Legislature(1995 - 1996)

05/05/1995 01:10 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 Number 450                                                                    
 JOE AMBROSE, Legislative Assistant to Senator Robin Taylor, bill              
 sponsor, introduced HCS CSSB 87.  This bill is an old friend that             
 has been through the process twice.  Last session it was known as             
 SB 372, and was prompted by concerns over a lack of clarity in how            
 local option elections are conducted, and the Alcoholic Beverage              
 Control Board (ABC) asked for legislation to clarify the process.             
 Senate Bill 87 as you see it today is substantially the same as               
 last year's legislation.  The bill addresses the shortcomings in              
 the current statute dealing with local option elections for which             
 no provision is made for moving from one type of option to another.           
 Under the current law, a community must first move to remove all              
 restrictions on the sale or importation of alcoholic beverages, and           
 then conduct a second vote on a new option.  This burdensome                  
 process can cause confusion from municipalities and unincorporated            
 villages alike.  SB 87 was amended in the Community and Regional              
 Affairs Committee and the Judiciary Committee to address specific             
 concerns that were raised by local option communities.  This bill             
 has the support of the ABC Board and the chairman of the sponsoring           
 PATRICK SHARROCK, Director, Alcoholic Beverage Control Board,                 
 wanted to confirm that Teresa Williams of the Attorney Generals               
 Office was on the teleconference, which she was.                              
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN made a motion to adopt Version R of the CS as            
 the working document.  Seeing no objection, it was so ordered.                
 Number 510                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if it would be helpful if he described             
 the difference between the CS and the bill that was transmitted to            
 this committee.                                                               
 CHAIRMAN PORTER answered sure.                                                
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY explained that the only change in this lengthy           
 CS, Version R, is that we have added a new section 1 which is                 
 similar to the section 1 that came over in the Senate.  It provides           
 that, talking about the makeup of the board, that it leaves three             
 members of the board to represent the general public.  "A board               
 member representing the general public or immediate family member             
 of a board member representing the general public may not have any            
 financial interest in the alcoholic beverage industry."  In this              
 section, "immediate family member" means a spouse, child, or                  
 parent."  The only reason for that change was a concern by the                
 sponsor of the bill that without a reference to the board, that the           
 title would be incorrect, and we would have to go through a                   
 concurrent resolution to do a title change.  He did not concur with           
 that conclusion but he did not want to hold the bill up by trying             
 to fight that battle at this time.                                            
 MR. SHARROCK mentioned that the reason he asked if Teresa Williams            
 was on the teleconference is because she was the assistant attorney           
 general assigned to the board and she drafted this legislation, so            
 she is a good reference.  It is hard to believe that almost a year            
 ago today, May 10, he was sitting before Representative Vezey's               
 committee, the final committee of referral on this same piece of              
 legislation.  In that light, it would be fair to say that the                 
 difference between that and the version you have before you now, is           
 the version that you have just accepted with the proposed amendment           
 in it, and six other amendments that have found their way through             
 the committee system on the Senate side, and two additional new               
 provisions that the board requested be included in the bill in its            
 current form.  Substantially recognizing those things, this bill is           
 identical to the legislation that was before the Senate and the               
 House last year.  The reason it is so thick is because when Teresa            
 rewrote the local option provisions and the descriptions of those,            
 and so forth, the citations were changed.  With that, there was a             
 necessity throughout current law to change those citations, so that           
 makes up the bulk of why there are so many pages.                             
 MR. SHARROCK explained that the reason the board requested that the           
 local option sections of the law be clarified, is because at one              
 point, about a year and a half ago, the City of St. Mary's was                
 trying to change from its current local option to another one, and            
 there was litigation between the traditional council and the city             
 as to how the elections should be handled and how it should                   
 proceed, and more currently, the same situation exists in Barrow.             
 The judge there had determined that it is appropriate that the                
 community wait for a year after it adopted the prohibition on                 
 (indisc.) importation that it adopted last October.  That is not              
 exactly the way it is described in the law, that they shall wait              
 one year, but the intent was certainly there and that is what we              
 had promoted all along, or understood the law to mean, and the                
 judge upheld that.  So there is that correction and provision in              
 there too, to clarify for certain that after an election, either to           
 remove it or to go to a lesser restrictive prohibition that the               
 community must wait a minimum of 12 months and not hold an election           
 more than once in 18 months.  The whole idea of rewriting the local           
 option provision was to clarify things like that and to put them in           
 a form that is more understandable by the people who vote on those            
 kinds of options in incorporated cities and villages, so they only            
 have to hold one election to change or remove or adopt an option              
 they want.                                                                    
 MR. SHARROCK said there are other technical amendments, a few of              
 which are somewhat new, that the board also suggested or desired.             
 Those are insignificant in his mind, except maybe one that they had           
 asked to be included in this version of the bill, which is a                  
 provision to convert restaurant licenses in the community if that             
 restaurant business person wants to have entertainment.  It does              
 not create a new class of license, but allows a person to convert             
 a beer and wine or restaurant license into what he refers to as a             
 semi-tavern license.  The reason the bill chose not to create a new           
 license by regulation is because if it did, then that many more               
 licenses would be available under the population limitation                   
 provisions and the board did not want to do that at all.  The board           
 thought it would be easier to address it under one class of license           
 already.  You may recall the Ciranos case the board had a year or             
 so ago, and this is the board's proposed solution to that kind of             
 thing, to help people out that run into that problem, that run a              
 different sort of business that is not a full-fledged restaurant.             
 He said the sectional analysis addresses the different things the             
 board felt was appropriate.                                                   
 Number 600                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN asked what the outcome was of the                  
 Ciranos case.                                                                 
 MR. SHARROCK answered that the proprietor submitted to the board              
 what he believed was a sufficient menu for food to be served at the           
 restaurant, which was somewhat expanded from what the board had               
 looked at before, and the board accepted it.                                  
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN asked what the current composition of              
 the board was.                                                                
 MR. SHARROCK answered that, as required by law, there are two                 
 members from the industry.                                                    
 Number 650                                                                    
 EDITH NASHOALOOK, Assistant Health Educator, North Slope Borough              
 (NSB), testified via teleconference from Barrow.  She submitted               
 written testimony as well:                                                    
 "My employment with the NSB started in 1983 as an advocate in the             
 Arctic Women-in-Crisis.  We dealt with a lot of alcohol related               
 domestic violence, sexual abuse, elder abuse.  In 1985, I                     
 transferred to Senior Citizens Program and I saw elder abuse due to           
 alcohol and drug abuse.  I transferred to Health Education in 1987            
 and have been there since.                                                    
 "I support amendments for making alcohol possession and importation           
 a crime, a felony.                                                            
 "When the alcohol ban, making possession and importation illegal,             
 first went into effect last year, I felt a sense of peace in our              
 community.  Children were happier and the domestic violence and               
 other abuses were less evident in the Public Safety and also in the           
 "Barrow residents voted to ban alcohol because it affects their way           
 of life.  Alcohol use in Barrow has been highly correlated with an            
 increased domestic violence, crimes, accidents, mortality, suicides           
 and job absenteeism.  You wouldn't want your child, spouse or                 
 family member to be involved in domestic violence, in crimes, or              
 have a serious accident or commit suicide - we do not want that for           
 our families.  We now know why those things happened in the past.             
 The people of the NSB voted to ban alcohol because they did not               
 want to increase the statistics that were already outrageously                
 higher than the rest of the U.S.  We want those statistics lower              
 and nonexistent.                                                              
 "Residents that are not substance abusers are affected by these               
 things too because we live in an isolated area.  We are in close              
 contact with each other on a daily basis at work and at school.  We           
 see co-workers who do not come in at all because of drinking, or              
 co-workers who are victims of domestic violence related to                    
 substance abuse.  This makes our jobs and our days hard.  We do not           
 want that anymore.                                                            
 "We need stiffer laws that make alcohol procession and importation            
 a serious crime.  Please support us in our efforts."                          
 Number 730                                                                    
 TOM NICOLOS testified via teleconference.  He does not believe the            
 problem with alcohol is alcohol itself.  The problem with alcohol             
 is the people who abuse alcohol.  He felt it was taking a big step            
 forward to increase laws for people who do just that, abuse                   
 alcohol.  This legislation is needed, but portions of it are unfair           
 and unjust, because they are heavily slanted toward one person's              
 view.  He was one of the ten people involved in the lawsuit                   
 regarding the Barrow election laws.  As he recalled, the reason the           
 judge ruled that Barrow could not have an election for a year was             
 not because of the way the statute was written, but because the               
 city council failed to overturn it.  It did not fly in the face of            
 common sense to have an election within less than a year, even                
 though federal interpretation of the law said that we could.                  
 MR. NICOLOS brought up his bone of contention in the State Affairs            
 Committee, and that is that an election would be held once a month            
 to impose a restriction.  But an election can only be held once a             
 year through a restriction, and not more than once.  He asked for             
 clarification because he did not read the law that way.  When it              
 says you can have an election whenever, even though that may not              
 fly in the face of common sense.  That should be addressed.  The              
 people in this community who are opposed to prohibition worked                
 very hard to submit a petition to the municipality to bring about             
 another election.  In Section 7, those petitions are swept aside              
 needlessly.  He asked the committee to please consider this bill              
 carefully, that it be made fair and just to everyone, not just one            
 group of people.                                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE TOOHEY asked Mr. Nicolos if he would like to see               
 alcohol back in Barrow.                                                       
 MR. NICOLOS said absolutely.  He does not consider himself an                 
 abuser of alcohol.  His consumption is not great, but he is                   
 extremely opposed to his freedom being restricted because of the              
 actions of other people.                                                      
 Number 780                                                                    
 REVEREND JUDITH MCQUISTON testified via teleconference.  She is a             
 relatively new resident of Barrow.  When she learned that                     
 importation and possession of alcohol is illegal on the North                 
 Slope, she wondered if it would work.  She was really skeptical.              
 After watching this community for the last few months, and hearing            
 the comments of the helping professionals, she is impressed with              
 what is happening.  She believed it is a beginning, not an ending.            
 She felt it to be an encouragement to the people of Barrow that               
 needs to be supported.  Importation of alcohol should be a felony             
 crime.  Today she sees the community having hope.  We have seen               
 some of the best and brightest young people having real problems              
 because of alcohol consumption, and yet there is a prevailing hope            
 that things can change and that our young people must have a better           
 future.  We need to continue that process.  This is a long process,           
 and not just something that is automatically resolved because they            
 no longer have alcohol.  The end result is that the penalty for               
 possession and importation of alcohol is merely a slap on the                 
 wrist.  She encouraged the possibility of creating a penalty that             
 will make people think about whether or not they really want to do            
 that. It is time to do some healing and provide some hope for our             
 young people.                                                                 
 Number 800                                                                    
 FRED KOPACZ, Coordinator, Mental Health Services, North Slope                 
 Borough, testified via teleconference.  He has spent some time                
 dealing with the effects of alcohol and alcohol abuse.  He is                 
 surprised and pleased to see the effects of what this prohibition             
 has done on the North Slope.  He started off quite skeptical about            
 whether or not we could achieve much by doing this.  He is                    
 overwhelmed with the results of this.  He felt that people gave up            
 alcohol for the good of the community and we have seen an                     
 overwhelming community good.  More families are coming to deal with           
 the real issues.  There is more attention being paid to our young             
 people, and we are seeing more and more use of the professionals on           
 the North Slope doing what they are trained at - getting people               
 healed, rather than patching them up after bad episodes of                    
 drinking.  He applauded the committee and hoped they would support            
 the CS, because one of the things happening in Barrow is that the             
 sanctions for not following the law are really too light.                     
 Hopefully, this bill will address some of that.  When a community             
 takes a step like this, we do no want that effort thwarted.  The              
 community of Barrow deserves to have this law enforced.                       
 REVEREND JAMES ROGHAIR, Presbyterian Church, testified via                    
 teleconference.  He has been a pastor for eight years in Barrow and           
 has seen some of the devastation that has come about from alcohol,            
 and accidents, suicides, domestic violence, and people freezing to            
 death.  He is pleased with the changes that have taken place in               
 Barrow since the alcohol ban took effect a few months ago.  He has            
 had the opportunity to read the whole draft and hoped that they had           
 all read it more carefully than he had.  He agreed with the idea of           
 making bootlegging into a felony.  When a community makes the                 
 decision to be alcohol free, then the community needs to have the             
 tools to enforce that.  If the fines for people disobeying the law            
 are about the same price as the street value of a bottle of booze,            
 then we would have the same... (tape ended)                                   
 TAPE 95-57, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 REVEREND ROGHAIR continued, ... strengthen that a bit.  He believed           
 it would give the community a stronger hand because this is a                 
 community that is struggling as others are, for community health.             
 There is a value to community decisions over individual freedom.              
 That is something we in Alaska have to help the rest of the nation            
 understand, especially in the small villages that have strong                 
 Native traditions where tribal values of community are very                   
 important.  These communities need to be strengthened and some of             
 the previous speakers are thinking about their own individual                 
 freedoms of course.  They are speaking about another polarity, but            
 it is important that we try to support community decision making.             
 Number 040                                                                    
 MARK HAMLIN testified via teleconference.  He is a 16 year resident           
 of Barrow.  His comments are focused on the fairness to all sides             
 of the prohibition issue, and are not intended to speak to whether            
 or not prohibition is good, but merely that all sides of the issue            
 should have an equal shot about which way a community will go.  He            
 was concerned about the provisions in Title IV, which gives                   
 politicians with prohibition beliefs an unfair and unequitable                
 advantage over voters, and sometimes even the majority who believes           
 otherwise.  SB 87 would take Title IV, which is already somewhat              
 unfair, to the abuse of those whose rights are being restricted.              
 Title IV does not provide equal treatment.  It is abused by                   
 politicians who choose to promote their personal views over the               
 majority.  The current law allows prohibitionists to attempt to               
 impose prohibition as often as the wish, but restricts those who              
 wish to remove prohibition by trying to do so more than once every            
 12 months.  This section of the law is unfair to the views of half            
 of the voters in Alaska.  He asked the committee to hold the bill             
 over until next session, and make it fair to all of the voters.               
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked Mr. Hamlin if he is involved in the                
 alcohol industry at all.                                                      
 MR. HAMLIN answered that he is not.  He is a North Slope Borough              
 GREG DANJIN, 22 year Alaska resident, testified via teleconference.           
 He has had dealings with alcohol as an individual and as a law                
 enforcement officer.  He dealt with more alcohol related deaths in            
 Kotzebue than he ever did in Barrow.  Trying to take the issue of             
 possession of alcohol from a misdemeanor to a felony, everyone sees           
 alcohol as the guy with the black hat sitting on the black horse              
 out in front because he is the (indisc.) of the drug of choice, so            
 to speak.  They do not look at what is standing behind him.  That             
 is the guy in the white hat, the (indisc.) drugs.  If you want to             
 make possession a felony, then he suggested making the changes in             
 the law for a misconduct involving a controlled substance 1, 2, 3,            
 4, 5, 6.  That (indisc.) should also be considered a felony.  Why             
 is it they have a choice on drugs when they are already controlled,           
 and alcohol is not?                                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE TOOHEY asked if we are imposing laws on the North              
 Slope Borough, and Adak, et cetera, without their consent?  Is any            
 of this valid unless a community votes for this?  A community must            
 vote for this in order for it to become law, correct?                         
 CHAIRMAN PORTER said a community must vote for a repeal of alcohol            
 from there.                                                                   
 Number 280                                                                    
 MR. AMBROSE pointed out that in the packet there is a 1986 memo               
 addressed to Governor Sheffield from the Attorney General.  It                
 deals with many of the issues in Barrow today.  The local option              
 provisions were questionable as far as the constitutionality, and             
 the legislature at that time, chose not to go to a criminal offense           
 for possession, because it is a serious constitutional question.              
 This bill affects not just Barrow, but 115 local option communities           
 in this state.                                                                
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked if there was a deterrent for                       
 TERESA WILLIAMS, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law,               
 testified via teleconference.  She said bootlegging is a class C              
 felony under the current law.  This could give you more than a                
 year's prison term.                                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE wanted to refresh his memory as to what the              
 maximum fine was for a class C felony.                                        
 ANNE CARPENETI, Committee Aide, House Judiciary Committee, stated             
 that a fine for a C felony is $50,000 for an individual, and                  
 $500,000 for an organization.                                                 
 SHARON M. NETH, Bethel, testified via teleconference.  She had a              
 question on page 21, Section 29 (b) and (c).  It seems to be a                
 contradiction, and she would like to see part (c) amended to be the           
 same as part (b).                                                             
 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked Teresa Williams if she could answer that.               
 MS. WILLIAMS answered that it had been a year since she had drafted           
 the language.  The distinction is between a municipality and an               
 established village.  In an established village, you would not                
 necessarily have regular elections, and in a municipality, of                 
 course, you do.                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN offered Amendment Number 1:                        
      Page 2, line 7, following "industry.":                                   
           Insert "A person who is employed in a program providing             
           alcohol or substance abuse counseling or related services           
           is not considered to have a financial interest in the               
           alcoholic beverage industry."                                       
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY objected and said that was not reasonable or             
 necessary.  We should not be adjudicating statutes as fine as this.           
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN withdrew his amendment, and then offered           
 Amendment Number 2, which just clarifies that you now have three              
 public members and two members of the industry, and that in order             
 to have a quorum you have to have at least two of those three                 
 public members.  Otherwise you would have the circumstance where              
 you would have a quorum which is actually made up of a majority of            
 industry members.                                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY objected.                                                
 CHAIRMAN PORTER said he could not support the amendment because               
 under this scenario, two members of the board could control the               
 board by not being there.  He requested a roll call vote.                     
 Representatives Finkelstein and Davis voted yes.  Representatives             
 Bunde, Vezey, Toohey, Green, and Porter voted no.  Amendment Number           
 2 failed, two to five.                                                        
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN made a motion to move Amendment Number             
      Page 2, line 4, after "public.":                                         
           Insert "One board member representing the general public            
           shall also be or have been employed in the field of law             
           enforcement or public safety."                                      
      Page 37, line 8:                                                         
           Delete "sec. 79"                                                    
           Insert "sec. 80"                                                    
      Page 37, after line 15:                                                  
           Insert a new bill section to read:                                  
           "Sec. 77. TRANSITION: BOARD MEMBERS.  The amendments to             
           AS 04.06.020 made by sec. 1 of this Act do not prevent a            
           person who is serving as a member of the Alcoholic                  
           Beverage Control Board on the effective date of this                
           section from continuing to serve until the person's term            
           expires.  The Governor shall implement AS 04.06.020, as             
           amended by sec. 1 of this Act, in making appointments               
           after the effective date of this section."                          
      Page 37, line 18:                                                        
           Delete "secs. 77 and 78"                                            
           Insert "secs. 78 and 79"                                            
 There was objection and a roll call vote was taken. Representatives           
 Finkelstein, Davis and Green voted yes.  Representatives Toohey,              
 Vezey, Bunde and Porter voted no.  Amendment Number 3 failed three            
 to four.                                                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN offered Amendment Number 4:                        
      Page 2, line 4, after "public.":                                         
           Insert "One board member representing the general public            
           shall also be employed in the field of public health."              
      Page 37, line 8:                                                         
           Delete "sec. 79"                                                    
           Insert "sec. 80"                                                    
      Page 37, after line 15:                                                  
           Insert a new bill section to read:                                  
           "Sec. 77 TRANSITION: BOARD MEMBERS.  The amendments to AS           
           04.06.020 made by sec. 1 of this Act do not prevent a               
           person who is serving as a member of the Alcoholic                  
           Beverage Control Board on the effective date of this                
           section from continuing to serve until the person's term            
           expires.  The Governor shall implement AS 04.06.020, as             
           amended by sec. 1 of this Act, in making appointments               
           after the effective date of this section."                          
      Page 3, line 18:                                                         
           Delete "secs. 77 and 78"                                            
           Insert "secs. 78 and 79"                                            
 There was objection and a roll call vote was taken.                           
 Representatives Finkelstein and Davis voted yes.  Representatives             
 Bunde, Vezey, Toohey, Green, and Porter voted no.  Amendment Number           
 4 failed two to five.                                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY made a motion to move HCS CSSB 87(JUD) out of            
 committee with individual recommendations and fiscal notes as                 
 attached.  Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                           

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