Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205
02/02/2006 08:30 AM JUDICIARY
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 210-VIOL. OF ALCOHOLIC BEV. LAWS/FORFEITURE 9:51:43 AM CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS announced SB 210 to be up for consideration. SENATOR GENE THERRIAULT, sponsor, introduced the bill and said SB 210 makes changes to current law to better assist law enforcement in protecting communities that have chosen to limit the sale or possession of alcohol under local option laws. HEATHER BRAKES, staff to Senator Therriault, further explained that in 2004, Congress established the Alaska Rural Justice and Law Enforcement Commission, recognizing that many rural communities face the highest alcohol abuse and family violence rates in the country. The Commission presented recommendations to the Alaska Legislature and SB 210 was drafted in response to some of the recommendations of the Commission. The bill would make it clear that alcohol transported by common carrier in violation of local option laws could be seized and forfeited. It allows the authority to seize property determined to have been purchased or obtained through illegal importation or sale of alcohol. It proposes to streamline forfeiture proceedings for a person who may claim an interest in property that has been seized. SB 210 provides a definition for manufacture of alcohol in the statutes and clarifies inconsistency in statutes as it relates to the quantity in possession. There are over 100 communities that have chosen a local option to limit or completely ban the sale or possession of alcohol. According to the Department of Public Safety's 2004 annual report, bootlegging remains a lucrative business in rural Alaska. 9:55:41 AM CHAIR SEEKINS referenced Page 1, line 6, and the word "municipality" and recollected a couple of years ago the Legislature used the word "community" and allowed a community of 20 or more to adopt alcohol possession limits. He said at the time he wondered why they would allow a community of 20 or more people to make a decision as to what constituted a felony in terms of possession, sale, and importation of alcohol. 9:58:05 AM CHAIR SEEKINS called for public testimony. DOUG GRIFFIN, Director, Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, clarified that the term "established village" is the term of art used in Title 4, which is being amended by Section 1 of SB 210. The definition is found in AS 04.21.080(B)(9). An established village means an area that does not contain any part of an incorporated city or another established village. The definition is very clear in statute. 10:00:18 AM SENATOR HOLLIS FRENCH referred to the forfeiture timeline. He asked whether someone could explain the minimum timeline between the seizure of alcohol and some property, and the sale of the property. 10:02:02 AM CAPTAIN ED HARRINGTON, Alaska State Troopers, responded and informed the committee the way that property is currently seized is through adjudication of the case through the court system. Typically the property is not forfeited to the state until the case is decided through the court, which typically takes between 6 and 12 months. 10:03:06 AM SENATOR FRENCH asked Captain Harrington whether SB 210 would change that timeline. CAPTAIN HARRINGTON said it could. He said the bill would make the procedure for seizing alcohol consistent with the procedure that the state uses for seizing property related to drug activity. It could shorten the timeframe for seizure if handled in the civil manner. 10:04:33 AM SENATOR FRENCH asked the witness to explain the changes in the seizure timeframe. CAPTAIN HARRINGTON replied he has not experienced using the civil process and could not describe the steps. He said it was cumbersome to use and the troopers generally forfeit the property through the criminal prosecution of the case. He could not say exactly how long the process would take. SENATOR FRENCH remarked that it was important to know the time frame between the time of the arrest and the time that the property would be disposed of. He said many people leave Alaska in the winter and their property could be used for illegal activity. He expressed concern that people should have the opportunity to assert claim of their property before it is sold by the state. 10:06:48 AM CAPTAIN HARRINGTON offered his experience was that property owners have always had ample opportunity to respond. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) does a good job with keeping people informed. ANNE CARPENETI, Criminal Division, Department of Law (DOL), said the DOL worked with the sponsor on the bill and they support it. The DOL already has the opportunity to proceed civilly to seize and forfeit property used in violation of Title 4. The bill doesn't give additional authority; it just defines some of the procedures to make it clearer of how to proceed. Once the property is seized and the DOL does not know who owns it, the current statute dictates after 30 days the DPS would publish it in the newspaper. People who are acting illegally will tend to not claim that property. 10:08:48 AM The new provisions clarify the length of time a person has after the notifications have been posted in the newspaper, to file an answer to the complaint filed in court, and they have recourse to litigation to recover the property. SB 210 gives people a timeline to file an answer in court. SENATOR FRENCH asked Ms. Carpeneti the number of days after the seizure that the property would be sold and the money forfeited to the state. MS. CARPENETI replied at a minimum it would take 30 days plus the time that it takes the court to schedule the hearing, which would usually take about 60 days. It would probably take 6-12 months. 10:10:45 AM CHAIR SEEKINS asked whether the bill would do anything to interrupt the rights of lien holders. MS. CARPENETI replied that it would not. SENATOR THERRIAULT referred to page 3 lines 26-27 and asked whether that language mirrored the language that dealt with drug forfeitures. MS. CARPENETI said lines 26-27 were actually a statement of current law. Alaska state law presently allows the DOL to proceed in connection with a criminal prosecution or in connection with an "in rem" proceeding against the property itself. 10:12:50 AM MR. GRIFFIN testified in support of SB 210 and offered to answer questions. CHAIR SEEKINS closed public testimony. SENATOR THERRIAULT asked whether a fiscal note accompanied the bill. MS. BRAKES advised the fiscal note was pending. MS CARPENETI reported the DOL does not believe SB 210 would have a fiscal impact. SENATOR THERRIAULT moved to report SB 210 out of committee with individual recommendations and a pending fiscal note. Hearing no objections, the motion carried.