Legislature(2001 - 2002)

05/08/2002 03:14 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
      CSHB 180(JUD)-YOUTH SERVICES: REGULATION & TASK FORCE                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LESIL  MAGUIRE, sponsor  of HB 180,  explained that                                                              
CSHB 180(JUD) is another step the  Legislature can take to protect                                                              
Alaska's  children.  It passed  the  House almost  unanimously  on                                                              
April 29.  She noted  that Congress  recently passed the  Adoption                                                              
and Safe  Families Act  because of concern  for children  who were                                                              
being placed in  unsafe situations or not removed  from them. CSHB
180(JUD)  will bring  Alaska's laws  up  to the  standards in  the                                                              
federal   legislation.  It   will  bring   Alaska  statutes   into                                                              
compliance  with federal  licensing requirements  in the  areas of                                                              
prohibited crimes  and it provides standards for  mandatory denial                                                              
of licenses to  six state licensed facilities.  CSHB 180(JUD) does                                                              
not  chart  new water;  it  affects  the  areas that  are  already                                                              
licensed  -   foster  homes,  residential  childcare   facilities,                                                              
residential   psychiatric  treatment   centers,  child   placement                                                              
agencies, maternity homes, and domiciliary  schools. She clarified                                                              
that  the domiciliary  schools are  boarding facilities.  Finally,                                                              
CSHB 180(JUD)  also limits the  state from approving  or licensing                                                              
any person  that has  been convicted  of a felony  in one  of four                                                              
areas: child  abuse or neglect; spousal  abuse; a crime  against a                                                              
child; or a crime involving rape,  sexual assault or homicide. She                                                              
noted  that CSHB  180(JUD)  provides  guidelines  that will  allow                                                              
departments to  make decisions regarding the licensing  of certain                                                              
child  care  facilities  through proof  from  authorized  criminal                                                              
background  checks. The  state can  deny licensing  to any  person                                                              
convicted of the above felonies.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MAGUIRE  said that in  addition, the state  may not                                                              
approve or  license any prospective  foster or adoptive  parent if                                                              
the parent  has, within the last  five years, been convicted  of a                                                              
felony  involving physical  assault,  battery, or  a drug  related                                                              
offense.  CSHB 180(JUD)  also calls  for  the creation  of a  task                                                              
force  to explore  the notion  of criminal  background checks  for                                                              
other  areas.  She  informed  members  that she  was  asked  by  a                                                              
constituent to include a provision  requiring mandatory background                                                              
checks for  all adults who volunteer  in children's clubs  such as                                                              
the YMCA. She received quite a few  comments and concerns from the                                                              
non-profit community  about that requirement because  of costs and                                                              
recruitment  problems. In  an effort  to explore  those costs  and                                                              
other challenges,  CSHB  180(JUD) sets  up a task  force to  study                                                              
those concerns  and report back to  the legislature in  January of                                                              
2003.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
There being  no questions  or further  testimony, SENATOR  COWDERY                                                              
moved    CSHB   180(JUD)    from    committee   with    individual                                                              
recommendations and its accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  announced that  without objection,  CSHB 180(JUD)                                                              
moved from committee.                                                                                                           

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