Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106

03/19/2005 09:30 AM STATE AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 114 TERM. PARENTAL RTS/CINA/DELINQUENCY CASES TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled But Not Heard
<Rescheduled from 3/15/05>
*+ HB 152 STATE INFO SYSTEM PLAN: LEGISLATURE TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
<Rescheduled from 3/15/05>
+ SB 87 SEAT BELT VIOLATION AS PRIMARY OFFENSE TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ HB 186 PERMANENT FUND: QUARTERLY PAYMENTS TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
<Rescheduled from 3/17/05>
* HB 23 CONSTRUCTION OF LEGISLATIVE HALL
<Bill Hearing Postponed>
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
             HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                         March 19, 2005                                                                                         
                           9:34 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Paul Seaton, Chair                                                                                               
Representative Carl Gatto, Vice Chair                                                                                           
Representative Jim Elkins                                                                                                       
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Jay Ramras                                                                                                       
Representative Berta Gardner                                                                                                    
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 152                                                                                                              
"An Act amending  the definition of the term  'state agencies' as                                                               
it presently applies to the  provisions of law that establish the                                                               
Telecommunications Information  Council and  as it  applies under                                                               
Executive Order No.  113; relating to information  systems in the                                                               
legislative  branch  and  to the  Telecommunications  Information                                                               
Council; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 152 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 186                                                                                                              
"An  Act  relating to  quarterly  payments  of a  permanent  fund                                                               
dividend, and  to a permanent  fund dividend and  eligibility for                                                               
public assistance; and providing for an effective date."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 186 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 87                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to motor vehicle safety belt violations."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 114                                                                                                              
"An  Act relating  to the  retaining of  certain privileges  of a                                                               
parent in a relinquishment and  termination of a parent and child                                                               
relationship  proceeding; relating  to eligibility  for permanent                                                               
fund dividends for certain children in the custody of the state;                                                                
relating to child in need of aid proceedings and juvenile                                                                       
delinquency proceedings; and providing for an effective date."                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 23                                                                                                               
"An Act relating to construction of a legislative hall."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     - BILL HEARING POSTPONED                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 152                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: STATE INFO SYSTEM PLAN: LEGISLATURE                                                                                
SPONSOR(s): STATE AFFAIRS                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
02/16/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/16/05       (H)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
03/15/05       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
03/15/05       (H)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
03/19/05       (H)       STA AT 9:30 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 186                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: PERMANENT FUND: QUARTERLY PAYMENTS                                                                                 
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) RAMRAS                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
02/28/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/28/05       (H)       STA, HES, FIN                                                                                          
03/17/05       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
03/17/05       (H)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
03/19/05       (H)       STA AT 9:30 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB  87                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: SEAT BELT VIOLATION AS PRIMARY OFFENSE                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) BUNDE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
02/02/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/02/05       (S)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
02/17/05       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
02/17/05       (S)       Moved  SB  87 Out of Committee                                                                         
02/17/05       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/18/05       (S)       STA RPT  2DP 2NR                                                                                       
02/18/05       (S)       NR: THERRIAULT, HUGGINS                                                                                
02/18/05       (S)       DP: ELTON, WAGONER                                                                                     
03/01/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/01/05       (S)       Moved SB  87 Out of Committee                                                                          
03/01/05       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
03/02/05       (S)       JUD RPT 3DP 2NR                                                                                        
03/02/05       (S)       DP: SEEKINS, FRENCH, GUESS                                                                             
03/02/05       (S)       NR: THERRIAULT, HUGGINS                                                                                
03/03/05       (S)       TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                                                                     
03/03/05       (S)       VERSION: SB  87                                                                                        
03/04/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/04/05       (H)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
03/19/05       (H)       STA AT 9:30 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
PAUL DICK, Chief                                                                                                                
PFD Operations                                                                                                                  
Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) Division                                                                                          
Department of Revenue                                                                                                           
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions regarding HB 186.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
LAUREN WICKERSHAM, Staff                                                                                                        
to Senator Con Bunde                                                                                                            
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented SB  87 on behalf of Senator Bunde,                                                               
sponsor.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT TODD SHARP                                                                                                           
Alaska State Troopers                                                                                                           
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified on behalf of  "law enforcement in                                                               
the state of Alaska" in support of SB 86.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
JOHN COOPER                                                                                                                     
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified on  behalf of himself  during the                                                               
hearing on  SB 87; related  a story of his  own son's death  in a                                                               
vehicle accident  and said the  legislature has an  obligation to                                                               
the people of the state of Alaska to set standards of conduct.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
JO-ANNE COTTLE                                                                                                                  
National   Active   and   Retired   Federal   Employees   (NARFE)                                                               
Association;                                                                                                                    
AARP Capital City Task Force                                                                                                    
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified on  behalf of AARP in  support of                                                               
SB 87.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DON SMITH, Administrator                                                                                                        
Highway Safety Office                                                                                                           
Division of Program Development                                                                                                 
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities                                                                                
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Offered  details  for  various  committee                                                               
packet  handouts  during  the  hearing  on  SB  87,  particularly                                                               
pertaining  to a  survey conducted  to record  the behaviors  and                                                               
perceptions surrounding seatbelts; answered committee questions.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
JAMES GARHART                                                                                                                   
aka "Lazy Mountain Jim"                                                                                                         
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified on  behalf of himself  during the                                                               
hearing on SB 87.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CINDY CASHEN                                                                                                                    
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified on behalf of the  council that SB
87 would save lives and money.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DARWIN BIWER, President                                                                                                         
Cabaret Hotel Restaurant & Retailers Association (CHARR)                                                                        
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified on behalf of  CHARR in opposition                                                               
to SB 87.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
KEVIN QUINLAN, Chief of Safety Advocacy                                                                                         
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)                                                                                     
(No address provided)                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:   On behalf  of NTSB, asked the  committee to                                                               
give a favorable report to SB 87.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
DEBORAH CHOROMANSKI HULL-JILLY, Acting Chief                                                                                    
Community Health & Emergency Medical Services                                                                                   
Division  of  Public  Health,  Department   of  Health  &  Social                                                               
Services (DHSS)                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified  on behalf  of the  department in                                                               
support of SB 87.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  PAUL  SEATON  called  the  House  State  Affairs  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 9:34:42  AM.  Present at  the call                                                             
to  order  were  Representatives  Gatto,  Elkins,  Lynn,  Ramras,                                                               
Gardner,  and Seaton.   Representative  Gruenberg arrived  as the                                                               
meeting was in progress.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HB 152-STATE INFO SYSTEM PLAN: LEGISLATURE                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:35:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON announced  that  the first  order  of business  was                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  152, "An Act amending the definition  of the term                                                               
'state agencies'  as it  presently applies  to the  provisions of                                                               
law  that establish  the  Telecommunications Information  Council                                                               
and  as it  applies under  Executive Order  No. 113;  relating to                                                               
information  systems  in  the  legislative   branch  and  to  the                                                               
Telecommunications  Information  Council;  and providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  handed the gavel  to Representative Gatto  while he                                                               
presented HB  152 on behalf  of the House State  Affairs Standing                                                               
Committee, sponsor.   He indicated that Executive  Order (EO) 113                                                               
moved   the  telecommunications   information   council  to   the                                                               
Department of Administration.  He  said the definition within [EO                                                               
113]  included  the legislature,  which  was  an oversight.    He                                                               
explained  that the  legislature had  the choice  at the  time of                                                               
either not  approving EO 113  or approving it and  correcting the                                                               
error with a  future bill.  The  proposed HB 152 is  such a bill.                                                               
He specified  that HB  152 would only  correct the  oversight; it                                                               
would  not  exempt  the  railroad, the  permanent  fund,  or  the                                                               
[Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC)].                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON took back the gavel and opened public testimony.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:37:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER asked  if Chair Seaton knew  of anyone who                                                               
objected to this bill.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON replied that he had not heard objections.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:38:16 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS  moved to  report HB  152 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.  There being no objection,  HB 152 was reported out of the                                                               
House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HB 186-PERMANENT FUND: QUARTERLY PAYMENTS                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:39:16 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON announced that the  next order of business was HOUSE                                                               
BILL  NO.  186, "An  Act  relating  to  quarterly payments  of  a                                                               
permanent fund  dividend, and  to a  permanent fund  dividend and                                                               
eligibility  for   public  assistance;   and  providing   for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:39:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS, as sponsor of HB 186, introduced the                                                                     
bill.  He explained:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     [The  intent of  the bill  is to]  try and  broaden the                                                                    
     dynamic  nature of  the permanent  fund dividend  [PFD]                                                                    
     benefit that  all Alaskans enjoy.   The concern  I have                                                                    
     behind  creating a  quarterly payment  program for  the                                                                    
     [PFD]  is  that  in  my own  personal  experience  with                                                                    
     people that  I work  with and people  that I  know, the                                                                    
     sign-up period for the [PFD]  ends March 31, and we all                                                                    
     are  paid  by  direct  deposit  or  by  check  sometime                                                                    
     generally in the month of October.   There are a lot of                                                                    
     retail  inducements  in  the fall  season,  during  the                                                                    
     permanent   fund  season,   that  some   of  us   can't                                                                    
     withstand,  and  I  have  many  friends  by  their  own                                                                    
     volition that will share with  me that they're not good                                                                    
     money managers  and that, given the  opportunity to use                                                                    
     a $1,000  [PFD] check,  they will find  themselves with                                                                    
     $19,000 in  new term  debt within  a week  of receiving                                                                    
     their [PFD].                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     A quarterly payment program for  the [PFD], which would                                                                    
     pay out in October one  quarter ... and another quarter                                                                    
     in  January,  another  quarter in  April,  and  another                                                                    
     quarter  in July,  would be  available  only for  folks                                                                    
     that opt for a direct  deposit payment.  There would be                                                                    
     language   that  would   discourage   anybody  who   is                                                                    
     receiving public  assistance, because ...  the dividend                                                                    
     program  offers  one  annual   exemption  which  is  in                                                                    
     October.   Anybody who  is receiving  public assistance                                                                    
     would be  ill advised to  take this program  because it                                                                    
     might affect  their public assistance the  other three-                                                                    
     quarters. ...  Permanent fund  folks have  an objective                                                                    
     of trying  to get everybody  on direct deposit  so this                                                                    
     dovetails nicely  into their  program.  Our  office has                                                                    
     worked  with  the [PFD]  board  and  the Department  of                                                                    
     Revenue in  trying to tailor  this program.   We've had                                                                    
     correspondence with them for some  weeks, so even if we                                                                    
     don't  agree  on  all  points,  we  have  been  working                                                                    
     closely with the [PFD] board.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:42:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS continued:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     The  notion  is  that  for   some  single  wage  earner                                                                    
     households or  some dual wage earner  households ... it                                                                    
     might  be useful  and affective  for people  to receive                                                                    
     partial payments  in January to cover  home heating oil                                                                    
     expenses;  April  -  spring  projects;  July  -  summer                                                                    
     vacations.    That  might  create  an  opportunity  for                                                                    
     people  to see  their [PFD]  other than  ... an  annual                                                                    
     dividend  and/or   a  mechanism   for  saving   in  the                                                                    
     university credits.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS  noted  that   the  Anchorage  Daily  News                                                             
carried an  editorial stating that  it was  not in favor  of this                                                               
proposal, and that  it wasn't the obligation of the  PFD board to                                                               
get  involved in  household budgeting.   He  responded, "I  would                                                               
question that  because folks that  I know that  have participated                                                               
in the  university's education credit  program have  found that's                                                               
been a  very useful instrument in  being able to set  aside money                                                               
for  their  kids' education."    He  said  that his  proposal  is                                                               
similar  in  that  it  would  allow people  to  space  out  their                                                               
dividend.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:43:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS reminded committee  members that if nothing                                                               
is  changed  in  the  PFD  program,  there  will  be  significant                                                               
dividend growth  in the  future.   He noted  that the  bill would                                                               
require the  permanent fund  division to  make $150,000  worth of                                                               
changes  to  the computer  system.    The  final fiscal  note  is                                                               
$300,000,  which he  said would  basically cost  each Alaskan  50                                                               
cents.  He stated:                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Because  the  permanent  fund  is  legislated,  it's  a                                                                    
     specific amount....   People that opted  to participate                                                                    
     in  this  program would  not  accrue  interest in  this                                                                    
     program, meaning that the  state would enjoy collecting                                                                    
     quarterly  dividend  interest....   After  the  initial                                                                    
     setup  ... the  program  would  be self-sustaining;  it                                                                    
     would actually  generate a positive  fiscal note.   And                                                                    
     so,  you'll see  when  you review  the attached  fiscal                                                                    
     notes that  the revenue coming into  the permanent fund                                                                    
     increases in later years....                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:46:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  remarked  that this  was  an  intriguing                                                               
idea,  but she  was puzzled  by  implementation.   She asked  for                                                               
further clarification about the quarterly payments.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS  said an  individual  would  fill out  the                                                               
application in March  and receive the first  quarterly payment in                                                               
October  of  this  year, then  additional  payments  in  January,                                                               
April, and July of the next  year.  The individual would have the                                                               
option of  changing back to  single payments  the next year.   He                                                               
mentioned that  Michael J. Burns,  the Executive Director  of the                                                               
Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, is in favor of the program.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:49:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  commented that the state  would be basically                                                               
holding three-quarters  of the  checks, so  [the state]  would be                                                               
earning the interest.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS said  that's correct.  He noted  that if an                                                               
individual  was to  hold his/her  PFD  check for  a year  without                                                               
cashing or depositing  it, the state would earn  interest on that                                                               
check.   He said the idea  for the quarterly payments  of the PFD                                                               
came from the longevity bonus payments.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:53:15 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS  asked what would  happen if the  PFD check                                                               
amounts went  down.  He  asked, "Is there  some point that  if it                                                               
goes   down  the   quarterly  dividend   payment  would   not  be                                                               
available?"                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  said he doesn't  think so.   He commented,                                                               
"At a certain point it would be  a wash as to whether the program                                                               
was able to be self-sustaining,  but it would be within pennies."                                                               
He  offered an  example to  demonstrate  that the  state will  be                                                               
earning interest on the quarterly payment system.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:56:30 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON noted  that  most lower  income  people don't  have                                                               
quarterly  bills to  pay.   He  asked  why Representative  Ramras                                                               
didn't look  into making  the change  to monthly  payments rather                                                               
than quarterly  payments.   He also asked  if the  permanent fund                                                               
division had indicated that there  would be any difference in the                                                               
fees [for monthly payments].                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  replied, "The  thought process  [was] that                                                               
if  it   was  a  monthly   payment,  then  we  might   invite  an                                                               
ineffectiveness ....   If it's $80 a month, I  don't know whether                                                               
that's  especially  helpful.   I  think  that  it would  make  it                                                               
considerably  more expensive  for the  permanent fund  division."                                                               
He commented  that people's paychecks  also don't  correlate with                                                               
bills either.   He continued, "I think it would  be a misnomer to                                                               
think that this  is designed for lower income families.   I think                                                               
that  this  is designed  for  middle  income  families."   As  an                                                               
example, he described the possibility  that a family would choose                                                               
to  receive  one  of  the   family's  PFD  checks  quarterly  for                                                               
household budgeting.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:59:13 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked if a  garnished PFD check  would have                                                               
to be garnished four times a year,  or if there is some way to do                                                               
it all at once.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS  deferred the  question  to  the chief  of                                                               
permanent fund dividend operations.  He commented:                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     I don't  want folks  who are  on public  assistance who                                                                    
     are very important contributing  members of our society                                                                    
     ...  to discourage  a program  that is  really tailored                                                                    
     toward lower  ... [to] upper  middle income  folks that                                                                    
     are  collecting these  [checks]  across the  state.   I                                                                    
     think  that the  notion  is to  steer  clear of  sticky                                                                    
     pickets ... and  to allow people to  participate in the                                                                    
     [PFD] fund in a little bit more of a dynamic fashion.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:01:05 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO remarked:                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     I think the current  [public assistance] system is that                                                                    
     because  the person  of public  assistance gets  $1,000                                                                    
     [PFD check] all  at one time, that for  that month they                                                                    
     don't qualify.   And so we have  this forgiveness built                                                                    
     into the  program that reimburses  them for  the amount                                                                    
     they  would lose.   However,  you're  only entitled  to                                                                    
     that  once a  year.   If they  take quarterly  payments                                                                    
     then won't they get stung  for payments two, three, and                                                                    
     four,  because  they  don't  have  a  forgiveness  that                                                                    
     they're eligible for anymore?                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS   replied  that   this  is   correct,  and                                                               
therefore  he reiterated  that  there would  be  language on  the                                                               
application  that would  discourage anybody  who receives  public                                                               
assistance  from participating  in this  program.   He reiterated                                                               
that this program  is designed for middle-income  people, not for                                                               
people on public assistance or lower income people.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:03:20 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER noted  Representative Ramras'  estimation                                                               
that  the  cost  of  setting  up  this  program  would  be  about                                                               
$300,000, which he had stated would  equal 50 cents per person in                                                               
the state.   However, she pointed  out that if only  1 percent of                                                               
the applicants  participate, that  cost to participants  would be                                                               
$50 per person.  Additionally, she noted:                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     And yet, if it's a  $1,000 dividend, the dividend would                                                                    
     earn something  less than the unclaimed  funds that are                                                                    
     sitting there for these 6,000  people, [and] would earn                                                                    
     something  less  than  $20   apiece  at  [the]  current                                                                    
     interest  rate, so  basically the  rest of  the program                                                                    
     and all  the rest  of the  recipients would  be bearing                                                                    
     more than  half of the cost  for a very few  people who                                                                    
     might participate.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS  replied  that  if  this  was  a  one-time                                                               
program, this assessment would be  correct.  However, he said, in                                                               
the years 2007-2011, "the change  in revenue actually exceeds the                                                               
operating expense; this program  actually makes money through the                                                               
general  fund,  and  we  actually  over  time  would  recoup  the                                                               
$300,000 in set up costs."                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:04:50 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  asked how  many applicants would  have to                                                               
participate for this to work.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS responded  that  he didn't  know what  the                                                               
assumptions were in  the completion of the fiscal note.   He said                                                               
that  each participating  individual's unpaid  quarterly portions                                                               
would  generate  for the  state  about  $15  in interest  in  the                                                               
general fund, while  the cost of administering  the program would                                                               
cost about  $3 per person.   He remarked that  representatives of                                                               
the  Alaska  Permanent  Fund  Corporation   have  been  asked  by                                                               
residents if the  PFD checks could be left in  the permanent fund                                                               
and have the money invested like a mutual fund.  He continued:                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     The other benefit that may  be derived here in the Bush                                                                    
     and  some  of  the   more  vulnerable  members  of  our                                                                    
     community  is:  oftentimes  the permanent  fund  payout                                                                    
     results  in some  degree of  substance abuse  and money                                                                    
     that  is spent  less wisely.   And  it's not  the state                                                                    
     telling people  what to  do, but  it is  giving people,                                                                    
     ...  who  may recognize  that  they  don't spend  money                                                                    
     wisely  when   they  get  it   in  a  lump   sum,  [the                                                                    
     opportunity]  to participate  in a  program that  would                                                                    
     stretch it out over time.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:07:26 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked, "When does the  person receiving                                                               
the money become  legally entitled to it? ... If  there are going                                                               
to be quarterly payments, is  the person legally entitled to that                                                               
money  at the  time  of  the first  payment,  or  not until  he's                                                               
received each quarterly payment?"                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  responded that he  thought it would  be no                                                               
different than a contract, where  the recipient has agreed to the                                                               
terms of the contractual agreement.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON  attempted  to clarify  Representative  Gruenberg's                                                               
question; he  explained that  there are  tax consequences  if the                                                               
recipient takes the money in one year versus the next year.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:09:11 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  pointed out  that his question  was not                                                               
about  tax  consequences.    He   asked  who  would  receive  the                                                               
subsequent  payments  if a  person  died  before the  last  three                                                               
quarters of the payment were made.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON requested  that technical questions such  as this be                                                               
posed to the representatives from the permanent fund.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:10:30 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER commented:                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     [Representative  Ramras was]  talking about  the people                                                                    
     who don't manage  money who are lower  income who might                                                                    
     use  it on  drugs or  whatever,  or people  who are  on                                                                    
     public assistance.   ... When I first  heard about this                                                                    
     bill, I thought, "Well, that's  really great for people                                                                    
     who  have a  hard time  managing money  to get  this in                                                                    
     little bits."  ... But  it looks like  the way  this is                                                                    
     worded and  the way the  bill is focused, it's  not for                                                                    
     those people.   It's  for people  who still  would have                                                                    
     access to all their vices  based on their own income if                                                                    
     that's what they  chose to do.  So, ...  it seems to me                                                                    
     that the target population is  not the people who would                                                                    
     really benefit from having the  amounts of money spread                                                                    
     out over a long period of time.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:11:24 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS responded  that he  thinks the  people who                                                               
would  benefit  from  the program  are  those  that  "voluntarily                                                               
choose  to check  the box  and  would enjoy  receiving their  ...                                                               
dividend on a  quarterly basis."  He noted that  those people may                                                               
be in  any income range.   He gave  examples of other  people who                                                               
might wish to participate in this program.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:13:39 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON remarked  that he  thinks Representative  Gardner's                                                               
question  is  well answered  on  a  single  page handout  in  the                                                               
committee packet, which says, "Therefore  an individual or family                                                               
receiving public  assistance should  not apply for  the quarterly                                                               
dividend  payment  since the  quarterly  payments  may make  them                                                               
ineligible for  any public assistance  for three-quarters  of the                                                               
year."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:14:26 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
PAUL DICK,  Chief, PFD Operations, Permanent  Fund Dividend (PFD)                                                               
Division, Department  of Revenue,  reiterated the function  of HB
186.     Mr.   Dick  said   that  the   division  would   foresee                                                               
administering  the program  such that  if a  person's wages  were                                                               
garnished,  the   division  would  not  allow   that  person  the                                                               
quarterly  option.   If a  person's wage  was garnished  part way                                                               
through  the year,  the division  would  process the  garnishment                                                               
records in full  and then the balance would go  to the applicant.                                                               
He noted  that the division has  built into the fiscal  note some                                                               
costs for such scenarios.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:16:22 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON asked  what the  tax consequences  of this  program                                                               
would  be,  and  when  money   is  officially  considered  to  be                                                               
received.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. DICK responded that the  Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can't                                                               
answer  this question  for certain  until  the bill  is in  final                                                               
form, but, he noted, "all indications  seem to point to where the                                                               
bill would be taxable as a  whole in that dividend year, and they                                                               
look at  it as a deferment  of payment.   So you have a  right to                                                               
the dividend  in October and  then you are voluntarily  opting to                                                               
receive that money in quarterly payments thereafter."                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:17:12 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  asked  how   many  PFD  garnishments  there                                                               
currently are statewide.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. DICK  replied that  last year  the division  processed 73,000                                                               
garnishment records for a total of $30 million.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:18:03 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER pointed out  that the fiscal note supposes                                                               
a 5,000-person participation in the  program.  She asked how that                                                               
number was reached.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. DICK  answered that it  was estimated that roughly  1 percent                                                               
would participate.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GARDNER  asked,   "So,   if   only  500   people                                                               
participated, it'd be a pretty expensive program...."                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. DICK replied that the  fiscal note includes staffing costs to                                                               
answer questions from  the participants and from the  public.  He                                                               
also  noted that  there are  some "per  transaction" fees  on the                                                               
direct deposits.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:19:14 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked if the  IRS will take the position                                                               
[that the PFD check is taxable  as a whole in that dividend year,                                                               
even  when  the   check  is  received  quarterly]   even  if  the                                                               
individual is on a cash rather than an accrual basis.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DICK answered  that  he "hadn't  really  explored that  with                                                               
them."  He said,  "I think we were looking at it  as a cash basis                                                               
orientation."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG  remarked,   "That   sounds  like   an                                                               
aggressive position to me.  If  this bill passes, I hope that you                                                               
will do  that, because  otherwise these people  will be  taxed on                                                               
the money even though they haven't received it."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. DICK replied that's correct.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG continued, "As  I understand the current                                                               
situation,  if  you're  eligible  and then  you  go  through  the                                                               
formality of  making the application  between January  and March,                                                               
at that point you are legally  entitled to the money, although it                                                               
may  not  be payable  until  October  of that  year.    Am I  not                                                               
correct?"                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DICK  responded,  "Assuming you're  eligible,  then  payment                                                               
comes in October."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:20:51 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked how  the division would handle the                                                               
remaining payments if  a person died after the  first payment was                                                               
received.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DICK responded  that  he thinks  the  division would  follow                                                               
current procedure, in which the check is issued to the estate.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:22:02 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  asked  if  it   would  be  up  to  the                                                               
recipient to  advise the  division of  a new  address, or  if the                                                               
state would  be liable if  the check was  lost due to  an address                                                               
change.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. DICK  pointed out  that the quarterly  payment would  only be                                                               
allowed for direct deposit checks.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:22:54 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG,  regarding   garnished  checks,  asked                                                               
about intervening creditors.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DICK answered,  "We would  pull  those persons  out of  that                                                               
direct  deposit quarterly  option  stream, wherever  they are  in                                                               
that stream.   If  there's a garnishment  against the  record, we                                                               
would  process  the garnishment  record  in  whole and  take  the                                                               
balance [to send to the applicant]."                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:23:51 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said that normally a  garnishment order                                                               
is  continued until  satisfied  or  terminated.   He  asked if  a                                                               
garnishment order would stay through the whole four quarters.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. DICK  responded, "When  we'd process  the dividend,  we would                                                               
honor that  garnishment in  whole and  it wouldn't  continue on."                                                               
He confirmed  that the creditor  wouldn't have to wait  until the                                                               
following quarters to receive the money.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:25:02 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON  asked  what  kind  of  cost  effects  monthly  PFD                                                               
payments would have on the division.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. DICK  stated concern  regarding a monthly  payment.   He said                                                               
the  division  could  do  it,  but  it  is  already  involved  in                                                               
different processes, which would have  to be interrupted 12 times                                                               
a  year in  order to  go through  a direct  deposit distribution,                                                               
including getting  paperwork out to the  applicants and involving                                                               
an accounting reconciliation process.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:26:10 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  stated his understanding that  once the information                                                               
is in the system, the  system automatically cuts a check, whether                                                               
it  happens monthly  or quarterly.   He  commented that  he would                                                               
like to  see an analysis of  the proposed program.   In comparing                                                               
the proposed  program to  the longevity  bonus, he  remarked that                                                               
people  can count  on monthly  checks, whereas  he isn't  certain                                                               
people "count on things quarterly."                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. DICK said he would do that analysis.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:27:10 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  turned to the division's  annual report and                                                               
pointed out  what he perceived to  be a misprint.   He then asked                                                               
if the  cost of the  program is borne by  the division or  by the                                                               
state.  He offered his  understanding that the interest gained by                                                               
holding the money goes to the state.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DICK  replied  that  the  cost of  the  program  is  through                                                               
appropriation to  the PFD program  in annual appropriation.   The                                                               
interest  on the  remaining quarterly  payments would  go to  the                                                               
general fund.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:29:04 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS turned to page  29 of the division's annual                                                               
report  and  pointed  out  that   about  1  percent  of  the  PFD                                                               
applicants opt  into the  university savings  program.   He asked                                                               
Mr. Dick what the division's perspective is on this program.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. DICK replied  that he thinks it's a positive  program, and he                                                               
hasn't heard any complaints about it.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:30:00 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. DICK, in  response to a question  from Representative Ramras,                                                               
confirmed  that  the  university  savings program  is  an  annual                                                               
optional program.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
10:30:33 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  asked for further clarification  regarding taxes on                                                               
PFD income.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DICK reiterated  that the  full  amount of  the dividend  is                                                               
taxed for that year.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON restated  that  he would  like  the permanent  fund                                                               
division  to  submit  an analysis  of  monthly  versus  quarterly                                                               
payments.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:32:00 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  remarked  that  a  middle-income  person                                                               
would be  better off getting the  whole PFD check in  October and                                                               
using it to buy a 90-day, 120-day, and 180-day bond.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS responded:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Wouldn't  it be  great to  get  your per  diem ...  for                                                                    
     working down here  [in Juneau], all on  January 10, and                                                                    
     then budget  it out?   Or for  that matter to  get your                                                                    
     annual paycheck  and to get  it in one  single payment?                                                                    
     The idea is just to  provide another option, insofar as                                                                    
     we look  at the [PFD].   It  is a very  one dimensional                                                                    
     product right  now, and I  think that it  would behoove                                                                    
     all Alaskans  to look at  it as a more  dynamic vehicle                                                                    
     for  us.   And frankly,  people as  a whole,  ... we're                                                                    
     lazy.  We don't demonstrate good savings habits.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:34:11 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON asked what the monthly  income is for a household of                                                               
four that would fall under the public assistance program.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DICK  answered that  he  is  not  familiar with  the  public                                                               
assistance program.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON asked the sponsor to find that information out.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:35:32 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS  said he  would  be  willing to  have  the                                                               
committee hold the bill so that he could get those answers.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN asked if these  issues could be dealt with in                                                               
the next committee [of referral].                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON replied that would be fine.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:36:09 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  presented  a  scenario in  which  the  PFD                                                               
program was  originally set  up to be  a quarterly  paying system                                                               
and  then it  was proposed  that the  checks be  cut just  once a                                                               
year.   Representative Gatto asked Representative  Ramras, "Would                                                               
you oppose it  based on the fact that there  are some people that                                                               
might waste  this money and buy  things that would cause  them to                                                               
get in deeper  debt?  Or would you support  that this one payment                                                               
year sounds like a pretty good idea?"                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  replied that the  word "waste" is  not the                                                               
word he's  interested in, but  the word  "hopeful" is.   He again                                                               
referred  to the  proposal as  a  household budgeting  tool.   He                                                               
noted that 98 or 99 percent  of Alaskans will continue to receive                                                               
the annual checks.  He stated,  "It simply puts another option on                                                               
the  table  that  doesn't  cost   the  state  anything,  and  the                                                               
participant simply foregoes the  opportunity cost of having saved                                                               
it into a CD, and has lost the interest...."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:37:35 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS  moved to  report HB  186 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There being no  objections, HB  186 was reported  out of                                                               
the House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 10:38:56 AM to 10:49:46 AM.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SB  87-SEAT BELT VIOLATION AS PRIMARY OFFENSE                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:49:57 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON  announced that  the  last  order of  business  was                                                               
SENATE  BILL NO.  87, "An  Act relating  to motor  vehicle safety                                                               
belt violations."                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
10:50:16 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LAUREN  WICKERSHAM,  Staff to  Senator  Con  Bunde, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  presented  SB  87   on  behalf  of  Senator  Bunde,                                                               
sponsor.   She  noted  that  the bill  would  change the  current                                                               
seatbelt law from  secondary to primary status.   She stated that                                                               
a  change in  enforcement powers  would lead  to a  10-15 percent                                                               
increase in  seatbelt use.   That increase  alone would  save six                                                               
lives  in  the  first  year.    Additionally,  Alaskan  residents                                                               
annually  spend millions  of dollars  on  motor vehicle  crashes.                                                               
Because  wearing  a  seatbelt  usually  means  a  crash  is  less                                                               
damaging, the  law would  save a significant  amount of  money in                                                               
that  respect, as  well.   Ms. Wickersham  reported that  in 2002                                                               
Alaska residents spent $820 per  person on motor vehicle crashes.                                                               
She noted that 85 percent of  all costs involved in those crashes                                                               
are paid by society, whether  directly through insurance premiums                                                               
or indirectly through emergency services and medical costs.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:52:04 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. WICKERSHAM  reported that surveys indicate  nationally and in                                                               
Alaska  that  individuals  support  strong seatbelt  laws.    She                                                               
directed  attention  to  a  telephone  survey  in  the  committee                                                               
packet, which was taken of 586  Alaskans.  The survey showed that                                                               
79.6  percent  supported  laws   requiring  seatbelt  use.    Ms.                                                               
Wickersham stated  that Alaska  has one of  the highest  rates of                                                               
injury  and  unintentional death  of  all  50 states,  and  motor                                                               
vehicle crashes are the leading type  of accidents - by twice the                                                               
amount of the  next leading cause.  She concluded  by telling the                                                               
committee members  that Senator Bunde  urges their support  of SB
86.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:53:17 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT TODD SHARP, Alaska State  Troopers, stated that he was                                                               
testifying on behalf of "law  enforcement in the state of Alaska"                                                               
in support of  SB 86.  He said seatbelts  reduce injuries, reduce                                                               
the risk of  death, keep people from being ejected,  and help the                                                               
driver maintain control  of the vehicle.   Lieutenant Sharp urged                                                               
the  committee to  listen  to all  the  testimony being  provided                                                               
during the meeting and to support primary seatbelt laws.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:54:16 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  said the seatbelt restricts  him from being                                                               
able to  fully turn to look  back before changing lanes,  so in a                                                               
sense it interferes with his ability to drive safely.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:54:59 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT SHARP  explained that what  he had meant is  that when                                                               
people are in a situation when  they may be losing control of the                                                               
vehicle, the seatbelt  can help keep the occupants in  place.  He                                                               
added that  when a seatbelt  is worn properly, it's  not supposed                                                               
to inhibit a person's ability to drive.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:56:00 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT  SHARP,  in  response  to  a  follow-up  comment  from                                                               
Representative Gatto, said that the  same seatbelt can work for a                                                               
wide variety  of people, because  many modern vehicles  are being                                                               
designed  with  alternate  seatbelt  adjustments  and  there  are                                                               
adjustments that can be purchased for seatbelts.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:56:19 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked about  school buses and airplanes that                                                               
don't require the use of a  seatbelt.  He asked Lieutenant Sharp,                                                               
"Would you say  there are plenty of instances where  the use of a                                                               
seatbelt is certainly of no benefit?"                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:56:33 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT  SHARP  replied  that  he  would  not  say  there  are                                                               
incidents where a  seatbelt, when worn properly,  does not assist                                                               
a person in a crash.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:57:05 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  commented that  shoulder harnesses  are worn                                                               
in most military-type aircraft and in many light planes.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:57:32 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS   expressed  appreciation   of  Lieutenant                                                               
Sharp's service  to the state  and for the Alaska  State Troopers                                                               
and all public  safety workers.  He said the  same arguments [for                                                               
wearing seatbelts]  could be made  in regard to gun  control, and                                                               
he offered an example.  He  voiced his concern that [the proposed                                                               
legislation] may just  make things harder on people  who are good                                                               
citizens  and would  be  bad  citizens who  are  stopped for  not                                                               
following laws.   He said, "Who can not agree  with all the data?                                                               
We  want  to  save  lives,  we want  people  to  be  happier  and                                                               
healthier, but  they don't want  to wear [seatbelts]."   He asked                                                               
Lieutenant Sharp how he would address that.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:59:33 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT SHARP  reminded Representative  Ramras that  the state                                                               
currently has a  secondary seatbelt law.  The bill  would make it                                                               
a primary one, which would allow  law enforcement to "make a stop                                                               
on somebody  solely because  they were  not wearing  a seatbelt";                                                               
however,  probable  cause  still  would have  to  be  established                                                               
before the officer would try and  make a stop for that particular                                                               
offense.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:00:05 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS  asked,  "Sir,  why  would  you  stop  me?                                                               
Because I'm not wearing it?"                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:00:26 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT SHARP said that, during  his drive to the capitol this                                                               
morning, he probably passed 100 cars,  but only saw one person he                                                               
could say  with certainty was not  wearing his seatbelt.   If the                                                               
proposed legislation had already been  law, he could have stopped                                                               
that one person with probable cause.   In response to a follow-up                                                               
question  from Representative  Ramras, he  said the  present fine                                                               
for not wearing a seatbelt is $15.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
11:02:02 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS,  regarding   the  primary  seatbelt  law,                                                               
asked, "Does  it enhance  compliance or  is it  just kinda  ... a                                                               
pain in the butt for folks?"                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:02:34 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT SHARP noted  that there are already  plenty of reasons                                                               
to stop  a vehicle.  For  example, with the inclement  weather in                                                               
Alaska, vehicles  take abuse  and many  times license  plates are                                                               
obscured.   He said  this is  not about looking  for a  reason to                                                               
stop  someone  in   a  vehicle;  it's  about   saving  lives  and                                                               
protecting people.   He concluded, "The object is  not me issuing                                                               
you a  citation; it's simply  getting you to wear  your seatbelt.                                                               
And perhaps you  would go away with wearing your  seatbelt, and I                                                               
would go away  with telling you to have a  good day, knowing that                                                               
you would be driving down the street with your seatbelt [on]."                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
11:03:31 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON asked  Lieutenant Sharp to detail  the procedures he                                                               
would go through  during the process of stopping  someone for not                                                               
wearing a seatbelt [under a primary seatbelt law].                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
11:03:47 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT  SHARP said  that, after  establishing probable  cause                                                               
for the  stop, before initiating  the stop he would  already have                                                               
contacted dispatch to  report the license number  of the vehicle,                                                               
how many people were in the  vehicle, the location, and any other                                                               
concerns.  Then he said he  would initiate the stop in the safest                                                               
location  possible, contact  the driver  and ask  the driver  for                                                               
his/her  driver's  license  and   registration.    If  everything                                                               
checked out  and there were no  other problems, he said  he would                                                               
choose at  that time to issue  a warning and let  the person know                                                               
that  there is  a primary  seatbelt law,  or he  would issue  the                                                               
citation and provide  the driver with a copy of  it.  In response                                                               
to follow-up  questions from Chair  Seaton, he said the  $15 fine                                                               
[for  the  current  secondary  seatbelt   law]  is  a  "bailable"                                                               
offense, and he said there  is not presently any "escalation" for                                                               
stopping someone for a second or third time.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:05:56 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked, "Isn't  there always  something that                                                               
you can stop a car for?"                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:06:52 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT  SHARP answered  no.   He said  there are  vehicles in                                                               
Alaska  that  are  well maintained  and  "appear  perfectly  fine                                                               
driving down the road, without any other problem."                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
11:07:11 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO surmised that  the occupants [in those well-                                                               
maintained cars] are wearing their seatbelts.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:07:19 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT SHARP said officers generally  are not looking for the                                                               
offense [of not  wearing a seatbelt], because  there is currently                                                               
no primary seatbelt law.   He said, "We're looking for violations                                                               
that are going to establish probable  cause so we can make a stop                                                               
on a vehicle.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:07:38 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN asked for clarification  regarding the man in                                                               
the vehicle without  a seatbelt on, to whom  Lieutenant Sharp had                                                               
previously referred.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
11:07:58 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT SHARP  explained that under  current law he  could not                                                               
stop the man for not wearing  a seatbelt, because he saw no other                                                               
defects  that he  noticed  on  that vehicle  at  that  time.   In                                                               
response  to a  follow-up question  from Representative  Lynn, he                                                               
specified that  if, for  example, he stopped  a car  for speeding                                                               
and could  articulate that he  had observed the occupant  was not                                                               
wearing a  belt at present  or before the stop  - in the  case of                                                               
someone quickly  putting the  seatbelt on  after being  stopped -                                                               
then  he could  issue  a  ticket for  the  speeding  and for  the                                                               
failure  to wear  a seatbelt.   In  response to  a question  from                                                               
Chair Seaton  regarding someone who  had not had the  seatbelt on                                                               
but  put it  on upon  being stopped,  he said  there would  be no                                                               
further offense  for lying  to a police  officer; the  fine would                                                               
still be $15.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:09:50 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS  suggested that if  the fine was  raised to                                                               
$100,  for  example,  that  may  accomplish  almost  as  much  as                                                               
[passing a primary seatbelt law].                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
11:10:22 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT  SHARP  responded  that  certainly  more  people  have                                                               
adhered  to  other  regulations   in  greater  numbers  when  the                                                               
penalties  for  them  have been  increased,  simply  because  the                                                               
penalties are so significant.   Notwithstanding that, he reminded                                                               
the committee  of [Ms. Wickersham's]  previous testimony  that in                                                               
those states that have passed  a primary seatbelt law, the result                                                               
has been that a significant  number of people wear their seatbelt                                                               
because there is a law and they are aware of it.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:10:48 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  indicated that in  the statute relating  to driving                                                               
under  the  influence  (DUI),  a  person  is  [considered  to  be                                                               
operating a  vehicle even]  when he/she is  sitting in  a parking                                                               
lot behind  the wheel of a  vehicle with its engine  running.  He                                                               
asked, "Is that  also the case here?  Is  that same definition of                                                               
operating a vehicle or driving  a vehicle ... applicable here, as                                                               
well?"                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT SHARP offered his understanding  that Chair Seaton was                                                               
asking:  "Whether  or not your keys are in  the ignition, is that                                                               
operating the vehicle?"                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON said yes.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT SHARP  said, "That definition  is the same  across the                                                               
board for operating a vehicle."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
11:11:10 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON said he is leery  of local police in small towns who                                                               
may be  "very down on somebody."   He asked if  [that "somebody"]                                                               
could be  cited for [a driving  violation] if he/she gets  in the                                                               
car and has just put the key in the ignition.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:12:13 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT SHARP responded as follows:                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     I  think I  misunderstood  your  question before  about                                                                    
     operating the  vehicle.  It  would be a  moving vehicle                                                                    
     for your  seatbelt use, and  private property  would be                                                                    
     not ... covered under this  regulation.  It would be on                                                                    
     state or public roadways.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
11:12:36 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON said, "So, this  is different than the drunk driving                                                               
statutes -  operating vehicles  while intoxicated."   He  said he                                                               
had  a friend  who was  in a  parking lot,  with the  key in  the                                                               
ignition and the  heater on.  That friend fell  asleep in the car                                                               
and "they got  him for drunk driving," even though  he was not on                                                               
a road  or "doing anything."   He stated that he  wants to ensure                                                               
that it's clear  that "this statute doesn't fall  into those same                                                               
parameters."                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT SHARP responded, "That's my understanding."                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:12:52 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS asked  if a  good way  to crystallize  the                                                               
argument [for  and against a  primary seatbelt law] is  that some                                                               
people  feel it  does not  encourage personal  responsibility and                                                               
think that  education is more  effective than  enforcement, while                                                               
others believe  that it would save  lives.  He indicated  that he                                                               
had read  various e-mails,  as well as  the written  testimony of                                                               
Kevin  E.  Quinlan,  Chief, Safety  Advocacy  Division,  National                                                               
Transportation  Safety Board  (NTSB), included  in the  committee                                                               
packet.   He  noted that  the testimony  from Mr.  Quinlan states                                                               
that  the  primary  enforcement  of  seatbelt  laws  can  make  a                                                               
difference in seatbelt use.  That  increase in use has been shown                                                               
to be  greater for  minorities, males,  youth, and  those driving                                                               
pick-up  trucks, and  is based  on  the perceived  risk of  being                                                               
stopped.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:15:32 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT  SHARP  responded  that the  way  that  Representative                                                               
Ramras described  the argument  was pretty  good.   He reiterated                                                               
that  [the reason  for  a  primary seatbelt  law]  is "all  about                                                               
saving lives,  preventing injury,  and keeping people  from being                                                               
ejected."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
11:15:59 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  asked Lieutenant Sharp if  he would concur                                                               
that  there is  a misperception  by people  that law  enforcement                                                               
cares more about ticketing folks  than about people's safety.  He                                                               
pointed out that  it's the Department of Public Safety  - not the                                                               
Department of Public Ticketing.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
11:16:38 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT SHARP  replied that's correct.   He said, "If  I never                                                               
had to  issue a summons  like this  or deal with  arresting folks                                                               
..., I'd  have the  greatest job going,  going around  and saying                                                               
'hello' to folks."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
11:17:09 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT SHARP,  in response to a  question from Representative                                                               
Gatto  regarding what  steps  the department  would  take in  the                                                               
event that the  primary seatbelt law is passed,  said he foresees                                                               
that  it  would  undergo  an education  process  similar  to  the                                                               
current "Click It Or Ticket" campaign,  as well as talking to the                                                               
community and to  children in public schools to  advocate the use                                                               
of seatbelts  and inform  them of the  new primary  seatbelt law.                                                               
Furthermore, the  department may decide to  issue people warnings                                                               
rather than  tickets in the  beginning.  He reiterated  the issue                                                               
of safety and prevention of injury and death.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:18:06 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO said police and  troopers won't have time to                                                               
address other issues if they are  stopping people to talk to them                                                               
about using a seatbelt, because  the department won't spend extra                                                               
money  and  the force  will  be  the  same.   He  listed  several                                                               
examples of bad  driving.  He suggested that  [a primary seatbelt                                                               
law] would make this issue  the most dangerous thing that happens                                                               
and everything  "below it"  will be  ignored.   He asked  if that                                                               
makes sense.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:19:18 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT SHARP said  the Alaska State Troopers  are out looking                                                               
for the more significant offenses, not the minor ones.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:19:50 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  noted that,  according to  the previously                                                               
mentioned handout  from Lieutenant Sharp, 23  percent of Alaskans                                                               
currently do not wear  a seatbelt.  She asked if  it is known who                                                               
these people are  and why they don't buckle up.   For example, do                                                               
they drive older cars with no seatbelts in the back seat?                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
11:20:15 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT SHARP  deferred comment to someone  involved in public                                                               
safety  or  with  the  Department   of  Transportation  &  Public                                                               
Facilities.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
11:20:44 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JOHN COOPER, testifying on behalf  of himself, told the committee                                                               
that his youngest son was  killed in car accident last Halloween.                                                               
He  said there  were two  other people  in the  vehicle who  were                                                               
injured.  He added, "One of  those said that they weren't wearing                                                               
seatbelts."   He said he  and the  boy's mother had  drummed into                                                               
their son's head the importance of  wearing a seatbelt.  He said,                                                               
"The  autopsy  report  indicated  injuries  consistent  with  him                                                               
having been wearing  a seatbelt, even if the  other two weren't."                                                               
Mr. Cooper  said that  if the  primary seatbelt  law had  been in                                                               
effect and the occupants of the  car had seen a police officer at                                                               
the right  time, his son's  life might  have been saved,  and the                                                               
injuries of the  other two people in the vehicle  might have been                                                               
significantly reduced.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:22:10 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  COOPER revealed  that he  is a  consulting engineer  and, as                                                               
such, writes construction  contracts.  He said there is  a lot of                                                               
similarity of contract writing and  "what you're looking at right                                                               
now," and he offered analogies between  the two.  He talked about                                                               
the difference  in using "will"  versus "shall"; the  former does                                                               
not  carry as  much weight  as the  latter.   Currently there  is                                                               
language in  the law that  says, "You  will wear seatbelts."   He                                                               
said there  is a  little bit of  a penalty if  a person  does not                                                               
wear a seatbelt, but "the ways  of getting to that penalty are so                                                               
difficult  that nobody  will pursue  them."   He added,  "It also                                                               
carries the message that we really don't care all that much."                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:24:09 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  COOPER  said  that  morality   and  intelligence  cannot  be                                                               
legislated, but the legislature can  set standards of conduct and                                                               
"put teeth  in those standards."   He opined that,  regarding the                                                               
primary seatbelt  law, whether  or not an  officer ever  writes a                                                               
ticket is irrelevant.   What is relevant is  that the legislature                                                               
cares enough and places enough importance  on the issue to put it                                                               
in writing.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
11:26:31 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. COOPER said  he doesn't know if a primary  seatbelt law would                                                               
have saved  his son's life  or not.  He  told of an  accident his                                                               
wife had in  the 70s and of the injuries  she sustained, which he                                                               
said probably could  have been avoided if she had  been wearing a                                                               
seatbelt.  Mr.  Cooper said he flew in the  military and believes                                                               
in the four-point  harness system, which he said  is the ultimate                                                               
in safety.  He concluded as follows:                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     But we  do have  something that is  a whole  lot better                                                                    
     than  nothing.   You  all [have]  the  ability to  move                                                                    
     forward   what   I   see   as   essentially   being   a                                                                    
     specification  that says,  "Thou shalt."   And  I think                                                                    
     it's  your obligation  to the  people of  the state  of                                                                    
     Alaska to set that standard  of conduct, and say, "Thou                                                                    
     shalt wear a seatbelt."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
[SEVERAL COMMITTEE  MEMBERS] expressed sympathy for  Mr. Cooper's                                                               
loss.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
11:28:40 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JO-ANNE  COTTLE, National  Active and  Retired Federal  Employees                                                               
(NARFE) Association;  AARP Capital  City Task Force,  stated that                                                               
AARP  strongly supports  the seatbelt  law.   She said,  "It will                                                               
keep  us old  folks alive,  and probably  we won't  get quite  as                                                               
badly hurt if we get into vehicle accident."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:29:13 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DON  SMITH, Administrator,  Highway  Safety  Office, Division  of                                                               
Program  Development,  Department   of  Transportation  &  Public                                                               
Facilities, said he began his service  as a member of "this body"                                                               
just  over   38  years  ago,   during  the  Fifth   Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature.  He said he wishes  he had known many years ago what                                                               
he knows  today about  highway safety issues.   He  reported that                                                               
since  January of  1967, over  ...  3,633 Alaskans  have died  in                                                               
highway crashes  in Alaska.   He directed  attention to  [a five-                                                               
page] handout  in the committee  packet, [entitled,  "2005 Alaska                                                               
Highway Fatalities"], which shows the  numbers of deaths per year                                                               
[from 2000  through March  2005].  Since  speaking on  this issue                                                               
last  year  before the  legislature,  85  Alaskans have  died  in                                                               
automobile  crashes on  Alaska's  highways.   He  said that  it's                                                               
realistic to  assume that 9  of the  85 people would  probably be                                                               
alive today if they had worn seatbelts.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH  turned to  [pages 3-5]  of the handout.   He  said the                                                               
seatbelt bill,  if enacted,  would reach  a category  of Alaskans                                                               
that primarily  fall in the  age group from  16 to the  late 20s,                                                               
men or boys, and pick-up truck  drivers.  He said, "Those are the                                                               
three  major  statistics that  the  national  studies have  shown                                                               
would be most affected by having a seatbelt law on the books.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SMITH directed  attention to  the  last three  pages of  the                                                               
handout, which show  a report of the deaths  on Alaska's highways                                                               
in 2004.  He  noted that he listed only first names.   He said he                                                               
thinks there  are seven or eight  names on the list  that "relate                                                               
to either a  daughter-in-law, or a son-in-law,  or a grandchild."                                                               
He said,  "I did it because  I thought it might  personalize what                                                               
we're  talking about.    He broke  the list  down  into how  many                                                               
people perished  in various  areas of  the state.   He  asked the                                                               
committee to consider the value of  the lives that were lost that                                                               
might have been saved.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:32:47 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH talked about a  survey that was conducted by Hellenthal                                                               
and  Associates  during the  month  of  February.   He  said  586                                                               
Alaskans were  randomly selected, phone  calls were made,  and 84                                                               
percent  of   the  overall  numbers   claimed  they   wear  their                                                               
seatbelts.  He  said, "Our observations show 77  percent, so it's                                                               
iffy on that  number."  He listed the number  of people by region                                                               
who said  they wear their  seatbelts as  follows:  76  percent in                                                               
the  Kenai Peninsula,  87  percent in  the  Anchorage area,  84.7                                                               
percent  in  the  Matanuska-Susitna  (Mat-Su)  [Valley],  and  82                                                               
percent in  Fairbanks.  Mr.  Smith reported that 79.6  percent of                                                               
the people surveyed said they  favor laws requiring seatbelt use.                                                               
He  broke down  the numbers  of those  who would  favor a  law as                                                               
follows:   73 percent in the  Kenai Peninsula, 75 percent  in the                                                               
Anchorage area, 75  percent in the Mat-Su Valley,  and 83 percent                                                               
in  Fairbanks.   Only 5.4  percent of  those people  surveyed had                                                               
ever received a ticket.  Mr. Smith continued as follows:                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     The correlation I  think needs to be made  is that it's                                                                    
     a perception issue.  It's  not that we have troopers or                                                                    
     city  police  that  are   out  running  around  writing                                                                    
     tickets; it's the  fact that people know  that that's a                                                                    
     possibility  and  therefore  they're going  to  try  to                                                                    
     follow the  law, or  they just want  to follow  the law                                                                    
     because it's  a good thing  to do.   So, it's  not like                                                                    
     we've got police out there chasing people down.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SMITH returned  to the  survey and  reported the  numbers of                                                               
those who  actually received a  ticket as follows:   10.7 percent                                                               
in the  Kenai Peninsula, 4.1  percent in Anchorage, 7  percent in                                                               
the Mat-Su  Valley, and  7 percent  in Fairbanks.   He  said 60.8                                                               
percent of the  people who were surveyed had had  a family member                                                               
or friend who was hurt or killed in an automobile accident.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
11:34:50 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH said it's important to  know where the law is directed.                                                               
He  said, "It  really  is  reaching into  the  young.   For  some                                                               
reason, a kid  turns 16 and the brain goes  soft, and they forget                                                               
about [wearing their seatbelts]."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
11:35:11 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER directed  attention  to  the 2005  Alaska                                                               
Highway Fatalities and  said two of the people  listed were young                                                               
men well  known to her  family.  One of  them who was  normally a                                                               
seatbelt user  did not use  one on that day.   The other  one was                                                               
wearing a  seatbelt.   She asked,  "Of the 23  percent -  give or                                                               
take - Alaskans who do not  use seatbelts, who are they and would                                                               
having a primary seatbelt law change their behavior?"                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
11:36:10 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.   SMITH  said   he  could   not  say   with  certainty,   but                                                               
traditionally, around the  country, "the numbers have  gone up by                                                               
about 10-12 percent," which would  mean 6-8 people in Alaska that                                                               
would not have been killed.   He said approximately 54 percent of                                                               
the  people who  were  killed in  [vehicle-related] accidents  in                                                               
Alaska were not using their seatbelts.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:36:57 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GARDNER  echoed   the  previous   question  from                                                               
Representative Elkins asking if a  comparable result could be had                                                               
by  raising   the  fine  and   increasing  education   about  the                                                               
importance of  [seatbelt use], "without allowing  the Big Brother                                                               
aspect."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:37:14 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH said  that may be an answer.   He noted that Washington                                                               
state [fines those who don't  wear seatbelts] $101, which he said                                                               
gets people's attention fast.   He offered his understanding that                                                               
the legislature cannot legislate fines - it is a court process.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
11:37:35 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  directed attention  to page  6 of  the survey.   He                                                               
recalled that  Mr. Smith had noted  that many more people  in the                                                               
Kenai  Peninsula  had  received  a   ticket  for  not  wearing  a                                                               
seatbelt, yet  he noted it has  the lowest number than  any other                                                               
area in the state for using a seatbelt.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
11:38:01 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH  responded, "It would appear  to be a correlation.   It                                                               
says  here 10  percent had  received  tickets for  not wearing  a                                                               
seatbelt and  the number  of seatbelt  use was  76 percent."   In                                                               
response  to a  follow-up  question from  Chair Seaton  regarding                                                               
whether people are just ignoring the  $15 fine, he said it's hard                                                               
to make  a judgment.   He said:   "There's zero points;  it's $15                                                               
dollars; it isn't a painful thing; but  I think more of it is the                                                               
perception that Alaska  requires that you wear  your seatbelt and                                                               
[that] you can  be ticketed."  He reiterated that  21 states with                                                               
primary seatbelt laws "have seen their numbers increase."                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
11:39:24 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH, in response to  a question from Representative Elkins,                                                               
said he doesn't know how many  of the deaths listed for 2004 were                                                               
due to motorcycle [accidents], but he said he could find out.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:39:33 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS  reiterated that  on  one  hand there  are                                                               
people who don't want the government  "in the front seat of their                                                               
car," while on the other hand,  passing [SB 87] would save lives.                                                               
He  stated that  he has  had  people tell  him not  to [pass  the                                                               
bill].  He  indicated that he is  torn and asked how  to build an                                                               
argument "to help."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
11:40:19 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH responded that the argument  he would make is that it's                                                               
a very vocal  minority [who are against a  primary seatbelt law].                                                               
Those  people,   he  said,  are   obviously  organized   and  are                                                               
contacting their legislators.  He  said he believes the survey is                                                               
accurate, and it indicates that  the vast majority of Alaskans do                                                               
want a primary seatbelt law.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:40:52 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS asked, "What if  it's not a vocal minority?                                                               
...   How  do you  build  a bridge  between these  two groups  of                                                               
people  without dismissing  the value  of the  opinion of  either                                                               
group?"                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
11:41:56 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SMITH said  the  reason  he requested  that  the survey  ask                                                               
people whether  or not  they support a  primary seatbelt  law was                                                               
because  that was  the  only way  he could  think  to answer  the                                                               
question  of what  percentage of  people in  the state  of Alaska                                                               
have  strong feelings  about the  state  enacting that  law.   He                                                               
reiterated that  79.6 percent  thought it  was a  good idea.   He                                                               
said he doesn't know how else to answer.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:42:36 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JAMES GARHART, aka  "Lazy Mountain Jim," testifying  on behalf of                                                               
himself, stated,  "I don't  think that  this should  take place."                                                               
He  said, "I'm  one-eighth Choctaw,  so I'm  used to  meaningless                                                               
assurances."    He  stated that  when  the  original  [secondary]                                                               
seatbelt law  was being discussed,  assurances were made  that it                                                               
would never  become a primary  law.  He  said if [HB  87 passes],                                                               
the original seatbelt  law should be overthrown  "for having been                                                               
passed with fraud and deceit."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. GARHART  said he imagines that  the six or seven  people it's                                                               
said would be  alive today if a primary seatbelt  law had existed                                                               
at the  time probably wouldn't  have worn their  seatbelts anyway                                                               
and would still [have died].                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:45:35 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CINDY   CASHEN,  National   Council   on   Alcoholism  and   Drug                                                               
Dependence, stated that 84 percent  of Alaskans are already using                                                               
their seatbelts.   She  noted that  the gap  is in  teenagers and                                                               
young adults, ages  16 to the late 20s, as  was noted previously.                                                               
She said  last year the  legislature passed a  graduated driver's                                                               
license law, which  provided an incentive for youth  to wear seat                                                               
belts, because if  they get pulled over for  any infraction, they                                                               
have  to  start  the  count  over  for  their  six-month  without                                                               
infractions before qualifying for  their licenses.  She concluded                                                               
that having a  primary seatbelt law is an incentive  for youth to                                                               
wear their seatbelts.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. CASHEN  mentioned Mr.  Cooper's late  son, Brant  Cooper, and                                                               
said,  "We'll never  know if  he would  have worn  his seatbelt."                                                               
She stated that  her own son, who is nearly  17, "will be wearing                                                               
his seatbelt  if he knows the  police might pull him  over."  She                                                               
added, "That's  what it  takes."  She  indicated that  when youth                                                               
are in a vehicle with their parents  they may even be the ones to                                                               
remind  everyone to  wear  a seatbelt,  but when  they  are in  a                                                               
vehicle with  only other youth,  they get distracted.   She said,                                                               
"If one of them is not  wearing their seatbelt in the vehicle and                                                               
there's a crash, they become a  weapon to the other people."  She                                                               
said  she  just  attended  a Lifesavers  Conference  [on  Highway                                                               
Safety Priorities], during which she  saw footage of what happens                                                               
when one person  is not buckled in.  She  remarked that "it's not                                                               
pretty; no one ever wants to see that."                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
11:47:45 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CASHEN echoed  Mr. Smith's  remarks  that there  is a  vocal                                                               
minority, but  studies show that  the silent majority  supports a                                                               
primary  seatbelt [law].   She  speculated that  the reason  that                                                               
people may  be opposed to  the bill and  don't want to  be pulled                                                               
over is  because they  could be  repeat drunk  driving offenders,                                                               
for example.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:48:43 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON  said he  doesn't  want  it  said that  anyone  who                                                               
comments against  the bill  is a  drunk driver.   He  stated that                                                               
there are  school board members  that have written  in opposition                                                               
to the bill.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:48:56 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. CASHEN reiterated  that it's a silent  majority that supports                                                               
that bill and a vocal minority  that opposes it.  She said, "This                                                               
is not about  Big Brother; this is about saving  lives and saving                                                               
a lot of money."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:49:40 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  said unfortunately  the survey question  just asks,                                                               
"Should  seatbelts be  required?"   He noted  that seatbelts  are                                                               
already required.   He stated  his concern that  people answering                                                               
this question  may be  considering whether  the state  should not                                                               
make it a requirement or leave the law as is.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:50:00 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  said  there  is  another  minority  group:                                                               
those who  drive into a  bridge abutment.   He said  those people                                                               
are trying  to commit  suicide and  rarely live  through it.   He                                                               
said, "I  don't think  a primary seatbelt  bill will  affect that                                                               
subgroup of  people."   Second, he  stated that  vocal minorities                                                               
have  rights and  are entitled  to make  their point  known.   He                                                               
emphasized that he thinks the  fact that these people are writing                                                               
is important.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON   reminded  Representative  Gatto  and   the  other                                                               
committee  members that  he would  like to  continue with  public                                                               
testimony and hold committee discussion for later.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
11:51:12 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DARWIN  BIWER, President,  Cabaret Hotel  Restaurant &  Retailers                                                               
Association (CHARR - formerly:  Cabaret Hotel    and   Restaurant                                                               
Retail Association,  from which  the acronym  derived), testified                                                               
on  behalf of  CHARR  in opposition  to  SB 87.    He said  there                                                               
currently exists  a seatbelt law.   The survey points out  that a                                                               
high percentage of Alaskans are  in favor of a mandatory seatbelt                                                               
law,  which the  state  has.   He said  the  question is  whether                                                               
"these  people  want to  have  the  primary  seatbelt law."    He                                                               
stated, "We feel that this  is an infringement on Alaskans' right                                                               
to choose."  He offered  his understanding that "80-some percent"                                                               
already  wear their  seatbelts,  whereas  "70-some percent"  felt                                                               
that  there should  be a  mandatory seatbelt  law.   He concluded                                                               
that  more people  already voluntarily  wear seatbelts  than even                                                               
say there should  be a law for  requiring it.  He said,  "It is a                                                               
Big Brother  issue; it  is an  issue of  whether or  not Alaskans                                                               
have  their  rights  infringed   by  being  stopped  for  another                                                               
reason."  He said it's already  been noted that there are already                                                               
many reasons to [stop someone driving a vehicle].                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS said there is  one group that argues that a                                                               
primary  seatbelt law  would save  lives, because  if it's  a law                                                               
more people will buckle up,  and another group advocates that "it                                                               
will reduce  drunk driving, because  drunk drivers don't  want to                                                               
have another probable cause reason  for being stopped."  He asked                                                               
why CHARR  takes an opinion on  the issue.  He  clarified, "Is it                                                               
because  they're  interested  in  primary  safety,  or  are  they                                                               
interested in probable cause stops for ... drunk driving."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. BIWER responded that Alaska  already has some of the toughest                                                               
drunk   driving  laws.     For   example,   the  [blood   alcohol                                                               
concentration] (BAC) for  drunk driving has been  reduced to .08.                                                               
He continued:                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     If a police officer is unable  to tell whether or not a                                                                    
     person is impaired by their  ability to drive, then ...                                                                    
     why is there  another reason to stop  this person other                                                                    
     than  a seatbelt?   We're  talkin'  seatbelts that  are                                                                    
     visible -  that would  be the  shoulder harness.   Some                                                                    
     seatbelts  don't  have  a shoulder  harness,  and  that                                                                    
     would not be  visible to a police officer.   It's not a                                                                    
     drunk driving  issue; this is  a matter of  invasion of                                                                    
     privacy.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  indicated that  he doesn't know  why CHARR                                                               
and MADD are  testifying, other than the fact that  they have the                                                               
right to do so.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BIWER  answered,  "Because  we are  members  of  Alaska  ...                                                               
society, and  we have  a right to  be here, as  well.   And we're                                                               
just expressing our  opinion."  He noted that [CHARR]  just had a                                                               
board  meeting  last week  and  this  issue  was  raised.   As  a                                                               
representative of  the industry,  he said he  is just  making the                                                               
point that  [those in  the industry] don't  like the  invasion of                                                               
privacy which [the bill] would provide.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON thanked  Mr. Biwer for pointing  out the statistical                                                               
comparison between those  who favor a seatbelt law  and those who                                                               
already wear a seatbelt.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:56:42 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
KEVIN QUINLAN, Chief of  Safety Advocacy, National Transportation                                                               
Safety Board  (NTSB), announced  that he  is testifying  with the                                                               
authority of  Ellen Engleman Conners  - Chair, who  was appointed                                                               
by President George  W. Bush two years  ago.  He said  NTSB is an                                                               
investigation agency;  it does not  regulate or tell  states what                                                               
to do, but asks  states to do the right thing.   In this case, he                                                               
added, [NTSB] is asking the  committee to give a favorable report                                                               
to  the  bill.    He  reported   that  over  90  percent  of  all                                                               
transportation fatalities  occur on highways, and  the number one                                                               
defense against motor  vehicle injuries and fatalities  is to use                                                               
a seatbelt.   He added  that that's  also the number  one defense                                                               
against drunk drivers.   He reminded the  committee that [wearing                                                               
a  seatbelt] does  prevent ejections  and will  reduce fatalities                                                               
and injuries.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  QUINLAN  noted  that the  previously  referenced  survey  is                                                               
consistent with  studies done  throughout the  country.   He said                                                               
there's about a  70-80 percent approval rate  of primary seatbelt                                                               
laws.  He added that  "the questions have been worded differently                                                               
than was  done in  Alaska."   He noted that  there has  been much                                                               
discussion on the effect on  high-risk populations.  He expressed                                                               
his profound sympathy  to [Mr. Cooper] over the loss  of his son,                                                               
and said seat belt use among teens  is so low.  He added, "And we                                                               
know that  it will increase  with the primary seatbelt  law, just                                                               
as  it  will  increase  safety belt  use  among  alcohol-involved                                                               
drivers."  He reported that,  nationally, 72 percent of Hispanics                                                               
and 68 percent of African  Americans support the [seatbelt] laws.                                                               
In the states  that have the laws, he said,  the objective is not                                                               
to write tickets  but to get people to wear  their seatbelts.  He                                                               
said,  "You   certainly  want  to  have   enforcement,  but  more                                                               
importantly, you want to have education about enforcement."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. QUINLAN said the NTSB  believes that [a primary seatbelt law]                                                               
is the most effective action that  can be taken to reduce highway                                                               
fatalities  and injuries.   He  said it  will pay  benefits every                                                               
year,  much  like  the  benefits  of  the  permanent  fund.    He                                                               
expressed support  of the  previous testimony  of Mr.  Smith, Ms.                                                               
Cashen,  and  Mr.  Cooper.    He  concluded  that  Americans  are                                                               
basically law-abiding people  who look to the  legislature to set                                                               
the standard.  He said, "If  you set the standard saying that you                                                               
shall,  most  Americans will,  and  most  of the  remainder  will                                                               
change their  behavior based on  enforcement and education."   He                                                               
said,  "You can  reach 95  percent,"  and he  listed states  that                                                               
have,  including:   Hawaii, California,  Oregon, and  Washington.                                                               
He added  that the  only way  he knows [it  is possible  to reach                                                               
that percentage] is through a primary seatbelt law.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON said  he was  stuck  by reading  that Mr.  Cooper's                                                               
son's autopsy revealed marks indicating  that he had been wearing                                                               
a seatbelt,  while his  friends who  survived had  not been.   He                                                               
asked   Mr.   Quinlan   whether   he  has   found   through   his                                                               
investigations that that scenario is common or not.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
12:01:42 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  QUINLAN  responded  that  Chair  Seaton  is  asking  him  to                                                               
speculate  based  on  an  investigation and  crash  of  which  he                                                               
doesn't know the details.   Notwithstanding that, he said, having                                                               
been involved in  a crash which totaled his own  car, he did have                                                               
seatbelt injuries, including bruising and  stiffness.  He said he                                                               
didn't go through  the windshield, and he was driving.   He said,                                                               
"I don't know what particular  factors might have been lifesaving                                                               
for  the two  other people  in the  car, but  I find  that to  be                                                               
atypical."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON clarified  that he was just asking  if this scenario                                                               
is  atypical and  if there  is any  data available.   He  said he                                                               
thinks Mr. Quinlan answered the question.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked if there  is any data  that indicates                                                               
that  airbag deployment  has more  to do  with preventing  injury                                                               
than seatbelts.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. QUINLAN  answered that, as  Representative Gatto  well knows,                                                               
the preferred  combination is  the use of  the seatbelt  plus the                                                               
airbags, because  the airbags in  most cars are frontal  air bags                                                               
designed  for frontal  crashes.   He  noted  that "side  curtain"                                                               
airbags are  very effective  in reducing  injuries, but  are most                                                               
effective  when used  with  a safety  belt.   The  answer to  the                                                               
question, he concluded, is that "you have to use both."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
12:04:49 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  noted   that  Alaska  statute  exempts                                                               
school busses.   He asked  Mr. Quinlan  if he believes  that [the                                                               
use of seatbelts should be required on school buses].                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. QUINLAN replied  that that's an excellent question.   He said                                                               
NTSB  has  investigated  between  5-10 school  bus  crashes  over                                                               
several years,  and in each the  dynamics of the crash  have been                                                               
documented, including what happened  to the passengers inside the                                                               
school   bus.     He  said   school  buses   are  designed   with                                                               
"compartmentalization" to  keep the student  in their  seat area.                                                               
The seats,  as they are  currently constructed, are  not designed                                                               
for seatbelts.  When the forces  of the bus crashes were analyzed                                                               
and  documented  in  simulations,   it  was  determined  that  if                                                               
seatbelts  had been  used they  would have  actually caused  more                                                               
harm  than good.   He  concluded that  while seatbelts  in school                                                               
buses may  be advisable,  the seats would  have to  be redesigned                                                               
first.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG  asked   if   the   seats  should   be                                                               
redesigned.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. QUINLAN said  NTSB has recommended that  the National Highway                                                               
Traffic  Safety Administration  do the  research into  that.   In                                                               
response to  a follow-up question from  Representative Gruenberg,                                                               
he said the administration has  begun the process, but he doesn't                                                               
know the current status.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
12:07:22 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG said  he would  like that  information.                                                               
He noted that  during his early terms in the  legislature back in                                                               
1986 and  1987, there was  legislation regarding this issue.   He                                                               
said he  doesn't know  why that research,  which could  save some                                                               
children's lives, has not been completed in 20 years.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. QUINLAN  reiterated that NTSB's  purpose is to  be objective,                                                               
find out what's wrong, and make recommendations for change.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  noted that Alaska statute  also exempts                                                               
those  delivering the  U.S. mail  and newspapers.   He  asked Mr.                                                               
Quinlan if  he believes that  those people should be  required to                                                               
wear seatbelts.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  QUINLAN replied  that the  board  does not  have a  specific                                                               
recommendation on  that.   He said  there may  be good  and valid                                                               
reasons to exempt them, and  the board would certainly leave that                                                               
to the  wisdom of the  legislature.   In response to  a follow-up                                                               
question  from Representative  Gruenberg,  he  clarified that  he                                                               
literally is  not authorized  to talk  about something  "where we                                                               
don't have a recommendation."                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
12:10:44 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DEBORAH CHOROMANSKI HULL-JILLY, Acting  Chief, Community Health &                                                               
Emergency   Medical   Services,   Division  of   Public   Health,                                                               
Department  of  Health &  Social  Services  (DHSS), testified  on                                                               
behalf of  the department in support  of SB 87.   She pointed out                                                               
that what is  true about seatbelt use nationally is  also true in                                                               
Alaska,  based on  data  that  both DHSS  and  the Department  of                                                               
Transportation  & Public  Facilities (DOT&PF)  collects on  motor                                                               
vehicle crashes.   She reported:   "In 2002, in  Alaska, unbelted                                                               
occupants in motor  vehicle crashes were 17 times  more likely to                                                               
die than belted  occupants, and 6 times more likely  to sustain a                                                               
major injury."   She  reported that  the consequences  of serious                                                               
crash injuries  in Alaska are  also graver than in  other states,                                                               
because access to  medical care is more challenging.   She stated                                                               
that  the  Alaska  Trauma Registry,  within  Community  Health  &                                                               
Emergency Medical  Services reports  that unbelted  crash victims                                                               
are  more likely  to  sustain  a serious  brain  injury and  more                                                               
likely to be discharged with  a permanent disability.  Every year                                                               
there  are about  100 new  brain-injured Alaskans  added to  that                                                               
population and  30 new permanently  disabled crash victims.   She                                                               
reported that unbelted  crash victims are also more  likely to be                                                               
uninsured  and to  bill Medicaid  for  their medical  care.   She                                                               
continued,  "About  one-third of  them  fall  into one  of  these                                                               
categories, but all crashes resulting  in injury have an economic                                                               
impact on society."  She noted  that between the close of session                                                               
last May  and the beginning of  the current one [in  January], 42                                                               
unbelted  crash victims  died  in Alaska,  and  29 suffered  head                                                               
injury.  Sixty  percent of those injury crashes  during that time                                                               
occurred  in  non-urban  centers  of  Alaska,  while  20  percent                                                               
occurred in  small communities.   She stated,  "This is  an issue                                                               
that affects all Alaskans."                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON requested that Ms.  Hull-Jilly provide the committee                                                               
with  a copy  of the  statistics she  just quoted  and where  the                                                               
accidents occurred.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS   asked  for  the  number   of  motorcycle                                                               
fatalities.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. HULL-JILLY said she doesn't know but can find out.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
12:15:06 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON invited  Mr.  Smith back  before  the committee  to                                                               
offer a perspective regarding previous testimony.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
12:17:10 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH offered the following:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     I think that Mr. Cooper  misspoke.  His son was ejected                                                                    
     from that  automobile crash when  it hit the  rock wall                                                                    
     32 miles off the highway.   And the two ... 17-year-old                                                                    
     girls - one  was also ejected.  And there  has not been                                                                    
     a  final disposition  in her  case,  but basically  she                                                                    
     went  to Seattle  and was  connected to  equipment.   I                                                                    
     mean  she's in  terrible, terrible  shape if  she's not                                                                    
     already dead.   And the  third girl was  paralyzed from                                                                    
     the neck down in that crash.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH,  in response to Chair  Seaton, said he would  ask [Mr.                                                               
Cooper].  He added, "I know that his son was ejected ...."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON said he doesn't know if the seatbelt broke or not.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH responded, "I've not  heard anything about seatbelts in                                                               
relationship with his son."                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
12:18:18 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG noted  that statute  says a  person may                                                               
not operate a  motor vehicle unless restrained by  a safety belt.                                                               
He said the term motor vehicle  is defined as "a vehicle which is                                                               
self-propelled,  except  a  vehicle  moved  by  human  or  animal                                                               
power."  He  opined that that would include  motorcycles and all-                                                               
terrain vehicles  (ATVs).  He asked  whether the use of  the term                                                               
"motor  vehicle"  needs  to  be redrafted,  because  he  said  he                                                               
doesn't think anyone intends to put seatbelts on motorcycles.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SMITH  agreed  regarding  there   being  no  intent  to  put                                                               
seatbelts on motorcycles and he suggested  that is an issue to be                                                               
considered.  He added that he is not a lawyer.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
12:19:40 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  -  regarding   the  term  "operate"  -                                                               
reminded  the committee  that  that can  include  turning on  the                                                               
radio.   He said he  doesn't think  anybody intends to  require a                                                               
seatbelt  to be  worn  while someone  is sitting  in  a car  just                                                               
operating a radio.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. SMITH concurred.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG stated  that there is a  long history of                                                               
"some  legislation concerning  ... seatbelts  in school  busses."                                                               
He asked Mr. Smith if he is  aware of anything that has been done                                                               
in  Alaska  towards  this  issue.    He  added,  "I  wasn't  very                                                               
satisfied with the answer we got."                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SMITH said  he  is not  familiar with  any  studies done  or                                                               
efforts being  made.   He said he  received the  same explanation                                                               
that  the  committee did  regarding  the  construction of  school                                                               
buses in a compartmentalized way.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked Mr. Smith  to comment on the other                                                               
previously mentioned  exemption for  newspaper and  mail delivery                                                               
people.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
12:21:40 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SMITH indicated  that the  exemption is  meant for  the time                                                               
when  those drivers  are driving  down a  residential street  and                                                               
getting in  and out of the  vehicle, but that it  is not intended                                                               
to  exempt them  from wearing  seatbelts while  driving a  longer                                                               
distance, for  example, from the  starting point to  the delivery                                                               
area.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  remarked  that now  [mail]  boxes  are                                                               
sometimes set up  in a way that allows the  driver to deliver the                                                               
mail  without  ever  having  to  get out  of  the  vehicle.    He                                                               
suggested that Mr. Smith might consider that issue.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
12:22:52 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  said he was  on a school board  that looked                                                               
into the  issue of  seatbelts on  school buses.   He  pointed out                                                               
that school buses are very tall,  and he explained that that is a                                                               
deliberate design to  keep the children well above  the height of                                                               
impact from  another vehicle.   He said,  "When it falls  over on                                                               
its  side, that's  another story.   Regarding  mail delivery,  he                                                               
surmised  that  the  exemption  may exist  because  it  would  be                                                               
impossible for the contracted mail  carriers [who drive their own                                                               
vehicles] to  deliver the mail on  the right side of  the vehicle                                                               
where the mail boxes are while sitting on the left.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
12:24:26 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. WICKERSHAM spoke  to a previous analogy that was  given as to                                                               
the right to bear arms.   She said she thinks Senator Bunde would                                                               
argue that  the ability  to bear  arms is a  right, driving  is a                                                               
privilege.    Driving is  conducted  on  public  roads.   With  a                                                               
privilege, she said, comes responsibility.   The legislature has,                                                               
in  the past,  worked to  create statute  that protects  people's                                                               
safety when  they are  "in a  somewhat vulnerable  position," and                                                               
the  Division  of  Motor  Vehicles  has  created  regulations  to                                                               
further  that effort,  as well.   She  concluded, "Senator  Bunde                                                               
would argue that - being as  though it's a privilege, not a right                                                               
- when it  starts to negatively affect  other individuals through                                                               
insurance premiums,  ... medical  costs, [and]  ... perhaps  in a                                                               
situation where  one passenger  isn't wearing  a seatbelt  and is                                                               
thrown around the  vehicle injuring other people,  that's when we                                                               
need to  reevaluate the  privilege and determine  what is  in the                                                               
best interest of the residents as a whole."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  remarked that, because of  the unanswered questions                                                               
still at  large, the bill  would not  be passed out  of committee                                                               
today.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER offered a  scenario whereby she is driving                                                               
and asks her  husband, who is a  passenger in the car,  to put on                                                               
his seatbelt, which  he declines to do.  She  asked who would get                                                               
the ticket if she were pulled over.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  WICKERSHAM answered  that  Representative Gardner's  husband                                                               
would receive the  ticket.  However, if it was  her child who was                                                               
not belted in, it would  be Representative Gardner who received a                                                               
ticket.    In response  to  a  question  from Chair  Seaton,  she                                                               
confirmed  that  the  responsibility  of the  driver  applies  to                                                               
him/herself and "children below the age of 16."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON closed public testimony.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
12:28:02 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  stated  his   strong  support  for  wearing                                                               
seatbelts and  said that  people who don't  wear them  are either                                                               
foolhardy,  rebellious, or  don't care  about their  life or  the                                                               
lives of  others, and he said  that "all of us  have probably fit                                                               
into  one of  those  categories  at one  time  or  another."   He                                                               
compared  not wearing  a  seatbelt as  being  similar to  playing                                                               
Russian roulette.   He expressed  respect for the sponsor  of the                                                               
bill and to the people who  testified; however, he stated that he                                                               
is unable to  support the bill in  its present form.   He said he                                                               
thinks the state  needs appropriate laws, but he  doesn't want to                                                               
turn Alaska into  some kind of Big Brother or  "nanny" state.  He                                                               
said, "We already have seatbelt laws  and, at some point, I think                                                               
people  need to  start taking  personal responsibility  for their                                                               
actions."   He said the kindest  thing he can say  about the bill                                                               
is that it is impractical.   He explained, "No cop can drive down                                                               
the highway,  as far as  I'm concerned, and  tell if a  driver is                                                               
wearing his  seatbelt.   Ergo there's no  probable cause  to pull                                                               
... somebody  over to write  a ticket,  unless we put  a flashing                                                               
light  on top  of  the car  to indicate  a  seatbelt's not  being                                                               
worn."   He  said he's  almost afraid  to have  brought that  up,                                                               
because someone may decide that's a good idea.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  said  the  bill appears  to  give  a  carte                                                               
blanche opportunity  for law enforcement  people to  pull someone                                                               
over at any time, without  probable cause, and he emphasized that                                                               
he thinks that's a dangerous thing  in a free society.  He added,                                                               
"The fact of  the matter is, ... any law  enforcement officer ...                                                               
worth  his  salt can  already  find  legitimate reasons  to  pull                                                               
somebody over."   He  reminded the  committee that  he is  an ex-                                                               
police officer and, as such, he  has pulled cars over for various                                                               
reasons,  including  basic  traffic violations,  driving  like  a                                                               
drunk, having burned out license  plate lights, and operating the                                                               
vehicles  unsafely  in  some  manner.    He  reiterated  that  he                                                               
strongly supports wearing a  seatbelt, but added, "Unfortunately,                                                               
we can't legislate common sense."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  stated his intention of  speaking directly                                                               
with Senator Bunde.   He reiterated his conflict is  over the two                                                               
basic  issues  of  saving  lives versus  invading  privacy.    He                                                               
expressed his  appreciation of  the testimonials  from Lieutenant                                                               
Sharp and Mr.  Cooper, and of those who have  been on location at                                                               
accidents, such as Representative Gatto.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
12:32:47 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he  appreciates both sides  of the                                                               
issue.   He  stated his  concern  is that  in some  parts of  his                                                               
district when people are pulled  over, many times the police stop                                                               
goes beyond  the original  reason for  the stop.   He  offered an                                                               
example  that  if  someone doesn't  have  the  current  proof-of-                                                               
insurance card  in the car,  the car is impounded,  which results                                                               
in an expensive and long process to get the vehicle back.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
12:34:22 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  reiterated his  concern that  the terms                                                               
"motor vehicle" and  "operate" need to be  more narrowly defined.                                                               
He also questioned the term  "safety belt", and he stated concern                                                               
that there has  not been a clear answer regarding  the school bus                                                               
issue.   He said he  participated in the House  Health, Education                                                               
and  Social   Services  Standing   Committee  meetings   of  1985                                                               
regarding  the school  bus issue  and  the studies  had not  been                                                               
completed at  that time.   He  added, "And  kids have  died since                                                               
then."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  said she  tries  to  keep an  open  mind                                                               
during  bill hearings.   She  revealed that  she walked  into the                                                               
hearing for  SB 87 thinking  she could  not support the  bill and                                                               
questioning  whether she  would support  moving the  bill out  of                                                               
committee; however, the testimony really  affected her.  She said                                                               
she doesn't know if she will  ultimately support the bill or not.                                                               
Notwithstanding that,  she said she thinks  it's unarguable that,                                                               
with rare exceptions,  seatbelts do save lives.   She stated that                                                               
that's  not the  issue and  that's not  what the  bill addresses.                                                               
What the  bill addresses, she  said, is whether to  have "primary                                                               
stops."   She said she has  a primary problem with  that, and she                                                               
wishes  that the  survey had  specifically  asked that  question.                                                               
She  said she  thinks a  better approach  might be  having higher                                                               
fines and promoting education regarding seatbelts.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
12:36:31 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ELKINS  stated  that,  in its  present  form,  he                                                               
cannot support the  bill, but he would  certainly support raising                                                               
the fines  for not  wearing a  seatbelt and  increasing education                                                               
regarding public safety.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
12:36:51 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON announced that SB 87 was heard and held.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  announced that  a subcommittee  would meet  at 7:45                                                               
a.m. on  Tuesday, March  22 to  address HB  114.   He said  a new                                                               
committee substitute would be made  available.  Chair Seaton said                                                               
the bill would be  rolled into a broad omnibus bill -  HB 53.  He                                                               
thanked the members of the subcommittee.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SB  87-SEAT BELT VIOLATION AS PRIMARY OFFENSE                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
12:39:27 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG referred  back to SB 87.   He noted that                                                               
some  members of  the Bush  caucus and  people from  rural Alaska                                                               
have contacted  him regarding SB 87.   He asked [the  sponsor] to                                                               
be certain that their voice is heard.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
12:40:12 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON  let the  committee  know  that  there would  be  a                                                               
potential  amendment offered  to  exempt  communities with  fewer                                                               
than  5,500.    However,  considering   the  data  given  by  the                                                               
Department of Health and Social  Services, he said it sounds like                                                               
the  majority of  the  accidents resulting  in  deaths and  brain                                                               
trauma are  occurring in  [rural] areas.   He said  it will  be a                                                               
difficult balancing  act, but  he looks  forward to  working with                                                               
the sponsor  to find out if  he wants to include  motorcycles and                                                               
four-wheelers, for example.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GATTO  referred   to  [Representative   Ramras']                                                               
reference  to  testimony  from   Mothers  Against  Drunk  Driving                                                               
(MADD).   He stated  for the  record that no  member of  MADD had                                                               
testifying [on behalf of MADD].                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
12:41:33 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CASHEN, in  response  to a  request  for clarification  from                                                               
Chair Seaton,  reiterated [out of  range of the  microphone] that                                                               
[although she is a member of  MADD], her testimony today on SB 87                                                               
was  made on  behalf of  the National  Council on  Alcoholism and                                                               
Drug Dependence.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
[SB 87 was heard and held.]                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
State Affairs Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at                                                                       
12:44:17 PM.                                                                                                                  

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