Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 17

02/15/2006 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE


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03:32:48 PM Start
03:33:40 PM Confirmation Hearing(s) || Commissioner, Department of Commerce, Community, & Economic Development || Alcoholic Beverage Control Board
03:59:02 PM HB338
04:09:17 PM HB402
04:22:54 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Confirmation Hearings: Commissioner, TELECONFERENCED
Dept. of Commerce, Community and
Economic Development; Boards and
Commissions: Alcoholic Beverage Control
Board; State Board of Registration for
Architects, Engineers, & Land Surveyors;
Occupational Safety and Health Review
Board; Board of Veterinary Examiners
+= HB 338 CERTIF. OF FITNESS FOR EXPLOSIVE HANDLERS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 338(L&C) Out of Committee
*+ HB 402 MARRIAGE BROKERS AND ADVERTISERS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HB 402-MARRIAGE BROKERS AND ADVERTISERS                                                                                       
[Contains brief mention of HB 148]                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON announced  that the final order  of business would                                                               
be HOUSE BILL  NO. 402, "An Act relating to  marriage brokers and                                                               
advertisers and to dating and social referral services."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:09:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BETH KERTTULA,  Alaska State Legislature, sponsor,                                                               
began by  stating that  HB 402  deals with  the growing  trade of                                                               
[International Marriage  Brokers (IMB)], which is  often referred                                                               
to  as "bride  trafficking."   This bill  is intended  to provide                                                               
foreign  brides with  information regarding  the marital  history                                                               
and criminal  history of the client.   In addition, the  IMB must                                                               
provide  information  explaining   the  laws  regarding  domestic                                                               
violence and  where victims  can obtain  assistance.   There are,                                                               
she  said, between  8,000  and  16,000 marriages  per  year as  a                                                               
result of  IMB's.  A  study has shown  that the rate  of domestic                                                               
violence in these marriages is close to 77 percent.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA  went on  to  say  that her  office  has                                                               
worked with a  woman in this situation, in  addition to receiving                                                               
anonymous  phone calls  from women  in similar  situations.   She                                                               
said  that a  growing number  of states  have passed  legislation                                                               
dealing  with these  issues, in  addition to  a new  National Act                                                               
which, when in effect, would  not prohibit the states from taking                                                               
action.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:11:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN opined  that  this is  a  type of  "informed                                                               
consent."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  agreed and  added that  currently, women                                                               
from foreign countries, who oftentimes  do not speak English, are                                                               
given minimal information.  These  women may be taken to isolated                                                               
areas  where  they  do  not  have any  other  contacts  prior  to                                                               
realizing that the relationship [is abusive].                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG,  referring to  page 3,  line 22,  of the                                                               
bill, asked if  online dating websites, such  as Match.com, would                                                               
be considered a "marriage broker  or advertiser."  He opined that                                                               
the wording may be too broad.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON opined that there  is a "big difference" between a                                                               
marriage broker and an online dating service.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA  replied  that  HB 402  is  intended  to                                                               
effect women from  outside of the US, adding that  she would look                                                               
into this further.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:15:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SARALYN TABACHNICK,  Executive Director, Aiding Women  in Abuse &                                                               
Rape  Emergencies,   Inc.  (AWARE,   Inc.),  read   from  written                                                               
testimony as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     I'm  Saralyn Tabachnik,  Executive  Director of  AWARE,                                                                    
     Aiding  Women  in Abuse  &  Rape  Emergencies, here  in                                                                    
     Juneau.   I'm here  to speak in  support of  House Bill                                                                    
     402, which serves to protect  the safety and well being                                                                    
     of  foreign brides,  to prevent  abusive U.S.  citizens                                                                    
     from    enticing    foreign    women    into    abusive                                                                    
     relationships,  and  ultimately  to  promote  safe  and                                                                    
     healthy marriages.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     In  the past  year,  AWARE staff  has worked  intensely                                                                    
     with two women who came  to [Juneau, Alaska] as foreign                                                                    
     brides,  and within  a couple  years, both  experienced                                                                    
     domestic  violence from  their husbands.   These  women                                                                    
     are   extremely   vulnerable,  have   limited   English                                                                    
     language  skills, are  without other  resources in  the                                                                    
     United  States,  and  are unfamiliar  with  the  United                                                                    
     States  legal system.   These  are  complex issues  for                                                                    
     battered immigrant  women who fear for  their and their                                                                    
     children's safety and  immigration status, particularly                                                                    
     when their only source  of information is their abusive                                                                    
     husband.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Under this bill, foreign brides  will receive, in their                                                                    
     native   language,  the   marital   history  of   their                                                                    
     potential  spouse, a  criminal history  check including                                                                    
     incidents  of  civil  protection  orders,  explanations                                                                    
     regarding  marriage   based  immigration   status,  and                                                                    
     information  about  domestic violence  and  appropriate                                                                    
     interventions including crisis interventions.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     I don't have  enough information to say  whether or not                                                                    
     the women  served by AWARE  could have  avoided violent                                                                    
     relationships  were this  bill in  place, however  they                                                                    
     certainly  would  have  been  aware  of  the  resources                                                                    
     available  to  them  sooner.    And  providing  foreign                                                                    
     brides  with information  they  need  and deserve,  and                                                                    
     holding  International Marriage  Brokers to  a standard                                                                    
     of safety  and accountability, are  critical components                                                                    
     for safety.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Within the Unites States,  the federal Violence Against                                                                    
     Women  Act  of  2005 addresses  International  Marriage                                                                    
     Brokers  and   concerns  for   safety  and   access  to                                                                    
     information for foreign brides.   I am hopeful that the                                                                    
     Alaska Legislature  will pass similar  legislation this                                                                    
     session.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Thank you very much.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN said that he strongly supports the concept                                                                  
behind the bill.  He asked when the information would be                                                                        
provided to the potential bride.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. TABACHNICK  expressed her understanding that  the information                                                               
would be provided prior to coming to the United States.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN asked if there  would be proof of receipt for                                                               
this information.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  replied that "Return  Receipt Requested"                                                               
may  be added,  although the  bill states  that this  information                                                               
"must"  be  provided,  therefore  a return  receipt  may  not  be                                                               
necessary.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ANDERSON moved  to adopt  CSHB  402, Version  24-LS1432\G,                                                               
Mischel,  2/7/06,  for  discussion  purposes.    There  being  no                                                               
objection, Version G was before the committee.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ANDERSON,  referring to page 3,  line 30, which adds  a new                                                               
paragraph, inquired as to the intent of this section.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HANNAH MCCARTY,  Staff to Representative   Beth  Kerttula, Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature, noted  that  the  aforementioned section  was                                                               
added at  the recommendation of David  Brower, Assistant Attorney                                                               
General.     She  explained  that  this   section  adds  marriage                                                               
brokering, advertising,  dating, and social referral  services to                                                               
the list of  positions under which background  information may be                                                               
obtained.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA recalling  an  earlier question,  agreed                                                               
that the language  of the bill should be more  specific in regard                                                               
to who is required to  give background information.  In addition,                                                               
she said, the  bill is presently under the  statutes which govern                                                               
occupational licensing.   She  opined that  this language  may be                                                               
more appropriate  in the domestic violence  statutes, adding that                                                               
Mr. Brower also suggested this.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA, in  response to  comments, agreed  that                                                               
the definition of "marriage broker  or advertiser" should include                                                               
the  phrase "outside  of the  United States."   In  addition, she                                                               
said, this should be changed in Section 1.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
[HB 402 was held over.]                                                                                                         

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