Legislature(2005 - 2006)FBX LIO Conf Rm
04/08/2005 09:00 AM FINANCE
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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10:53:00 AM CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 70(JUD) "An Act relating to controlled substances regarding the crimes of manslaughter and misconduct involving a controlled substance; relating to listing certain anabolic steroids as controlled substances; amending Rule 41, Alaska Rules of Criminal Procedure; and providing for an effective date." This was the first hearing for this bill in the Senate Finance Committee. DEAN GUANELI, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Legal Services Section - Juneau, Criminal Division, and Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, Department of Law, noted the proposed committee substitute. Co-Chair Wilken moved for adoption of CS SB 70, 24-GS1049\Y, as a working document. Co-Chair Green objected for an explanation. 10:53:54 AM Mr. Guaneli noted the difference between the language in Section 2 of this committee substitute and the committee substitute passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. This provides that a person who knowingly manufactures or sells an illegal drug commits the crime of manslaughter if another person dies as a direct result of ingesting that drug. This is consistent with the definition of manslaughter, which involves a reckless act that results in death. Mr. Guaneli informed that the Senate Health, Education and Social Services Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee adopted committee substitutes that included an "affirmative defense" provision at the request of Senator Dyson. This defense provided that a person who manufactured an illegal drug, but kept that drug in a safe, locked place in their home would have no responsibility if the drug was stolen, and a death occurred as a result. This is an uncommon scenario and typically drug dealers and manufacturers do not keep their drugs locked. 10:55:58 AM Co-Chair Green contended that the manufacture of methamphetamine is illegal and there is no reason to defend a person in possession of the drug. 10:56:18 AM Senator Olson agreed with Co-Chair Green's position, but understood that certain manufacturing of methamphetamine is legal. 10:56:37 AM Mr. Guaneli replied that one company legally manufactures the drug, with Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) approval, for use in extreme weight loss cases. However, this legislation pertains to the knowing manufacture or delivery of a controlled substance in violation of AS 11.71. Possession of prescription drugs would not be a violation of that statute. 10:57:01 AM Senator Stedman asked if a seller of heroin could be charged with manslaughter in the event a user of that drug dies. 10:57:51 AM Mr. Guaneli responded this is the purpose of this legislation. Heroin and methamphetamine are the two drugs most likely to cause "overdose situations". 10:57:55 AM Senator Stedman surmised this legislation might "be a little light" in the severity of punishment. He expressed no sympathy for these offenders. 10:58:02 AM Co-Chair Green asked if Mr. Guaneli had any comment on the changes made in the proposed committee substitute. Mr. Guaneli had none. The committee substitute was ADOPTED as a working document without further objection. 10:58:21 AM Mr. Guaneli spoke to the committee substitute. Section 1 includes findings of the legislature that methamphetamine manufacturing is a "particularly dangerous activity" therefore justifying restrictions on bail for defendants charged with this offense. This finding is necessary to enact the provision of Section 5 requiring a posting of a minimum of $250,000 cash bond. This provision was included in Section 6 of the previous version and is reflected as such in the current committee substitute. The language must be amended to correctly reference Section 5 rather than Section 6. Mr. Guaneli relayed that the Senate Judiciary Committee adopted the language of Section 5 as a conceptual amendment. The discussion was unclear as to whether the higher bond requirement should apply only to offenders with previous convictions, who it could be argued, would be more likely to continue these activities. In further discussion with the staff of that committee, it was determined that the provision should only apply to second offenders to correctly reflect the intent of the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, the current language could also apply to first offenders in possession of a firearm in the course of manufacturing the drug. Co-Chair Green indicated this issue would be resolved. 11:00:43 AM Co-Chair Green relayed that representatives of the real estate industry have expressed interest in the provision of this bill relating to the designation of properties in which manufacturing activities have occurred. Currently, the only way to learn of past activities has been after a sale is completed and a neighbor tells the new owner about the previous owner. If realtors or prospective buyers suspect methamphetamine manufacturing was done at a property, authorities would not provide confirmation. She asked if this could be addressed in this legislation. 11:02:14 AM Mr. Guaneli concluded that providing such information on a property would not create a liability for the State. Whether the site was property cleaned is a different issue. A registry maintained by the Alaska State Troopers or the Department of Environmental Conservation is an option. 11:02:56 AM Co-Chair Green commented that some realtors "feel vulnerable" because they are required to disclose any information about a property that could affect its value. She asked if a provision creating the suggested registry would be appropriate in this legislation. 11:03:48 AM Mr. Guaneli was unsure such a provision would comply with the single subject title requirements governing all legislation. He suggested a registry could be created through the regulatory process, provided an agency is willing to undertake the duty. The Committee might prefer statutory language. 11:04:35 AM Co-Chair Green stated that Alaska State Troopers have been unwilling to share this information and she was unsure if it was due to confidentiality or privacy issues. 11:04:52 AM Co-Chair Wilken cited a memorandum from the Legislative Division of Legal and Research Services dated April 4 and asked the witness to speak to the matter. 11:05:07 AM Mr. Guaneli was aware of the issue and indicated he would address it at the next hearing on this bill. 11:05:19 AM The bill was HELD in Committee.