Legislature(2007 - 2008)BUTROVICH 205

03/22/2007 03:30 PM JUDICIARY

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Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 22, 2007                                                                                         
                           3:32 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Hollis French, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Senator Bill Wielechowski                                                                                                       
Senator Lesil McGuire                                                                                                           
Senator Gene Therriault                                                                                                         
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 48                                                                                                              
"An Act  amending Rule  62, Alaska Rules  of Civil  Procedure, to                                                               
limit the  amount of  the bond  required to  stay execution  of a                                                               
judgment in  a civil litigation  during an appeal or  review; and                                                               
amending Rules 204 and 205,  Alaska Rules of Appellate Procedure,                                                               
to limit the  amount of the bond required to  stay execution of a                                                               
judgment in a civil litigation during an appeal."                                                                               
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 3                                                                                              
Urging  the governor  and the  attorney general  to expedite  the                                                               
resolution in the  courts of the appeal from the  decision by the                                                               
commissioner of natural resources to  deny the proposed plans for                                                               
development of the Point Thomson  Unit and to terminate the Point                                                               
Thomson Unit.                                                                                                                   
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 78                                                                                                              
"An  Act  relating  to  the installation  of  window  tinting  in                                                               
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SCR  3                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: POINT THOMSON UNIT APPEAL                                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) THERRIAULT                                                                                               
02/19/07       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/19/07       (S)       JUD                                                                                                    
03/22/07       (S)       JUD AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: SB  78                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: MOTOR VEHICLE WINDOW TINTING                                                                                       
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) FRENCH                                                                                                   
02/09/07       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/09/07       (S)       TRA, JUD                                                                                               
03/06/07       (H)       TRA AT 1:30 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
03/06/07       (S)       Moved SB  78 Out of Committee                                                                          
03/06/07       (S)       MINUTE(TRA)                                                                                            
03/07/07       (S)       TRA RPT  1DP 3NR                                                                                       
03/07/07       (S)       DP: KOOKESH                                                                                            
03/07/07       (S)       NR: WIELECHOWSKI, WILKEN, COWDERY                                                                      
03/14/07       (S)       JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/14/07       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/14/07       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
03/22/07       (S)       JUD AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
William Boswood                                                                                                                 
Auto Trim Design                                                                                                                
Fairbanks, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions related to SB 78                                                                      
Andrew Felt                                                                                                                     
Auto Trim Design                                                                                                                
Fairbanks, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions related to SB 78                                                                      
Anne Johnson, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                        
Civil Division                                                                                                                  
Oil, Gas & Mining Section                                                                                                       
Department of Law                                                                                                               
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on a proposed amendment to SCR 3                                                               
Kevin Banks, Acting Director                                                                                                    
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR HOLLIS FRENCH called the Senate Judiciary Standing                                                                      
Committee meeting to order at 3:32:44 PM. Present at the call to                                                              
order  were   Senator  Wielechowski,  Senator   McGuire,  Senator                                                               
Huggins, Senator Therriault, and Chair French.                                                                                  
              SB  78-MOTOR VEHICLE WINDOW TINTING                                                                           
3:33:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  announced the consideration  of SB 78.  He recapped                                                               
that  during   the  first  hearing  some   commercial  installers                                                               
expressed  concern that  adding  the lightest  available tint  to                                                               
factory glass  exceeds the limit  under the current law.  If that                                                               
is true  then the standards  should be  changed, but that  is the                                                               
subject of  another bill, he said.  He noted that according  to a                                                               
table  in   the  packets,  Alaska   has  the  same   standard  as                                                               
California,  New York,  Pennsylvania,  Rhode  Island and  several                                                               
other jurisdictions. He  said he would hazard a  guess that there                                                               
is  window film  used  in  at least  some  of  those states  that                                                               
doesn't break the law.                                                                                                          
He asked  Senator Wielechowski if  he had a  conceptual amendment                                                               
to  address  the concern  about  the  level  of penalty  for  the                                                               
offense of installing window tinting.                                                                                           
3:35:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI   motioned  to   change  the   penalty  for                                                               
installing  window tinting  from a  criminal penalty  to a  civil                                                               
CHAIR FRENCH explained  that Title 28 is a  catchall statute that                                                               
sets out  penalties for  violations. Most  of the  violations are                                                               
misdemeanors punishable  by a year  in jail  and up to  a $10,000                                                               
fine, but  many of  the Title 28  provisions are  infractions. He                                                               
suggested that AS 28.35.235 is a  similar statute and it might be                                                               
a starting point for the conceptual amendment. In part it says:                                                                 
     Sec. 28.35.235.                                                                                                            
          (c) A person who violates this section is guilty                                                                      
     of  an infraction.  Upon  conviction,  the court  shall                                                                    
     impose a fine of not less  than $125, or, if the person                                                                    
     has been  previously convicted under this  section, the                                                                    
     court shall impose a fine of not less than $250. ...                                                                       
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  stated a preference to  have the conceptual                                                               
amendment to follow that style.                                                                                                 
3:37:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  asked if he is  comfortable with the amount  of the                                                               
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said his thought is  to set the penalty at a                                                               
rate similar to the penalty for driving with tinted windows.                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH asked Lt. Dial what  the penalty is for driving with                                                               
windows tinted above the allowable maximum.                                                                                     
LT. RODNEY Dial,  Alaska State Trooper, said it  is a correctable                                                               
offense, but  a $150  fine can be  assessed. The  Municipality of                                                               
Anchorage does assess a fine.                                                                                                   
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  restated  his  intention is  to  have  the                                                               
penalty  the same  as  the penalty  for  driving with  unlawfully                                                               
tinted windows.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR FRENCH clarified the motion would read:                                                                                   
     A  person who  violates this  section is  guilty of  an                                                                    
     infraction. Upon  conviction, the court shall  impose a                                                                    
     fine of not less than $150,  or, if the person has been                                                                    
     previously  convicted  under  this section,  the  court                                                                    
     shall impose a fine of not less than $300.                                                                                 
3:38:45 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  THERRIAULT noted  the change  from a  misdemeanor to  an                                                               
infraction and asked if it's for the driver or the installer.                                                                   
CHAIR  FRENCH said  the  infraction is  for  the installer.  When                                                               
there  isn't an  associated  jail time  it's  sometimes called  a                                                               
special-class  misdemeanor,  but  the name  doesn't  matter.  The                                                               
issue is to give  the police a tool to try  to eliminate the very                                                               
dark tinting  that may  be installed  at some  shops. He  said he                                                               
isn't  sure that  it's  happening  in the  shops  that have  been                                                               
SENATOR  McGUIRE  commented,  "Despite  their  statement  on  the                                                               
record that it was."                                                                                                            
CHAIR  FRENCH said  he  believes there  are  three categories  of                                                               
tinting. A demonstration would show  the very dark tint, then the                                                               
tint that  is probably just  slightly out of conformity  with the                                                               
70 percent standard, and then factory glass.                                                                                    
3:40:08 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  FRENCH,  hearing  and  seeing  no  further  discussion  or                                                               
objection, announced that Amendment 1 is adopted.                                                                               
SENATOR McGUIRE referenced  a letter she received  from Auto Trim                                                               
Design  asking the  committee to  consider changing  the standard                                                               
from 30  percent to 35  percent. Acknowledging that she  isn't an                                                               
expert in this area, she asked what the distinction is.                                                                         
CHAIR  FRENCH  asked  Mr.  Boswood  or Mr.  Felt  to  give  their                                                               
3:41:18 PM                                                                                                                    
WILLIAM  BOSWOOD, Auto  Trim  Design,  Fairbanks, explained  that                                                               
there  is no  30 percent;  what is  allowed is  70 percent.  That                                                               
means 70  percent light transmission  on front windows and  so 30                                                               
percent  of the  light  is  blocked. That  amount  of tint  isn't                                                               
visible; it only provides UV protection. He continued to say:                                                                   
     35  percent tint  is twice  as dark  as 70  percent. It                                                                    
     cuts in half the amount  of light that 70 percent does.                                                                    
     35 percent tint is  considered a medium tint nationwide                                                                    
     in the  industry and it  is quite visible. You  can see                                                                    
     inside the  vehicle with 35  percent tint on  the front                                                                    
ANDREW FELT  said the specific  request is to allow  tinting that                                                               
is in line with a majority  of other states. That is tinting down                                                               
to  at least  a  35  percent light  transmission  level on  front                                                               
windows and down to 20 percent on rear windows.                                                                                 
3:44:39 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR McGUIRE said it's a good  point; the basis of this law is                                                               
a  regulation and  it's  been  a law  since  1994. She  suggested                                                               
installers  negotiate with  the  regulation  makers separate  and                                                               
distinct from this bill.                                                                                                        
SENATOR THERRIAULT restated Mr.  Boswood's suggestion to allow 35                                                               
percent light transmittance and said  he would like to propose an                                                               
amendment on behalf of the good citizens of Fairbanks.                                                                          
CHAIR FRENCH asked him to continue.                                                                                             
SENATOR THERRIAULT  motioned to  conceptually change  language in                                                               
paragraph  (2) on  line 8  to say  it is  a violation  if tinting                                                               
doesn't allow  at least 35  percent visible  light transmittance.                                                               
The level would not be established by regulation.                                                                               
3:47:26 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  objected explaining  that the regulations  are very                                                               
complex and he  didn't want to amend them casually.  He asked for                                                               
other comments.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR  HUGGINS  expressed  discomfort because  the  bill  holds                                                               
installers liable, but  it offers them no help if  the request is                                                               
in fact reasonable.                                                                                                             
CHAIR FRENCH  said he understands  the concern but he  isn't sure                                                               
this is the time and place  to fix it. Nonetheless, he would hold                                                               
the  bill over  so the  committee could  resolve the  question of                                                               
whether to make adjustments to tinting levels or not.                                                                           
SENATOR  HUGGINS agreed  it is  a separate  question, but  if the                                                               
standard is unreasonable he would recommend holding bill.                                                                       
SENATOR  THERRIAULT said  he understands  the  argument that  the                                                               
various  regulations  are  complex  so  he  was  withdrawing  his                                                               
conceptual  amendment. "If  there's any  time to  consider if  in                                                               
fact  we can  accommodate their  request, I'd  rather do  it that                                                               
3:50:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  summarized Amendment 1 has  been adopted, Amendment                                                               
2 has  been withdrawn, and the  committee would take the  bill up                                                               
again when its comfort level is up where it belongs.                                                                            
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  asked if  it  would  be  possible to  get  a                                                               
demonstration and Mr. Boswood agreed to provide samples.                                                                        
SENATOR McGUIRE stated objection to  very black tinting, but said                                                               
she is interested  in knowing what percentage  does allow someone                                                               
to see inside a vehicle.                                                                                                        
CHAIR FRENCH asked Lt. Dial to comment.                                                                                         
LT DIAL  said he has  checked a number  of factory cars  and most                                                               
are  acceptable  according to  current  regulations,  but if  the                                                               
standards  are  changed, some  cars  will  be in  violation  upon                                                               
leaving the  state. He suggested  that state standards  should be                                                               
SENATOR McGUIRE  stated an interest  in seeing what a  50 percent                                                               
standard looks like compared to a 70 percent standard.                                                                          
CHAIR FRENCH  suggested she accompany Senator  Therriault when he                                                               
visits the tint shop                                                                                                            
CHAIR FRENCH held SB 78 in committee.                                                                                           
                SCR  3-POINT THOMSON UNIT APPEAL                                                                            
3:58:08 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH announced the consideration of SCR 3.                                                                              
SENATOR  THERRIAULT, Sponsor  of SCR  3, said  he introduced  the                                                               
resolution  after  it  became  apparent   that  the  Pt.  Thomson                                                               
legislation he initially  introduced could be a  detriment to the                                                               
state's   cause.  SCR   3  resolves   that  the   legislature  is                                                               
encouraging  the governor  and the  attorney general  to allocate                                                               
adequate resources  and to expedite the  court's consideration of                                                               
the appeal.  He emphasized that the  resolution isn't encouraging                                                               
a court fight.  In fact, he said, to expedite  could mean getting                                                               
to a  settlement; he didn't  believe that the  administration had                                                               
necessarily ruled that out.                                                                                                     
SENATOR  THERRIAULT said  when he  reviewed  the resolution  with                                                               
Kevin Banks and  the Department of Law he was  asked to insert an                                                               
additional  "whereas"  phrase  that  provides an  update  of  the                                                               
action  state agencies  have taken.  He distributed  the proposed                                                               
In conclusion  he said there  is potential benefit in  having the                                                               
legislature  support  the  administration's efforts  through  the                                                               
fast  track supplemental  for the  oil and  gas issues  that were                                                               
passed, but there's also benefit  in making a policy statement in                                                               
support of the steps the administration  has taken to get the Pt.                                                               
Thomson lease unit into production.                                                                                             
4:02:13 PM                                                                                                                    
ANNE JOHNSON,  Assistant Attorney  General, Civil  Division, Oil,                                                               
Gas  & Mining  Section,  Department of  Law,  explained that  the                                                               
proposed  amendment is  a reference  to  three other  proceedings                                                               
that are currently  in progress. Two proceedings  are in superior                                                               
court  and   they  evolved  from   the  unit   terminations.  One                                                               
proceeding  is   an  agency  appeal   on  the   individual  lease                                                               
CHAIR  FRENCH  asked  if  the  administrative  appeals  filed  by                                                               
ExxonMobil   Corporation,   BP   Exploration,   Chevron   U.S.A.,                                                               
ConocoPhillips   Alaska,  Inc.,   and  Devon   Energy  Production                                                               
Company, L.P. that  are listed in the proposed  amendment show up                                                               
together or one at a time.                                                                                                      
MS. JOHNSON said all the  entities appealed individually, but the                                                               
same issues are at stake so  it's possible that a single decision                                                               
will come out.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked if  the  governor  and the  attorney                                                               
general are allocating adequate resources for this matter.                                                                      
MS. JOHNSON deferred to Mr. Banks.                                                                                              
4:04:29 PM                                                                                                                    
KEVIN BANKS, Acting  Director, Division of Oil  & Gas, Department                                                               
of Natural  Resources, said  the financial  support is  under the                                                               
fast track  supplemental and the  Department of Law  has retained                                                               
outside counsel to work on the case.                                                                                            
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked if  the  governor  and the  attorney                                                               
general are  taking all steps  necessary to expedite  the court's                                                               
consideration of the appeal.                                                                                                    
MR. BANKS  said yes; no stone  will go unturned in  the effort to                                                               
achieve what is in the best interest of the state.                                                                              
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  commented, "It  appears that  we're already                                                               
doing  everything   that  we're  asking   to  be  done   in  this                                                               
SENATOR THERRIAULT  responded that although he  doesn't disagree,                                                               
he believes there is potential  benefit in having the legislative                                                               
branch  on  record  as   fully  supporting  the  administration's                                                               
efforts.  He asked  Ms.  Johnson or  Mr. Banks  if  they see  any                                                               
potential  downside  to  the  legislature   going  on  record  as                                                               
MS. JOHNSON said  she could not see a downside.  She continued to                                                               
say, "I would  like to say the Department of  Law appreciates the                                                               
Senate's   concurrent  resolution   on   Pt.   Thomson  and   the                                                               
proceedings   that  are   related  to   it.  We   appreciate  the                                                               
legislature's  funding of  the  proceedings;  the law  department                                                               
will  continue to  move  ahead as  expeditiously  as possible  to                                                               
hopefully attain a successful resolution.                                                                                       
4:07:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  FRENCH  said he  wrote  down  the word  "resolution"  when                                                               
Senator Therriault  said this  could lead to  a settlement  or it                                                               
could  lead to  a court  decision, but  the idea  is to  get this                                                               
wrapped up  as fairly and  as quickly as possible  without giving                                                               
away  the farm  in  exchange  for speed.  With  that  in mind  he                                                               
suggested the  committee consider a  bit of wordsmithing  on page                                                               
3, lines 19  and 20, to capture that idea.  If the legislature is                                                               
truly  telling   the  administration  to  expedite   the  court's                                                               
consideration  that's one  thing,  but  if it  is  telling it  to                                                               
expedite the process to resolve  the ownership of the Pt. Thomson                                                               
leases that  is a slightly  different and broader charge  than he                                                               
believes Senator Therriault is intending.  I tend to support him,                                                               
he said, because at some point  there may be a decision that it's                                                               
time to wrap it up because it's  not possible to build and fill a                                                               
gas line without Pt. Thomson gas.                                                                                               
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  suggested  the  committee  insert  something                                                               
similar  to  "or  facilitate the  settlement"  after  the  appeal                                                             
CHAIR FRENCH asked Ms. Johnson to comment.                                                                                      
MS.  JOHNSON suggested  inserting,  "or  facilitate a  successful                                                               
resolution to the Pt Thompson unit and lease dispute".                                                                          
CHAIR FRENCH, with stated agreement  from the sponsor, held SCR 3                                                               
in committee to allow time to prepare a committee substitute.                                                                   
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair French adjourned the meeting at 4:09:46 PM.                                                                             

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