Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106

04/25/2006 03:00 PM HEALTH, EDUCATION & SOCIAL SERVICES


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03:03:26 PM Start
03:04:16 PM HB322
03:49:55 PM HJR30
04:06:27 PM HB452
04:32:31 PM Overview(s) || American Heart Association – Obesity and Health
05:10:02 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 322 SAFE SURRENDER OF BABIES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 322(HES) Out of Committee
*+ HB 452 ALASKA PRESCRIPTION DRUG TASK FORCE TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ HB 396 ALASKA COMMISSION ON HEALTH CARE TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled But Not Heard
*+ HCR 31 HEALTH INFORMATION & REFERRAL SYSTEM TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled But Not Heard
+ Presentation by American Heart TELECONFERENCED
Association - Obesity and Health
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HJR 30 PUBLIC HEALTH COMPACT TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
HB 322-SAFE SURRENDER OF BABIES                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:04:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 322, "An Act  relating to infants who  are safely                                                               
surrendered by a parent shortly after birth."                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:04:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON moved to adopt Version 24-LS1110\F,                                                                       
Mischel, 4/19/06.  There being no objection, Version F was                                                                      
before the committee.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:05:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTINE  MARASIGAN, Staff  to Representative  Gabrielle LeDoux,                                                               
Alaska  State  Legislature,  introduced   HB  322  on  behalf  of                                                               
Representative  LeDoux,  sponsor.     She  paraphrased  from  the                                                               
following statement, which read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Thank you  for the  opportunity to  testify, I  am here                                                                    
     today to  introduce the Safe Surrender  of Infants Act,                                                                    
     HB 322.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     HB 322 has the potential to save an infant's life.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     This  is  a bill  that  will  allow parents  to  safely                                                                    
     surrender  an  infant  up to  three  days  after  birth                                                                    
     without fear of being criminally prosecuted.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     There are 46 states that  have enacted safe haven laws.                                                                    
     Alaska,  Hawaii,  Nebraska  and Vermont  are  the  only                                                                    
     states that have not passed this type of legislation.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     In  Texas,  this legislation  was  known  as the  "Baby                                                                    
     Moses  Law" in  other  states this  is  known as  "Save                                                                    
     Haven Law."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     The intent  of this  bill is  to deter  typically young                                                                    
     and   unmarried   women   who  are   concealing   their                                                                    
     pregnancies,   giving  birth   in   private  and   then                                                                    
     disposing  their newborn's  bodies.    This bill  would                                                                    
     save an infant  in imminent danger and  enable a parent                                                                    
     to  avoid prosecution  if  they leave  an  infant at  a                                                                    
     designated safe location.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Representative  LeDoux's  office  has worked  with  the                                                                    
     Office of  Children's Services in working  on the draft                                                                    
     before you.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:06:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO inquired  as to  how the  father fits  into                                                               
this  legislation.   He asked  if  the father  can surrender  his                                                               
infant or object to the surrender of his infant.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. MARASIGAN  pointed out that  the language in  the legislation                                                               
refers  to "parent".   She  noted that  some states  require that                                                               
only  the mother  can surrender  an infant.   However,  under the                                                               
current legislation, either parent could surrender the infant.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:07:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  posed  a  situation in  which  the  father                                                               
objects to the  surrender of the infant, and asked  if the infant                                                               
would  have  to be  surrendered  to  the  father.   Or,  can  the                                                               
privileges  of   the  father  be   usurped  and  the   infant  be                                                               
surrendered to a hospital even if the father objects.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. MARASIGAN  related her  understanding that  the intent  is to                                                               
address an  infant in imminent  danger and thus the  infant would                                                               
be  in the  charge  of the  authorities to  whom  the infant  was                                                               
surrendered to until any issues were addressed.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON  surmised, "So,  in  other  words, ...  if  someone                                                               
objected,  they  would want  the  baby  and we're  talking  about                                                               
babies that aren't wanted."                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. MARASIGAN agreed.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:08:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  inquired as  to how this  legislation fits                                                               
into current  child welfare laws.   She asked if  the legislation                                                               
provides for the infant temporarily  after which the infant moves                                                               
through the regular termination of parental rights.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. MARASIGAN deferred to department representatives.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:08:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TAMMY  SANDOVAL,   Deputy  Commissioner,  Office   of  Children's                                                               
Services (OCS), Department of Health  and Social Services (DHSS),                                                               
explained  that  under  the  legislation if  a  child  is  safely                                                               
surrendered,  the department  would be  notified and  all of  the                                                               
same procedures currently  in practice would apply.   With regard                                                               
to  the  father's  role,  Ms.   Sandoval  specified  that  as  is                                                               
currently the  case, the department  would attempt to  locate the                                                               
father.    In  further  response to  Representative  Cissna,  Ms.                                                               
Sandoval specified  that HB 53  indicates that when there  is the                                                               
need for a placement decision,  the preference list specifies the                                                               
following  people in  the following  order:   a relative,  family                                                               
friend, licensed  foster care, and  then a facility.   Therefore,                                                               
all the  laws that currently  apply would continue to  apply with                                                               
these cases.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:10:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  posed  a  scenario  in  which  the  mother                                                               
surrenders the infant and the father  arrives a day later to take                                                               
his infant.  He asked what happens in such a case.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SANDOVAL said  that once  custody is  assumed, the  state is                                                               
obligated to  go to court for  probable cause.  The  father could                                                               
engage in the  process, but ultimately the  judge determines what                                                               
happens at that point.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:11:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO asked  whether the  father could  surrender                                                               
the  infant without  the  mother's knowledge.    Once the  mother                                                               
receives  a  call that  [the  infant  was abandoned],  would  the                                                               
mother have to go through court proceedings, he asked.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SANDOVAL  replied   yes.    She  explained   that  once  the                                                               
department   assumes  custody,   the  normal   procedures  apply.                                                               
However, the process could be  cut short because the other parent                                                               
enters  the scene.   Ms.  Sandoval emphasized  that although  the                                                               
[surrender of an infant] is  a very rare occurrence because other                                                               
avenues for a parent to have  someone else care for an infant are                                                               
well  known, having  the statute  is important.   In  response to                                                               
Chair  Wilson,  Ms.  Sandoval  assured  the  committee  that  the                                                               
department  does check  to determine  whether an  individual [has                                                               
the  wherewithal] to  [care for  the child].   However,  she said                                                               
that the  aforementioned is highly controversial  when the parent                                                               
for  whom  there  are  no allegations  comes  forward  and  wants                                                               
custody  of  the  child,  but  the case  has  entered  the  civil                                                               
process.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:14:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  referred to  the language of  Section 3(c)                                                               
on  page 2,  line  2,  which says  "the  parent's  legal duty  to                                                               
support the infant  is extinguished after 28 days".   He asked if                                                               
the  aforementioned  language  removes the  requirement  for  any                                                               
legal duty  to support  an infant  after 28  days, if  the parent                                                               
"brings somebody in".                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. SANDOVAL opined  that it's inconsistent to allow  a parent to                                                               
safely surrender his/her child at  3 days, but not extinguish the                                                               
parent's financial  care and  support until after  28 days.   She                                                               
requested further clarity of Representative Seaton's example.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  clarified his  example by  specifying that                                                               
it's a  father who doesn't want  a child and doesn't  want to pay                                                               
child support  and who safely  surrenders the child  within three                                                               
days.   He asked  if after  28 days, the  father's legal  duty to                                                               
support the child is extinguished.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SANDOVAL said  she  believes that  is  what the  legislation                                                               
states.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:16:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked if under  current law the parents are                                                               
absolved  from any  future financial  support, if  the department                                                               
has to take custody of a child due to unsafe conditions.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. SANDOVAL answered that the  department attempts to recoup any                                                               
care  and support  funds  that  it can  when  the department  has                                                               
custody of the  child until the rights of the  parent are legally                                                               
terminated.    Ms. Sandoval  clarified  that  after the  parent's                                                               
legal rights  are terminated, he/she  no longer has to  pay child                                                               
support.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:17:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON  posed a  situation in  which the  mother surrenders                                                               
the  child and  the  unknowing father  is  found afterwards,  and                                                               
asked if  the department  could seek support  from the  father at                                                               
that point.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SANDOVAL offered  to  obtain the  technical  answer for  the                                                               
committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:18:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON,  referring to page  1, lines 10-11, inquired  as to                                                               
whether it  would be illegal to  surrender a child that  is older                                                               
than three days old.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SANDOVAL  commented  that   the  aforementioned  is  a  good                                                               
question.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX interjected  that the line has  to be drawn                                                               
somewhere.  She recalled that  originally the legislation allowed                                                               
legal  surrender of  an infant  are six  months to  a year.   She                                                               
informed the committee  that the group being  targeted are young,                                                               
single  women,  often  teenagers,  who  attempt  to  conceal  the                                                               
pregnancy  and deliver  in private.   The  desire was  to provide                                                               
another choice for the mother.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:19:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON related  a personal story of a teen  who concealed a                                                               
pregnancy.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:20:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  inquired as to  how often a child  is left                                                               
in a dumpster.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. MARASIGAN, recalling her research,  related that [in the year                                                               
prior] to the 1999 enactment of  the Baby Moses Laws in Texas, in                                                               
a  10-month period  there were  about 13  abandoned babies  found                                                               
dead.   She further recalled from  her research that in  the year                                                               
2001 in  California 38  abandoned infants were  found.   In fact,                                                               
this past  year in Venezuela  there was a highly  publicized case                                                               
in which a  fisherman found and saved an infant  in a plastic bag                                                               
that was  tossed into a  lake by its  mother.  In  2001-2002, the                                                               
federal government recommended [that  states] track and follow up                                                               
cases of abandonment, which led to a task force on the matter.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:23:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX opined that the purpose  of HB 322 is to be                                                               
proactive rather than reactive.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:23:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. MARASIGAN,  in response  to Representative  Seaton, explained                                                               
that  allowing the  infant to  be safely  surrendered within  the                                                               
first  three  days of  its  life  was  chosen for  the  following                                                               
reasons.    In the  46  other  states  that have  passed  similar                                                               
legislation, over 12 states chose  to allow the safe surrender of                                                               
an infant  who is  less than  3 days old.   The  remaining states                                                               
range  from  a week  to  a  year.    Ms. Marasigan  reminded  the                                                               
committee that  this legislation  addresses the infant  that's in                                                               
imminent danger.   She informed the committee that in  a study of                                                               
women  who committed  infanticide, the  majority of  the research                                                               
indicated the  need to  address the  immediacy of  the situation.                                                               
Originally, the legislation allowed safe  surrender of a child up                                                               
to a year  in age, but discussions with agency  staff pointed out                                                               
that  timeframes  longer  than  a few  days  are  really  abusive                                                               
situations.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON   indicated  her   agreement  that   allowing  safe                                                               
surrender of a child up to age one isn't appropriate.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:26:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO   referred  to  page  9   of  the  National                                                               
Conference  of State  Legislatures (NCSL)  update on  safe havens                                                               
for abandoned infants dated October  21, 2003.  Under the heading                                                               
Father's Rights, the update says:   "Critics contend that denying                                                               
notification unfairly presumes that these  fathers do not want to                                                               
care  for  their children.    Utah's  legislation addresses  this                                                               
concern by  requiring a search  of the confidential  registry for                                                               
unmarried biological  parents and  requiring that notice  be sent                                                               
to  each  potential father  identified  in  the registry."    The                                                               
aforementioned  seems  complicated  and  almost  unworkable,  but                                                               
seems to illustrate the difficulty in including the father.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX opined that such  is the situation with any                                                               
termination of  parental rights.   For example, the  situation in                                                               
which  a mother  living  alone  decides to  place  her child  for                                                               
adoption and says  that she doesn't know who the  father is could                                                               
occur now.   With regard to the  registers, Representative LeDoux                                                               
suggested that  those could  be the  subject of  legislation next                                                               
year.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:28:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON commented that he  would like to change the                                                               
legislation  such  that a  parent  can  safely surrender  a  baby                                                               
without fear  of prosecution for an  infant up to eight  days old                                                               
rather than three days old.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:29:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  related her  understanding that  a parent                                                               
can't relinquish  his/her parental rights for  a specified amount                                                               
of time, which she understood to be about 48 hours.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.   SANDOVAL   said   that  she   isn't   familiar   with   the                                                               
aforementioned, but  indicated that  someone from  the Department                                                               
of Law should be able to answer.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:30:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  referred to  page  2,  lines 18-21,  and                                                               
inquired as to what occurs if  the parent, upon taking a child to                                                               
the  appropriate authorities,  doesn't say  that he/she  wants to                                                               
relinquish  his/her parental  rights  or expresses  the need  for                                                               
time and leaves.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. MARASIGAN  said that the reason  it takes 28 days  before the                                                               
parent's legal duty  to support the infant is  extinguished is in                                                               
order  to sort  out  all  the possibilities  with  regard to  the                                                               
[absent] parent and whether there  is an understanding as to what                                                               
it means to relinquish parental  rights as well as other matters.                                                               
The  legislation focuses  on  the  safety of  the  infant in  the                                                               
immediate future, she reminded the  committee.  As far as testing                                                               
[and the specified timelines], Ms.  Marasigan said that she would                                                               
have to get back to the committee on that matter.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:32:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   SEATON   related   his  understanding   of   the                                                               
legislation, which is  that a parent who  abandons his/her infant                                                               
can  be criminally  prosecuted if  the parent  doesn't relinquish                                                               
parental rights.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MARASIGAN clarified  that a  parent  who surrenders  his/her                                                               
infant can  do so without  expressing whether he/she  will return                                                               
for  the infant.    The idea  behind the  legislation  is to  not                                                               
prosecute  the  parent for  abandonment  when  he/she leaves  the                                                               
infant  [in  the  care  of   the  individuals  specified  in  the                                                               
legislation].   She highlighted  that the parent  may or  may not                                                               
provide information,  but if  information is  provided it  may be                                                               
utilized.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:35:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON determined that no one else wished to testify.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:35:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  inquired  as  to how  many  infants  are                                                               
abandoned in Alaska; and of  which, how many are abandoned within                                                               
the first three to eight days.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. MARASIGAN deferred to OCS.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SANDOVAL said  that OCS  doesn't know  of any  children that                                                               
would come under HB 322 within the last three years.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON noted that if  the abandoned child isn't discovered,                                                               
there would be no knowledge of the abandonment.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:36:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON moved Amendment 1, as follows:                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 10;                                                                                                           
          Delete "three"                                                                                                        
          Insert "eight"                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Page 3, line 19;                                                                                                           
          Delete "three"                                                                                                        
          Insert "eight"                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
There being no objection, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:38:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER expressed  that in  certain circumstances                                                               
HB 322 could  be great, but she noted concern  with regard to the                                                               
secure  and stable  placement of  a child  when the  father isn't                                                               
identified earlier on  in the process.  She pointed  out that the                                                               
legislation doesn't include a mechanism for the aforementioned.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:38:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON  inquired as  to how  long it  takes to  contact the                                                               
second parent.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. SANDOVAL answered  that it depends upon  how much information                                                               
the division  can garner  on the [absent  parent].   However, the                                                               
division  attempts   to  locate  absent  parents   and  relatives                                                               
immediately upon  the abandonment.   The intent, as  specified in                                                               
HB 53, is for the division  to place children with relatives.  In                                                               
further response to Chair Wilson,  Ms. Sandoval said that the 28-                                                               
day provision is confusing because  she didn't know the technical                                                               
[requirements]  to  obtain  support  for  the  child  within  the                                                               
remaining 20 days.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON  posed a scenario  in which  a child is  placed with                                                               
his/her grandmother and  no other individual is  found, and asked                                                               
what happens at that point.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. SANDOVAL reiterated  that she would have to  obtain an answer                                                               
for  the committee.   In  such  a situation,  if the  grandmother                                                               
decides to become  licensed or not, relatives have  the option to                                                               
become licensed.  If the  grandmother becomes licensed, the state                                                               
pays  her the  foster care  stipend.   If  the grandmother  isn't                                                               
licensed, then the grandmother would  have the ability to support                                                               
the child or  apply for public assistance.   Again, she expressed                                                               
that she didn't know the  behind-the-scenes process for recouping                                                               
the funds to support these children.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:41:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON   opined  that  if  someone   follows  the                                                               
procedures,  surrenders the  child without  abuse, it  would seem                                                               
that there would  be no need for the 28-day  [wait before support                                                               
begins].   Therefore,  he questioned  whether the  elimination of                                                               
the 28-day period would satisfy the department's criteria.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SANDOVAL  said  that  it  would  make  it  clearer  for  the                                                               
department and its  duties, although she didn't  think the 28-day                                                               
wait is a problem.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  inquired as  to the sponsor's  thoughts on                                                               
eliminating the 28-day wait.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX said that it would be appropriate.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:44:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON moved Amendment 2, as follows:                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2 line 3;                                                                                                             
          Delete "after 28 days"                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
There being no objection, Amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON  opined that  she feels  it's most  appropriate that                                                               
the parent's  legal duties  won't be  extinguished until  after a                                                               
thorough investigation.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  commented  that   this  sends  a  clearer                                                               
message to a parent who is abandoning his/her child safely.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  moved   to  report  Version  24-LS1110\F,                                                               
Mischel, 4/19/06,  as amended, out  of committee  with individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no objection, CSHB  322(HES) was reported from  the House Health,                                                               
Education and Social Services Standing Committee.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects