Legislature(2007 - 2008)HOUSE FINANCE 519

03/13/2008 01:30 PM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 359(FIN) Out of Committee
Scheduled But Not Heard
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                                                                   
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                                                                   
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                                                                   
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.                                                                                              

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