted.                                                     
Representative J. Davies WITHDREW Amendment #13, #14, and                      
were WITHDRAWN.                                                                
Representative Kelly MOVED to report CS HB 375 (FIN) out of                    
Committee with individual recommendations and with the                         
accompanying fiscal notes.  There being NO OBJECTION, it                       
was so ordered.                                                                
CS HB 375 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with "no                         
recommendation" and with fiscal notes by the Alaska Court                      
System, the Department of Health and Social Services dated                     
4/7/98, the Department of Corrections dated 4/7/98, and the                    
Office of Management and Budget dated 2/2/98.                                  
(Tape Change HFC 98- 152, Side 2).                                             

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