Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/04/1996 01:04 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 523 - STATE'S POLICY ON SOBRIETY                                         
 Number 417                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER explained to the committee why they had requested             
 a waiver for HB 523.  The bill merely changes the opening statement           
 of the state code's policy for it's addressing the problems of                
 alcohol abuse.  It incorporates as an alternative to the                      
 traditional treatment a statement justifying the existence of the             
 goal of sobriety.  The sobriety movement of the native community in           
 the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) is probably the best program           
 the state has seen in a long time.  The existing state enabling               
 statute doesn't specifically recognize sobriety as a goal.  There             
 are no burning statutory or constitutional provisions in the bill,            
 consequently Chairman Porter didn't think the Judiciary needed to             
 consider it.                                                                  
 REPRESENTATIVE TOOHEY was absent from previous discussions about              
 this bill and stated that she disagrees with the move that the                
 state needs to care and feed these people that continue to decide             
 to destroy themselves over and over again.  This is a very                    
 expensive program and it doesn't work as they know.  She noted                
 language in HB 523, "should be afforded a continuum of treatment."            
 Representative Toohey did not want to get into the slippery slope             
 of saying the state will treat every alcoholic at state expense.              
 She said she appreciates the sobriety movement.                               
 Number 534                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER noted that the continuum of treatment language is             
 in existing statute.  He pointed out that the underlined portions             
 of the draft legislation is what they were adding.                            
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY commented that he liked the new proposed new             
 wording.  He doesn't either subscribe to the philosophy that the              
 state is to kinder and gentler to people who have substance abuse             
 problems.  Representative Vezey said he'd like to see some of the             
 existing language removed.                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER said that for what it's worth the wording in the              
 state statute was a result of a total revision required by a U.S.             
 Supreme Court decision.  It used to be a crime to be drunk in                 
 public and this was found to be unconstitutional, hence the shift             
 to a medical problem rather than a criminal problem.                          

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