Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 120

04/26/2006 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
<Bill Hearing Postponed to 04/28/06>
Moved CSHB 322(JUD) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HB 322 - SAFE SURRENDER OF BABIES                                                                                             
2:45:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that the  final order of  business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO.  322, "An  Act relating  to  infants who  are                                                               
safely surrendered  by a  parent shortly  after birth."   [Before                                                               
the committee was CSHB 322(HES).]                                                                                               
The committee took an at-ease from 2:46 p.m. to 2:49 p.m.                                                                       
2:49:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GABRIELLE   LeDOUX,  Alaska   State  Legislature,                                                               
speaking  as one  of prime  sponsors of  HB 322,  relayed that  a                                                               
member of her staff would be presenting the bill.                                                                               
2:50:31 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTINE  MARASIGAN, Staff  to Representative  Gabrielle LeDoux,                                                               
Alaska  State Legislature,  relayed on  behalf of  Representative                                                               
LeDoux, one of  the prime sponsors of HB 322,  that this bill has                                                               
the potential  to save the  lives of  infants, and that  46 other                                                               
states have  enacted similar legislation  - with  Alaska, Hawaii,                                                               
Nebraska, and Vermont  being the only states that have  yet to do                                                               
so.   The first such  law was adopted in  Texas in 1999  after 13                                                               
infants were  found abandoned within  a 10-month period,  and now                                                               
such  laws are  sometimes known  either as  "Baby Moses  laws" or                                                               
"safe haven  laws".  She then  spoke briefly of the  changes that                                                               
were  incorporated  into  CSHB 322(HES),  and  relayed  that  the                                                               
intent  of the  bill  is to  deter women  -  typically young  and                                                               
unmarried women  who are concealing their  pregnancies and giving                                                               
birth  in  private  -  from simply  disposing  of  their  newborn                                                               
babies.   Specifically, HB 322  would save an infant  in imminent                                                               
danger and enable a parent to  avoid prosecution if she leaves an                                                               
infant at a designated safe location.                                                                                           
CHAIR McGUIRE, after ascertaining that  no one wished to testify,                                                               
closed public testimony on HB 322.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  ANDERSON moved  to  report CSHB  322(HES) out  of                                                               
committee [with individual recommendations].                                                                                    
2:52:43 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LeDOUX drew attention  to the fiscal note provided                                                               
by the  Department of Health  and Social Services  (DHSS), Office                                                               
of Children's Services (OCS).                                                                                                   
CHAIR  McGUIRE said  she  wants  HB 322  to  move from  committee                                                               
without that fiscal note.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG,  speaking as one of  the prime sponsors                                                               
of HB 322, referred  to the age limit of 8 days  old - located on                                                               
page 1,  lines 10-11,  and page  3, line  19 -  and said  that he                                                               
would instead prefer to have an age limit of 31 days old.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE LeDOUX pointed  out that HB 322  is geared towards                                                               
young, single  women who hide  their pregnancy and  deliver their                                                               
baby  in  private  with  the  intention  of  getting  rid  of  it                                                               
immediately; "we  want that person  to know that ...  she doesn't                                                               
have to  leave [the baby] ...  in a trash can  somewhere" but can                                                               
instead  leave  it  at  a  safe  location.    She  remarked  that                                                               
abandoning  an  infant  who is  3  days  old  or  8 days  old  is                                                               
different than abandoning  a baby that is 31 days  old because by                                                               
the  time a  baby reaches  the age  of 31  days, then  the mother                                                               
"really has  the baby" and  hadn't immediately sought to  get rid                                                               
of it.                                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he would  prefer to err on the side                                                               
of letting a  woman leave a baby  at a safe location  even if the                                                               
baby is a little older.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  LeDOUX  said  she  want to  try  to  ensure  that                                                               
infants get  taken to a  safe haven immediately, before  there is                                                               
the possibility that they will be  abused or neglected.  She then                                                               
noted  that  a  representative  from  the  Office  of  Children's                                                               
Services (OCS)  has just  relayed to  her that  the OCS  would be                                                               
amenable to a 30-day age limit.                                                                                                 
2:56:03 PM                                                                                                                    
JAN  RUTHERDALE,  Assistant  Attorney General,  Child  Protection                                                               
Section,  Civil  Division  (Juneau),  Department  of  Law  (DOL),                                                               
relayed that  although the  DOL doesn't  have any  legal problems                                                               
with  the concept  of HB  322, she  would like  to work  with the                                                               
drafter on some structural issues.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  suggested that the DOL  bring any amendments                                                               
pertaining  to structural  issues to  the bill's  first committee                                                               
hearing in the Senate.                                                                                                          
2:58:10 PM                                                                                                                    
TAMMY  SANDOVAL,   Deputy  Commissioner,  Office   of  Children's                                                               
Services (OCS), Department of Health  and Social Services (DHSS),                                                               
mentioned that  the OCS had merely  suggested an age limit  of 21                                                               
days as  some sort  of middle  ground, since  some states  have a                                                               
younger age  limit and some states  had an older age  limit.  She                                                               
offered her belief that there  haven't been any abandonment cases                                                               
in Alaska to use as an  example, and indicated that the OCS isn't                                                               
committed to a particular age limit.                                                                                            
CHAIR  McGUIRE  reiterated her  intent  to  not have  the  DHSS's                                                               
fiscal  note move  with the  bill, because  the public  education                                                               
campaign  proposed in  the  fiscal note  is  an optional  program                                                               
rather than one  being mandated by the bill.   She suggested that                                                               
with the DHSS's  fiscal note, the bill would have  to be heard in                                                               
the  House  Finance  Committee, thus  lessening  its  chances  of                                                               
passing this  year; therefore,  she will  be requesting  that the                                                               
motion  to move  the bill  from committee  specify that  the bill                                                               
would be moving forward without the DHSS's fiscal note.                                                                         
MS.  SANDOVAL  said  she  will  look  for  ways  to  educate  the                                                               
community  regarding this  bill, but  relayed her  hope that  not                                                               
having the  funds referenced in  the fiscal note won't  result in                                                               
the OCS being  held responsible for anything bad  that happens to                                                               
infants that are abandoned in unsafe locations.                                                                                 
CHAIR McGUIRE, remarking  on the complex nature  of fiscal notes,                                                               
reiterated her  concern that attaching the  aforementioned fiscal                                                               
note will delay the bill to  the point where it doesn't have time                                                               
to pass.                                                                                                                        
MS. SANDOVAL acknowledged that point.                                                                                           
CHAIR  McGUIRE suggested  that  perhaps  an indeterminate  fiscal                                                               
note might be more appropriate.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  again  suggested  that  any  amendments  be                                                               
offered in the Senate, including  any proposed changes to the age                                                               
limit because he is not comfortable just picking a number.                                                                      
MS. MARASIGAN,  referring to an  earlier comment,  clarified that                                                               
there  have been  infants found  abandoned in  Alaska, and  noted                                                               
that  she  now  has  several newspaper  articles  detailing  such                                                               
CHAIR  McGUIRE  surmised that  any  media  coverage of  the  bill                                                               
passing will alert the public to some degree.                                                                                   
3:05:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  [made a  motion to adopt  Amendment 1],                                                               
to  change page  1, line  10, and  page 3,  line 19,  from "eight                                                               
days" to "21 days".                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE GARA pointed  out that the OCS  was merely picking                                                               
a number when it suggested an age limit of 21 days.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG opined  that 8  days of  age was  not a                                                               
sufficient age limit.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE LeDOUX  acknowledged that  at one point  there had                                                               
been discussion of perhaps having an  age limit of 3 days but the                                                               
House Health,  Education and  Social Services  Standing Committee                                                               
instead chose an age limit of 8 days.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  acknowledged that the  original version                                                               
of HB 322  had an age limit  of 12 months, but  again offered his                                                               
belief that an age limit of 8 days is not sufficient.                                                                           
The committee took an at-ease from 3:08 p.m. to 3:09 p.m.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE GARA removed his objection to Amendment 1.                                                                       
CHAIR McGUIRE asked whether there  were any further objections to                                                               
Amendment 1.  There being none, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                        
3:09:43 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT  made a motion  that the  committee authorize                                                               
the  chair  to adopt  a  zero  fiscal note  from  the  DHSS.   He                                                               
surmised that [the  OCS] ought to be  able to do a  lot of public                                                               
education  through   public  service  announcements   (PSAs)  and                                                               
posters in healthcare providers' offices.                                                                                       
CHAIR McGUIRE, after ascertaining  that there were no objections,                                                               
announced  that  the motion  to  adopt  a  zero fiscal  note  was                                                               
3:11:14 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ANDERSON  started to make  a motion to  report the                                                               
bill, as amended, from committee.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG interrupted  the  motion  to note  that                                                               
according  to a  chart  in members'  packets,  some states'  laws                                                               
specify that  either a parent  or a parent's agent  can surrender                                                               
an  infant.   He  asked the  sponsor whether  she  would like  to                                                               
include similar language in HB 322.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE LeDOUX said no.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  ANDERSON  moved  to   report  CSHB  322(HES),  as                                                               
amended,  out of  committee with  individual recommendations  and                                                               
the  accompanying zero  fiscal note  as authorized  by the  House                                                               
Judiciary  Standing   Committee.    There  being   no  objection,                                                               
CSHB 322(JUD)  was reported  from  the  House Judiciary  Standing                                                               

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