Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 120

03/04/2005 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 175(JUD) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
Moved CSHB 107(JUD) Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 4, 2005                                                                                          
                           1:05 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Lesil McGuire, Chair                                                                                             
Representative Tom Anderson                                                                                                     
Representative John Coghill                                                                                                     
Representative Nancy Dahlstrom                                                                                                  
Representative Pete Kott                                                                                                        
Representative Les Gara                                                                                                         
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 107                                                                                                              
"An Act providing for the award  of full actual attorney fees and                                                               
costs to a person aggrieved  by unlawful obstruction or hindrance                                                               
of hunting, fishing,  or viewing of fish or  game; amending Rules                                                               
79 and  82, Alaska  Rules of Civil  Procedure; and  amending Rule                                                               
508, Alaska Rules of Appellate Procedure."                                                                                      
     - MOVED CSHB 107(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
HOUSE BILL NO. 175                                                                                                              
"An  Act relating  to  the  creation of  a  civil legal  services                                                               
     - MOVED CSHB 175(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
HOUSE BILL NO. 95                                                                                                               
"An Act relating  to public health and  public health emergencies                                                               
and  disasters; relating  to duties  of the  public defender  and                                                               
office  of  public  advocacy  regarding  public  health  matters;                                                               
relating  to certain  claims for  public  health matters;  making                                                               
conforming amendments; and providing for an effective date."                                                                    
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 107                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: ATTY FEES: HUNTING/FISHING INTERFERENCE                                                                            
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) RAMRAS                                                                                            
01/24/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/24/05       (H)       RES, JUD                                                                                               
02/02/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
02/02/05       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/02/05       (H)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
02/09/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
02/09/05       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/09/05       (H)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
02/16/05       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
02/16/05       (H)       Moved CSHB 107(RES) Out of Committee                                                                   
02/16/05       (H)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
02/18/05       (H)       RES RPT CS NT  3DP 1DNP 4NR                                                                            
02/18/05       (H)       DP: OLSON, ELKINS, RAMRAS;                                                                             
02/18/05       (H)       DNP: SEATON;                                                                                           
02/18/05       (H)       NR: GATTO, LEDOUX, CRAWFORD, KAPSNER                                                                   
02/18/05       (H)       FIN REFERRAL ADDED AFTER JUD                                                                           
03/02/05       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
03/02/05       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/02/05       (H)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
03/04/05       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
BILL: HB 175                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES FUND                                                                                          
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MCGUIRE                                                                                           
02/24/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/24/05       (H)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
03/04/05       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
BILL: HB  95                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: PUBLIC HEALTH DISASTERS/EMERGENCIES                                                                                
SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
01/21/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/21/05       (H)       HES, JUD                                                                                               
02/10/05       (H)       HES AT 3:00 PM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
02/10/05       (H)       Moved CSHB 95(HES) Out of Committee                                                                    
02/10/05       (H)       MINUTE(HES)                                                                                            
02/11/05       (H)       HES RPT CS(HES) NT 2DP 2NR 1AM                                                                         
02/11/05       (H)       DP: CISSNA, WILSON;                                                                                    
02/11/05       (H)       NR: GARDNER, ANDERSON;                                                                                 
02/11/05       (H)       AM: KOHRING                                                                                            
03/04/05       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
JIM POUND, Staff                                                                                                                
to Representative Jay Ramras                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented a proposed CS for HB 107 on                                                                      
behalf of the sponsor, Representative Ramras.                                                                                   
VANESSA TONDINI, Staff                                                                                                          
to Representative Lesil McGuire                                                                                                 
House Judiciary Standing Committee                                                                                              
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 175 on behalf of the sponsor,                                                                 
Representative McGuire.                                                                                                         
ART PETERSON, Member                                                                                                            
Board of Directors                                                                                                              
Alaska Legal Services Corporation (ALSC)                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions regarding HB 175.                                                                       
ANDY HARRINGTON, Executive Director                                                                                             
Alaska Legal Services Corporation (ALSC)                                                                                        
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 175.                                                                            
RUSS WEBB, Trust Program Officer                                                                                                
Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (AMHTA)                                                                                    
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 175.                                                                            
MARIE DARLIN, Coordinator                                                                                                       
AARP Capital City Task Force                                                                                                    
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 175.                                                                            
CAREN ROBINSON, Vice-Chair                                                                                                      
Board of Trustees                                                                                                               
Alaska Mental Health Authority (AMHTA);                                                                                         
Lobbyist for Alaska Women's Lobby and                                                                                           
Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault                                                                          
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 175.                                                                            
RICHARD MANDSAGER, M.D., Director                                                                                               
Central Office                                                                                                                  
Division of Public Health                                                                                                       
Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 95 to the committee.                                                                          
PATRICIA SENNER, Chair                                                                                                          
Legislative Committee                                                                                                           
Alaska Nurses Association (AaNA)                                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 95.                                                                             
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR  LESIL   McGUIRE  called   the  House   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting  to  order at  1:05:07  PM.    Representatives                                                             
McGuire, Coghill,  Dahlstrom, and Gara  were present at  the call                                                               
to order.  Representatives Anderson,  Kott, and Gruenberg arrived                                                               
as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                                 
HB 107 - ATTY FEES: HUNTING/FISHING INTERFERENCE                                                                              
1:06:31 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that the  first order of  business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 107, "An  Act providing for the  award of full                                                               
actual attorney fees and costs  to a person aggrieved by unlawful                                                               
obstruction or hindrance of hunting,  fishing, or viewing of fish                                                               
or  game;  amending  Rules  79  and 82,  Alaska  Rules  of  Civil                                                               
Procedure;  and  amending Rule  508,  Alaska  Rules of  Appellate                                                               
Procedure."    [Before  the  committee   was  CSHB  107(RES);  in                                                               
members' packets was a proposed  committee substitute (CS) for HB                                                               
107, Version 24-LS0444\L, Utermohle, 3/3/05.]                                                                                   
JIM  POUND,  Staff to  Representative  Jay  Ramras, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, sponsor,  said, on behalf of  Representative Ramras,                                                               
that they believe they have  worked out an agreement with members                                                               
regarding concerns  raised at  the bill's last  hearing.   On the                                                               
question of  whether current statute already  addresses the issue                                                               
of  law  enforcement  activities,  he said,  since  the  proposed                                                               
change  was essentially  designed to  provide for  an affirmative                                                               
defense,  a  proposed  committee   substitute  (CS)  in  members'                                                               
packets  has  moved the  proposed  change  into AS  16.05.790(d),                                                               
which already addresses affirmative  defenses for law enforcement                                                               
personnel.   With regard to the  concern that the bill  will make                                                               
it profitable  for someone  to bring a  lawsuit, the  proposed CS                                                               
allows the prevailing  party to be awarded all costs  but only 90                                                               
percent of  reasonable, actual attorney fees;  this latter change                                                               
has allowed  the sponsor  to delete  the proposed  indirect court                                                               
rule change to Rule 79 of the Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure.                                                                  
1:07:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM  moved to  adopt the  proposed committee                                                               
substitute  (CS)  for  HB 107,  Version  24-LS0444\L,  Utermohle,                                                               
3/3/05, as the  work draft.  There being no  objection, Version L                                                               
was before the committee.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  commented that  he appreciated the  work the                                                               
sponsor did to address members' concerns.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL   said  that  he  still   had  a  concern                                                               
regarding quantifying  behavior that would result  in "physically                                                               
interfering  or  tampering  with"   viewing,  and  that  he  will                                                               
continue to work with the sponsor on that issue.                                                                                
1:09:43 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM moved  to report the proposed  CS for HB                                                               
107,  Version 24-LS0444\L,  Utermohle, 3/3/05,  out of  committee                                                               
with individual recommendations and  the accompanying zero fiscal                                                               
notes.   There  being no  objection, CSHB  107(JUD) was  reported                                                               
from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                    
HB 175 - CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES FUND                                                                                            
1:10:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR McGUIRE announced that the  next order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  175, "An Act relating to the  creation of a civil                                                               
legal services fund."                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM  moved to  adopt the  proposed committee                                                               
substitute  (CS)  for  HB   175,  Version  24-LS0656\G,  Bullock,                                                               
3/3/05, as the  work draft.  There being no  objection, Version G                                                               
was before the committee.                                                                                                       
1:10:57 PM                                                                                                                    
VANESSA  TONDINI, Staff  to Representative  Lesil McGuire,  House                                                               
Judiciary   Standing   Committee,   Alaska   State   Legislature,                                                               
presented  HB  175  on behalf  of  Representative  McGuire,  bill                                                               
sponsor.  She  explained that the bill would  provide a financial                                                               
mechanism  whereby the  legislature  may  make appropriations  to                                                               
organizations  that provide  civil legal  services to  low-income                                                               
Alaskans.  Currently AS 09.17.020(j)  provides that 50 percent of                                                               
punitive damages  awards in tort  cases go into the  general fund                                                               
(GF).   She  said  that  HB 175  would  establish  a civil  legal                                                               
services fund  into which the  legislature may  appropriate these                                                               
monies, and it  allows the legislature to  appropriate money from                                                               
the fund to  organizations that provide civil  legal services for                                                               
low-income  Alaskans.     This  would  not   create  a  mandatory                                                               
expenditure,  she pointed  out; each  legislature would  have the                                                               
option to appropriate the money  into the fund.  Low-income would                                                               
be defined  as equal to  or less  than the maximum  income levels                                                               
for Alaska as determined under 45 C.F.R. Part 1611.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG asked  for clarification  regarding the                                                               
change in Version G.                                                                                                            
MS. TONDINI  explained that  one change  was that  low-income had                                                               
been  defined as  previously stated,  whereas  the original  bill                                                               
stated only  that low-income  would be  determined by  the Alaska                                                               
Legal  Services  Corporation  (ALSC).    The  ALSC,  a  nonprofit                                                               
entity, was created  in 1966 to assist Alaskans  with civil legal                                                               
needs  and  has  been  funded through  a  combination  of  state,                                                               
federal, and  private sources;  she noted  that these  funds have                                                               
been  on the  decline.   She  said, "It  makes  sense that  civil                                                               
lawsuits, [from] which these punitive  damages awards come out of                                                               
can be  used to fund  cases which are  no less important,  but to                                                               
help out low-income Alaskans."                                                                                                  
MS. TONDINI asserted that HB  175 is important because low-income                                                               
people  have the  same legal  needs  as everyone  else, and  they                                                               
shouldn't have the burden of  representing themselves unless they                                                               
so  choose.    She  stated  that HB  175  addressed  the  current                                                               
inadequate funding structure of  organizations that provide legal                                                               
services, and  it would provide  for the services  using punitive                                                               
damages awards for egregious offenses  rather than draining other                                                               
sources of funding.                                                                                                             
MS. TONDINI outlined a second change  in Version G, "Any costs of                                                               
collection that  the state  [has] incurred,  with respect  to the                                                               
punitive damages awards,  should come out of  the proceeds before                                                               
they [are] put into the civil  legal services fund, to not act as                                                               
a disincentive  for the  Department of Law  to create  the fund."                                                               
She referred  to lines 9-10 of  Version G, which read,  "less the                                                               
cost of collection if any incurred by the state."                                                                               
1:15:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR McGUIRE pointed out:                                                                                                      
     When  low-income  civil  litigants chose  to  represent                                                                    
     themselves pro  se, which is  the only option  you have                                                                    
     if you don't  have an attorney, it ends  up costing all                                                                    
     of us  ... and so you've  got judges put in  ... a very                                                                    
     awkward position  of advising  when they  shouldn't be,                                                                    
     you have  pro se  defendants trying  to work  their way                                                                    
     through the  legal system at  great cost to  the courts                                                                    
     and so  on, and so there's  a fiscal note to  that that                                                                    
     we don't see.  And this  is one mechanism of helping to                                                                    
     fund this organization that leads  these folks into the                                                                    
     legal process,  which frankly as  we all know,  is very                                                                    
     confusing, and the stakes are high for many people.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked if  the 50  percent of  the award                                                               
that goes to the GF includes the award of attorney fees.                                                                        
ART PETERSON,  Member, Board of Directors,  Alaska Legal Services                                                               
Corporation (ALSC), answered that it would not.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked, regarding the  punitive damages,                                                               
if  the  state  would  normally  have  the  plaintiff's  attorney                                                               
collect the portion awarded to the  state, or if the state itself                                                               
would do the collection.   He said, "If in fact  the state is not                                                               
doing the cost collection in a  given case, I would say it should                                                               
be less the costs of collection."                                                                                               
CHAIR  McGUIRE noted  that  two  people from  the  ALSC would  be                                                               
available for questioning.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GARA said:                                                                                                       
     The amount that  would be deducted would  be the amount                                                                    
     of money the  state expends in going  after the private                                                                    
     council  and  saying  "There  was  an  [attorney  fees]                                                                    
     recovery; we  should get  half of  it."   And sometimes                                                                    
     there  are negotiations  that go  on in  order for  the                                                                    
     state to  get its  share, and  so the  attorney general                                                                    
     will  spend some  time doing  that.   I think  the bill                                                                    
     sponsors  need to  do this  to  make sure  ... that  we                                                                    
     don't have a fiscal note.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG   asked  if   work  performed   by  the                                                               
plaintiff's attorney,  such as  a writ  of execution  or judgment                                                               
debtor examinations,  would be [paid  for with] the  state's half                                                               
of a punitive award.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE GARA replied negatively,  and pointed out that the                                                               
bill stated "costs incurred by the State".                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked if  those costs should be deducted                                                               
as well.                                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GARA answered that that's a different question.                                                                  
1:20:24 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. PETERSON clarified:                                                                                                         
     When the  punitive damages award goes  into the general                                                                    
     fund ... that's  a separate matter.  Once  the money is                                                                    
     in the pot, then the  only ... fiscal consideration ...                                                                    
     is what  the state has  to do to  get the money  in the                                                                    
     pot.   And now we've  created this little  sub-pot that                                                                    
     allows  for  the  percentage  to   go  to  this  public                                                                    
     purpose.   So if there  is state expense  in collecting                                                                    
     that, ...  then maybe  it makes  sense to  deduct that.                                                                    
     But  any  other  areas  outside   that  ...  [are]  not                                                                    
     relevant to what  the state is involved  in putting the                                                                    
     money  in the  pot or  taking this  percentage out  and                                                                    
     providing it for this legal services public purpose.                                                                       
MR. PETERSON commented  that at one time the ALSC  had 14 offices                                                               
around the state  and 93-97 employees.  Now there  are eight ALSC                                                               
offices, one of which is open  part-time.  He said, "We've had to                                                               
open and  close offices  because of  the erratic  state funding."                                                               
In recent years, the ALSC  had received about [$125,000] from the                                                               
state,  but last  year,  even  though there  was  no decrease  in                                                               
cases,  the legislature  cut the  funding in  half, and  then the                                                               
governor  zeroed  it out  with  a  line-item veto,  Mr.  Peterson                                                               
pointed out.  He also commented:                                                                                                
     One of the  things I read that just floored  me was the                                                                    
     governor's  statement  to  the  effect  that  providing                                                                    
     legal services was not a  state function, as though the                                                                    
     state  were not  obligated to  provide equal  access to                                                                    
     all  the  people  of  the state.  ...  This  bill  will                                                                    
     provide one little step in  helping [the ALSC] secure a                                                                    
     source of  funding.  My  dream is to get  our endowment                                                                    
     fund up  to a level  that would  enable us to  be self-                                                                    
     sustaining. ...                                                                                                            
MR. PETERSON continued:                                                                                                         
     We need  the regular  appropriation from the  state and                                                                    
     we  need this  bill.   [The ALSC]  provides efficiency.                                                                    
     The attorneys  there work for  a fraction of  what they                                                                    
     would  get  in  the  private section.    We  start  our                                                                    
     attorneys at  something like [$30,000]. ...  One of our                                                                    
     staff  members is  a Harvard  ... law  school graduate.                                                                    
     ... [He could]  probably be earning close  to a million                                                                    
     dollars a  year in the  corporate world or  the banking                                                                    
     investment world,  and he's working for  something like                                                                    
     [$50,000].  ... So  it's a  program  that provides  the                                                                    
     biggest  bang for  the buck;  you get  more work,  more                                                                    
     service, out  of any  money that  goes into  [the ALSC]                                                                    
     than  any other  program  I've been  aware  of. ...  It                                                                    
     helps judges and helps everyone  else involved with the                                                                    
     legal system, because  when judges have to  try to help                                                                    
     one side  of a  case because  that person  doesn't have                                                                    
     enough   money,   doesn't   know  the   procedure,   is                                                                    
     overwhelmed  by the  whole process,  that slows  things                                                                    
     down enormously.                                                                                                           
MR. PETERSON related a personal  anecdote in which he represented                                                               
the  legislature in  a  suit  brought by  a  person  who was  not                                                               
represented  by an  attorney.   He  said that  the situation  was                                                               
complicated until  a pro bono  attorney offered to  represent the                                                               
plaintiff, and then the proceedings moved forward smoothly.                                                                     
MR. PETERSON commented  that he was not  intimately familiar with                                                               
the accounting aspects  of the bill, but he  thought that Version                                                               
G was reasonable and therefore he supported it.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked Mr.  Peterson to explain the current                                                               
AS 09.17.020(j).                                                                                                                
1:29:19 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. PETERSON replied that he cannot.   He pointed out that in his                                                               
38 years  of practicing  law in  Alaska, he  had never  handled a                                                               
case   that   involved  punitive   damages.      He  noted   that                                                               
Representative Gara may be more familiar with the statute.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  asked if  Mr. Peterson was  familiar with                                                               
45 C.F.R.  1611, and  if it  was a criteria  that was  already in                                                               
MR.  PETERSON  replied  affirmatively   and  explained  that  the                                                               
regulation sets  the level  [for eligibility]  at 125  percent of                                                               
the  U.S.  Department  of  Health  and  Human  Services'  poverty                                                               
guideline.   The person  then must go  through the  case priority                                                               
screening before gaining services.                                                                                              
1:31:19 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARA remarked:                                                                                                   
     I don't  think that much ends  up in the fund;  I think                                                                    
     it's  pretty  inconsistent,  but   it's  a  very  small                                                                    
     percentage   of  cases   that  ever   involve  punitive                                                                    
     damages....  For those of  you that don't know, you get                                                                    
     punitive damages  in a  civil case  if, in  addition to                                                                    
     the  party that  hurt you  doing something  wrong, they                                                                    
     did it  in a  way that  involved reckless  disregard of                                                                    
     your  interest  and  safety.   And  so  that's  a  high                                                                    
     standard and  it doesn't happen  that often.   And then                                                                    
     often you'll get a punitive  damages award and then the                                                                    
     judge  will take  it  away  before it  goes  up to  the                                                                    
     appeals  court. ...  So I  don't know  what the  annual                                                                    
     average amount is that goes  into that fund.  I suspect                                                                    
     it's not that much.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  asked Mr.  Peterson what  he thought  of the                                                               
idea of  entitling the ALSC to  100 percent of the  attorney fees                                                               
when a case is won.                                                                                                             
MR. PETERSON  responded that there  is now a  federal prohibition                                                               
on attorney fees going to legal  services; the fees that the ALSC                                                               
is  now collecting  are for  cases that  were started  before the                                                               
prohibition  went  into  effect.    He  commented,  "It's  really                                                               
outrageous because  the other side,  when they win, they  can get                                                               
[attorney  fees]  but  if  we  win we  can't  get  attorney  fees                                                               
anymore."  He noted:  "I  hadn't really thought of the concept of                                                               
equal  access  to  justice  as being  necessarily  a  liberal  or                                                               
conservative  issue.  ... It's  a  matter  of doing  justice  for                                                               
everybody  and it  shouldn't be  a [liberal]  versus conservative                                                               
1:36:03 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARA agreed and asked  whether the committee would                                                               
be  amenable  to  creating  a committee  letter  to  the  finance                                                               
committee  stating  that   there  should  be  a   state  role  in                                                               
supporting legal services.                                                                                                      
CHAIR  McGUIRE  opined that  some  people  question whether  poor                                                               
people  are  poor  for  the  "right" reasons.    She  noted  that                                                               
people's opinions are shaped by "the  place that you come from in                                                               
the world,"  and so "it's  not necessarily about bad  people with                                                               
bad ideas."   Many  people are poor  due to  circumstances beyond                                                               
their control, she remarked, and  putting a person into the legal                                                               
system without someone  being on his/her side  will cost everyone                                                               
in the long run.                                                                                                                
MR. PETERSON asked  the committee members to  remember that "many                                                               
of  us really  lucked  out" by  having "good  genes"  as well  as                                                               
supportive family and  friends.  He noted that luck  plays a huge                                                               
role in whether  or not someone might need  assistance with legal                                                               
services.   He mentioned  the book The  Other America  by Michael                                                             
Harrington  as  an illustration  of  this  fact, which  is  about                                                               
poverty and  "this percentage of  the population that many  of us                                                               
never  see  ...."   He  recommended  the  book to  the  committee                                                               
members and remarked, "That book had  a lot of influence on why I                                                               
put  31 years  into  Alaska  Legal Services,  and  38 years  into                                                               
public service in the State of Alaska."                                                                                         
1:43:16 PM                                                                                                                    
ANDY  HARRINGTON,  Executive   Director,  Alaska  Legal  Services                                                               
Corporation (ALSC), presented some  background information on the                                                               
ALSC.  He relayed that the  ALSC is very cost effective, and that                                                               
it provides  legal information  to the  general public  through a                                                               
web site  and through a series  of clinics offered by  a staff of                                                               
volunteer  attorneys.   He pointed  out that  the ALSC  is not  a                                                               
state  agency, and  it  doesn't represent  people  who have  been                                                               
charged with  a crime.  He  noted that the consequences  in civil                                                               
cases  can be  just as  significant  for a  family, for  example:                                                               
loss of family shelter or  health care coverage; garnishment of a                                                               
wage earner's income;  or jeopardizing the right to  be free from                                                               
domestic violence.   He clarified that the  ALSC's eligibility is                                                               
set at  125 of the poverty  level for Alaska, which  equals about                                                               
$14,000 per year for one person.                                                                                                
MR.  HARRINGTON stated  that  the ALSC's  mission  is to  provide                                                               
equal  access to  justice in  resolving civil  legal problems  of                                                               
low-income  clients, promote  family  stability,  and reduce  the                                                               
legal consequences of poverty.  He noted:                                                                                       
     Providing  representation to  low-income clients  helps                                                                    
     the   court  system   function  more   efficiently  for                                                                    
     everyone,  including judges  and  other  litigants.   A                                                                    
     civil   case  in   which  one   or   both  people   are                                                                    
     unrepresented takes  more time  and attention  from the                                                                    
     judge  and  increases  the  chances  that  the  judge's                                                                    
     decision will be based on incomplete information.                                                                          
MR. HARRINGTON  shared two anecdotes  to illustrate how  the ALSC                                                               
was able  to help clients.   He noted that on  the criminal side,                                                               
the  legislature  has  promoted  equal  justice  for  all  people                                                               
regardless  of income  restrictions;  HB 175  reflects a  similar                                                               
approach on the civil side.                                                                                                     
1:50:37 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  said  he  would  be  interested  in  Mr.                                                               
Harrington's information on punitive amounts.                                                                                   
MR.  HARRINGTON  stated  that  according  to  his  understanding,                                                               
approximately  $150,000-175,000 had  come to  the state  under AS                                                               
09.17.020(j) in  the last  fiscal year, and  for the  most recent                                                               
fiscal  year  it  amounted  to  $300,000-400,000.    He  said  he                                                               
anticipates that the  funds will fluctuate; he  expects that most                                                               
years  little  or  no  money  will come  into  the  fund  because                                                               
"neither  the  plaintiff  nor the  defendant  have  a  particular                                                               
incentive to  settle for punitive  damages, and most  civil cases                                                               
are resolved  by settlements, so it  will be an exception  to the                                                               
rule when  there ... are punitive  damages at all, and  very much                                                               
an exception when there is a large punitive damage award."                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  asked what  the cost of  collection would                                                               
MR. HARRINGTON said  that he did not know.   He commented that he                                                               
had posed this question to  the acting attorney general, who told                                                               
Mr. Harrington that  he didn't think it was  much, perhaps around                                                               
$10,000-20,000  worth of  attorney time.   Mr.  Harrington noted,                                                               
"We did talk  about whether he would prefer ...  having some sort                                                               
of administrative  fee of 3 percent  or 4 percent, or  whether he                                                               
would prefer  having his  attorneys keep track  of any  time they                                                               
put  it on  any  of  these particular  tasks,"  and the  attorney                                                               
general had indicated that he  preferred the latter, which led to                                                               
the language in Version G.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL remarked that  this would probably provide                                                               
a mechanism for  the attorneys to make sure that  they kept track                                                               
of their time.                                                                                                                  
1:53:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA again  raised the  issue of  recovering full                                                               
attorney fees, and asked Mr.  Harrington if there was a potential                                                               
of letting the "sort of  branch-off group that legal services has                                                               
that is allowed to ... work  on the monetary cases," recover full                                                               
attorney fees.                                                                                                                  
MR. HARRINGTON  indicated that  might be  a possibility  for such                                                               
organizations such  as the Alaska  Pro Bono  Program Incorporated                                                               
(APBP).  He explained that when  the restrictions were put on all                                                               
Legal  Services   Corporation  funding  recipients,   the  [ALSC]                                                               
established the APBP  as a separate entity so that  if there were                                                               
attorneys  willing  to  volunteer  to handle  those  cases,  they                                                               
wouldn't be  blocked by the restrictions  on the ALSC.   He noted                                                               
that the attorneys who volunteer  their time through the APBP can                                                               
recover attorney fees.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked Mr. Harrington  to contact him with any                                                               
further thoughts or information.                                                                                                
1:56:45 PM                                                                                                                    
RUSS  WEBB, Trust  Program Officer,  Alaska  Mental Health  Trust                                                               
Authority  (AMHTA), testified  on behalf  of the  AMHTA board  in                                                               
support of  HB 175.   He  said that the  AMHTA believed  that the                                                               
bill would provide  the legislature with a good  tool for putting                                                               
to appropriate use the 50  percent of punitive damages awarded in                                                               
civil suits  that are deposited  into the  GF.  He  remarked that                                                               
the  AMHTA supports  the bill  because  it will  help ensure  the                                                               
availability of legal assistance  to the AMHTA beneficiaries, who                                                               
are  people  with mental  disabilities  and  low income  who  are                                                               
eligible for  legal services from  the ALSC.   He noted  that the                                                               
AMHTA  beneficiaries are  particularly vulnerable  and unable  to                                                               
advocate effectively for  themselves.  He said:   "They are often                                                               
in need of legal services  to obtain federal disability benefits,                                                               
VA benefits, access  to housing, health, and  other services. ...                                                               
They  are the  subject of  and vulnerable  to discrimination  and                                                               
exploitation, and they're  clearly less equipped to  be their own                                                               
advocates and  to obtain justice."   HB 175 would help  make sure                                                               
that the  AMHTA beneficiaries get  the assistance that  is needed                                                               
in  order  to obtain  benefits  which  help them  overcome  their                                                               
disabilities, he noted.                                                                                                         
2:00:15 PM                                                                                                                    
MARIE  DARLIN,   Coordinator,  AARP  Capital  City   Task  Force,                                                               
remarked  that  the AARP  had  sent  the  committee a  letter  of                                                               
support for HB 175.   She stated that the bill  would be one more                                                               
way of  trying to  solve some  fiscal problems,  and it  would be                                                               
helpful to older Alaskans.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA noted  that  the legislature  passed a  bill                                                               
last year  that would let  the attorney general's  office receive                                                               
full attorney  fees when it wins  a consumer case, and  that this                                                               
year the  governor's office has  proposed to hire  some attorneys                                                               
who would represent seniors in fraud cases.                                                                                     
MS. DARLIN commented that the  AARP is concerned about that issue                                                               
and hopes that it would be addressed.                                                                                           
2:02:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CAREN  ROBINSON, Vice-Chair,  Board  of  Trustees, Alaska  Mental                                                               
Health  Authority   (AMHTA);  Lobbyist,  Alaska   Women's  Lobby;                                                               
Lobbyist,  Alaska   Network  on  Domestic  Violence   and  Sexual                                                               
Assault,  noted that  all the  trustees of  the AMHTA  support HB                                                               
175.   She agreed  with comments  made by  Chair McGuire  and Mr.                                                               
Peterson.  She pointed out  that women from domestic violence and                                                               
sexual assault situations often  need assistance; she offered the                                                               
example  of  a rape  victim  who  needs help  to  get  out of  an                                                               
apartment lease so that she can  move somewhere safer.  She noted                                                               
that  in the  1980s,  the ALSC  was the  only  agency that  could                                                               
assist women in getting protective orders.                                                                                      
MS. ROBINSON reminded the committee  of all the work that lawyers                                                               
had  done toward  setting  up  [the ALSC].    She commented:  "We                                                               
expect sometimes  that lawyers are  supposed to just jump  in and                                                               
do the pro  bono work that's needed....  Even  though quite a few                                                               
lawyers may be willing to put  their name out there to help, they                                                               
may not have the expertise."   She remarked that the advantage of                                                               
using people who have committed their  life to this field is that                                                               
they  have the  expertise  that  is truly  needed  to help  these                                                               
2:08:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG offered  his understanding  that before                                                               
the  federal  prohibition,  the ALSC  was  getting  approximately                                                               
several hundred  thousand dollars  a year in  attorney fees.   He                                                               
asked for clarification about the prohibition.                                                                                  
MR. HARRINGTON related  that the regulation states  that the ALSC                                                               
can  neither collect  nor retain  attorney fees,  and if  a court                                                               
were to  award fees  sua sponte,  the ALSC  would be  required to                                                               
file a  motion stating  that the ALSC  cannot collect  and retain                                                               
the fee.                                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG suggested that in  any case in which the                                                               
ALSC  represented  the  prevailing party,  the  attorney  general                                                               
would have the  right to seek attorney fees, which  would go into                                                               
the GF  and then into the  new fund.  The  legislature could then                                                               
appropriate  the funds  to the  ALSC.   This way  the ALSC  would                                                               
neither be seeking fees nor receiving them.                                                                                     
MR.  PETERSON asked  if the  legal  fees sought  by the  attorney                                                               
general would  be based on the  attorney time put in  by the ALSC                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG answered affirmatively.                                                                                
MR.  HARRINGTON commented  that this  was an  idea that  could be                                                               
explored, and offered to research that issue.                                                                                   
CHAIR McGUIRE  suggested that the  issue be explored but  she did                                                               
not wish to hold the bill over.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  noted  that   the  bill  had  a  finance                                                               
referral and so there was time to explore the issue.                                                                            
CHAIR McGUIRE stated that she  thought the idea needed more work,                                                               
and she preferred to pass the bill through the committee.                                                                       
2:13:37 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  commented that  he preferred  the wording                                                               
in  Version G,  but  was  reluctant to  adopt  federal code  into                                                               
statute by reference because federal  code could change.  He said                                                               
that "equal to or less" helps  to define [the poverty level], but                                                               
he would research other options.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA asked  if it  was legal  to adopt  something                                                               
that changes in the future.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  noted that  the state  has had  to revise                                                               
statutes in the past when the referenced regulations changed.                                                                   
CHAIR  McGUIRE  said she  would  be  amenable  to going  back  to                                                               
language  in original  bill.   She  proposed  that low-income  be                                                               
defined as 125 percent of poverty level.                                                                                        
2:17:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  commented  that   he  would  rather  the                                                               
committee  define it,  and suggested  a  conceptual amendment  to                                                               
define low-income as 125 percent of the poverty level.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG pointed  out that  the reference  is to                                                               
the organizations  that would  be able  to access  the fund.   He                                                               
noted that the ALSC has federal  standards that it must meet, and                                                               
"to be  certain that  [the ALSC]  can access  this fund,  we must                                                               
reference the  federal ... level  it has to  meet.  He  asked Mr.                                                               
Harrington why the changes were made in the CS.                                                                                 
MR.  HARRINGTON  replied  that  he  was  told  that  it  is  more                                                               
appropriate for  state statute  to reference  an existing  law or                                                               
regulation,  whether  state  or  federal,  than  it  is  to  make                                                               
reference  to a  federal corporation.   He  pointed out  that the                                                               
federal government  sets a different  poverty ceiling  for Alaska                                                               
than it does  for the Lower 48 states.   Therefore, he opined, it                                                               
would  be  important  to  reference 125  percent  of  the  Alaska                                                               
poverty level.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked Mr.  Harrington which of the three                                                               
choices he preferred.                                                                                                           
MR. HARRINGTON stated that the  language he would prefer would be                                                               
the language that would be most likely to pass.                                                                                 
2:22:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL   made  a  motion  to   adopt  Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 1, which would define  low-income as 125 percent of the                                                               
Alaska poverty level.                                                                                                           
CHAIR  McGUIRE  asked  whether   there  were  any  objections  to                                                               
Conceptual Amendment  1.  There being  none, Conceptual Amendment                                                               
1 was adopted.                                                                                                                  
2:23:18 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOTT moved  to report the proposed CS  for HB 175,                                                               
Version  24-LS0656\G,   Bullock,  3/3/05,  as  amended,   out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
zero fiscal notes.   There being no objection,  CSHB 175(JUD) was                                                               
reported from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                           
HB 95 - PUBLIC HEALTH DISASTERS/EMERGENCIES                                                                                   
2:23:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR McGUIRE  announced that the  final order of  business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 95,  "An Act  relating to  public health  and                                                               
public health  emergencies and disasters;  relating to  duties of                                                               
the  public  defender and  office  of  public advocacy  regarding                                                               
public  health matters;  relating  to certain  claims for  public                                                               
health matters;  making conforming amendments; and  providing for                                                               
an effective date."  [Before the committee was CSHB 95(HES).]                                                                   
RICHARD MANDSAGER,  M.D., Director,  Central Office,  Division of                                                               
Public Health,  Department of Health and  Social Services (DHSS),                                                               
presented  HB 95  to the  committee.   He  directed attention  to                                                               
"slides" printed in a handout  available in the committee packet,                                                               
and read  the quote  from the  Institute of  Medicine on  page 2:                                                               
"Public  Health is  what we,  as  a society,  do collectively  to                                                               
assure the conditions in which people can be healthy."  He said:                                                                
     What this  bill is  about is  the governmental  part of                                                                    
     public health;  it's not about  the private  part, it's                                                                    
     not about the family part....   If one thinks back over                                                                    
     the  last 150  years,  what contributed  to the  almost                                                                    
     doubling of  life expectancy of Americans  between 1900                                                                    
     and  today is  things  like sewage  and sewage  removal                                                                    
     ...,   safe  water,   ...   protection  from   vaccine-                                                                    
     preventable  diseases, ...  clean indoor  air, mandated                                                                    
     removal  from  the  environment of  carcinogens,  [and]                                                                    
     removal of  lead from  gasoline.   All of  those things                                                                    
     have contributed  to improve public health  and improve                                                                    
     both quality and quantity of life of Americans.                                                                            
DR.  MANDSAGER  asserted that  public  health  is concerned  with                                                               
populations,  not  just poor  people,  and  prevention, not  just                                                               
treatment.   "Government  plays  a really  unique  role in  legal                                                               
obligations   to  prevent   disease,   disability,  injury,   and                                                               
illness,"  he  noted.    Some examples  of  this:    immunization                                                               
policies  in  schools,  PPDs  [purified  protein  derivatives,  a                                                               
method  of   testing  for  tuberculosis,   or  TB],   and  injury                                                               
prevention.   If public health  personnel do their job  right, he                                                               
said, they're  in the background,  but when there is  an outbreak                                                               
they need to be prepared to contain it.                                                                                         
DR. MANDSAGER turned  to slide 4 and said  that another important                                                               
aspect  of  public   health  falls  under  the   purview  of  the                                                               
Department of  Environmental Conservation  (DEC), which  looks at                                                               
the food, water, and air safety,  and at the reasons animals die.                                                               
"Public  health law  really underpins  all of  our work,  and the                                                               
reason  that  we're  introducing  this bill  is  to  update  that                                                               
underpinning," he added.                                                                                                        
DR. MANDSAGER explained that slide  5 speaks to the public health                                                               
emergency  side.   He  commented  that  prior to  [the  terrorist                                                               
attacks of September  11, 2001] "nobody had  really thought about                                                               
the  fact that  biological  or chemical  agents  could really  be                                                               
terrorist tools;  so preparedness is  a big part of what we are."                                                               
He shared  an anecdote in  which a lab  in Fairbanks was  able to                                                               
determine within  a 24-hour period  that a young Juneau  girl had                                                               
measles, and a possible outbreak  was contained.  "That's what we                                                               
do in the background to try and contain outbreaks," he said.                                                                    
DR. MANDSAGER  pointed out that  avian flu  has been in  the news                                                               
lately.  He  explained that this flu has now  been transmitted on                                                               
numerous  occasions in  the last  couple of  years from  birds to                                                               
humans,  and recently  there have  been  indications of  possible                                                               
human-to-human transmission.   He pointed out that  avian flu has                                                               
a  70 percent  mortality  rate,  and if  it  mutates and  becomes                                                               
transmissible  human to  human, "containment  and the  ability to                                                               
quarantine  and isolate  is going  to be  really important."   He                                                               
     We   learned  with   SARS  [Severe   Acute  Respiratory                                                                    
     Syndrome] a couple  of years ago that  we could contain                                                                    
     a viral  outbreak.  Toronto  proved that ...  they were                                                                    
     able  to contain  it -  same  thing in  Hong Kong.  ...                                                                    
     We've  learned  that we  can,  if  we have  appropriate                                                                    
     quarantine  and isolation  tools, contain  an outbreak,                                                                    
     because  in many  of these  diseases, ...  drugs aren't                                                                    
     going to be very useful.   We're going to have to limit                                                                    
     exposure....   Today  we don't  have that  authority in                                                                    
     our state.                                                                                                                 
     If I got  a call from CDC [Centers  for Disease Control                                                                    
     and Prevention] that somebody was  coming from Hanoi on                                                                    
     an airplane  into Anchorage  tonight, and  they thought                                                                    
     this person  has avian  flu, we would  have to  try and                                                                    
     convince   a  judge   that  our   general  governmental                                                                    
     authorities were enough  to quarantine that individual.                                                                    
     And it's  very unclear with current  statutes whether a                                                                    
     judge would agree.                                                                                                         
DR.  MANDSAGER  pointed  out  some   weaknesses  in  the  current                                                               
statutes,  including inadequate  legal authorities,  and problems                                                               
with the  virology laboratory  in Fairbanks.   He then  turned to                                                               
slide  7   and  quickly  reviewed   past  outbreaks:   polio  and                                                               
tuberculosis in the 1940s.                                                                                                      
2:31:18 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  MANDSAGER   explained  that  slide  8   showed  pictures  of                                                               
quarantine and isolation,  which he said aren't  used very often,                                                               
but  are tools  that are  important  to have  in the  background.                                                               
Slide  9 focused  on concerns  regarding avian  flu, on  which he                                                               
commented: "We need  to be prepared around the world.   There's a                                                               
lot  of work  going on  in Southeast  Asia right  now to  try and                                                               
contain this disease,  but it appears it is now  endemic in birds                                                               
across Southeast Asia."                                                                                                         
DR. MANDSAGER  reminded the committee that  current statutes date                                                               
back to territory days in the  1940s and have been updated twice:                                                               
once to address  tuberculosis and once for SARS.   The bill would                                                               
provide statutory  framework to  support public  health missions,                                                               
services, and roles,  he said, it would give  clear authority for                                                               
control  of conditions  of public  health  importance, and  would                                                               
create  modern due  process, rights,  and rules  in statute.   He                                                               
     If  we  tried  to  serve   you  with  a  quarantine  or                                                                    
     isolation   order  and   you  thought   government  had                                                                    
     overreached,  it's  very  unclear in  current  statutes                                                                    
     what your rights are, what  your appeal rights are, and                                                                    
     it  would be  pretty  much  up to  the  judge you  were                                                                    
     dealing with as  to how this would turn out  for you as                                                                    
     an individual.                                                                                                             
DR. MANDSAGER clarified  that HB 95 defines  the essential public                                                               
health service and the state's role.  He continued:                                                                             
     The  bill is  the  result of  several  years' worth  of                                                                    
     work.    At  the  time of  [the  terrorist  attacks  of                                                                    
     September 11,  2001] there was already  some work going                                                                    
     on  nationally  about  what  should  be  the  emergency                                                                    
     powers in  a state  after that;  that work  was rapidly                                                                    
     accelerated, and  part of that work  was incorporated a                                                                    
     couple of  years ago when  the legislature  updated the                                                                    
     Emergency Powers  Act here  in our  state.   The Robert                                                                    
     Wood  Johnson  Foundation  then, in  the  last  several                                                                    
     years, funded  something called a [Turning  Point Model                                                                    
     State Public  Health Act] process.  ... It  developed a                                                                    
     model act  for states to  use to look at  their current                                                                    
     statutes. ... Last  summer ... we started  a process of                                                                    
     reviewing  our  current  Alaska  statutes  against  the                                                                    
     model Act, and  this proposal is a result  of that work                                                                    
     over  the  course of  the  summer  and fall.  ...  This                                                                    
     proposal  also takes  into  context  [the Alaska  State                                                                    
     Constitution] ... and other laws.                                                                                          
DR. MANDSAGER  noted that slide  13 is an  outline of HB  95, and                                                               
that  slide  14 explains  the  various  authorities in  the  act.                                                               
Slide  15 focuses  on balancing  the protection  of the  public's                                                               
health against the  individual's rights to due  process, he said,                                                               
and slide 16 addresses some of the constitutional constraints.                                                                  
2:36:46 PM                                                                                                                    
DR.  MANDSAGER raised  the issue  of  Acquired Immune  Deficiency                                                               
Syndrome (AIDS) and the question  of why individuals that have it                                                               
aren't quarantined  or isolated.   He  explained that  people who                                                               
are quarantined  have a contagious disease  that is transmissible                                                               
to  somebody  through no  act  of  the  individual, such  as  via                                                               
breathing  or eating,  whereas to  contract AIDS,  one ordinarily                                                               
would have to engage in an unsafe  practice.  He said, "We in our                                                               
country  have  decided   that  it  wouldn't  meet   the  test  to                                                               
quarantine or  isolate somebody for  a behavior in  which there's                                                               
an individual behavior that contributes to ... [contagion]."                                                                    
DR. MANDSAGER  pointed out that HB  95 would not add  new powers,                                                               
but would only  put a statutory basis behind  the state's current                                                               
practices.   He  turned to  slide  17, dealing  with the  balance                                                               
between individual rights and the common good, and pointed out:                                                                 
     The  model Act  includes the  fact that  it's suggested                                                                    
     that  states  have  the ability  to  impose  treatment.                                                                    
     [House Bill  95] ...  does not  have that  authority to                                                                    
     impose  treatment.  ... Our  thinking  is  that at  the                                                                    
     point treatment is a possibility,  the individual has a                                                                    
     choice: they can choose to  be treated and be no longer                                                                    
     contagious or possibly contagious,  or they can go into                                                                    
     quarantine  or isolation,  and the  public's health  is                                                                    
     protected.  The individual  has an individual choice to                                                                    
     make  for themselves,  and so  the proposal  before you                                                                    
     does not include a mandated treatment.                                                                                     
     Another  thing that  has come  up in  previous hearings                                                                    
     has been  the suggestion that for  religious reasons, a                                                                    
     person  should  be  able   to  exempt  themselves  from                                                                    
     screening or testing. ... We  don't think that's a good                                                                    
     idea ... [because] in an  emergency situation where you                                                                    
     have  an epidemic  that's short-lived,  if  one or  two                                                                    
     people   were  to   exempt  themselves   for  religious                                                                    
     reasons,  it probably  doesn't matter.   There  will be                                                                    
     enough  other  people  who will  voluntarily  agree  to                                                                    
     testing and  we could figure  out what's going  on, and                                                                    
     very  shortly  the  individual's  either  going  to  be                                                                    
     better, get cured, or, unfortunately, [die].                                                                               
     In a  chronic situation,  which is  much more  [of the]                                                                    
     Alaska   experience   with    tuberculosis   [TB],   if                                                                    
     somebody's  exposed  to  TB  and  chooses  not  to  get                                                                    
     tested, we then are left  with somebody that may or may                                                                    
     not have  TB, and  it seems  to me  that we  would then                                                                    
     have  the  administrative  burden  of  monitoring  that                                                                    
     person forever and putting  that person into quarantine                                                                    
     whenever they  cough.  And  that doesn't seem to  me to                                                                    
     be a reasonable thing to do.                                                                                               
DR. MANDSAGER explained  that slide 18 spoke  to limitations, and                                                               
slide 19 again  addressed the balance that must  be found between                                                               
individual  rights  and the  common  good.    He noted  that  the                                                               
American  Civil Liberties  Union (ACLU)  had proposed  that there                                                               
shouldn't be any ex parte process  in any of the authorities, and                                                               
he said, "If we give somebody  a treatment order and they were to                                                               
refuse, and we  think that this person is a  risk to somebody, we                                                               
want to  be able to  have somebody  else besides a  state medical                                                               
officer  ...  say to  a  judge,  'This  person  needs to  be  ...                                                               
isolated or quarantined in order to protect the public health.'"                                                                
DR. MANDSAGER explained that if this  were to occur on a Thursday                                                               
or Friday afternoon, this process  could be completed quickly via                                                               
a district judge through an  ex parte process; the department can                                                               
get an order that same day  and "the public can be protected that                                                               
weekend."   The  person is  entitled to  a hearing,  and yet  the                                                               
public's  health is  protected over  the  weekend, he  said.   If                                                               
there was no  ex parte process, he noted, there  would need to be                                                               
a  hearing before  there could  be a  court order,  and then  the                                                               
department's only "tool"  would be to obtain  an emergency order,                                                               
which isn't as quick a process.                                                                                                 
DR.  MANDSAGER  turned  attention  to slides  20  and  21,  which                                                               
addressed the proposed amendments.   He explained that one of the                                                               
proposed  amendments   would  add  some  new   standards  to  the                                                               
department's  ability  to  acquire and  use  identifiable  health                                                               
information.  He said:                                                                                                          
     Obviously  a  concern of  the  public  is:   when  does                                                                    
     government  have  the  right  to  get  to  identifiable                                                                    
     health  information.    Last summer,  in  July,  people                                                                    
     started coming  off cruise ships in  Whittier with what                                                                    
     looked  like gastroenteritis.   It  looked like  it was                                                                    
     probably going  to be a norovirus  (ph) outbreak, which                                                                    
     we've had  every summer for  the last  several summers,                                                                    
     but by  talking to individuals, getting  samples and so                                                                    
     on, and  getting a history, it  quickly became apparent                                                                    
     that this  was an  "oyster story".   And it  turned out                                                                    
     that  what  we  had   was  an  organism  called  Vibrio                                                                    
     parahaemolyticus both  in Prince  William Sound  and in                                                                    
     Kachemak Bay,  [that] had never been  cultured north of                                                                    
     61  degrees  North  latitude  before  anywhere  in  the                                                                    
     world, and  it wasn't  thought that you  had to  have a                                                                    
     process  in  place before  oysters  went  to market  to                                                                    
     assure their safety.                                                                                                       
     A lot  of people got sick.   We would [have]  never ...                                                                    
     known  it  if  we  hadn't  been able  to,  one,  do  an                                                                    
     outbreak  investigation and,  two, be  able to  go into                                                                    
     identifiable health  information.  Now the  report that                                                                    
     comes out the other side,  that is used for policy that                                                                    
     DEC  is implementing  for this  coming summer's  oyster                                                                    
     season,   has  no   identifiable  health   information;                                                                    
     people's ... identifiers are stripped  off of it and we                                                                    
     have a report  that has numbers of people  who got sick                                                                    
     and where  they got sick  and what farms  were involved                                                                    
     and that kind  of thing.  But that's an  example of the                                                                    
     kind  of  work  and  the balance  that's  important  in                                                                    
     public health that we be able to do.                                                                                       
DR. MANDSAGER shared another anecdote:                                                                                          
     [There are]  several villages  up on  one river  in the                                                                    
     Interior that all construction  was stopped last summer                                                                    
     because asbestos  was found  in the  gravel.   So there                                                                    
     are  no  standards  to  know  how much  of  a  risk  is                                                                    
     asbestos  in gravel  for  outdoor  construction -  what                                                                    
     kind  of  protection is  necessary,  can  you use  that                                                                    
     gravel.  So we've been  working with ... those villages                                                                    
     over the last  six months to try and figure  out a plan                                                                    
     so [the Department of  Transportation (DOT)] and others                                                                    
     can resume  construction this  coming summer.  ... [We]                                                                    
     have looked  at x-rays of  everybody over age  50 who's                                                                    
     been willing  to give  us their  x-rays, and  have sent                                                                    
     those x-rays to  an outside expert that's  an expert in                                                                    
     asbestosis.     And   it's   not   reported  yet,   but                                                                    
     unofficially  I can  tell you  about 5  percent of  the                                                                    
     people over  age 50 have  signs of asbestosis  in those                                                                    
     villages.    So  now  we  need  to  go  back  to  those                                                                    
     individuals,  get  a  work history,  ...  and  try  and                                                                    
     figure out a  protection plan for those  villages as to                                                                    
     how they're going to do construction.                                                                                      
DR. MANDSAGER  pointed out that  the DHSS  and the DEC  have been                                                               
working in  partnership with Native  organizations and  people in                                                               
the coastal villages  to look at mercury levels in  people and in                                                               
fish.    He  noted  that   the  departments  have  issued  policy                                                               
statements to  say that from  the data they  have, it is  safe to                                                               
eat fish in  Alaska because the mercury levels are  very low.  He                                                               
said, "If we  ... aren't able to  do that kind of  work, we can't                                                               
contribute to that  kind of policy discussion."   He then related                                                               
a story  from last  fall in  which the  citizens of  Kivalina had                                                               
their  blood   tested  for  possible  lead   contamination.    He                                                               
concluded:   "Those  are examples  of ...  where we  work in  the                                                               
background  to contribute  to community  discussion. ...  My hope                                                               
is, by  the time the legislature  goes home in May,  Alaska isn't                                                               
the  only  state  in  the  country  ...  without  quarantine  and                                                               
isolation authority."                                                                                                           
2:48:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM  asked  Dr. Mandsager  to  address  the                                                               
issue of monitoring water standards,  and the fact that the state                                                               
only  has  one medical  examiner.    She  commented that  she  is                                                               
concerned about  the rights and  responsibilities of  an employer                                                               
while  someone  is  in  isolation,   as  well  as  the  potential                                                               
liability that  a person  would face  if he/she  chose not  to go                                                               
into isolation.   She also asked for  clarification regarding who                                                               
would take  responsibility for children  if both parents  were in                                                               
isolation.  She commented that it  would be fine to address these                                                               
concerns [at the bill's next hearing].                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA relayed  his concern  that the  statute will                                                               
"allow  the  state  to  quarantine  people  we  don't  intend  to                                                               
quarantine", such as  people with AIDS.  He said  that he was not                                                               
comfortable with the argument that  the committee shouldn't worry                                                               
about the  language because the  courts wouldn't enforce  it that                                                               
far;  he stated  that he  wanted  the language  to exclude  those                                                               
diseases that [the  committee] doesn't want the law  to apply to.                                                               
He  pointed  out that  the  bill  says  that the  department  may                                                               
quarantine people in their own home;  he said that if people were                                                               
willing  to be  quarantined in  their  own home,  that should  be                                                               
their absolute right and the  state shouldn't have the discretion                                                               
to quarantine them somewhere else.                                                                                              
2:51:21 PM                                                                                                                    
PATRICIA  SENNER,  Chair,  Legislative Committee,  Alaska  Nurses                                                               
Association (AaNA), relayed that  since [the terrorist attacks of                                                               
September  11,  2001]   and  the  SARS  outbreak   in  Asia,  the                                                               
Association has been involved in  advocating for better disaster-                                                               
disease outbreak planning.  She commented:                                                                                      
     We  were  very pleased  the  Department  of Health  and                                                                    
     Social Services has taken  steps in strengthening their                                                                    
     legal  authority to  respond to  these types  of public                                                                    
     health emergencies.  It is  imperative that the state's                                                                    
     health  authorities  have  in   place  a  mechanism  to                                                                    
     respond quickly to an infectious  disease outbreak.  We                                                                    
     have read  this bill  from two  perspectives:   that of                                                                    
     the  health  care provider  and  that  of the  affected                                                                    
     individuals.    We  feel   that  this  bill  adequately                                                                    
     addresses the needs of  both these [perspectives], with                                                                    
     a  few concerns.   Our  first  concern has  to do  with                                                                    
     [proposed  AS 18.15.387  on page  15,  line 19],  which                                                                    
     refers  to being  able to  quarantine and  isolate only                                                                    
     due to  disease outbreaks.   There's also a  mention in                                                                    
     there ... of decontamination efforts.                                                                                      
     We have  suggested to the  department that  they expand                                                                    
     this section  to refer to situations  where individuals                                                                    
     are exposed  to highly  toxic substances that  might be                                                                    
     transmitted from  one individual  to another.   In this                                                                    
     latter case, such as an  incident where individuals are                                                                    
     exposed  to radioactive  materials, the  department may                                                                    
     want  to quarantine  or  isolate  individuals, just  as                                                                    
     they would  in the  case of a  disease outbreak.   Now,                                                                    
     the  department has  come back  to us  and said,  "Well                                                                    
     that's under DEC,"  but I think in  a crisis situation,                                                                    
     the  local   officials  are  going  to   grab  on  [to]                                                                    
     whoever's there,  and if the  health department  is the                                                                    
     one that's  there, I'd rather  have duplicate  lines of                                                                    
     authority and not just [rely] on one agency for that.                                                                      
MS. SENNER continued:                                                                                                           
     [Proposed  AS 18.15.360  on page  8,  line 23]  states,                                                                    
     "The  department  may   request  information  from  and                                                                    
     inspect health  care records maintained by  health care                                                                    
     providers that identify  individuals or characteristics                                                                    
     of  individuals  with   reportable  diseases  or  other                                                                    
     conditions  of  public  health  importance".  ...  This                                                                    
     section  probably  concerns  us  the  most  because  of                                                                    
     experiences of  health care  providers in  other states                                                                    
     where  public health  officials  have  been asking  and                                                                    
     requesting  large   numbers  of  private   health  care                                                                    
     records on  individuals, and it  seems to be  mostly to                                                                    
     advance  their own  personal political  status and  not                                                                    
     really  for  public health  purposes.    We don't  have                                                                    
     questions  about the  current  people in  place in  the                                                                    
     health department, but certainly  because there's a lot                                                                    
     of  concern in  the health  care community  as a  whole                                                                    
     about what's  going on in  other states, we  would like                                                                    
     ... the criteria for this to  be spelled out as much as                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked Ms. Senner if she had read the                                                                   
packet of proposed amendments.                                                                                                  
MS. SENNER replied that she had seen an earlier amendment.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked Ms. Senner if she supported the                                                                  
amendment labeled [24-GH1002\G.1, Mischel, 3/3/05], which read:                                                                 
     Page 8, line 29, following "information":                                                                                  
          Insert "under this section"                                                                                           
     Page 8, following line 31:                                                                                                 
          Insert a new section to read:                                                                                         
          "Sec. 18.15.362.  Acquisition and use of                                                                            
     identifiable   health    information;   public   health                                                                  
     purpose.     The   department  may   acquire  and   use                                                                  
     identifiable   health   information   collected   under                                                                    
     AS 18.15.355 - 18.15.390 only if the                                                                                       
               (1)  acquisition and use of the information                                                                      
     relates directly to a public health purpose;                                                                               
               (2)  acquisition and use of the information                                                                      
     is reasonably  likely to contribute to  the achievement                                                                    
     of a public health purpose; and                                                                                            
               (3)  public health purpose cannot otherwise                                                                      
     be  achieved  at  least as  well  with  nonidentifiable                                                                    
     health information."                                                                                                       
     Page 20, following line 24:                                                                                                
          Insert a new paragraph to read:                                                                                       
               "(18)  "public health purpose" means the                                                                         
     prevention, control, or amelioration  of a condition of                                                                    
     public  health  importance,  including an  analysis  or                                                                    
     evaluation of  a condition of public  health importance                                                                    
     and an evaluation of a public health program;"                                                                             
     Renumber the following paragraphs accordingly.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG also asked if Ms. Senner would draft an                                                                
amendment for [proposed AS 18.15.387].                                                                                          
MS. SENNER, in referring to the amendment labeled G.1, pointed                                                                  
out the phrase "public health purpose" [page 1, line 9] and said                                                                
that she would add a few more adjectives to it.                                                                                 
CHAIR McGUIRE requested that Ms. Senner submit her preferred                                                                    
changes in writing.                                                                                                             
MS. SENNER commented:                                                                                                           
     There  is also  a proposed  amendment for  [proposed AS                                                                    
     18.15.385, page  11, line  16] about  the right  of the                                                                    
     individual to refuse treatment.  ... As nurses, we deal                                                                    
     a  lot  with  individuals   that  don't  want  to  take                                                                    
     responsibilities  for their  personal acts.  ... So  we                                                                    
     had recommended to  the department ... that  they add a                                                                    
     qualifier, and  I think that's  one of  your amendments                                                                    
     to  this section,  that if  an  individual does  refuse                                                                    
     treatment,  then   they  also  need  to   take  on  the                                                                    
     responsibility of taking those  measures to prevent the                                                                    
     transmission  of whatever  infectious disease  they are                                                                    
     exposed  to.   And the  department has  added in  there                                                                    
     that  they should  go into  quarantine or  isolation at                                                                    
     their  own   expense.    So   we  would   support  that                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG commented that there were two                                                                          
amendments that refer to page 11 of HB 95; he asked Ms. Senner                                                                  
if she was referring to both of those amendments.                                                                               
MS. SENNER replied that she was referring to the amendment                                                                      
labeled [24-GH1002\G.5, Mischel, 3/3/05], which read:                                                                           
     Page 11, line 20, following "treatment.":                                                                                  
          Insert "However, an individual who exercises the                                                                      
     right  to refuse  treatment  under  this subsection  is                                                                    
     responsible for paying all costs  incurred by the state                                                                    
     in seeking  and implementing a quarantine  or isolation                                                                    
     order made necessary  by a refusal of  treatment by the                                                                    
     individual.  The department  shall notify an individual                                                                    
     who refuses  treatment under  this subsection  that the                                                                    
     refusal  may   result  in   an  indefinite   period  of                                                                    
     quarantine or  isolation and  that the  individual will                                                                    
     be  responsible  for  payment   of  the  costs  of  the                                                                    
     quarantine or isolation."                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked for further clarification.                                                                       
MS. SENNER commented that she would look over the amendments and                                                                
get back to the committee later.                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE indicated that HB 95 would be held over.                                                                          
2:59:20 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Judiciary Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 2:59 PM.                                                                  

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