Legislature(2011 - 2012)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

04/11/2012 01:30 PM JUDICIARY


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= HB 224 SALES OF NICOTINE PRODUCTS TO MINOR
Moved CSHB 224(FIN) am Out of Committee
= HB 55 KNIVES, GRAVITY KNIFE & SWITCHBLADE
Moved CSHB 55(JUD) Out of Committee
+ HB 343 DISCLOSURE OF CHILDREN'S RECORDS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ HB 168 INJUNCTION SECURITY: INDUSTRIAL OPERATION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
            HB 343-DISCLOSURE OF CHILDREN'S RECORDS                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:37:58 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  FRENCH announced  the  consideration of  HB  343, "An  Act                                                               
relating to  disclosure of  records of  the Department  of Health                                                               
and   Social  Services   pertaining   to   children  in   certain                                                               
circumstances; and providing for an effective date."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PASKVAN joined the committee.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:38:28 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CATHY MUNOZ,  sponsor of  HB 343,  said the  bill                                                               
does three  primary things. First,  it assures that  the Division                                                               
of Juvenile Justice  (DJJ) and the Office  of Children's Services                                                               
(OCS) can  exchange information to provide  necessary services to                                                               
children without undue delay. Second,  it allows individuals with                                                               
a  legitimate interest  - such  as former  clients who  once were                                                               
children  in  state custody,  their  parents  or guardians  -  to                                                               
receive information about delinquency  history and health records                                                               
from DJJ. Third, it clarifies  cumbersome language in current law                                                               
regarding   public  disclosure   of  juvenile   information.  The                                                               
legislation  strives  to  preserve   the  legislative  intent  of                                                               
maintaining public  safety by disclosing  appropriate information                                                               
on  serious offenders  while  protecting  the confidentiality  of                                                               
offenders who pose less risk to society.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:41:15 PM                                                                                                                    
TONY  NEWMAN,  Program  Officer, Division  of  Juvenile  Justice,                                                               
Department of  Health and  Social Services  (DHSS), spoke  to the                                                               
benefits of improving  OCS and DJJ's ability  to collaborate. The                                                               
amendment to  AS 47.12.310(f) (Section  3) will enable DJJ  to be                                                               
more responsive  to requests, particularly from  individuals with                                                               
a  need for  background  information on  their juvenile  history.                                                               
Provisions in  Section 4  will improve the  ability of  staff and                                                               
the  public  to  understand  when information  about  a  juvenile                                                               
offense is subject to public disclosure and when it is not.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
He  stated  that the  proposed  bill  will  not change  any  laws                                                               
regarding  victim notification,  and  parents  and agencies  with                                                               
well-established rights to juvenile  information will continue to                                                               
receive the necessary information  to effectively carry out their                                                               
duties.  The laws  surrounding child  abuse and  neglect are  not                                                               
affected by the proposed bill.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:43:45 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR PASKVAN asked for specifics  on how the guardian ad litem                                                               
or OCS  employee can get  a request for nondisclosure  before the                                                               
court.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEWMAN  said the  intention is  not for  the OCS  employee to                                                               
object. The  guardian ad  litem (GAL)  or child's  attorney would                                                               
make  the objection  and  the  court would  rule  on whether  the                                                               
release of information was in the  best interest of the child. He                                                               
continued  to  say  that  DJJ   intends  to  develop  policy  and                                                               
regulation  to   guide  staff  in   understanding  the   type  of                                                               
information  that   is  appropriate   to  exchange   between  the                                                               
divisions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:46:49 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR PASKVAN  said he  was trying  to understand  the physical                                                               
mechanism  to   get  to   the  court   house  in   those  limited                                                               
circumstances when  it was not  in the best interest  to disclose                                                               
the information.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEWMAN said  DDJ and OCS employees  already share information                                                               
in  all  but  a  few  pockets of  the  state,  and  this  statute                                                               
clarifies that  presumption. He  deferred further  explanation to                                                               
Ms. Kraly.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  PASKVAN mentioned  the $75  civil filing  fee and  asked                                                               
what  physical process  is  followed  to get  before  a judge  to                                                               
object to the disclosure of information.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:49:43 PM                                                                                                                    
STACIE   KRALY,  Assistant   Attorney  General,   Human  Services                                                               
Section, Civil Division, Department  of Law (DOL), explained that                                                               
the  majority of  these situations  are existing  court cases  so                                                               
there would be a pending child in  need of aid (CINA) action or a                                                               
pending juvenile  justice matter.  In that context,  the guardian                                                               
ad litem, public  defender, child, parent or  guardian could file                                                               
a  motion in  those existing  cases.  In the  rare instance  when                                                               
neither a CINA action nor  juvenile justice matter is pending, an                                                               
application for  an original action  would have to be  filed with                                                               
the  court  to  protect  or   prohibit  further  disclosure.  The                                                               
individuals representing the minor would bring that motion.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. KRALY  acknowledged that the  issue of the filing  fee wasn't                                                               
discussed since the majority of  cases arise in an existing civil                                                               
context.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:51:08 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  asked for a  discussion of the tension  between the                                                               
desire to protect  a minor from their  youthful indiscretions and                                                               
the need  for the  public to  be aware of  those acts  in certain                                                               
circumstances.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  NEWMAN  said he  believes  the  intention  of the  1997  law                                                               
regarding  public  disclosure  was  to  reconcile  that  tension,                                                               
because some  information about juvenile offenses  clearly should                                                               
be available to the public.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  FRENCH asked  if the  general rule  is that  most juvenile                                                               
records will stay confidential.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEWMAN said  yes; the statute is very  specific regarding the                                                               
conditions under  which agency  records may  be released.  HB 343                                                               
addresses the release of information  that will be rehabilitative                                                               
and in the child's interest.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:53:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  asked if the  language on  page 5, line  29 through                                                               
the end of  the subsection says that if information  is stored in                                                               
electronic form it may be disclosed in that same medium.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEWMAN said yes.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH  asked how the  seven enumerated offenses  listed on                                                               
page 5, lines 11-18, fit in the scheme of the bill.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEWMAN explained  that current law and the  bill provide that                                                               
when a minor  is charged with having committed one  of those more                                                               
serious  offenses,  the  information  about the  offense  may  be                                                               
disclosed upon adjudication  if the juvenile is age  13 or older.                                                               
Lessor offenses are not eligible for public disclosure.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH  asked if in  some situations  juvenile jurisdiction                                                               
can be maintained to age 21.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEWMAN relayed  that juvenile jurisdiction for  a new offense                                                               
applies to age  18. A juvenile already  under agency jurisdiction                                                               
can  be  maintained  under  probation  supervision  or  in  state                                                               
custody until his or her 19th  birthday, and if both the juvenile                                                               
and court agree, jurisdiction can extend to the 20th birthday.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH  asked if  this law could  pertain to  an individual                                                               
who is age 19.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  NEWMAN  responded  that  a 19-year-old  who  commits  a  new                                                               
offense  and   is  already   under  juvenile   jurisdiction  will                                                               
generally be remanded to the adult system.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH asked if the bill  provides that in the future those                                                               
records can be disclosed.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEWMAN  said current  law and this  bill provide  that public                                                               
disclosure  will   be  maintained   for  five  years   after  the                                                               
adjudication. The  reasoning was  that the public  safety concern                                                               
would generally have passed by then.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:58:57 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL asked if the  requests for information might come                                                               
from schools or foster homes.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  NEWMAN  replied  there are  different  statutes  that  allow                                                               
foster  parents  and  victims  to  receive  information  about  a                                                               
juvenile's history.  The bill is addressing  information that may                                                               
be disclosed to the public.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH asked if the bill had any opposition.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. NEWMAN said no.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:00:00 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH  closed public testimony,  and asked Mr.  Steiner if                                                               
the  Public  Defender  Agency  had  concerns  about  the  current                                                               
version of HB 343.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
QUINLAN  STEINER,   Public  Defender,  Public   Defender  Agency,                                                               
Department of  Administration (DOA),  discussed working  with Mr.                                                               
Newman  throughout the  process and  the  work that  was done  on                                                               
sections  1   and  4   to  improve   the  bill.   Addressing  the                                                               
circumstances of nondisclosure was critical, he said.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  FRENCH asked  if a  juvenile could  oppose the  release of                                                               
these records.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  STEINER  said  yes,  but  as  a  practical  matter  it  will                                                               
generally  come  from the  guardian  ad  litem  in a  CINA  case.                                                               
Theoretically at that point there is no juvenile justice case                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  FRENCH asked  how  many juveniles  whose  records will  be                                                               
released will be  represented by someone who  will receive notice                                                               
of the release.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. STEINER  said there  is no notice  provision, and  a juvenile                                                               
may not have a lawyer unless there is an ongoing CINA case.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FRENCH asked if in his judgment notice isn't necessary.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. STEINER responded that that  was one reason he worked closely                                                               
to preserve the option to litigate.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  FRENCH recalled  that the  Public  Defender Agency  rarely                                                               
takes a  position on a bill.  He asked if  it was fair to  say he                                                               
didn't oppose it.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  STEINER confirmed  that he  didn't  take a  position on  the                                                               
bill,  but  some  sections,  Section 4  in  particular,  were  an                                                               
improvement.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:05:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH announced he would hold HB 343 in committee.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                

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