Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/25/1996 09:06 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
              HB 523 STATE'S POLICY ON SOBRIETY                              
 Number 188                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN GREEN introduced  HB 523  as the next order of business              
 before the committee.                                                         
 DANIELLA LOPER, Staff to Representative Porter, explained that                
 HB 523 places written language into the declaration of policy for             
 the Division of Alcohol and the Drug Program which states that                
 Alaska recognizes and reinforces the example set by its citizen               
 that lead and support a life of sobriety.  For the Alaska                     
 Federation of Natives and 58 other local, regional, and statewide             
 organizations sobriety is understood as "a positive, healthy and              
 productive way of life free from the devastating effects of alcohol           
 and drugs."  Ms. Loper pointed out that the Division of Alcoholism            
 and Drug Abuse placed the definition of "sobriety" in their                   
 strategic plan "meeting the Challenge" which has been adopted by              
 the division and the Governor.  Ms. Loper read from a letter from             
 Greg Nothstine which was included in the committee packets.                   
 SENATOR LEMAN noted that the existing policy of the state is that             
 alcoholics and intoxicated persons should not be criminally                   
 prosecuted for their consumption.  There are laws that prosecute              
 for the evidence of consumption.  Has that been discussed?                    
 DANIELLA LOPER clarified that HB 523 does not address that issue.             
 This question was also asked in House HESS.  HB 523 merely                    
 recognizes that sobriety should be one of the solutions for those             
 having problems with drugs and alcohol.                                       
 Number 257                                                                    
 SENATOR SALO acknowledged that the issue is taking a turn.  Does              
 the current state policy encourage villages to go dry?  DANIELLA              
 LOPER could not answer that question.  Ms. Loper said that HB 523             
 would not substantially change the policy of drug and alcohol                 
 programs.  HB 523 merely offers another alternative to appreciate,            
 recognize, and reinforce.  This is not mandatory language.                    
 SENATOR MILLER did not believe that there was any conflict between            
 current policy and HB 523.  He believed that alcoholics were only             
 being criminally prosecuted when they committed a crime, otherwise            
 they are held until they are no longer intoxicated.                           
 DANIELLA LOPER said that the Division of Alcohol and Drug Program             
 supports HB 523.                                                              
 DON DAPCEVICH, Executive Director for the Advisory Board of                   
 Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, said that the board supported the                  
 legislature's passage of HB 523.  The bill advocates sobriety for             
 those who are addicted to alcohol and other drugs.  The bill also             
 speaks to those who never have a problem with alcohol and drugs,              
 but who choose to lead a sober lifestyle publicly.                            
 CHAIRMAN GREEN did not oppose HB 523, but was not sure that statute           
 was the appropriate place for this.                                           
 Number 312                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN moved that HB 523 be reported from committee with               
 individual recommendations and the zero fiscal note.  Hearing no              
 objections, it was so ordered.                                                

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