Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/12/1993 01:00 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE March 12, 1993 1:00 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Rep. Brian Porter, Chairman Rep. Jeannette James, Vice-Chair Rep. Pete Kott Rep. Gail Phillips Rep. Joe Green Rep. Cliff Davidson Rep. Jim Nordlund MEMBERS ABSENT None COMMITTEE CALENDAR HB 58: "An Act relating to the budget reserve fund established under art. IX, sec. 17, Constitution of the State of Alaska." CS PASSED OUT WITH A DO PASS RECOMMENDATION HB 152: "An Act relating to magistrate jurisdiction." CS PASSED OUT WITH A DO PASS RECOMMENDATION HB 79: "An Act relating to recovery from a parent or legal guardian of wilful or malicious destruction of property by a minor." PASSED OUT WITH NO RECOMMENDATION *HB 86: "An Act relating to sanctions for property-related offenses, to remedies for property-related offenses committed by juveniles, and to certain records of those offenses." NOT HEARD (* First public hearing.) WITNESS REGISTER REP. KAY BROWN Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 517 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Phone: 465-4998 Position Statement: Discussed HB 58 GAYLE HORETSKI Committee Counsel House Judiciary Committee Capitol Building, Room 120 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Phone: 465-6841 Position Statement: Discussed HB 58 JIM BALDWIN Assistant Attorney General Department of Law P.O. Box 110300 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300 Phone: 465-3600 Position Statement: Discussed HB 58 CHRIS CHRISTENSEN Staff Counsel Alaska Court System 303 K Street Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Phone: 264-8228 Position Statement: Supported HB 152 JAY FRANK State Farm/Allstate 431 North Franklin Street Juneau, Alaska 99801 Phone: 586-5777 Position Statement: Opposed HB 79 REP. CON BUNDE Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 112 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Phone: 465-4843 Position Statement: Supported HB 79 RANDALL HINES Youth Corrections Specialist Division of Family and Youth Services Department of Health and Social Services P.O. Box 110630 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0630 Phone: 465-3187 Position Statement: Discussed HB 79 PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 58 SHORT TITLE: ADMINISTRATION OF BUDGET RESERVE FUND BILL VERSION: SPONSOR(S): FINANCE TITLE: "An Act relating to the budget reserve fund established under art. IX, sec. 17, Constitution of the State of Alaska." JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/15/93 71 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 01/15/93 71 (H) JUDICIARY, FINANCE 02/01/93 (H) JUD AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 120 02/01/93 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 03/12/93 (H) JUD AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 120 BILL: HB 152 SHORT TITLE: JURISDICTION OF MAGISTRATES BILL VERSION: SPONSOR(S): JUDICIARY TITLE: "An Act relating to magistrate jurisdiction." JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/15/93 345 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 02/15/93 345 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY 02/25/93 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 02/25/93 (H) MINUTE(STA) 03/01/93 481 (H) STA RPT CS(STA) 7DP 03/01/93 481 (H) DP: VEZEY,ULMER,B.DAVIS,OLBERG, 03/01/93 481 (H) DP: G.DAVIS, SANDERS, KOTT 03/01/93 481 (H) -ZERO FISCAL NOTE (COURT) 3/1/93 03/10/93 (H) JUD AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 120 03/10/93 (H) MINUTE(HES) 03/12/93 (H) JUD AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 120 BILL: HB 79 SHORT TITLE: DAMAGE TO PROPERTY BY MINORS BILL VERSION: SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) BUNDE,Toohey,Porter,Olberg, Green TITLE: "An Act relating to recovery from a parent or legal guardian of wilful or malicious destruction of property by a minor." JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/22/93 130 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 01/22/93 130 (H) HES, JUDICIARY, FINANCE 01/29/93 184 (H) COSPONSOR(S): PORTER 02/03/93 (H) HES AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 106 02/03/93 (H) MINUTE(HES) 02/05/93 240 (H) COSPONSOR(S): OLBERG, GREEN 02/08/93 (H) MINUTE(HES) 02/10/93 288 (H) HES RPT 3DP 2DNP 4NR 02/10/93 288 (H) DP: BUNDE, TOOHEY, OLBERG 02/10/93 288 (H) DNP: NICHOLIA, B.DAVIS 02/10/93 288 (H) NR: KOTT,VEZEY,G.DAVIS,BRICE 02/10/93 288 (H) -3 ZERO FNS (LAW,ADM,DHSS) 2/10/93 03/12/93 (H) JUD AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 120 BILL: HB 86 SHORT TITLE: SANCTIONS FOR PROPERTY-RELATED OFFENSES BILL VERSION: 2D SSHB 86 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) BUNDE,Green TITLE: "An Act relating to sanctions for property-related offenses, to remedies for property-related offenses committed by juveniles, and to certain records of those offenses." JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/22/93 141 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 01/22/93 141 (H) JUDICIARY, FINANCE 01/29/93 177 (H) SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE INTRODUCED- NEW TITLE 01/29/93 177 (H) REFERRED TO JUDICIARY, FINANCE 02/03/93 223 (H) COSPONSOR(S): GREEN 02/25/93 455 (H) 2D SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE INTRODUCED 02/25/93 455 (H) JUDICIARY, FINANCE 03/12/93 (H) JUD AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 120 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 93-32, SIDE A Number 000 The House Judiciary Standing Committee meeting was called to order at 1:33 p.m. on March 12, 1993. A quorum was present. Chairman Porter announced that the committee would address HB 58 first. HB 58 ADMINISTRATION OF BUDGET RESERVE FUND Number 043 REP. KAY BROWN commented that she had been working with Rep. James and members of the Senate in crafting the draft committee substitute for HB 58, dated March 10, 1993. Number 050 GAYLE HORETSKI, COMMITTEE COUNSEL for the HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE, noted that the committee substitute now in front of the committee members was identical to the Senate version of the bill. Number 096 REP. BROWN stated that in the past, prospective application of HB 58 had been addressed; however, she the large amounts of money that had recently come in to the state government had prompted interest in making HB 58 retroactive. REP. BROWN noted that some of the issues that had been discussed during the Judiciary Committee's last hearing on HB 58 had also been dealt with in the Senate State Affairs Committee. She said the Senate State Affairs committee substitute was identical to the House Judiciary Committee's substitute. She said that she had tried to clarify provisions in subsection (a) by specifically delineating which monies were not to be considered for the purposes of determining what was "available." REP. BROWN mentioned that some of the changes incorporated in the committee substitute were made in response to specific issues which committee members had raised, such as including penalties and interest, or at the request of the administration. Number 147 JIM BALDWIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF LAW, noted that the constitutional amendment took effect on July 2, 1991, but it applied to all monies received after July 1, 1990. Number 161 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked Mr. Baldwin, if the committee wanted to make the bill retroactive to the point of applicability of the constitutional amendment, should July 1, 1990, be the date used in the bill? MR. BALDWIN indicated that the Chairman was correct. Number 166 CHAIRMAN PORTER commented that the committee members had before them CSHB 58(JUD), which was identical to the current Senate version of the bill. He asked Mr. Baldwin if he wished to comment on the committee substitute. Number 173 MR. BALDWIN said the Department of Law had some reservations about the language on page 2, lines 7 through 18. He said his department was currently working on an amendment which would address their concerns. He stated that the amendment was not yet ready, but he hoped to have it ready in time for the House Finance Committee to consider it. He added that the current language was workable, but he was concerned that it might be over-inclusive and not meet the intent of the framers of the constitutional amendment. In particular, he said that he was concerned about the bill's effect on Mental Health Trust money. Number 241 REP. JAMES asked if the committee could incorporate language specifically stating that Mental Health Trust monies were not included. Number 249 MR. BALDWIN stated that the problem lay in deciding the philosophy that the legislature wanted to reflect in the bill's language. He said the philosophy he wanted to project was that only amounts fully within the discretion of the legislature should be counted for the purposes of availability to the budget reserve fund. He said if the legislature added in amounts over which it did not have complete discretion, the constitutional amendment would probably not function as the legislature intended. MR. BALDWIN commented that it was unclear whether or not the legislature had complete discretion over the Mental Health Trust monies. He added that a judgment call had to be made by one committee or the other as to whether or not the Mental Health Trust monies would be counted. Number 288 CHAIRMAN PORTER said that rather than attempt to settle the Mental Health Trust issue at the table, the committee should proceed with the language currently in the draft committee substitute. MR. BALDWIN indicated that he was comfortable with the committee moving the bill on to the House Finance Committee with the language as currently drafted. CHAIRMAN PORTER commented that the current committee substitute tightened up the definition of "informal procedure." Number 304 REP. JAMES made a motion to adopt the Judiciary committee substitute for HB 58, dated March 10, 1993 (/E version). There being no objection, it was so ordered. Number 319 CHAIRMAN PORTER noted that the intent of HB 58 was to send a message regarding the intent of the legislature when it adopted the language that later became the constitutional amendment creating the budget reserve account. He said that, in his interpretation, the intent of the amendment was to include any settlement monies, whether the result of a formal process, an informal process, or a court proceeding. He noted that if the committee did not make HB 58 retroactive to the effective date of the constitutional amendment, the legislature would lose credibility in trying to establish its intent. Number 330 CHAIRMAN PORTER recommended that the committee adopt an amendment to the committee substitute making the effective date of HB 58 July 1, 1990, instead of 1993. Number 352 REP. JAMES moved to amend the committee substitute by deleting the dates on lines 26 and 27 and inserting the word "immediately." Number 366 REP. GREEN asked if the proposed retroactivity changes would result in any legal problems. Number 370 CHAIRMAN PORTER replied that there was a possibility of legal problems no matter what actions the committee took. However, he said it was his hope that what the committee was doing would minimize the likelihood of legal difficulties. Number 376 REP. JAMES commented that if there was opposition to making HB 58 retroactive, it would be because there were funds currently held in the settlement account which were presumably available for expenditure. She said there was concern that if all of those monies in the settlement account were placed in the budget reserve fund, capital and operating budgets might suffer. REP. JAMES stated that her response to that concern was that the legislature had no other choice. She noted that if the legislature were going to delineate the intent behind establishment of the budget reserve fund they could not pick and choose. She said that as far as she was concerned, no budget problem would result from the adoption of HB 58 because there was a procedure via which money could be taken from the budget reserve account to cover revenue shortfalls. REP. JAMES commented that for expenditures other than budget shortfalls, 3/4 of the legislature could vote to take funds from the budget reserve account. She cited the possibility of a class-action lawsuit by members of the public, claiming that the legislature was not spending the money the way that the voters had intended when voting to approve the constitutional budget reserve fund. She said that in her opinion, putting money into the budget reserve account and then appropriating it back out if needed, was the legislature's best defense against a lawsuit on this matter. Number 435 REP. GREEN expressed his concern over what had occurred between July 1, 1990, and the present day in terms of what money went where. Number 442 REP. JAMES called Rep. Green's attention to a memorandum from the Department of Revenue outlining what money had gone where since July 1, 1990. Number 458 REP. GREEN said that his interpretation of Rep. James' comments was that any funds which the state had received since July 1, 1990, except for 6 percent to the Mental Health Trust, had been allocated to some account other than the budget reserve fund. Number 463 CHAIRMAN PORTER noted that HB 58 would require that the administration debit the Mental Health Trust account for the 6 percent amount of remaining funds that came in. Number 473 REP. GREEN asked if, other than to the Mental Health Trust account, there had been any allocations of funds. Number 475 REP. JAMES replied that there had not. She said that all of the funds were in an administrative settlement account, pending resolution of the matter. Number 480 CHAIRMAN PORTER commented that none of the money had been spent. Number 481 REP. PHILLIPS asked if interest were included in the committee substitute for HB 58. Number 485 CHAIRMAN PORTER commented that interest was included, but had been moved to a different location in the bill. Number 491 REP. GREEN made a motion to pass CSHB 58(JUD) out of committee with individual recommendations. However, the committee members determined that they had yet to vote on proposed amendments to the bill. Rep. James had moved two amendments earlier. One would delete "June 30, 1993" on page 2, line 26, and replace it with "July 1, 1990." The other amendment would delete "July 1, 1993" on page 2, line 27, and replace it with "immediately." There being no objection to the adoption of the amendments, they were adopted. Number 510 REP. GREEN made a motion to pass CSHB 58(JUD) out of committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN PORTER announced that the next item of business before the committee was HB 152. HB 152 JURISDICTION OF MAGISTRATES Number 518 CHRIS CHRISTENSEN, STAFF COUNSEL to the ALASKA COURT SYSTEM, noted that the House Judiciary Committee had introduced HB 152 at the request of the supreme court. He said the bill made some technical changes to the laws regarding magistrate jurisdiction. He explained that magistrates presided over certain district court matters in areas of the state where the services of a full-time district court judge were not required. He stated that magistrates were the highest-ranking judicial officials in approximately 40 different district court locations in Alaska. MR. CHRISTENSEN said that in major metropolitan areas, magistrates handled routine matters to ease the workload of the district court judges. He said that unlike other judicial officers, magistrates were not appointed by the governor; rather, they served at the pleasure of the presiding judge. MR. CHRISTENSEN mentioned that district court was the lowest level of court and employed two types of judges: magistrates and district court judges. He said that the district court judges had jurisdiction over civil matters of up to $50,000 and over all misdemeanors. Magistrates, he said, had civil jurisdiction for matters of up to $5,000 and had jurisdiction over certain types of criminal offenses. Number 550 MR. CHRISTENSEN said that HB 152 proposed to modify magistrate jurisdiction with respect to minor offenses. He said that a minor offense was one which could not be punished by jail time, an excessive fine, or loss of a valuable license. He noted that, currently, magistrates were authorized to hear certain minor offense cases, but not others. He stated HB 152 would expand a magistrate's jurisdiction to include all minor offenses, regardless of where they were located in the statutes. He commented that the change would result in some operating efficiency for the district court. MR. CHRISTENSEN stated that a second change proposed by HB 152 would modify magistrate jurisdiction regarding post- conviction relief. He said this change would correct an oversight contained in a 1990 law. There was a common-law right for an offender to petition the convicting court to reconsider the case, he said. He noted that post-conviction relief was different from the right to an appeal. He said that sometimes new facts came to light months after a case had been decided, past the date by which an appeal had to be filed. MR. CHRISTENSEN said that until 1990, jurisdiction to hear post-conviction relief petitions had always rested with the superior court. A change in the law made in 1990, however, provided that post-conviction relief petitions would be handled by the court that originally imposed the sentence. Through an oversight, he said, the 1990 law only applied to judges within the district court and not to magistrates as well. He stated HB 152 provided that a magistrate could grant post-conviction relief in a case in which the magistrate had the original jurisdiction. MR. CHRISTENSEN noted that the committee substitute for HB 152 contained two changes from the original bill. On page 2, line 2, "or no contest" was added to clarify that a magistrate had the authority to impose a sentence, whether a defendant pleaded "guilty" or "no contest." MR. CHRISTENSEN commented that the second change found in the committee substitute undid a change made by the House State Affairs Committee. The change was located on page 2, line 5, and was technical in nature. He said the change would cover some old statutes which held that certain misdemeanors were also "minor offenses." Number 669 REP. DAVIDSON asked Mr. Christensen to clarify the second change in the committee substitute. Number 671 CHAIRMAN PORTER explained the change on page 2, line 5, to Rep. Davidson. Number 676 REP. PHILLIPS asked Mr. Christensen if there had been any recent changes to state or federal law regarding situations in which a person was found innocent, but information revealing that person's guilt later came to light. Number 683 MR. CHRISTENSEN replied that both the U.S. Constitution and the Alaska Constitution had "double jeopardy" provisions, providing that once a person was acquitted after trial on a criminal offense, he or she could not be charged again for the same offense. Number 692 REP. JAMES made a motion to adopt the committee substitute. There being no objection, it was so ordered. Number 702 REP. NORDLUND made a motion to move CSHB 152(JUD) out of committee with individual recommendations and a zero fiscal note. There being no objection, it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN PORTER announced that the committee would take up HB 79 next. HB 79 DAMAGE TO PROPERTY BY MINORS Number 713 JAY FRANK, representing STATE FARM AND ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANIES, said that HB 79 made a major change in parental "strict liability" for malicious acts committed by minors. He said that the law currently allowed a person to recover up to $2,000 from parents for any type of vandalism committed by their children. He noted that HB 79 would raise that dollar amount to $50,000. MR. FRANK said that the insurance industry's concern about HB 79 was two-fold. He stated that parents were already held strictly liable, meaning that although parents might not cause the damage, they were liable for the acts of their children. He called the current law a rather drastic form of remedy, and said HB 79 would make that remedy exponentially more drastic. MR. FRANK stated that he felt that the intent behind HB 79 was to penalize parents so that they would exercise some supervision over their children. He said that the insurance industry was concerned that the provisions of HB 79 would become an item covered by a homeowner's insurance policy, increasing the cost to the policy-holders. MR. FRANK commented that he would like to see the bill amended so as to exempt the types of damages addressed by HB 79 from being covered under liability insurance policies. Then, he said, the effect of HB 79 would be to penalize parents and not penalize all insurance policy-holders through premium cost increases. Number 752 REP. JAMES asked Mr. Frank, If people could not get insurance to cover damages done by their children, what guarantee did victims have of compensation? Number 761 MR. FRANK said that Rep. James had asked a good question. He noted that it was difficult for a person to buy liability insurance that would cover intentional acts. He commented that the irony in HB 79 was that an intentional act committed by a child was not covered because of its intentionality. However, he said, because parents were being held strictly liable, damages from the minor's intentional act became insurable. MR. FRANK said that there were many things that people did that caused other parties to suffer losses, which one could not buy insurance to cover. Whether or not a person had the financial resources to compensate a victim for damages did not concern insurance companies, he said. Number 775 REP. JAMES asked how the situation addressed in HB 79 was different from someone tripping on her sidewalk and breaking his or her leg. Number 781 MR. FRANK responded that the difference lay in that Rep. James, in her example, had not done anything intentional to cause the act. REP. JAMES asked Mr. Frank if he were insinuating that the parents were intentionally allowing their children to commit crimes. MR. FRANK replied that the act committed by the child was an intentional act of vandalism, not covered under any insurance policy. But, he said, the liability was being strictly imposed upon the parents. Number 788 REP. PHILLIPS asked Mr. Frank if he were saying that no insurance company would write a policy to cover a child who engaged in mischievous behavior. Number 792 MR. FRANK responded that he was not suggesting that. He noted that it was questionable whether an Allstate policy would cover children's acts of vandalism. State Farm, he added, had always had a policy of covering those types of acts. Number 798 REP. PHILLIPS asked Mr. Frank how the provisions of HB 79 would be technically incorporated into a policy. Number 799 MR. FRANK said that if children's acts of vandalism were to be excluded from coverage, a policy could specifically contain an exclusion which said that the policy would not cover liability imposed on parents for intentional acts committed by their children. Number 802 CHAIRMAN PORTER commented that parents' strict liability for intentional acts committed by their children was already in place, and HB 79 was merely increasing the dollar amount of liability. Number 809 MR. FRANK noted that at the current $2,000 level, State Farm did not have a problem paying for those losses. However, he said that when the amount increased to $50,000, State Farm's view would probably be drastically different. Number 810 CHAIRMAN PORTER said that Mr. Frank's statement about the intent of HB 79 might not have been entirely inclusive. He commented that from his perspective, the intent of the bill was to more adequately provide coverage for victims. Number 813 REP. GREEN echoed the Chairman's concern. He asked Mr. Frank if it was his belief that if a child could cause $50,000 worth of damage, the victim should bear the loss for $48,000 in damages. Number 820 MR. FRANK commented that the insurance industry could not be all things to all people. He added that if a person were caused harm by a judgment-proof individual, the person would simply have to bear the cost of the damage. He said that the irony with HB 79 was that insurance companies could turn around and exclude intentional acts committed by children from coverage. He said that he did not want to see people not "made whole." However, he noted the social cost resulting from HB 79's losses being borne by insurers. He said that the bill could eventually drive up premium rates. TAPE 93-32, SIDE B Number 005 REP. GREEN asked Mr. Frank if insurance rates would go up across the board or just for parents of minors. Number 008 MR. FRANK replied that insurance premiums were calculated based on an insurance company's losses, and that HB 79 would therefore result in increased insurance rates for everyone. He noted that a person could obtain first-party property insurance coverage to cover acts of vandalism to one's own property. Number 033 REP. DAVIDSON asked Mr. Frank what happened now in the event that a child committed $15,000 worth of damage to a neighbor's property. Number 049 MR. FRANK said that under current law, if the damaged person wanted to recover costs from the parents of the child who committed the act of vandalism, that person could file a civil suit. Under current law, he added, a person could recover up to $2,000 from the parents. Number 059 REP. DAVIDSON asked Mr. Frank if a damaged person could also turn to her or his own insurance company for repayment of the cost of the damage. Number 062 MR. FRANK noted that a damaged person could always turn to her or his own insurance company if the person had a "first- party policy." He said if a person submitted a claim to her or his own insurance company, the company would turn around and sue the parents of the child who committed the act of vandalism. Number 074 REP. DAVIDSON commented that some parents were at their wit's end in trying to deal with uncontrollable children. He said that it was not just the parents' fault that children were becoming more wayward. Number 100 CHAIRMAN PORTER noted that HB 79 might assist the insurance companies, in that when they sued parents to recover damages, HB 79 would allow them to recover up to $50,000 instead of the current limit of $2,000. Number 114 MR. FRANK responded that the Chairman was correct in that HB 79 would allow insurance companies to recover more money. However, he noted that HB 79 would still increase the amount of money that the parents' insurance company paid out, therefore increasing losses and premiums. Number 122 REP. CON BUNDE, PRIME SPONSOR of HB 79, called his bill "victims' rights legislation." He commented that going to court to recover $2,000 would result in a moral victory, but certainly not a financial one, due to resultant legal costs. He said HB 79 contained three steps: (1) proving that an individual committed a crime; (2) proving that the child was a dependent of the parent; and (3) proving actual damages. REP. BUNDE noted that HB 79 provided that a person could only seek recovery of actual damages caused, with an upper limit of $50,000. He said that knowing that they could be liable for $50,000 if their children committed crimes, parents would be more likely to make sure that they knew where their children were and what they were doing. REP. BUNDE stated that in the case of good parents whose children were simply uncontrollable, there was a process by which the children could be adjudicated as "delinquent." In that case, he added, the parents would not be financially responsible for damages caused by the child. REP. BUNDE addressed Mr. Frank's suggested amendment to HB 79. The amendment would put into statute a provision that no insurance company could write a policy in Alaska covering the type of liability addressed in HB 79. He said that he opposed the proposed amendment. REP. BUNDE said that increased liability would lead to increased awareness among parents as to their responsibilities toward their children. He noted that his bill would also allow victims of vandalism a greater opportunity to recover damages. Number 212 REP. PHILLIPS commented that had HB 79 been in place the year before, it might have saved the life of a Dimond High School student shot while stealing a furniture store sign in Anchorage. Number 220 REP. BUNDE noted that most children were not so evil that they would do something that would cause their parents to lose huge sums of money. He said that his bill would cause children to consider the consequences of their actions. Number 237 REP. GREEN asked about a situation in which a child caused damage and the child's parents were financially capable of covering the cost of the damage but moved out of state. REP. BUNDE replied that under current law, a person who moved out of state was still responsible for her or his debts. He noted that HB 79 would not change that. REP. GREEN asked Rep. Bunde if he had considered penalizing children directly for their acts of vandalism. He mentioned revoking their driver's licenses or seizing their permanent fund dividend checks. Number 255 REP. BUNDE said that what Rep. Green had suggested was one of the original thrusts of HB 79. However, he said that because minors could not enter into contracts, the state could not personally address those things for which a minor had to sign. He said that HB 86, which he had also sponsored, provided for the seizure of a minor's vehicle if it was used in the commission of a crime. Number 278 REP. DAVIDSON said that it seemed to him that HB 79 would create another type of victim -- the parents. He expressed concern over the manner in which the problem of wayward youth was being attacked. He suggested increasing the amount of liability from the current $2,000, but making it lower than the $50,000 proposed in HB 79. Number 307 REP. BUNDE said that it was not his intention to set a new limit. He noted that he just set out the jurisdictional amount currently allowed in the district court. He commented that he shared Rep. Davidson's concerns about wayward children. However, he stated that parents needed to do all they could to be responsible for their children. Number 323 REP. DAVIDSON asked about society's obligation toward wayward youth. Number 327 REP. BUNDE indicated that if a parent knew of her or his substantial financial obligation, he or she would either rein in the children as best they could or have them adjudicated as delinquent. Number 334 REP. DAVIDSON asked what tools parents could use to rein in their children. REP. BUNDE replied that parents could decide what tools to use. He commented that the only legal protection parents had against out-of-control children was to have them adjudicated as delinquent. Number 342 REP. DAVIDSON noted that the state could do better than to pass legislation dumping the load back on the parents. He reiterated his belief that parents were not the only ones at fault when it came to wayward children. Number 356 CHAIRMAN PORTER commented that he agreed with Rep. Davidson's point that the state needed to strike a balance between accountability and authority capability. He said he was looking at ways to allow parents to have the authority that they needed to maintain discipline and control over their children. He stated that in recent years, laws protecting children from abuse and sexual assault might have gone overboard to the point that parental authority had been diminished. Number 386 CHAIRMAN PORTER spoke about a case he had once handled in which a 15-year-old girl had run away from home because her parents would not allow her to smoke. Under current law, he said, the police could not take her home if she did not want to go. Number 409 REP. NORDLUND mentioned Rep. Bunde's HB 100, Prosecution of Juvenile Felons, and the sponsor's comment that children under the age of 18, in some cases, ought to be tried as adults. Yet in HB 79, he said, the sponsor provided that parents should be responsible for the actions of children under the age of 18. He asked Rep. Bunde to explain this apparent incongruity. Number 425 REP. BUNDE said that Rep. Nordlund's point was well taken. He said HB 79 relied somewhat on existing law in that it was difficult to recover damages from a person under the age of 18. Number 442 REP. NORDLUND commented that the approaches of HB 100 and HB 79 seemed to be at cross-purposes. Number 446 REP. BUNDE stated that he understood Rep. Nordlund's point, but he did not entirely concur. He said he did not see his ideas as mutually contradictory. REP. NORDLUND clarified his point by saying that if a child was able to make adult decisions, then the parents should be released from responsibility for the child's actions. Number 459 REP. BUNDE said that parents could be released from responsibility through legal action. Number 464 REP. JAMES stated that she viewed HB 79 and HB 100 as addressing two entirely different issues. She said that the issue of parental responsibility did not necessarily enter into HB 100. Number 479 REP. BUNDE expressed his opinion that the two bills addressed two different issues. REP. KOTT asked if HB 79 would result in the state being obligated to cover damages committed by a minor. He mentioned a case on the Kenai Peninsula in which a child in the custody of the state and living in a foster home had committed arson. REP. BUNDE said that under current law, a state agency or its agents would not be liable for the acts of a minor in their custody. He said his bill would not change that or increase the state's liability. Number 514 REP. DAVIDSON asked Rep. Bunde if he had children, and if so, what tools he employed to control the behavior of his teenagers. Number 515 REP. BUNDE said that he did have children and used remedies ranging from a strong voice and spankings to "time out" and threats of kicking the children out of the house if they did not behave. He noted that if he had been responsible for $50,000 in damages committed by his children, he would have adjudicated them as delinquent as soon as he felt they might commit damage in retaliation for being kicked out of the house. He said that he subscribed to the theory of "Tough Love," whereby a child was told that if he or she lived with parents, he or she would have to abide by rules set by the parents. Number 531 REP. KOTT asked what happened once a child was adjudicated as delinquent. Number 535 REP. BUNDE replied that he believed that such children became wards of the court. Number 543 REP. DAVIDSON commented that a parent could not have a child adjudicated as delinquent unless the child had committed a crime, in his understanding. Number 547 REP. BUNDE said that his research indicated that if a child were out of control, a parent could have him or her adjudicated as delinquent. He noted that the process was not a simple one. Number 554 CHAIRMAN PORTER noted that it was his understanding that a court had to judge whether or not a child was delinquent. Number 560 REP. DAVIDSON said that a parent could not necessarily have an unruly child adjudicated as delinquent. CHAIRMAN PORTER replied that Rep. Davidson was correct. REP. NORDLUND asked about a child who committed an act of vandalism, was caught, and was charged with a crime by the police. At that point, he asked, would the child be adjudicated as delinquent, and therefore not covered under the provisions of HB 79? Number 574 REP. BUNDE said that the child would not be considered delinquent at the point at which the crime was committed. He or she would be adjudicated as such after the crime was committed. Number 579 CHAIRMAN PORTER commented that one malicious act would not guarantee that a child would be branded "delinquent." Number 586 REP. KOTT asked if a parent could petition the court to adjudicate a child as delinquent if that child ran away from home. Number 596 RANDALL HINES, YOUTH CORRECTIONS SPECIALIST with the DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES, commented that children entered the juvenile justice system through a number of means: petitions filed by law enforcement agencies, school district referrals, and parental referrals. However, he said if a child did not break the law, no delinquent offense had occurred. He stated that a child could not be adjudicated as delinquent just because he or she had run away from home and was incorrigible. Number 613 REP. KOTT asked if, under HB 79's provisions, a parent could be liable for $50,000 worth of damage caused by a teenage runaway. Number 620 MR. HINES noted that parents could not "adjudicate" their children as delinquent; only the court could do that. Number 626 REP. KOTT commented that the committee should get a legal opinion as to whether adjudication was the only mechanism for alleviating parental responsibility for damage caused by their children. He asked Mr. Hines to discuss the emancipation process. Number 631 MR. HINES said that in order for a child to be legally emancipated, it had to be demonstrated to the court that the child was recognized as an adult. CHAIRMAN PORTER noted that for a child to be emancipated, the child often had to demonstrate talents, not liabilities. Number 639 REP. JAMES expressed her belief that if a parent could not control a child, he or she could have the child placed in foster care. Number 646 MR. HINES replied that emergency foster care could be provided for such children in some cases. Number 654 REP. DAVIDSON asked Mr. Hines if he felt that changing laws so as to give parents reasons to relinquish control of their children to the state was a good idea. Number 663 MR. HINES said that each family was "a fingerprint," and the issues surrounding a family's ability to care for a child were very complex. He said that strengthening the runaway law might be a step in the right direction. He added that providing additional foster care might also be part of the solution. He said that there was not one simple answer to this complex problem. Number 689 REP. PHILLIPS made a motion to move HB 79 out of committee with individual recommendations. Number 692 REP. DAVIDSON objected. He asked that the committee hear testimony from the court system on the issue. Number 697 CHAIRMAN PORTER commented that the committee had addressed many important issues. He said that in his understanding HB 79 was not intended to solve the whole problem of delinquent juveniles. He said that the bill had a relatively narrow focus in deterring some juveniles from committing acts of vandalism. Number 715 REP. DAVIDSON maintained his objection, as he was not convinced that HB 79 was a good bill. He noted that bills that the committee passed out might well become state law. He said that the legislature needed to address all the aspects of the problem of delinquent juveniles. He said he appreciated the sponsor's effort, but felt that HB 79 would result in more pressure on the family unit. He said that he would like to hear from more agencies, more parents, and perhaps some children. CHAIRMAN PORTER called for a roll call vote on the motion to move the bill from committee. Reps. Green, Kott, James and Porter voted "yea." Reps. Davidson and Nordlund voted "nay." And so, HB 79 was moved out of committee with individual recommendations and a zero fiscal note. CHAIRMAN PORTER noted that, because the committee would be meeting jointly with the Senate Judiciary Committee at 3:30 p.m., perhaps it would be best to not hear HB 86 until another time. ADJOURNMENT CHAIRMAN PORTER adjourned the meeting at 3:05 p.m.