Legislature(2011 - 2012)CAPITOL 120

03/30/2011 01:00 PM JUDICIARY


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Audio Topic
01:07:45 PM Start
01:08:08 PM HB88
02:51:06 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 88 USE OF FOREIGN LAW TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 168 INJUNCTION SECURITY: INDUSTRIAL OPERATION TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled But Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 30, 2011                                                                                         
                           1:07 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Carl Gatto, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Steve Thompson, Vice Chair                                                                                       
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Lance Pruitt                                                                                                     
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
Representative Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wes Keller                                                                                                       
Representative Mike Chenault (alternate)                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 88                                                                                                               
"An    Act   prohibiting    a   court,    arbitrator,   mediator,                                                               
administrative agency,  or enforcement authority from  applying a                                                               
law,  rule,  or  provision  of  an  agreement  that  violates  an                                                               
individual's right under the Constitution  of the State of Alaska                                                               
or the United States Constitution."                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 168                                                                                                              
"An Act  requiring the amount  of the  security given by  a party                                                               
seeking an injunction or order  vacating or staying the operation                                                               
of  a permit  affecting  an industrial  operation  to include  an                                                               
amount for  the payment of  wages and benefits for  employees and                                                               
payments to  contractors and subcontractors  that may be  lost if                                                               
the industrial operation is wrongfully enjoined."                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 88                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: USE OF FOREIGN LAW                                                                                                 
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) GATTO                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
01/18/11       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/14/11                                                                               
01/18/11       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/18/11       (H)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
03/17/11       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
03/17/11       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/17/11       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/22/11       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
03/22/11       (H)       <Bill Hearing Rescheduled to 3/24/11>                                                                  
03/24/11       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
03/24/11       (H)       Moved CSHB 88(STA) Out of Committee                                                                    
03/24/11       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/25/11       (H)       STA RPT CS(STA) 3DP 2DNP 2NR                                                                           
03/25/11       (H)       DP: P.WILSON, KELLER, LYNN                                                                             
03/25/11       (H)       DNP: GRUENBERG, SEATON                                                                                 
03/25/11       (H)       NR: JOHANSEN, PETERSEN                                                                                 
03/25/11       (H)       FIN REFERRAL ADDED AFTER JUD                                                                           
03/30/11       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
KAREN SAWYER, Staff                                                                                                             
Representative Carl Gatto                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 88 on behalf of the sponsor,                                                                
Representative Gatto.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
JEFFREY A. MITTMAN, Executive Director                                                                                          
American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska (ACLU of Alaska)                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Expressed concerns regarding HB 88.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT SPENCER                                                                                                                  
American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI)                                                                                      
(No address provided)                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided comments during discussion of                                                                   
HB 88.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
NONIE DARWISH, Director                                                                                                         
Former Muslims United                                                                                                           
(No address provided)                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  During the discussion of HB 88, provided                                                                 
comments.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SAM OBEIDI                                                                                                                      
Islamic Community Center of Anchorage Alaska, Inc. (ICCAA)                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Provided comments  during  discussion  of                                                             
HB 88.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MARY ELLEN BEARDSLEY, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                
Commercial/Fair Business Section                                                                                                
Civil Division (Anchorage)                                                                                                      
Department of Law (DOL)                                                                                                         
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to  questions during discussion of                                                             
HB 88.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
PAMELA GELLER                                                                                                                   
American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI)                                                                                      
(No address provided)                                                                                                           
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Provided comments  during  discussion  of                                                             
HB 88.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
JANET LEVY                                                                                                                      
(No address provided)                                                                                                           
POSITION  STATEMENT:    During  discussion  of  HB  88,  provided                                                             
comments.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
PATRICK J. TRAVERS, Reverend, J.D., J.C.L.                                                                                      
Vicar General and Judicial Vicar                                                                                                
Diocese of Juneau;                                                                                                              
Alaska Catholic Conference of Bishops                                                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  On behalf  of the Alaska Catholic Conference                                                             
of Bishops,  expressed a  concern regarding  HB 88  and suggested                                                               
that the bill be altered.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MARIA RENSEL                                                                                                                    
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of HB 88.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DAVID E. HECKERT                                                                                                                
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:    Provided comments  during  discussion  of                                                             
HB 88.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:07:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CARL  GATTO called the  House Judiciary  Standing Committee                                                             
meeting  to order  at  1:07 p.m.    Representatives Gatto,  Lynn,                                                               
Pruitt,  and  Thompson  were  present   at  the  call  to  order.                                                               
Representatives Holmes  and Gruenberg arrived as  the meeting was                                                               
in progress.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                   HB 88 - USE OF FOREIGN LAW                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:08:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO announced that the  [only] order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  88,  "An Act  prohibiting  a court,  arbitrator,                                                               
mediator,  administrative agency,  or enforcement  authority from                                                               
applying a law, rule, or  provision of an agreement that violates                                                               
an  individual's right  under the  Constitution of  the State  of                                                               
Alaska  or   the  United  States  Constitution."     [Before  the                                                               
committee was  CSHB 88(STA); included  in members' packets  was a                                                               
proposed  committee  substitute  (CS)  for  HB  88,  Version  27-                                                               
LS0333\D, Bailey, 3/30/11.]                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:08:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KAREN  SAWYER, Staff,  Representative  Carl  Gatto, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  on behalf  of  the  sponsor, Representative  Gatto,                                                               
explained that  HB 88  would stipulate  that in  Alaska's courts,                                                               
application  of a  foreign law  in violation  of an  individual's                                                               
constitutional rights shall not be permitted.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:09:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON moved  to adopt  the proposed  committee                                                               
substitute (CS) for HB 88,  Version 27-LS0333\D, Bailey, 3/30/11,                                                               
as the  working document.   There being  no objection,  Version D                                                               
was before the committee.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SAWYER  went on  to  explain  that  [both CSHB  88(STA)  and                                                               
Version D]  specify that proposed  AS 09.68.140  isn't addressing                                                               
tribal law and would not  apply to corporations, partnerships, or                                                               
other forms  of business associations.   She also relayed  that a                                                               
legal  opinion by  the Department  of Law  (DOL) dated  March 21,                                                               
2011,  indicates that  under  the Supremacy  Clause  of the  U.S.                                                               
Constitution, HB  88 would  be preempted  in situations  where it                                                               
conflicts with  a federal law  or with  a treaty that  the United                                                               
States is  a party to.   She  offered her understanding  that two                                                               
states  have passed,  and sixteen  other  states are  considering                                                               
passing,  legislation similar  to  HB 88,  which  is intended  to                                                               
statutorily emphasize  that both  the Constitution of  Alaska and                                                               
the  U.S. Constitution  provide the  fundamental basis  for civil                                                               
law  [in Alaska].   She  offered  her belief  that HB  88 is  not                                                               
intended  to address  the issue  of religion  or First  Amendment                                                               
rights, and  that nothing in  HB 88  would prevent a  person from                                                               
exercising his/her right to freedom  of religion.  In conclusion,                                                               
she noted that Section 2 of Version D [in part] read:                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     LEGISLATIVE  INTENT.     It   is  the  intent   of  the                                                                    
     legislature  that AS  09.68.140, enacted  by sec.  3 of                                                                    
     this  Act, does  not address,  directly or  indirectly,                                                                    
     any  question  of  tribal law  or  the  application  of                                                                    
     tribal  law  or   otherwise  address  the  intersection                                                                    
     between state law and tribal law.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:14:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JEFFREY A. MITTMAN, Executive  Director, American Civil Liberties                                                               
Union  of Alaska  (ACLU of  Alaska), after  mentioning that  he'd                                                               
submitted  written  testimony,  offered  his  understanding  that                                                               
under   both  the   Alaska  State   Constitution  and   the  U.S.                                                               
Constitution, the  courts are already  required to look  to those                                                               
documents  for clear  statements of  public  policy.   So to  the                                                               
extent that  HB 88 seeks  to address  the issue of  public policy                                                               
and  constitutional rights,  it  simply  reiterates the  existing                                                               
state of  the law,  and therefore  would not  accomplish anything                                                               
legally.   Given that,  the question  then becomes  what negative                                                               
impacts would  HB 88  have, and  this issue  is addressed  in the                                                               
aforementioned  written  testimony.   For  example,  even  though                                                               
Version D  exempts business entities,  it is unclear  whether the                                                               
bill would  still apply in  situations wherein a  business entity                                                               
has  a contract  with an  individual,  and such  lack of  clarity                                                               
would only  serve to entangle business  contracts in uncertainty,                                                               
which both businesses and courts dislike.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. MITTMAN went on to say:                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     What  you're  beginning  to do  is,  you're  negatively                                                                    
     impacting  business relationships  and the  standing of                                                                    
     the state  of Alaska.   If an individual can  disavow a                                                                    
     contract    unilaterally   without,    potentially,   a                                                                    
     reasonable   basis,  or,   more   importantly,  if   an                                                                    
     individual can raise uncertainty  as to the validity of                                                                    
     a  contract,  that's  a negative  impact  for  business                                                                    
     relations even  if businesses are excluded.   Moreover,                                                                    
     we have  significant concerns - ...  which we've raised                                                                    
     in  our written  testimony -  as to  the intent  of the                                                                    
     bill.    We  note  -  ... as  has  been  noted  in  the                                                                    
     [written]  testimony   -  that  the  language   of  the                                                                    
     legislation  itself references  ... international  law;                                                                    
     however, the initial sponsor statement  and some of the                                                                    
     supporting documentation and  testimony, which would be                                                                    
     reviewed by courts to  determine legislative intent, do                                                                    
     reference shari'a law.   If we are not  intending it to                                                                    
     apply  to, for  example, shari'a  law, the  question is                                                                    
     raised, "What does it apply to?"   And on that basis we                                                                    
     would  have  some concerns  as  to  whether the  courts                                                                    
     would  find   that  this  is   constitutionally  valid.                                                                    
     Again, whether or not courts  would view [it] that way,                                                                    
     it   raises  uncertainty,   it  could   interfere  with                                                                    
     arbitration   rights,    it   could    interfere   with                                                                    
     contractual  rights.    So   ...  without  solving  any                                                                    
     problems, it simply ... [raises] negative impacts.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MITTMAN said  that for  those  reasons and  the reasons  set                                                               
forth  in  the  aforementioned  written testimony,  the  ACLU  of                                                               
Alaska urges the committee not to support HB 88.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:17:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT  SPENCER,  American  Freedom  Defense  Initiative  (AFDI),                                                               
offered  his  belief that  HB  88  would restrict  the  political                                                               
aspects of Islamic  law that are at  variance with constitutional                                                               
freedoms but would not restrict  a person's right to practice the                                                               
religion of  his/her choice.  After  providing comments regarding                                                               
hate crimes,  shari'a, and freedom  of speech, he  predicted that                                                               
if  HB 88  is  not  adopted, that  "shari'a  provisions would  be                                                               
introduced into  the United States,"  and characterized HB  88 as                                                               
being necessary.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:22:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NONIE DARWISH,  Director, Former  Muslims United,  mentioned that                                                               
she is an  author and that she lived under  Islamic law - shari'a                                                               
-  for  30  years  [before  moving to  the  United  States],  and                                                               
described  her experiences  and  treatment and  the treatment  of                                                               
women  and girls  under shari'a.   She  pointed out  that a  law,                                                               
regardless  of what  it is  called,  is not  a religion  - a  law                                                               
affects  everyone in  a society  regardless of  his/her religious                                                               
beliefs  - and  opined that  as  a legal  system, shari'a  should                                                               
never be  practiced in  the United States  and should  instead be                                                               
defended against.  In conclusion,  she asked the committee to "do                                                               
the  right thing,"  and prevent  shari'a from  being used  as the                                                               
law, offering  her belief  that true  freedom and  true democracy                                                               
cannot exist under shari'a, which,  she opined, has nothing to do                                                               
with religion.   In  responding to  a hypothetical  question, and                                                               
citing  England  as  an  example, she  predicted  that  once  any                                                               
provision of shari'a gains a foothold  in U.S. courts, it will be                                                               
very difficult to remove.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:37:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SAM OBEIDI,  Islamic Community Center  of Anchorage  Alaska, Inc.                                                               
(ICCAA), offered  his belief  that the  Muslims who've  chosen to                                                               
live  in America  have  already  chosen to  live  under the  U.S.                                                               
Constitution  and have  adopted it  as the  basis of  their civil                                                               
law, and  opined that there  is nothing, therefore, to  fear from                                                               
shari'a.  In response to a  question, he pointed out that as long                                                               
as he is living  in the United States, he is  obliged to abide by                                                               
the  laws of  the United  States and  the U.S.  Constitution, and                                                               
understands that if  he were to commit a  wrongdoing while living                                                               
here, that  he would be  judged accordingly under those  laws and                                                               
Constitution.   He added his  understanding that it would  be the                                                               
same in other countries:  if  a person commits a wrongdoing while                                                               
in a  foreign country, he/she could  not be tried under  the laws                                                               
of his/her homeland.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PRUITT observed  that HB  88 doesn't  contain any                                                               
reference to shari'a.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. MITTMAN, in response to  a question, indicated that under the                                                               
bill,  the validity/applicability  of any  contractual choice-of-                                                               
law provisions would have to be  reviewed by the court on a case-                                                               
by-case  basis.     Under  existing  U.S.  and   Alaska  law,  he                                                               
explained,   there  are   already  exceptions   to  choice-of-law                                                               
provisions, with  one exception  being that such  provisions must                                                               
not be applied in unconstitutional ways  or in ways that deny due                                                               
process.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO indicated that HB  88, by providing guidelines to the                                                               
courts, is  intended to address  situations in which a  person in                                                               
Alaska wishes to  follow laws that are in conflict  with those of                                                               
the United  States and  Alaska, clarifying  that any  such person                                                               
would be  precluded from  doing so.   Operating under  dual legal                                                               
systems  can be  complicated,  and therefore  those  who wish  to                                                               
avoid  such  complications  in  Alaska's  courts  should  support                                                               
HB 88, he suggested.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:51:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARY    ELLEN    BEARDSLEY,     Assistant    Attorney    General,                                                               
Commercial/Fair  Business  Section, Civil  Division  (Anchorage),                                                               
Department of Law  (DOL), in response to  a hypothetical question                                                               
involving  a  polygamous  family  visiting  Alaska  from  another                                                               
country,  indicated that  under the  bill, if  one of  the family                                                               
members  sought  redress in  an  Alaska  court regarding  his/her                                                               
marriage, the court  would first have to  determine whether there                                                               
were  any  constitutional  issues  involved,  whether  they  were                                                               
fundamental,  and whether  any constitutional  rights were  being                                                               
violated.    In  response  to  another  question,  she  said  her                                                               
interpretation of  HB 88 is that  it would only pertain  to civil                                                               
law, not criminal law.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG   concurred,  noting  that  HB   88  is                                                               
proposing to  alter Title 9  - Code  of Civil Procedure  - rather                                                               
than Title 11  - Criminal Law; therefore, the  bill wouldn't have                                                               
any  effect  on  criminal  litigation.     He  then  offered  his                                                               
interpretation  that  because   proposed  AS  09.68.140(f)  would                                                               
exempt corporations,  partnerships, and  other forms  of business                                                               
associations,  the  bill  would  perhaps only  be  applicable  in                                                               
situations   involving   [noncommercial]   property   rights   or                                                               
ownership in real estate.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. BEARDSLEY  pointed out that  even then an Alaska  court might                                                               
not  have jurisdiction  over  the matter  if  the initial  action                                                               
between the parties took place  in the foreign country and that's                                                               
where the  property was  located.   Furthermore, under  the bill,                                                               
the courts would still have  to determine whether any fundamental                                                               
constitutional rights had been violated.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO surmised  that the bill wouldn't  apply in situations                                                               
where someone  from Alaska did  something illegal under  the laws                                                               
of a foreign country while in that country.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  questioned,  then,  whether  the  bill                                                               
would have any effect on anything at all.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE    HOLMES   referred    to   HB    88's   proposed                                                               
AS 09.68.140(b),   which   addresses  contractual   choice-of-law                                                               
provisions,  and   proposed  AS  09.68.140(c),   which  addresses                                                               
contractual choice-of-venue/forum provisions.   Noting that she's                                                               
a  contract  attorney,  Representative Holmes  pointed  out  that                                                               
parties to contracts  generally don't want to leave it  up to the                                                               
courts to  decide what laws  shall apply or where  any litigation                                                               
shall  occur.    Instead,  parties  want  such  issues  addressed                                                               
beforehand, and so commonly  include choice-of-law and/or choice-                                                               
of-venue/forum provisions in the  contract itself.  She expressed                                                               
concern  that  the  language  in  the  bill  pertaining  to  such                                                               
contractual   provisions    would   require    additional   court                                                               
involvement.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:02:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BEARDSLEY concurred  that proposed  subsections (b)  and (c)                                                               
would  require additional  court  involvement  because an  Alaska                                                               
court  would first  have to  determine  whether the  laws of  the                                                               
country  in question  were in  essence almost  equal to  what the                                                               
United  States and  Alaska provide  to  individuals, whether  the                                                               
right that the individual claims  is being violated is similar to                                                               
one that  the other country  provides, and, if not,  then whether                                                               
that  right   under  the  U.S.   Constitution  or   Alaska  State                                                               
Constitution  really is  being violated.   She  referred to  this                                                               
type  of   court  involvement  as   a  bench  trial,   where  the                                                               
determinations  would  be  made  exclusively by  the  judge,  and                                                               
predicted that such court involvement  would be fairly protracted                                                               
and result in a lot of extra work for the parties.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES expressed  concern that  HB 88  would have                                                               
very  detrimental  effects  on  international  contracts  between                                                               
individuals, particularly  given the importance  of choice-of-law                                                               
and  choice-of-venue/forum provisions  in  such  contracts.   For                                                               
example,  an unscrupulous  party could  use the  language of  the                                                               
bill to  call heretofore agreed-upon contractual  provisions into                                                               
question.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BEARDSLEY relayed  that she'd  addressed this  issue in  her                                                               
March 21,  2011, legal opinion.   Foreign entities might  look at                                                               
legislation  such as  HB  88 and  decide not  to  do business  in                                                               
Alaska  because of  the  bill's  proposed stipulations  regarding                                                               
contractual  choice-of-law and  choice-of-venue/forum provisions.                                                               
The potential for these stipulations  to be a problem resulted in                                                               
the  inclusion   of  proposed  subsection  (f)'s   exemption  for                                                               
corporations,   partnerships,  and   other   forms  of   business                                                               
associations.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES pointed  out that  that exemption  doesn't                                                               
include sole proprietorships.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.   BEARDSLEY   concurred   that  such   individuals   -   sole                                                               
proprietorships - would not be exempt from the bill.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:07:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES offered  her understanding  that HB  88 is                                                               
still unclear with regard to  whether it would apply in instances                                                               
involving  a contract  between an  individual and  a corporation,                                                               
partnership, or  other form  of business  association, such  as a                                                               
nondisclosure agreement or an employment contract.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BEARDSLEY said  that according  to  her interpretation,  the                                                               
bill   as   currently   written  would   apply   exclusively   to                                                               
individuals.   For  example,  under the  bill,  if an  individual                                                               
enters into  a contract with  a foreign entity, he/she  could use                                                               
HB  88 if  he/she felt  that his/her  constitutional rights  were                                                               
being violated.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES  reiterated  that contracts  generally  do                                                               
contain choice-of-law  and choice-of-venue/forum  provisions, and                                                               
she  is  therefore still  concerned  about  the bill's  potential                                                               
negative impacts  on commerce in  Alaska, such as an  increase in                                                               
court  involvement  and  litigation,   and  the  likelihood  that                                                               
businesses  will   simply  start  choosing  not   to  enter  into                                                               
contracts with Alaskans.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BEARDSLEY,  in   response  to  a  question,   said  she  has                                                               
difficulty  envisioning   how  HB  88  would   ever  be  applied,                                                               
particularly given  that the courts  already have the  ability to                                                               
reform and modify contracts.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. MITTMAN added that under  existing court public-policy rules,                                                               
the only situations in which HB  88 would be applicable are those                                                               
in which the court can  already apply [stipulations such as those                                                               
included in  the bill].  Again,  the ACLU of Alaska's  concern is                                                               
that HB  88 would have  a negative  impact on business  in Alaska                                                               
because  it  raises  uncertainty and  could  increase  litigation                                                               
costs.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:11:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAMELA  GELLER,  American   Freedom  Defense  Initiative  (AFDI),                                                               
characterized HB  88 as simple, clear-cut  legislation that would                                                               
prohibit  the  violation  of an  individual's  rights  under  the                                                               
Alaska State Constitution or the  U.S. Constitution, offering her                                                               
belief that opposition  to HB 88 merely illustrates  the need for                                                               
such legislation.   Why would anyone  oppose a law that  seeks to                                                               
prevent foreign  law from undermining  fundamental constitutional                                                               
liberties,  she queried,  and  indicated her  belief  that HB  88                                                               
wouldn't   affect   contractual   choice-of-law   or   choice-of-                                                               
venue/forum provisions  because the constitutions  already permit                                                               
parties in civil  cases to waive their constitutional  right to a                                                               
jury trial.   However,  there is  nothing in  either constitution                                                               
that allows  a person  to waive  his/her constitutional  right to                                                               
equal protection  under the law, and  thus HB 88 is  necessary to                                                               
ensure that  no foreign law  would be used  to force a  person to                                                               
waive  that  constitutional right.    Citing  some examples,  she                                                               
asserted  that  there  are  cases  of  what  she  called  shari'a                                                               
jurisprudence  occurring in  the United  States, and  pointed out                                                               
that regardless that  the initial rulings in some  of those cases                                                               
were  later  overturned,  the  fact that  there  were  even  such                                                               
rulings that  had to  be overturned raises  the questions  of why                                                               
such [mistaken] rulings were allowed  to occur in the first place                                                               
and why the  courts weren't recognizing the  threat from shari'a.                                                               
In  conclusion, and  citing situations  occurring in  Europe, she                                                               
opined that there  is a need to stand against  shari'a and anyone                                                               
who defies  American law while  living in this country,  and that                                                               
it  is  time  to stand  up  for  the  American  rule of  law  and                                                               
individual rights for all.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:20:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JANET LEVY, after  mentioning that she is a  freelance writer and                                                               
political activist,  pointed out  that although some  might argue                                                               
that  [courts should  provide for]  shari'a because  they provide                                                               
for  Jewish  law  and  Catholic canon  law,  there  isn't  really                                                               
absolute  freedom  of  religion   in  the  United  States,  since                                                               
pluralistic marriages, human sacrifice,  and religious cults, for                                                               
example, aren't allowed despite that  the practice of such things                                                               
are advanced  by some religions.   She offered  her understanding                                                               
that  thus far  20 states  have  felt it  necessary to  "reaffirm                                                               
American  constitutional law  -  state  and federal  -  due to  a                                                               
perceived  increased-threat from  other, outside  legal systems."                                                               
She then  offered her understanding  of how shari'a  differs from                                                               
both  Jewish law  and Catholic  canon law,  and how  it conflicts                                                               
with  the laws  of the  United States  and its  constitutionally-                                                               
guaranteed  freedoms,  and  -  citing England  as  an  example  -                                                               
cautioned against  allowing such  a law  to become  a replacement                                                               
for  constitutional law  -  the law  of the  land  in the  United                                                               
States.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:28:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PATRICK J.  TRAVERS, Reverend,   J.D., J.C.L., Vicar  General and                                                               
Judicial Vicar, Diocese of Juneau;  Alaska Catholic Conference of                                                               
Bishops,  noting that  he was  speaking on  behalf of  the Alaska                                                               
Catholic  Conference of  Bishops, and  then outlining  aspects of                                                               
Catholic   canon  law,   indicated  that   the  Alaska   Catholic                                                               
Conference of  Bishops' concern with  HB 88, as expressed  in its                                                               
letter dated March  30, 2011, is that the term,  "foreign law" as                                                               
used in  the bill as currently  written could be construed  to be                                                               
referring   to  Catholic   canon  law,   thereby  upsetting   the                                                               
coexistence of  secular courts and  canon tribunals,  which often                                                               
rely upon  contractual provisions  - including  choice-of-law and                                                               
choice-of-venue/forum provisions  - to address  interactions with                                                               
secular courts  and law.   He indicated that the  Alaska Catholic                                                               
Conference of Bishops,  while not taking a position  on the issue                                                               
of  whether legislation  such as  HB  88 might  be necessary,  is                                                               
simply suggesting  that changes be made  to HB 88 to  address the                                                               
organization's concerns,  perhaps, for  example, by  adopting the                                                               
more  general language  used in  similar proposed  legislation in                                                               
Arizona   that   reads   [original   punctuation,   though   with                                                               
capitalization changes, provided]:                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     A  court, arbitrator,  administrative  agency or  other                                                                    
     adjudicative, mediation or  enforcement authority shall                                                                    
     not enforce a  foreign law if doing so  would violate a                                                                    
     right guaranteed  by the constitution of  this state or                                                                    
     of the United  States or conflict with the  laws of the                                                                    
     United States or of this state.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:43:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARIA  RENSEL expressed  appreciation  for HB  88,  and said  she                                                               
would  be  speaking  in  favor  of it,  now  believing  that  its                                                               
adoption  is necessary  in order  to address  such things  as un-                                                               
ratified  international  conventions,  for  example,  that  could                                                               
nonetheless be used to inform court decisions in Alaska.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:48:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAVID  E.  HECKERT,  mentioning  that  he  has  provided  written                                                               
comments  to  the  committee, and  referring  to  a  hypothetical                                                               
example, opined  that HB 88 would  be of great benefit  to people                                                               
in Alaska -  whether they be citizens, visitors,  or immigrants -                                                               
providing them a tool with  which to seek redress from oppressive                                                               
foreign laws.   In conclusion,  he expressed his  discomfort that                                                               
people  would even  question whether  the Constitution  should be                                                               
the supreme law of the land in America.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO announced that HB 88 [Version D] would be held over.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:51:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 2:51 p.m.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB88 Sponsor Statement Version I 03-25-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Explanation of Changes Version M to I 03-23-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 CS (STA) version I 03-25-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Version M 01-18-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 CS (STA) Fiscal Note-LAW-CIV-03-25-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Supporting Documents-Opinion AG 03-21-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Supporting Documents-Memo Legal Services 03-15-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Supporting Documents-Relevant Cases APPA 11-08-10.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Supporting Documents-FAQ ALAC 03-14-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Supporting Documents-List of Legal Systems 03-09-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Supporting Documents-Email Walt Dotter 03-29-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Supporting Documents-Emails 03-28-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Supporting Documents-Emails 03-29-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Supporting Documents-Phone Log 03-29-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Supporting Documents-Biography Janet Levy 03-30-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Supporting Documents-Biography Nonie Darwish 03-30-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Supporting Documents-Biography Pam Geller 03-30-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Supporting Documents-Biography Robert Spencer 03-30-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Opposing Documents-Biography CAIR 03-29-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Opposing Documents-Letter ACLU 03-15-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Opposing Documents-Email John Feero 03-25-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Opposing Documents-Email Neil O'Donnell 03-20-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Opposing Documents-Biography Ibrahim Hooper 03-29-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB168 Fiscal Note-DEC-CO 03-24-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 168
HB88 Opposing Documents-Letter AK Catholics 03-30-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 Explanation of Changes Version I to D 03-30-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88
HB88 CS Version D 03-30-11.pdf HJUD 3/30/2011 1:00:00 PM
HB 88