Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/02/1998 03:15 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 375 - CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN/FOSTER CARE Number 0021 CHAIRMAN BUNDE announced the committee would address HB 375, Crimes Against Children. The order in which he planned to proceed was to adopt the new committee substitute, consider the amendments and then take public testimony. Number 0113 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN made a motion to adopt proposed committee substitute 0-GH2009\F, Lauterbach, 4/1/98, as a work draft. There being no objection, that version was before the committee. Number 0149 REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON said his office and the various people within the Administration working on this bill are very close in agreement on this committee substitute, as well as the forthcoming amendments. Number 0259 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON made a motion to adopt Amendment 1. CHAIRMAN BUNDE objected for discussion purposes and asked Representative Dyson to explain Amendment 1. Number 0298 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON explained that one of the things that came up in the Child Protection Task Force was the need for coordination and communication between all the agencies involved in the investigation of crimes against children - children in need of aid - and this amendment sets up the multidisciplinary child protection teams, establishes the mechanism for the protocols and provides the authority for cross-communication of confidential information. CHAIRMAN BUNDE surmised that Section 61 of the proposed committee substitute had intentionally been left blank and Amendment 1 establishes the multidisciplinary child protection team. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said that was correct. Number 0394 REPRESENTATIVE J. ALLEN KEMPLEN mentioned that the question of who would take the lead on the multidisciplinary child protection teams had been raised at the previous meeting. He didn't see any language in Amendment 1 to identify accountability for the team or in other words, "where the buck stops." Number 0433 SUSAN WIBKER, Assistant Attorney General, Human Services Section, Civil Division, Department of Law, responded the buck doesn't stop with the team. She explained the team is set up under the Department of Health & Social Services because someone in that department would have the statutory authority to pull a team together, but it's set up so a team can virtually take a life of its own to meet a community need. The team does not independently do any work; it reviews a compilation of data and advises the department so the team is not responsible for anything, the department is the responsible agency. She explained this consulting and advisory team would gather information, share information, decide what child protection problem existed in a community and how to go about solving the problem. For example, if the problem in a community is that people feel not enough cases are prosecuted, the team would work together toward that goal of sharing more information between police, prosecutors and social workers. Or if the problem in a community is the feeling that the Division of Family and Youth Services (DFYS) is over-reaching and taking kids into custody who are just being disciplined and not abused, then the goal of the team might be to give advice and consultation to the department. She said the team is set up to be very flexible, with broad authority to meet a community need in the area of child protection. In answer to Representative Kemplen's question, the department is responsible; it always has the responsibility for the decisions it makes for placing children and for removing children. Number 0557 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER surmised the language on page 2, line 20 of Amendment 1 is not intended to protect an individual from gross negligence or an intentional bad act. MS. WIBKER pointed out the team doesn't do anything other than gather and review information. She added, "The department is the actor - under the department so they'd have the same level of responsibility -- I think we rewrote that part of the statute so that immunity is not increased, liability is the same." Number 0645 CHAIRMAN BUNDE questioned why the team needs to be indemnified, if the team doesn't do anything. MS. WIBKER explained that most of the people on the team will be state employees and will have the protection of a state employee, while a private person, such as a pediatrician, won't have the same protection without this language and the fear is that no one would want to be on a team. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said he suspected this language will not remain as it is and perhaps may even be strickened altogether unless it's changed to become somewhat more palatable. He thought that standard protection against liability from the state or most municipalities doesn't cover gross negligence and intentional bad acts. Number 0735 CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if Representative Porter was suggesting the language "except for gross negligence and intentional bad acts" be added. MS. WIBKER advised that Susan Cox, Assistant Attorney General, was available to respond to that issue. Number 0750 SUSAN COX, Chief, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, Department of Law, said the language in Amendment 1, subsection (h) regarding immunity, or lack of liability, stems from the Governor's original bill. It was crafted to encourage people to serve on such teams and also to make clear that the functions of the team can't form the basis of a new tort or civil cause of action - that the team is consulting and providing advice to the department and it's the department's actions that will be subject to possible liability. She said it would be possible, if the committee prefers, not to immunize team members for what they are doing in consulting with the department, but instead wants to leave an exception available for bringing suits resulting from gross negligence or intentional misconduct. In fact, that is done many places in the state statutes; in other words, there's immunity unless someone can prove gross negligence or intentional misconduct. Number 0830 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER inquired if the team is going to get together, go to an office, pour over documents, form an opinion, give the opinion and then leave, would there be no circumstance they would ever be in the field doing some follow up. MS. WIBKER said they may in their individual duties if involved in a specific case. For example, a police officer might gain information from the team that would prompt the officer to interview more witnesses. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER interjected, ".... in order to form their opinion of recommendation for the team response." CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if Representative Porter's concern had been satisfied? REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said it had been. Number 0935 REPRESENTATIVE TOM BRICE observed this team is created to investigate and evaluate, yet if the team suspects child abuse or neglect, the determinations, conclusions or recommendations of the team or its members are not admissible in a civil or criminal proceeding. He wondered what the purpose of the team is if it's not to take action and if it's not to take action, he didn't understand why the indemnity was needed. He asked if "child advocacy center" was defined in statute? MS. WIBKER responded not that she was familiar with. Number 0993 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE emphasized the importance of having child advocates on the team and asked Representative Dyson to comment. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said the "Alaska Cares" child advocacy center operating in Southcentral Alaska, has medical experts and the equipment for interviewing and recording the evidence for crimes against children and children who are victims of neglect. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE commented the Resource Center for Parents and Children in Fairbanks doesn't provide precisely those types of services, but does provide parenting classes and family services. He wondered if in Representative Dyson's thinking that would fall within the purview of a child advocacy center. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said, "Certainly, Representative Brice, advocacy for children is important. What we're talking about here though is investigating children where there's either severe neglect or abuse and it's largely a part of an investigative team; part of a decision making team." Number 1109 LISA TORKELSON, Legislative Assistant to Representative Fred Dyson, said a staff person at "Alaska Care" had informed her of a child advocacy center that's near completion called "The Children's Place" in the Mat-Su Valley. It won't have the medical services on site like Alaska Care does but it will provide investigative services. She noted that Fairbanks is talking about starting a similar facility. The language in the amendment would provide the means once there are more advocacy centers operating. Number 1151 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE inquired if there was a need to include a definition of child advocacy center. CHAIRMAN BUNDE said he would feel more comfortable with it defined and it may be something that should be addressed later on. Number 1167 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said one of the key purposes of the multidisciplinary team is to minimize the impact on the child, and having the people involved in investigating crimes against children together for parts of the investigation minimizes the impact on the child by reducing the number of interviews. Another part is to bring the public safety individuals, prosecutors, medical experts, and others together who can see and record the physical damage to the child, but bring in a child advocate to keep overzealous police and prosecutors from frightening the child. He stated pulling all these individuals together will minimize the impact on the child and also will bring the needed expertise together because no one of these team members has it all. CHAIRMAN BUNDE stated he would like to see that put in definition and brought before the Judiciary Committee, the next committee of referral. Number 1246 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER requested clarification on the relationship between subsection (f) and (g) of Amendment 1. Subsection (f) says the determinations, conclusions, and recommendations of a team or its members are not admissible in a civil or criminal proceeding but (g) says notwithstanding (f), an employee of the department may testify in a civil or criminal proceeding even though the testimony is based on those records. He said, "I think I understand that relationship. A person cannot be compelled, who was a member of the team, to present testimony in a case that isn't a criminal prosecution or a civil hearing that came out as a result of that work but (g) allows them to do that. But (f) says if it doesn't have anything to do with that, they're not compelled to release that information if they don't choose to." MS. WIBKER said the provisions of (f) are to keep every member of the team from being subpoenaed to depositions, et cetera. She added, "I mean if you had a criminal prosecution, you don't want a defense attorney to subpoena every person on the team - expose to the jury all the disagreements and discussion within the team - and then say there's reasonable doubt. We want the agency with responsibility to testify. Their opinion may have been swayed by something they learned from the team, but making that opinion is part of their job and their responsibility and they're responsible for their opinion." Number 1329 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said, "I guess the basis that I'm trying to get at is that a member of a team that discovers a crime, as a result of this inquiry, can certainly pursue it." MS. WIBKER agreed and said the team is also made a mandated reporter of harm; in other words, if the team discovers child abuse or a crime, they have to report it. Number 1351 CHAIRMAN BUNDE noted that previously a team had been established to investigate Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and a police officer who was a member of that team, suspected homicide but wasn't able to share that information. Chairman Bunde sought verification that (g) would prevent a similar situation from happening; if there is evidence of a crime, members of the team would not be prevented from sharing information with law enforcement. MS. WIBKER replied, "Not at all." Number 1380 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said his concern had been this team was being created to investigate child abuse and neglect and not allowing it the ability to testify or to disseminate any of the information that it had gathered. MS. WIBKER maintained the people on the team would testify as part of their regular job duties, but they can't be subpoenaed to testify as to what was learned on the team or what happened in the team meetings, et cetera. For example, a police officer as a member of the team who becomes aware of an investigative lead that is pursued as a police officer, can testify in a criminal or civil proceeding based on their work as a police officer, even though the lead was gained from the team. Number 1436 CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there was further discussion on Amendment 1. He withdrew his objection. There being no further objection, Amendment 1 was adopted. Number 1457 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON requested he be allowed to bypass Amendment 2 and address Amendment 3, because he isn't convinced which is the best path in terms of the child fatality review teams. Number 1516 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE suggested Amendments 2 and 3 be address simultaneously. Number 1528 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON made a motion to adopt Amendments 2 and 3. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE objected for discussion purposes. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked Ms. Wibker to explain Amendment 3. Number 1552 MS. WIBKER explained Amendment 3 is the same child fatality review team model, headed by the state medical examiner, as proposed in the original HB 375. She stated Dr. Propst was available to testify on the model proposed in Amendment 3 by Representative Brice. She noted Representative Dyson has proposed an alternative model of a child fatality review team and may have testimony to support a different model. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked Dr. Propst to come forward to the witness table and address Amendment 3. Number 1588 DR. MICHAEL PROPST, Medical Examiner, Division of Public Health, Department of Health & Social Services, said Amendment 3 keeps the child fatality team and the local and regional teams under the office of the state medical examiner. The wording in Amendment 3 is permissive and allows for the establishment of local and regional teams, but does not mandate it. He said the other portions are in essence very similar in Amendment 2 and 3. Number 1620 CHAIRMAN BUNDE explained that Amendment 3 is permissive in allowing the state medical examiner to appoint local, regional and district child care fatality review teams whereas Amendment 2 says the district attorney or a designee shall establish the child fatality review teams. His concern with the permissive is getting into a situation where the state medical examiner could be too busy or distracted to establish these teams. He asked Dr. Propst to comment. DR. PROPST said the thing that's keeping the local, regional and district fatality review teams from being established now is the establishment of a statewide team and the protocols for it, which is a work in progress. Additionally, it's necessary to have the budget to support local and regional teams, even though people on those teams may not be getting paid directly by the state, monies would have to be expended in travel and per diem and there's no provision for that. He commented perhaps May of 1998 is not the time for local and regional teams, but it may very well be an accomplished fact by May 1999. Number 1692 RUSSELL WEBB, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Health & Social Services, testified that over year ago, the department discovered a number of deaths that had not been identified as potential homicides or the result of child abuse and neglect, that should have been looked at, followed up on and prosecuted. The department established a team in May through the state medical examiner's office to ensure that child deaths were looked at, reviewed and that deaths resulting from crimes or from abuse and neglect that might not have risen to a crime, but left some surviving siblings at risk were identified. He noted there were only about 150 child deaths per year in Alaska. He said there are a limited number of forensic pathologists in the state, two are employed by the state medical examiner. He explained the team was established through the medical examiner's office because all suspicious deaths get reviewed through the medical examiner's office, the medical examiner works closely with prosecutors and with police agencies statewide in order to investigate those deaths, and has certain authorities to make and determine cause and manner of death. It was set up so the medical examiner could gather all the information, pull in additional expertise from a variety of other disciplines including prosecutors, police agencies, social workers and others who could help inform the medical examiner's decisions and opinions and make certain cases were identified that needed to be addressed. He said the original HB 375 contained the potential to set up local teams. One of the main differences between the two amendments is the permissiveness for the medical examiner, under his auspices, to establish local teams. Amendment 3 has broad authority to pull in critical information, review it and make it available to the team. He said the medical examiner has that authority because of his statutory responsibilities. On the other hand, setting up a local team with the same authority, as Amendment 2 does, sets up the team outside the medical examiner's office with the same access to the medical examiner's records and other records, but not the same responsibilities and authorities that the medical examiner has. Additionally, setting up local teams where there may not be a child death to review seems somewhat unnecessary and the expertise may not be available at the local level. He acknowledged there is a need for local agencies to coordinate investigations and make information available which is what he thought Representative Dyson was trying to attain. However, given the number of child deaths that occur in the state and the limited availability of the kind of expertise needed for these cases, it appears to make more sense to operate a team through the medical examiner's auspices under his authority. Number 1865 CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked Mr. Guaneli if he had an opinion on the extent of the burden Amendment 2 would place on the district attorney or his designee, including the fiscal impact. Number 1878 DEAN GUANELI, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Legal Services Section, Criminal Division, Department of Law, said the duties specifically set out in Amendment 2 are limited enough so there would probably be little or no fiscal impact on the Department of Law. He did have additional concerns, however, that had not been addressed by either Dr. Propst or Mr. Webb. He said, "It strikes me that the version in the original bill for the local teams set up by the medical examiner would be to aid the medical examiner in case something happened locally, information was more available locally than where the medical examiner is located and for the needs of the medical examiner. It's not totally clear to me precisely the intent of the local team set out in Amendment 2. The district attorney is supposed to set up a team - to set up a group to establish protocols and then the protocols will determine who is on the local team and the protocols will then -- then the local agencies will then determine under the first part of this, when an investigation is warranted by the local child fatality review team. But it's not clear to me what that local team is supposed to do. It's not clear that it's supposed to aid the medical examiner, it's not clear whether it is to aid a police investigation; it's sort of left unstated as to precisely what the local team is to do. And that's why I think that the original version which was more directly connected to the medical examiner's responsibilities to determine cause and manner and be a resource for a (indisc.), is probably the preferable approach unless it's more explicitly stated what this other idea of a local team is to do. And so I think that, again, as Mr. Webb said, the state medical examiner has certain responsibilities - those responsibilities in some cases may be met better by having a local team in operation, but short of that, I'm honestly a little confused as to precisely what the team is supposed to do." Number 1987 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON thought the duties of the local team under Amendment 2 were spelled out fairly well on pages 3-5. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked Representative Dyson to explain why he preferred Amendment 2 over Amendment 3. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON requested he have an opportunity to ask a few questions of Dr. Propst before stating the reasons for his preference. Number 2012 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked how long Dr. Propst had been in his current position. DR. PROPST replied since it was established by the legislature in 1993. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON recalled that Commissioner Perdue had requested a review of some child fatalities that had occurred and as a result of that review, a number of cases were identified as questionable and may have been homicides. MR. WEBB stated, "The review the commissioner asked for related to one child homicide. What had been identified in a report done by another group that really is sort of a public health, epidemiological review of child deaths - infant deaths actually - over a period of time that covered about a three year period prior to the establishment of the medical examiner, identified a number of deaths that potentially at least, were believed to be cases that should have been investigated by police agencies. Dr. Propst actually sits as a member of that group and helped to identify those cases." REPRESENTATIVE DYSON confirmed that previous to three years ago, the state did not have a state medical examiner. MR. WEBB confirmed that. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked if the state medical examiner does an autopsy on every child that dies in the state. DR. PROPST replied every child that dies in the state that's reported to the medical examiner's office almost without exception, gets an autopsy. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON inquired if that practice was new in the last three years. DR. PROPST said in part, yes. He explained there were cases not referred to autopsies occasionally under the old coroner system. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON confirmed that wouldn't happen now under the medical examiner's office. DR. PROPST replied, "That won't happen now." REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked if the practice of reviewing every child death was in law or regulation. DR. PROPST explained, "I must have all child deaths that basically fit the medical examiner criteria - suddenly, unexpectedly, from homicide, accidents, suicide -- there are a list of nine criteria in AS 12.65.005(a) which line out the cases that get referred to the medical examiner which basically have to do with suspicious and unusual deaths. .... we will be doing autopsies on virtually every child that gets referred to us under that statute. Children who die from natural causes - it's unfortunate, but we know that kids get leukemia and things like that - are not referred to the medical examiner. They die under medical care and they're not unattended deaths. Basically, it is the unattended deaths of children that are referred to the medical examiner - the unattended deaths of adults for that matter." Number 2154 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said his interest in having this at the local level is that local people have more knowledge than the medical examiner of other dynamics that are happening and can "blow the whistle." He referred to the case in Fairbanks in which the DFYS worker saw a child's funeral notice or obituary, suspected wrong doing and contacted the police to institute an investigation. Number 2197 CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if replacing "may" with "shall" in Amendment 3 would accomplish what Representative Dyson was trying to establish. Number 2211 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON responded, "When we were working on the multidisciplinary team - switching subjects - last summer in the Governor's task force, people said, 'Ten years ago, we used to do this; we used to have these people get together and have these conversations and we were exchanging that kind of information' and Chief Porter was a part of that and probably had something to keep it going. And so I asked the question 'What happened?' Personalities changed, priorities changed and it drifted away and we're certainly not naive enough to think that putting mandatory language in the law is going to make it work well. But if it's mandatory that the people gather to exchange this information and so on, at least there's more hope that it happens. You need to be doing your job perfectly - or nearly - and so on, what happens when another administration puts somebody less competent or less caring in there as a political favor and they sit there and draw their check and don't zealously go after investigating all these crimes and are not doing as diligent a job as I think and hope you're doing." REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said he would think about Chairman Bunde's suggestion of replacing "may" with "shall". Number 2271 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE referred to page 3 of Amendment 3 and asked if the requirement that a death of a child be reviewed by the state child fatality review team within 48 hours of the report being received by the medical examiner is realistic. DR. PROPST said his office responds when notification of the death is received and the investigation of that death is begun at the time his office is first notified of the death. So, 48 hours is reasonable as long as someone doesn't wait to notify the medical examiner's office of the death. He noted that by statute a body cannot be moved without permission of the medical examiner's office, which is sort of a check to ensure the medical examiner's office is notified of these kinds of deaths. Number 2327 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER understood the motivation for the need to get this resolved, but he's generally found it's not a good idea to try to write law based on a single exception that may never happen again. He favored the composition of Amendment 3 because it has the likelihood of establishing a protocol that will be consistent throughout the state .... TAPE 98-42, SIDE B Number 0001 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER continued ....district attorney in Juneau looking at it one way and the district attorney in Fairbanks looking at it another way. He stated, "I think "shall" instead of "may" is fine. I think that what it would probably allow would be Dr. Propst to coordinate with these agencies in establishing the beginning of the formation of the protocol or probably putting the final touches on one that's already been in progress for some time, getting a list of names of the folks from those departments that would want to participate if the call comes so that it can be activated in the 48 hour period rather than just springing it on the first occasion that it comes up, but the reports we're interested in come to the medical examiner. That's why we created that law a few years ago. That I think is a very appropriate place for them to start and on the team - very important to team - is a member of the district attorney's office." CHAIRMAN BUNDE noted that Colleen James, member of the Homer Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), was available to comment on Amendments 2 and 3 from Homer. Number 0065 COLLEEN JAMES, Member, Homer Sexual Assault Response Team, testified via teleconference from Homer in support of a local child fatality review team that would be formed through the district attorney's office. She pointed out she has been a registered nurse in Alaska since 1987 and in the early 1990s she became concerned about the standard of care for victims of sexual assault in Alaska. Homer founded the first sexual assault response team and had the first sexual assault response team training in the state. The team starting evaluating both pediatric and adult clients in 1994. She has provided training in sexual assault response teams to approximately 11 communities in the state. She explained her motivation for testifying is to express her support of the process and her desire that it be implemented the right way. She noted that Alaska has the advantage in that all the other states have already started this process, so Alaska can determine what's worked well in other states. By and large, the majority of the states have formed teams that operate locally. MS. JAMES noted that in terms of the multidisciplinary teams, in order to even call it a multidisciplinary team, certain things are required and no one agency can own these teams; they are independent and the people who make up the teams are all equal. She said real change in a community happens on a local level and has to come from within the community. The other part is a peer review process because agencies have to look at themselves and it's not a punitive process as much as it's the opportunity to improve services to victims. She said it has little to do with the medical examiner's office because the autopsy is only one of many pieces of information gathered. MS. JAMES set up a hypothetical situation of a nine-year-old child who fell from a window, the body is sent to Anchorage, the medical examiner does an autopsy and the report indicates a blunt force penetrating trauma to the head as the cause of death. That report just basically relates the mechanism of the injury of death. The real work of the team then is to look at the agency and the people that have surrounded that child before death. If the team begins with emergency medical service (EMS) responders, they may relate that upon arriving at the house, the younger brother was crying, "You killed him, you killed him" and no one else in the household would talk except the father. The child's teacher reveals the child wasn't himself for the last three weeks - his clothes were dirty, his grades were going down, he disrupted the class, and didn't want to talk to anyone about what was going on. A visit to the hospital could reveal the mother had been treated for domestic violence on several occasions, did not want to file a report and reported that her children were not at risk. The next door neighbor could convey there seemed to be a lot of parties with alcohol and a lot of people in and out of the house at all hours, kids were out late and had no supervision, he's heard yelling and was afraid of the father because he had an explosive temper. A check with DFYS staff could indicate the child was supposed to be in the custody of the grandmother, but the case worker had been out for the past month, and conversations with an aunt and uncle reveal the grandmother has been in the hospital in Anchorage and the father would not allow the child to stay with them. MS. JAMES stressed this is an example of the community process involved and the information offered by the medical examiner's office is a very small piece of the entire picture. She said, "If you take death away from a community, then how a community changes in response to death, it just isn't going to happen. The community has to own that death and all of the people that were involved with that child need to have a little piece of that responsibility. And then agencies start talking to one another and things really start changing on the community level which is where real, real important change takes place. We learn to protect our living children by the lessons that we learn from our dead children." MS. JAMES asked the committee to formulate this process in Alaska on a community level and to make agencies within the community accountable for their actions. Number 0293 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON expressed his appreciation to Ms. James for her testimony. He said the medical examiner and others in the Administration argue the models that work in the Lower 48 don't apply to Alaska because there's only three certified forensic physicians in the state and because Alaska has such a dispersed population causing difficulty in travel and communication it needs to be centralized in the medical examiner's office. He asked Ms. James to comment on that argument. MS. JAMES said that's no longer a very valid argument in this age of telecommunications. She has a computer program which allows her to send x-rays, pictures and other information in a matter of seconds when she needs a second opinion. While it is true there isn't any pathologist on a local team, the medical examiner has already determined the cause of death and the team needs to determine the community's responsibility to the death. Number 0359 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER observed that a lot of "how they do it Outside" is generated by the governmental structures and many of the requirements, functions and jurisdictions are formed within counties not the state. In King County in Washington State for example, the entire process of investigation, prosecution, defense, adjudication, et cetera, is a county system. The good news is that Alaska doesn't have that structure - we have one system - the court system, the prosecutor system, judicial system and the medical examiner system. He assumed that teams would have to go to areas where basic departments represented don't exist and a team in Fairbanks would probably have different components than a team in Anchorage, so there would not only be local knowledge, but consistency through this process as opposed to the other. Number 0425 DR. PROPST pointed out there is a problem with Ms. James' concept of forensic pathology; it's not just doing an autopsy and making a list of things that are broken. In the example of the child falling from the window, the medical examiner's office would be very interested in knowing if he jumped, was he pushed, or did he fall and the medical examiner's office starts gathering evidence from the first notification the kid came out the window in order to make a determination. Local police agencies are also very interested in trying to get the answers and have access to the DFYS, local investigators and those types of individuals. The medical examiner is charged not only with determining the cause of death, but also the manner of death whether it be an accident, suicide or homicide which is sometimes the hardest part. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON inquired what happened in the Fairbanks situation where it wasn't until a DFYS worker "blew the whistle" that someone started investigating the child's death as a homicide. DR. PROPST said that death was investigated by his office as a homicide from the start. It was never not investigated as a homicide by his office, as is every death until proven it's not a homicide. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked if Dr. Propst found evidence that led him to think it was a homicide. DR. PROPST replied, "The evidence in that case was soft; the evidence in that case was very subtle. We have findings very consistent with what turned out to be the facts. Could they have been consistent with other scenarios? Yes." REPRESENTATIVE DYSON stated a concern he has with Amendment 3 is that it leaves the starting of the process and the investigation with the medical examiner's office, not the other team players who may be very suspicious of the cause of death. Number 0535 MR. WEBB asked that he be allowed to briefly respond to the Fairbanks case. As Dr. Propst said, his office began investigating that death as a potential homicide from the outset. Frankly, the breakdown in that case was at the local level - at the local hospital where local physicians failed to identify the potential suspicious cause of death of that child; the local police agency that failed to identify the suspicious nature of that child's death. Number 0558 MR. GUANELI responding to Representative Dyson's comment, said, "What the statute in either amendment says as to the state child fatality review team is - and this gets back to Representative Brice's argument or question about is 48 hours realistic or unrealistic - what it says is unless the child's death is currently being investigated by a law enforcement agency, the team will get together within 48 hours. So I think this anticipates that the initial responders - the people immediately on the scene will be a local law enforcement agency investigation and the state child fatality review team is not required to get together until that investigation may be complete and all the information that the medical examiner needs is available to the medical examiner because of a local investigation. So I think this anticipates - (indisc.) does not in fact require the medical examiner and the state team to jump on it immediately. They can wait until all the information is collected at the local level and I think that that recognizes that there is a local response needed and I don't think that anything in Amendment 3 precludes the kind of local cooperation that Nurse James is suggesting. I think that's important." REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked Dr. Propst what he anticipated doing to encourage and facilitate the forming of local teams as appropriate throughout the state. DR. PROPST said he would send out a mailer-type of inquiry to solicit people who might be interested in serving on such a team, reviewing the names that are returned and selecting people in specific areas. Number 0644 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said his particular interest is that the team be formal, getting together and developing protocols that will define their duties and how to go about it, agreeing to meet on some basis and deciding the criteria for what causes them to come together when there's a child fatality. In his mind, it's important the team be institutionalized in a sense, in the event that Dr. Propst with his enthusiasm, isn't around. DR. PROPST commented that was interesting - what does the team do when there's no death to review. He pointed out that Nurse James called from Homer and he knows for a fact there has not been a child death in Homer at least in the past year. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON replied, "The only thing I would say that they do is do whatever's necessary to keep themselves informed and trained to do their work. I particularly am not interested in any groups having meetings just to have meetings, but so that team like any ad hoc group that's there for a specific purpose is very ready to grab their kit bag and go to work whenever needed." CHAIRMAN BUNDE announced that Dr. Durfee was standing by to testify. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON informed Dr. Durfee of the individuals in attendance and the topic of discussion was the child fatality review team and whether it should be under the district attorney's office or under the medical examiner's office. He asked Dr. Durfee to testify. Number 0719 DR. MICHAEL DURFEE, Chairman, Child Death Review Team for the United States, said about 42 states have state teams and local teams and the rest of the states have local teams only. Some places like Ohio have the majority of the population under local teams, and has yet to build a state teams. The teams at the state level (indisc.) function to serve the local level. He explained there are three parts to a team. One is membership, including at the minimum a coroner, law enforcement, prosecuting attorney, and child protective services; the second component is that the team functions as a systematic peer review; and the third component is (indisc.). The debate as he understood was whether the district attorney should be in charge or the coroner should be in charge. In charge means responsible, not authority. Note: The rest of Dr. Durfee's testimony is indiscernible. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON noted that Alaska has a sparse population spread over hundreds of thousands of square miles without roads. DR. DURFEE agreed that Alaska is different. The Yukon Territory had come to him with the same question and structurally is designing a program with an official team whose job it is to provide services more available in urban areas, but there are the local teams doing the primary case management because they are the people who know about substance abuse, previous domestic violence, et cetera. Number 1074 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked what Dr. Durfee viewed as the main impediment of designating the chief medical examiner as the lead person as opposed to the district attorney. DR. DURFEE said he doesn't think it matters who the lead person is as long as that person sees themself as being responsible for the team rather than having the authority. He added a leader gets people excited about doing their job, gets the necessary resources for people to do their job; it's the person the community gathers around. Number 1157 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked if Dr. Durfee's child fatality review teams were housed in the municipal government or state government. DR. DURFEE said the local teams are at the county level and the state team is at the state level with all members being government employees of various professions. Number 1299 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON noted he was slightly expanding Chairman Bunde's suggestion and would momentarily have an amendment to Amendment 3 stating "shall facilitate the selection of local teams" in addition to a couple of other minor wording changes. He explained he would move an amendment to Amendment 3 and the second part of his amendment would withdraw Amendment 2. CHAIRMAN BUNDE pointed out that Amendment 2 could be withdrawn at this time. Hearing no objection, Amendment 2 was withdrawn. Number 1387 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON made a motion to amend Amendment 3 as follows: Line 3 delete "may appoint", insert "shall facilitate the formation of"; line 6, delete "appointed", insert "formed"; and on line 12, delete "appointed to" and insert "on". Number 1435 REPRESENTATIVE J. ALLEN KEMPLEN referenced line 3 of Amendment 3, and suggested deleting "and" and inserting "or" to clarify that three different teams - local, regional, and district child fatality review teams - were not being mandated. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON accepted that as a friendly amendment. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if the committee members understood the amendment to Amendment 3. He asked if there was objection to Amendment 3 as amended. Hearing no objection, Amendment 3 as amended was adopted. He reiterated that Amendment 2 had been withdrawn. Number 1482 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON made a motion to adopt Amendment 4. CHAIRMAN BUNDE objected for discussion and asked Representative Dyson to speak to Amendment 4. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON noted the amendment was largely housekeeping and he would prefer that Ms. Wibker address the amendment. Number 1555 MS. WIBKER said on page 29, line 29, Amendment 4 inserts "sexual abuse," following "abandonment," and inserts "chronic" following "torture,". Additionally, on page 50, line 3, following "foster home." insert "The department may extend a provisional foster home license issued under this subsection for an additional period of up to 90 days in order to obtain the information from the national criminal background check required under AS 47.35.017(b)(6).". She explained the current language in the proposed committee substitute states the department can issue an emergency license for 90 days but the Department of Public Safety has advised it often takes 180 days to get a fingerprint background check back from the FBI. Amendment 4 allows an additional 90 day period. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON observed in this day of technology, it shouldn't take that long to get information back. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER pointed out that criminal investigation access of the FBI's files is a priority and this type of background check for individuals in these types of positions is not high on the priority list. Number 1681 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said this could be critical in that he perceives the DFYS, desperately short of foster parents, has placed children in homes without much investigation and children have come to harm. He inquired what the remedy might be. Number 1717 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER responded that technology is increasing all the time. He explained the state is using a state-of-the-art system now for latent fingerprint examination and identification and that same technology and ability to run these kinds of checks is in the process at the federal level. Number 1761 CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there were further questions on Amendment 4. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said inasmuch as Representative Dyson had brought up the issue of children being placed in dangerous foster homes, he questioned the logic of extending this period of time of uncertainty relating to foster parents. CHAIRMAN BUNDE pointed out in some cases the FBI isn't getting the results of the background reports back to the state within 90 days and there's no way of knowing what the criminal background is until the report is received. Number 1838 CHAIRMAN BUNDE removed his objection to Amendment 4. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there was further objection to Amendment 4. Hearing none, Amendment 4 was adopted. Number 1921 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON made a motion to adopt Amendment 5. CHAIRMAN BUNDE objected for discussion purposes. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN requested an explanation of Amendment 5. CHAIRMAN BUNDE referred the committee to the language on page 14, line 19, which discusses the protection of a child before as well as after birth and said there are legal problems with that verbiage. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON explained Amendment 5 changes the Findings section and puts the child's rights in context with family and parental rights and responsibilities. Number 2046 CHAIRMAN BUNDE made a motion to amend 5 on line 16, to delete "before as well as". Paragraph (F) would then read "the responsibility to provide special safeguards and care, including appropriate protection after birth." Number 2074 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE suggested it would read just as clear if the entire phrase "before as well as after birth" was deleted. CHAIRMAN BUNDE accepted that as a friendly amendment. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON objected to the amendment to Amendment 5. He explained the amendment was drafted to include "before as well as after birth" because of concerns with fetal alcohol syndrome, neurological defects and the damage to children from parental irresponsibility during pregnancy. CHAIRMAN BUNDE said he understood and if the verbiage specifically addressed alcohol, he would certainly support it. However, according to Legislative Legal Services, the state cannot adopt a policy to enforce the DFYS to protect the life of an unborn child. He added AS 11.41.140 defines a person and this definition is not consistent with an unborn child. The Division of Family and Youth Services has no authority over unborn children. MS. WIBKER confirmed that. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said likewise the DFYS doesn't have a responsibility .... TAPE 98-43, SIDE A Number 0004 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON continued .... in essence, this is intent language. CHAIRMAN BUNDE didn't disagree and said he was willing to define "including appropriate protection" as requiring the mother to be sober. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE suggested "drug free" should be included. After considerable discussion on the implications of that language, CHAIRMAN BUNDE stated he would prefer to leave it as "appropriate protection" and allow prosecutors the ability to follow up if it's not adequate. Number 0120 CHAIRMAN BUNDE noted he had proposed an amendment to Amendment 5 and inquired if there was objection. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON objected. He said for individuals concerned because the amendment is speaking to the welfare of the preborn child, the whole paragraph addresses the rights and responsibilities of parents. Number 0184 CHAIRMAN BUNDE proposed the amendment to Amendment 5 on page 1, lines 15-16 of Amendment 5 read as follows: "the responsibility to provide special safeguards and care, including appropriate protection of the child." REPRESENTATIVE DYSON maintained his objection. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked for a roll call vote. Representatives Brice, Kemplen, Porter, Green and Bunde voted in favor of the amendment to Amendment 5. Representative Dyson voted against it. Therefore, the amendment to Amendment 5 passed on a vote of 5-1. Number 0463 CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there was further discussion on Amendment 5 as amended. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE pointed out the list of parental rights and responsibilities in Amendment 5, specifies everything except loving the child or nurturing the child. CHAIRMAN BUNDE commented that safe and happy home covers much of that. Number 0643 REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN noted he generally associates the word "train" with the training of animals rather than human beings and proposed to amend Amendment 5 deleting "train" and inserting "nurture" on line 7. Number 0654 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON advised Representative Kemplen those same phrases were used on page 2, line 5. REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN amended his amendment to Amendment 5 to delete "train" and insert "nurture" on page 1, line 7 and page 2, line 5. Number 0682 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN offered a friendly amendment to retain the word "train" and insert "nurture". REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN accepted the friendly amendment. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there was any objection to Amendment 5 as amended. He explained page 1, line 7 and page 2, line 5 of Amendment 5 would read "(B) the right and responsibility to protect, nurture, train, and discipline the child;". REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked for an explanation as to the intent of the phrase "right and responsibility to obtain legal representation for, and make decisions of legal or financial significance concerning, the child" on page 2, lines 6-7. MS. TORKELSON said, "We have a list of six on the top and we're matching them because this is only intent language. We are also making sure that the following in Section 42 matched in statute. Right now Section 42 lists everything (A) through (C) and (E) and (F) and now it matches also at insert (D) into statute." REPRESENTATIVE DYSON suggested this issue be addressed in the Judiciary Committee. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there was any objection to Amendment 5 as amended. Hearing none, Amendment 5 as amended was adopted. Number 0889 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE made a motion to adopt Amendment 6. CHAIRMAN BUNDE objected for discussion. He asked Representative Brice to address his amendment. Number 0897 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE explained Amendment 6 amends language on page 15, lines 10-11, whereby the department will make reasonable efforts to arrange for visitation when a child has been removed from the home unless a mental health practitioner, professionally experienced with treating children determines the visitation would be harmful to the child. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there was objection to Amendment 6. Hearing none, Amendment 6 was adopted. Number 1011 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON made a motion to adopt Amendment 7. CHAIRMAN BUNDE objected for discussion purposes. He asked Representative Dyson to explain Amendment 7. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said Amendment 7 was requested by individuals involved with domestic violence. He said, "It's a rebuttable presumption that there's problems when there's domestic violence." REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked if Ms. Wibker would define "rebuttable presumption." MS. WIBKER said, "It's sort of like prima facie where you have a presumption and then the other side must undercut the presumption." REPRESENTATIVE PORTER interjected, "It stands unless it's challenged." CHAIRMAN BUNDE requested Jayne Andreen to come forward and speak to Amendment 7. Number 1092 JAYNE ANDREEN, Executive Director, Council on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, Department of Public Safety, said the concept of rebuttable presumption in proceedings involving domestic violence comes from the model code from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Much of Alaska's law is based on the model code and this piece is important to complete Alaska's law. Basically, it says there is a presumption that if a parent is an offender of domestic violence, it is not in the best interest of the child to be placed in the custody of or have visitation with that parent. It changes the current law by taking the onus of the burden of proof in the proceedings from the nonoffending parent and the child to the offending parent. It can be overcome, but it's up to the batterer to prove to the court that it is in fact in the best interest of the child for the batterer to have custody or have visitation. She believes this presents a more appropriate approach in placing the responsibility where it needs to be. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said based on information he has received, batterers are getting quite sophisticated by provoking the female into hitting them and then calling 911 which results in the female being arrested. He asked, "Are we dealing with the primary aggressor here?" MS. ANDREEN responded, "Representative Brice, in a very, I think, long, around the way kind of direction, ultimately yes, what we're dealing with is the principal, physical aggressor and it's up to law enforcement to determine at the time of the arrest who that is. One of the points I think that's important for people to understand in looking at this is the whole cycle -- domestic violence is not a single, isolated incident; it's an ongoing cycle that goes on and on about increasing levels of power and control. Even when the couple separates, there is as a rule, additional power and control that goes on. The children, I have found and I hear repeatedly, is one of the last things that there is to have this power and control fight cycle happening and batterers will often use custody, visitation and child support as the ways to maintain that power and control over the victim. So this takes that burden of proof off of the victim and places it on the offender and says, 'Okay, this is not healthy for the child - you tell us why you think it will be okay.' And if they can make that case, then the court can find for them to have to contact." Number 1271 CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there was further discussion on Amendment 7. Number 1289 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said the language, as drafted on lines 16-18 of Amendment 7 re-enforces his concern about the woman being provoked to hit the male and is arrested under the mandatory arrest statute. CHAIRMAN BUNDE pointed out the rebuttable presumption gives the woman the option to prove she was not the aggressor. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE conceded that his issue was perhaps with the mandatory arrest statute. Number 1352 MS. ANDREEN commented that Representative Brice was raising a valid and important point that should be a part of the discussion on this issue. She explained, "What happened here in Alaska two years ago when the mandatory arrest law was implemented is what has happened in many other jurisdictions and that's that the arrest rate of victims increased significantly - way above and beyond what it should have been. So, what we have is the potential for a victim - a true victim of domestic violence - to have the label of perpetrator. But one of the things we found is that a lot of that was dealt with - not all of it - but a lot of it was dealt with as the cases were screened through the prosecutor's offices and now that more training has gone on with law enforcement and prosecutors throughout the state, those numbers are coming down in many areas. This is an ongoing process that we have to deal with through training and protocol development." CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there was further discussion or objection to Amendment 7. Hearing none, Amendment 7 was adopted. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON pointed out that Amendment 8 proposed by Chairman Bunde had already been dealt with. He added his Amendment 10 deletes Section 11.51.115 pertaining to criminal nonsupport in the first degree and Amendment 9 proposed by Representative Brice modifies that section. He has a tentative agreement with the Administration to remove the criminal nonsupport in the first degree from HB 375 and include it in a different bill. He said removal of that section makes this child protection legislation more pure and hopefully diminishes the number of individuals opposed to this bill. Number 1449 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE withdrew Amendment 9. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON made a motion to adopt Amendment 10. CHAIRMAN BUNDE objected for discussion purposes. He inquired if it was Representative Dyson's intent to also remove criminal nonsupport in the second degree as indicated by Amendment 10. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON indicated it was his intention to remove all language pertaining to criminal nonsupport. Number 1478 CHAIRMAN BUNDE withdrew his objection. He asked if there was further objection to Amendment 10. Hearing none, Amendment 10 was adopted. Number 1497 CHAIRMAN BUNDE commented that a title change would be required with the adoption of Amendment 10. Number 1505 CHAIRMAN BUNDE recessed the House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee at 5:15 p.m. Number 1522 CHAIRMAN BUNDE reconvened the House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee at 6:23 p.m. He noted that CSHB 375 amended was before the committee for consideration and public testimony. He asked Suzette Graham to come forward to present her testimony. Number 1616 SUZETTE GRAHAM, Foster parent, testified on behalf of her two foster children who have been living in her home for 2 1/2 years. After reading all three versions of HB 375, it took her some time to reach a decision as to what the bill actually does for children. The original version contained strong language concerning reasonable effort and her interest and involvement with this legislation was because of the children - reasonable effort, reasonable time, time limits put on parents so children don't linger in foster care. In her opinion, the proposed committee substitute is a watered down version of the original bill; the wording is not as strong as it needs to be. Reasonable efforts must be defined and time limits must be placed on parents, or children will stay in foster care far too long. For example, she is aware of a six-year-old child who is finally getting adopted after being in 19 foster care homes. MS. GRAHAM said her children were 10 months old and 3 years old when they came to live in her home. The 10-month-old baby had been boiled; the 3-year-old had severe burns and had reverted to what is called "state of survival" - she did not speak, she hissed, hid in corners, pulled her own hair out, wouldn't let anyone near her - severely emotionally, as well as physically abused. The father was incarcerated two days prior to the children being removed from the home and because he wasn't in the home at the time of the report of harm and the children being removed, he feels he has the right to have these children back. He's been out of prison for the last 18 months, had four jobs - currently does not have one and is living in his car. However, he visits the children because he's been advised by his lawyer who was paid for by his parents, that he must show up for the visits if he wants to come under the "reasonable effort" provision. He would probably win his children back if the case went to court today because he's making reasonable efforts. MS. GRAHAM explained the children have bonded with her. A psychological evaluation of the five-year-old indicates she is severely emotionally disturbed, has a reactive attachment disorder and she has an attention deficit disorder (ADD). She explained that reactive attachment disorder is when a child fails to bond at a young age and as the child gets older, becomes the type of child who can express their love for someone and place a gun to that person's head and pull the trigger without having a second thought. These children are referred to "cardboard children." This five- year-old child has made an attachment to Ms. Graham and if removed from that attachment, may never attach again. That, in itself, has been enough to make her fight for these children and that's basically what she's doing. She's having to fight the father because he shows up for visitation which falls under the definition of "reasonable effort" and if these laws had been in place before, there would be no question. She stressed that something needs to happen - there are so many children who have lingered in the system waiting to get out. She was aware of a case that Ms. Wibker had been able to terminate on involving a child who had been 100 foster homes. MS. GRAHAM urged the committee to take action. She said, "Please. This is why I got involved in the first place. There's got to be reasonable efforts and it has to be defined. They have to be given a case plan and in six months where are you going to be and if you're not, you did not follow the case plan. As it's written now, it's for the parent and if the parent doesn't follow through, the child stays in custody for years and years." MS. GRAHAM said she recently learned her older child does not have the same father as the youngest child, so visits with the older child have slowed down but the baby is still visiting. The father is now manipulating the children on the visits which has resulted in new emotional problems with the children. She is unable to terminate the visits under current law and if it went to court today, she would probably lose the case under "reasonable efforts." Number 1882 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said it certainly wasn't his intention to water down this legislation. He thought it was being tightened up by mandating a permanency hearing within 12 months of starting foster care instead of the current 18 months. MS. GRAHAM replied, "That does, however, if you do not put reasonable efforts in there - if you don't put the time restraint on the parent, then you will take that to court and you'll say 'Okay, federal law says that we need to comply with this, right?' but if you've not defined reasonable effort, the judge will say, "Okay, right. The child's been in there 12 months but this parent is making reasonable effort so because of reasonable effort, I can't terminate.'" CHAIRMAN BUNDE said he thought that issue had been addressed with the committee substitute. He asked Ms. Wibker to come forward to explain. Number 1934 MS. WIBKER directed the committee's attention to page 15 and said, "Legally the department has a duty to make reasonable efforts to prevent removal and to make reasonable efforts to return a child home. And what we're doing is changing that in certain cases there would no longer be a requirement that the department make reasonable efforts. I think what Ms. Graham is reacting to is throughout here it talks about parents making reasonable efforts. I'm looking at the top of page 16, lines 2-6, 'parents and guardians should make reasonable efforts to actively participate' and I think what she's saying is you don't want parents to be able to come in say 'I made efforts. I'm still an alcoholic, but I tried four times, so give me my kids back.'" REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked what the remedy would be. MS. WIBKER said that parents in order to have custody of their children, have to provide a minimal level of care. If the parent doesn't, the state can then take legal custody or remove the child. However, under federal law the child is not supposed to be returned without the court making a finding that the child's health and safety is the paramount concern. So, parents have to do more than reasonable efforts; they have to provide a minimal, acceptable level of care. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked what section Ms. Wibker was referring to. MS. WIBKER directed the committee's attention to page 16, lines 2- 6, and suggested the language should indicate that parents and guardians "should" participate in family support services so as to facilitate the child's being able to remain in the home. She pointed out that line 5 states that parents and guardians should actively participate in family support services to make return of their children to the home possible. The language should not imply that a parent only needs to try - that trying and failing are acceptable. CHAIRMAN BUNDE suggested deleting "make reasonable efforts to" on page 16, line 2-3, so it would read "parents and guardians should actively participate in family support service ...." Number 2053 MS. TORKELSON said "should actively participate in family services" implies that when she becomes a parent, she will be required to attend family support services in order to keep her children in the home. MS. WIBKER said the statement should be modified to indicate parents are asked to comply with these provisions only when children are in the legal custody of the state or have been removed from the home. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN suggested moving the language in subsection (7) on page 16 to (5)(F) on page 15. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON agreed with Representative Green's suggestion, and suggested changing the language to indicate that parents and guardians "must" actively participate in family support services. MS. TORKELSON said, "Under reasonable efforts - Section 42 - page 28, right now we're talking about the Findings which don't really hold much - they are followed with the definition further defining what reasonable efforts constitutes and (B) the court makes a finding that a hearing conducted under 47.10.080(l) that a parent or guardian has not sufficiently remedied the conduct or the conditions in the home despite reasonable efforts - oh, that's by the department." MS. WIBKER interjected "That's as it should be." She explained the department has the duty to make reasonable efforts with regard to the family. Reasonable efforts are the family support services to remedy the problem. The family should participate - they may or may not participate - but they have to reach some minimal level of care so the child would be safe in the home before the child can be returned. Number 2255 CHAIRMAN BUNDE stated while this speaks to the department's reasonable effort, he wanted Ms. Graham's concern addressed. MR. WEBB said the original version established an obligation on the part of the parents to remedy conditions or behavior that placed the child at risk. He thought that was the issue that Ms. Graham was trying to get at - is that responsibility on the part of the parent to remedy the conditions or general behavior that placed the child at risk or caused the child's removal from the home. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said that was close to the language on page 29, line 17. MS. TORKELSON explained the language regarding reasonable efforts in the previous version and the department's version were merged, keeping the federally mandated portions of reasonable efforts in the proposed CSHB 375. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked Ms. Wibker if the term "reasonable efforts" in the Findings Section cloud the issue in (7) on page 16. MS. WIBKER said it is her opinion that it does because it suggests to a parent they need only "try" to participate. Number 2312 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER made a motion to delete "make reasonable efforts to" and insert "must" on page 16, line 2 and line 5; modify (7) on line 16, lines 2-6 to (5)(F) on page 15, line 30 to read: (F) parents and guardians must actively participate in family support services so as to facilitate the child's being able to remain in the home; when children are removed from the home, the parents and guardians must actively participate in family support services to make return of their children to the home possible; and TAPE 98-43, SIDE B Number 0001 CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there was any objection to this amendment. Hearing none, this amendment was adopted. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked Ms. Graham if she had other concerns. MS. GRAHAM responded her concern had been she didn't want to see children returned home just because the parents had made reasonable efforts. With regard to time restraints on parents, she commented that in her instance, the father was supposed to have a job and a home at the time of the six month review, he got a job three weeks before the review and got housing a week later which was considered timely. Number 0043 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON inquired if the 12-month time frame for the permanency hearing was satisfactory. MS. GRAHAM responded yes, as long as the parents are on that 12- month restraint also. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON noted that Kansas had started out with a 12- month period for a permanency hearing, but had to back down to 18 months because they just weren't able to get it accomplished in 12 months. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there was further discussion. MS. GRAHAM inquired if the "willing to parent" clause had been deleted in the proposed committee substitute and said the Supreme Court had overturned a number of cases because the parent was willing. MS. WIBKER pointed out the language had been "willing or able" and the Supreme Court determined that a willingness was enough. However, the language on page 26, line 21, of the proposed committee substitute states that in the case of an incarcerated parent, the other parent must be "willing and able." MS. GRAHAM asked if that was only in the case of an incarcerated parent? The response is indiscernible - too many people talking at one time. Number 0145 CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there was further discussion. Hearing none, he announced the committee would begin hearing testimony via teleconference. Number 0200 MICHAEL BRANDNER, M.D., testified offnet from Anchorage and it is his understanding the state plans to give the DFYS more power, more money and more people even though they've demonstrated incompetency and bad judgment. He wasn't sure that giving them more money and more workers will be successful unless the legislature considers having social workers in the household of every Alaskan an ideal situation. He personally has dealt with two or three patients in the last couple years that have had social workers in charge. One was a four- or five-month-old infant who had been burned. It was determined the 19- or 20-year-old mother had too many children, so several of the children went to foster parents. In his opinion, the foster parents of this infant patient were much less competent than the mother. He related other incidents of foster parents not bringing children in for appointments, surgery, et cetera. Based on his experience, he believes the situation is totally out of hand. CHAIRMAN BUNDE pointed out this legislation doesn't give the DFYS any additional money or people; it changes criminal penalties and tightens up definitions. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked if Dr. Brandner was a mandatory reporter. DR. BRANDNER believed he was required to report an incident if there was some evidence of abuse. Fortunately, he is usually involved in the care of a patient with either a family physician, pediatrician or emergency room doctor and generally a report has already been filed by the time he's called in. Number 0358 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked if it worked effectively for him. DR. BRANDNER described the incident of an injured patient which initially he didn't suspect as abuse, but upon learning that a sibling had been treated previously, he reported the incident. The child was allowed to go home with the parent even though it had been reported. The child was not returned for a follow up visit which he also reported, but nothing was ever done about it. He said it's impossible to get in touch with the case workers when many of these incidents occur on weekends and evenings. CHAIRMAN BUNDE thanked Dr. Brandner for his testimony and asked Harry Niehaus to present his comments. Number 0434 HARRY NIEHAUS, Representative, Guardians of Family Rights, testified via teleconference from Fairbanks. He said he's done a certain amount of paralegal work with the organization and it's been his experience that DFYS workers are not available when they are really needed - families are told it's a family problem and DFYS can't help. But on the other hand, when families are correcting and disciplining their children DFYS is right there. He said, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I have no problem with that except they don't do a proper investigation - they have every broad accusation in the courtroom. For instance, they'll say, 'well, you've had inappropriate behavior' but yet they don't define inappropriate behavior. He discussed reasonable efforts on the part of the department as well as the parents. Parents' rights groups are maintaining the department is not making reasonable efforts and is requesting the department to define reasonable efforts. Number 0548 WALTER GAUTHIER testified via teleconference from Homer. He said he has not been able to find any language in the Child Prevention and Treatment Act and the Conference Report on the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity and Reconciliation Act that requires the state to adopt the language "best interest of the child." He asked Ms. Wibker to quote the statute or reference which requires the state to adopt that language. MS. WIBKER responded the federal language states there should be a change in state law to reflect that health and safety of the child shall be the paramount concern. Prior to that, states used "best interest" language; in particular, Alaska has statutory language requiring the judge to always consider the best interest of the child in any order, including a disposition order, a termination of parental rights order or any other legal order made by the court. Other states have made a change which Alaska has not yet done, to elevate the best interest of the child to either an equal place with the parents or above the parental rights. She reiterated the federal law states the health and safety of the child must be the paramount concern and she interprets that as meaning the health and safety of the child trumps the rights of parents, but the court is ordered to consider best interest in the equation. Number 0756 MR. GAUTHIER said page 14 of the committee substitute states it is the policy of the state to recognize that children have legal rights to a safe and happy childhood, reasonable safety and so forth. However, page 15 indicates it is the policy of the state that while a child is in foster care and a ward of the state, the child is entitled to only reasonable safety, adequate care and adequate treatment. He said in a nutshell, this is the difference between the state and a loving family. Parents are required to give children (indisc.), but when the children are taken, the state assumes no responsibility except adequate and reasonable. He said this proposed legislation is total insanity. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked Chief Shirley Warner to testify next. Number 0884 SHIRLEY WARNER, Chief of Police, Soldotna Police Department testified via teleconference from Kenai. She has been a police officer for 22 years and currently serves as the Chief of Police of the Soldotna Police Department. She is a new chief, however, in her tenure she has overseen the investigation of a dozen child abuse, neglect, indecent exposure and child sexual abuse cases; one case is too many for the small community of Soldotna. While serving on the Anchorage Police Department, she witnessed injuries which had been inflicted upon children that would make the most hardened person cry. Throughout her career, she has never felt that children were afforded the same rights under the constitution and laws of this state that were afforded adults. Finally, with Governor Knowles' child protection bill, children will be protected and valued as young members of communities. She expressed her appreciation to all those involved in the writing of this legislation. She is particularly pleased with the increased clarity in the laws regarding the current abandonment laws. It is a strong message that parents cannot disregard parental duties; that domestic violence and incarceration have a negative long-term effect on children and it will be addressed in a proactive manner; that children will not be left with those who do not want them; that children who do not wish to go home will have be listened to and an investigation will ensue to ensure the child is not placed in a situation where there may be harm. She said the proposed laws are much more definitive and less likely to be interpreted broadly, which makes it much easier for law enforcement and prosecution alike to go before a judge, jury and defense attorney with the child's interest at the forefront. She supports the fact that emotional harm to children is finally being recognized in this bill. Mental abuse is every bit as harmful to the future well- being of children. The expansion of the neglect laws will be an excellent tool for law enforcement. Many times she has listened to the line officers and investigators express frustration over seeing the harm when a child does not have basic needs provided and many times it's (indisc.) individual use of drugs and alcohol which are both addressed in this legislation. CHIEF WARNER said she is especially appreciative of the policy statement that children have the right to a safe and happy childhood, reasonable safety, adequate care, adequate freedom, freedom from physical abuse, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and substance abuse, special safeguards and care including appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth and permanency with a safe loving family, all of which ensure that police will not see them as victims or eventually on the other side of the law. She supports the tone of this legislation and encourages that it remain intact for the children. She is pleased with the mandate that all state agencies work together. Over the years, she has seen agencies come together for the good of victims, but for this to occur at the highest level is very gratifying. Number 1121 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked if Chief Warner was familiar with the multidisciplinary team provision of this legislation and if so, was she able to work with it? CHIEF WARNER said yes, she could work with it. She likes the multidisciplinary team approach and is very much in favor of the fatality review team. CHAIRMAN BUNDE thanked Chief Warner for her comments and asked Diana Buffington to present her comments. Number 1195 DIANA BUFFINGTON, President and State Coordinator for the Children's Rights Council and Chairman, Alaska Task Force on Family Law Reform, testified from Kodiak via teleconference. She said she didn't want to disillusion the committee, but just because the child support portion was removed from this legislation, there is still a large population not in support of this bill. This leaves very little or no testimony from the people who are affected by this - the parents because they're busy at home taking care of their children until DFYS comes in and removes them. She said this bill is too complicated; it attempts to encompass too much. It should have been broken down into several bills which would have made it a lot easier and more effective to testify against this bill. MS. BUFFINGTON said, "First, I think Ms. Wibker has the audacity to say that immunity and indemnity from decisions concerning the child fatality and the multidisciplinary teams is for the birds. Immunity is immunity; indemnification is indemnification. The person who is charged with either a civil complaint or a criminal complaint should have the right to face their accusers even if the team has a conflict during the committee meeting and has to reveal this to a court - either through discovery or in the process of going through the court. It is a true violation of U.S. constitutional rights of protection from unlawful prosecution in civil or criminal cases if you take away the indemnification and immunity process for people who serve even for the protection of the children." MS. BUFFINGTON noted there's already a child fatality team in place; it's called a grand jury. We don't need another child fatality team. She said this bill is too complicated and it over- compensates. Number 1429 CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked Marci Schmidt to testify next. Number 1445 MARCI SCHMIDT testified via teleconference from Mat-Su. She expressed her pleasure with the committee for deleting some of the noncriminal language; however, she requested a new draft of the legislation be made available before the committee took action. She agreed with Ms. Buffington that the bill is complicated and encompasses too many issues. In her opinion, passing federal public law 105-89 in its entirety would be the better way to go. She expressed frustration with the committee's action of placing the legislative intent in the middle of the bill. It has been her experience that judges don't read very far into the law; they have a tendency to read the first thing they see and in her opinion, the intent language should be moved to the beginning of the bill. She asked, "Is there anything regarding the fact if a child themselves go out and get an attorney, will they be allowed to have that representation?" CHAIRMAN BUNDE guessed that a child who has not reached the age of majority would have a difficult time entering into a contract with an attorney. MS. WIBKER said that in any child in need of aid action, federal law mandates the appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent the best interest of the child and that same requirement is in state law. There is the option requiring a court to appoint a separate attorney for the child if the child and the guardian ad litem disagree on what's in the best interest of the child. She was not however, aware of a child being able to hire their own attorney. MS. SCHMIDT advised of an instance in Florida where the termination of parental rights was prolonged, and a young man hired his own attorney so he could sue to have his parents' parental rights terminated so he could be adopted. The case was upheld. CHAIRMAN BUNDE thanked Ms. Schmidt for her comments and asked Jennifer Taylor to testify at this time. Number 1630 JENNIFER TAYLOR testified via teleconference from Craig. She said it is critical and appropriate that this bill, in particular, address the issue of nonsupport of children as criminal because the blatant neglect of children caused by parents who accumulate arrearages representing debts to their children of many months without support reflects the utmost indifference to the children's well-being and their survival. The extreme poverty of Alaska's children in some single family households elevates their susceptibility to abuse from stressed out parents. Poverty is the most documented reason for poor performance in school, lack of adequate nutrition and proper growth. She commented that due to an equipment malfunction, she had missed much of the meeting, therefore she questioned the appropriateness of her testimony on this issue without knowing what the committee's previous action had been. Number 1722 CHAIRMAN BUNDE advised Ms. Taylor the criminal child support issue had been removed from HB 375 and will be addressed in another bill. MS. TAYLOR reiterated her previous statement that it's critical this issue be addressed as soon as possible. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked Blair McCune to present his comments. Number 1756 BLAIR MCCUNE, Deputy Director, Public Defender Agency, Department of Administration, testified via teleconference from Anchorage. He referred to the section dealing with child in need of aid on page 17 and said to his way of thinking, the changes made to that section made a lot more sense. He said,"Obviously (indisc.) where child protection is an issue and just looking at paragraph (1) before it, it says a parent or guardian has abandoned the child and this addresses the situation if you had another parent or family member able to take care of the child. So, I think there's been (indisc.) of that phrase and the other parent is absent or committed conduct or created conditions that cause the child to be a child in need of aid under this chapter adds a lot and helps the bill out quite a bit. On the second paragraph, there was some language proposed in one of the drafts instead of saying the last phrase, 'or has committed conduct or created conditions that cause the child to be a child in need of aid' there was 'made satisfactory arrangements for the care of the child' and I think that would be better because currently, if you have a single parent - say the other parent abandoned or disappeared and is not in the child's life - if that parent goes in for a three-day stay in jail or something and that parent makes adequate arrangements - they leave the child with a grandparent or other relative - they could be involved in this case, but I think the made satisfactory arrangements is a better language." MR. MCCUNE referred to the language in subparagraph (10) on page 18, "the parent, guardian, or custodian's ability to parent has been substantially impaired by the addictive or habitual use of an intoxicant;" and asked the committee to consider a situation of a very capable parent who starts to use alcohol habitually and the ability of that parent drops substantially, but is still adequate. He believed this was an issue the committee should give some thought. Number 1976 CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked Representative Dyson and Ms. Wibker to respond to Mr. McCune's concern dealing with adequate arrangements made for a child. Number 1999 MS. WIBKER responded the language referred to by Mr. McCune had been in the original version and Representative Dyson had made an amendment. MS. TORKELSON said the reason for the amendment was because it placed the duty of finding the safe and appropriate care on the parent who was incarcerated and obviously, if that person was already in jail, they weren't thinking much about their children. If the other parent was available, it would default to that parent. CHAIRMAN BUNDE said, "I think the question was if the other person had disappeared and a single parent ends up in jail and, for instance a DWI, and has made adequate arrangements and is only going to be incarcerated for three days and makes adequate arrangements, I don't think we want them to put their children in danger of being wards of the state." Number 2078 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER observed that in many misdemeanor incarceration situations, there's plenty of time to make arrangements. MS. TORKELSON said the language in the original bill had been interpreted that the sole responsibility was on the incarcerated person and this language attempts to ensure it defaults to the other parent. CHAIRMAN BUNDE proposed a conceptual amendment, Amendment 11, to insert "and the incarcerated parent has not made satisfactory arrangements" following "chapter;" on page 17, line 20. Number 2152 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON made a motion to adopt Amendment 11. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there was objection to Amendment 11. Hearing none, Amendment 11 was adopted. CHAIRMAN BUNDE next called on Currey Cook to present his comments. Number 2201 CURREY COOK, Attorney, Office of Public Advocacy, Department of Administration, testified via teleconference from Anchorage. He represents children as guardian ad litem in CINA cases. He noted that exposure to domestic violence is a major problem for children; they are the forgotten victims of domestic violence. He felt very strongly that exposure to domestic violence should be included as a specific subsection having a jurisdiction in a child in need of aid case. He urged the committee to take that under consideration. He expressed his support in general for this legislation because not only do children deserve to be safe, but everyday he sees the link between abuse and neglect and children's involvement in the (indisc.) system, which he believes has been overlooked. If for no other reason besides children's general safety, this can be looked at as a crime prevention bill by getting involved in families.... TAPE 98-44, SIDE A Number 0004 MR. COOK concluded by reading a poem written by a 16-year-old girl who had been in a family where there had been domestic violence and substance abuse by her parents. Number 0203 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER advised Mr. Cook the committee had adopted a 4-page amendment which basically makes a rebuttable presumption that if a child is exposed to domestic violence the court must find it is detrimental and not in the best interest of the child. Number 0270 SCOTT CALDER testified via teleconference from Fairbanks. He referred to the rebuttable presumption in Amendment 7 and said in looking at the document, he could not locate where it said the court had defined that is the case regarding the domestic violence issue, and it appeared to him that it was a tentative proposition. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said it is a requirement of the court to determine that domestic violence has occurred, as one would expect, before the presumption comes into play, but if the court finds in the child custody proceeding, that domestic violence has occurred rebuttable presumptions arise that it is detrimental to the child and not in the best interest of the child. MR. CALDER said, "There was some discussion earlier about the team process and there was some exclusion or exception category if somebody proves gross negligence and intentional misconduct that there might be some type of liability or loophole in the immunity. Does anybody know how that would be done? How would you prove gross neglect and intentional misconduct?" CHAIRMAN BUNDE responded he would attempt to explain in layman's language in the absence of the assistant district attorney specializing in tort issues. He explained if a person is driving a car down the road taking all due care, the wheel falls off causing the person to have an accident in which someone was hurt, that would be negligence. However, if a person purposely drove a poorly maintained car with bad tires and missing lug nuts and had been informed of the dangerous condition previously, and the wheel falls off causing injury to another person, that would be gross negligence. MR. CALDER wondered how that would apply to the activities of a state agency. He added, "I guess I'm more interested in the general sense since so many people do have complaints about gross neglect and intentional misconduct, the lack of financial means to compete with the state on that issue. Of course, many people are concerned about how that (indisc.) meaningful exception." CHAIRMAN BUNDE advised the immunity Mr. Calder was referring to from negligence was deleted for employees of DFYS; it only applies to members of the child fatality team and they would have to be grossly negligent rather than just making a mistake. The team participants are immune for just normal human errors, but not immune if they make gross errors, causing intentional harm to someone. MR. CALDER said the medical examiner had testified there were nine criteria for the involvement of the medical examiner's office, but actually there are ten; the tenth one being "the death appears to have occurred while the deceased was in the custody of or was being taken into the custody of the state or a political subdivision of the state or a public officer or agent of the state or a political subdivision of the state." He questioned if that had been overlooked by the committee. CHAIRMAN BUNDE said the committee was well aware that if someone dies while in custody, the medical examiner has to be involved. MR. CALDER expressed his concern that the proposed legislation seems to be a bit one sided in favor of the agency, and he felt it was going in the wrong direction. He suggested a thorough review be done of the agency in which people who have been victimized could participate. CHAIRMAN BUNDE requested Mr. Calder grant recognition that the legislature is trying to do the difficult job of balancing the protection of children and the rights of good parents who are trying to do the very best job of raising their children. He called on Arthur Hansen to present his comments at this time. Number 1048 ARTHUR HANSEN testified from Fairbanks via teleconference. He pointed out there is clear evidence that child development is critical in the growth of the child at an early age, and yet this bill recommends that proceedings or actions be taken at the age of six, which in his mind is way too late. He conveyed that his wife had been adopted at the age of four and 46 years later is still suffering from the consequences of not being adopted out earlier. He had forwarded to the committee a packet of information relating to brain development and encouraged committee members to review it. He had heard stories on both sides; one of children being removed from parents and grandparents and the other where terrible abuse and neglect has occurred. CHAIRMAN BUNDE remarked the committee recently had a presentation from experts in early brain development. He thanked Mr. Hansen for his comments and asked Bobbie Niehaus to present her comments. Number 1363 BOBBIE NIEHAUS testified from Fairbanks via teleconference. She said she dropped out of school last year because of drugs and alcohol. She left home, dropped out of school, quit going to church and just had fun. She was arrested many times and released the following day. Finally her dad stepped in and she was detained which gave her time to think and sober up. The decision to turn her life around came while she was in rehab, but without her dad she would probably still be in the streets. She said the state didn't step in until it was too late and didn't want the agency to have any more power. CHAIRMAN BUNDE thanked Ms. Niehaus for her remarks and expressed congratulations for getting her life together. He asked Pam Karalunas to present her testimony. Number 1503 PAM KARALUNAS testified via teleconference from Fairbanks requesting an explanation of Amendment 4. CHAIRMAN BUNDE directed Ms. Karalunas to Version F, and explained the amendment inserts "sexual abuse" following "abandonment" on page 29, line 29 and inserts "chronic" following "torture". Line 29 would read "abandonment, sexual abuse, chronic mental injury, or chronic physical injury and torture." MS. KARALUNAS said she was testifying as a representative of the Arctic Alliance, on behalf of the clients, and as a private citizen. She expressed appreciation on behalf of Arctic Alliance for the work done by the legislature on this issue. Most of the Alliance's concerns had been addressed except for a concern she had previously expressed. Secondly, she wished to speak on behalf of her clients whose input she had been soliciting since this legislation came about. She worked with about 600 families over the years and 99.9 percent have had some type of involvement with the DFYS. For every horror story she hears about how the system has abused the parents, she hears about 50 stories of how children are horribly abused in the home and in (indisc.) cases, abused by the system. Her clients have indicated that many of the problems stem from the interviews and feel strongly that if the interviews were conducted simultaneously as a team with a child's advocate, a law enforcement person and the DFYS worker, there would be a broader based picture and less misinterpretation of what the child said. Speaking personally, she gets incensed when she hears that Alaska can't afford to protect its children. As one of the richest states in the Union and the only state to give every citizen an entitlement for taking up space and breathing the air and Alaska can't afford not to protect our children. Number 1775 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON commented a major portion of this bill deals with putting the team approach into law and hopefully it will become a reality. REPRESENTATIVE BRICE assured Ms. Karalunas that Amendment 1 addresses the multidisciplinary child protection teams and includes staff members of a child advocacy center. He encouraged her to keep working with the Resource Center for Parents and Children toward that approach. CHAIRMAN BUNDE thanked Ms. Karalunas for her comments and asked Johnny Grames to present his comments. Number 1861 JOHNNY GRAMES, Representative, DADS, Alaska, testified from Anchorage via teleconference and said as a father and grandfather he is absolutely horrified that fathers are going to be living in a totalitarian police state with all these people trying to save children from their parents. He said the Bill of Rights was written to protect citizens from abuse of governmental power. He commented the committee's use of the expression "child and the best interest of the children" is abstract and it's difficult to deal with that because the committee isn't dealing with real parents and children, but rather is trying to put everything in a law which isn't going to work. He doesn't see any compassion for real people trying to raise families. Number 2027 CHAIRMAN BUNDE closed public testimony. He said, "We have before us an amended bill that presents a good deal of challenge. As I mentioned earlier, we're trying to protect children who have been murdered and raped by their own relatives on one hand and on the other hand I believe there are parents who have been unfairly treated by the system. This bill focuses on trying to deal with those people who would injure children, would rape and murder them and I guess all I can say is that as a legislator, we are demanding that DFYS and CSED have some serious changes in management - there is an audit out on DFYS and I think we have seen some press releases lately that indicate that DFYS and the whole Department of Health and Social Services is taking the problems that the legislature and the people have brought to them seriously. The legislature will be demanding accountability, I think I'm safe to say, and this bill is only a small part of that whole need for accountability. I understand the concerns of people who feel fearful that government has too much power, but if we have to err, we must err on the side of those children that will be raped and murdered. And so, with that in mind I would ask the pleasure of the committee." Number 2110 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON made a motion to amend page 18, line 14, following the semi-colon, insert "exposure to domestic violence shall be treated as in AS 25.20.060". MS. WIBKER explained this incorporates it into the child in need of aid; it will lay out the procedure for exposure to domestic violence. CHAIRMAN BUNDE asked if there was objection to Amendment 12. NOTE: Response is indiscernible. Number 2154 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said there were a couple of issues he would like considered in the Judiciary Committee. First, is the definition of the child advocacy center and secondly, the deletion of the sex offender registration provisions due to the single subject clause. He suggested the sex offender registration provisions for sex crimes against children could be strengthened and still meet the single subject rule. He'd been asked the question if he would rather destroy a family or save a child and frankly, he didn't think either one was necessary. He said these issues are not an either/or situation. House Bill 375 is not a loosening of standards, it's not a degradation of standards; it's actually a strengthening of standards. The impact that abuse and neglect have on a child's life as well as the impact on society for the rest of that child's life is absolutely tremendous and to his way of thinking, HB 375 should have a negative fiscal note. He said he would continue to pursue discussions on the abandonment issue with Ms. Wibker. He expressed his appreciation for committee's assistance in getting this legislation moving. Number 2261 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said, "I have enjoyed the relationship - cooperative and abrasive and dynamic with a number of people in the Administration and they have dealt with me quite honorably and I'm impressed. I want them to know I appreciate all these people - Susan, I think you particularly." Number 2280 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON made a motion to move CSHB 375(HES) from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. Hearing no objection, CSHB 375(HES) moved from the House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee.