Legislature(2011 - 2012)HOUSE FINANCE 519

03/15/2012 08:30 AM FINANCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time Change --
+ HB 301 SUNSET OF BOATING REGULATION TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 301(FIN) Out of Committee
+ HB 245 SNOW CLASSIC TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ HB 179 ANIMAL CRUELTY TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                      March 15, 2012                                                                                            
                         8:54 a.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:54:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze called the  House Finance Committee meeting                                                                    
to order at 8:54 a.m.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bill Stoltze, Co-Chair                                                                                           
Representative Bill Thomas Jr., Co-Chair                                                                                        
Representative Anna Fairclough, Vice-Chair                                                                                      
Representative Mia Costello                                                                                                     
Representative Mike Doogan                                                                                                      
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative Les Gara                                                                                                         
Representative David Guttenberg                                                                                                 
Representative Reggie Joule                                                                                                     
Representative Mark Neuman                                                                                                      
Representative Tammie Wilson                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
None                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Joe    Michel,   Staff,    Representative   Bill    Stoltze;                                                                    
Representative  Alan  Austerman,  Sponsor;  Astrid  Lievano,                                                                    
Staff, Representative Alan  Austerman; Jeff Johnson, Boating                                                                    
Law  Administrator, Office  of Boating  Safety, Division  of                                                                    
Parks   and  Outdoor   Recreation,  Department   of  Natural                                                                    
Resources; Representative Mike  Hawker, Sponsor; Juli Lucky,                                                                    
Staff, Representative  Mike Hawker; Rebecca  Reichlin, Board                                                                    
Chair,  Four   Valleys  Community  School,   Girdwood;  Jeff                                                                    
Prather,   Supervisor,   Gaming   Section,   Tax   Division,                                                                    
Department  of Revenue;  Representative  Bob Lynn,  Sponsor;                                                                    
Mike Sica,  Staff, Representative  Bob Lynn;  Kayla Epstein,                                                                    
Member,  Anchorage   Animal  Control  Advisor   Board;  Anne                                                                    
Carpeneti,  Assistant   Attorney  General,   Legal  Services                                                                    
Section-Juneau, Criminal Division, Department of Law                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ben  Ellis,   Director,  Division   of  Parks   and  Outdoor                                                                    
Recreation, Department  of Natural Resources;  Jane Schultz,                                                                    
Coordinator,  Kenai   Peninsula  Emergency   Services;  Phil                                                                    
Morgan, Animal Care Manager,  Mat-Su Borough Animal Shelter,                                                                    
Palmer                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HB 179    ANIMAL CRUELTY                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
          HB 179 was HEARD and HELD in Committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HB 245    SNOW CLASSIC                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
          HB 245 was HEARD and HELD in Committee for                                                                            
          further consideration.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HB 301    SUNSET OF BOATING REGULATION                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
          CSHB 301(FIN) was REPORTED out of committee with                                                                      
          a "do pass" recommendation and with previously                                                                        
         published fiscal impact note: FN1 (DNR).                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 301                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act  amending  the  termination  date  of  certain                                                                    
     statutes   relating   to   the  use,   operation,   and                                                                    
     regulation of  boats, a uniform state  waterway marking                                                                    
     system, and civil liability  for boat owners; providing                                                                    
     for an  effective date by  amending the  effective date                                                                    
     of secs. 3,  5, 7, 9, 11,  14, 16, 18, 20,  23, 26, and                                                                    
     27, ch. 28, SLA 2000,  as amended; and providing for an                                                                    
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:55:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough  MOVED  to ADOPT  proposed  committee                                                                    
substitute  for  HB  301, Work  Draft  27-LS1152\M  (Martin,                                                                    
3/13/12).                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze OBJECTED for purpose of discussion.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JOE  MICHEL, STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE BILL  STOLTZE, explained                                                                    
the  changes in  the  CS.  There were  two  sections at  the                                                                    
beginning of  the bill that  had been inserted; and  he read                                                                    
the inserted  language in Sections  1 and 2. The  wording in                                                                    
Section  1  said,  "Nothing in  this  chapter  authorizes  a                                                                    
department  or  board to  enter  into  an agreement  with  a                                                                    
department or  agency of the  federal government  that cedes                                                                    
state authority for  the management of its  waterways to the                                                                    
federal  government."  He  furthered that  subsections  (b),                                                                    
(c), and  Section 2 inserts  the new wording, "other  than a                                                                    
person  employed by  the federal  government." He  explained                                                                    
that the wording currently existed in state statute.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze noted  that  the  language was  consistent                                                                    
with the state's rights and assertions.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Guttenberg wondered  if there was cooperation                                                                    
between  a state  and federal  agencies  would preclude  the                                                                    
bill  from happening.  Mr. Michel  deferred the  question to                                                                    
the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze  discussed  that  the  language  had  been                                                                    
vetted with the Attorney General,  to ensure that it did not                                                                    
contradict agreements with the  Coast Guard. The subject was                                                                    
a narrow issue pertaining to enforcement.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Guttenberg  wondered if the  language applied                                                                    
specifically to the  program, or if it had a  broad range of                                                                    
application. Co-Chair Stoltze replied  hoped it would have a                                                                    
broad application.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  referred to  an earlier version  of the                                                                    
bill  that included  regulation on  non-motorized boats.  He                                                                    
wondered  if  the work  draft  included  regulation on  non-                                                                    
motorized  boats.   Co-Chair  Stoltze  responded   that  the                                                                    
original  bill,  introduced  by former  Representative  Bill                                                                    
Hudson, had a  reference to boats that were  under a certain                                                                    
length.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:59:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara   restated  his  question   about  non-                                                                    
motorized boats                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Michel deferred the question to DNR.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze stated  that Representative Gara's concerns                                                                    
would be addressed by the bill sponsor.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze WITHDREW  his  OBJECTION.  There being  NO                                                                    
further OBJECTION, Work Draft 27-LS1152\M was ADOPTED.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   ALAN  AUSTERMAN,   SPONSOR,  informed   the                                                                    
committee  that the  original bill  had  been introduced  by                                                                    
former Representative  Bill Hudson. He believed  the program                                                                    
was helpful and saved lives.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ASTRID  LIEVANO,   STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE   ALAN  AUSTERMAN,                                                                    
explained  that  HB 301  repeals  the  sunset dates  of  the                                                                    
Statewide  Boating  Safety  and Education  Program.  Through                                                                    
this program the State of  Alaska works in close cooperation                                                                    
with the U.S.  Coast Guard, U.S. Coast  Guard Auxiliary, and                                                                    
other partners  to provide  national award  winning programs                                                                    
such  as the  popular Kids  Don't Float  life jacket  loaner                                                                    
program,  nationally  approved boating  courses,  instructor                                                                    
training,  video production,  and numerous  publications and                                                                    
instructor    tools.    Alaska's   non-commercial    boating                                                                    
fatalities  have dropped  more than  20 percent  since state                                                                    
efforts began,  and at least  19 Alaskan children  are alive                                                                    
today thanks to a Kids  Don't Float life jacket. The program                                                                    
has  been repeatedly  recognized  for excellence,  including                                                                    
the  U.S. Coast  Guard's Meritorious  Public Service  Award.                                                                    
Between 1987  and 2000 Alaska  was the only state  without a                                                                    
comprehensive  recreational  boating  safety  program,  even                                                                    
though Alaska had  one of the highest fatality  rates in the                                                                    
nation. During the same time,  Alaska's share of the federal                                                                    
funding available to the states  for boating safety programs                                                                    
was  being distributed  to the  others states.  Following 11                                                                    
attempts  at passage,  in May  of 2000,  HB 108,  the Alaska                                                                    
Boating Safety Act (AS 05.25)  was signed into law. When the                                                                    
program  was established,  the  21st Legislature  originally                                                                    
added two  'sunset' provisions to repeal  the Alaska Boating                                                                    
Safety  Act in  the  event  the state  did  not receive  the                                                                    
anticipated  federal  funds.  The first  sunset  would  take                                                                    
effect  and the  Boating Safety  program would  terminate if                                                                    
federal  funds  were  not appropriated.  The  second  sunset                                                                    
terminated the program by date,  currently July 1, 2013. The                                                                    
boating safety program had been  in effect for twelve years,                                                                    
and recreational  boaters were  safer, better  educated, and                                                                    
recreational boating  fatalities were  on a  downward trend.                                                                    
In comparing the  number of fatalities during  the first and                                                                    
second half  of the last  ten years, fatalities  had dropped                                                                    
22.1 percent. At  least 22 Alaska children  survived a water                                                                    
emergency  thanks to  a "Kids  Don't Float"  lifejacket. The                                                                    
United States Coast  Guard wear rate studies  also show that                                                                    
there are increases in lifejacket use.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:03:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Guttenberg looked at  Section 3, and wondered                                                                    
if there were  no federal funds; and  if Legislative Council                                                                    
was  given   authority  to  fill  the   gap.  Representative                                                                    
Austerman replied in the affirmative.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara   wondered  whether  the   sponsor  was                                                                    
working  with  the  Coast  Guard on  the  Kids  Don't  Float                                                                    
program.  Representative  Austerman   replied  that  he  was                                                                    
working with the Coast Guard as it relates to HB 301.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  believed that some of  the current life                                                                    
jackets were  good for lakes  and calm bodies of  water, but                                                                    
would not prevent kids from  drowning in white water rivers.                                                                    
He wondered  if he needed to  work on that issue,  or if the                                                                    
bill  sponsor could  look  into  that issue.  Representative                                                                    
Austerman  replied that  the issue  should  be addressed  by                                                                    
DNR.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  remarked that  the "good"  life jackets                                                                    
were often easily stolen.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
BEN  ELLIS,   DIRECTOR,  DIVISION   OF  PARKS   AND  OUTDOOR                                                                    
RECREATION,   DEPARTMENT    OF   NATURAL    RESOURCES   (via                                                                    
teleconference),  expressed   support  for  the   bill.  The                                                                    
language should  not impact the  ability to  receive federal                                                                    
boating   safety  grants   and   funds.   The  concerns   of                                                                    
Representative Gara would be addressed and evaluated.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
JEFF JOHNSON,  BOATING LAW ADMINISTRATOR, OFFICE  OF BOATING                                                                    
SAFETY,   DIVISION   OF   PARKS  AND   OUTDOOR   RECREATION,                                                                    
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES, introduced himself.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  confirmed that Mr. Johnson  had also heard                                                                    
Representative Gara's concerns. Mr. Johnson agreed.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Edgmon  pointed to a  couple of parks  in the                                                                    
Bristol Bay  area and the  Togiak National  Wildlife Refuge.                                                                    
He  wondered whether  the  bill would  make  any changes  to                                                                    
those  parks.  Mr.  Johnson replied  that  no  change  would                                                                    
occur.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson  asked if  a state park  would qualify                                                                    
for  the program  if it  was under  passive management.  Mr.                                                                    
Johnson  replied  that  within the  definition  of  "passive                                                                    
management",  DNR would  determine  whether  the park  would                                                                    
qualify  for  the program,  but  state  resources would  not                                                                    
continue to be used for the public.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson surmised  that  no  life jackets  had                                                                    
been provided  for the Chatanika River.  Mr. Johnson replied                                                                    
that he was not sure  where state-provided life jackets were                                                                    
available on the Chatanika River.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:10:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JANE   SCHULTZ,  COORDINATOR,   KENAI  PENINSULA   EMERGENCY                                                                    
SERVICES (via  teleconference), stated  that the  Kids Don't                                                                    
Float  program  was  a  collaborative  program  between  the                                                                    
Department of  Health and Social  Services (DHSS),  the U.S.                                                                    
Coast  Guard, Alaska  Safe Kids,  and local  sponsors. There                                                                    
were currently 617 active life  jacket board stations in 249                                                                    
communities.  The  Alaska  Boating Safety  program  was  the                                                                    
primary supplier of life jackets  throughout the state, with                                                                    
34,722 lifejackets  provided to  date. The Kids  Don't Float                                                                    
school program provided boating  safety education for Alaska                                                                    
students. Attendance  for the program totaled  84,000. There                                                                    
were 2,129  boaters that had  completed the  training course                                                                    
related  to   boater  safety.   There  were   currently  126                                                                    
instructors  on  the  water  wise  education  registry.  She                                                                    
relayed that  it was  heartening to  see families  using the                                                                    
lifejackets available at public boating areas.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:14:51 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze CLOSED public  testimony. He pointed to the                                                                    
fiscal impact note from Department of Natural Resources.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Wilson   expressed    concern   about   the                                                                    
availability  of lifejackets  in parks  that were  currently                                                                    
under passive management. She wanted  to increase safety for                                                                    
all children.  Representative Austerman replied that  he had                                                                    
not  had the  passive  management  conversation, and  stated                                                                    
that he would  have to look into the  issue with Legislative                                                                    
Legal and DNR.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair    Stoltze   asked    Mr.   Johnson    to   contact                                                                    
Representative Wilson's office on  the question. Mr. Johnson                                                                    
responded  in the  affirmative, and  agreed to  provide that                                                                    
information.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara appreciated  the responsiveness  of the                                                                    
department related to the Kids Don't Float program.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair Fairclough discussed the  fiscal impact note that                                                                    
authorized  the receipt  of federal  and boat  receipts. She                                                                    
asked whether  the note was authorizing  four new positions.                                                                    
Ms. Lievano replied  that it was her  understanding the note                                                                    
reauthorized  funding for  the  current  staff. Mr.  Johnson                                                                    
agreed.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough   discussed  another  four   and  two                                                                    
positions  on the  fiscal note.  Mr. Johnson  clarified that                                                                    
the stated positions were for the current employees.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara asked  whether it was feasible  to add a                                                                    
$5,000  general  fund amount  to  the  fiscal note  for  the                                                                    
lifejackets on whitewater rivers.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze  deferred  to  Co-Chair  Thomas.  Co-Chair                                                                    
Thomas noted the amount was a capital budget item.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze  stated that  the  inquiry  was meant  for                                                                    
"another vehicle."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:19:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough   asked  if  an  analysis   could  be                                                                    
conducted about the number of  whitewater areas to determine                                                                    
an cost amount  that would be necessary  for additional life                                                                    
jackets.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Thomas  believed that  some fisherman  donated life                                                                    
jackets to the program when their children outgrew them.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze noted that the  conversation would occur at                                                                    
a later date.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Thomas  MOVED  to  report  CSHB  301(FIN)  out  of                                                                    
committee   with   individual    recommendations   and   the                                                                    
accompanying fiscal  note. There being NO  OBJECTION, it was                                                                    
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CSHB  301(FIN) was  REPORTED  out of  committee  with a  "do                                                                    
pass"  recommendation and  with previously  published fiscal                                                                    
impact note: FN1 (DNR).                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:22:15 AM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:26:19 AM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 245                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act establishing a snow classic as an authorized                                                                       
     form of charitable gaming."                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:26:31 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE  HAWKER, SPONSOR, explained that  HB 245                                                                    
would allow  Four Valleys Community School,  Inc. to conduct                                                                    
a "snow classic" to raise  funds for their organization. The                                                                    
snow  classic would  be operated  much  like other  contests                                                                    
already  allowed  under  statute: contestants  would  buy  a                                                                    
ticket and  write a guess  of the depth of  snow accumulated                                                                    
by a  specific date  and time on  Mount Alyeska.  The winner                                                                    
would receive half of the net proceeds from the fundraiser.                                                                     
Four Valleys  Community School, Inc.  (FVCS) is  a nonprofit                                                                    
organization that  annually offers more than  250 year-round                                                                    
classes  and sponsors  community events.  While most  of the                                                                    
participants are  Turnagain Arm area residents,  people from                                                                    
neighboring communities such as  Anchorage, Eagle River, and                                                                    
Homer have  participated in FVCS events.  FVCS also supports                                                                    
athletes and local high school graduates with scholarships.                                                                     
When  community school  funding  from  the Anchorage  School                                                                    
District was eliminated, local  residents helped FVCS become                                                                    
a  501c(3) nonprofit  to ensure  that lifelong  learning and                                                                    
recreational   opportunities   remain   available   to   the                                                                    
community.  FVCS  recruited  volunteers  to  administer  and                                                                    
teach,   secured  corporate   and  private   donations,  and                                                                    
fostered community  involvement. Operating the  snow classic                                                                    
will help  achieve the  short-term goal  of self-sufficiency                                                                    
while keeping  classes affordable and locally  available. It                                                                    
also  will support  a long-term  goal of  creating a  stable                                                                    
fundraising  opportunity   that  will  enhance   the  entire                                                                    
community.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
JULI LUCKY,  STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE  MIKE HAWKER,  pointed to                                                                    
numerous  written public  testimonies  included in  members'                                                                    
packets (copy on file).                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze asked  Ms. Lucky  to  discuss the  letters                                                                    
received.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lucky  listed various support  for the  legislation. She                                                                    
stated that  there were  roughly 40  letters of  the support                                                                    
from the Alyeska Resort; Girdwood  Rotary Club; Girdwood 20-                                                                    
20;  Girdwood Turnagain  Arm  Lion's  Club; Girdwood,  Inc.;                                                                    
Little   Bear's   Playhouse;   and  many   individuals   and                                                                    
businesses in the surrounding areas.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  noted that there were  43 organizations on                                                                    
the list of support.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:30:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REBECCA  REICHLIN,  BOARD   CHAIR,  FOUR  VALLEYS  COMMUNITY                                                                    
SCHOOL, GIRDWOOD, pointed to her  written testimony that had                                                                    
been  provided  to committee  members  (copy  on file).  She                                                                    
spoke in  support of  HB 245. She  discussed that  there had                                                                    
been  some  recent  cuts  to   education  funding,  and  the                                                                    
legislation would encourage fundraising  to survive the cuts                                                                    
the  schools   had  become   a  501(c)3   organization.  The                                                                    
organization  had  experience  with gaming  activities.  The                                                                    
Snow Classic would allow the  school to eliminate dependence                                                                    
on tax  dollars, meet the schools  goal of self-sufficiency,                                                                    
and would  allow the school  to help itself.  She reiterated                                                                    
her  encouragement  for  the  committee's  support  for  the                                                                    
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough asked  whether there  was a  limit on                                                                    
the amount that you could sell a ticket.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze replied that  the committee would come back                                                                    
to the  question. He  believed the Snow  Classic would  be a                                                                    
historic event.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative Hawker endorsed and supported new ideas.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:35:13 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough restated  her  question she  wondered                                                                    
whether  there was  a  limit  on the  dollar  amount of  the                                                                    
tickets.  JEFF  PRATHER,  SUPERVISOR,  GAMING  SECTION,  TAX                                                                    
DIVISION, DEPARTMENT  OF REVENUE, replied that  there was no                                                                    
dollar limit on the price of raffle tickets.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze asked  whether there  was a  typical upper                                                                    
limit on what  tickets were sold for.  Mr. Prather responded                                                                    
that  it was  unusual to  pay more  than $100  for a  raffle                                                                    
ticket.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair   Fairclough  discussed   her  prior   experience                                                                    
working  in non-profit  organizations.  She understood  that                                                                    
there was a limit of  $20 per raffle ticket for non-profits;                                                                    
she believed the amount was restrictive.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze wondered  whether there  was a  difference                                                                    
between a  raffle and a  game of chance. Mr.  Prather stated                                                                    
that he was not aware of a $20 limit on raffle tickets.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze noted that the issue would be clarified.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  informed members that the  bill would come                                                                    
back before the committee the following week.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair Fairclough  noted that the fiscal  note should be                                                                    
listed as indeterminate and not  zero. She asked the sponsor                                                                    
if   the  analysis   was   correct.  Representative   Hawker                                                                    
responded in the affirmative.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  noted that the  committee would  work with                                                                    
the department on the fiscal note.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze  CLOSED  the  public  testimony  with  the                                                                    
intent to reopen it in the future if necessary.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
HB  245  was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  Committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:41:02 AM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:43:36 AM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 179                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act relating to cruelty to animals and making                                                                          
     failure to care for five or more animals in a single                                                                       
     continuous episode a class C felony."                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BOB  LYNN,  SPONSOR, explained  HB  179.  He                                                                    
stated  that  over the  past  several  years animal  control                                                                    
officers had had  to rescue multiple animals at  one time in                                                                    
the Mat-Su  area. Troopers were issuing  search warrants for                                                                    
individuals  for   alleged  abuse.   Cases  of   abuse  were                                                                    
shocking, ant the bill worked to  make five or more cases of                                                                    
abuse a  class C  felony. The bill  would provide  a helpful                                                                    
tool for prosecutors. He believed  the gravity of the charge                                                                    
should reflect  the gravity of  the situation. He  was clear                                                                    
that the legislation did not  affect mushers who did a great                                                                    
job caring for their dogs.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:47:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE SICA,  STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE  BOB LYNN, pointed  to the                                                                    
legislation.  Currently  under   statute  there  were  seven                                                                    
counts  of animal  abuse: three  class C  felonies and  four                                                                    
misdemeanors. He looked at page 1, line 8 of the bill:                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     A person commits cruelty to  animals if the person with                                                                    
     criminal negligence,  fails to care for  an animal and,                                                                    
     as a result,  causes the death of the  animal or causes                                                                    
     severe  physical pain  or  prolonged  suffering to  the                                                                    
     animal.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Sica looked  at page 2, line 11. The  following would be                                                                    
a class C misdemeanor within the legislation:                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     (If   the   animal   cruelty  occurs)   with   criminal                                                                    
     negligence,  contemporaneously fails  to care  for five                                                                    
     or more animals  and, as a result, causes  the death of                                                                    
     five or more animals or  causes severe physical pain or                                                                    
     prolonged suffering to five or more animals.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Sica  spoke  to  the  indeterminate  fiscal  notes.  He                                                                    
pointed to a  "Stat Sheet" from the Department  of Law (DOL)                                                                    
displayed  the  number  of offenses  and  cases  related  to                                                                    
criminal negligent  animal cruelty  count 2 charge  (copy on                                                                    
file). He stated that the  numbers range from one charge and                                                                    
one defendant in 2008, to a  high of 62 charges and 12 cases                                                                    
in 2011. He  stated that the fiscal impact would  be zero or                                                                    
almost  zero.  He  stressed that  the  particular  crime  of                                                                    
animal cruelty was infrequent, high profile, and impactful.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:52:07 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PHIL  MORGAN, ANIMAL  CARE  MANAGER,  MAT-SU BOROUGH  ANIMAL                                                                    
SHELTER, PALMER (via  teleconference), thanked the committee                                                                    
for  its time.  He was  currently driving  to a  location to                                                                    
address  a situation  involving a  number of  dogs and  cats                                                                    
that had been  neglected. He pointed out that  work had been                                                                    
done on  the issue beginning  in 2009. Officers had  gone to                                                                    
the location  on a  regular basis between  2009 and  2010 to                                                                    
check on the  animals; the owners were  in financial trouble                                                                    
and officers  had checked on  the dogs recently,  which were                                                                    
found to be in a deplorable  state. He supported HB 179, and                                                                    
believed  it  would  help  to   enforce  the  issue.  Animal                                                                    
shelters needed  something substantial  to help  enforce the                                                                    
situation  and  he  believed   the  current  punishment  was                                                                    
woefully inadequate. The situations  were very stressful and                                                                    
costly  on  animal  shelter staff,  continued  to  get  more                                                                    
difficult.  He urged  the committee  for its  support of  HB
179.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  noted that he  had several  family members                                                                    
that volunteered  at the Mat-Su animal  shelter. He wondered                                                                    
whether the  proposed position was of  the shelter, borough,                                                                    
or personal.  Mr. Morgan replied  that if was  a combination                                                                    
of the borough manager, shelter, and personal position.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson  noted that  some people who  may have                                                                    
been  accused   of  animal   cruelty,  were   merely  facing                                                                    
financial  straits,  and   were  not  intentionally  harming                                                                    
animals.  She shared  a  story related  to  people who  were                                                                    
having  trouble   caring  for  animals,  because   of  their                                                                    
financial  situation. She  asked whether  the people  in the                                                                    
description  would  be charged  with  a  felony. Mr.  Morgan                                                                    
replied that  he had not  been to  the site to  provide more                                                                    
detail.  He remarked  that the  animal cruelty  charges were                                                                    
examined  carefully,  and  he would  need  more  information                                                                    
about the specific case.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze   wondered  whether   there  was   a  non-                                                                    
judgmental  clause  that an  individual  could  drop off  an                                                                    
animal they  could no  longer care  for. Mr.  Morgan replied                                                                    
that no  judgment was passed  on people that  approached the                                                                    
shelter  for help.  He felt  the punishment  should fit  the                                                                    
crime.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:00:55 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Neuman discussed  testimony that  people did                                                                    
not  understand the  gravity of  the  situation. He  thought                                                                    
that  people  could  get into  financial  distress  and  not                                                                    
understand  that  they  were  no longer  able  to  care  for                                                                    
animals. He wondered whether the punishment would                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Morgan replied  that well minded people,  just wanted to                                                                    
help one  more animal. The  point was that after  people had                                                                    
been counseled and given other  options he did not know what                                                                    
else could be done.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze discussed  that Anne  Carpeneti, Assistant                                                                    
Attorney  General, Legal  Services Section-Juneau,  Criminal                                                                    
Division,  Department of  Law would  address the  aspects of                                                                    
criminal negligence.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Morgan remarked that he  always wanted to understand the                                                                    
other  point of  view; however,  there  had to  be a  higher                                                                    
punishment once  it reached the  level of some of  the cases                                                                    
he had seen.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:04:59 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
KAYLA  EPSTEIN,  MEMBER,  ANCHORAGE ANIMAL  CONTROL  ADVISOR                                                                    
BOARD, had no desire to  make the issue an emotional appeal.                                                                    
The bill greatly addressed the  crime, she expressed support                                                                    
for  the HB  179.  She  pointed to  an  Anchorage case  that                                                                    
involved dogs,  cats, and birds.  The case had taken  over a                                                                    
year and had cost the  municipality over $77,000 to care for                                                                    
the  animals; once  criminal neglect  had been  proven, they                                                                    
were  able   to  remove  an   additional  55   animals.  The                                                                    
organization  believed that  the punishment  should fit  the                                                                    
crime.   She   urged   the  committee's   support   of   the                                                                    
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Sica  pointed out that  he had discussed  animal cruelty                                                                    
with  Vice-chair Fairclough.  He stated  that the  issue was                                                                    
not related to  individuals who did not feed  their dogs for                                                                    
several days, they were cases  of severe neglect. He painted                                                                    
a sad picture  of animals impacted by  neglect. He discussed                                                                    
the public's level of outrage or scorn to fit the crime.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:10:51 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ANNE CARPENETI,  ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL,  LEGAL SERVICES                                                                    
SECTION-JUNEAU, CRIMINAL DIVISION,  DEPARTMENT OF LAW, noted                                                                    
that the department did not have a position on the bill.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Costello  asked what  the sentence  range was                                                                    
for a class  C felony. Ms. Carpeneti replied  that the range                                                                    
was zero to five years for a class C felony.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze   asked  Ms.  Carpeneti  to   provide  the                                                                    
statutory reference at a future hearing.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Costello  wondered  what penalties  were  in                                                                    
other  states for  comparable offences.  Mr. Sica  responded                                                                    
that there were other states  that had tougher felonies, for                                                                    
even one count of animal cruelty.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Costello  asked whether  a person  could fall                                                                    
under the law if  dogs were loose and one got  hit by a car.                                                                    
Ms.  Carpeneti  responded  that   in  order  to  fall  under                                                                    
criminal  negligence it  depended on  the circumstance.  She                                                                    
supposed it  was possible  for a person  to be  charged, if,                                                                    
perhaps a person  let their dog out on a  busy street during                                                                    
rush hour in Anchorage.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Neuman  wondered  how  criminal  intent  was                                                                    
proven.  Ms.  Carpeneti  replied  that it  was  based  on  a                                                                    
person's responses,  behavior, and other factors.  She noted                                                                    
that a maximum fine for a class C felony was $50,000.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Neuman asked  if the  court would  determine                                                                    
criminal negligence.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:14:53 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Carpeneti  responded that she  had already  reported how                                                                    
the  courts  determined  criminal  negligence  according  to                                                                    
statute. She furthered that in  a case of animal cruelty the                                                                    
court  may look  at factors  related to  failure to  feed an                                                                    
animal, resources  available, what  the person was  doing at                                                                    
the  time.  The  department  was   ethically  bound  to  the                                                                    
requirement to prove negligence.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Neuman  asked  for   the  definition  of  an                                                                    
animal. Ms. Carpeneti replied that  an animal was defined as                                                                    
an vertebrate that was not a fish.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Neuman asked  where trapping  fell into  the                                                                    
law.  Ms.  Carpeneti  responded   that  the  animal  cruelty                                                                    
statute excluded  hunting and  conduct that  was necessarily                                                                    
incidental  to  lawful  fishing, hunting,  dog  mushing,  or                                                                    
trapping activities.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze asked  about the  practice of  dog mushing                                                                    
and how  it fell under  the law. Ms. Carpeneti  replied that                                                                    
the  animal cruelty  prohibition  statute did  not apply  to                                                                    
generally  accepted dog  mushing, pulling  contests, rodeos,                                                                    
or stock contests.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze pointed  to Bill  Maher  and remarks  made                                                                    
about dog mushing.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:18:44 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair Fairclough asked how  the proposal was consistent                                                                    
with  other  parts  of state  statute  related  to  domestic                                                                    
violence,  sex trafficking,  or child  abuse. Ms.  Carpeneti                                                                    
responded that the  animal cruelty crime would be  a class C                                                                    
felony. She furthered that third  degree assault was a class                                                                    
C felony. She remarked  that most domestic violence assaults                                                                    
were  resolved  at  a class  A  misdemeanor,  fourth  degree                                                                    
assault level.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough  asked  what other  types  of  crimes                                                                    
qualified as  a class C  felony. Ms. Carpeneti  replied that                                                                    
example of class C felonies  were as follows: assault in the                                                                    
third  degree;   theft  of  $500   or  more;   larceny;  and                                                                    
possession of many serious drugs.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough  noted  that  at some  point  it  was                                                                    
necessary to change  the way things were  done. She wondered                                                                    
why it  was not  possible to  take the  animals away  from a                                                                    
person for neglect or abuse. She  believed it had to do with                                                                    
the  due process  and the  time  it took  to prosecute.  She                                                                    
asked if  there was  a different way  to solve  the problem.                                                                    
Ms.  Carpeneti  responded that  the  law  did allow  for  an                                                                    
animal to be  forfeited, and the person was  required to pay                                                                    
for the  care of  the animal.  She furthered  that it  was a                                                                    
class A  misdemeanor to  fail to care  for an  animal, under                                                                    
criminal  negligence.  The  law specifically  required  that                                                                    
each animal be considered separate.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:24:19 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair   Fairclough  wondered   whether   there  was   a                                                                    
different  way to  solve the  problem.  Ms. Carpeneti  added                                                                    
that another  provision in statute provided  that there were                                                                    
currently some tools available.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Edgmon  asked  whether  shooting  an  animal                                                                    
would be a misdemeanor. Ms.  Carpeneti replied that it would                                                                    
be no crime  at all, as long as prolonged  suffering was not                                                                    
inflicted.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Guttenberg asked about the definition of a                                                                       
musher. Ms. Carpeneti replied that there was no definition                                                                      
of musher in criminal law.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Sica pointed  to a  minimum standard  of care  in state                                                                    
law, which  included reasonable medical attention.  He noted                                                                    
that  Doug  Gardner  was   available  to  answer  additional                                                                    
questions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:28:06 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HB 179 was HEARD and HELD in Committee for further                                                                              
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
10:28:46 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 10:28 AM.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 245 Support Letters.pdf HFIN 3/15/2012 8:30:00 AM
HB 245
HB 245 Sponsor Statement.pdf HFIN 3/15/2012 8:30:00 AM
HB 245
HB 245 Sectional Letterhead.pdf HFIN 3/15/2012 8:30:00 AM
HB 245
HB 245 Background Info.pdf HFIN 3/15/2012 8:30:00 AM
HB 245
HB 245 FVCS House Finance Testimony.pdf HFIN 3/15/2012 8:30:00 AM
HB 245
HB 301 CS WORKDRAFT FIN-3.14.12.pdf HFIN 3/15/2012 8:30:00 AM
HB 301
HB301 Restrictions.pdf HFIN 3/15/2012 8:30:00 AM
HB 301
HB179 Law Chart.pdf HFIN 3/15/2012 8:30:00 AM
HB 179
HB179 Letter Support.pdf HFIN 3/15/2012 8:30:00 AM
HB 179