Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

03/24/2010 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
03:40:20 PM Start
03:40:26 PM HB415
04:53:59 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to 3:30 pm Today --
Heard & Held
Scheduled But Not Heard
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
          HOUSE LABOR AND COMMERCE STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                         
                         March 24, 2010                                                                                         
                           3:40 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Kurt Olson, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Mark Neuman, Vice Chair                                                                                          
Representative Mike Chenault                                                                                                    
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Tammie Wilson                                                                                                    
Representative Robert L. "Bob" Buch                                                                                             
Representative Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                   
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 415                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to 911 call recordings and the release of                                                                      
information regarding 911 calls."                                                                                               
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
HOUSE BILL NO. 416                                                                                                              
"An Act adopting  and relating to the  Uniform Prudent Management                                                               
of Institutional Funds  Act; relating to the  investment of money                                                               
for charitable  purposes by institutions,  including governmental                                                               
institutions; and relating to the University of Alaska."                                                                        
     - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                  
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 415                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: 911 CALL RECORDINGS                                                                                                
SPONSOR(s): LABOR & COMMERCE                                                                                                    
03/15/10       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/15/10       (H)       L&C, JUD                                                                                               
03/24/10       (H)       L&C AT 3:15 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
JENNIFER SENETTE, Staff                                                                                                         
Representative Kurt Olson                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 415 behalf of the sponsor, the                                                              
House Labor and Commerce Committee; Representative Kurt Olson,                                                                  
JOHN MCKAY                                                                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the discussion of HB 415.                                                               
RODNEY DIAL, Lieutenant;                                                                                                        
Deputy Commander, A Detachment                                                                                                  
Division of Alaska State Troopers (AST)                                                                                         
Department of Public Safety (DPS)                                                                                               
Ketchikan, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to questions on HB 415.                                                                        
TAMMY GOGGIA, Dispatcher                                                                                                        
Kenai Peninsula Borough                                                                                                         
Soldotna, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the discussion of HB 415.                                                               
ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                      
Legal Services Section                                                                                                          
Criminal Division                                                                                                               
Department of Law (DOL)                                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the discussion of HB 415.                                                               
SUE STANCLIFF, Legislative Liaison                                                                                              
Department of Public Safety (DPS)                                                                                               
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified and answered questions during the                                                              
discussion of HB 415.                                                                                                           
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
3:40:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KURT OLSON called the House Labor and Commerce Standing                                                                 
Committee meeting to order at 3:40 p.m.                                                                                         
3:40:26 PM                                                                                                                    
Representatives  Buch, Holmes,  Lynn, T.  Wilson, and  Olson were                                                               
present  at the  call  to order.    Representatives Chenault  and                                                               
Neuman arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                  
                   HB 415-911 CALL RECORDINGS                                                                               
3:40:50 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON announced  that the first order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  415, "An Act relating to 911  call recordings and                                                               
the release of information regarding 911 calls."                                                                                
3:41:00 PM                                                                                                                    
JENNIFER SENETTE, Staff, Representative  Kurt Olson, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, on behalf of the  prime sponsor, the House Labor and                                                               
Commerce  Committee, Representative  Kurt  Olson, Chair,  related                                                               
that  we have  all  heard frantic  911 calls.    These calls  are                                                               
frequently broadcast  on 24-hour news channels.   She paraphrased                                                               
from  the sponsor  statement, as  follows,  which read  [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     Public  records disclosure  is  an  essential tool  for                                                                    
     Alaskans to  track the  performance of  state agencies.                                                                    
     911  transcripts and  audio  recordings  are among  the                                                                    
     public records available for citizen inspection.                                                                           
     Access  to these  records  serves  a legitimate  public                                                                    
     purpose; playing  actual calls  over the  airwaves does                                                                    
     not.   The  growing   practice   of  broadcasting   911                                                                    
     recordings on the radio, television,  and internet is a                                                                    
     disturbing  trend that  not only  serves little  public                                                                    
     value, but violates the privacy  rights of the Alaskans                                                                    
     making  those  calls.  In  an  effort  to  protect  the                                                                    
     privacy of 911 callers,  House Bill 415 bars recordings                                                                    
     of 911  calls from  being played over  broadcast media.                                                                    
     Emergency   calls  are   often  desperate   cries  from                                                                    
     vulnerable individuals  and placing such a  call should                                                                    
     not consent  to the caller's extremely  private moments                                                                    
     being splashed over the  airwaves. Transcripts and call                                                                    
     audio will  remain open to  the public,  thus balancing                                                                    
     the public's right  to know with the  privacy rights of                                                                    
     the caller.                                                                                                                
     Widespread  unease at  the public  airing of  911 calls                                                                    
     has  spurred  legislative  action across  the  country.                                                                    
     Five states  keep 911  recordings confidential,  and an                                                                    
     additional four  place restrictions  on the  release of                                                                    
     tapes.  Four  more   states  have  legislation  pending                                                                    
     addressing the issue.                                                                                                      
     House Bill 415 strikes  the appropriate balance between                                                                    
     the  public interest  and the  privacy of  911 callers.                                                                    
     There is  little public value in  airing the distressed                                                                    
     voices  of 911  callers, and  Alaskans should  have the                                                                    
     expectation  that  the  extremely  personal  and  often                                                                    
     distressed calls they  place to 911 will  not be fodder                                                                    
     for the evening news.                                                                                                      
3:42:45 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. SENETTE  explained that media  outlets often replay  audio or                                                               
transcripts  of 911  calls, which  are considered  public record.                                                               
She  acknowledged  it  is  a legitimate  purpose  to  have  these                                                               
recordings as public  records.  Thus, HB 415  would only prohibit                                                               
the airing of recordings on the  broadcast media.  The bill would                                                               
make it a  crime to play a  recording of a 911  call on broadcast                                                               
media.   The penalty for  a person convicted of  airing broadcast                                                               
media  would  be a  class  A  misdemeanor,  punishable by  up  to                                                               
$10,000.   She offered  that the news  media provides  a constant                                                               
stream of sensational stories.   She related several instances in                                                               
which people  have heard their  own family's calls played  in the                                                               
media,  including  a  North Carolina  woman  whose  daughter  was                                                               
killed and an Alaska teenager who  mauled by a bear.  Those calls                                                               
were  broadcast repeatedly  and the  families had  to relive  the                                                               
anguish of the emergency calls.                                                                                                 
3:47:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON related  this bill  has  a further  referral to  the                                                               
House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                             
3:48:00 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN offered that he  shares some of the sponsor's                                                               
concerns.  He  asked whether the bill "bumps  up against" Federal                                                               
Communication  Commission (FCC)  rules.   Broadcasting 911  calls                                                               
would end up  being illegal in Alaska if the  bill passes but may                                                               
not be  illegal in other  states.  Additionally, some  people may                                                               
be broadcasting newsworthy  stories so he was  uncertain how news                                                               
stories would be affected by the bill.                                                                                          
MS. SENETTE  answered that  five states  have similar  laws, five                                                               
states   have  pending   laws,   and  four   other  states   have                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN asked  whether  legal  challenges have  been                                                               
made in those states.                                                                                                           
MS.  SENETTE  offered  her  belief   that  the  four  states  are                                                               
currently working through the issues.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  characterized the issue of  broadcasting 911                                                               
calls as "like trying to put toothpaste back into the tube."                                                                    
3:50:02 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  reported that she has  already requested a                                                               
legal opinion  on the  constitutional issues.   She  related that                                                               
the language  of the bill implies  members of the public  and the                                                               
media would  only have  access to transcripts  of the  911 calls.                                                               
She recalled  previous testimony that  the public or  media could                                                               
get copies  of the tapes.   She referred  to the fiscal  note and                                                               
asked  whether the  Alaska  State Troopers  (AST)  would have  to                                                               
transcribe the calls or if the tapes would be distributed.                                                                      
MS. SENETTE deferred to Lieutenant  Dial, AST to answer questions                                                               
on the fiscal note.   She related that the intent  of the bill is                                                               
to allow  the 911 audio be  privately listened to by  the public,                                                               
but the bill would restrict broadcasting the 911 recording.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES was  not  certain HB  415 will  accomplish                                                               
what the sponsor intended it to  do and thought the bill may need                                                               
to be "tweaked."                                                                                                                
3:52:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON  related that  he worked  with the  legislative legal                                                               
drafter  and   discussed  the   bill  with   the  AST   prior  to                                                               
introduction of  the bill.   He anticipated  there would  be some                                                               
cost for transcription of the 911 calls.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES asked whether the  intent of HB 415 is that                                                               
people could  listen to  the 911  tapes or  if people  would only                                                               
have access to the transcripts of the calls.                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON preferred  that the public would have  access to only                                                               
transcripts of the 911 call and  not the recording.  He expressed                                                               
concern for the  privacy of family and friends  of those involved                                                               
in  emergency situations,  but he  related  he does  not want  to                                                               
violate any  privileges that  Alaskans and  Americans enjoy.   He                                                               
said  it appears  that  a verbatim  transcript  may provide  some                                                               
3:54:07 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CHENAULT asked whether "push  back" on the bill is                                                               
coming from the public or the Alaska State Troopers (AST).                                                                      
MS.  SENETTE answered  that the  "push  back" has  come from  the                                                               
media  organizations in  other states.    She has  not heard  any                                                               
negative comments from the public or the police in Alaska.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT  commented  that  sometimes  emergencies                                                               
happen in  which children  save siblings or  parents.   He agreed                                                               
that he did  not want to see people hurt  by 911 recordings being                                                               
aired but  offered that  some good  press releases  can sometimes                                                               
result from airing 911 calls.                                                                                                   
3:55:30 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH recalled  a  former  legislative member  who                                                               
represented  victim's   rights.     He  anticipated   some  first                                                               
amendment  right concerns  with the  bill.   He wanted  to ensure                                                               
that people suffering trauma do  not suffer more from the media's                                                               
actions  yet still  protect individual  rights.   He offered  his                                                               
belief  that it  is a  matter  of civility  but he  did not  want                                                               
people  to  profit  from other  people's  emergencies,  which  he                                                               
thought is difficult to capture and pinpoint in legislation.                                                                    
3:58:23 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN asked, "When does  news stop being news?"  He                                                               
thought the  immediacy of  news would  be lost  if people  had to                                                               
wait for  a transcript.  He  asked whether this bill  would apply                                                               
to  instances in  which  someone  shoots a  video,  a cell  phone                                                               
video, or snapshots and subsequently  releases or sells it to the                                                               
media  during a  catastrophe  such  as 9/11.    He also  recalled                                                               
seeing horrendous photos of caskets of  soldiers.  He said he did                                                               
not  know the  answer,  but would  like to  be  sensitive to  the                                                               
victims and their families.                                                                                                     
3:59:49 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN remarked on  some legislative members' work                                                               
on behalf of victims.                                                                                                           
4:00:19 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  T.  WILSON  asked whether  people  can  currently                                                               
obtain a transcript of a 911 call.                                                                                              
MS. SENETTE  answered yes.   People can  obtain copies  of public                                                               
records so long as the records are not confidential records.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  T.  WILSON  referred   to  the  fiscal  note  and                                                               
remarked  on  the  AST's  need  for 2.5  people  to  address  the                                                               
requests for 911 transcripts.                                                                                                   
4:01:14 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN MCKAY  stated that he teaches  a class at the  University of                                                               
Alaska but  that is testifying  today on  behalf of himself.   He                                                               
just  found  out  about  the  bill, he  stated.    He  asked  the                                                               
committee not  to pass out the  bill.  He stated  that the fiscal                                                               
note he reviewed was a zero fiscal  note so he was not certain he                                                               
had  the  most  current  information.     He  asked  how  quickly                                                               
transcripts could be  prepared and expressed concern  that if the                                                               
work  was  not done  quickly  whether  the transcripts  would  be                                                               
meaningful alternatives.  He offered  his belief that the bill is                                                               
unconstitutional.  He  is sympathetic to the  concerns the bill's                                                               
sponsor is raising.  However,  he agreed that 911 calls broadcast                                                               
by   the  media   are  not   much  different   than  other   news                                                               
circumstances.  He did  not see the need for this  bill or for an                                                               
urgent change to the current law.   He believed adequate laws for                                                               
privacy exist.   He  referred to  the 911  calls and  stated that                                                               
these  are public  records  and  to remove  a  whole category  of                                                               
public records from public access would  be a mistake.  He agreed                                                               
that some  good things come  out of these  kinds of records.   He                                                               
offered that it is difficult  to predict the future, but restated                                                               
that the few instances of  inappropriate use should not result in                                                               
a whole category  of public records should be removed.   He cited                                                               
his 30 years of experience in  the news media demonstrates to him                                                               
that the balancing of rights  of access and constitutional rights                                                               
of individuals  is something that  courts and  records custodians                                                               
already perform.  He emphasized  that there is no particular need                                                               
for the bill.  The few  instances of misuse can be countered with                                                               
instances of positive effects.  He  related a scenario in which a                                                               
foreigner  called  911  during  an emergency  but  could  not  be                                                               
understood.   The man swept up  his daughter and took  her to the                                                               
emergency room  but she  died.  The  outcome was  the responsible                                                               
agency  replayed  the message  and  the  outcome led  to  reform,                                                               
including better  access to translators  during emergencies.   He                                                               
suggested that the  circumstances could be dealt with  on a case-                                                               
by-case basis.                                                                                                                  
4:07:56 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON  offered that  the bill  has several  other committee                                                               
referrals so Mr. McKay would have time to consider the bill.                                                                    
4:08:19 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN asked  if he thought it  was appropriate to                                                               
teach his students  that the 911 calls of a  personal nature made                                                               
by the emergency  responders should be released to  the media and                                                               
replayed on broadcast media.                                                                                                    
MR. MCKAY  answered that  he teaches  his student  that editorial                                                               
choices are  made by newspaper  editors and broadcast  news media                                                               
rather than  by government.  He  related that there is  a balance                                                               
of  interests  between  statutory  rights  and  freedoms.    With                                                               
respect to  public records,  there is  a constitutional  right to                                                               
privacy which  the courts have  employed and balanced on  a case-                                                               
by-case  basis rather  than  making a  whole  category of  public                                                               
records unavailable.  Public records  laws are important to allow                                                               
citizens the opportunity to monitor  the activities of government                                                               
agencies.    The  public recordings  help  demonstrate  that  law                                                               
enforcement  officers are  performing their  duties appropriately                                                               
and properly.   He suggested  the committee "look at  the overall                                                               
picture and not be carried away  to make changes in the law based                                                               
on a  few very  unfortunate situations."   Some news  stories are                                                               
excessive or lacking in taste and  dignity, but we should not say                                                               
stories cannot be aired.                                                                                                        
4:11:21 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  noted the  bill is  limited to  911 calls.                                                               
He remarked that legislation like this is important.                                                                            
4:11:48 PM                                                                                                                    
RODNEY   DIAL,  Lieutenant;   Deputy  Commander,   A  Detachment,                                                               
Division  of Alaska  State Troopers  (AST), Department  of Public                                                               
Safety  (DPS), stated  that the  Department of  Public Safety  is                                                               
neutral  on the  bill.   He  related that  the  DPS supports  the                                                               
sponsor's intent.  He said  that the bill would impose additional                                                               
duties on  the department.  He  explained that due to  the Victim                                                               
Rights Act  of 1991,  Alaska statutes AS  40.25.120 (c),  and the                                                               
DPS's inability to  redact audio from audio files,  the DPS holds                                                               
the position that  protected information will not  be released in                                                               
any  form.   The  DPS believes  that  transcribing and  redacting                                                               
audio  files  is  the  only   method  to  ensure  that  protected                                                               
information, such as  addresses, is not released.   He emphasized                                                               
that  if  the  DPS  released  a 911  audio  tape  that  contained                                                               
protected information,  it could  be in  violation of  the Victim                                                               
Rights Act.                                                                                                                     
LT. DIAL pointed out that  some AST detachments receive thousands                                                               
of 911 calls  per month.  The DPS receives  some requests for 911                                                               
audio  but very  rarely does  the department  release any  of the                                                               
recordings.  In  order to comply with HB 415,  the DPS would have                                                               
to transcribe  numerous recordings.   One emergency  incident can                                                               
actually result in numerous 911  recordings since various members                                                               
of the public  report the same accidents.  He  envisioned the DPS                                                               
would need to set up a  clearinghouse to process requests for the                                                               
911 recordings.                                                                                                                 
4:15:52 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT  asked  for   the  current  process  the                                                               
department  uses when  someone requests  a  copy of  a 911  audio                                                               
LT.  DIAL explained  that  in  most instances  the  DPS will  not                                                               
furnish  a copy  of  the 911  call except  to  a law  enforcement                                                               
agency or  to the Department of  Law since the DPS  does not have                                                               
the ability  to redact  from audio  files.   The audio  files are                                                               
protected in  a manner  to ensure  the integrity  of the  file in                                                               
case the file needs to be  used as evidence in court proceedings.                                                               
He remarked  that the AST's  Ketchikan office does  not currently                                                               
have the ability  to redact the information.   He summarized that                                                               
the department will not release the audio without a subpoena.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT  related  the DPS  follows  the  Victims                                                               
Rights Act.   He asked the  reason the department would  need 2.5                                                               
people to accomplish the work.                                                                                                  
LT. DIAL replied that 911  recordings are not currently given out                                                               
due to  provisions in  the statutes and  the Victims  Rights Act.                                                               
However, if  the bill were to  pass, the DPS would  view the bill                                                               
as requiring the DPS to transcribe and release the information.                                                                 
4:19:00 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES offered  her belief that HB  415 would make                                                               
it  harder for  people to  gain access  to the  recordings.   She                                                               
related  her  understanding  that  the  911  recordings  are  not                                                               
currently public  records and  the bill would  make it  easier to                                                               
obtain the calls.                                                                                                               
LT.  DIAL agreed.    He  said that  the  AST  does not  currently                                                               
release 911 recordings.  He  explained the process the department                                                               
would use if HB  415 passed and people had the  right to obtain a                                                               
transcript.  The DPS would have  someone type the recording and a                                                               
supervisor  would redact  the information.   Thus,  the recording                                                               
would be available to the public in the redacted form.                                                                          
4:20:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  T.  WILSON asked  how  often  911 recordings  are                                                               
currently released.                                                                                                             
LT. DIAL recalled recently receiving  a request from an attorney.                                                               
The  DPS's   response  was  that  the   911  recording  contained                                                               
protected  information  and  that   the  attorney  would  need  a                                                               
subpoena to obtain the information.   He related high activity of                                                               
911 calls  in some offices,  noting the multiple phone  lines and                                                               
numerous dispatch centers.   The DPS has made  some exceptions to                                                               
its  policy  and has  released  911  recordings to  families,  in                                                               
special  circumstances, such  as when  a family  member wants  to                                                               
hear the last  few minutes of a  call from a loved  one who died.                                                               
The process  the AST uses in  those circumstances is to  bring in                                                               
the person  and allow him/her to  listen to the recording  at the                                                               
AST Detachment office.  The bill  would impact the DPS due to the                                                               
sheer  magnitude   of  statewide   911  calls.     He  envisioned                                                               
transcript requests from  the media and from people  who may wish                                                               
to file civil lawsuits.                                                                                                         
4:22:05 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  T. WILSON  asked  whether a  transcript would  be                                                               
provided to a person who requests one.                                                                                          
LT. DIAL answered the DPS would not currently honor the request.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  T. WILSON  asked  whether a  mechanism exists  to                                                               
charge people a fee for a transcript.                                                                                           
LT. DIAL  said he thought  it was  possible, but this  aspect has                                                               
not yet been addressed by the department.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE T.  WILSON referred to  the fiscal note  and asked                                                               
how many transcript requests the DPS anticipated in a year.                                                                     
LT. DIAL  explained that when  the DPS prepared the  fiscal note,                                                               
the DPS estimated  it may need two staff to  transcribe 911 calls                                                               
based  on the  time  it currently  takes  to transcribe  criminal                                                               
interviews.  He  said he does not know for  certain the number of                                                               
requests,  but anticipated  that local  news media  may routinely                                                               
request transcripts  on all major  cases if the  transcripts were                                                               
available.  In  further response to Representative  T. Wilson, he                                                               
thought  the   department  currently  receives   several  hundred                                                               
requests per  year.  He  was not  certain whether an  increase in                                                               
the number of requests would happen if the bill passed.                                                                         
4:25:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON recalled a bear attack  in Anchorage and asked if DPS                                                               
was the agency.                                                                                                                 
LT.  DIAL  did   not  recall  the  Anchorage   teenager  who  was                                                               
bicycling, relating  the responder would have  been the Anchorage                                                               
Police Department.                                                                                                              
4:26:09 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN remarked that  police scanners are available.                                                               
He  asked  whether  there  is  currently  a  prohibition  against                                                               
recording those calls.                                                                                                          
CHAIR OLSON  believed the AST information  is currently encrypted                                                               
and cannot be recorded.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE   LYNN   stated   police  scanners   are   readily                                                               
available.   He  asked  where line  would be  drawn  if the  bill                                                               
CHAIR OLSON  stated the bill specifically  limits the prohibition                                                               
to 911 calls.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE T.  WILSON asked whether the  municipalities would                                                               
be affected.                                                                                                                    
LT. DIAL  related some municipalities  rely on AS  45.25.120 (c).                                                               
He offered his  belief that the municipalities  would not release                                                               
any  911  recording  without  a  subpoena.    He  said  that  the                                                               
protected information cannot be altered  in an audio recording at                                                               
this time.   He restated that  all of the municipalities  that he                                                               
is  familiar with  do  not currently  release  recordings to  the                                                               
general public.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  T. WILSON  asked  whether the  DPS would  support                                                               
removing the AST from the bill.                                                                                                 
LT. DIAL answered that if AST  were exempted from HB 415, that it                                                               
would effectively eliminate the fiscal note.                                                                                    
4:28:59 PM                                                                                                                    
LT. DIAL recalled  a personal incident for  members to illustrate                                                               
the  911  calls.    He  referred  to  a  case  involving  Timothy                                                               
Treadwell, who was a bear  enthusiast who lived among the coastal                                                               
brown bears  at Katmai National  Park for 13  years.  He  and his                                                               
girlfriend  were killed  and a  video tape  recorded the  graphic                                                               
deaths.   The DPS obtained  the video, during  its investigation.                                                               
The video contained only an audio  file since the lens cap was on                                                               
the camera.   The  department released the  tapes to  the family.                                                               
He offered  that the department  attempts to be  understanding of                                                               
the victims  and not  add to  their grief.   The  department also                                                               
works to help the press, but  must also follow the Victims Rights                                                               
Act.   Thus, the  DPS will not  release protected  information to                                                               
the press or the general public.                                                                                                
4:31:00 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   T.  WILSON   asked  how   municipalities  handle                                                               
requests for 911 audio recordings.                                                                                              
4:31:26 PM                                                                                                                    
TAMMY GOGGIA,  Dispatcher, Kenai  Peninsula Borough,  stated that                                                               
she has  been employed for  19 years  at a joint  dispatch office                                                               
for the Kenai  Peninsula Borough and the AST.   She stated that a                                                               
person must  produce a subpoena  before a 911 recording  would be                                                               
released.   She offered that  the Kenai office would  comply with                                                               
AS 40.25.120  (a) (6) (A)-(G).   The 911  system is owned  by the                                                               
Kenai Peninsula Borough so the  request would also be reviewed by                                                               
the  Kenai Peninsula  Borough's attorney  before a  911 recording                                                               
would be released.                                                                                                              
CHAIR OLSON stated he did not intend to move the bill today.                                                                    
4:32:52 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  T. WILSON  asked whether  the 911  tape could  be                                                               
obtained by a person but the  call just could not be broadcast on                                                               
the media.                                                                                                                      
4:33:21 PM                                                                                                                    
ANNE  CARPENETI,  Assistant   Attorney  General,  Legal  Services                                                               
Section, Criminal  Division, Department  of Law  (DOL), clarified                                                               
that municipalities are covered under the Public Records law.                                                                   
4:34:02 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. GOGGIA stated  that some exceptions exist.   She related that                                                               
when a  baby is delivered and  the delivery is recorded  in a 911                                                               
call that  if the parents  asked for a  tape it is  possible that                                                               
the tape  would be released to  them as a means  to celebrate the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH  asked for clarification of  AS 40.25.120 (a)                                                               
(6) (A)-(G).                                                                                                                    
MS.  CARPENETI related  that these  statutes are  the exceptions.                                                               
These statutes pertain  to public records that  are excepted from                                                               
the public records disclosure requirements.   She related that AS                                                               
40.25.120 (a) (6) (A)-(G) generally  refers to law enforcement or                                                               
public  health   records.    Thus,   records  compiled   for  law                                                               
enforcement purposes are not subject to disclosure.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH related  to the  specifics of  911 emergency                                                               
calls.  He asked for references that would include 911 calls.                                                                   
MS. CARPENETI answered  that if a 911 call reported  a crime that                                                               
any disclosure may interfere with an ongoing investigation.                                                                     
4:37:16 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BUCH recalled Lt.  Dial's testimony indicated that                                                               
the calls  are not  disclosed.   He asked  whether this  law also                                                               
applies to municipalities.                                                                                                      
MS. CARPENETI related she is not  an expert on the Public Records                                                               
law,  but  the definition  in  AS  45.25.200  is a  pretty  broad                                                               
definition of who  is bound by the public  records statutes since                                                               
it  defines public  agencies,  including political  subdivisions,                                                               
departments,  boards, and  divisions.   She  offered  to have  an                                                               
expert come before the committee, if desired.                                                                                   
CHAIR  OLSON asked  whether municipalities  are  covered in  this                                                               
MS. CARPENETI said she could not say for certain.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  T.   WILSON  offered  that  it   seems  like  one                                                               
interpretation  is that  HB  415 would  allow  transcripts to  be                                                               
released  that  currently  are  not available.    She  asked  for                                                               
MS. CARPENETI  said she thought  the bill was a  little confusing                                                               
since it  specifically cross references the  exceptions to public                                                               
disclosure  under AS  40.25.120  (a)(6), but  does not  reference                                                               
other  exceptions  in the  subsection.    She  said she  was  not                                                               
certain  about  the drafting  since  it  seemed confusing.    She                                                               
thought that it was not clear  if the other exceptions applied to                                                               
the transcripts in question.                                                                                                    
4:40:11 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  thought it  may be  helpful to  obtain the                                                               
current policy and specific statute  cites that the AST and other                                                               
municipalities currently use for releasing 911 calls.                                                                           
4:41:08 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  thought it may  be helpful to find  out from                                                               
some  of the  media outlets  how the  specific organizations  are                                                               
currently obtaining the recordings of the 911 calls.                                                                            
CHAIR OLSON  agreed that  requesting information  from Anchorage,                                                               
Fairbanks, Juneau, and  Soldotna would likely provide  a range of                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN restated his question.                                                                                      
SUE STANCLIFF,  Legislative Liaison, Department of  Public Safety                                                               
(DPS), stated  that the Department  of Public Safety  (DPS) takes                                                               
public  information requests  very  seriously,  since it  affects                                                               
privacy, investigations, and many  other considerations.  The DPS                                                               
attorney  developed  a  document,  the  "Public  Records  Request                                                               
Decision Key"  to identify 17  pages of circumstances  that apply                                                               
to  the  decision  making  key.    She  offered  to  request  the                                                               
Assistant Attorney  General who developed the  key to participate                                                               
on-line  to   answer  questions.     Currently,   the  department                                                               
processes  written requests  for  public information  on a  form,                                                               
evaluates  the request,  and determines  whether the  information                                                               
can be released by using the  key.  In most instances the request                                                               
is  not  authorized.    The  DPS  routinely  processes  discovery                                                               
requests through the district attorney's  office.  The DPS uses a                                                               
State of Alaska Records Retention  schedule to determine how long                                                               
to retain  its 911 records,  which are typically  retained longer                                                               
than required  under AS  09.10.070.  The  DPS does  not currently                                                               
redact  any 911  information, but  under the  bill the  DPS would                                                               
transcribe  the  recording  and  redact  the  information.    She                                                               
explained  the  DPS  put considerable  thought  into  the  fiscal                                                               
impact of HB 415 when preparing the fiscal note.                                                                                
MS. STANCLIFF  offered to  provide a copy  of the  Public Records                                                               
Request Decision Key to the committee.                                                                                          
MS. STANCLIFF explained  that a complaint would be  routed to the                                                               
manager and  all complaints  would be referred  to the  Office of                                                               
Professional Standards.                                                                                                         
4:48:23 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  STANCLIFF,   in  response   to  Representative   T.  Wilson,                                                               
interpreted that recordings  would not be released,  but the bill                                                               
would require the DPS to transcribe and redact the information.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON asked for further clarification.                                                                       
MS. STANCLIFF  answered that the  DPS currently does  not release                                                               
the recordings.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON  asked whether it would  help to clarify                                                               
the language in  the bill to state that if  a party is successful                                                               
in obtaining  a 911  audio tape that  the party  cannot broadcast                                                               
the tape.                                                                                                                       
4:51:03 PM                                                                                                                    
LT.  DIAL answered  that  if an  audio  tape of  a  911 call  was                                                               
released it would  violate the Victim Right's Act of  1991 and AS                                                               
40.25.120 (c).   In  essence, the  compact disc  (CD) of  the 911                                                               
call would contain information that  is private information.  The                                                               
911 call  is currently a  public record  and a process  exists to                                                               
release the  information.  If this  bill passed, the only  way to                                                               
ensure that  the protected information  would not be  released is                                                               
to transcribe the  911 call and review  the information contained                                                               
on the CD, he stated.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON related  her understanding that the bill                                                               
would really  only apply  to the  one percent  of the  people who                                                               
currently  are authorized  to obtain  the tape.   She  understood                                                               
that the  person would be  prohibited from using  the information                                                               
on broadcast media.                                                                                                             
LT. DIAL  answered that in  most cases  when people obtain  a 911                                                               
tape it does not contain  any protected information, which is the                                                               
reason the  department is able to  release the audio tape  of the                                                               
911  call.   He maintained  that the  DPS believes  that it  must                                                               
abide by the Victim Rights Act  and in most instances releasing a                                                               
911 recording would likely violate that act.                                                                                    
4:53:59 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES   related  that   she  is   interested  in                                                               
examining the legal aspects of AS  40.25.120 so she would like to                                                               
obtain the statute cites law enforcement agencies currently use.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CHENAULT asked  whether  everyone, including  the                                                               
media,  private  citizens,  district attorneys,  and  prosecuting                                                               
attorneys, uses the  same form and the same criterion  is used to                                                               
determine release of the 911 recording.                                                                                         
MS. STANCLIFF  answered yes.   However, she pointed out  that the                                                               
District Attorney  and the  Department of Law  use a  subpoena to                                                               
obtain the  information.   She suggested  perhaps Lt.  Dial could                                                               
elaborate further.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE    CHENAULT    thought   there    were    probably                                                               
confidentiality issues addressed with subpoenas.                                                                                
[HB 415 was held over.]                                                                                                         
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Labor and  Commerce Standing Committee  meeting was  adjourned at                                                               
4:56 p.m.                                                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB415 ver A.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 415
HB415 Fiscal Note-LAW-CRIM-03-19-10.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 415
HB415 Sectional Analysis ver A.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 415
HB415 Sponsor Statement ver A.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 415
HB415 Supporting Documents 911 Article.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 415
HB415 Supporting Documents MSNBC Article.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 415
HB415 Supporting Documents Petra Davis USA Today.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 415
Mar 24 Packet Info.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB416 Sectional Analysis ver R.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 416
HB416 Sponsor Statement ver R.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 416
HB416 ver R.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 416
HB416 Supporting Documents-Why Adopt UPMIFA.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 416
HB416 Supporting Documents UPMIFA_map.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 416
HB416 Supporting Documents History UMIFA and UPMIFA.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 416
HB416 Supporting Documents-Letter AG 3-18-10.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 416
HB415 Supporting Documents Chimpanzee 911.pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 415
HB415 Fiscal Note-DPS-AST-03-23-10 (2).pdf HL&C 3/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 415