Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/03/1993 03:00 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HB 79:  DAMAGE TO PROPERTY BY MINORS                                         
  Number 390                                                                   
  CHAIR TOOHEY brought HB 79 to the table.                                     
  Number 393                                                                   
  REP. BUNDE spoke as sponsor of HB 79.  He said the bill was                  
  a minor adjustment of a statute created in 1967 which                        
  limited to $2,000 the amount of damage recovery possible                     
  from parents of a minor who wilfully destroyed another's                     
  property.  He noted that inflation has risen since 1967, and                 
  likewise the cost of property damage, and asked that the                     
  damage limit be lifted to $50,000, the same limit allowed in                 
  district court.                                                              
  Number 412                                                                   
  REP. NICHOLIA said HB 79 could place a burden on residents                   
  of her district who might not be able to pay up to $50,000                   
  to compensate for damage done by their children, whom they                   
  may have difficulty controlling.                                             
  Number 420                                                                   
  REP. BUNDE noted that property damage from juveniles was                     
  likewise a burden on the victims.  He said the intent of the                 
  bill was, in part, to encourage parents to be more                           
  responsible for their children's activities by costing them                  
  money if they were not.                                                      
  Number 430                                                                   
  REP. B. DAVIS asked how much damages had been recovered                      
  under the statute with the $2,000 limit.                                     
  REP. OLBERG noted that legal expenses and other difficulties                 
  make it unlikely most people would go to court to recover                    
  $2,000 in property damages.                                                  
  Number 452                                                                   
  REP. B. DAVIS asked who would enforce this law and how much                  
  was collected under the existing statute.                                    
  REP. BUNDE explained that HB 79 does not create a criminal                   
  fine; rather, it raises the limit on award amounts in civil                  
  suits to make it more likely that a victim could recover                     
  nearer the real value of damages done by a minor.                            
  Number 465                                                                   
  REP. B. DAVIS asked for someone other than the bill's                        
  sponsor, preferably someone from a state department, to                      
  answer her question.                                                         
  Number 470                                                                   
  REP. OLBERG said that her question was not answerable                        
  because a government entity would only be involved if it                     
  were the plaintiff in a civil action.  He said information                   
  on such cases was unlikely to be readily available.                          
  Number 480                                                                   
  REP. B. DAVIS said that it was impossible to force                           
  individuals to pay damages if they did not have the money,                   
  and asked whether the bill would force parents to pay the                    
  damages up to $50,000 if they did not have the means.                        
  REP. BUNDE stated that yes, under HB 79 a court could enter                  
  a $50,000 judgement against parents of a minor who caused                    
  that amount of damage.  As such, he said, it would encourage                 
  parental knowledge of children's activities and whereabouts.                 
  CHAIR TOOHEY called a brief at-ease at 3:39 p.m., and called                 
  the meeting back to order at 3:40 p.m.                                       
  Number 515                                                                   
  REP. G. DAVIS asked whether the current statute was stifling                 
  the courts in ordering restitution, and he expressed a                       
  desire to hear legal opinions or expert testimony on the                     
  question.  He also mentioned a national trend toward more                    
  creative court restitution orders and predicted a bill would                 
  sometime come before the legislature to address the issue on                 
  a larger scale.                                                              
  Number 547                                                                   
  ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANIES, testified on HB 79.  He said                   
  the bill, by expanding the level of financial exposure by                    
  2000 percent, significantly expands the concept of strict                    
  liability under the tort system under which parents can                      
  sometimes be held responsible for their childrens' actions.                  
  MR. FRANK said the insurance industry's concern was that                     
  such damages might be covered by homeowners' insurance                       
  policies, thus both mitigating the impact on the responsible                 
  parents and raising the cost of such insurance for other                     
  policyholders.  He said he had spoken with Rep. Bunde, who                   
  had expressed agreement with the industry on the possibility                 
  of excluding such damage awards from coverage.                               
  Number 585                                                                   
  REP. OLBERG repeated that HB 79's intent is to allow                         
  recovery of damages done by a minor, regardless of whether                   
  the minor's parents had insurance or not.  He expressed                      
  displeasure at the idea of an amendment and asked to see any                 
  such amendment.                                                              
  CHAIR TOOHEY closed testimony on HB 79 and announced that                    
  the bill would be held and would be brought up again for                     
  further consideration, most likely at the next meeting of                    
  the committee.  There being no further business before the                   
  committee, Chair Toohey ADJOURNED the meeting at 3:49 p.m.                   

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