Legislature(2005 - 2006)SENATE FINANCE 532
04/19/2005 09:00 AM FINANCE
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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. This was the third hearing for this bill in the Senate Finance Committee. DEAN GUANELI, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Legal Services Section-Juneau, and Chief Assistant Attorney General Office of Special Prosecutions & Appeals, Office of the Attorney General, stated that this bill, which is referred to "as the Governor's Methamphetamine bill, … makes a number of important changes to Alaska Law to provide additional disincentives to people who manufacture methamphetamine". The bill would also provide additional protection to children in an effort to reduce their exposure to the substance. Mr. Guaneli stated that Section 1 of the bill provides findings about the dangers of the manufacturing of methamphetamine (Meth). The findings are directly related to provisions in Sec. 5 of the bill that would require a cash only bail of $250,000 were a repeat Meth offender caught manufacturing the substance. 11:59:52 AM [NOTE: Co-Chair Wilken assumed chair of the meeting] Co-Chair Wilken clarified that Mr. Guaneli's remarks were to Version 24-GS1049\L of the bill. Senator Bunde moved to adopt the Finance committee substitute, Version 24-GS1049\L as the working document. There being no objection, Version "L" was ADOPTED as the working document. Mr. Guaneli argued that the repeat Meth offender cash only bail level was warranted as such a person would be aware of the drug's danger. Mr. Guaneli noted that Sec. 2 includes language that would subject a person who manufactures or sells a drug in violation of the State drug laws to someone who dies as a direct result of ingesting that drug, to the State's manslaughter Statute. This would include such things as drug overdoses from the use of such as heroin, Meth, and cocaine and a "date rape" drug. 12:01:52 PM Mr. Guaneli stated that language included in Sec. 3, page three, beginning on line four is an attempt to address evolving techniques of Meth manufacturing. State Crime Lab chemists have determined that new techniques include such things as mixing the components in an organic solution. Mr. Guaneli stated that Sec. 4, beginning on page three, line seven, was added by the Senate Health, Education and Social Services Committee at the request of Senator Hollis French, to address muscle enhancing "anabolic steroids", which like marijuana, "are prohibited under federal law", but are not prohibited under State law. It would be "appropriate" to prohibit such drugs under State law, as "it is difficult to get the federal authorities to prosecute cases involving small amounts of these drugs". [NOTE: Co-Chair Green reassumed chair of the Committee.] Mr. Guaneli pointed out that a technical correction regarding language in Sec. 4(f), page three, line 20 of the bill, could be considered as the language is unnecessary since State Statute specifies that the word "includes" means "but is not limited to". Co-Chair Green understood therefore that the term is redundant. Mr. Guaneli suggested that consideration be provided to striking the phrase ", but is not limited to," as its inclusion "could create some difficulties for the Courts in interpretation…" Conceptual Amendment #1: This amendment deletes the phase ", but is not limited to," after the word "includes" in Sec. 4(f), page three, line 20 of the bill. Co-Chair Wilken moved to adopt Conceptual Amendment #1. There being no objection, Conceptual Amendment #1 was ADOPTED. Mr. Guaneli stated that Sec. 6 and Sec. 7 are "enhanced penalty provisions" in regards to individuals who manufacture Meth in the presence of or assistance by children. Provisions in Sec. 8 provide definitions to further the enhanced penalty provisions. Co-Chair Green noted that, in addition to endangering children by exposing them to the manufacturing of Meth in a building, Sec. 8 would allow that endangerment to include vehicles. 12:06:44 PM Mr. Guaneli concurred. He noted that because newer Meth production techniques require minimal amounts of lab equipment, they are quite portable. Meth labs have been found in motorhomes and in the back of cars. Mr. Guaneli stated that Sec. 9 and Sec. 10 were developed in response to concerns raised during the Committee's April 13, 2005 hearing on the bill. These sections would require the Department of Public Safety to maintain on its Internet website a complete listing of properties in which illegal Meth labs had operated, regardless of whether the site had been re-mediated or not. Real estate agents and others desiring to purchase property could consult this information for "full and complete information" about a property. Co-Chair Green asked for confirmation that the information would be public information. Mr. Guaneli understood that the information "would be available to anyone". Co-Chair Green recalled that this issue was the primary concern of realtors who had testified. Mr. Guaneli informed that Sec. 11 relates to rules that must be amended in response to proposed bail provisions. The bill also contains applicability and effective date provisions. 12:08:52 PM Mr. Guaneli concluded that the work conducted during the Senate committee process has resulted in an improved bill. AT EASE 12:09:21 PM / 12:10:02 PM Senator Stedman questioned the reason for the bill being accompanied by zero fiscal notes, as he assumed that the bill could result in more incarcerations. Mr. Guaneli responded that whenever criminal statutes are enacted, there is "the hope that there would be some deterrent affect". However, it is difficult to determine the extent of the deterrent in regards to Meth offenders, particularly those who are addicted. Nonetheless, there is optimism that Meth production in the presence of children would be deterred. Therefore, the number of people who would be prosecuted for child endangerment should not be significant. The additional penalties being proposed could result in one or two additional years of imprisonment. The Department of Corrections has anticipated that such cases would be limited. Co-Chair Green ordered the bill HELD in Committee.