Legislature(2005 - 2006)

03/21/2005 02:29 PM JUD


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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.                                                                                                                      

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