Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/14/1994 09:07 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 ED MCNALLY, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Law (DOL) thanks           
 the chairman and members of the committee for their attention to              
 the governor's crime package legislation.  Mr. McNally states the             
 five bills before the committee (SB 349, SB 350, SB 351, SB 352,              
 and SB 353) will help to protect Alaska's women and children, and             
 will also help prevent some crime from occurring in the first                 
 place.  All of the bills are inexpensive; several will actually               
 save money and, at the same time, put more law enforcement                    
 personnel on the street without any budget increases.                         
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY states the governor's crime package has been endorsed             
 by nearly every major victim's rights group, women's advocacy                 
 group, and law enforcement group in Alaska.  The committee's desire           
 to hear the bills as a package speaks well of the consensus and the           
 recognition that more must be done in responding to violence                  
 against Alaska's women and children.                                          
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY says some of the elements in the governor's crime                 
 package have to do with budgetary concerns, while some provisions             
 address other concerns, such as "three strikes, you're out",                  
 juvenile waivers, and conspiracy.  These bills are designed to                
 combat the crimes that most threaten Alaska's women and children:             
 domestic violence, stalking, rape, and child abuse.                           
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY states that, at the core of this initiative, are six              
 new laws to level the playing field.  The governor filed six bills            
 in the house, but only five in the senate, because Senator Donley             
 has already filed a bill, SB 24, which would extend probation.                
                                                                               
 Four bills are designed particularly for protecting women and                 
 children, those are SB 350, SB 351, SB 352, and SB 24.  The other             
 two bills in this package, SB 349 and SB 353 would serve to provide           
 new protections for all victims of crime.  These last two bills             
 would put more law enforcement personnel on the street and would              
 give prosecutors and defendants an equal number of jury challenges,           
 as recommended in the American Bar Association's National                     
 Standards.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 103                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY stresses that these bills have very few moving parts.             
 There is not an extraordinary amount of language in these bills               
 which would open them up for amendment, the way the complex                   
 legislation that has been previously worked on involves.  Mr.                 
 Mcnally would contrast the governor's crime legislation package               
 with President Clinton's crime legislation package, which is the              
 size of a telephone book.  The legislation before the committee is            
 an Alaska package; it was designed by Alaska's police, Alaska's               
 prosecutors, and Alaska's women's advocacy groups, to meet an                 
 Alaskan problem.                                                              
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY says that brings him to the second point he would like            
 to make today: the problem of rape, domestic violence, and child              
 abuse is enormous.  Alaska does not have the number one murder                
 problem in the United States.  We do not have the number one drug             
 abuse problem.  On a per capita basis, Alaska has one of the                  
 highest rates of rape, domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual             
 abuse of children in the nation.  Not only are these cases among              
 the most difficult and sensitive to prosecute, they are also among            
 the most devastating in terms of the outrage, the grief, and the              
 emotional trauma inflicted on victims, their families, and the                
 entire community.  The offenders in these cases are clearly among             
 those most deserving of aggressive prosecution.  They are cowards.            
 They prey on our most vulnerable citizens: children, the elderly,             
 and women.                                                                    
                                                                               
 The problem of domestic and sexual violence in Alaska cuts across             
 all boundaries of race, culture, status, educational background,              
 and other demographic factors.  It is acute in both urban and rural           
 areas.  Mr. McNally shows the committee several statistic charts.             
 The charts show the rising number of reported cases in the early              
 1990's.                                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 156                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asks Mr. McNally how many cases, of those that were            
 reported, were found to have no substance.  The senator had heard             
 that DFYS (Division of Family & Youth Services) reported 67% had no           
 substance and asks Mr. McNally if that percentage is accurate.                
                                                                               
 Number 165                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY responds he is not familiar with that number and is not           
 in a position to address it.  However, he is familiar with the                
 cases that are actually brought to prosecution by law enforcement             
 agencies that state they have reason to believe they have proof               
 beyond a reasonable doubt that the abuse actually occurred.                   
                                                                               
 Number 170                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR would like to see the number of actual prosecutions.           
 The senator says there is probably a corresponding rise in those              
 numbers too, but he has suspicions about DFYS's numbers.                      
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY says he appreciates Senator Taylor's concern, and he is           
 not familiar with the 67% figure from DFYS, but Mr. McNally states            
 he is not familiar with any law enforcement professional, court               
 system professional, or advocacy professional who is not under the            
 impression that Alaska's problem is significantly greater than that           
 of other similarly sized populations in the country.                          
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR says he agrees with that, and believes it is due to            
 the high alcohol abuse rate.                                                  
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY shows a chart indicating the number of rapes reported             
 to the Anchorage Police Department.  Certainly, 150 or so reported            
 rapes a year is highly unacceptable to any community.  In 1991 and            
 1992, Anchorage saw about 200 to 250 reported rapes a year, but in            
 1993 that figure jumped to over 400 reported rapes.  Mr. McNally              
 states, to give the committee an idea of how the prosecution in the           
 state has voted with its' feet, that the number of assistant                  
 district attorneys in Anchorage has dropped from 26 to 22 in the              
 past few years.  Despite the loss in personnel, the number of                 
 personnel assigned full-time to rape, domestic violence, and child            
 abuse cases has gone from zero to four in that same time period.              
 Obviously, that means less prosecutorial resources are going into             
 prosecuting any number of other categories of crime, primarily                
 business crime, shoplifting, bad checks, burglaries, and other                
 crimes against property.  That gives you an indication of how                 
 seriously these problems are viewed by those of us who are obliged            
 to respond to them.                                                           
                                                                               
 Number 208                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY states another indication of the enormity of the                  
 problem can be gleaned from an editorial which appeared in the                
 Anchorage Daily News (Mr. McNally passes a copy of the editorial              
 out to each committee member).  Mr. McNally says one of the most              
 acute problems is the first item underlined in the editorial:  that           
 84% of victims do not file a police report.  That is a national               
 figure, and is another part of the problem before the state.  Part            
 of the purpose of this legislation is to encourage women to come              
 forward and report these crimes by making the court room a safe               
 place for them; a place where they will be respected, and where               
 their dignity will be respected.                                              
                                                                               
 Everyone is talking about violent crime, but in Alaska, we are                
 talking about crime against women and children.  People of our                
 communities are angry and disgusted by these crimes and by the                
 archaic and unacceptable attitudes, sometimes in the system itself.           
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY says that concludes his general testimony on the                  
 governor's crime package, and he would now be happy to discuss                
 individual pieces of legislation.                                             
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN brings up SB 352 (CONFIDENTIALITY OF MOTOR VEHICLE             
 RECORDS) as the next order of business before the State Affairs               
 Committee.  The chairman asks Mr. McNally to comment on SB 352.               
                                                                               
 Number 235                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY states SB 352 was given impetus by the stalking murder            
 of actress Rebecca Shaffer.  Anti-stalking legislation has been               
 passed by many states.  Here in Alaska, there are have been at                
 least two dramatic cases in Anchorage where information from the              
 Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) was used to stalk and murder the             
 victim.  Right now, any citizen can go to the Z. J. Loussac Public            
 Library and use the DMV terminal, or any other of DMV terminals in            
 the state and simply pull up DMV information.  All one needs is               
 someone's license plate number to find out a persons name, address,           
 phone number, and other private information.  Mr. McNally gives               
 several examples where DMV information was used in murders.                   
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY states, that, of all the bills the governor is                    
 presenting, SB 352 is perhaps the least important.  It might save             
 only one or two lives a year, as opposed to the other legislation             
 which is going to save many victims of crime from further trauma in           
 the system and elsewhere.  Nevertheless, one or two lives a year is           
 a significant thing, and that is why the governor urges your                  
 support of SB 352.                                                            
                                                                               
 Number 281                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asks if DMV is still selling information on drivers.           
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY replies he does not know.                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR says he thinks the state makes money from the sale             
 of DMV records.                                                               
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY says he believes there are legitimate uses, such as               
 recall by auto manufacturers of defective automobiles.  Mr. McNally           
 says he believes SB 352 would allow the regulators to make                    
 exceptions for those types of important purposes.  However, he does           
 not know if DMV would be allowed to continue selling that                     
 information.                                                                  
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks Ms. Hensley from DMV if she can help answer               
 questions.  The chairman asks how many people tap into DMV                    
 information.                                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 301                                                                    
                                                                               
 JUANITA HENSLEY, Chief, Driver Services, DMV says there is a                  
 terminal in the Anchorage Field Office where individuals can                  
 research vehicle files.  However, in any other offices, there is a            
 five dollar charge per record.  DMV does sell the entire vehicle              
 file to several companies.  SB 352 would still give DMV the                   
 opportunity to continue selling those files, however addresses                
 would not be contained in that information.  Ms. Hensley states the           
 president's crime package also contains provisions to lock up motor           
 vehicle information.  It will allow DMV to adopt regulations                  
 stipulating who can have access to that information.                          
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asks if organizations that buy information from DMV            
 could give out all the addresses, but not individual addresses.               
                                                                               
 MS. HENSLEY responds those organizations could not give out any               
 addresses unless it was for legitimate law enforcement purposes or            
 something of that nature.                                                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR says that would probably wipe out any activity those           
 business were doing with DMV information.  If DMV does not give               
 those businesses the address, they cannot create mailing lists.               
                                                                               
 MS. HENSLEY replies DMV would be able to give addresses to those              
 companies, but the companies would have to have an agreement with             
 DMV that they would not be able to give that address to any John Q.           
 Public.                                                                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR states he personally does not like DMV selling his             
 name and address to anybody, and the state has been making almost             
 60,000$ per year doing that.  However, if we are going to restrict            
 selling that information and cut off someone's business, he will              
 need to think about that.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 356                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. HENSLEY adds that drivers' license information, as set out in             
 Title 28, is private and confidential.  Vehicle records fall under            
 Title 9, and are public information.                                          
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asks about voting records.                                     
                                                                               
 Several committee members respond that the Division of Elections              
 can release information on registered voters.                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asks, if he really wanted someone's address, could             
 he not simply contact the Division of Elections?                              
                                                                               
 Number 370                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY responds that we are dealing with degrees of                      
 accessibility.  There is a difference between someone being able to           
 anonymously look up names and addresses of people at a DMV terminal           
 and writing a letter with a return address to the Attorney General            
 or the Division of Elections asking for certain information.  We              
 cannot prevent crime, but we can make it more difficult.                      
                                                                               
 Alaska has a unique constitutional tradition of privacy.  Mr.                 
 McNally believes this legislation would be very consistent with               
 that tradition.                                                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asks if there is anyone in the public who would like            
 to testify.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 381                                                                    
                                                                               
 MITCH GRAVO, representing R.L. Polk Company, says they are                    
 concerned they will no longer have access to names and addresses of           
 car owners.  That access is needed for continuation of business               
 purposes.  R.L. Polk Company supports the intent of SB 352, but               
 wants to insure that their business relationship with DMV can                 
 continue in the event SB 352 passes into law.  R.L. Polk does have            
 suggested language to insure the continuance of that relationship.            
 Mr. Gravo asks the committee to consider that language.  These                
 amendments would very clearly indicated that if a party has a                 
 legitimate business interest, that party could continue to get that           
 information.                                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 398                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY states that, on behalf of the Criminal Division of the            
 Department of Law, he has no objection to either of the suggestions           
 of Mr. Gravo.  They do not interfere with the intent of the law,              
 and they do not interfere with the purpose of the law.                        
                                                                               
 Number 400                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. HENSLEY states that she does not have any problem with the                
 amendments either.  DMV does release driver's records to certain              
 companies for insurance business purposes only, and she believes              
 these amendments would basically be the same thing.  She does not             
 see a problem with the proposal.                                              
                                                                               
 Number 408                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. MCNALLY states, as a practical matter, this suggestion would              
 put into law that DMV would have to accommodate businesses in                 
 acquiring automobile registration information.  Mr. McNally thinks            
 Mr. Gravo's amendments would achieve the purposes being discussed.            
                                                                               
 Number 413                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if there is any further discussion.  The                  
 chairman states he does not have a problem with the additional                
 language.  The chairman announces SB 352 will be held over until              
 Wednesday, at which time he hopes to move the bill.                           
 SENATOR TAYLOR comments there is an amendment pending on SB 352.              
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN says the committee will hold SB 352 to do some work             
 on it.                                                                        

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