Legislature(2005 - 2006)
03/21/2005 02:29 PM JUD
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 116 - MINORS ON LICENSED PREMISES 3:11:12 PM CHAIR McGUIRE announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 116, "An Act relating to the liability of certain persons for entry and remaining on licensed premises." [Before the committee was CSHB 116(STA).] REPRESENTATIVE ANDERSON indicated that he'd like to move the bill from committee. REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN MEYER, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor, said that HB 116 protects minors working with [law] enforcement officers doing compliance checks on liquor license holders. He referred to legislation he sponsored during the last legislative session that created a civil penalty for those that violate AS 04.16.060, and noted that the bill would clarify that those minors helping law enforcement with compliance checks would not be held liable for violating either AS 04.16.049 or AS 04.16.060. He pointed out that currently, minor volunteers actively assisting law enforcement in compliance checks are not exempt from the liability provision of AS 04.16.065, and opined that they should be exempt. There have been instances of licensees attempting to bring suit against the minors that are assisting law enforcement with compliance checks. He mentioned that he has been "a victim" of a compliance check wherein two minors outside of a liquor store asked him to purchase alcohol for them and, fortunately, he responded correctly by refusing to do so. 3:15:02 PM DOUGLAS B. GRIFFIN, Director, Alcoholic Beverage Control Board ("ABC Board"), Department of Public Safety (DPS), opined that the sponsor has done a good job of "framing the question and the need for" HB 116, and noted that William Roche, Chief Enforcement Officer, is also available for questions. He offered that the compliance check program is a simple way of putting people on notice that they need to take greater care in making sure they don't serve alcohol to underage persons. In management parlance, he remarked, the program is not that complicated but does involve an underage person going on to a licensed premises. He added that the ABC Board is very careful to not mislead or trick anyone about the age of the person making the request; the program is not intended to be a method by which to entrap anyone. MR. GRIFFIN said that one of the unforeseen problems encountered with the program in relation to the newly established civil penalty in AS 04.16.065, however, is that some licensees have attempted to pursue civil action against the minors assisting with the compliance checks. He noted that the compliance check program has proven to be very effective as a deterrent; when the program first started, the failure rate approached 50 percent, and after just a few years of conducting the program, and without spending a whole lot of money, the failure rate is now under 10 percent. He concluded by saying, "We do need this bill to clean up some of the potential problems that could be brought about from licensees that don't like ... the fact that we're out there trying to make sure that they're towing the line, by guarding our underage people [from] the potential of being sued." 3:18:26 PM JESSICA PARIS, Coordinator, Youth in Action, Juneau Affiliate, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD), relayed that she is speaking on behalf of the teens she has worked with while participating in the compliance check program, and mentioned that she witnessed Representative Meyer making "the right choice" during the compliance check he underwent. She noted that law enforcement officers had indicated that there was a problem with recruiting and training "agents," underage persons willing to assist with the compliance program, and so that is what her current job entails. Some of the issues she faces when attempting to recruit and retain teens for compliance checks, she relayed, is that the work is sporadic, that it is preferable to have teens that are between the age 18 and 20, that the teens can't be drinking, and that it takes some courage on the part of the teens to work with law enforcement to potentially shut down a source of alcohol to their peers. So it is frustrating to then have these teens face potentially being sued for $1,000 for their work, she concluded, adding that one such teen she has worked with is facing just such a suit. 3:20:44 PM CHAIR McGUIRE, after ascertaining that no one else wished to testify, closed public testimony on HB 116. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG made a motion to adopt Amendment 1, to remove from page 1, lines 7 and 13, "the person" and insert ", supervises,". He offered his belief that Amendment 1 would allow for instances in which the minor is wired and is not being physically accompanied or visually observed by a law enforcement officer. CHAIR McGUIRE, characterizing Amendment 1 as a good amendment, asked whether there were any objections to Amendment 1. There being none, Amendment 1 was adopted. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG mentioned that [in a prior committee] there had been discussion about making "this" applicable to [AS 04.16.050, AS 04.16.051, and AS 04.16.052], to add identical language to those statutes. MICHAEL PAWLOWSKI, Staff to Representative Kevin Meyer, House Finance Committee, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor, pointed out that AS 04.16.050 pertains to possession, control, or consumption by persons under the age of 21; that AS 04.16.051 pertains to furnishing or delivery of alcoholic beverages to persons under 21; and AS 04.16.052 pertains to furnishing alcoholic beverages to persons under the age of 21 by licensees. Therefore, he opined, there are several different enforcement issues in Alaska's alcohol and beverage laws that are covered in those three statutes. MR. PAWLOWSKI relayed that the ABC Board had indicated that it might be helpful to add the exemption from liability proposed in HB 116 in case the legislature, in the future, wanted to add a civil liability provision to one of the aforementioned sections. However, no such civil liability provisions exist in those statutes currently, and criminal liability, as provided for in Title 11, wouldn't apply because the minor would be accompanied by a peace officer. Therefore, he indicated, expanding HB 116 to include AS 04.16.050, AS 04.16.051, and AS 04.16.052 would not be necessary at this time, even though the ABC Board likes the idea of doing so. 3:25:26 PM REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he wouldn't offer a proposed amendment to include those statutes in HB 116 if the sponsor prefers to forgo such a change. REPRESENTATIVE MEYER said he appreciates the suggestion but doesn't see a need for changing the bill in that fashion. 3:26:49 PM REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM moved to report CSHB 116(STA), as amended, out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, CSHB 116(JUD) was reported from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.