Legislature(2005 - 2006)SENATE FINANCE 532

02/15/2006 09:00 AM FINANCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ SB 209 UNDERAGE MILITARY ON LICENSED PREMISES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 209(JUD) Out of Committee
+ SB 210 VIOL. OF ALCOHOLIC BEV. LAWS/FORFEITURE TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ SB 237 ADDITIONAL JUDGES FOR THIRD DISTRICT TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 209(JUD)                                                                                            
     "An Act relating to  access by persons under 21 years of age to                                                            
     premises  licensed to  sell alcoholic  beverages as clubs  when                                                            
     alcoholic  beverages   are  not  present  and,  when  alcoholic                                                            
     beverages are present,  to premises of a patriotic organization                                                            
     licensed as a club  if the person possesses a valid active duty                                                            
     military  or armed  forces identification  card  issued by  the                                                            
     United States government."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This was the first hearing for this bill in the Senate Finance                                                                  
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
JOSHUA TEMPEL, Staff to Senator Charlie Huggins, the bill's                                                                     
sponsor, read the Sponsor Statement as follows.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Senate  Bill 209 amends AS 04.11.110(g)  by authorizing  access                                                            
     by persons under 21  years of age, who possess a valid military                                                            
     active duty (or armed  forces identification card issued by the                                                            
     United  States  Department  of  Defense  or  the  United  State                                                            
     Department of Homeland  Security) ID card, to a club's licensed                                                            
     premises  without  specific   authorization  of  the  Alcoholic                                                            
     Beverage Control Board in certain circumstances.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Under present state  law, persons under the age of 21 cannot be                                                            
     on any premises  that are licensed to sell alcoholic  beverages                                                            
     unless  a parent or  legal guardian  accompanies them.  Current                                                            
     law causes  a dilemma to the  under age veteran. Although  they                                                            
     are eligible to join  an organization, they are unable to go to                                                            
     the  veteran's meetings  or functions  because  they are  under                                                            
     age.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     This  legislation  will, in no  way, allow  the consumption  of                                                            
     alcoholic beverages  by persons under the age of 21 in licensed                                                            
     clubs.  This bill will  simply allow our  troops access  to the                                                            
     supportive  and safe environments which they  currently are not                                                            
     allowed.  A military  organization post  will truly be  a place                                                            
     where  veterans across the generations  will have an  accepting                                                            
     atmosphere  in which they can impart their wisdom  and stories.                                                            
     This  bill will help  ensure a place  of safety for our  troops                                                            
     while they are on the home front.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde  asked  whether  the  military  organizations   being                                                            
referred to would include such entities as the American Legion.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Tempel  affirmed.  He  noted  that  the  bill  packet  includes                                                            
memorandums  from both the  Alcoholic Beverage  Control (ABC)  Board                                                            
and  the  Division  of  Legal and  Research  Services,  Legislative                                                             
Affairs Agency  [copies on file] that specify the  licensed premises                                                            
being  referred   to  in   this  legislation   would  be   patriotic                                                            
organizations  such as the  American Legion,  the Disabled  American                                                            
Veterans  (DAV), and the  Veterans of Foreign  Wars (VFW).  It could                                                            
not be "broadened" to include such entities as strip clubs.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde,  noting that  the bill would  allow people below  the                                                            
legal   drinking   age  to   enter   licensed   alcoholic   beverage                                                            
establishments,  asked whether  this action  would place  additional                                                            
"pressure  on  bartenders   in  these  clubs"  to  determine   which                                                            
attendees  could or could  not be served  alcohol. He asked  whether                                                            
the affected establishments have weighed in on this issue.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Tempel  responded   that  the  establishments  understand   the                                                            
conditions  of the bill and would  uphold their responsibilities  as                                                            
otherwise,  their alcohol licenses  could be in jeopardy.  Testimony                                                            
from those entities would be forthcoming.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde agreed  that an  establishment's  alcohol  dispensary                                                            
license could  be in jeopardy were  a mistake made and an  alcoholic                                                            
beverage dispensed to an under age person.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stedman reminded  that in previous times, there was no issue                                                            
with underage  soldiers  being allowed  in establishments  in  which                                                            
liquor was  sold. However, that situation  has changed. Continuing,                                                             
he asked what  prompted the need to  introduce this legislation.  He                                                            
had "no problem  with the whole issue. Someone that's  old enough to                                                            
serve  in the military  and  go to Iraq  certainly  should have  the                                                            
maturity to go into these  establishments and have some camaraderie"                                                            
whether or not alcohol was being sold.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  CHARLIE  HUGGINS,  the  bill's  sponsor,  stated  that  the                                                            
reality is that  an underage soldier at Fort Richardson,  Alaska for                                                            
instance,  who wanted an  alcoholic beverage  could get it.  That is                                                            
"just the way it is."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
In response  to Senator Stedman's  comments, Senator Huggins  stated                                                            
"service  organizations  see themselves  as  two-fold".  They are  a                                                            
"fraternal  organization   that  supports  quite  frankly  an  older                                                            
generation  of people"  and  participates  in its  community.  Their                                                            
other major  duty is to reach  out to young  military people  in the                                                            
community who might not  have family or another support group there.                                                            
Continuing,  he  noted that  the issue  is  that, due  to  alcoholic                                                            
licensing conditions, were  such an organization to participate in a                                                            
Veterans  Day Dinner,  for  example,  it would  be "illegal  for  an                                                            
underage  person" to  be on  the establishment's  licensed  premises                                                            
unless  they were  accompanied by  their legal  guardian or  parent.                                                            
This legislation would eliminate that licensing "technicality".                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Huggins affirmed  that the affected  service organizations                                                             
fully  understand  their  responsibilities   were  this legislation                                                             
adopted. This legislation  was introduced in order to allow underage                                                            
soldiers to participate  in a patriotic environment that could offer                                                            
them support.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson asked  how  the restrictions  on serving  alcohol  to                                                            
underage individuals would be monitored.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Huggins stated  that  in order  to be served  an  alcoholic                                                            
beverage   an  individual   would   be  required   to  present   age                                                            
identification.   It  would   be  likely   that  an  organization's                                                             
identification  provisions would become  "more stringent"  were this                                                            
legislation adopted.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:16:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stedman  asked for  confirmation that  the bill would  allow                                                            
underage  soldiers to enter  an establishment,  but would not  allow                                                            
them to be served alcohol.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:17:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins affirmed.  The purpose of the bill would be to allow                                                            
underage military  personnel to participate in an  organization that                                                            
could offer  support and  camaraderie, not  to allow them access  to                                                            
alcohol.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stedman  acknowledged. Continuing, however,  he opined that,                                                            
"if you  are 18 or 19 and  you're old enough  to go to Iraq  and die                                                            
for your country you're old enough to go have a beer."                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:18:09 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DOUG GRIFFIN,  Director, Alcohol Beverage Control  Board, Department                                                            
of Public Safety, testified  via teleconference from an offnet site.                                                            
To further  respond to the concern  about the responsibilities  that                                                            
would be placed on a licensed  establishment by this legislation, he                                                            
assured that  service organizations  are aware of the situation  and                                                            
would be taking  extra precautions. It is "a tradeoff".  On one side                                                            
is the point about these  people serving their country and needing a                                                            
place for camaraderie  and on the  other side is the need  to ensure                                                            
that establishments  uphold the requirement not to  serve alcohol to                                                            
underage people.  Efforts could be taken to ensure  that the actions                                                            
proposed by this legislation would work.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green  asked for clarification as to whether  the law being                                                            
changed is one that prohibits  people under the age of 21 from being                                                            
in an establishment that  sells alcohol or whether the law prohibits                                                            
people under the  age of 21 from belonging to such  an organization.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Griffin  clarified the  issue is that  because the clubs  have a                                                            
beverage  dispensary   license,  they   must  adhere  to   the  same                                                            
regulations  as a bar and  restrict those under  the age of  21 from                                                            
the premises  unless  a legal  guardian or  spouse age  21 or  older                                                            
accompanied  them.  This bill  would alter  that  standard. The  ABC                                                            
Board has "no  jurisdiction over membership".  People under  the age                                                            
of 21 could  belong to the organizations.  He noted that  changes to                                                            
ABC  standards  are  not  uncommon,  as  restrictions   on  licensed                                                            
premises that  offer dining have been altered to allow  people under                                                            
the age of 21 to dine there.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:20:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Stedman  asked whether the  bill could be expanded  to allow                                                            
the military individuals  identified in this legislation  to be able                                                            
to  consume   alcohol  at   the  age  of   19  in  these   patriotic                                                            
establishments.  "The whole issue"  of how a person in the  military                                                            
who is  under the age  of 21 "is  handled … in  our own country  …is                                                            
egregious".                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Griffin  regarded  the  drinking  age  discussion  as  being  a                                                            
"broader  issue". As  the result  of "federal  suggestions",  states                                                            
adopted  21  as their  legal  drinking  age in  the  1980s.  Federal                                                            
highway funding  and other federal aid could be negatively  affected                                                            
were  a  state  to lower  that  federally  "recommended"   allowable                                                            
drinking age.  There is a "great deal  of uniformity on this  matter                                                            
nationwide.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:22:35 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde asked  whether  a soldier  must  be 21  years old  to                                                            
consume alcohol in a club on a military base.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins  affirmed that  a soldier must  be 21. At one  time,                                                            
there was an exception  in regards to the consumption of beer with a                                                            
3.2 percent alcoholic content.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  understood therefore that the military  has a 21-year                                                            
age requirement  as well. The issue  of changing the age  at which a                                                            
person could  legally consume alcohol  would be an issue  beyond the                                                            
realm of the ABC Board.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator Huggins  noted that in recent time, such things  as the once                                                            
popular after  work Happy  Hour events and  clubs on military  bases                                                            
have disappeared.  He also noted the  fact that a Driving  Under The                                                            
Influence (DUI)  offense on one's  record would be detrimental  to a                                                            
career in  the military.  Thus, events that  promoted drinking  have                                                            
been curtailed.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE 9:24 AM / 9:24:45 AM                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Vice Chair Bunde assumed Chair of the meeting.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:25:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN WILKINS, Volunteer  Director, Disabled American Veterans (DAV),                                                            
Department   of    Alaska   informed   the   Committee    that   his                                                            
responsibilities   include  overseeing  the  work  of  four  service                                                            
officers  who are  compensated  by the State  of Alaska  as well  as                                                            
seven  chapter service  officers who  are volunteers  like  himself.                                                            
Their  work would  include such  things as assisting  veterans  with                                                            
claims against the federal  Veterans Administration. He noted that a                                                            
service referred  to as VetBoat utilizes  a boat to travel  to small                                                            
communities  in  Southeast   Alaska  to  assist  veterans  in  those                                                            
communities.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Wilkins stated  that DAV supports this legislation.  He conveyed                                                            
that he had sought  assurance from post commanders  that "stringent"                                                            
procedures would be established  in their licensed establishments to                                                            
insure  "that  no  underage  military person  would  be  allowed  to                                                            
drink".                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:26:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Wilkins stated  that  the adoption  of this  legislation  would                                                            
allow "service  officers to talk more  freely with the young  people                                                            
that are back  about any problems  that they may have. Not  allowing                                                            
them into  clubs and organizations"  has  made service officer  jobs                                                            
more  difficult,  and has  prevented  allowing young  veterans  from                                                            
talking  with service  officers. He  characterized  the role of  the                                                            
service officers  as being  "a mentoring  situation" in which  older                                                            
soldiers  assist  young  military  personnel  in dealing  with  such                                                            
things as combat issues.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Wilkins  stated  that passage  of  this  legislation  would  be                                                            
appreciated.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:27:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CLAYTON LOVE,  Commander, Disabled American Veterans,  Department of                                                            
Alaska, concurred with  Mr. Wilkins' comments. He declared that this                                                            
legislation  would not significantly  impact bartenders;  they would                                                            
simply  be required  to  monitor activities  "more  closely".  Rules                                                            
would be established. For  instance, were people under the age of 21                                                            
to have consumed a drink  prior to coming to an establishment, their                                                            
entry would be denied.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Love stated that the  benefit of this bill would be to allow all                                                            
members of an organization  to participate in events such as dinners                                                            
that might be held in the establishment.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:29:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Love  continued  that  this  legislation  would  allow  younger                                                            
soldiers to benefit from  the camaraderie and the experiences of the                                                            
older  soldiers  including  combat experiences,  injuries,  and  re-                                                            
adjusting to civilian  life. Furthering this legislation  would also                                                            
indicate State support for young military personnel.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:31:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HOWARD COLBERT, Commander,  Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter                                                            
No.  4,   Juneau,  informed   the  Committee   that  when   Congress                                                            
established  the DAV,  it  specified in  Statute  that no  alcoholic                                                            
beverages could  be consumed in their meeting rooms.  DAV has a very                                                            
limited budget and, as  it does not have its own facilities, it must                                                            
conduct meetings  in places such as  public libraries. However,  the                                                            
limited   availability  of   such  space  is   a  hardship   on  the                                                            
organization.  Consequently,  benevolent organizations  such  as the                                                            
American Legion  and VFW have allowed  DAV to hold its meetings  and                                                            
complete required paperwork  for veterans with disabilities in their                                                            
facilities.  Continuing,  he  noted  that  due to  the  current  age                                                            
restrictions   on  licensed  patriotic   establishments,   providing                                                            
assistance for disabled  veterans under the age of 21 is burdensome.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Colbert likened  the wisdom that older veterans  could impart to                                                            
a library:  "they are a wealth of  knowledge". Continuing,  he noted                                                            
that VFW and American Legion  posts are well managed. Of the State's                                                            
72,000 veterans,  14,000 live in Southeast Alaska.  The VetBoat that                                                            
transits to communities  in Southeast Alaska has completed paperwork                                                            
for 459 veterans with disabilities  over the past six years; most of                                                            
that paperwork  was completed  in VFW or  American Legion halls.  As                                                            
the State's  veterans age, they will  be experiencing more  problems                                                            
and locations  must be available  in which  to conduct the  required                                                            
paperwork.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Colbert,  who had completed two  tours of Vietnam, communicated                                                             
that  being  a young  veteran  is  "a whole  different  world".  The                                                            
veterans in the  various patriotic organizations "do  understand and                                                            
they do talk.  That is a lot of help for the younger  guys." While a                                                            
multi-age  family  could currently  dine  in  a restaurant  with  an                                                            
alcoholic beverage  license, an underage veteran who  has served his                                                            
country could  not currently enter a VFW Hall without  the bar being                                                            
closed down. "That doesn't  make sense to me." These "very very fine                                                            
young"  veterans have  earned  the right  to enter  these  patriotic                                                            
establishments.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:36:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  surmised that when Mr. Colbert served  in Vietnam, no                                                            
identification had been  checked when beer rations were distributed.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Colbert affirmed.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:36:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde thanked the gentlemen for their service.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
RECESS TO THE CALL OF CHAIR 9:37:12 AM / 10:21:33 AM                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Green resumed Chair of the Committee.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Wilken  moved  to  report the  bill  from  Committee  with                                                            
individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
There  being  no  objection,  CS  SB  209(JUD)   was  REPORTED  from                                                            
Committee with  previous zero fiscal note #1 from  the Department of                                                            
Military and Veterans Affairs.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:22:16 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                

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