Legislature(2007 - 2008)

05/09/2007 02:45 PM JUD

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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     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                                                               
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                                                               
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                                                               
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                                                               
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                                                               
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.                                                                                          

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