Legislature(2015 - 2016)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
04/16/2016 09:00 AM JUDICIARY
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HB 147-ANIMALS: PROTECTION/RELEASE/CUSTODY 9:21:30 AM CHAIR MCGUIRE announced the consideration of CSHB 147. She noted that this is the first hearing. 9:21:50 AM REPRESENTATIVE LIZ VAZQUEZ, Alaska State Legislature, speaking as co-sponsor of HB 147, said the late Representative Max Gruenberg was passionate about this bill. When he requested help, the topic also became her passion. It has serious provisions that will help victims of domestic violence, local shelters, and individuals going through the divorce and dissolution process. It will also save money. She deferred further introduction to Ms. Bailey. CHAIR MCGUIRE shared stories about the late Representative Max Gruenberg. REPRESENTATIVE VAZQUEZ shared remembrances of the late Representative Max Gruenberg. 9:26:14 AM NICOLI BAILEY, Staff, Representative Amy Spohnholz and the late Representative Max Gruenberg, stated that HB 147 accomplishes three things: it amends the cost of care statutes for animals to hold an owner responsible for the reasonable third-party costs of caring for animals lawfully seized due to cruelty or neglect; it provides statutory protection for animals in protective orders, permits granting exclusive temporary custody of an animal to the victim; and permits a judge to consider the well- being of animals when deciding ownership in divorce and dissolution proceedings. MS. BAILEY highlighted that the Municipality of Anchorage reported that from 2009 to 2014 it spent over $100,000 to house neglected animals. She described it as a win-win if these animals don't need to be in a shelter. She directed attention to an article from the "New York Times" that speaks to the number of domestic violence victims that stay in the situation in order to ensure the safety of their pets. Point two in the bill ensures the victim may take their pets. CHAIR MCGUIRE asked her to walk through current law and what will happen should the bill pass with regard to seizure of an animal due to cruelty or neglect. She expressed concern that there be an opportunity for the other person with an interest in the animal to have a chance to rectify the problem. She drew a tangential parallel to a recent bill that allows parents that agree to relinquish parental power of attorney to a third party. MS. BAILEY said the cost of care provision is targeted on individuals who have so many animals under their care that they are neglected and dying. She suggested the domestic violence part of the bill relates to the chair's concern; when someone is trying to leave a domestic violence situation, they want to ensure that all children and pets will be safe. CHAIR MCGUIRE said she wants to make sure that all the circumstances of animal seizure are considered. She asked if there is an opportunity for the pet owner that hasn't been awarded care rights to make a claim for a pet that is being purposefully neglected by the individual given the responsibility of caring for the pet. MS. BAILEY said the animal will not be put up for permanent adoption as long as the owner demonstrates they can take care of the animal financially. Turning to the third part of the bill that permits a judge to consider the well-being of animals when deciding ownership in divorce and dissolution proceedings, she discussed how important this piece was to the late Representative Gruenberg who was a family lawyer. CO-CHAIR MCGUIRE commented on the correlation between animal cruelty and domestic violence. She expressed appreciation for the bill. 9:34:57 AM REPRESENTATIVE VAZQUEZ noted a national survey found that 52 percent of domestic violence victims did not leave a domestic violence situation due to concern about leaving their pets behind. MS. BAILEY shared that she will put her car on the ferry when she leaves Juneau and fly home with her cats. CHAIR MCGUIRE shared a story about the late Representative Gruenberg's dismay that someone who stole a car with dogs inside would only be charged with attempted theft of a vehicle. 9:38:33 AM SENATOR COGHILL commented that the reading of the language in Section 19, subsection (a) is inarticulate. He asked if there is a reason for the wording. MS. BAILEY explained that language clarifies it is a custodial issue. The sponsor was ensuring that the property aspect was included. SENATOR COGHILL indicated he wouldn't offer the amendment. CHAIR MCGUIRE found no further questions or comments and solicited a motion. 9:41:14 AM SENATOR COGHILL moved to report the CS for HB 147(JUD) from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). CHAIR MCGUIRE announced that without objection, CSHB 147(JUD) is reported from the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee.