Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/10/2001 03:34 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 214-CIVIL ACTION AGAINST MINORS IN BARS                                                                                    
Number 0022                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  MURKOWSKI   announced  that  the  committee   first  would                                                               
consider HOUSE BILL  NO. 214, "An Act relating to  a civil action                                                               
against a person under 21 years  of age who enters premises where                                                               
alcohol is sold or consumed."                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER,  speaking as  the sponsor  of HB  214, said                                                               
this bill allows bar and liquor  store owners to be proactive and                                                               
to  prosecute  underage kids  who  try  to  get into  an  alcohol                                                               
establishment by using  fake identification (ID).   Many bars and                                                               
package stores have  used this program effectively,  and the word                                                               
is getting out to the kids.                                                                                                     
Number 0155                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER  relayed  that   this  program  allows  the                                                               
alcohol licensee to  offer cash incentives to  employees who turn                                                               
in those trying to  use a fake ID.  Usually  [owners] are able to                                                               
take the kids  to civil court and  be awarded up to  $1,000.  The                                                               
programs at Chilkoot Charlie's and  the Brown Jug split the money                                                               
with the  employee, thus giving  an incentive for an  employee to                                                               
look for fake IDs.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER explained  that this  program is  optional.                                                               
The only requirement  is that [the owner] put a  sign on the door                                                               
that says a person  must be 21 years of age to  enter.  Many bars                                                               
in Anchorage have  been using the program for  several years; the                                                               
program was  started by ordinance,  at the request of  the liquor                                                               
industry, because kids  were being caught with fake  IDs and were                                                               
not being  prosecuted.   The alcohol industry  wanted to  be more                                                               
proactive keeping underage kids out  of their establishments.  He                                                               
said this would hopefully deter underage drinking.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER pointed  out in the committee  file a letter                                                               
from the  Brown Jug,  which uses  the program,  and one  from the                                                               
Anchorage  Restaurant and  Beverage Association  (ARBA); he  said                                                               
ARBA quoted  Mike Gordon  from Chilkoot  Charlie's, who  has also                                                               
used the  program effectively.  There  is no fiscal note  for the                                                               
bill, he informed members.                                                                                                      
CHAIR  MURKOWSKI surmised  that  if [an  owner]  brings a  small-                                                               
claims action against an individual,  it would go quickly through                                                               
the system.  [There was  affirmative confirmation on the record.]                                                               
She read from  the bill that the court shall  award civil damages                                                               
in the amount  of $1,000 and reasonable attorney's  fees.  Noting                                                               
that it  doesn't provide  for costs, however,  she asked  if this                                                               
was an  omission, because typically  one would recover  [from the                                                               
defendant]  the  costs of  the  filing  fee,  which is  $35,  and                                                               
[service  of process].   She  asked  if the  sponsor intended  to                                                               
cover it [in the bill].                                                                                                         
Number 0399                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER  deferred the  question to [O.C.  Madden] at                                                               
the Brown Jug.   He also offered his belief that  the half of the                                                               
$1,000 which the house  keeps is used to pay for  the cost of the                                                               
[legal] action.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR MURKOWSKI  asked whether  an underage  person who  enters a                                                               
liquor establishment  to use  the phone because  of a  flat tire,                                                               
for example, would be prosecuted.                                                                                               
Number 0470                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER answered that  [the person wouldn't] because                                                               
the  person isn't  trying to  get into  the establishment  with a                                                               
fake ID  and under a  false pretense.   He said he  thought there                                                               
was some flexibility there with the various establishments.                                                                     
Number 0526                                                                                                                     
MIKE   GORDON,   Owner,   Chilkoot   Charlie's,   testified   via                                                               
teleconference.   He  explained how  he uses  the program  at his                                                               
establishment  by enforcing  the  law  as it  is  written in  the                                                               
Municipality [of Anchorage].   He noted that  funds received from                                                               
this  are distributed  as  follows:   a  third  is  given to  the                                                               
security  people  who  make  the  arrest,  a  third  goes  toward                                                               
collection, and a third goes to the club.                                                                                       
MR. GORDON explained  that he likes the law because  it creates a                                                               
consequence for  the minor; in the  past, there was none.   These                                                               
actions jeopardize  people's jobs and  businesses, and can  go on                                                               
for years  without consequences.   Today, the parent  is notified                                                               
that $1,000 is  owed.  Mr. Gordon  said he would like  to see the                                                               
program go statewide because he believes  it is doing the job and                                                               
that the word gets around.                                                                                                      
Number 0684                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER remarked that  one reason the industry asked                                                               
for this ordinance in Anchorage  was that when [a liquor] license                                                               
comes   up   for  renewal   before   the   governing  body,   the                                                               
establishment  gets  "dinged"  if  an underage  person  has  been                                                               
caught.  This  was an effort to  get the word out to  kids to not                                                               
even try to come into other alcohol places if not of age.                                                                       
MR.  GORDON responded  that [Chilkoot  Charlie's] not  only wants                                                               
kids  to   know  that  they   aren't  likely  to  get   into  the                                                               
establishment -  no matter what type  of false ID is  presented -                                                               
but also want them to know  that there are consequences, and that                                                               
[Chilkoot Charlie's]  will pursue  it to the  full extent  of the                                                               
Number 0716                                                                                                                     
MR. GORDON, responding to the  question of the number of underage                                                               
kids prosecuted  by his establishments,  said he didn't  have the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER remarked that he  had spoken to Doug Griffin                                                               
at  the  Alcoholic Beverage  Control  (ABC)  Board, who  said  95                                                               
percent  of fake  IDs  turned over  to the  ABC  Board come  from                                                               
either Chilkoot Charlie's or the Brown Jug.                                                                                     
MR.  GORDON  said [Chilkoot  Charlie's]  prosecutes  all of  them                                                               
unless  there are  extenuating circumstances;  he estimated  that                                                               
his business [does a citizen's arrest]  four to six times a week.                                                               
He  said the  program gives  [staff]  an incentive  for being  on                                                               
their toes.   In response to a question about  whom the action is                                                               
taken against when a kid is under  18 years of age, he said it is                                                               
filed against  the [minor].   As for  whether the  permanent fund                                                               
[dividend]  is garnished  if  the  minor isn't  able  to pay,  he                                                               
answered affirmatively.                                                                                                         
MR. GORDON,  in response to  a question by Chair  Murkowski, said                                                               
if an underage person comes in  because of a flat tire, [Chilkoot                                                               
Charlie's] has  doormen in  the entryway at  all times  who would                                                               
accommodate that  person; the  minor wouldn't  need to  come into                                                               
the club.   He then emphasized that  [Chilkoot Charlie's] doesn't                                                               
try  to entrap  anyone; there  are big  signs posted,  and minors                                                               
know what they are doing when coming in.                                                                                        
CHAIR MURKOWSKI  brought attention to  language in the  bill that                                                               
refers  to  "if"  the  person  enters the  premises.    She  said                                                               
regardless of  whether the  excuse is  a blown  tire, it  is [the                                                               
establishment's] obligation  to ensure that minors  aren't on the                                                               
Number 0955                                                                                                                     
MR. GORDON agreed  and added that 99 percent of  these people are                                                               
caught at  the door.   Sometimes it is  hard to tell  whether [an                                                               
ID]  is  fake;   if  there  is  question   about  age,  [Chilkoot                                                               
Charlie's]  has the  person fill  out an  affidavit and  sign it.                                                               
When a kid is caught and there is  a photo of him or her - a fake                                                               
ID or  photo of  the ID  that was presented  - and  an affidavit,                                                               
[the minor] doesn't have much legal standing at this point.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if fake  IDs are turned over to the                                                               
ABC Board,  and whether  there is follow-up  about the  status of                                                               
criminal charges.                                                                                                               
MR.  GORDON deferred  the  question  to the  director.   He  said                                                               
[Chilkoot  Charlie's]  has  handed  them  over  on  a  number  of                                                               
occasions;  however, he  couldn't say  what the  board does  with                                                               
them.  In response to a  question, he clarified that when a minor                                                               
is on the  premise, a citizen's arrest is made,  a police officer                                                               
is called,  and the  minor is  arrested; then  a civil  action is                                                               
filed against the minor.                                                                                                        
Number 1070                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG referred to  language in the bill stating                                                               
"the damages in the amount of  $1,000" and asked Mr. Gordon if he                                                               
thought this was an appropriate amount.                                                                                         
MR. GORDON  said in his experience,  $1,000 is adequate and  is a                                                               
lot of money  to anybody under 21  years of age.   If raised more                                                               
than that, it would be too punitive.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  remarked that [an establishment]  or its                                                               
employees can be  fined up to $50,000 for serving  someone who is                                                               
MR. GORDON said  that is a good point, but  he didn't think there                                                               
was any sense in making it so high [for minors].                                                                                
Number 1183                                                                                                                     
CHAIR MURKOWSKI  asked Mr. Gordon whether  word is out that  if a                                                               
minor goes  to [Chilkoot  Charlie's], the  minor would  be caught                                                               
and would  have to  pay a $1,000  fine.  She  asked if  there has                                                               
been a decrease in attempts by minors to get in.                                                                                
MR.  GORDON responded  that  he  is sure  word  is out;  however,                                                               
[minors]  are still  trying to  get  in.   His establishment  has                                                               
actually caught a couple of people more than once.                                                                              
CHAIR MURKOWSKI  suggested that if it  were enforced consistently                                                               
in all establishments, minors would really pay attention.                                                                       
MR. GORDON replied  that if more people pursued it  to the degree                                                               
that  [Chilkoot Charlie's]  and the  Brown  Jug do,  it would  be                                                               
helpful in getting the word out.   He suggested that these minors                                                               
look for places that are easier to enter.                                                                                       
CHAIR MURKOWSKI  asked whether  Mr. Gordon  has someone  on staff                                                               
who actually deals with these  small claims, follow-throughs, and                                                               
MR. GORDON  answered that a  local attorney  did for a  couple of                                                               
years.   That attorney  did wonderfully the  first year,  but did                                                               
nothing the  next year; his  partner's wife ultimately  took that                                                               
over and continues to do so now.                                                                                                
Number 1340                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  MURKOWSKI  remarked  that  she would  like  to  think  the                                                               
legislature makes it as easy  as possible to pursue the complaint                                                               
through to  judgment so  [the establishment]  can execute  on the                                                               
permanent  dividend fund.    She didn't  want  businesses to  not                                                               
pursue this as  an option due to the expense  associated with the                                                               
judgment.   Therefore,  she expressed  the  need for  this to  be                                                               
something that a nonattorney could perform.                                                                                     
MR. GORDON  affirmed that  this is  something that  a nonattorney                                                               
could  perform.   He added  that it  is working  quite well.   He                                                               
offered  to keep  the  committee informed  of  his progress  with                                                               
CHAIR MURKOWSKI mentioned that she  was interested in whether the                                                               
Brown Jug pursues  the collection costs as well,  because that is                                                               
not included  in the  language of  the bill.   However,  she felt                                                               
that  the  establishment  should  be entitled  to  civil  damages                                                               
amounts  as well  as the  recovery  of costs  and any  reasonable                                                               
attorney's fees.                                                                                                                
MR. GORDON agreed and pointed  out that currently he is absorbing                                                               
that cost.                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  HALCRO  asked  whether   Mr.  Gordon  shares  the                                                               
confiscated  IDs  or  other  information  that  he  collects  and                                                               
whether  there   any  correspondence   between  ARBA   and  CHARR                                                               
regarding keeping  a file  on these minors  who attempt  to enter                                                               
MR. GORDON  replied no and remarked  that administering something                                                               
like that would be quite a  job.  The only cooperative measure he                                                               
is aware of is in regard to  "bad checks."  Mr. Gordon added that                                                               
he wasn't  sure how  practical setting  up such  a correspondence                                                               
would be.                                                                                                                       
Number 1515                                                                                                                     
O.C.  MADDEN, Personnel  Loss &  Prevention  Manager, Brown  Jug,                                                               
Inc., testified  via teleconference.   He informed  the committee                                                               
that [the Brown  Jug] was part of the group  that helped get this                                                               
passed in  1998.   He noted  the Brown  Jug's success  with this:                                                               
since  July 1998  the Brown  Jug has  confiscated almost  500 IDs                                                               
from minors.   He  echoed Mr. Gordon's  testimony that  the great                                                               
thing about this  is there is now a consequence  for this action.                                                               
He likened the  process to zero-cost law  enforcement because the                                                               
state and  the municipality don't  have to spend  any prosecution                                                               
dollars.   The only person  who bears  any cost is  the offender.                                                               
Furthermore, one  great result of this  law is that kids  have to                                                               
tell their parents.                                                                                                             
MR.  MADDEN  explained that  the  clerk  would  seize an  ID  and                                                               
complete  a   detailed  form  describing  the   event,  including                                                               
witnesses.   The original ID and  detailed form are given  to the                                                               
ABC  Board, and  Mr. Madden  retains a  copy.   Then a  certified                                                               
letter is  sent to the  last known address  of the person,  if it                                                               
can be  determined who  the individual is.   Often,  these minors                                                               
are using fake names.  If  the individual is identified, then the                                                               
individual receives  a certified letter demanding  payment within                                                               
15 days.   After the  15 days  has passed, the  establishment can                                                               
file   a   small-claims  action.      In   further  response   to                                                               
Representative  Murkowski, Mr.  Madden  said the  Brown Jug  does                                                               
this in-house.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR MURKOWSKI asked  whether Mr. Madden is able  to recover the                                                               
MR.  MADDEN  recalled  that the  ordinance  in  Anchorage  allows                                                               
establishments  to recover  reasonable  attorney's  fees and  any                                                               
court  costs, in  addition  to  the $1,000.    In  response to  a                                                               
question by Representative Meyer, he  agreed that [the Brown Jug]                                                               
reviews each  case and does not  always go for the  $1,000.  [The                                                               
Brown Jug] seizes IDs from all  minors, and if the belief is that                                                               
the  minor  wasn't there  to  purchase  alcohol, then  a  reduced                                                               
amount is sought.                                                                                                               
Number 1768                                                                                                                     
CINDY  CASHEN, Mothers  Against Drunk  Drivers (MADD),  noted her                                                               
support of HB 214.                                                                                                              
KACE McDOWELL,  Cabaret Hotel  Restaurant &  Retailer Association                                                               
(CHARR), noted CHARR's support of HB 214.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  asked Mr.  Madden whether, if  [a minor]                                                               
comes into his store to buy a Coke, that individual is carded.                                                                  
MR. MADDEN replied  yes.  He pointed out that  an individual must                                                               
be 21 years of age to enter the premises [of the Brown Jug].                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD  asked  what  would occur  if  a  person                                                               
entered the premises in order to use the telephone.                                                                             
MR. MADDEN noted  that there have been cases in  which [the Brown                                                               
Jug] has not  pursued action.  If it is  felt that the individual                                                               
is  not attempting  to purchase  alcohol, then  a reduced  amount                                                               
would be sought to cover costs.   Mr. Madden specified that it is                                                               
a class A  misdemeanor for a minor to enter  the premises without                                                               
a parent, adult, spouse, or court-appointed legal guardian.                                                                     
Number 1829                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   ROKEBERG   moved   that  the   committee   adopt                                                               
conceptual Amendment 1,  to add language on page 1,  line 9, that                                                               
would  allow the  recovery of  costs associated  with filing  the                                                               
collection.   There  being no  objection, conceptual  Amendment 1                                                               
was adopted.                                                                                                                    
[A motion to  move the amended bill from committee  was made, but                                                               
was withdrawn in order to take up another amendment.]                                                                           
Number 1937                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   CRAWFORD   moved   that  the   committee   adopt                                                               
conceptual Amendment 2,  to insert language that in  order for [a                                                               
civil action to  be pursued], there must have been  an attempt to                                                               
purchase alcohol.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG objected.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD related  his belief  that [an  underage]                                                               
person who enters the premises  to use the telephone shouldn't be                                                               
charged.  He indicated there could be an emergency.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG  pointed out  that strict  limitations in                                                               
Alaska's liquor  laws require the establishment  to delineate the                                                               
floor plan  of the licensed  premise.   Representative Crawford's                                                               
amendment would destroy  Alaska's liquor law system.   He related                                                               
his  belief  that good  judgment  should  prevail [in  situations                                                               
described by Representative Crawford].                                                                                          
CHAIR MURKOWSKI emphasized  that this is an  option available for                                                               
the licensee to pursue this action.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO  mentioned that this  is why some  of these                                                               
stores have large  signs posted that say people under  21 are not                                                               
permitted  entrance without  an adult  or a  legal guardian.   He                                                               
directed attention  to page 1, line  5, of the bill,  which says,                                                               
"A licensee may bring a civil action".                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  withdrew his motion to  adopt conceptual                                                               
Amendment 2.                                                                                                                    
Number 2064                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG moved  to report HB 214,  as amended, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying zero  fiscal note.   There being no  objection, CSHB
214(L&C) was reported from the  House Labor and Commerce Standing                                                               

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