Legislature(2017 - 2018)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/21/2018 01:30 PM JUDICIARY

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Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
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         SB 184-ACCESS TO MARIJUANA CONVICTION RECORDS                                                                      
1:32:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL  announced the  consideration of  SB 184  and stated                                                              
his intention to hear an introduction and take questions.                                                                       
1:33:03 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  TOM BEGICH,  Alaska  State Legislature,  Juneau,  Alaska,                                                              
sponsor  of  SB  184,  stated  that the  bill  is  the  result  of                                                              
meetings  in his  district  on public  safety  that occurred  last                                                              
September.  He   continued  the   introduction  speaking   to  the                                                              
following sponsor statement:                                                                                                    
     Senate Bill  184 would make confidential the  records of                                                                   
     individuals who  have been convicted of  minor marijuana                                                                   
     crimes, and  no other crime. In 2014, Alaskans  voted to                                                                   
     legalize  the  cultivation,  sales,  and  possession  of                                                                   
     marijuana  for  those  21   years  old  or  older.  This                                                                   
     legislation  led  to  a  robust  and  growing  marijuana                                                                   
     industry,   but  some  Alaskans   remain  blocked   from                                                                   
     employment   and    housing   by   previous    marijuana                                                                   
     According to  a report by Legislative  Research, between                                                                   
     2007  and  2017  there  were   more  than  700  Alaskans                                                                   
     convicted   of  low   level   marijuana  crimes.   Those                                                                   
     convictions  can  make  obtaining  housing  and  gainful                                                                   
     employment    challenging,    even   though    marijuana                                                                   
     possession would not be a crime today.                                                                                     
     Further, Senate  Bill 184 would  prevent the  State from                                                                   
     asking if  someone has been  convicted of a felony  on a                                                                   
     job  application, with  an  exclusion  for any  position                                                                   
     related  to the  criminal justice  field.  This type  of                                                                   
     'ban  the box'  legislation  has  been shown  to  reduce                                                                   
     barriers  to gainful, fulltime  employment, amongst  the                                                                   
     most important factors in reducing recidivism.                                                                             
     Now   that  voters   have   legalized  marijuana,   this                                                                   
     legislation  would allow those  previously convicted  to                                                                   
     move on  with their lives,  while ensuring those  in the                                                                   
     criminal  justice  field  still have  access  to  needed                                                                   
     background information.                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH pointed out that entities would not be prohibited                                                                
from investigating an applicant.                                                                                                
1:34:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KELLY joined the committee.                                                                                             
1:36:09 PM                                                                                                                    
SYDNEY LIENEMANN, PhD., Staff, Senator Tom Begich, Alaska State                                                                 
Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, delivered the following sectional                                                                  
analysis for SB 184:                                                                                                            
     Section 1:  Describes the  legislative intent to  reduce                                                                   
     barriers  to re-entry for  those convicted of  low-level                                                                   
     marijuana   possession,  which   would   no  longer   be                                                                   
     considered crimes today.                                                                                                   
     Section 2:  Prohibits the  Department of Public  Safety,                                                                   
     and  any designated  reporting  agency, from  disclosing                                                                   
     any  criminal  records  associated  with  possession  of                                                                   
     less  than  one  ounce  of  a  schedule  VIA  controlled                                                                   
     substance  conviction, covering  both State Statute  and                                                                   
     municipal  ordinance.  These  cases  will  be  protected                                                                   
     from  disclosure only  if  marijuana  possession is  the                                                                   
     only  crime for  which  the person  was  convicted in  a                                                                   
     particular  criminal  case.  A schedule  VIA  controlled                                                                   
     substance  considered  to  have  the  lowest  degree  of                                                                   
     danger to users. Marijuana is the only VIA drug.                                                                           
     Section  3:  Makes  Alaska  Court  System's  records  of                                                                   
     criminal cases  involving convictions for  possession of                                                                   
     less  than one  ounce of  marijuana confidential.  Those                                                                   
     cases would not be available on Court View.                                                                                
     Section  4: Limits  a State  agency's ability  to ask  a                                                                   
     job applicant  if they have  been convicted of  a crime.                                                                   
     This  section  makes  an  exception   for  any  position                                                                   
     associated with the criminal justice field.                                                                                
     Section 5:  Indirectly amends Alaska Court  System Rules                                                                   
     of    Administration    by    making    certain    cases                                                                   
     Section 6: Because  Section 5 indirectly amends  a court                                                                   
     rule, this  legislation will  require a two-thirds  vote                                                                   
     as described by the Alaska Constitution.                                                                                   
     Section  7: Provides  120 days for  this legislation  to                                                                   
     take  effect after bill  signing, giving  the Courts  as                                                                   
     well  as   affected  agencies   time  to  change   their                                                                   
     reporting protocols.                                                                                                       
1:37:49 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH advised  that he  and his staff  have worked  with                                                              
the   Department  of   Law  and   the  Court   System,  and   they                                                              
participated in  the Criminal Justice  working groups  that looked                                                              
at  barriers   to  reentry  and   explored  issues   ranging  from                                                              
expungement  to  confidentiality  of  records. He  noted  that  at                                                              
least  nine  other states  have  passed  legislation like  SB  184                                                              
proposes. At  least 30  other states have  laws with  some element                                                              
of  expungement. He  offered to  provide that  information to  the                                                              
CHAIR  COGHILL offered  his understanding  that  in this  instance                                                              
confidentiality  makes these cases  unavailable on CourtView,  but                                                              
it does not expunge the record.                                                                                                 
SENATOR  BEGICH  agreed that  the  record  is not  eliminated;  it                                                              
would still be searchable by law enforcement and other entities.                                                                
1:38:52 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER  asked if a  private investigator could  access the                                                              
record on CourtView.                                                                                                            
SENATOR BEGICH  said his  understanding is  that the entity  could                                                              
do a background  search, but the record would not  be available on                                                              
CourtView. He deferred further explanation to Dr. Lienemann.                                                                    
DR. LIENEMANN  advised that those  records would be  available for                                                              
a  more detailed  background check,  but  someone who  is doing  a                                                              
Google search would not find those records.                                                                                     
CHAIR COGHILL  asked what a "ban  the box" application  would look                                                              
SENATOR BEGICH clarified  that the "ban the box"  would only apply                                                              
to state  agency applications, not  private entities. The  box and                                                              
direction to  check the  box if the  applicant has convictions  of                                                              
minor marijuana  crimes would  not appear  on state  applications.                                                              
He reiterated  that  this would  not stop an  employer from  doing                                                              
necessary  background checks.  The idea  is to  keep state  hiring                                                              
managers  from  tossing  an application  that  indicates  a  prior                                                              
marijuana conviction that is no longer against the law.                                                                         
CHAIR COGHILL  said the  Criminal Justice  Commission has  debated                                                              
the issue  and that is the  positive aspect. The negative  is that                                                              
more agencies might require background checks.                                                                                  
SENATOR SHOWER  asked for  clarification.  The third paragraph  of                                                              
the sponsor  statement talks  about a  felony conviction,  but the                                                              
bill doesn't specifically mention that.                                                                                         
1:42:16 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH  referenced  Senator Coghill's  last  comment  and                                                              
advised  that  the  Department of  Administration  issued  a  zero                                                              
fiscal note  indicating that  the bill  would not increase  costs.                                                              
He deferred Senator Shower's question to Dr. Lienemann.                                                                         
DR. LIENEMANN  advised that  the bill says  a person  convicted of                                                              
any crime, not just a felony.                                                                                                   
CHAIR COGHILL asked if the bill has generated any opposition.                                                                   
SENATOR  BEGICH said  he  hasn't heard  any  opposition but  there                                                              
have been questions  requesting assurance that the  bill would not                                                              
place public  safety at risk.  The intent  is to offer  people who                                                              
have prior  low-level marijuana  convictions an opportunity  to be                                                              
considered fairly  in the job  market. The  bill does not  ask for                                                              
CHAIR  COGHILL asked  how many  Alaskans have  a record  of a  VIA                                                              
controlled substance conviction.                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH said  the research his office asked  for shows that                                                              
there were 721 convictions going back to 2007.                                                                                  
1:45:12 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL  thanked the  sponsor and  his staff for  presenting                                                              
the bill.  He said  he would be  in touch when  it would  be heard                                                              
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  noted that  the  Court System  submitted  a                                                              
zero  fiscal  note  and the  Department  of  Public  Safety  (DPS)                                                              
indicated  it  would  need  additional staff  to  go  through  the                                                              
records. He expressed  interest in the difference  in procedure to                                                              
make these records confidential between the two agencies.                                                                       
SENATOR BEGICH deferred the explanation to the departments.                                                                     
1:46:41 PM                                                                                                                    
KATHRYN  MONFREDA,  Chief,  Criminal  Records  and  Identification                                                              
Bureau, Department  of Public  Safety, Anchorage, Alaska,  advised                                                              
that  each  of  the  more than  11,000  entries  in  the  criminal                                                              
history system  for AS  11.71.060 would need  review to  make sure                                                              
the conviction  was for possession  of less  than an ounce  of the                                                              
schedule  VI substance.  That is  the  reason for  the DPS  fiscal                                                              
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  commented that it seems odd  that the fiscal                                                              
impacts are so different.                                                                                                       
CHAIR COGHILL  said his  understanding is  the Court System  would                                                              
simply block  the information. They  would probably depend  on DPS                                                              
to identify the individuals.                                                                                                    
1:48:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL stated that he would hold SB 184 for future                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 175 - Transmittal Letter.pdf SJUD 3/21/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 175
SB 175 - Version A.pdf SJUD 3/21/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 175
SB184 - Version O.PDF SJUD 3/21/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 184
SB 184 - Sectional Analysis ver O.PDF SJUD 3/21/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 184
SB 184 - Sponsor Statement.pdf SJUD 3/21/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 184
SB 184 - Supporting Document - Drug Policy Press Release.pdf SJUD 3/21/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 184
SB 184 - Supporting Document - Leg Research Report.pdf SJUD 3/21/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 184
SB 150 - Transmittal Letter.pdf SJUD 3/21/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 150
SB 150 - Version A.PDF SJUD 3/21/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 150
SB 150 - Supporting Document - Sample Pretrial Report.pdf SJUD 3/21/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 150
SB 150 - Sectional Summary (ver. A).pdf SJUD 3/21/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 150
SB 150 - Supporting Document - Pretrial Changes in Alaska.pdf SJUD 3/21/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 150
SB 150 - Supporting Document - Pretrial Release Highlights.pdf SJUD 3/21/2018 1:30:00 PM
SB 150