Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/28/1996 01:30 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
         SB 289 MISC. LAWS RELATING TO RUNAWAY MINORS                         
                                                                              
  CHAIRMAN ROBIN TAYLOR  called the Judiciary Committee meeting to             
 order at 1:35 p.m.  All committee members were present except                 
 Senator Ellis.  The first matter of business was SB 289.                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR informed committee members an amendment (amendment             
 modifies Section 1(4) on page 2, line 2, by removing the words                
 "just cause" and inserting the words "the knowledge or permission             
 of the parent, guardian, or custodian," and changes lines 5 through           
 17 to read:                                                                   
  ; it is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under this                   
 paragraph that, at the time of the alleged offense, the                      
 defendant                                                                     
 (A)  reasonably believed that the child was in danger of                    
 physical injury or in need of temporary shelter; and                          
 (B)  within eight hours after taking the actions                            
 comprising the alleged offense, notified a peace officer,                     
 a law enforcement agency, or the Department of Health and                     
 Social Services of the name of the child and the child's                      
 location.                                                                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR stated the original bill required a 12 hour                    
 notification requirement.  He moved adoption of amendment #1, as              
 modified, changing the eight hour time limit to 12 hours.   There             
 being no objection, the motion carried.                                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS noted the committee debated the removal of the "just            
 cause" term on page 1, line 15, at its previous meeting as well as            
 changing the word "suspect" to "believe."  He asked for                       
 clarification of any action taken on those changes.  SENATOR TAYLOR           
 explained the committee removed the terms "without just cause" and            
 "within 12 hours" in a prior amendment.                                       
                                                                               
 ANNE CARPENETI, representing the Department of Law, advised                   
 retaining the phrase "without just cause" on page 1, lines 14 and             
 15, because without it a parent could be acting illegally for                 
 keeping a child home sick for two consecutive days, or for taking             
 the child out of school for a family vacation.                                
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR stated that if one follows through to Section                  
 1(a)(4)(A), it is considered an affirmative defense if the parent             
 reasonably believed the child's health or welfare was in imminent             
 danger.                                                                       
                                                                               
 MS. CARPENETI explained the word "or" at the end of line 15, page             
 1, makes paragraphs (1) through (4) exclusive of each other.                  
 SENATOR TAYLOR agreed but questioned whether this language is                 
 problematic for truancy officers because the term "just cause" can            
 be used to justify differing beliefs.  MS. CARPENETI felt removal             
 of that term would cause more problems than it would solve.                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked Senator Frank his opinion.   SENATOR FRANK               
 replied he was under the impression that truancy laws are not well            
 enforced, but felt the language could be drafted to address truancy           
 problems yet allow parents to remove children from schools for a              
 vacation.                                                                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER commented he understood Senator Frank's desire to              
 address truancy problems, but expressed concern that a school                 
 district that might consider homeschooled children truant.                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR believed amendment #1, adopted at a previous                   
 meeting, removed the "just cause" term from page 1, lines 14 and              
 15.                                                                           
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS moved reinsertion of the term "without just cause" on           
 page 1, lines 14 and 15.  There being no objection, the motion                
 carried.                                                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR discussed changing the word "suspect" to "believe"             
 on page 2, line 29 and on page 3, line 3.  MS. CARPENETI noted the            
 Department of Law maintains the better standard to require is                 
 "suspect" because reasonable cause to believe is close to the, if             
 not the same, standard of evidence required to justify an arrest.             
                                                                               
 Number 187                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR moved to delete the word "suspect" on page 2, line             
 29, and page 3, line 3, and to insert the word "believe."  SENATOR            
 ADAMS objected to the motion.                                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR FRANK questioned whether the court would hold a police                
 officer to the same standard as it would hold a prosecutor.  The              
 intent of the language is to expect the police officer to sincerely           
 believe a problem in the home exists, not that a problem might                
 exist.                                                                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS felt the word "suspect" would better address that               
 situation, because if the officer was required to believe a problem           
 exists, he/she would need to find evidence.                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR stated the suspect standard is existing law, and has           
 created a tremendous amount of parental frustration because police            
 officers tend to believe the child.  He felt the officer should be            
 required to have more than a slight suspicion when deciding whether           
 to return a child to the home.  He expressed concern that in the              
 state's zeal to protect the child, it is destroying the family                
 system.  He discussed problems created for families by manipulative           
 adolescents.                                                                  
                                                                               
 MS. CARPENETI pointed out an officer would need more than a                   
 scintilla of evidence to meet the current reason to suspect                   
 standard; the suspicion must be based on reason.                              
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR discussed a case in which a 13 year old girl flew to           
 California with her 20 year old boyfriend but the police would not            
 intervene at the Juneau airport because she stated her father had             
 hit her which is considered physical punishment.                              
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS called for the question on the motion, as this issue            
 will be debated on the Senate floor, and then voiced his objection            
 to adoption of the amendment.  The motion carried with Senators               
 Taylor, Green, and Miller voting "yea," and Senator Adams voting              
 "nay."                                                                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER moved SB 289 as amended out of committee with                  
 individual recommendations.  The motion carried with Senators                 
 Taylor, Green and Miller voting "yea," and Senator Adams voting               
 "nay."                                                                        

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