Legislature(2005 - 2006)HOUSE FINANCE 519

03/21/2005 01:30 PM FINANCE


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02:17:39 PM Start
02:17:58 PM HB88
03:10:26 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Meeting Postponed to 2:00 pm --
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
= HB 88 OFFENSES BY MINORS/AGAINST TEACHERS
Moved CSHB 88(FIN) Out of Committee
= HB 66 APPROP: MENTAL HEALTH BUDGET
<Bill Hearing Postponed to 3/22/05>
= HB 67 APPROP: OPERATING BUDGET/LOANS/FUNDS/CBR
<Bill Hearing Postponed to 3/22/05>
HOUSE BILL NO. 88                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act  relating to certain weapons  offenses involving                                                                   
     minors;  to   aggravating  factors  in   sentencing  for                                                                   
     certain  offenses committed  against a school  employee;                                                                   
     and providing for an effective date."                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
[House Bill 88 was previously heard on March 17, 2005.]                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:18:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STEVE  WEAVER,  ASSISTANT  ATTORNEY  GENERAL,  LEGISLATION  &                                                                   
REGULATION  SECTIONS, DEPARTMENT  OF LAW,  offered to  answer                                                                   
questions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CAROL COMEAU, SUPERINTENDENT OF  SCHOOLS, ANCHORAGE, spoke in                                                                   
support of HB  88.  She referred to several  assaults against                                                                   
school district  employees in  the Anchorage School  District                                                                   
this  past   year.    Vice-Chair   Stoltze  asked   what  the                                                                   
punishment was in  those instances.  Ms. Comeau  replied that                                                                   
stricter punishment for assaults  on teachers are needed.  In                                                                   
response to  a question from  Vice-Chair Stoltze,  Ms. Comeau                                                                   
deferred  to the  Department  of  Law to  determine  suitable                                                                   
punishment.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:24:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RANDY  RUARO, ATTORNEY,  LEGISLATION  & REGULATION  SECTIONS,                                                                   
DEPARTMENT  OF  LAW,  explained  about  misconduct  involving                                                                   
weapons in  the second degree.   He referred  to a  letter in                                                                   
the  members'  packets  from  District  Attorney  Bob  Linton                                                                   
regarding automatic  waivers of  juvenile offenders  (copy on                                                                   
file.) He pointed out that getting  a discretionary waiver is                                                                   
nearly impossible for a juvenile even in murder cases.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Weyhrauch  asked if  there  are federal  laws                                                                   
that achieve  what this state law  intends to do.   Mr. Ruaro                                                                   
said it  depends if  the shooting or  event occurs  on school                                                                   
grounds.   In  that   case  a   federal   law  would   apply.                                                                   
Representative  Weyhrauch  requested more  information  about                                                                   
related  federal laws.    Mr. Ruaro  agreed  to provide  that                                                                   
information.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:29:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Stoltze  asked for  more information  about lesser                                                                   
categories of offenses and juvenile waivers.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Ruaro  explained that  the  only  type of  a  possession                                                                   
offense that would  fall under second-degree is  for a person                                                                   
who has been  previously adjudicated a delinquent  for an act                                                                   
that would have  constituted a felony, and then  they possess                                                                   
a weapon on school grounds or  near a day care center.  There                                                                   
were only 4-6 successful waiver cases a year.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:32:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Croft  asked why some of the  murder cases are                                                                   
not on the unclassified felony  list.  Mr. Ruaro said he does                                                                   
not  know.   Representative    Croft  expressed  interest  in                                                                   
changing the  statute to "pull  in murder cases"  rather than                                                                   
target  practice cases.   Mr.  Ruaro  opined that  discretion                                                                   
would be exercised on the part of the prosecutor.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:34:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUZANNE  CUNNINGHAM, STAFF,  CO-CHAIR  MEYER, explained  that                                                                   
the automatic waiver  provision only applies when  a minor is                                                                   
at least sixteen  years old.  Representative  Croft said that                                                                   
makes sense.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Cunningham reviewed the status of the bill.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative Croft  reintroduced Amendment 2.   He MOVED to                                                                   
ADOPT  Amendment  2,  to  delete  line  30 on  page  3.    He                                                                   
explained that  he is  not opposed to  how Section  4 targets                                                                   
specific  bad  conduct with  guns,  however  line 30  is  not                                                                   
narrowly tailored at this point.   He opined that the removal                                                                   
of line 30 still  allows the bill to retain its  focus on the                                                                   
worst conduct for automatic waiver.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Meyer OBJECTED for purposes of discussion.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:38:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Ruaro  explained that omitting  line 30 would  delete the                                                                   
crime of possessing a gun at a  drug deal, the crime of being                                                                   
found a delinquent  of a felony and then possessing  a gun on                                                                   
school grounds  or at a day  care, and the crime  of shooting                                                                   
at  a  building   from  coverage  of  the   automatic  waiver                                                                   
provision.   He maintained  that those  offenses are  serious                                                                   
and he opposed Amendment 2.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker raised concerns  about AS 11.61.195 and                                                                   
the definition  of dwelling.   He suggested cleaning  up that                                                                   
section  rather   than  deleting  line  30.     He  spoke  in                                                                   
opposition to the amendment.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Meyer concurred.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Weyhrauch  asked if  there  is  a crime  that                                                                   
cannot  be prosecuted  if  line  30 is  deleted.   Mr.  Ruaro                                                                   
explained  that the  purpose of  the automatic  waiver is  to                                                                   
allow for  certain serious  offenses to  be brought  into the                                                                   
adult system.   The difference  would be between  prosecuting                                                                   
as a  juvenile where jurisdiction  ends at  age 19, or  as an                                                                   
adult.  He discussed a retaliatory  shooting case and how the                                                                   
provision would apply in that case.                                                                                             
2:42:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Croft acknowledged that  the bill does  a lot                                                                   
of  good, especially  Sections  3  and 4.    However, in  the                                                                   
findings section, Section 2, it  says that 29 percent of male                                                                   
students reported  having carried  a weapon.   Representative                                                                   
Croft suggested that that is not  necessarily a bad thing.  A                                                                   
lot of students  use guns for hunting and for  what they were                                                                   
intended to be used for.  He stated  that he does not want to                                                                   
write laws that unintentionally  criminalize and that rely on                                                                   
prosecutors to not  charge in those areas.  He  referred to a                                                                   
case  in  Nome.   He  suggested  that  the committee  take  a                                                                   
further look  at AS  11.61.195 so  as to not  unintentionally                                                                   
criminalize certain conduct.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Meyer  pointed  out  that  some  of  Representative                                                                   
Croft's concern about bias was  corrected by deleting Section                                                                   
2.                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair   Chenault   agreed  with   Representative   Croft's                                                                   
analysis of  (A) of Section  2.  He  noted that  (B) concerns                                                                   
him more.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:47:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Weyhrauch observed that  the figure  "29.8 of                                                                   
male  students" came  from the  "Alaska  Youth Risk  Behavior                                                                   
Survey 2003" on  page 8 (copy on file.)  The  survey gives no                                                                   
context for  the data  collection.   He sympathized  with the                                                                   
intent  of Amendment  2 and  the  unintended consequences  of                                                                   
leaving line 30 in the bill.   He wondered if House Judiciary                                                                   
discussed this area.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Ruaro said there are approximately  eight cases a year of                                                                   
this  type of  serious crime  against  juveniles, not  target                                                                   
shooters,  but serious crimes.   He  stressed that  given the                                                                   
low  number  of  cases  and  the  seriousness  of  them,  the                                                                   
committee should vote no on Amendment 2.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Holm  gave an example  of possession of  a gun                                                                   
by a hunter who also was involved  in a drug deal.  Mr. Ruaro                                                                   
explained  that the  prosecutor  has complete  discretion  on                                                                   
whether to charge as an automatic waiver offense or not.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:51:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Stoltze   asked  if   it  ever  happens   that  a                                                                   
prosecutor  overcharges in order  to scare  a defender.   Mr.                                                                   
Ruaro  said  yes,  but  filters  are built  in  such  as  the                                                                   
discovery process, the grand jury  process, the jury, and the                                                                   
judge.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Croft reviewed  AS 11.61.190(a)(1) and (a)(2),                                                                   
and pointed out that the ideas  discussed today remain in the                                                                   
bill and are not affected by deleting line 30.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kelly asked  for a response  from Mr.  Ruaro.                                                                   
Mr. Ruaro  disagreed and  explained that  the elements  of AS                                                                   
11.61.195  include  possession  of  a  gun in  a  drug  deal,                                                                   
possession of a gun after being  convicted of a serious crime                                                                   
at a school, and retaliatory shootings.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kelly shared a personal hunting experience.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:55:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Ruaro repeated  the system of filters for  those kinds of                                                                   
situations; a whole system of fallbacks.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kelly  explained that he does not  like any of                                                                   
the process,  but added that  he has no  use for a  system of                                                                   
laws that  would not  protect citizens  from drug  shootings.                                                                   
He related a story  about a murder in his district.   He said                                                                   
he is afraid of  harming someone if he votes to  take line 30                                                                   
out.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Ruaro  related  that  drug   deals  are  covered  in  AS                                                                   
11.61.190(a)(1).  Drugs and guns  don't mix is the message in                                                                   
the second  provision.  The  other messages are  if convicted                                                                   
of a felony, don't  carry a gun at school and  don't shoot in                                                                   
anger at a house.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:00:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote  was taken on the motion to  ADOPT Amendment                                                                   
2.                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
IN FAVOR: Croft, Foster,  Holm, Joule, Kelly  Moses, Stoltze,                                                                   
          Weyrauch                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
OPPOSED: Hawker                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chairs Chenault and Meyer were absent from the vote.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
The MOTION PASSED (8-1).                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Stoltze asked if the  short title fits the context                                                                   
of the bill.   Mr. Ruaro  replied that the bill  has changed.                                                                   
Vice-Chair  Stoltze suggested  that the  title be written  to                                                                   
conform to the revised bill.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster  MOVED to report CS HB 88  (FIN) out of                                                                   
committed   with    individual   recommendations    and   the                                                                   
accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                      
Co-Chair Meyer  OBJECTED for discussion  purposes.   He asked                                                                   
what the result of the discussion about the title was.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Stoltze repeated  that the  short title  would be                                                                   
written to reflect the contents of the bill.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Meyer removed his OBJECTION.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Weyhrauch OBJECTED  for discussion  purposes.                                                                   
He  commented that  the effects  of  the bill  will cost  the                                                                   
state money and will require a new fiscal note.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative Weyhrauch withdrew his OBJECTION.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule OBJECTED.   He agreed that  there would                                                                   
be more cost to the state.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Weyhrauch  OBJECTED  again,  voicing  concern                                                                   
about the zero fiscal notes.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Holm OBJECTED.   He  MOVED to  ADOPT two  new                                                                   
House Finance Committee indeterminate fiscal notes.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Weyhrauch    OBJECTED   for    purposes   of                                                                   
discussion.   He asked for  the definition of  "indeterminate                                                                   
fiscal note".                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:07:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Croft  defined indeterminate fiscal  note.  He                                                                   
agreed that the bill would cost more money.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker clarified  that there "may or may not",                                                                   
depending on circumstances, be costs incurred by this bill.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Weyhrauch  noted  that  there  are  two  zero                                                                   
notes.   Representative  Holm said  his intent  was that  the                                                                   
fiscal notes should go back to both departments for review.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:10:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Stoltze stated that  no OBJECTIONS are maintained.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CSHB  88 (FIN)  was  REPORTED  out of  Committee  with a  "no                                                                   
recommendation"  recommendation and  with indeterminate  note                                                                   
by  the  Department  of  Health   and  Social  Services,  and                                                                   
indeterminate note by the Department of Law.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                

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