Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/04/1993 03:00 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  HB 28:  PROVIDING ALCOHOL TO A MINOR                                         
                                                                               
  Number 032                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BILL WILLIAMS testified in Juneau as PRIME SPONSOR in                   
  support of HB 28.  He read a sponsor statement, which is on                  
  file in the committee room.  In summary, the statement said                  
  that the bill was similar to legislation introduced in the                   
  previous session by Rep. Cheri Davis, which would attempt to                 
  deter people from providing alcohol to minors by changing                    
  the offense from a misdemeanor to a Class "C" felony                         
  punishable by up to five years' imprisonment and $50,000 in                  
  fines as a deterrent.                                                        
                                                                               
  Number 063                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. VEZEY said the Department of Corrections already faces                  
  problems with prison crowding, and wondered whether                          
  imprisonment was an appropriate sanction for providing                       
  liquor to minors.                                                            
                                                                               
  REP. WILLIAMS said he wanted to make the law stringent                       
  enough to serve as a deterrent to providing alcohol to                       
  children, who lack adult judgement in the use of alcohol.                    
                                                                               
  Number 096                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. VEZEY said those convicted of misdemeanors in Alaska                    
  face insignificant fines, while federal misdemeanors carry                   
  fines of up to $250,000 and therefore carry significant                      
  economic motivation for compliance.  He questioned whether                   
  the bill, which fiscal notes indicated would cost $670,000 a                 
  year, was worthwhile enough to justify cutting other state                   
  programs by $670,000.                                                        
                                                                               
  Number 118                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. WILLIAMS said that legislators had to consider the cost                 
  of seeing a minor die from consuming alcohol, and asked how                  
  it was possible to put a price tag on such an occurrence.                    
                                                                               
  (Rep. Kott arrived at 3:22 p.m.)                                             
                                                                               
  Number 140                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE said he favors the principle of the bill, as he                   
  believes that alcohol is chronically abused and that there                   
  is a problem with minors drinking.  He questioned the                        
  accuracy of the fiscal notes and asked if a representative                   
  from the Department of Corrections could comment on them.                    
  He also asked whether the bill would apply to parents who                    
  provided alcohol to their minor children.                                    
                                                                               
  REP. WILLIAMS answered that the bill as written did apply to                 
  parents.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 162                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. G. DAVIS expressed agreement with the bill's content,                   
  but concern with its fiscal notes.  He said that any bill                    
  carrying a cost would be weighed by the Finance Committee,                   
  and he would be giving closer examination to bills submitted                 
  later in the session.                                                        
                                                                               
  REP. WILLIAMS offered to return to the committee later with                  
  a representative from the Department of Corrections.                         
                                                                               
  Number 195                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE said he did not mean to imply that Rep. Williams                  
  had to have a representative from the Department of                          
  Corrections appear before the House Health, Education and                    
  Social Services Committee but he did encourage Rep. Williams                 
  to have such people defend the fiscal note for HB 28 in the                  
  next committee of referral (Judiciary).                                      
                                                                               
  CHERI DAVIS, A FORMER STATE REPRESENTATIVE FROM KETCHIKAN,                   
  testified via teleconference from Ketchikan in support of                    
  HB 28.  She said she had introduced the bill in the previous                 
  session (1992) but it had died as time ran out in the last                   
  days of the session when the bill encountered some                           
  opposition.  She thanked Rep. Williams for reintroducing the                 
  bill.  She said the fiscal notes were based on a worst-case                  
  scenario, not accounting for any possible deterrent effect                   
  of increasing the penalty.  She said the bill was aimed at                   
  the serious problems experienced in Ketchikan with adults                    
  providing alcohol to minors without due regard for the                       
  possible consequences.  She said the overall system of                       
  dealing with alcohol-related crimes needs overhauling, and                   
  said the Alaska Sentencing Commission was studying mandatory                 
  sentences.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 242                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. G. DAVIS asked Ms. Davis what the fiscal note was for                   
  her original bill.                                                           
                                                                               
  MS. DAVIS answered that she could not recall, but $600,000                   
  was far higher than the fiscal note of under $70,000 per                     
  year that she recalled.  She said HB 28 requires conviction                  
  of a person for acting with criminal negligence, a serious                   
  charge requiring much effort to prove in court and unlikely                  
  to arise on a casual basis.                                                  
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY noted that an examination of the fiscal note                    
  for Ms. Davis' bill showed a fiscal note of $54,000.                         
                                                                               
  Number 265                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BRICE asked what concerns were raised at the end of the                 
  previous year's legislative session that impeded the bill's                  
  progress.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 270                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. DAVIS said a few legislators felt that providing alcohol                 
  to minors was acceptable and that they themselves had                        
  provided alcohol to minors when they were barely past the                    
  age of majority.  She said most people understand that                       
  alcohol affects minors differently than it does adults, and                  
  that minors lack the ability to treat alcohol responsibly.                   
  Ms. Davis also said that politics played a part in the death                 
  of her bill, as she had angered the chair of a committee,                    
  who had then held the bill from passage.                                     
                                                                               
  Number 295                                                                   
                                                                               
  PETER JENSEN, PRESIDENT OF ALASKANS FOR DRUG-FREE YOUTH-                     
  KETCHIKAN, testified via teleconference from Ketchikan in                    
  support of HB 28.                                                            
                                                                               
  Number 300                                                                   
                                                                               
  JEANNEANE HENRY testified via teleconference from Ketchikan                  
  in support of HB 28.  She told the story of how her 17 year                  
  old son, Joshua, and a friend of his were struck by a car                    
  and killed while riding a motorbike 14 months ago after an                   
  adult had furnished the boys and three other minors with a                   
  gallon bottle of vodka.  She said none of the teens had fake                 
  identification cards or had tried to buy alcohol, and they                   
  would have lived if not for the adult's actions.  She said                   
  there were economic and civil rights concerns with the bill.                 
                                                                               
  Number 326                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. HENRY said there were eight teen deaths in Ketchikan in                  
  1992, four of them alcohol-related.  She announced her plans                 
  to send to all state legislators information showing why                     
  adolescents are unable to deal with alcohol or other drugs.                  
  She read a 1988 statement from the state office of Alcohol                   
  and Drug Abuse regarding the fiscal impact of alcohol abuse                  
  in the state, saying that for each dollar of alcohol tax                     
  revenue, the government pays out $13.42.  She said that the                  
  state collects $15 million in alcohol taxes in a year, but                   
  alcohol costs the state and its people about $300 million                    
  per year.  She said the state subsidizes the alcohol                         
  industry.                                                                    
                                                                               
  (Rep. Brice departed at 3:30 p.m.)                                           
  (Rep. Bunde departed at 3:35 p.m.)                                           
                                                                               
  Number 372                                                                   
                                                                               
  LYNDA ADAMS testified via teleconference from Ketchikan in                   
  support of HB 28 as an effective enforcement effort to                       
  reduce minor consumption of alcohol.  She mentioned the                      
  Healthy People 2000, a federal health promotion and disease                  
  prevention objective, which includes aims to have states                     
  reduce minors' access to alcohol.  She said laws barring                     
  access are not sufficient, and other methods are needed.                     
  She recalled provisions under consideration for addition to                  
  the bill last year and asked that they be included in HB 28,                 
  including a requirement that signs be posted at liquor                       
  stores warning of the legal penalties for providing alcohol                  
  to minors and making it a misdemeanor for minors to solicit                  
  adults to provide them with alcohol.                                         
                                                                               
  (Rep. G. Davis departed at 3:44 p.m.)                                        
                                                                               
  GIGI PILCHER, DIRECTOR OF THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL                   
  ASSAULT PROGRAM IN KETCHIKAN, testified via teleconference                   
  from Ketchikan in support of HB 28.  She said most sexual                    
  assault and sexual abuse of teenagers in Ketchikan have                      
  involved alcohol, with adults luring the minors with drugs                   
  or alcohol before assaulting them.  She said the community                   
  is organizing against that abuse.  She said she recently                     
  ended service on the Alaska Sentencing Commission and she                    
  understands the need to consider alternatives to                             
  incarceration.  She asked the committee to consider the                      
  value of children and the message sent by minimizing adult                   
  abuse of children.                                                           
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE noted that HB 28 would punish those who provide                   
  alcohol to minors, but lacked provisions that might prevent                  
  such action in the first place.  He asked Rep. Williams if                   
  he would support changing the bill to require signs at                       
  liquor stores or other education efforts.                                    
                                                                               
  REP. WILLIAMS said he believed that would help and that                      
  anything to stop the practice would help.                                    
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE asked Rep. Williams if the signage requirement                    
  should be included in statute.                                               
                                                                               
  REP. WILLIAMS answered that Ms. Davis might be better able                   
  to answer the question.                                                      
                                                                               
  Number 466                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. DAVIS, testifying via teleconference from Ketchikan,                     
  said it would be a worthwhile goal and that was why it had                   
  been included in amendments to her bill in 1992.  She                        
  recommended that Rep. Williams, rather than delay the bill                   
  by amending it in the HESS Committee, should submit such                     
  amendments in the next committee of referral, the House                      
  Judiciary Committee.                                                         
                                                                               
  Number 475                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE asked Rep. Williams if that was his intention.                    
                                                                               
  REP. WILLIAMS said yes.                                                      
                                                                               
  (Rep. Vezey and Rep. Kott returned at 3:45 p.m.)                             
                                                                               
  Number 482                                                                   
                                                                               
  JOHN SALEMI, DIRECTOR OF THE ALASKA PUBLIC DEFENDERS AGENCY,                 
  and a former member of the ALASKA SENTENCING COMMISSION,                     
  testified via teleconference from Anchorage concerning                       
  HB 28.  While he did not oppose the bill, he said problems                   
  with alcohol are not due to lax laws; Alaska has some of the                 
  strictest alcohol laws in the nation.  His 13 years as an                    
  Alaska public defender convinced him prohibition of alcohol                  
  would cut state police, prison and legal costs by half and                   
  ensure a safer state.  He said current law grants judges the                 
  ability to sentence misdemeanants to up to a year in prison,                 
  which is sufficient.  He added that those who commit                         
  felonies seldom think through the consequences, and for some                 
  people, imprisonment is not a deterrent.  Given finite state                 
  resources, he suggested that alternatives to tougher laws                    
  might be appropriate, such as posting signs outlining                        
  current penalties for providing alcohol to minors.                           
                                                                               
  Number 542                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. SALEMI said he would rather put the proposed $600,000                    
  cost of enforcement of the bill into alcohol education.  He                  
  said some social problems cannot be fixed by passing laws.                   
  He said it was hard to estimate on a fiscal note the costs                   
  of enforcing a law, but he has 54 attorneys serving 17,000                   
  cases in FY92 and cannot take on more cases.                                 
                                                                               
  Number 577                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE said that while education about alcohol was                       
  important, children sometimes contribute to their own                        
  victimization.  He commented on sentencing, saying that                      
  judges frequently give out only a fraction of the maximum                    
  sentences available to them.  He said he believed that                       
  imprisonment was the best way to treat some incorrigible                     
  offenders and he was willing to pay the costs.                               
                                                                               
  TAPE 93-29, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
                                                                               
  RANDALL MADIGAN, A SUBSTANCE ABUSE COUNSELOR FROM NOME,                      
  representing himself, testified in support of HB 28.  He                     
  said the stiffer sentences possible through the bill would                   
  deter adults and youth alike.  He said he was tired of                       
  seeing the same people repeatedly arrested for providing                     
  alcohol to minors in the Nome area, but receiving little                     
  punishment.  While he spoke in favor of prevention, he said                  
  youths and adults alike would fear two years in jail more                    
  than a $50 fine.                                                             
                                                                               
  Number 033                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE noted that it was currently legal for parents to                  
  provide alcohol to their children.  He asked whether the                     
  tougher sanctions allowed under HB 28 would have any impact                  
  on bootleggers in the Bush.                                                  
                                                                               
  MR. MADIGAN said he was not sure, but it might be possible.                  
                                                                               
  Number 062                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. KOTT asked whether tougher, longer sentences would make                 
  any difference in the cases of those arrested repeatedly for                 
  providing alcohol to minors in the Nome area.                                
                                                                               
  MR. MADIGAN said HB 28 might deter some people from starting                 
  to provide alcohol to minors.                                                
                                                                               
  Number 090                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. KOTT commented that repeated violations might indicate                  
  a judicial problem in the Nome area.                                         
                                                                               
  MR. MADIGAN repeated that HB 28 might serve as a deterrent.                  
                                                                               
  Number 102                                                                   
                                                                               
  THEO SMELCER, SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROGRAM COORDINATOR FOR THE                    
  ALEUTIAN PRIBILOF ISLANDS ASSOCIATION, testified in support                  
  of HB 28.  She said many people in St. Paul go to jail for                   
  providing alcohol to minors, but the offense usually results                 
  in probation problems and does not serve as much of a                        
  deterrent.  She said association officials would like the                    
  assistance of the courts in fighting the alcohol problems.                   
                                                                               
  Number 141                                                                   
                                                                               
  FRANCIS YOUNG, REPRESENTING HERSELF, testified via                           
  teleconference from Ketchikan in support of HB 28, saying                    
  that laws against providing alcohol to minors are part of                    
  the educational and prevention effort.  She supported an                     
  amendment that would require charging minors with                            
  misdemeanors for soliciting alcohol from adults as a way to                  
  hold minors responsible for their actions.  She said longer                  
  sentences would serve as a deterrent.                                        
                                                                               
  Number 161                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY invited those testifying in Ketchikan to send                   
  written testimony to the committee for inclusion into the                    
  record.  She closed public hearing of HB 28 and invited                      
  discussion by the committee.                                                 
                                                                               
  REP. KOTT said that the committee would have to look at                      
  other state laws concerning alcohol, as the bill would                       
  establish stringent penalties for contributing to the                        
  delinquency of minors through alcohol, penalties which might                 
  be out of balance with those for driving while under the                     
  influence of alcohol.                                                        
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE moved passage of HB 28 from the committee with                    
  individual recommendations and asked unanimous consent.                      
                                                                               
  CHAIR TOOHEY asked for objections, and, hearing none,                        
  declared HB 28 PASSED FROM THE COMMITTEE WITH INDIVIDUAL                     
  RECOMMENDATIONS.  She then ADJOURNED the meeting at 4:07                     
  p.m.                                                                         

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