Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

02/12/2018 01:30 PM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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Heard & Held
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+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 315 Out of Committee
        HB 315-CONFIDENTIALITY OF ANIMAL & CROP RECORDS                                                                     
1:32:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR CLAMAN announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 315, "An  Act relating to the  confidentiality of                                                               
certain  records  on animals  and  crops;  and providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
CHAIR CLAMAN advised  that subsequent to the  2/9/18 hearing, the                                                               
committee  received a  memorandum  on the  topic  of the  "Alaska                                                               
Grown" program and how it relates to HB 315.                                                                                    
Chair  Claman  advised Joan  Wilson,  Department  of Law  of  the                                                               
questions  regarding  the intersection  between  HB  315 and  the                                                               
"Alaska Grown" program and asked how  many times the DOL had been                                                               
involved  in  civil  enforcement actions  regarding  the  "Alaska                                                               
Grown" program.                                                                                                                 
1:33:39 PM                                                                                                                    
JOAN  WILSON, Assistant  Attorney  General,  Commercial and  Fair                                                               
Business  Section,  Civil  Division,  Department  of  Law  (DOL),                                                               
responded  that  the  question  of  enforcement  relates  to  the                                                               
Division of  Agriculture and the Department  of Natural Resources                                                               
(DNR) interest in  the "Alaska Grown" trademark  the state holds.                                                               
She  explained that  when farmers  or ranchers  would like  their                                                               
products  to carry  that  logo,  they apply  to  the Division  of                                                               
Agriculture for  a license  and under that  license agree  to use                                                               
the logo accurately.  For  example, when used for livestock, that                                                               
livestock must be grown and raised  in Alaska for six months.  In                                                               
the  event someone  should attempt  to violate  the program,  the                                                               
enforcement action is to withdraw  their use of the trademark and                                                               
withdraw  their licensing  rights to  the trademark.   She  noted                                                               
that she has  not seen a civil enforcement action  or any type of                                                               
criminal  action,  and  that  it  would  be  stretch  to  turn  a                                                               
misrepresentation   claim  into   a   criminal   act,  but   good                                                               
prosecutors can  do many things.   In essence, this will  be "our                                                               
efforts" to protect  the trademark, and in the  event people have                                                               
concerns  regarding abuse  of the  trademark they  should contact                                                               
the  Division  of  Agriculture because  it  works  directly  with                                                               
ranchers and/or the sellers of  the product to make certain there                                                               
has been  no misuse  of the  trademark.  In  the event  there are                                                               
concerns  about (audio  difficulties) the  steps are  withdrawing                                                               
their participation in the program, she reiterated.                                                                             
1:35:39 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  referred to the limited  resources in the                                                               
Department  of Natural  Resources (DNR)  and asked  whether there                                                               
had  been discussions  regarding allocating  additional resources                                                               
so some of  those enforcement actions or  prosecutions might take                                                               
place in the future.                                                                                                            
MS.  WILSON answered  that  she  could not  say  there have  been                                                               
discussions to  date, and she  has not heard that  enforcement of                                                               
this program  caused concern that  the division did not  have the                                                               
staff or the expertise.  Again,  she said, the main attempt is to                                                               
make sure  it is simply not  an error on a  person's part because                                                               
the  division is  trying to  develop  a cooperative  relationship                                                               
with  its farmers  and ranchers  to make  sure that  trademark is                                                               
used appropriately.                                                                                                             
1:36:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN offered  a scenario  of a  business owner                                                               
selling meat  that may or  may not  have come from  Alaskan grown                                                               
products, but they wanted to  demonstrate their pride in being an                                                               
Alaskan.  In that regard, he  said, the person has a label behind                                                               
the counter that  read, "Alaska Grown" even though  he sold meats                                                               
from  one place  and meats  from Alaska.   He  asked whether  the                                                               
department would  view that as  a violation, a cause  of concern,                                                               
or  simply  interpreted it  as  the  person  is  proud to  be  an                                                               
MS. WILSON quiered whether  Representative Eastman's scenario was                                                               
a situation where  someone was selling "Alaska Grown"  meats in a                                                               
grocery store, for example.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN  clarified  that  he was  thinking  of  a                                                               
person selling meats, some of which  are Alaska grown and some of                                                               
which  are not,  but the  store owner  wanted to  demonstrate his                                                               
pride for  "Alaska grown things"  so he posted an  "Alaska Grown"                                                               
type of  label somewhere  in his  store.   He asked  whether that                                                               
would be considered a violation.                                                                                                
CHAIR  CLAMAN asked  whether his  question was  that if  a person                                                               
sold pork that fit within  the "Alaska Grown" definition and some                                                               
pork that  did not fit, and  there was an "Alaska  Grown" sign in                                                               
the shop, whether that person violated the trademark.                                                                           
MS. WILSON  noted that that  actual circumstance had  taken place                                                               
previously  wherein the  division  worked with  the retailers  to                                                               
make certain  they were properly  advertising.  Again,  she said,                                                               
the first approach is to assume  a person made a mistake and work                                                               
with them so they credibly and  correctly use that trademark.  In                                                               
Representative  Eastman's scenario,  she said  she would  have to                                                               
see if the  (audio difficulties) held the trademark,  and in most                                                               
cases,  it would  be  the farmer  or the  rancher.   She  offered                                                               
concern regarding any licensing in  that manner, and that when it                                                               
has  been used  in a  commercial enterprise,  the entity  must be                                                               
licensed to even carry that sign to advertise the meat.                                                                         
1:39:32 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   EASTMAN  surmised   that  DNR   is  focused   on                                                               
preventing  future violations,  and that  possibly it  is not  as                                                               
focused  on  holding people  to  task  or pursing  sanctions  for                                                               
something  brought to  their attention,  even  if it  might be  a                                                               
MS. WILSON  clarified that the  department takes the  program and                                                               
enforcement  of  the trademark  seriously.    Simply because  the                                                               
division's first  attempt is  education, that  does not  mean the                                                               
division will  not withdraw  a license to  use that  trademark if                                                               
someone was treating that trademark nefariously,                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN  commented  that  having  looked  at  the                                                               
information to  become confidential,  he did  not see  how making                                                               
the  information as  to whether  an item  had been  imported into                                                               
Alaska would be considered confidential.                                                                                        
1:41:29 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP  commented that  this  is  a good  piece  of                                                               
legislation  because  it  will  increase  reporting  of  possible                                                               
health hazards  to the public,  whether it deals with  animals or                                                               
crops, the  whole goal  is to increase  reporting.   Although, he                                                               
pointed  out,  due  to  competitive   practice  there  is  a  big                                                               
disincentive   to   report.      He   opined   that   the   whole                                                               
confidentiality  issue had  been correctly  crafted where  if, in                                                               
fact, a  health hazard  is found to  exist, the  information then                                                               
becomes public, and there are  ways to disclose that information.                                                               
He described it  as confidential information when  a person deals                                                               
with the Office  of the State Veterinarian  (OSV) regarding their                                                               
crops  and animal  health  data  unless there  is  a hazard  that                                                               
pushes that information out into the public record.                                                                             
1:42:33 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS moved  to report  HB 315,  Version                                                               
30-GH2584\A out of committee  with individual recommendations and                                                               
the accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN objected.                                                                                                
1:42:41 PM                                                                                                                    
A  roll call  vote  was taken.   Representatives  Kreiss-Tomkins,                                                               
LeDoux, Millett,  Kopp and  Claman voted in  favor of  passing HB                                                               
315 out of  committee.  Representative Eastman  voted against it.                                                               
Therefore,  HB  315  was  reported out  of  the  House  Judiciary                                                               
Standing Committee by a vote of 5-1.                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB315 ver A 2.9.18.PDF HJUD 2/9/2018 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 2/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
HRES 3/21/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 4/2/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB315 Additional Document-DEC Memo Regarding SB164 and Alaska Grown 2.12.18.pdf HJUD 2/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
HRES 3/21/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 4/2/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 315
SB 164
HB316 Work Draft Committee Substitute ver O 2.12.18.pdf HJUD 2/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
HJUD 2/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 316
HB316 Sponsor Statement 2.12.18.pdf HJUD 2/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 316
HB316 Sectional Analysis ver O 2.12.18.pdf HJUD 2/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
HB 316
HB316 Fiscal Note DPS-CJISP 2.12.18.pdf HJUD 2/12/2018 1:30:00 PM
HJUD 2/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 316