Legislature(2007 - 2008)HOUSE FINANCE 519
03/13/2008 01:30 PM FINANCE
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HOUSE BILL NO. 359 An Act relating to probation and the offense of minor consuming or in possession or control of alcohol. Representative Hawker MOVED to ADOPT Amendment #1. Page 2, line 11: After "AS 12.55.051;", insert "and"; Page 2, line 13: After "probation", Delete "; and", Insert "."; Page 2, line 14-15, Delete "(5) continuance of the probation would interfere with the rehabilitation and growth of the person." Co-Chair Meyer OBJECTED for discussion purposes. Representative Hawker explained the amendment follows up on previous Committee conversation regarding the vagueness of the phrase "rehabilitation and growth of the person." REPRESENTATIVE JAY RAMRAS, SPONSOR, said the Judiciary Committee had wrestled with the same issue. He agreed the language was ambiguous. Co-Chair Meyer WITHDREW his OBJECTION. There being NO further OBJECTION, Amendment #1 was ADOPTED. 2:54:51 PM Representative Thomas MOVED to ADOPT Amendment #2 (25- LS1377\L.4, Luckhaupt, 3/10/08). Representative Hawker OBJECTED for discussion purposes. Representative Gara expressed his support for the Amendment. Representative Thomas explained the Amendment would reduce probation for the first and second offenses to up to a year instead of five years mandatory. It does not change the penalty for the third offense, which includes probation until 21. 2:56:42 PM Representative Ramras thought the Amendment improved the bill. Co-Chair Meyer expressed concern with inconsistencies in the Amendment, especially that judges could apply it differently and unfairly. SUZANNE ARMSTRONG, STAFF, CO-CHAIR KEVIN MEYER, reported that the Department of Law was concerned about setting the probation for up to one year for the first offense. Magistrates could give zero through up to a year. The Department of Law felt a set standard, such as one year, should be applied across the state. Representative Gara reminded the Committee that the first two violations are not a crime. This is the only finable offense with automatic probation. He thought judges should have the freedom to discern the length of the probation depending on the individual situation. He also wanted flexibility for minors who are just under 21 years old. He stated he would vote for the bill. 3:00:19 PM Ms. Armstrong said the Department of Law had also raised the point of the minor's ability to petition the court for termination of probation. It could take six months for the minor to complete the requirements of the termination. Representative Kelly thought there should be something in the bill that punishes the minor. He did not want the option of no probation. He did not support the Amendment. 3:02:40 PM Representative Crawford related a personal story about his son. His son did not get charged because the penalties pertaining to probation were too harsh, but he still learned a valuable lesson. Representative Crawford thought that the statute as it stands is not workable and he said he supported the bill and the Amendment. Representative Gara wondered what should be done about probation for someone who is nearly 21. He suggested the Amendment could say one year or until the age of 21. 3:05:08 PM Representative Thomas related a personal story. In smaller towns the magistrate knows the kids involved and can apply that knowledge when determining the length of probation. Representative Ramras stated his concern regarding a minor consuming that would turn 21 during the probation period. He wanted punishment. He thought a condition of a full year's probation should be maintained even after the legal age is reached. He mentioned a crime bill that intends to introduce three days of jail time for someone who contributes by purchasing alcohol for a minor. He said he supported the Amendment. 3:08:54 PM Representative Hawker removed his OBJECTION. Representative Kelly OBJECTED. A roll call vote was taken on the motion. IN FAVOR: Thomas, Crawford, Harris, Gara, Hawker OPPOSED: Kelly, Chenault, Meyer Absent from the vote: Joule, Nelson, Stoltz The MOTION PASSED (5/3). Amendment #2 was ADOPTED. 3:10:41 PM Representative Gara informed the Committee that when the original bill passed, it was written so that the fine would be as stiff as possible without requiring a public defender, which would be too expensive. The Court said that went too far, and put in five years probation, even though the offense is not a crime. Now the Public Defender represents the kids. The only way to remove the Public Defender cost is to impose a fine of $500, with $1000 for the second offense, for example. He did not think there should be probation with a fine, although probation for the third offense made sense. He preferred getting rid of the whole probation requirement. Co-Chair Meyer thought the topic might pertain to another bill. He wanted to deter underage drinking. Representative Ramras commented on the seriousness of minors consuming any amount. Representative Gara stated for the record that he disagreed that it was a condemnable offense for a 20-year old to have a beer. He thought it was a family matter. Co-Chair Meyer wanted tough laws to back parents up. 3:13:47 PM Co-Chair Meyer referred to the new fiscal note from the Courts. Co-Chair Chenault MOVED to report CSHB 359 (FIN) out of Committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note #1 by the House Judiciary Committee and new fiscal note by the Alaska Court System. CSHB 359 (FIN) was REPORTED out of Committee with a "do pass" recommendation and with attached fiscal note #1 by the House Judiciary Committee and new fiscal note by the Alaska Court System. There was a discussion regarding how many votes were needed in Committee to pass an amendment.