Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120

02/02/2017 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 31 SEXUAL ASSAULT EXAMINATION KITS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 7 DISPLAY OF PHOTOS OF MARKED BALLOT TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 7(STA) Out of Committee
*+ HB 82 RESTRICTED OFF HWY DRIVER'S LICENSE TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled but Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
             HB 31-SEXUAL ASSAULT EXAMINATION KITS                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:06:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that the first  order of business                                                               
would be HOUSE  BILL NO. 31, "An Act requiring  the Department of                                                               
Public Safety  to develop  a tracking  system and  collection and                                                               
processing   protocol  for   sexual  assault   examination  kits;                                                               
requiring  law  enforcement  agencies   to  send  sexual  assault                                                               
examination kits  for testing within 18  months after collection;                                                               
requiring  an inventory  and reports  on untested  sexual assault                                                               
examination kits; and providing for an effective date."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:07:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked  if rape kits from  victims who choose                                                               
not to  prosecute remain in  the backlog  and who owns  the kits.                                                               
He   added  that   his   question  relates   to   the  issue   of                                                               
deoxyribonucleic  acid  (DNA)  evidence being  tracked  and  made                                                               
available for use in the prosecution of a serial criminal.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:08:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CELESTE   NOVAK,  Staff,   Representative   Tarr,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, on  behalf of Representative Tarr,  prime sponsor of                                                               
HB 31, said  that the rape kits, once received  by the crime lab,                                                               
remain there in  perpetuity.  She stated that even  if the victim                                                               
chooses not to pursue the case,  the DNA evidence is kept on hand                                                               
should it needed in that case or in a serial assault case.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH  asked if one  of the reasons for  a backlog                                                               
of  unprocessed  rape  kits  is  that  there  is  no  immediately                                                               
pressing prosecution.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. NOVAK responded that is correct.   She said the Department of                                                               
Public Safety (DPS) reported that  the Scientific Crime Detection                                                               
Laboratory ("the  crime lab") is  currently able to keep  up with                                                               
rape kit  processing requests.   She added  that the  fiscal note                                                               
reflects  DPS's anticipation  of  an increase  in kits  submitted                                                               
should HB 31 become law.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:10:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KNOPP  asked  about the  current  procedures  for                                                               
handling  rape kits.   He  asked if  they are  stored in  the DPS                                                               
crime lab  until they are ready  to be processed; shipped  out of                                                               
state to be  processed and stored; or shipped out  of state to be                                                               
processed then shipped back to the crime lab.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. NOVAK  offered her  understanding that the  DPS crime  lab is                                                               
processing the  backlog of kits, and  the kits are not  going out                                                               
of  state.   She  offered  to  provide the  committee  additional                                                               
information for clarification.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS  mentioned   the  two  different  processes                                                               
described in the previous House  State Affairs Standing Committee                                                               
meeting  of 01/31/17:    one, using  U.S.  Department of  Justice                                                               
(DOJ)  grant money  to  clear  out the  backlog;  and the  other,                                                               
ensuring a backlog doesn't accumulate in the future.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. NOVAK stated that outsourcing  kits to out-of-state locations                                                               
is  due to  the  type  of processing  required.    Kits that  are                                                               
processed  at the  crime lab  in Alaska  are kept  at the  lab in                                                               
perpetuity.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:12:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  asked if the backlog  of unprocessed kits                                                               
was due to other reasons and  "not just because they can't get to                                                               
them."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. NOVAK  offered her  understanding that  there is  no backlog,                                                               
because  DPS caught  up with  the processing  of all  kits, after                                                               
receiving grant funds from DOJ.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON referred to a  February 1 article from the                                                               
Alaska Public  Media, which says that  at the end of  2016, there                                                               
were 59 more rape kits to process.   She asked for the make-up of                                                               
those kits.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. NOVAK  responded that  the crime  lab has  102 kits  on hand,                                                               
with  35  currently  being  processed.    Of  the  102  kits  yet                                                               
unprocessed,  2  are from  October,  25  from November,  34  from                                                               
December, and  41 from January  [2017].   She added that  DPS has                                                               
indicated it is able to maintain progress with those kits.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:14:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 3:15 p.m. to 3:22 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:21:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that HB 31 will be set aside.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
[HB  31 was  brought  before the  committee  again following  the                                                               
hearing on HB 7.]                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
             HB 31-SEXUAL ASSAULT EXAMINATION KITS                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:14:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS  announced  that  as  the  final  order  of                                                               
business, the committee would once  again consider HB 31, "An Act                                                               
requiring the Department  of Public Safety to  develop a tracking                                                               
system and collection and processing  protocol for sexual assault                                                               
examination  kits; requiring  law  enforcement  agencies to  send                                                               
sexual  assault examination  kits  for testing  within 18  months                                                               
after collection; requiring an inventory  and reports on untested                                                               
sexual assault  examination kits; and providing  for an effective                                                               
date."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked how DNA,  as evidence, is stored, if                                                               
there is no related prosecution.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR,  Alaska State Legislature, as  prime sponsor                                                               
of HB 31, expressed her  understanding that collected evidence is                                                               
the  property of  law  enforcement  until such  time  a crime  is                                                               
resolved.    She  mentioned that  property  that  is  confiscated                                                               
during  an arrest  would be  returned  if the  case was  resolved                                                               
favorably  for   the  arrested   individual.     She  recommended                                                               
consulting  with the  Alaska Police  Standards Council  (APSC) to                                                               
ensure her information is accurate.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  expressed her  concern for privacy.   She                                                               
offered her understanding that once  evidence is collected, it is                                                               
under  the  control  of  the   law  enforcement  agency  that  is                                                               
investigating the  incident, and sexual assault  kits are treated                                                               
as  evidence  and  are  in   the  physical  custody  of  the  law                                                               
enforcement agency.   She described  a hypothetical  situation in                                                               
which [a  rape] happens and a  rape kit is collected,  but either                                                               
the charges are dropped or no  one is charged.  In that scenario,                                                               
she  said, evidence  has  been collected,  but  "no crime's  been                                                               
committed."  She observed that  the fiscal note reflects the cost                                                               
of  storing the  DNA evidence  and tracking  it.   Representative                                                               
Johnson  stated that  while she  supports catching  criminals and                                                               
prosecuting them to  the full extent of the law,  she has concern                                                               
for the those  whose DNA is being kept when  they have never been                                                               
charged with a crime.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:18:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  related  two   different  scenarios.    One                                                               
involves an individual  who is sexually assaulted, a  rape kit is                                                               
collected, but  because it was  a known perpetrator, the  kit was                                                               
not processed.   She  asserted that even  if the  perpetrator was                                                               
known to that victim, law  enforcement has learned that sometimes                                                               
the  perpetrator  has been  involved  in  other crimes,  and  the                                                               
sexual assault incident  should not be thought of  as an isolated                                                               
case.   She added that  from law enforcement's  perspective, that                                                               
evidence  is  very  valuable.    She  cited  that  this  scenario                                                               
demonstrates   the  challenge   of  balancing   needs,  and   law                                                               
enforcement has  chosen the public  safety need over  the privacy                                                               
need of  the perpetrator.   She asserted  that in  this scenario,                                                               
charges would be pressed, but the  kit would not be essential for                                                               
the prosecution to make a case.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  related  a circumstance  where  the  victim                                                               
chooses not  to press charges  against the perpetrator  and that,                                                               
she  conjectured,  was  the  basis  of  Representative  Johnson's                                                               
concern.   She  queried, "Does  a person  have a  right for  that                                                               
evidence to not  be used in a way that  would incriminate them in                                                               
another crime if  they weren't pressing charges  for this crime?"                                                               
She  stated  her  understanding   that  this  question  has  been                                                               
resolved  in favor  of the  public  safety need  being the  first                                                               
priority.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  stated her  concern  for  a fiscal  note                                                               
solely  for  the purpose  of  tracking  rape  kits, and  not  for                                                               
catching up  with a rape kit  backlog or for bringing  justice to                                                               
victims.   She stated, "We have  to be aware that  ... this isn't                                                               
something that's  going to  make it more  likely that  someone is                                                               
going to have  justice; in this case,  ... personal information's                                                               
going to be tracked."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR responded that  because there is currently no                                                               
tracking, it is impossible to know  where a kit is in the process                                                               
and  who is  in  possession of  the  kit.   She  opined that  the                                                               
greatest value  of the tracking system  is ensuring a kit  is not                                                               
lost  in  the  process.    She  cited  the  challenges  of  rural                                                               
communities  in collecting  and handling  evidence:   a community                                                               
may not  have a Village  Public Safety Officer (VPSO);  a trooper                                                               
must come  from out  of town;  and there are  time limits  on the                                                               
viability  of  biological  evidence.   She  conceded  that  these                                                               
circumstances are somewhat unique  to Alaska because of geography                                                               
and  limited access  between communities,  but she  asserted that                                                               
the tracking system would  facilitate identifying these problems.                                                               
She stated  she shared  the concerns  that people  have regarding                                                               
personal information  in a database  and the potential for  it to                                                               
be used to harm an individual.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:25:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS stated that HB 31 will be held over.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BIRCH  paraphrased  information provided  to  the                                                               
committee  by  Representative  Tarr and  said,  "Internal  review                                                               
indicates that  there are kits  that were never submitted  to the                                                               
lab and go back as far as the  mid-'80s."  He asked how many kits                                                               
are in the backlog.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  responded that the audit  revealed a backlog                                                               
of 3,600  unprocessed rape kits.   She added that these  kits are                                                               
the ones  that have  not been sent  to the crime  lab.   She said                                                               
that  the  other  numbers  [102  kits  yet  unprocessed,  2  from                                                               
October, 25 from November, 34  from December, and 41 from January                                                               
2017] reflect the  kits that have been sent to  the crime lab and                                                               
the  status   of  those   kits.    She   pointed  out   that  the                                                               
discrepancies  between  the  numbers  demonstrate  the  need  for                                                               
tracking both the  chain of [custody] and the life  cycle of each                                                               
kit.  She  said currently the only information known  about a kit                                                               
is when it  was received and "where it's at  in processing."  She                                                               
mentioned  that  the 3,600  unprocessed  rape  kits are  of  most                                                               
concern to  the public -  where they are  and why they  have been                                                               
languishing.   She reiterated the  importance of  processing rape                                                               
kits  in order  to  discover perpetrators  in  other crimes;  she                                                               
referred  to  the  article  on Clifford  Lee  [in  the  committee                                                               
packet], which  demonstrates the  importance of the  DNA evidence                                                               
that linked him to prior assaults.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:28:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KEELEY OLSON, Executive Director,  Standing Together Against Rape                                                               
(STAR), brought  up the possibility  of a victim submitting  to a                                                               
forensic   examination  without   giving  consent   to  open   an                                                               
investigation.  She said the  report, in that instance, is called                                                               
a non-investigative  report.  In  Anchorage it is referred  to as                                                               
an anonymous victim report.  She  said that these victims are not                                                               
giving consent for  the rape kits to be tested  but may choose to                                                               
do so  at any  time.   She asserted  that this  practice provides                                                               
more options  for someone  who is nervous  about reporting.   She                                                               
attested that  this mechanism  of reporting  is a  requirement of                                                               
the  Violence Against  Women Act  (VAWA) [of  1994].   She stated                                                               
STAR is  very concerned about  these anonymous kits  being tested                                                               
without the victim's consent.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH pointed out that  in a comment made earlier,                                                               
once the  sample is taken, it  is in law enforcement  control and                                                               
can be used "down the road."   He stated, "It is an open question                                                               
for me."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. OLSON  responded that Representative  Tarr has  expressed she                                                               
is open  to drafting  policy to ensure  that anonymous  kits, for                                                               
which there is no consent for investigation, are isolated.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:32:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS closed public testimony on HB 31.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
[HB 31 was held over.]                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB082 Sponsor Statement 2.1.2017.pdf HSTA 2/2/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 82
Hb082 Supporting Documents FAQs 2.1.2017.pdf HSTA 2/2/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 82
HB082 Sectional Analysis 2.1.2017.pdf HSTA 2/2/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 82
HB082 ver A 2.1.2017.PDF HSTA 2/2/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 82
HB082 Supporting Document Letters 2.1.2017.pdf HSTA 2/2/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 82
HB082 Supporting Document Community List 2-1-2076.pdf HSTA 2/2/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 82
HB 082 Fiscal Note 1.28.17.pdf HSTA 2/2/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 82
HB 082 Draft Proposed Amendment ver A.1 2.1.17.pdf HSTA 2/2/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 82
HB007 Draft Proposed Amendment ver A.2 2.2.17.pdf HSTA 2/2/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 7
HB082 Powerpoint Presentation.pdf HSTA 2/2/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 82