Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/08/1995 01:35 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
            HOUSE TRANSPORTATION STANDING COMMITTEE                            
                         March 8, 1995                                         
                           1:35 p.m.                                           
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
 Representative Gary Davis, Chairman                                           
 Representative Beverly Masek, Vice Chair                                      
 Representative Jeannette James                                                
 Representative Eileen MacLean                                                 
 Representative Tom Brice                                                      
 Representative Jerry Sanders                                                  
 Representative Bill Williams                                                  
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
 COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 * HB 161:   "An Act relating to civil liability for guest                     
             passengers on an aircraft or watercraft; and providing            
             for an effective date."                                           
             HEARD AND HELD                                                    
 * HB 203:   "An Act relating to the meaning of the phrase                     
             "previously convicted" as that phrase applies to the              
             operation of a motor vehicle, commercial motor vehicle,           
             aircraft, or watercraft while intoxicated."                       
             PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                           
 * HB 57:    "An Act relating to driver's licensing; and providing             
             for an effective date."                                           
             PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                           
 (* First public hearing)                                                      
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
 PATTY SWENSON, Legislative Assistant                                          
 Representative Con Bunde                                                      
 State Capitol, Room 108                                                       
 Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                         
 Telephone: 465-4843                                                           
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided sponsor statement for HB 161                    
 JOHN GEORGE                                                                   
 National Association of Independent Insurers                                  
 5328 Fritz Cove Road                                                          
 Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                         
 Telephone: 789-0172                                                           
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 161                                         
 MIKE FORD, Attorney                                                           
 Division of Legal Services                                                    
 Legislative Affairs Agency                                                    
 130 Seward Street, Ste. 409                                                   
 Juneau Alaska,  99801-2105                                                    
 Telephone:  465-2450                                                          
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 161                                         
 MARGOT KNUTH, Assistant Attorney General                                      
 Criminal Division                                                             
 Department of Law                                                             
 P.O. Box 110300                                                               
 Juneau, Alaska  99811                                                         
 Telephone: 465-3428                                                           
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 203                                         
 JUANITA HENSLEY, Chief, Driver Services                                       
 Division of Motor Vehicles                                                    
 Department of Public Safety                                                   
 P.O. Box 20020                                                                
 Juneau, Alaska  99802                                                         
 Telephone: 465-2650                                                           
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 57                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN                                                      
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 State Capitol, Room 24                                                        
 Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                         
 Telephone: 465-4931                                                           
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of HB 57                                         
 JEFF LOGAN, Legislative Assistant                                             
 Representative Joe Green                                                      
 State Capitol, Room 24                                                        
 Juneau, Alaska  99801-1182                                                    
 Telephone: 465-4931                                                           
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided sponsor statement for HB 57                     
 MARK JOHNSON, Chief                                                           
 Emergency Medical Services                                                    
 Department of Health and Social Services                                      
 P.O. Box 110616                                                               
 Juneau, Alaska  99811-0616                                                    
 Telephone: 463-5807                                                           
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 57                                          
 PREVIOUS ACTION                                                               
 BILL:  HB 161                                                               
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) BUNDE,Toohey                                    
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG               ACTION                                      
 02/08/95       271    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 02/08/95       272    (H)   TRA, JUD                                          
 03/06/95              (H)   TRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 17                        
 03/08/95              (H)   TRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 17                        
 BILL:  HB 203                                                                
 SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                  
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG               ACTION                                      
 02/27/95       493    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 02/27/95       493    (H)   TRANSPORTATION, JUDICIARY                         
 02/27/95       494    (H)   2 ZERO FISCAL NOTES (ADM)                         
 02/27/95       494    (H)   3 ZERO FISCAL NOTES (CORR, LAW, DPS)              
 02/27/95       494    (H)   GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                     
 03/08/95              (H)   TRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 17                        
 BILL:  HB  57                                                                
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) GREEN,Bunde                                     
 JRN-DATE      JRN-PG              ACTION                                      
 01/06/95        35    (H)   PREFILE RELEASED                                  
 01/16/95        35    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 01/16/95        35    (H)   TRANSPORTATION, JUDICIARY, FINANCE                
 01/19/95        90    (H)   COSPONSOR(S): BUNDE                               
 03/08/95              (H)   TRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 17                        
 ACTION NARRATIVE                                                              
 TAPE 95-7, SIDE A                                                             
 Number 000                                                                    
 The House Transportation Committee was called to order by Chairman            
 Gary Davis at 1:35 p.m.  Members present at the call to order were            
 Representatives Davis, Masek, Sanders and Williams.                           
 CHAIRMAN GARY DAVIS announced the agenda was HB 161, HB 203 and HB
 57 in that order.                                                             
 HTRA - 03/08/95                                                               
 HB 161 - AIRCRAFT/WATERCRAFT GUEST PASSENGER LAW                            
 Number 019                                                                    
 PATTY SWENSON, Legislative Assistant to Representative Con Bunde,             
 stated she was here to testify on HB 161.  She explained HB 161 was           
 designed to limit the liability of an owner or operator of an                 
 aircraft or watercraft for injuries to passengers when the owner or           
 operator is not compensated for transportation.  She explained when           
 the owner of a boat or plane is accompanied by a friend or                    
 acquaintance on trips, the owner of that craft assumes liability.             
 She stated the risks should be shared by all participants.  She               
 said HB 161 does not expect passengers of an air or watercraft to             
 give up their right to expect safe operation.  Ms. Swenson                    
 explained that when a pilot or boat driver behaves in a grossly               
 negligent manner, they are fully liable for injuries regardless of            
 the passing of HB 161.  Ms. Swenson said according to Patty                   
 Madison, who is the Accident Prevention Program Manager for the               
 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there are several thousand             
 private aircraft pilots currently operating in Alaska with only 130           
 accidents last year.  Ms. Swenson added that all accidents are not            
 considered crashes.  If a small plane is taxiing and hits a runway            
 light this is considered an accident.  However, a plane in flight             
 that loses an engine is not necessarily considered an accident.               
 She indicated her point is, there are comparatively few accidents             
 in Alaska when considering the amount of flying that is done.  She            
 listed other states with similar legislation; Oregon, New Mexico,             
 Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Montana, California, Georgia,             
 Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska,                   
 Virginia and West Virginia.  She explained these states have                  
 significantly lower flying hours compared to the pilots of Alaska.            
 She noted according to FAA statistics, the medium hours for a                 
 private pilot in the Lower 48 are 10-12 hours, and for Alaska the             
 hours are over 100.  Ms. Swenson indicated in other states where              
 pilots have lower flying hours, they are able to afford the type of           
 protection HB 161 would provide.  Alaskan pilots who fly more                 
 frequently, should be protected unless they act in a grossly                  
 negligent manner.  She explained that currently aircraft insurance            
 is not mandatory.  Ms. Swenson explained aircraft insurance may be            
 purchased two ways; insurance with passenger liability, or without.           
 MS. SWENSON pointed out if an aircraft owner chooses to purchase              
 insurance covering the occupants of the aircraft, then everyone in            
 and out of the plane would be covered in the event of an accident.            
 However, if the pilot elects not to purchase insurance for his                
 occupants, then only the people outside of the plane are covered in           
 the event of an accident.  She indicated if an owner does not have            
 insurance and the occupants are injured in any way in an accident             
 that is not due to the owner's gross negligence, the family of the            
 guest passenger can sue the pilot, leaving the pilot, owner and               
 family with nothing.  She indicated if HB 161 passes, it would                
 prevent the family of a pilot from losses due to anything other               
 than gross negligence.                                                        
 Number 083                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BEVERLY MASEK expressed her approval of HB 161.                
 REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS asked for clarification on the                   
 difference from the intent of HB 161 and obtaining auto insurance.            
 MS. SWENSON explained when HB 161 was presented last year, the same           
 question was asked.  She stated it was her belief that "aircraft in           
 Alaska is not as necessary as a car is."  She explained a car will            
 transport a person to places closer, or not accessible by plane;              
 "places too far to walk, to close to fly to."  She reiterated a car           
 is a more necessary mode of transportation.  Ms. Swenson                      
 acknowledged Mr. John George who would inform the committee on the            
 details of the bill as well as presenting testimony on HB 161.                
 Number 108                                                                    
 JOHN GEORGE stated he represented the National Association of                 
 Independent Insurers.  He explained he was here at the request of             
 Representative Con Bunde, prime sponsor of HB 161.  Mr. George                
 stated he was a former director of Insurance for the state of                 
 Alaska and a former risk manager for the state.  He pointed out               
 that his background would be beneficial to his testimony.  He                 
 addressed Representative Sanders' question dealing with auto                  
 insurance and how it differs from what HB 161 proposes.  He                   
 explained that an automobile insurance policy automatically covers            
 passengers; however, aircraft insurance can be purchased with seat            
 liability or without. If purchased without the seat liability, the            
 passenger is not covered.  He added without the seat liability, the           
 cost of coverage is much cheaper.  He mentioned there was a dilemma           
 when a person owns an aircraft and has purchased the lesser                   
 expensive liability coverage that covers anyone hit by the plane in           
 the event of a crash and a friend says, "let's go fishing" and the            
 pilot explains he does not have insurance to cover his friend.  Mr.           
 George explained the pilot would have to purchase extra liability             
 insurance in order to take his friend fishing.  He explained if the           
 guest passenger, the person wanting to go fishing says he will pay            
 for the extra insurance, then the pilot is essentially chartering             
 his aircraft and could inevitably lose his pilots license.  Mr.               
 George explained there was an additional cost to the owner of the             
 airplane to provide the required insurance needed to transport                
 people in his aircraft.  Mr. George added if the pilot decides to             
 "chance it," the pilot and his family are liable and can be sued.             
 Mr. George mentioned this scenario can also be applied to                     
 watercraft.  He exemplified someone using a Lund skiff or other               
 small boat; if the people using this skiff are renters and do not             
 have a home owners policy covering their liability for small boats            
 and a person wants to go fishing with them, the same scenario                 
 applies.  The boat operators do not have specific insurance and               
 feel they would not do a lot of damage to a third party, so they              
 elect not to purchase third party liability insurance.  Mr. George            
 explained if people are injured on their boat, the owners can be              
 sued.  He indicated HB 161 provides an opportunity for operators of           
 water and aircraft who want to take passengers, but do not want to            
 incur additional expenses, to do so.  He added if insurance is                
 purchased, then the coverage extends to the passengers on the                 
 airplane; however, if the pilot elects not to purchase the                    
 insurance covering their passengers, then unless the pilot is found           
 to be grossly negligent; i.e., drunk or commit an intentional act,            
 the pilot cannot be sued.                                                     
 Number 160                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MASEK asked if the insurance can be extended out to            
 sled dog team owners as well.                                                 
 MR. GEORGE said "anything is possible."  It could be added to HB
 161.  He indicated he was not aware of anyone who has sled dog                
 liability insurance, unless it is covered under their home owners             
 policy.  He felt the more rural lifestyle a person lives, the less            
 likely that person is to have a home owners policy.                           
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked for confirmation on the availability of                  
 aircraft liability insurance for passengers, and whether or not it            
 was cost prohibitive.                                                         
 MR. GEORGE indicated that cost prohibitive was "all relative."  He            
 stated it was an additional and fairly expensive cost only covering           
 the pilots' passengers.                                                       
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS proposed a scenario where a pilot already had the              
 insurance and crashed injuring his passengers and the crash was               
 caused by circumstances beyond the pilot's control, such as a                 
 propeller falling off or some other form of mechanical failure.  He           
 asked if this happened directly after the plane was released from             
 an annual inspection, how would the insurance apply to a case such            
 as this?                                                                      
 MR. GEORGE explained if the pilot or owner was negligent, then his            
 insurance would pay.  However, if it was just released from its               
 annual inspection and a third party had completed the maintenance             
 and neglected to check all the nuts and bolts on the propeller,               
 that person would be liable as well.                                          
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if the intent of HB 161 is to insert                     
 information assumed in statute regarding whether or not the pilot             
 was negligent.                                                                
 MR. GEORGE affirmed Chairman Davis' example.  He added there are              
 cases where the pilot does not have passenger liability insurance             
 and they go out and attempt a landing on a dirt strip and they hit            
 a pothole and lose the landing gear and someone gets injured, the             
 pilot can be sued.                                                            
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS called attention to the definitions of negligence              
 from Alaska Statutes enclosed in the bill packet.  He asked for               
 clarification when determining whether a person is negligent or               
 Number 218                                                                    
 MR. GEORGE explained that with commercial aircraft there is what is           
 called "admitted liability."  Mr. George depicted a scenario                  
 whereby a person flies with Alaska Airlines and the plane crashes             
 and that passenger sues Alaska Airlines and their insurance company           
 will respond.  He explained whether Alaska Airlines was negligent             
 or not is not as important as the "high expectations" that a                  
 passenger assumes when they board the aircraft.  He continued in              
 the event of an accident or mishap, then the airlines' insurance              
 assumes responsibilities.  Mr. George differentiated the negligence           
 situation with commercial airlines and with private pilots.                   
 Number 226                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS stated that his expectations are the same              
 regardless of the airline.  He inquired as to the possibility of a            
 passenger signing a waiver stating they are aware of the risks in             
 flying with an uninsured pilot.                                               
 MR. GEORGE explained a waiver can be signed by a passenger, and               
 demanded by the pilot.  However, it is uncertain as to whether or             
 not the waiver will hold up in court.  He noted there are numerous            
 incidents where due to a misunderstanding on the passenger's part             
 of the implications of the waiver, they will not hold up in court.            
 He noted the waivers can be helpful, but not definitive.                      
 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS inquired if HB 161 passes, how will people             
 know whether or not the pilot has insurance.  He suggested a                  
 sticker placed on the door indicating whether or not the pilot has            
 insurance might be beneficial.  Representative Sanders stated he              
 was under the assumption all pilots had insurance.                            
 MR. GEORGE explained that the lack of proof of insurance could be             
 a shortcoming of the bill and the pilot needs to indicate whether             
 or not he has insurance for passengers.  Mr. George proposed the              
 signing of a waiver along with the change in the Alaska Statute               
 would make it more obvious to the passenger than a sticker or some            
 sort of indication would be beneficial.  He stated he has no                  
 problem with people having notice as to the extent of coverage the            
 pilot has.                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS said Representative Sanders concern is commonly                
 known as inherent risk and analogized that when a person is running           
 up someone's snow covered steps, there is inherent risk that the              
 person doing the running is liable and responsible for their                  
 actions.  He explained if you're going to get into an airplane with           
 anyone, whether they are fully insured or not, it should be                   
 inherently known that a certain amount of risk exists.  Chairman              
 Davis cautioned anyone of the complications that arise when a                 
 person makes assumptions.                                                     
 MR. GEORGE indicated he was familiar with the scenario where a                
 pilot has made it clear that he does not have liability insurance.            
 He stated this does not automatically protect the pilot.  Mr.                 
 George theorized if the pilot accurately explained his insurance              
 status, he would not be sued by the passenger or their family.                
 Number 298                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS reiterated his question as to the                      
 possibility of a system similar to auto insurance and would it be             
 financially impossible for the pilot to afford.                               
 MR. GEORGE explained it would be a significant additional expense.            
 He added with aircraft insurance, the pilot or owner buys seat                
 liability insurance.  He explained if a plane has six seats, a                
 pilot or owner can buy insurance for one or as many seats as he               
 desires.  He further explained if the pilot feels he does not need            
 to insure all six seats and only buys coverage for two people and             
 then takes a third person, he does run the risk of being sued by              
 that third passenger.  He indicated that the insurance for pilots             
 has traditionally been a separate coverage and not an automatic               
 coverage policy.                                                              
 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS reiterated that there are inherent                     
 responsibilities when operating an aircraft.  He stated if the                
 pilots are not responsible for their passengers, then what is the             
 difference in their responsibility of driving people around in                
 MR. GEORGE stated he could not address that question directly, but            
 if he was in a situation where he had an airplane, he would elect             
 not to buy the seat liability insurance and not take a passenger              
 in his aircraft.  He added it is a dilemma when a friend wants to             
 go and the pilot states he does not have the insurance.  Mr. George           
 depicted a scenario where if it was a matter of life or death that            
 a person had to be transported by a pilot without the proper                  
 insurance, the pilot can elect not to take the person.                        
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS thanked Mr. George and introduced Ms. Patty Swenson.           
 He asked Ms. Swenson if Representative Sanders point about the                
 possibility of some notice to passengers of insurance or the lack             
 of, was brought up in a previous debate.                                      
 MS. SWENSON indicated there was a decision not to apply pilot                 
 insurance as car insurance mostly due to the notion that people               
 assume a certain amount of risk equal to being a passenger in a               
 vehicle or boat.  She indicated that the passenger has a choice as            
 to whether they want to get in the vehicle or not.  She mentioned             
 the possibility of signing a waiver.  Ms. Swenson informed the                
 committee she had previously spoken with Larry Strollie, Regional             
 Manager for EMPCO, and was informed by him that a court case did              
 exist involving a passenger in a rented plane from Elmendorf                  
 Aeroclub; this person had signed a bodily damage waiver prior to              
 flying.  She mentioned the plane crashed and the passenger died.              
 The family successfully sued the pilot because the passenger did              
 not sign a waiver that included the possibility of death.  She said           
 when a situation arises where there are thousands of planes in                
 Alaska, not all the pilots are going to pick up a standard waiver             
 or have a lawyer on hand to draft up a waiver before the pilots               
 carry passengers in their aircraft.                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS asked if the person killed in the Elmendorf            
 plane was the pilot.                                                          
 MS. SWENSON stated it was the passenger that died and the family of           
 the passenger successfully sued the pilot.  She reiterated the                
 bodily damage waiver did not cover deaths.                                    
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS explained that a lot of the legal questions                    
 pertaining to HB 161 will be addressed through the House Judiciary            
 Committee.  He stated if HB 161 does become law, people who                   
 currently have insurance and pay into this will not be buying the             
 added insurance.  He indicated there would be the possibility of              
 additional risk.  He said this would apply only if this situation             
 was the case.  He added most cases only include negligence.                   
 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS noted that the appropriate term was gross              
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS read the definitions of gross negligence and                   
 negligence as defined by Alaska Statute.  He asked for                        
 clarification on gross negligence and negligence.                             
 MS. SWENSON said the bill drafter should address those issues.                
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS announced for the record that Representatives                  
 MacLean and Brice arrived at 1:55 p.m.                                        
 REPRESENTATIVE EILEEN MACLEAN asked why HB 161 was exclusive to air           
 and watercraft.  She expressed concern as to the inclusion of other           
 areas of transportation.                                                      
 Number 408                                                                    
 MIKE FORD, attorney with the Division of Legal Services, commented            
 on the distinctions between negligence and gross negligence and               
 stated it was "a matter of degree."  He stated HB 161 addresses               
 negligent acts and a pilot would be protected from acts of                    
 negligence, but not be protected from gross negligence or reckless            
 and intentional acts.  He stated it is sometimes difficult to                 
 articulate the difference.  He stated HB 161 is narrowly crafted              
 and the intentions were designed only for aircraft and watercraft             
 guest passengers.  However, he noted the legislature will make the            
 final decision and substance of any exceptions to HB 161.                     
 REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN asked if HB 161 would exempt air and                   
 watercraft operators from being liable for their passengers'                  
 MR. FORD explained HB 161 provides immunity to the operator or                
 owner of an aircraft or boat.  He indicated in the event of an                
 accident where a guest passenger dies under present law a guest               
 passenger might recover from the pilot for injuries.  He implied if           
 HB 161 becomes law, they would not be able to recover due to the              
 pilot's negligence and assuming this scenario occurs, this would be           
 the distinction of a before and after consequence of the bill.  He            
 explained HB 161 does have provisions if the pilot has insurance              
 then they are not immune, if the pilot does carry insurance, a                
 guest passenger or family can recover up to the amount of the                 
 REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN stated she opposed HB 161 due to Mr. Fords             
 Number 441                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE TOM BRICE asked for clarification on Mr. Fords                 
 statement regarding the pilots not being immune if they are acting            
 in a professional manner and are insured.  Representative Brice               
 reiterated the fact the pilot would be immune if they do not have             
 MR. FORD stated there is an immunity created by HB 161.  However,             
 the immunity does not apply if the pilot has a guest passenger, the           
 plane crashes and the guest passenger is injured.  He said then the           
 pilot would be considered negligent.  He explained the guest                  
 passenger could still recover if the pilot has insurance.                     
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked for clarification on the fact that the             
 guest passenger could not recover if the pilot was not insured.               
 MR. FORD stated Representative Brice's comment was correct.  He               
 further explained if the pilot is not insured, then there is the              
 potential of no recovery.  He explained this is assuming there is             
 no one else at fault.                                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE BILL WILLIAMS asked for clarification on the type of           
 standardized insurance required for pilots.  He inquired as to                
 assuming the pilot does have insurance and the pilot was found to             
 be grossly negligent, would he be covered?                                    
 MR. FORD stated that was correct.                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN asked for clarification on implications of             
 the definition of negligence stating, "it immunizes the gross                 
 negligent acts of the pilots of watercraft or air."                           
 MR. FORD indicated no, the act would only immunize negligent acts.            
 REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN asked if this covered gross negligence as              
 MR. FORD explained it would not cover gross negligence.  If someone           
 had committed a grossly negligent act, then there would not be                
 immunity granted under HB 161.  He stated the arguments between               
 gross and just negligent are a difference of standards.  He                   
 exemplified by stating if a person actually committed a grossly               
 negligent act, then there would not be immunity under HB 161.  He             
 stated a person involved in an accident could recover.                        
 Number 460                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN asked for clarification on the term                    
 reasonable care.                                                              
 MR. FORD explained the term indicates care that a reasonable person           
 would exercise in a given situation.  He explained for defining               
 negligence, courts have created a fictional person they believe               
 would and have set standards on how a reasonable person would act.            
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS directed his comments on the intent of HB 161 to Ms.           
 Swenson regarding Representative Bunde's intent with the inclusion            
 of the terms gross negligence and intent to make negligence immune.           
 MS. SWENSON stated her belief was that Representative Bunde's                 
 intentions were to protect families of the operators and owners of            
 air and watercraft from significant losses.  She explained the                
 intent is to cover the operators in the event of an accident                  
 beyond the pilots of a boat or aircraft control; i.e., an Act of              
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS confirmed Mr. Fords comment that an act of a                   
 reasonable person is designed to set a standard; outside of these             
 standards would then be regarded as negligence.  Chairman Davis               
 requested an example in the distinctions between negligence and               
 gross negligence.                                                             
 MR. FORD presented a scenario where a plane crashes because it ran            
 out of fuel.  The fact the pilot did not check the fuel level would           
 make him negligent.  However, if the pilot knowingly mixed water              
 with the gas intending to stretch the mixture, that action would be           
 considered gross negligence.  He stated it is dependent on the act            
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE presented a scenario in order to clarify the             
 intent of HB 161.  He implied that he was from the Interior and               
 enjoyed jet boats as do other people in the Interior.  He                     
 exemplified taking a boat up the Salcha River and hitting a sandbar           
 going 70 miles per hour, killing his passenger.  Barring any                  
 alcohol or other impairment, would he be exempt from the intent of            
 HB 161.                                                                       
 MR. FORD stated if this situation went to trial, the jury would               
 have to be asked, would a reasonable person have acted in the same            
 manner.  He postulated, what would a reasonable person have done.             
 For example, would they have slowed down or paid more attention to            
 the river or would a reasonable person have acted in the same                 
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE asked what would the case be if alcohol was              
 MR. FORD indicated it would make a difference.  He eluded to the              
 possibility of the jury finding the person negligent.                         
 REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN stated in her opinion, HB 161 was exclusive            
 to water and aircraft carriers and explained it should be all                 
 inclusive to other entities such as truck drivers and railroad                
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS indicated this was a question that was brought up              
 previously and it was indicated that these mentioned types of                 
 insurance are designed to be specific with regard to purchasing               
 specific insurance.  He added auto and truck are inclusive in their           
 respected policies.                                                           
 REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN stated "this would be a benefit to the                 
 insurance companies and not for Alaskans."                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BRICE added it might not benefit the insurance                 
 companies.  He explained in order to be eligible for the immunity,            
 HB 161 assumes a person cannot be previously covered.  But if a               
 person carries insurance, they are eligible.                                  
 Number 549                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS directed his comments to Ms. Swenson and expressed             
 his desire to obtain some degree of understanding of the context of           
 negligence and gross negligence.  He felt the sponsor of the bill             
 should be present and elected to hold HB 161.                                 
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if there were any objections.  Hearing none,             
 HB 161 was held over.                                                         
 HTRA - 03/08/95                                                               
 HB 203 - PREVIOUS CONVICTIONS FOR DWI OFFENSES                              
 Number 561                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS welcomed Ms. Margot Knuth from the Department of Law           
 and requested she present HB 203.                                             
 MARGOT KNUTH, Criminal Division, Department of Law, stated she was            
 here to testify on behalf of the Governor for HB 203.  She                
 explained HB 203 was one of six bills incorporated into the                   
 Governor's crime package this year.  She explained HB 203 was                 
 narrowly designed, focusing on the goals of treating convictions              
 from other states that allow a .08 blood alcohol level (BAL) for              
 driving while intoxicated (DWI) as a prior conviction under Alaska            
 laws.  She stated Alaska currently uses the .10 BAL standard for              
 intoxication determination.  She noted there was a ruling by the              
 Court of Appeals in 1991 stating that a conviction from a state               
 where .08 was the standard, could not be considered substantially             
 similar due to the possibility of the person had a lower BAL at the           
 time of the offense than Alaska law requires.  She said the average           
 BAL of a person suspected of driving while intoxicated in Alaska is           
 .19, significantly higher than .10.  She indicated this was similar           
 in other states.  She explained before a person calls attention to            
 themselves as a drunk driver, they may have a BAL as high as .15              
 and .20.  She explained the arrests that are being made in states             
 such as Oregon, are using the standard of .08 are usually above .1            
 blood alcohol level and the issue is a matter of technical                    
 difference in the law.  Ms. Knuth said she was not aware of any               
 opposition to HB 203 and asked if there were any questions.                   
 MS. KNUTH pointed out the four sections to HB 203.  She explained             
 the existing driver's license statute, 28.15.201, would have to               
 become obsolete if the BAL was standardized.  She explained Section           
 1 omits "also convictions based on laws presuming that the person             
 was under the influence of intoxicating liquor if there was .08               
 percent or more by weight of alcohol in the person's blood."  She             
 explained the next three sections added the language with regards             
 to the commercial driving while intoxicated laws, and the regular             
 DWI statute, and finally to the forfeiture provision for repeat               
 drunk driver offenses.  She explained the language included the law           
 ordinance "of an other jurisdiction presuming the person was under            
 the influence of intoxicating liquor at a lower percentage by                 
 weight of alcohol in the person's blood than that required in the             
 REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN asked what impact would HB 203 have on a               
 situation such as the Exxon Valdez incident, where the pilot of the           
 vessel was intoxicated.                                                       
 MS. KNUTH stated she did not feel there would be any impact,                  
 because the intent of HB 203 is to treat repeated offenders from              
 other states.  She noted this year and last, there are DWI bills              
 pending.  Ms. Knuth suggested if Alaska stayed at .10 BAL standard,           
 then there would be the question of how to treat people with prior            
 convictions from other states.                                                
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS indicated concern for Section 2 relating to                    
 commercial driver's license (CDL) operators.  He stated Alaska's              
 commercial law standards are .04 BAL.  He asked if this was                   
 standard for commercial driver licenses.                                      
 Number 611                                                                    
 MS. KNUTH stated .04 is the federally required standard for persons           
 operating a commercial vehicle.  She indicated to the best of her             
 knowledge there are no jurisdictions where there is a lower BAL for           
 commercial incidents of DWIs and stated it may be possible a state            
 may have a lower standard of .03 or .02.                                      
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS stated his concern was with the carryover of the               
 commercial DWI had from another state.  He questioned whether or              
 not there would be concern with convictions being required to                 
 withdraw a CDL and would they not be transferred to Alaska.                   
 MS. KNUTH referred to Ms. Hensley from the Department of Public               
 Safety and stated she could address the issue of CDLs with regards            
 to laws of other states.                                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS asked for clarification on the "law by                
 ordinance" statement in Section 2 of HB 203.                                  
 MS. KNUTH explained with regards to Washington, Oregon and                    
 California, which have lowered the standards of BALs from .10 to              
 .08, Alaska courts have indicated that if someone from Oregon comes           
 to Alaska with two convictions for drunk driving under Oregon laws,           
 they need to be treated as a first offender in Alaska.  She stated            
 the language of HB 203 will help view prior DWI convictions if it             
 was a conviction for drunk driving regardless of the BAL used to              
 presume intoxication.                                                         
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS addressed the different ways to measure the BAL of             
 a person and asked if the variations of types were taken into                 
 consideration or are the other standards ignored?                             
 MS. KNUTH explained the BAL of .1 can be measured through a                   
 toximeter breathalizer, blood or urine test but all the tests                 
 indicate the person's BAL....                                                 
 TAPE 95-7, SIDE B                                                             
 Number 000                                                                    
 MS. KNUTH continued to explained, a person's BAL will be treated as           
 a second offense, if their next violation is under Alaska state               
 law.  She stated this would count as a DWI conviction.                        
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS indicated with relation to DWI laws.  He questioned            
 the effectiveness of some of these laws and with the                          
 implementations of new laws.  He stated HB 203 "fits in the realm             
 of acceptability" and supported HB 203.                                       
 Number 029                                                                    
 JUANITA HENSLEY, Chief, Driver Services, Division of Motor                    
 Vehicles, Department of Public Safety, explained that the                     
 Department of Public Safety is looking forward to HB 203 passing.             
 She explained the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is in a position           
 to hear administrative hearings for DWI arrests and finds a person            
 to have five prior DWIs in the state of California.  The state of             
 Alaska will treat them as first offenders.  She explained even if             
 their BAL was .30 or .0, they have to be treated as a first                   
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS inquired as to commercial operators and the .04 BAL.           
 MS. HENSLEY explained the national federally mandated standard for            
 commercial operators is .04 percent.  She explained if a person               
 possessing a CDL is operating a commercial vehicle and is convicted           
 of a DWI and has a BAL of .04, it is a mandatory one year license             
 revocation of their CDL.  She depicted a scenario where if Utah had           
 a .02 for their commercial operators and that person was convicted            
 for DWI and was found to be operating an 80,000 ton commercial                
 vehicle in Alaska, the state would not be able to use the Utah                
 conviction if that person was also operating a commercial vehicle             
 here and was picked up a second time for DWI.  She stated "when we            
 think of commercial vehicles, we think it could be a panel vehicle            
 that they are using for commercial purposes.  The majority of these           
 vehicles are hazardous material tankers, doubles and triples,                 
 26,000 lbs. or greater."  If a person was convicted of an .04                 
 offense, it would apply; however, if that state was a lesser degree           
 than Alaskan standards, Alaska would not be able to use that                  
 conviction.  She indicated a second offense DWI conviction of                 
 commercial driving is a lifetime disqualification of a CDL.                   
 Number 093                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if a person obtains a CDL, do they carry a               
 separate private and commercial license?                                      
 MS. HENSLEY explained a person obtains only one license.  If a                
 person has a CDL to operate a class A, B or C vehicle, these types            
 of vehicles are covered.  If a person is arrested and convicted of            
 operating a commercial vehicle with a BAL of .04 or greater, they             
 only lose their CDL.  However, if they are found to be .10 or                 
 greater, they will lose all driving privileges.                               
 REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN made a motion to move HB 203 out of the                
 House Transportation Committee with individual recommendations and            
 zero fiscal notes.                                                            
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if there was any objection.  Hearing none, HB
 203 was moved out of committee.                                               
 HTRA - 03/08/95                                                               
 HB 57 - LICENSING REQUIREMENTS FOR DRIVERS                                  
 Number 124                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS introduced Representative Joe Green, sponsor of HB
 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN indicated HB 57 was introduced last                  
 session and got as far as the House Rules Committee when we ran out           
 of time.  He explained the bill was reintroduced due to concerns on           
 the abundance of accidents and deaths caused by teen-age drivers.             
 He indicated these deaths were not necessarily caused because of              
 unqualified drivers so much as "their mental attitude was lacking."           
 He stated a teen-ager can physically operate a vehicle but                    
 Representative Green questioned the teen-ager's maturity and                  
 judgment level.  He explained HB 57 was necessary in order to help            
 teen-agers realize the seriousness of operating an automobile and             
 to establish a graduated system in acquiring a driver's license.              
 He stated driving was a privilege, not a right.  He pointed out               
 that statistically, the majority of the accidents happen in the               
 early hours of the morning.  He explained HB 57 implements a                  
 restriction during phase two of the graduation system imposed in HB
 57 stating that teen-agers would be restricted from the hours of 1            
 a.m. to 5 a.m. when most accidents happen, unless they are taking             
 a direct route from employment to home.  He stated the intent is to           
 keep teen-agers off the streets at those specific times.                      
 Representative Green asked for questions.                                     
 Number 175                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE MACLEAN commented on other states implementing                 
 monetary incentive programs for young drivers.  She inquired as to            
 the type of monetary incentives available in Alaska when there is             
 a fiscal note that will increase the budget within the Department             
 of Public Safety.                                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN indicated Ms. Hensley would be able to address           
 Representative MacLean's concerns.                                            
 JEFF LOGAN, Legislative Assistant to Representative Joe Green,                
 presented HB 57 in sections.  He indicated the intent of HB 57 was            
 to establish a provisional driver's licensing system.  He asked the           
 committee to analogize learning to ride a bicycle.  He stated the             
 progression of starting with a tricycle, and on to a bicycle with             
 training wheels, then to a full size bicycle.  He stated the intent           
 of HB 57 is to do the same in regards to creating a three-stage               
 system for people who operate an automobile.  He indicated Section            
 1 of HB 57 establishes that a driver's license cannot be issued to            
 a person between the ages of 16 and 21.  He mentioned the bill                
 targets people between the ages of 16 and 20, unless they have met            
 the provisions of 057, which is a new provision licensing section             
 in Section 3 of HB 57.  He summarized Section 1 states a person may           
 not obtain a license if you are a young driver, unless you have had           
 a provisional driver's license; Section 2 increases the age of the            
 person one can drive with when they have a learner's permit. He               
 explained that nationally as well as within Alaska, statistics                
 indicate if a person is taught to drive by a person with good                 
 driving habits, that person will more than likely acquire the same            
 skills.  He added statistically, persons 25 years and older are               
 more capable of teaching others to drive.  He indicated this was              
 the reason for the increase in age in order to obtain a learner's             
 permit.  He explained Section 3 of the bill adds two new sections:            
 055 which states that the Department of Public Safety may issue a             
 provisional driver's license to a person who is at least 16, but              
 not yet 18, if that person possesses an instructional permit.  He             
 summarized the three-stage provisional licensing system.  He said             
 first, the learner's permit, then the provisional license, and                
 finally the full driver's license.  He stated a person must have a            
 learner's permit for at least six months.  The second subsection of           
 055 states if a person is between 18 and 21, a permit is not                  
 required, however they do have to have the provisional driver's               
 license.  So, in Section 3 under 055, it states that before a                 
 person may obtain a license, that person must have had the                    
 provisional driver's license.                                                 
 MR. LOGAN then explained provision 057 which establishes the                  
 provisional driver's license.  He stated there are three                      
 subsections to 057--A, B,and C.  Subsection A provides the                    
 provisions for the 16 and 17 year olds.  Subsection B covers                  
 persons at least 18, but not yet 21.  Subsection C establishes the            
 night time driving restrictions.  He directed attention to the                
 charts in the bill packet presented to committee members.  He made            
 reference to a pie chart which offered statistics from 1993, that             
 while young drivers 16 to 23 represented 6 percent of the licensed            
 drivers, they had almost 13 percent of the accidents.  He                     
 referenced the same pie chart which showed the time of day these              
 accidents occurred.  He stated about 32 percent of the accidents              
 for that particular age group occurred between the hours of 8 p.m.            
 and 6 a.m.  He indicated what HB 57 establishes is essentially a              
 curfew for young drivers between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.               
 MR. LOGAN made reference to a House State Affairs Committee meeting           
 last year where there was concern in Representative Davis's                   
 district regarding young workers in the fish processors.  Mr. Logan           
 explained that we have worked around that, and it would be                    
 permissible for a person traveling directly from work to home.                
 MR. LOGAN explained Section 4 of HB 57 tightens up the section of             
 law pertaining to the state of Alaska having the right to suspend             
 a person's license if that person demonstrated irresponsible                  
 behavior operating a vehicle.  He indicated that currently, if a              
 person acquires 12 or more points within a 12-month period, or 18             
 or more points within a 24-month period, the person's license will            
 be suspended.  However, if a person has a provisional license, they           
 are only allowed a total of six points before their license is                
 suspended.  Mr. Logan explained once a person loses their                     
 provisional license they have to start the entire process over.  He           
 stated Section 5 is a definition section and Section 6 establishes            
 an effective date.                                                            
 MR. LOGAN indicated that Ms. Hensley could further testify to the             
 nationally, as well as international popularity of the driver                 
 licensing provisional system.  He stated currently there are 16               
 states that have successfully implemented some component of a                 
 provisional licensing system.  He named some of the organizations             
 that are supporting a type of provisional licensing system such as            
 Associations of Motor Vehicle Administrators, Insurance                       
 Associations, Mothers against Drunk Driving, Governors' Highway               
 Safety Representatives, and National Safety Councils.  He called              
 committee members' attention to a brochure which listed                       
 organizations and insurance companies primarily supporting this               
 legislation.  He stated these organizations profit from young                 
 drivers and noted that one would suspect they would welcome young             
 drivers of this higher statistic risk.  He explained the fact is,             
 these organizations are aware of the problems caused by the higher            
 risk drivers and support a provisional licensing system.                      
 Number 290                                                                    
 MS. HENSLEY stated from the Department of Public Safety--from an              
 enforcement standpoint--and the DMV within Public Safety, both                
 support HB 57.  She indicated it was a good measure to save lives.            
 She reiterated Mr. Logan's point that youth drivers are over                  
 represented in the number of licensed drivers the state of Alaska             
 has.  She explained the graduated license system is a restricted              
 license program allowing youth drivers to learn over a period of              
 time with restrictions imposed.  She explained the intent was to              
 help beginners learn to drive step by step by controlling their               
 progression toward a full driving privilege.  She explained the               
 restrictions are lifted gradually and systematically until the                
 driver acquires an unrestricted license.  She indicated this system           
 is beneficial in two ways:  One, it insures that the new driver has           
 accumulated the practical experience needed in low risk settings;             
 and, second, it also means drivers are older and more mature by the           
 time they obtain their unrestricted license.  She reiterated her              
 comment on the over representation youth drivers have in Alaska.              
 She explained only 6.2 percent of all licensed drivers are between            
 the ages of 16 and 20, and involved in 12.9 percent of all total              
 crash accidents in the state and 28.8 percent of the mentioned age            
 group are involved in the total crashes involving fatalities.  She            
 added this particular age group is over represented nationwide, not           
 just Alaska.  She added with regards to the states that have                  
 implemented a graduated driver license program, California and                
 Maryland have recorded a 5 percent reduction in the total crashes             
 between the ages of 15 through 17.  She mentioned Maryland has                
 reported a 10 percent reduction in traffic convictions.  She said             
 Oregon reported a 16 percent reduction in crashes for male drivers,           
 ages 16 to 17, which indicated the monetary value decreases on the            
 cost of insurance in the state as well as the amount of crashes,              
 fatalities and injury accidents.  She indicated there are several             
 stages in implementing this program, if Alaska decides to adopt it.           
 First, there needs to be a learner's stage, then an intermediate              
 stage, then a full license can be obtained.  She reiterated Mr.               
 Logan's point that the various agencies support this legislation.             
 She mentioned the American Association of Motor Vehicle                       
 Administrators, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the               
 International Chiefs of Police, Alaska Peace Officers Association,            
 the National Association of Governor Highway Safety                           
 Representatives, National Safety Council and the National                     
 Transportation Safety Board all support HB 57.  She stated as a               
 driver license administrator in Alaska, she felt a graduated                  
 license program has the potential to reduce the number of injuries            
 and fatalities, also having the potential to reduce youth crime               
 occurring between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.  Ms. Hensley                 
 welcomed any questions from the Committee.                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS asked for confirmation on the $163,000                
 fiscal note for HB 57.                                                        
 MS. HENSLEY explained the fiscal note shows $162,000 in new revenue           
 coming into the state.  She explained the new revenue was from the            
 amount for driver's licensing.  She indicated there is a $15 fee              
 for taking the road test and HB 57 implements an additional $10 fee           
 to go from a provisional license to a full license.  She explained            
 there is a $100 fee for reinstating a person's driver's license in            
 the event they lose their license due to point accumulation.  She             
 explained the revenue is generated in program receipts from the               
 additional work DMV would be conducting.  She indicated only North            
 Carolina and Alaska applied for the incentive grants offered to all           
 states by the National Highway Safety Administration to implement             
 or to study an implementation of a graduated license program.                 
 Alaska's grant was $77,000 and is reflected on the fiscal note.               
 She indicated the total operating cost is $126,000 with only                  
 $49,500 of that from the general fund revenue and $77,000 is the              
 federal receipts from the grant received.  She indicated there is             
 a total income of $163,000 to the department.                                 
 Number 385                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if the reason Alaska and North Carolina                  
 received the grant was due to the other states previously having              
 the grant.                                                                    
 MS. HENSLEY indicated no this was not the reason.  She stated she             
 was happy and proud that Alaska was awarded the grant and is giving           
 Alaska some national recognition in terms of progressive action on            
 a driver license system.  She indicated Alaska has the lowest crash           
 rate and fatalities in the nation, as far as the lowest reduction             
 in accidents last year.                                                       
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS introduced Mr. Mark Johnson to testify on HB 57.               
 Number 400                                                                    
 MARK JOHNSON, Chief, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Department             
 of Health and Social Services, stated he supported HB 57.  He                 
 explained that motor vehicle trauma is the number one cause of                
 hospitalization and number two cause of death following suicide,              
 for the 15 through 24 year age group.  He indicated that data is              
 collected from every hospital in Alaska on every injury admitted to           
 a hospital.  He said they have that data from 1991 through most of            
 1994.  He mentioned all the statistics that are seen nationally               
 apply in Alaska and the mentioned age group is represented at about           
 double the rate of percentages of the drivers in injury                       
 hospitalizations and deaths.  He added with respect to                        
 hospitalization costs, the mentioned age group cost an average of             
 $20,000 per patient which does not include other charges billed               
 separately, such as physicians, ambulances, rehabilitation and                
 other expenses.  He referred to the question relating to the                  
 evaluation of these programs, the more data acquired by EMS or                
 Public Safety, the greater the ability of evaluation on the                   
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS recognized for the record that Representative                  
 Jeannette James arrived at 2:45 p.m. and asked if she had heard               
 testimony on HB 57 last year.                                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES said no she had not.                           
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS requested HB 57 be moved out of the House             
 Transportation Committee with individual recommendations and                  
 attached fiscal notes.                                                        
 Number 435                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS asked if there were objections.  Hearing none, HB 57           
 was moved out of the House Transportation Committee.                          
 CHAIRMAN DAVIS indicated there was information for the Committee              
 members regarding the Marine Pilots Board and emphasized this was             
 an important scheduled bill.  He added there was also information             
 from the Bicycle Federation of America that the Committee was not             
 able to attend due to an extended session at the time of the                  
 There being no further business to come before the House                      
 Transportation Committee, Chairman Davis adjourned the meeting at             
 2:50 p.m.                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects