Legislature(2007 - 2008)
05/09/2007 02:45 PM JUD
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CSHB 118(RLS)-PROHIBIT ALLOWING MINORS TO HAVE ALCOHOL CHAIR FRENCH announced the consideration of CSHB 118(RLS). 3:42:38 PM MIKE PAWLOWSKI, staff to Representative Kevin Meyer, sponsor of HB 118, said this bill would give police a tool to combat minors' possession of alcohol in a dwelling. 3:44:30 PM SENATOR MCGUIRE said it sounds like the sponsor believes that parents can't be charged for having alcohol in the home with minors. MR. PAWLOWSKI explained that the word "physically" was added to line 5, on page 1. The sponsor's intent is that a parent in absentia isn't responsible. The responsible person is the one who is physically in the dwelling and exercising dominion and control. SENATOR MCGUIRE said she doesn't disagree with the policy, but in the past couple of years the government has been reaching farther and farther into the house. Alaska is becoming a "nanny state". She asked if it's reckless if someone is in a friend's house and a bottle of wine is in the wine cabinet that is not locked. 3:47:14 PM MR. PAWLOWSKI responded that issue had been talked about a lot as the bill has worked its way through the process. A reason they chose "recklessly" and not "criminal negligence" is because it addresses aware of and conscious disregard of the risk. The definition of "recklessly" in AS 04.21.080(3) says the risk must be of such a nature and degree that disregard of it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. It affects the person who is in possession of the dwelling at the time. 3:48:23 PM CHAIR FRENCH said most of the time the incident would be committed by a teenager whose parents are out of town. Chances are he would be cited for Minor in Possession. Adults who host are a bit more culpable. He asked why such an incident wouldn't be considered contributing to the delinquency of a minor. 3:50:07 PM MR. PAWLOWSKI replied it should be. He added that DPS is often more concerned with insuring that people don't drive and with keeping kids from running away. The gathering of evidence and prosecution is very difficult. The bill sponsor firmly believes that the over-21 people who are throwing parties for underage people will be seriously affected by several $500 fines in a row. This is a tool for the police to very easily say, "You have this violation and when we can prove it, we're going to get you for furnishing as well. And that's the kind of conjunction we hope works out." They often can't prove the adults were furnishing alcohol. SENATOR THERRIAULT posed a hypothetical situation where a bunch of neighbors came for dinner and their 19-year old college student is invited to have a glass of wine with everybody else at the table. He asked if that would run afoul of this law and how that situation would be differentiated that from a raucous party. MR. PAWLOWSKI replied the important part of that example is that the minor's parents are accompanying him and it's not in a licensed premises. That exemption is in AS 04.16.051 which says "This section does not prohibit the furnishing or deliver of an alcoholic beverage by a parent to the parent's child." The sponsor didn't want to make the policy call of parental permission. SENATOR MCGUIRE remarked the bill is an example of the government trying to control families and it will have many unintended consequences. She said she's aware of the mental intent of recklessness, but is unsure about the definition of disregarding known risk. 3:54:51 PM CHAIR FRENCH announced he would hold HB 118 for further work. There being no further business to come before the committee, he adjourned the meeting at 3:55:05 PM.