Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/28/1996 02:22 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE February 28, 1996 2:22 P.M. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Brian Porter, Chairman Representative Joe Green, Vice Chairman Representative Con Bunde Representative Bettye Davis Representative Al Vezey Representative Cynthia Toohey Representative David Finkelstein MEMBERS ABSENT None COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE BILL 391 "An Act relating to succession to assets and liabilities of dissolved municipalities." - CSHB 391(CRA) PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL 386 "An Act relating to cruelty to animals and the provision of food and water to confined or impounded animals." - PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL 450 "An Act relating to trademarks; amending Alaska Rule of Appellate Procedure 609; and providing for an effective date." - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD HOUSE BILL 520 "An Act relating to death investigations and inquests, coroners, public administrators, and medical examiners, including the state medical examiner; relating to the jurisdiction of district court judges and magistrates in certain cases involving death." - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD HOUSE BILL 295 "An Act relating to the custody and disposition of property in the custody of municipal law enforcement agencies." - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD WITNESS REGISTER TOM WRIGHT, Staff to Ivan Ivan Alaska State Legislature State Capitol, Room 503 Juneau, Alaska 99501-2133 Telephone: (907) 465-4942 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 391 as sponsor's staff REPRESENTATIVE BEN GRUSSENDORF Alaska State Legislature State Capitol, Room 415 Juneau, Alaska 99501-2133 Telephone: (907) 465-3824 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 386 as sponsor LARRY PETTY P.O. Box 56114 North Pole, Alaska 99705 Telephone: (907) 488-2770 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 386 TIM ELLISON P.O. Box 55590 North Pole, Alaska 99705 Telephone: (907) 488-1970 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 386 DIXIE JENNINGS 422 NRA Lane Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 Telephone: (907) 6598 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 386 LIEUTENANT CHRIS STOCKARD Department of Public Safety 450 Wittier Street Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-4306 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided information on HB 386 PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 391 SHORT TITLE: DISSOLVED MUNICIPALITIES/SUCCESSION SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) IVAN JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/05/96 2369 (H) PREFILE RELEASED 01/08/96 2369 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 01/08/96 2369 (H) CRA, JUDICIARY, FINANCE 01/25/96 (H) CRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124 01/25/96 (H) MINUTE(CRA) 02/08/96 (H) CRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124 02/08/96 (H) MINUTE(CRA) 02/09/96 2681 (H) CRA RPT CS(CRA) NT 3DP 2NR 02/09/96 2681 (H) DP: KOTT, NICHOLIA, IVAN 02/09/96 2681 (H) NR: ELTON, AUSTERMAN 02/09/96 2682 (H) 3 ZERO FISCAL NOTES (LAW, DNR, DCRA) 02/23/96 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120 02/23/96 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 02/26/96 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120 BILL: HB 386 SHORT TITLE: CRUELTY TO ANIMALS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) GRUSSENDORF,Finkelstein,B.Davis JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/05/96 2367 (H) PREFILE RELEASED 01/08/96 2367 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 01/08/96 2367 (H) RESOURCES, JUDICIARY 02/14/96 (H) RES AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 124 02/14/96 (H) MINUTE(RES) 02/19/96 2801 (H) RES RPT CS(RES) NT 2DP 4NR 1AM 02/19/96 2801 (H) DP: DAVIES, AUSTERMAN 02/19/96 2801 (H) NR: NICHOLIA, LONG, KOTT GREEN 02/19/96 2802 (H) AM: WILLIAMS 02/19/96 2802 (H) FISCAL NOTE (DPS) 02/19/96 2802 (H) ZERO FISCAL NOTE (DCRA) 02/21/96 2845 (H) FIN REFERRAL ADDED 02/28/96 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120 BILL: HB 450 SHORT TITLE: ALASKA TRADEMARK ACT SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) THERRIAULT JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/26/96 2541 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 01/26/96 2541 (H) LABOR & COMMERCE, JUDICIARY 02/19/96 (H) L&C AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 17 02/19/96 (H) MINUTE(L&C) 02/19/96 (H) MINUTE(L&C) 02/21/96 2829 (H) L&C RPT CS(L&C) NT 2DP 5NR 02/21/96 2830 (H) DP: KOTT, PORTER 02/21/96 2830 (H) NR: ROKEBERG, ELTON, KUBINA, MASEK 02/21/96 2830 (H) NR: SANDERS 02/21/96 2830 (H) FISCAL NOTE (DCED) 02/28/96 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120 BILL: HB 520 SHORT TITLE: INQUESTS, CORONERS, POST MORTEMS, ETC. SPONSOR(S): FINANCE JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/16/96 2791 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 02/16/96 2791 (H) JUDICIARY, FINANCE 02/28/96 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120 BILL: HB 295 SHORT TITLE: PROPERTY HELD BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) PORTER,Toohey JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 04/05/95 1027 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 04/05/95 1027 (H) JUDICIARY, FINANCE 04/19/95 1390 (H) COSPONSOR(S): TOOHEY 04/19/95 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120 04/19/95 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 04/21/95 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120 04/21/95 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 04/22/95 1446 (H) JUD RPT CS(JUD) 5 DP 04/22/95 1447 (H) DP: PORTER, FINKELSTEIN, GREEN, BUNDE 04/22/95 1447 (H) DP: TOOHEY 04/22/95 1447 (H) 2 ZERO FISCAL NOTES (DPS) 04/24/95 1485 (H) JUD ADDITIONAL FN (LAW) 02/01/96 (H) FIN AT 1:30 PM HOUSE FINANCE 519 02/01/96 (H) MINUTE(FIN) 02/21/96 2844 (H) RETURN TO JUD COMMITTEE 02/28/96 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 96-26, SIDE A Number 000 CHAIRMAN BRIAN PORTER called the House Judiciary committee meeting to order at 2:22 p.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Green, Bunde, and Vezey. Representatives Toohey, Davis and Finkelstein arrived at their respective times: 2:25 p.m.; 2:35 p.m. and 2:44 p.m. There were no members absent. HB 391 - DISSOLVED MUNICIPALITIES/SUCCESSION Number 096 TOM WRIGHT, Staff to Representative Ivan Ivan testified regarding HB 391, an act related to dissolved municipalities. After discussing with Margie Vandor from the Department of Law, who had been in contact with someone from the Department of Community and Regional Affairs, both of these entities agreed that it didn't make a difference if the language in this legislation should read "shall" or "may" in relation to the state being obligated to assume responsibility for an entity chooses dissolution. MR. WRIGHT then referred to a letter sent by the Alaska Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Inc. (ARECA) which he hadn't yet been able to read. The committee stood at ease until everyone had a chance to review it. MR. WRIGHT made note of the second area of concern regarding the Local Boundary Commission (LBC) reviewing debts and liabilities prior to transferring them. These both have to be placed into consideration before the dissolution results. He then referred to Rick Elliott on line from the Department of Community & Regional who was available to answer questions which Representative Green asked about subsurface and surface land rights. Number 365 RICK ELLIOTT, Municipal Land Trustee, Department of Community & Regional Affairs, Division of Municipal & Regional Assistance outlined for the committee that there were four ways which a city might acquire land. They may acquire land from the Federal Town Site Program, or possibly from municipal entitlement. The municipality could purchase land, assume it through donation or condemnation or lastly, by 14 (c) (3) conveyances. If property is conveyed under this latter provision to an entity, the only right which is transferred is the surface rights, there wouldn't be any subsurface rights attached. MR. ELLIOTT went on to note if property was acquired under municipal entitlement, the state reserves the mineral estate rights also. Under the other two categories, there could be possible mineral interests attached. The federal government typically conveys all rights to property unless they've determined that the land is valuable and they would reserve these interests. Conceivably, there could be situations where land is transferred with subsurface rights as well. After discussing these scenarios with the Department of Law, they agreed that a stipulation in the quit claim deed should be included to reserve the mineral estate if any, to the state. This would take care of this problem. Mr. Elliot said that this could be accomplished through a standard provision in the deed. Number 600 REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE noted for the record that it was his intent that this subsurface provision should made part of the standard deed even though it wouldn't be made a part of this legislation as a precautionary step. He then made a motion to move CSHB 391 (CRA) from the House Judiciary Committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. Hearing no objections, it was so moved. HB 386 - CRUELTY TO ANIMALS Number 720 REPRESENTATIVE BEN GRUSSENDORF next came forward to testify in regards to HB 386, an act related to the cruelty of animals as sponsor. He stated that this issue had been called to his attention for the last eight years and finally he felt it was time for him to address an issue which could not be handled through the budget. Representative Grussendorf noted that there are shocking things which happen, not only what we do to one another, but what we inflict upon other living beings. He made reference to an article in the Fairbanks newspaper regarding cruelty to dogs which he brought to the hearing. REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF said that it was his goal through this legislation to make it easier for the prosecution of cruelty to animals, a simple language change regarding how someone would go about getting a conviction. The boroughs interceded to gain authorization as well, so the committee substitute now includes the penalties related to the offenses, as well as empowering the boroughs to address cruelty to animals independently. Number 858 REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF referred to the cruelty to animal statutes and noted that any hunting or trapping activities would not come under the jurisdiction of HB 386. He also noted that the practices related to livestock and domestic farm animals would not come under this legislation. Also in the existing statutes, as long as an activity comes under veterinarian standards or related acceptable practices, then these practices are allowed. Representative Grussendorf talked to the state veterinarian, Burt Dorr and Ed Kurns from the Division of Agriculture which confirmed that such things as castration, de-horning, docking, etc. would fall under acceptable veterinarian practices. This does not necessarily mean that a vet needs to be present to perform these activities dealing with livestock. REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF noted the penalties portion of this legislation. Previously, the standard related to cruelty of animals was intentional and was a hard thing for a prosecutor to prove. The standard in this legislation would change rather to "knowingly," a standard that anyone should know if an animal was not sheltered, fed, or watered, eventually it would die. The present statute doesn't allow for intervention until the animal is actually dead. REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF stated it had been suggested that the boroughs would like to have a broader definition as to "regulate." He felt that this was an issue they could discuss with the voters in their areas. Number 1055 REPRESENTATIVE CYNTHIA TOOHEY referred to a case in Palmer a few years ago where a musher was culling his puppies by shooting them. It was very emotional for everyone. She asked if this legislation specifically addressed this issue. REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF stated that whatever is done to an animal has to be done so humanely. He said he didn't necessarily condone it, but in response to an additional question by Representative Toohey, Representative Grussendorf said that putting puppies in a sack and drowning them could be considered a traditional way of culling a litter. He thought that the legislation provided for a standard of care which a reasonable person would do in a situation related to animal practices. Number 1174 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked if this legislation would interfere with pest or rodent control. REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF responded that he thought Representative Bunde might be referring to another bill. He further stated that this legislation addressed domestic animals. This legislation does not negatively affect hunting or trapping either. Number 1314 REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY appreciated Representative Grussendorf's compassion for animals, but stated that this bill was not limited to domestic animals, it just refers to animals. Anyone would say that trapping is a brutal way of collecting animals, as well as hunting. He felt that if this legislation was enacted they would be giving anti-trapping and hunting forces a statute for which they could sue to stop people from participating in these activities. Representative Vezey also noted his surprise that under existing law that decompression chambers are an illegal manner of exposing of animals, which has been the method that the Fairbanks, North Star Borough has used for about a decade. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY stressed that this legislation gives authority to municipalities, but Fairbanks for example, already has this authority. He also mentioned agriculture being affected by this bill. It could give people a tool against someone who raises animals commercially. Number 1409 REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF indicated to Representative Vezey that all the points he just made regarding hunting and farming practices are already covered by existing statute. This new legislation would not give anyone an advantage. He again noted the language, "anything that is necessary or incidental to lawful hunting and trapping activities," was defensible. In regards to agriculture he noted language in HB 386, "performed to accepted veterinarian practices," as also being defensible. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY submitted that there are more ways to trap an animal, some would be considered more humane than others, so this could open up this issue. REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF stressed that it's illegal for a resident of the state to possess a wild animal without a permit. When wild animals are taken out of the equation, this legislation addresses domestic animals only through it's exceptions to and in defense of, in other words, someone may not legally possess a moose calf, a bear, etc. The act of hunting and trapping are defensible under another category. He also noted that this legislation has no affect on fishing either. Number 1572 REPRESENTATIVE DAVID FINKELSTEIN asked why this legislation does not allow first class boroughs to enact ordinances which are stricter than this law. REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF noted that this was out of concessions to some groups which were concerned and it was suggested that the boroughs would like to have a stricter definition of cruelty to animals, rather than not being able to exceed the penalties outlined by the state. He said he had an amendment drafted in lieu of this concept if the committee so desired. There are some boroughs which have a more strict definition of what is cruelty to animals. He noted that this was fine, but these boroughs shouldn't be able to impose a penalty greater than what the state allows for. CHAIRMAN PORTER admitted that this clause had not caught his attention. When Chairman Porter served on a municipal assembly he was a little angry when the state legislature would tell the cities what they could and couldn't do. He asked what the persuasive thought about restricting the boroughs was. REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF confirmed that it wasn't his intent to allow the clause which addressed the boroughs in this legislation, but a lot of boroughs and animal control officers had approached him. He added that it made sense that these groups desired intervention before the animal was dead. He did state though that this clause was not part of the original version of this legislation. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE suggested that a standard treatment of penalties be established for this legislation. Number 1808 LARRY PETTY testified by teleconference from Fairbanks against HB 386. He stated that the local Farm Bureau had appointed him to be a watchdog over HB 386 to try and get production agriculture excluded from this bill. Farmers have tried and true, traditional methods of housing, feeding and caring for livestock. They have been castrating, docking, de-horning, branding and conducting their own medical procedures without the aid of a veterinarian for over 200 years. If any bill was passed that would change this, it could kill agriculture in Alaska. Mr. Petty felt as though these issues should be addressed by the Department of Agriculture and warned against local boroughs licensing, regulating, or telling farmers how to do certain procedures, this could put these farmers in an economic disadvantage compared to other farmers outside of a borough's jurisdiction. Number 2061 TIM ELLISON testified by teleconference from Fairbanks against HB 386. He stated that he earns his living directly through farming and he is the Vice President of the local chapter of the Farm Bureau. He felt as though the Bureau was concerned about the interpretation regarding this proposed legislation. He noted New Jersey as a state which lost almost all of their veal calf production because of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and other animal rights groups and their interpretation of language similar to that provided in HB 386. There is no protection of the farmer in HB 386. Number 2147 DIXIE JENNINGS testified by teleconference from Valdez against HB 386. She said was deeply concerned with this legislation, especially in regards to the term criminal negligence. She also noted the use of the word "animals" without specification of domestic or wild. Number 2253 REPRESENTATIVE TOOHEY referenced the article from the Fairbanks newspaper which Representative Grussendorf had provided and asked how many cases such as this takes place in Alaska. She noted that it was probably rare. REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF cited that it's not as rare as they'd like to believe it is. He stated that he's received hundreds of requests from people over the last few years who have asked that something had to be done in this area. Again, he indicated that this legislation attempts to intervene and a lot of local governments or troopers who are aware of an abusive situation cannot do so because the success of a prosecution is so slim under the existing statutes. REPRESENTATIVE TOOHEY accepted the fact that there are more cases of this abuse than they'd like to see, but she felt as though they need to protect the people who had just testified. If they're concerned that the agriculture part of this animal bill might impact them, then she can't support the bill, until there are safeguards put in this legislation that are apparently missing. REPRESENTATIVE GRUSSENDORF recounted that the agricultural issues referred to in testimony are already covered by existing statutes. He stressed that he was not adding anything new, other than allowing boroughs to acquire jurisdiction and then tinkering with the definition in order to facilitate prosecution. Number 2378 LIEUTENANT CHRIS STOCKARD, Department of Public Safety provided information about HB 386. He did not bring to the hearing statistics regarding this issue. He noted that it wasn't a large number, but probably the department gets about 200 reports of abuse per year. Under the existing statute, relatively few of these complaints result in prosecution because of the difficulty of meeting the intentional standards outlined in the existing law. This bill, with the exception of those sections dealing with borough jurisdiction which the department hadn't considered, changes only the standard of proof used to establish the existing violations. This standard would change from "intentional" to "knowingly" and from "recklessly" to "criminal negligence." It doesn't affect whether an act is considered a misdemeanor or a felony. LT. CHRIS STOCKARD noted that these changes in standards would not affect the practices of agriculture. This legislation would affect extraordinary conduct involving animals, rather than routine conduct. TAPE 96-26, SIDE B Number 121 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN moved that they delete section 3 and 6 from CSHB 386(RES). He stated that the municipalities in the state would have quite a challenge on this, the Matsu Borough being the best example where they have all sorts of unusual circumstances, especially related to horse and dog neglect. These municipalities need to be able to manage this particular problem and sometimes it may require a stricter penalty than what this particular law allows. There are different circumstances around the state and he trusts that municipalities would not abuse this power. They've actually had this power all along to enact more strict laws regarding cruelty to animals. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE stated that he was not uncomfortable with the statute as it exists now. Number 227 CHAIRMAN PORTER spoke in favor of the amendment. He stated that he couldn't think of any other piece of legislation which restricted the rights of a first class city or borough, not one. He felt as though these entities could decide what's best for their districts. Number 288 CHAIRMAN PORTER hearing no objection to the motion to delete sections 3 and 6, moved this amendment. REPRESENTATIVE BETTYE DAVIS made a motion to move CSHB 386(RES) from the House Judiciary Committee meeting with individual recommendations, attached fiscal note and deleted sections as reflected in the amendment. Hearing no objection it was so moved. ADJOURNMENT CHAIRMAN PORTER adjourned the House Judiciary Committee meeting at 3:16 p.m.