Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

04/11/2019 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
03:11:11 PM Start
03:12:42 PM Confirmations(s) Hearing|| Commissioner, Department of Public Safety
03:59:48 PM HB10
04:27:25 PM HB118
04:51:13 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Recessed to 4/12/19 at 9:30 am --
Scheduled but Not Heard
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
-- Public Testimony --
Scheduled but Not Heard
Scheduled but Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+ Consideration of Governor's Appointees: TELECONFERENCED
Commissioner Amanda Price, Dept. of Public Safety
-- Public Testimony --
Moved HB 10 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Moved CSHB 118(STA) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
        HB 10-CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE POSSESSION; SENTENCE                                                                     
3:59:48 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS   announced  that  the  next   order  of                                                               
business  would  be  HOUSE  BILL  NO. 10,  "An  Act  relating  to                                                               
misconduct  involving  a   controlled  substance;  providing  for                                                               
substitution of judgment; and relating to sentencing."                                                                          
4:00:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CHUCK  KOPP,  Alaska State  Legislature,  relayed                                                               
that the intent  of HB 10 is to address  a growing opioid crisis;                                                               
the state has struggled with  the enforcement, behavioral health,                                                               
and mental  health aspects of  the issue.   The question  is, How                                                               
does  the state  use its  resources and  the law  to arrive  at a                                                               
better result,  which is to  reduce addiction and  dependency and                                                               
increase public safety.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP cited  the Department  of Health  and Social                                                               
Services  (DHSS)  publication,   [entitled  "2018-2022  Statewide                                                               
Opioid Action Plan," document not provided], which read:                                                                        
     During 20102017,   with 623 identified  opioid overdose                                                                    
     deaths, the  opioid overdose  death rate  increased 77%                                                                    
     (from  7.7  per 100,000  persons  in  2010 to  13.6  in                                                                    
     2017). Synthetic  opioids, excluding  methadone, caused                                                                    
     37  deaths  37%  of  all 2017  opioid overdose  deaths,                                                                    
     with fentanyl contributing  to 76% (28 of  37) of those                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  stated that a  few years ago the  law stated                                                               
that possession of  any amount of a Schedule IA  or IIA substance                                                               
- which  includes heroin, cocaine, opioids,  and methamphetamines                                                               
- was a  Class C felony.   From a law enforcement  point of view,                                                               
it  was easy  to  prosecute.   Subsequently,  Alaska  had a  huge                                                               
public  policy  debate  about  whether the  real  problem  -  the                                                               
addiction rate  - was being reduced.   At that time,  the penalty                                                               
for simple  possession was reduced to  misdemeanor; that resulted                                                               
in  people being  charged with  innumerable misdemeanors  with no                                                               
incentive to enter a treatment program.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP  referred to  a  document,  included in  the                                                               
committee  packet, entitled  "HB 10  Background Information,"  to                                                               
point out the  schedule of drugs and the penalties.   Schedule IA                                                               
and IIA  drugs are listed  in the document, which  read [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     Schedule IA                                                                                                                
     Illegal  because they  have  high  abuse potential  and                                                                    
     severe  safety concerns:  for  example, heroin,  opium,                                                                    
     hydrocodone,  oxycodone, fentanyl,  (pain patch)  - can                                                                    
     be  used   to  treat  severe  pain.   Can  cause  life-                                                                    
     threatening  respiratory distress  when  taken in  high                                                                    
     doses  or when  combined with  other substances.  Also,                                                                    
     has  a high  risk of  dependency. Also,  GHB, date-rape                                                                    
     Schedule IIA                                                                                                               
     Hallucinogenic substances and  substances that suppress                                                                    
     or  stimulate the  central nervous  system that  have a                                                                    
     high  potential  for  abuse   and  dependence  and  the                                                                    
     potential  for severe  addiction.  These drugs  include                                                                    
     methamphetamines including meth,  LSD, the barbiturates                                                                    
     and cocaine.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP  paraphrased  from  the  sponsor  statement,                                                               
included in the committee packet, which read:                                                                                   
     As  Alaska  looks to  end  the  opioid and  drug  abuse                                                                    
     epidemic, it  needs innovative solutions to  help those                                                                    
     struggling  with   addiction  recover  and   return  to                                                                    
     leading productive lives.                                                                                                  
     House Bill  10 seeks  to be  a piece  of the  puzzle by                                                                    
     creating  an  incentive  for  drug  offenders  to  seek                                                                    
     rehabilitation instead of continued criminal behavior.                                                                     
     House Bill  10 first converts the  repeat possession of                                                                    
     IA and  IIA controlled  substances from  misdemeanor to                                                                    
     felony charges.                                                                                                            
     A  judge  may  then  propose to  vacate  an  offender's                                                                    
     felony  possession conviction,  resulting instead  in a                                                                    
     misdemeanor charge, upon the  completion of a treatment                                                                    
     This option  for a felony-to-misdemeanor  conversion is                                                                    
     known  as   a  "substitution  of  judgement".   If  the                                                                    
     offender  does not  successfully complete  their court-                                                                    
     approved rehabilitation, their  felony conviction would                                                                    
     This  path  for a  substitution  of  judgment does  not                                                                    
     apply  to offenders  charged with  other crimes  at the                                                                    
     time  of their  possession  conviction, including  gun-                                                                    
     related  crimes,  nor  is it  an  option  available  to                                                                    
     offenders more than once.                                                                                                  
     Those involved in law  enforcement and criminal justice                                                                    
     recognize the  need for offenders who  are consistently                                                                    
     culpable of drug possession to  get treatment for their                                                                    
     underlying addiction.                                                                                                      
     However, Alaskans struggling  with addiction often need                                                                    
     a push to enter a  program and turn their lives around.                                                                    
     House  Bill   10  aims   to  provide   an  accountable,                                                                    
     responsible mechanism  to help  treat addiction  in our                                                                    
     state,  and provide  for  increased  public safety  and                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  added that  all the data  points -  from the                                                               
Alaska  Criminal Justice  Commission (ACJC),  therapeutic courts,                                                               
and  Alaska behavioral  health agencies  -  indicate that  court-                                                               
appointed treatment programs  work.  They have  the highest rates                                                               
of success.   He maintained that HB 10  would encourage offenders                                                               
into  these programs  in lieu  of a  felony conviction.   Once  a                                                               
person  has   a  felony  conviction,   professional  [employment]                                                               
opportunities  become  extremely  limited and  the  offender  and                                                               
his/her  dependents   are  likely   to  rely   public  assistance                                                               
4:07:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR FIELDS  stated that  he has  heard anecdotally  from law                                                               
enforcement that about 90 percent  of crimes - such as burglaries                                                               
- are rooted  in addiction.  He asked whether  that perception is                                                               
consistent with Representative  Kopp's experience and, therefore,                                                               
the  proposed  legislation  could  have  a  positive  impact  for                                                               
reducing property crime in his own community.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  responded that substance abuse  plays a very                                                               
important  role.   He  estimates  that about  70  percent of  all                                                               
crimes  are  tied  directly  to   substance  abuse;  it  directly                                                               
precipitates crime.                                                                                                             
CO-CHAIR FIELDS  expressed his  belief that  HB 10  would address                                                               
one  of  the  root  causes  of  the  crime  that  is  making  his                                                               
constituents feel unsafe.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  suggested  that deferred  prosecution  is                                                               
different than suspended imposition  of sentence; under suspended                                                               
imposition of sentence  one must answer "yes" to  the question of                                                               
having  been convicted  of a  felony,  but not  under a  deferred                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP agreed.   To be in the program  [under HB 10]                                                               
the  offender  must  have  made   a  plea;  however,  the  felony                                                               
conviction  would   be  held  in  abeyance   until  the  offender                                                               
demonstrated   that  he/she   was  not   willing  to   materially                                                               
participate in his/her own rehabilitation.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX commented  that  the proposed  legislation                                                               
would give the offender one more chance to "straighten out."                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP agreed.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  STORY  asked  whether Alaska  has  the  treatment                                                               
programs and the resources to provide the treatment programs.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  replied that  Alaska has  treatment programs                                                               
but could  use more.   The  House just  passed the  mental health                                                               
operating budget [4/11/19],  which includes significant treatment                                                               
resources.    Every year  the  state  has  become more  and  more                                                               
focused on funding treatment  programs, because, ultimately, they                                                               
show  a very  high  rate  of success  in  breaking  the cycle  of                                                               
addiction  and  reducing   incarceration  and  public  assistance                                                               
costs.   Investing  in treatment  in  the front  end saves  money                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE STORY  asked to be provided  with more information                                                               
on  the treatment  programs and  options  within Alaska's  prison                                                               
4:11:49 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL referred  to  the provision  under  HB 10  -                                                               
changing  a  mandatory  felony  to a  misdemeanor  for  a  simple                                                               
possession  - and  suggested that  the impetus  for the  proposed                                                               
legislation is  to avoid  the negative path  that a  felony would                                                               
hold  for the  offender and  to  provide a  disincentive for  the                                                               
offender to  have repeat felony  convictions and continue  to use                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP  answered, yes,  it  can  be viewed  in  the                                                               
positive  in  that  the  offender  is  allowed  misdemeanor  drug                                                               
possession charges  - relapse  is a  part of  recovery -  but not                                                               
indefinitely.   He said that HB  10 would put a  provision in the                                                               
law  for the  court to  order the  offender into  treatment.   He                                                               
offered that  someone with a  third conviction most likely  has a                                                               
drug  problem.    If  the  offender  successfully  completes  the                                                               
program, the  felony conviction  would be  held in  abeyance, and                                                               
the charge  would be entered as  a misdemeanor.  He  reminded the                                                               
committee that a misdemeanor is not inconsequential.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP  reiterated  the history  of  Alaska's  drug                                                               
possession laws  and offered  that because  all Class  C felonies                                                               
are not equitable, the legislature  decided to review sentencing.                                                               
He said that HB 10 recognizes  that a felony is a serious charge,                                                               
but one  should earn it  and show that  he/she is not  willing to                                                               
meaningfully participate  in his/her own rehabilitation.   Alaska                                                               
would  be  balancing  the  need  to  help  addicts  recover  with                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WOOL expressed that  the drugs are very addictive,                                                               
and  it is  very hard  for  addicts to  quit.   He asked  whether                                                               
someone  with a  second-time possession  conviction, who  opts to                                                               
enter treatment, would be paying for the treatment.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  KOPP  clarified  that   it  would  be  the  third                                                               
conviction; the offender  would have to be convicted  two or more                                                               
times  before  the  provision  under  HB  10  would  apply.    He                                                               
explained that the proposed  legislation recognizes that relapses                                                               
occur.  He answered that  court-ordered treatment is based on the                                                               
defendant's  ability  to  pay.   Sometimes  the  state  pays  and                                                               
sometimes the defendant pays.                                                                                                   
4:17:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS asked how  frequently the courts elect to                                                               
use this  sentencing tool in  other states or  jurisdictions that                                                               
have this provision.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP  answered that  he does  not have  that data.                                                               
He stated that  generally either states charge  the drug offenses                                                               
as felonies and  do not have this tool, or  states charge them as                                                               
misdemeanor possession and do not  have this tool.  He maintained                                                               
that the approach under HB 10  is innovative because it holds the                                                               
"hammer" of the  law in abeyance and the focus  on is getting the                                                               
offender into  treatment.  He reiterated  that therapeutic courts                                                               
have remarkably high success rates,  because they have methods of                                                               
keeping close accountability  and contact.  The  felony hammer is                                                               
a valuable tool to incentivize people to enter treatment.                                                                       
CO-CHAIR   KREISS-TOMKINS  commented   that   a  state   attorney                                                               
described  for  him  the  therapeutic  court  system;  there  are                                                               
remarkable parallels  between that system and  the proposal under                                                               
HB 10.   The attorney expressed  to Representative Kreiss-Tomkins                                                               
how profoundly  successful the therapeutic  courts have  been for                                                               
people  who are  often very  deeply troubled.   He  expressed his                                                               
enthusiasm for the premise of HB 10.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE expressed  her belief that HB  10 presents a                                                               
needed  and  helpful  tool.    She stated  that  in  Alaska,  the                                                               
availability  of treatment  is a  big challenge;  her concern  is                                                               
that the Alaska  Court System would be creating a  false sense of                                                               
hope  that treatment  options are  available in  all communities,                                                               
because  it is  not.    She offered  that  [Homer]  is trying  to                                                               
implement  a  treatment program,  because  clients  in the  lower                                                               
Kenai  Peninsula must  travel to  Kenai, Anchorage,  or Soldotna,                                                               
which are at  least 70 miles away.  The  clients often don't have                                                               
the money for  a tank of gas, or can't  make the trip, therefore,                                                               
reoffend.    She  has  heard  testimony  that  some  people  will                                                               
reoffend in order to return to jail  and get help.  She asked for                                                               
information  on  the  treatment   available  outside  the  prison                                                               
system.   She expressed the  need for implementing a  phased plan                                                               
for  the  legislature:   coming  up  with  a cost,  building  the                                                               
resources necessary, moving in the  right direction, and starting                                                               
to reduce opioid addiction.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP responded that  the road system communities -                                                               
including Juneau - have resources;  they make up about 70 percent                                                               
of the  population of the state;  therefore, HB 10 would  have an                                                               
immediate  impact  on  the  majority   of  most  of  the  state's                                                               
population.     He  acknowledged  that  in   rural  Alaska,  more                                                               
resources are  needed.  He  asserted that not having  100 percent                                                               
of  the  resources  that  are  needed would  not  keep  him  from                                                               
advancing  the  legislation,  knowing  that it  that  could  make                                                               
improvements  to much  of  Alaska.   He  maintained that  funding                                                               
treatment   programs    is   almost   ten-to-one    better   than                                                               
incarceration  in  cost,  value  served, and  end  results.    He                                                               
offered  that the  Alaska Mental  Health Trust  Authority (AMHTA)                                                               
could  better   respond  to  the  question   of  availability  of                                                               
resources across the  state.  He suggested that  ultimately HB 10                                                               
would save the state money.                                                                                                     
4:23:15 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   WOOL  related   previous  committee   testimony:                                                               
Department of Corrections (DOC)  tries to return released inmates                                                               
to  their home  communities  to be  near  their support  systems;                                                               
however, many are under  court-mandated treatment programs, which                                                               
require them  to stay  in Anchorage, resulting  at times  in poor                                                               
lifestyle  choices.    He  expressed his  concern  that  lack  of                                                               
treatment  programs  in  rural  Alaska  could  create  this  same                                                               
predicament.     He  said  he  supports   the  encouragement  for                                                               
treatment under  HB 10.  He  asked whether the offender  would be                                                               
charged with  the felony  if he/she  tried to  complete treatment                                                               
but does not.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP answered,  "That is correct, if  they fail to                                                               
comply with the program."   He said that successful completion of                                                               
the  program  means  that  the person  was  responsive  to  every                                                               
correction  from the  court; it  does  not mean  that they  never                                                               
relapsed,  but only  that they  never committed  a new  violation                                                               
that rose  to the level of  reincarceration.  He stated  that the                                                               
intention is  for offenders  to stay  with the  treatment program                                                               
and complete  it; they are the  ones who have a  high probability                                                               
of breaking the  addiction cycle; and the  treatment program does                                                               
it  through intensive  mentorship and  accountability.   He added                                                               
that  the court  has flexibility  on the  treatment schedule  and                                                               
location of treatment.                                                                                                          
4:26:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  FIELDS moved  to report  HB  10 out  of committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There  being no  objection, HB  10  was reported  from the  House                                                               
State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB010 ver U 3.11.2019.PDF HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 10
HB010 Sectional Analysis ver U.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 10
HB010 Sponsor Statement version U 3.11.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 10
HB010 Support Letter from APOA 3.11.2019.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 10
HB010 Fiscal Note DOA-OPA 3.31.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 10
HB010 Fiscal Note DOC-IDO 3.31.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 10
HB010 Fiscal Note DOA-PDA 3.31.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 10
HB010 Fiscal Note DHSS-PS 3.31.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 10
HB010 Fiscal Notes LAW-CRIM 3.31.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 10
HB010 Fiscal Note DPS-SDAEU 3.31.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 10
HB010 Fiscal Note DOC-PP 3.31.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 10
HB118 ver M 4.1.19.PDF HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB118 CS ver S 4.3.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Sponsor Statement 4.3.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Sectional ver S 4.3.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB118 Supporting Document - Alaska Economic Trends June 2017 4.3.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB118 Supporting Document - Joint DHSS DOC Recidivism Reduction Report January 2019 4.3.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB118 Fiscal Note DOC-IDO 4.3.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Letter of Support - AMHTA 4.4.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Presentation 4.4.19.pdf HSTA 4/4/2019 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB118 Fiscal Note DOLWD-WS 4.5.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB118 Letter of Support - Partners Reentry Center 4.8.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB 118 Letter of Support - Juneau Reentry Coalition 4.9.18.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 118
HB033 ver M 3.26.19.PDF HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 33
HB033 ver S 4.11.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 33
HB033 Explanation of Changes ver M to ver S 4.11.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 33
HB033 Sectional Analysis ver S 4.11.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 33
HB033 Fiscal Note DOA-PDA 4.5.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 33
HB033 Fiscal Note DOA-OPA 4.5.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 33
HB033 Fiscal Note LAW-CRIM 4.5.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 33
HB033 Fiscal Note DPS-CJISP 4.5.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 33
HB033 Sponsor Statement 3.26.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM
HB 33
Dept. of Public Safety Commissioner Price - Letter of Support, PSEA 4.12.19.pdf HSTA 4/11/2019 3:00:00 PM