Legislature(2007 - 2008)CAPITOL 120

02/06/2008 01:00 PM JUDICIARY


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 268 MOTOR VEHICLE ARSON ON PUBLIC LAND TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+ HB 303 MARINE & MOTORIZED RECREATIONAL PRODUCTS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ HCR 16 AMEND UNIFORM RULES: ABSTAIN FROM VOTING TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 281 CAMPAIGN FINANCE COMPLAINTS TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled to 02/08/08>
+= HJR 28 CONST. AM: PRODUCTION TAX REVENUE FUND TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHJR 28(JUD) Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        February 6, 2008                                                                                        
                           1:08 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Jay Ramras, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Nancy Dahlstrom, Vice Chair                                                                                      
Representative John Coghill                                                                                                     
Representative Ralph Samuels                                                                                                    
Representative Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                   
Representative Mike Doogan                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 28                                                                                                   
Proposing  an  amendment to  the  Constitution  of the  State  of                                                               
Alaska relating to the production  tax revenue fund, dedicating a                                                               
portion  of  the  petroleum  production  tax  to  the  fund,  and                                                               
limiting appropriations from the fund.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHJR 28(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 268                                                                                                              
"An  Act  relating  to  damaging  a vehicle  on  public  land  by                                                               
starting a fire or causing an explosion."                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 268 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 303                                                                                                              
"An Act  relating to marine  products and  motorized recreational                                                               
products; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 281                                                                                                              
"An Act  extending the statute  of limitations for the  filing of                                                               
complaints with  the Alaska  Public Offices  Commission involving                                                               
state election campaigns."                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     - BILL HEARING POSTPONED TO 2/8/08                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 16                                                                                              
Proposing an amendment to the Uniform Rules of the Alaska State                                                                 
Legislature relating to voting.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     - BILL HEARING CANCELED                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HJR 28                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: CONST. AM: PRODUCTION TAX REVENUE FUND                                                                             
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) SAMUELS                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
01/11/08       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/11/08                                                                               
01/15/08       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/15/08       (H)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
01/25/08       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
01/25/08       (H)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
01/28/08       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
01/28/08       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
01/28/08       (H)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
02/04/08       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
02/04/08       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/04/08       (H)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
02/06/08       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 268                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: MOTOR VEHICLE ARSON ON PUBLIC LAND                                                                                 
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) STOLTZE                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
01/04/08       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/4/08                                                                                
01/15/08       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/15/08       (H)       JUD                                                                                                    
02/06/08       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 303                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: MARINE & MOTORIZED RECREATIONAL PRODUCTS                                                                           
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) NEUMAN                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
01/11/08       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/11/08                                                                               
01/15/08       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/15/08       (H)       L&C                                                                                                    
01/30/08       (H)       L&C AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                              
01/30/08       (H)       Moved CSHB 303(L&C) Out of Committee                                                                   
01/30/08       (H)       MINUTE(L&C)                                                                                            
01/31/08       (H)       L&C RPT CS(L&C)  4DP 3AM                                                                               
01/31/08       (H)       DP: BUCH, RAMRAS, NEUMAN, OLSON                                                                        
01/31/08       (H)       AM: GARDNER, LEDOUX, GATTO                                                                             
01/31/08       (H)       JUD REFERRAL ADDED                                                                                     
02/06/08       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BILL STOLTZE                                                                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of HB 268.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
BEN MULLIGAN, Staff                                                                                                             
to Representative Bill Stoltze                                                                                                  
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Assisted with the presentation of HB 268 on                                                              
behalf of the sponsor, Representative Stoltze.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
RUSS MADDOX                                                                                                                     
Resurrection Bay Conservation Alliance (RBCA)                                                                                   
Seward, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 268.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
WYN MENEFEE, Chief of Operations                                                                                                
Central Office                                                                                                                  
Division of Mining, Land and Water                                                                                              
Department of Natural Resources (DNR)                                                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided comments during discussion of                                                                   
HB 268.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
ARTHUR M. QUAAS                                                                                                                 
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of HB 268.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
KENNY BARBER                                                                                                                    
(No address provided)                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 268.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
PATTY BARBER                                                                                                                    
(No address provided)                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 268.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
GREGORY NELSON (ph), Co-Founder                                                                                                 
Butte Area Residents Civic Organization (BARCO)                                                                                 
(No address provided)                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided comments during discussion of                                                                   
HB 268.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DAVID TYLER, State Fire Marshal;                                                                                                
Director                                                                                                                        
Division of Fire and Life Safety                                                                                                
Department of Public Safety (DPS)                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 268.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
RODNEY DIAL, Lieutenant, Deputy Commander                                                                                       
A Detachment                                                                                                                    
Division of Alaska State Troopers                                                                                               
Department of Public Safety (DPS)                                                                                               
Ketchikan, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to  questions during discussion of                                                             
HB 268.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
GERALD LUCKHAUPT, Attorney                                                                                                      
Legislative Legal Counsel                                                                                                       
Legislative Legal and Research Services                                                                                         
Legislative Affairs Agency (LAA)                                                                                                
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Responded  to questions  as the  drafter of                                                             
HB 268.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MARK NEUMAN                                                                                                      
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of HB 303.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAY  RAMRAS called the  House Judiciary  Standing Committee                                                             
meeting  to  order at  1:08:11  PM.   Representatives  Dahlstrom,                                                             
Coghill, Samuels, Holmes, Doogan, and  Ramras were present at the                                                               
call to order.  Representative Lynn was excused.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS made mention of  proposed legislation that the House                                                               
Judiciary  Standing Committee  would be  introducing in  the near                                                               
future.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HJR 28 - CONST. AM: PRODUCTION TAX REVENUE FUND                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:10:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  JOINT RESOLUTION  NO. 28,  Proposing an  amendment to  the                                                               
Constitution of  the State of  Alaska relating to  the production                                                               
tax  revenue   fund,  dedicating  a  portion   of  the  petroleum                                                               
production tax to the fund,  and limiting appropriations from the                                                               
fund.   [Left pending from the  meeting on 2/4/08 was  the motion                                                               
to  adopt the  proposed  committee substitute  (CS)  for HJR  28,                                                               
Version 25-LS1217\E,  Cook, 1/29/08, as the  work draft; included                                                               
in members' packets was a  new proposed committee substitute (CS)                                                               
for HJR 28, Version 25-LS1217\M, Cook, 2/5/08.]                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:10:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM  moved to  adopt the  proposed committee                                                               
substitute (CS)  for HJR 28,  Version 25-LS1217\M,  Cook, 2/5/08,                                                               
as the work draft.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES objected for the purpose of discussion.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS, speaking  as the  sponsor, relayed  that                                                               
Version  M   contains  all  the  provisions   the  committee  had                                                               
expressed favor  with during the  resolution's last hearing.   In                                                               
Version M, the  production tax revenue fund is  separate from the                                                               
existing Constitutional  Budget Reserve Fund (CBRF);  there is no                                                               
longer a  statutory reference to the  "progressivity" monies, and                                                               
those   monies  are   instead   just   described  via   language;                                                               
appropriations to the  proposed fund will no  longer be mandatory                                                               
as  of January  1,  2015;  the annual  payout  from  the fund  is                                                               
limited  to 5  percent of  a  five-year average  and won't  begin                                                               
until  2013;  and  transitional language  is  included  to  allow                                                               
payouts based on  a shorter average for the years  2013 and 2014.                                                               
He  mentioned  that  he'd  received  some  information  from  the                                                               
Department of Revenue (DOR) regarding  the estimated payouts, and                                                               
some acronyms for the proposed fund.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DOOGAN  indicated that he, too,  has some acronyms                                                               
for the proposed fund.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM  sought assurance  that Version  M won't                                                               
release the legislature  from its responsibility to  pay back the                                                               
monies owed to the CBRF.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  relayed that it won't  because it doesn't                                                               
affect the  existing provisions of the  Alaska State Constitution                                                               
regarding the CBRF.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL expressed disfavor  with placing start and                                                               
stop dates into the Alaska State Constitution.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  offered that  as production  continues to                                                               
decline, the  production tax revenue  might instead be  needed to                                                               
balance the  budget, hence  the proposed  stop date.   Meanwhile,                                                               
establishment of the proposed fund  will allow the legislature to                                                               
save a little bit of that revenue.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL noted  that historically  the legislature                                                               
has been  very good at  managing its savings, the  permanent fund                                                               
being a good example of that.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  referred to page  2, lines 6-8,  and noted                                                               
that  the  payout  would  be  based on  the  first  five  of  the                                                               
preceding six years.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS  said  that  language  ensures  that  the                                                               
payout average will  be based on firm numbers and  not include an                                                               
estimate of a current fiscal  year.  He offered his understanding                                                               
that that language came out of [other legislation].                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS  characterized  Version  M  as  a  clean  piece  of                                                               
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  removed her  objection to the  adoption of                                                               
Version M as  the work draft.  There being  no further objection,                                                               
Version M was before the committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:20:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM moved  to  report the  proposed CS  for                                                               
HJR 28, Version 25-LS1217\M, Cook,  2/5/08, out of committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There being  no objection,  CSHJR 28(JUD)  was reported  from the                                                               
House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HB 268 - MOTOR VEHICLE ARSON ON PUBLIC LAND                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:20:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 268, "An  Act relating  to damaging a  vehicle on                                                               
public land by starting a fire or causing an explosion."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:20:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BILL  STOLTZE, Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor,                                                               
said of HB  268 that it is very important  to the "Butte portion"                                                               
of his  district and addresses an  issue that was brought  to his                                                               
attention [by constituents].                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS noted  that  the  Knik River  Public  Use Area  has                                                               
experienced a  great deal of  lawlessness, included  the lighting                                                               
of cars on fire.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE  concurred, adding  that although  some of                                                               
that activity  has been curtailed, it  still continues, blighting                                                               
the area as  well creating a safety hazard for  those who respond                                                               
to  those fires.   House  Bill 268  is intended  to address  this                                                               
problem.   Specifically, the bill adds  to AS 11.46 the  crime of                                                               
arson in  the third degree,  and makes it a  class C felony.   He                                                               
offered his hope  that the bill will serve as  a deterrent rather                                                               
than be  imposed in that  many instances, and mentioned  that the                                                               
bill has been  reviewed by community leaders  and law enforcement                                                               
entities.   He said he  hears about this activity  frequently and                                                               
spends much of  his time dealing with issues arising  in the Knik                                                               
River Public Use  Area; the behavior of lighting cars  on fire or                                                               
causing  them  to explode  is  behavior  that can't  be  resolved                                                               
through regulation.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS asked  whether  the bill  applies  to both  working                                                               
motor vehicles and abandoned motor vehicles.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:26:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BEN MULLIGAN, Staff to Representative  Bill Stoltze, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  on  behalf   of  Representative  Stoltze,  sponsor,                                                               
explained that it does, since the  vehicles being lit on fire are                                                               
not always abandoned vehicles.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES  questioned  whether  the  proposed  crime                                                               
ought to be a class A  misdemeanor - like the crime of criminally                                                               
negligent burning - rather than a class C felony.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE offered that the  behavior HB 268 is meant                                                               
to address  is similar to  the behavior outlined in  the existing                                                               
arson  statutes,  which  are  both  felonies,  including  causing                                                               
potential risks  to public safety.   He reiterated his  hope that                                                               
the  bill won't  be applied  in many  instances but  will instead                                                               
serve as  a deterrent.   In response to  a question, he  said the                                                               
bill  is  aimed at  the  person  starting  the  fire and  is  not                                                               
focusing on why the vehicle is lit on fire.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. MULLIGAN  added that  the bill will  apply regardless  of why                                                               
the vehicle is lit on fire.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DOOGAN,  referring to the photographs  included in                                                               
members' packets,  noted that some  of the burned cars  also have                                                               
bullet holes  in them,  and asked  whether current  law precludes                                                               
shooting vehicles in a public use area.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STOLTZE  said  he  is   not  aware  of  any  laws                                                               
addressing  the  shooting  of   vehicles,  though  that  behavior                                                               
certainly contributes to the blight.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DOOGAN  questioned whether those in  charge of the                                                               
public use area are going to address that issue as well.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. MULLIGAN indicated that they  are currently going through the                                                               
process of designating both safe and unsafe shooting areas.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE relayed that  they don't want the shooting                                                               
of vehicles continuing either.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL opined that  vandalizing vehicles rises to                                                               
the same level as lighting them on fire.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STOLTZE said  his  larger concern  is the  public                                                               
safety risk  associated with burning  vehicles, adding  that that                                                               
is the issue the public wants to see resolved.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:34:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RUSS  MADDOX,  Resurrection  Bay  Conservation  Alliance  (RBCA),                                                               
relayed that  the RBCA supports HB  268.  The burning  of cars is                                                               
not just  a problem  in the  Matanuska-Susitna region;  it's also                                                               
been a big problem  in Seward for a number of  years.  He offered                                                               
his observation that those who  are abandoning their vehicles are                                                               
not always  the same  people who are  lighting those  vehicles on                                                               
fire and otherwise  vandalizing them.  One  possible solution, he                                                               
proffered,  would be  to make  it  easier and  cheaper to  safely                                                               
dispose  of  vehicles,  rather  than  merely  punishing  the  end                                                               
product  of their  being  burned.   He surmised  that  this is  a                                                               
statewide problem.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:35:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WYN  MENEFEE, Chief  of Operations,  Central Office,  Division of                                                               
Mining, Land  and Water, Department  of Natural  Resources (DNR),                                                               
relayed  that  the burning  of  vehicles  is occurring  on  state                                                               
lands,  and that  removing such  vehicles  comes at  considerable                                                               
cost.  The  State of Alaska, itself, has paid  to remove about 50                                                               
such  vehicles,  the Fairbanks  North  Star  Borough has  removed                                                               
about 60 such vehicles from  state lands, and private groups have                                                               
cleaned up over  100 such vehicles from the Knik  area.  Anything                                                               
that can be done to discourage  the activity of burning cars will                                                               
be beneficial.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:37:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ARTHUR M.  QUAAS said he  would be speaking  in favor of  HB 268.                                                               
He relayed that he lives on the  south side of the Knik River and                                                               
can see the public  use area on the other side  of the river, and                                                               
that he used  to call the Division of Alaska  State Troopers on a                                                               
regular basis to  report burning cars, but the  response from the                                                               
division was  always that law  enforcement personnel  didn't have                                                               
any way to  access that area and couldn't do  anything about that                                                               
activity anyway.   After his  name was broadcast over  the police                                                               
radio a  couple of times,  he stopped making such  calls, because                                                               
those who are  out setting vehicles on fire  were also monitoring                                                               
the  police radio  so that  they'd know  when to  leave an  area.                                                               
When watching a  vehicle on fire, one is left  wondering just how                                                               
long  it will  be before  the  surrounding area  also catches  on                                                               
fire.   In conclusion, he  reiterated that he  is in favor  of HB                                                               
268.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:39:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KENNY BARBER,  after relaying that  he lives in the  "Butte area"                                                               
and has helped remove some of  the vehicles that have been set on                                                               
fire, said  he supports HB 268.   He posited that  the setting of                                                               
vehicles  on fire  is a  statewide problem,  and opined  that the                                                               
bill will help in the long run.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:41:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PATTY BARBER said she supports  HB 268, and opined that something                                                               
like it has been needed for a long time.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS surmised  that the  question  the committee  should                                                               
address is whether  the behavior outlined in the  bill warrants a                                                               
class C felony.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE concurred.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:42:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GREGORY  NELSON  (ph),  Co-Founder, Butte  Area  Residents  Civic                                                               
Organization (BARCO), indicated  that BARCO requested legislation                                                               
such as HB 268.  "Car  burnings" have been a concern of residents                                                               
for many,  many years, he  added, and expressed  appreciation for                                                               
making  the burning  of vehicles  on  state or  municipal land  a                                                               
class C felony.  He went on to say:                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     For over 25 years we've  been told by borough and state                                                                    
     officials that  they don't have  the resources  nor the                                                                    
     tools   to  fight   the   epidemic   of  car   burnings                                                                    
     everywhere.   These  activities has  been accelerating,                                                                    
     endangering   local  firefighters,   contaminating  our                                                                    
     woods  and waterways,  placing our  homes and  lives in                                                                    
     danger, and  condemning this  great community  and this                                                                    
     beautiful  area  to  a reputation  that  belittles  and                                                                    
     contradicts  the values  and standards  which residents                                                                    
     in  normal communities  can  rightfully and  peacefully                                                                    
     enjoy.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. NELSON  opined that passage  of HB 268 will  assure concerned                                                               
residents  and  other  users  of public  spaces  that  when  they                                                               
observe and  report this particular criminal  activity, they will                                                               
be assisting law enforcement agencies  which will then arrest and                                                               
charge those  committing this  offense.   He said  that residents                                                               
have seen  a steady increase  in illegal activities in  the area,                                                               
and that perhaps  the behavior of vandalizing a  vehicle on state                                                               
or municipal land should also  be curtailed, adding that adequate                                                               
vehicle disposal has always been an issue.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
[Chair Ramras turned the gavel over to Vice Chair Dahlstrom.]                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:45:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID TYLER, State  Fire Marshal; Director, Division  of Fire and                                                               
Life  Safety,  Department of  Public  Safety  (DPS), opined  that                                                               
legislation such  has HB 268  should have been introduced  a long                                                               
time  ago.   Burning  vehicles  are  dangerous, particularly  for                                                               
firefighters,  because vehicle  fires  create a  lot of  hazards.                                                               
For  example,  "shock-absorber"  bumpers,  when  heated  up,  can                                                               
explode like  grenades and take  a firefighter out at  the knees;                                                               
fuel  tanks  can fail,  thus  spilling  fuel  on the  ground  and                                                               
creating further  hazard; many items  that people carry  in their                                                               
vehicles  can  also  create  a   hazard.    Just  walking  up  to                                                               
extinguish  a burning  vehicle is  an  extremely dangerous  task.                                                               
Furthermore,  burning vehicles  can  start  wild-land fires,  and                                                               
although to-date there  have not been any  large wild-land fires,                                                               
they are cause  for concern because they  threaten wildlife, wild                                                               
lands, human life, and personal  property.  He concurred that the                                                               
Butte area isn't the only area  of the state that is experiencing                                                               
this problem.   In  conclusion, he said  he strongly  supports HB                                                               
268.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
[Vice Chair Dahlstrom returned the gavel to Chair Ramras.]                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS asked  what the  current penalty  is for  burning a                                                               
vehicle.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. MULLIGAN  offered his understanding  that currently  there is                                                               
no  specific penalty,  but  that perhaps  the  activity could  be                                                               
charged as criminal mischief.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE  reiterated that the bill  establishes the                                                               
crime  of arson  in  the third  degree  and makes  it  a class  C                                                               
felony.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL pointed  out, though,  that the  crime of                                                               
criminal mischief in  the third degree is also a  class C felony,                                                               
and that  HB 268 specifies that  the arson be committed  on state                                                               
or municipal land.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS asked  whether one could be  arrested for committing                                                               
a class A misdemeanor crime.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:50:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RODNEY   DIAL,  Lieutenant,   Deputy  Commander,   A  Detachment,                                                               
Division of  Alaska State Troopers,  Department of  Public Safety                                                               
(DPS), offered his understanding that  for a class A misdemeanor,                                                               
a person  can only be arrested  if he/she commits the  offense in                                                               
the presence of a law  enforcement officer; if the officer didn't                                                               
witness  the event,  he/she would  complete an  investigation and                                                               
then forward  that information to the  district attorney's office                                                               
for prosecution.   In response to a question, he  said that if an                                                               
officer  came across  a burning  vehicle,  he/she would  probably                                                               
first try to ensure the safety  of those around the vehicle, then                                                               
call the  appropriate resources to  deal with the fire,  and then                                                               
conduct an investigation  regarding who owns the  vehicle and who                                                               
started the  fire.  He  offered his understanding that  the crime                                                               
of  criminally negligent  burning  - AS  11.46.430  - would  only                                                               
apply if  the vehicle  belonged to  someone else;  currently, one                                                               
can burn his/her own vehicle.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STOLTZE  noted that  the  question  of whether  a                                                               
particular behavior  is intentional  requires a high  standard of                                                               
proof, and surmised, therefore, that  HB 268 won't make it easier                                                               
to arrest and prosecute someone.   Setting cars on fire, however,                                                               
creates risk  to life  and property,  and it  is that  risk which                                                               
HB 268 is intended to address.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DOOGAN  pointed out,  though, that that  same risk                                                               
is created regardless of where the  car is located when it is set                                                               
on fire,  and regardless of who  owns the car.   He asked whether                                                               
current law  addresses situations  in which  vehicles are  set on                                                               
fire on  private property and  when the  vehicle is owned  by the                                                               
person setting it on fire.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE  said the bill only  addresses activity on                                                               
state and  municipal land because  that's where the  offenses are                                                               
occurring,  and   characterized  that  limitation  as   a  policy                                                               
decision.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT DIAL said the troopers  do not investigate individuals                                                               
destroying property  on their own  private property -  there just                                                               
is not the same level of interest.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DOOGAN  surmised that  the burning of  vehicles is                                                               
not occurring on private, federal, or Native corporation land.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT DIAL indicated that the  troopers haven't received any                                                               
such complaints.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 1:56 p.m. to 2:01 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:01:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GERALD   LUCKHAUPT,   Attorney,    Legislative   Legal   Counsel,                                                               
Legislative  Legal  and  Research Services,  Legislative  Affairs                                                               
Agency  (LAA),  as  the  drafter,  in  response  to  a  question,                                                               
explained that the  sponsor wanted to establish a  lesser form of                                                               
the  crime of  arson, and  that militated  that that  crime be  a                                                               
class C  felony.  However,  should the committee decide  that the                                                               
behavior  outlined in  HB 268  would be  better equated  with the                                                               
crime of criminally negligent burning,  the bill could be altered                                                               
to  that  effect.     He  offered  his   understanding  that  the                                                               
difference in penalties  for a class A misdemeanor  as opposed to                                                               
a class C felony is that the  former could warrant up to one year                                                               
in jail  and a  fine of  up to $5,000,  whereas the  latter could                                                               
warrant up to five years in  jail - though there is a presumptive                                                               
sentencing range  of between zero and  two years - and  a fine of                                                               
up to $10,000.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT  DIAL,  in  response   to  comments  and  a  question,                                                               
observed that  the current  criminally negligent  burning statute                                                               
doesn't seem to be discouraging  the activity of setting vehicles                                                               
on fire.   [Notwithstanding existing  AS 11.46.400] he  said that                                                               
the troopers  only charge  a person  with a  felony if  damage to                                                               
property belonging to another exceeds  $500, and surmised that it                                                               
could be argued  that the cost to the public  of putting out such                                                               
a fire  and disposing of  a burned  vehicle far exceeds  $500 and                                                               
thus a felony charge would be appropriate.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. LUCKHAUPT added  that if there was a reason  to recommend one                                                               
type  of charge  over the  other it  would be  that the  crime of                                                               
criminally  negligent  burning  already   exists  as  a  class  A                                                               
misdemeanor  and requires  a  lesser mental  state  than HB  268,                                                               
which requires that someone intentionally  damage a motor vehicle                                                               
- though it matters not who's vehicle  it is - by starting a fire                                                               
or  causing  an  explosion  while  the vehicle  is  on  state  or                                                               
municipal land.   Therefore, if  the activity outlined in  HB 268                                                               
becomes a class A misdemeanor,  most such cases would be subsumed                                                               
by the criminally  burning negligent statute and  so the proposed                                                               
offense  wouldn't   be  needed   or  used  because   it  requires                                                               
additional proof.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:07:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. LUCKHAUPT, in  response to a comment, reiterated  that HB 268                                                               
would  apply regardless  of who  owns the  vehicle being  burned;                                                               
furthermore, if  the penalty remains  a class C felony,  then the                                                               
bill  would  also  continue  to  require  a  higher  mens  rea  -                                                               
"intentionally".  He  opined that the bill  proposes a reasonable                                                               
progression with regard  to penalties and mental  intent.  Again,                                                               
if  the penalty  proposed in  HB 268  were lowered  to a  class A                                                               
misdemeanor, it wouldn't be used.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES suggested that  they could instead make the                                                               
penalty  a class  A misdemeanor  and reduce  the required  mental                                                               
state to criminal negligence.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE  pointed out  that that's  essentially the                                                               
crime of  criminally negligent  burning, which  has proven  to be                                                               
ineffective.   He again reiterated  his hope that the  bill won't                                                               
be used often but will instead act as a deterrent.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  asked whether a person  starting a vehicle                                                               
fire that  then burns  out of control  and causes  further damage                                                               
could be charged with other crimes as well.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LIEUTENANT DIAL said it is  possible, though such instances would                                                               
have to be  addressed on a case-by-case basis.   For example, the                                                               
types  of other  crimes that  might  be charged  would depend  on                                                               
whether someone gets  injured as a result of  setting the vehicle                                                               
on fire.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES  asked whether  they  need  to include  an                                                               
exemption in the bill for training exercises.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. LUCKHAUPT,  in response to  the earlier question,  noted that                                                               
it is a  misdemeanor to start or  know of a fire and  allow it to                                                               
escape; that  in some instances,  in addition to a  jail sentence                                                               
and a  fine, civil damages could  also be sought from  the person                                                               
[starting] the fire;  and that there is  another criminal penalty                                                               
that  could accrue  to  someone starting  a  fire on  undeveloped                                                               
land, but it wouldn't apply to vehicle fires.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS, after  ascertaining  that no  one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 268.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:15:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM moved to report  HB 268 out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There being no objection,  HB 268 was reported  from the                                                               
House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HB 303 - MARINE & MOTORIZED RECREATIONAL PRODUCTS                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:16:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  303, "An  Act  relating to  marine products  and                                                               
motorized recreational  products; and providing for  an effective                                                               
date."   [Before  the committee  was CSHB  303(L&C); included  in                                                               
members' packets was a proposed  committee substitute (CS) for HB                                                               
303, Version 25-lS1183\M, Bannister, 2/5/08.]                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS noted that the  Department of Law (DOL) has provided                                                               
a written opinion  on CSHB 303(L&C) [that  expresses concern with                                                               
that version].                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:17:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MARK NEUMAN,  Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor,                                                               
relayed that  he's not yet  had a  chance to review  that opinion                                                               
but would like  to do so, and indicated that  perhaps a committee                                                               
substitute (CS) could be brought before the committee at a later                                                                
date that would address the DOL's concerns.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS relayed that [CSHB 303(L&C)] would be held over.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Judiciary Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 2:19 p.m.                                                                 

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