Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/10/2001 01:45 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            HOUSE TRANSPORTATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                         April 10, 2001                                                                                         
                           1:45 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Vic Kohring, Chair                                                                                               
Representative Beverly Masek, Vice Chair                                                                                        
Representative Drew Scalzi                                                                                                      
Representative Peggy Wilson                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Scott Ogan                                                                                                       
Representative Mary Kapsner                                                                                                     
Representative Albert Kookesh                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 12                                                                                                               
"An Act  relating to  the offense of  operating a  motor vehicle,                                                               
aircraft,   or   watercraft   while  intoxicated;   relating   to                                                               
presumptions arising  from the  amount of  alcohol in  a person's                                                               
breath or blood; and providing for an effective date."                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                              
BILL: HB 12                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE:REDUCE PERCENTAGE FOR DWI                                                                                           
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S)KOTT                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date   Jrn-Page                     Action                                                                                  
01/08/01     0026       (H)        PREFILE RELEASED 12/29/00                                                                    
01/08/01     0026       (H)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
                                   REFERRALS                                                                                    
01/08/01     0027       (H)        TRA, JUD, FIN                                                                                
04/03/01                (H)        TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                    
04/03/01                (H)        -- Meeting Canceled --                                                                       
04/10/01                (H)        TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
ROGER WORTMAN, Staff                                                                                                            
to Representative Pete Kott                                                                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Capitol Building, Room 204                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on behalf of the sponsor of HB                                                                   
12.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DOUG WOOLIVER, Administrative Attorney                                                                                          
Office of Administrative Director                                                                                               
Alaska Court System                                                                                                             
820 West 4th Avenue                                                                                                             
Anchorage Alaska 99501                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions on HB 12.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
KACE McDOWELL, Executive Director                                                                                               
Anchorage Cabaret Hotel Restaurant & Retailers Association                                                                      
(CHARR)                                                                                                                         
(No address provided)                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 12.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ALVIA "STEVE" DUNNAGAN, Lieutenant                                                                                              
Division of Alaska State Troopers                                                                                               
Department of Public Safety                                                                                                     
5700 East Tudor Road                                                                                                            
Anchorage, Alaska  99507                                                                                                        
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 12.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MARY MARSHBURN, Director                                                                                                        
Division of Motor Vehicles                                                                                                      
Department of Administration                                                                                                    
3300B Fairbanks Street                                                                                                          
Anchorage, Alaska 99503                                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 12.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CRAIG PERSSON                                                                                                                   
Legislative Liaison                                                                                                             
Public Safety Employees Association                                                                                             
4300 Boniface Parkway                                                                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska 99504                                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 12.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CINDY CASHEN                                                                                                                    
Mothers Against Drunk Driving                                                                                                   
211 4th Street                                                                                                                  
Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 12.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
LOREN JONES, Director                                                                                                           
CMH/API Replacement Project                                                                                                     
Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities                                                                        
Department of Health & Social Services                                                                                          
PO Box 110620                                                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska 99824                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:   Answered questions  on the fiscal  note for                                                               
HB 12.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MARY MORAN, Administrator                                                                                                       
Highway Safety Office                                                                                                           
Division of Statewide Planning                                                                                                  
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities                                                                                
3132 Channel Drive                                                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 12.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 01-27, SIDE A                                                                                                              
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  VIC  KOHRING  called  the  House  Transportation  Standing                                                               
Committee meeting to  order at 1:45 p.m.  Members  present at the                                                               
call to  order were Representatives Kohring,  Scalzi, Wilson, and                                                               
Masek.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KOHRING noted  that he had sent a letter  to Michele Brown,                                                               
Commissioner  [of the  Department of  Environmental Conservation]                                                               
having to  do with  the [task  force's] legislation  dealing with                                                               
the cruise  ships [HB 55].   The letter  is intended to  have the                                                               
commissioner provide  an explanation as to  the justification for                                                               
the legislation in light of the  fact that there are already some                                                               
state  statutes on  the books  that are  believed to  oversee the                                                               
industry.    He added that  there is also the  issue of graywater                                                               
contaminates.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
HB 12-REDUCE PERCENTAGE FOR DWI                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
[Contains discussion of HB 4]                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KOHRING  announced that the committee  would consider HOUSE                                                               
BILL  NO. 12,  "An Act  relating to  the offense  of operating  a                                                               
motor  vehicle,   aircraft,  or  watercraft   while  intoxicated;                                                               
relating to presumptions arising from  the amount of alcohol in a                                                               
person's breath or blood; and providing for an effective date."                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0267                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KOHRING  addressed Roger  Wortman, Staff  to Representative                                                               
Pete Kott, and stated that  [the committee] has already heard DWI                                                               
(driving  while intoxicated)  legislation and  had addressed  the                                                               
.08  [blood alcohol  concentration (BAC)]  legislation.   He said                                                               
[the committee members]  want solid justification as  to why they                                                               
need to hear this again.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ROGER WORTMAN,  Staff to Representative  Pete Kott,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  came  forth  on   behalf  of  Representative  Kott,                                                               
sponsor of  HB 12.  He  said Representative Kott felt  this had a                                                               
better  chance of  going through  [the legislature]  on a  stand-                                                               
alone basis.   Having it rolled up with other  issues, like those                                                               
in HB 39, really exacerbates the fiscal note.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KOHRING  noted  that he  had  spoken  with  Representative                                                               
Rokeberg about his bill; it had  moved out of the House Judiciary                                                               
Standing Committee  and is  stuck in  the House  Finance Standing                                                               
Committee.  Concern was expressed about the fiscal note.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 0364                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. WORTMAN offered the sponsor statement for HB 12:                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Operating  motor   vehicles  under  the   influence  of                                                                    
     alcohol has been  a major problem in Alaska  for a long                                                                    
     time.   This legislation reduces the  amount of alcohol                                                                    
     a person can have in  their blood while operating motor                                                                    
     vehicles.   The  number  of accidents  and deaths  that                                                                    
     occur  due to  the  operation of  motor vehicles  while                                                                    
     under the  influence of alcohol is  an ongoing problem.                                                                    
     Alaska  ranks number  five in  the nation  for alcohol-                                                                    
     related incidences.   It is imperative  the state takes                                                                    
     action to reduce this serious problem.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Strengthening  the current  statutes,  by lowering  the                                                                    
     amount of  alcohol in a  person's blood to  .08, serves                                                                    
     as  a  deterrent  for  operating   any  type  of  motor                                                                    
     vehicle.  Any costs  associated with the implementation                                                                    
     of  this legislation  will be  beneficial  in the  long                                                                    
     run, as  it will save  lives.  This bill  affords local                                                                    
     law  enforcement agencies  a better  instrument in  the                                                                    
     prosecution of  offenders.   The Alaska  Peace Officers                                                                    
     Association, the  Public Safety  Employees Association,                                                                    
     ... Mothers  Against Drunk  Driving, and  other similar                                                                    
     organizations support this.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     This legislation is imperative  for the State of Alaska                                                                    
     to  follow  the  lead  of  the  federal  government  in                                                                    
     lowering the  amount of  alcohol a  person can  have in                                                                    
     that   person's   blood   while   operating   motorized                                                                    
     vehicles.   If  this  legislation fails,  the State  of                                                                    
     Alaska stands to  lose federal highway funds  at a rate                                                                    
     2 percent after  2004, 4 percent after  2005, 6 percent                                                                    
     after 2006, 8  percent after 2007, and so on.   I found                                                                    
     out  recently ...  that the  Senate  in Washington  has                                                                    
     passed a version  to change the 2 percent  to 5 percent                                                                    
     the  first  year, and  to  attempt  to increase  it  10                                                                    
     percent  each following  year. ...  I  must remind  the                                                                    
     committee  that although  this bill  has a  significant                                                                    
     fiscal  note, HB  12 should  be looked  at as  a policy                                                                    
     issue rather than an expensive bill.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0555                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SCALZI referred to page  2 [of the bill] regarding                                                               
the difference between  the .04 and .08 [BAC].   He said there is                                                               
a gray area between .04 and  .08.  The last sentence of paragraph                                                               
(2)  states,  "but  that  fact   may  be  considered  with  other                                                               
competent evidence  in determining  whether the person  was under                                                               
the influence of intoxicating liquor."   He asked Mr. Wortman why                                                               
that is in there.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. WORTMAN agreed it is a  gray area and said he couldn't answer                                                               
that.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 0647                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DOUG WOOLIVER, Administrative  Attorney, Office of Administrative                                                               
Director, Alaska Court  System, came forth and  stated that these                                                               
provisions  are  in  existing  law.   He  said  there  are  three                                                               
presumptions.  A  person can be pulled over and  arrested for DWI                                                               
even if he  or she is below  .08 BAC, but then there  is a higher                                                               
burden  of proof.   This  would just  lower those  percentages so                                                               
that  below a  point  .04 BAC  there is  a  presumption that  the                                                               
person is  not intoxicated.   Between  .04 and  .08, there  is no                                                               
presumption  one  way  or  the  other.   Above  a  .08  BAC,  the                                                               
presumption is that the person is intoxicated.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SCALZI   asked  whether  this  is   currently  in                                                               
statutes, but at a different level.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. WOOLIVER answered affirmatively.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KOHRING stated that he has  a variety of concerns with this                                                               
legislation.   He said  the one  issue that is  going to  be most                                                               
convincing to him  is how effective lowering [the BAC]  to .08 is                                                               
going  to be,  aside  from the  issue  of money.    He asked  Mr.                                                               
Wooliver what evidence he could provide that this would work.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. WOOLIVER answered that he has  done a lot of research on this                                                               
and the  fact is there is  no concrete evidence that  states that                                                               
lowering the  blood alcohol content  (BAC) reduces  incidences of                                                               
traffic deaths.   From his  experience researching  other states,                                                               
he  remarked  that  this  is  a tool  when  tied  in  with  other                                                               
legislation will  definitely help decrease the  umber of alcohol-                                                               
related traffic incidences.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0918                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
KACE  McDOWELL, Anchorage  Cabaret Hotel  Restaurant &  Retailers                                                               
Association (CHARR), testified via teleconference.  She stated:                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Some of the  states have decided not to  deal with this                                                                    
     .08 issue at this time  simply because they do not like                                                                    
     the idea  of being blackmailed  into it by  the federal                                                                    
     government.  Also, several  state attorney generals are                                                                    
     now     forming     a    lawsuit     addressing     the                                                                    
     unconstitutionality  of   the  .08   federal  blackmail                                                                    
     mandate. ...                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     I know we do have time,  so CHARR would ... like to see                                                                    
     this  maybe delayed,  unless it  is the  wishes of  the                                                                    
     state legislature that we go to  .08 on our own and not                                                                    
     out of a blackmail situation.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     I  do believe  that .08  targets more  the responsible,                                                                    
     social drinker than  it does our real problem.   So ...                                                                    
     one of our biggest concerns  at CHARR is the really big                                                                    
     problem drinker and the underage drinking. ...                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Also, my  biggest concern, speaking  for CHARR,  ... is                                                                    
     the fiscal  note which  I know is  attached to  the .08                                                                    
     bill  that's  involved with  Representative  Rokeberg's                                                                    
     House  Bill  4.   The  money  that  we would  spend  to                                                                    
     enforce this  is more  than the  small amount  of money                                                                    
     we'd  be  receiving  this  year;  it's  something  like                                                                    
     $800,000 we  might receive  this year  to a  $3 million                                                                    
     fiscal note.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     I also just want to  bring to the committee's attention                                                                    
     ...  [the question  of  whether] we  want  to spend  $3                                                                    
     million  on  enforcing  a .08,  which  is  targeted  at                                                                    
     mostly our responsible drinkers  ... [or] spend that $3                                                                    
     million  enforcing  the laws  we  already  have on  the                                                                    
     books,  which  would  help us  eliminate  this  chronic                                                                    
     drinker  that's  giving  us  most  of  the  problems  -                                                                    
     because there  are laws  to keep  these people  off the                                                                    
     roads  that  don't  have driver's  licenses,  and  also                                                                    
     there's  [a]  new law  going  in  ... on  our  wellness                                                                    
     courts or  our therapeutic  courts that will  also help                                                                    
     [get the  ones well who] want  to, and we are  going to                                                                    
     need money to put there also.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1083                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ALVIA "STEVE" DUNNAGAN, Lieutenant, Division of Alaska State                                                                    
Troopers,   Department   of    Public   Safety,   testified   via                                                               
teleconference.  He stated:                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     From  an  enforcement  perspective, the  Department  of                                                                    
     Public  Safety would  support this  bill to  reduce the                                                                    
     current presumptive  level from  .10 to  .08.   I think                                                                    
     that it  is and  will serve as  an active  deterrent to                                                                    
     people to  keep them off  the road after they've  had a                                                                    
     few to drink.   It's like a padlock.  ... Padlocks keep                                                                    
     the honest people honest.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     I think the reduced BAC  would help to keep those other                                                                    
     people that  are in  that marginal  area off  the road.                                                                    
     Everybody seems  to think or has  an understanding that                                                                    
     the  people  who  have  humongous  BACs  are  the  most                                                                    
     dangerous people out there.   But I would submit to you                                                                    
     that  there's  been  numerous studies  that  .08,  .09,                                                                    
     [and]  .10   are  just  as   dangerous,  if   not  more                                                                    
     dangerous,  because   those  are  the  ones   who  have                                                                    
     consumed enough  alcohol to  affect their  abilities to                                                                    
     operate  a car,  which is  a fairly  complex operation.                                                                    
     And yet they  haven't had enough to know  or think that                                                                    
     they are impaired for the purposes of driving.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     So what you  have is ... an .08, .09  person who thinks                                                                    
     he's not intoxicated  and who believes he  can drive 80                                                                    
     [miles  per hour]  safely, which  ... is  not the  case                                                                    
     because  his  judgment  is  already  impaired.  ...  It                                                                    
     doesn't matter if they are  .08, .09, .10, 1.2, 1.5, or                                                                    
     2.5.   As far  as a problem,  they're all  problems and                                                                    
     they're all dangerous.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     I've worked  the road for  approximately 18  years and,                                                                    
     frankly,  the death  and carnage  that  happens on  our                                                                    
     road system is  terrible.  I understand that  this is a                                                                    
     money  issue for  the  state, but  this  isn't a  money                                                                    
     issue for  the people  of Alaska,  I don't  believe, or                                                                    
     the law enforcement people.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     This  is another  tool, like  the Representative  said.                                                                    
     It is just one more piece  in a large puzzle, and we're                                                                    
     going to  get there one  day with the whole  picture in                                                                    
     place and  be extremely effective.   But right  now, we                                                                    
     need the little pieces to  put together so we can start                                                                    
     moving in that direction.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1236                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MARY MARSHBURN, Director, Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV),                                                                     
Department of Administration, testified via teleconference.  She                                                                
stated:                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     DMV  also supports  the bill,  which  would reduce  the                                                                    
     blood  alcohol level  to .08.    For those  new on  the                                                                    
       committee, when someone is arrested for DWI, a two-                                                                      
     pronged  process begins.   One  is  prosecution in  the                                                                    
     courts for the  criminal law violation.   The other one                                                                    
     is an  administrative process  before DMV,  whose focus                                                                    
     is usually  public road safety and  driver behavior for                                                                    
     revocation of a license.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Last  year, DMV  revoked  4,700  licenses for  alcohol-                                                                    
     related  offenses,  largely  DWI.   The  experience  of                                                                    
     states  that have  reduced the  blood alcohol  level to                                                                    
     .08  and the  reports  from the  Department of  Justice                                                                    
     indicate  that once  the level  has been  reduced, once                                                                    
     law enforcement  has received training, [and]  once the                                                                    
     agencies  become  accustomed  ... to  looking  for  the                                                                    
     lower  blood alcohols,  you can  have as  much as  a 20                                                                    
     percent increase in  arrest rates - anywhere  from 5 to                                                                    
     20 percent.  So we  would expect that, yes, there would                                                                    
     be an impact from lowering  the blood alcohol level and                                                                    
     an increase in safety on the roads.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1342                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CRAIG  PERSSON,  Legislative  Liaison,  Public  Safety  Employees                                                               
Association (PSEA), came forth in support of HB 12.  He stated:                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     The Public Safety  Employees Association fully supports                                                                    
     House Bill  12.   Many people  are killed  and severely                                                                    
     injured on our  roads every year.  Many  of the drivers                                                                    
     that are  involved in these  accidents are  impaired by                                                                    
     alcohol.   In our  experience many are  younger people,                                                                    
     who  along with  being  inexperienced  drivers ...  are                                                                    
     also very inexperienced drinkers.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     And I think Lieutenant Dunnagan  of the troopers got to                                                                    
     the  point that  .08, .09,  [and] .10  drivers are  the                                                                    
     ones  out there  that  are really  the dangerous  ones,                                                                    
     because they  think they have  the ...  alcohol courage                                                                    
     that makes  them go  80 [or]  90 miles  an hour  down a                                                                    
     road.  And  these are the people out  there killing and                                                                    
     injuring and getting  in accidents.  This  bill will go                                                                    
     a long  way in getting  these impaired drivers  off the                                                                    
     road, and  I think it will,  in the long run,  make our                                                                    
     roads a lot safer.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SCALZI asked  Mr. Persson how he  would respond to                                                               
the testimony  that it  is not  the people with  .08 BAC  who are                                                               
causing the trouble but the ones who are the habitual drinkers.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. PERSSON responded  that there are statistics  he doesn't have                                                               
with him that would prove the opposite.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON,  in agreement  with Mr.  Persson, referred                                                               
to information in the committee  packet that indicates the number                                                               
of drinks in two hours of  drinking and the amount of impairment.                                                               
She said even  at .02 BAC, divided attention,  reaction time, and                                                               
visual function start to be affected.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PERSSON concurred  and remarked  that he  has found  younger                                                               
drivers below an .08 BAC who are very impaired.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1520                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CINDY CASHEN,  Mothers Against Drunk  Driving (MADD),  came forth                                                               
also as a victim of drunk driving.  She stated:                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     MADD supports Representative Kott's  bill. ...  We feel                                                                    
     it  is part  of the  key to  reducing drunk  driving in                                                                    
     Alaska.    We  feel  this  bill  does  not  target  the                                                                    
     responsible  drinker because  we  feel the  responsible                                                                    
     drinker does not drink and drive.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     I have sent  to you ... several studies,  which back up                                                                    
     the proof  that when .08  [as a legal limit]  is passed                                                                    
     with other bills and by  itself ... it does lower drunk                                                                    
     driving, and especially with  younger drivers and also,                                                                    
     surprisingly, with chronic drunk  drivers. ... We don't                                                                    
     know  why, and  we're certainly  not going  to question                                                                    
     it.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KOHRING  asked  Ms.  Cashen how  many  other  states  have                                                               
lowered their alcohol limits.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. CASHEN  responded that it  is hard  to say right  now because                                                               
Maryland's governor is [signing] it today, making it 26 states.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KOHRING asked who did  the test [provided for the committee                                                               
by MADD].                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. CASHEN answered  that there were two different  studies.  One                                                               
was done  by a couple of  professors at a university  on the East                                                               
Coast.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1663                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KOHRING  asked, if the  committee passes the  bill, whether                                                               
the  net result  will  be less  drunk drivers  on  the roads,  or                                                               
whether there would be more arrests  of those who are the chronic                                                               
drinkers who get behind the wheel and drive.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. CASHEN  responded that she  doesn't feel confident  in giving                                                               
that  answer; however,  in the  studies  she has  looked at,  she                                                               
would say both.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KOHRING  asked Ms.  Cashen whether she  knew the  last time                                                               
[the BAC] was lowered in Alaska.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. CASHEN answered that it was  lowered to .10 in 1983 after the                                                               
grandsons  of the  founder of  the Anchorage  MADD chapter,  June                                                               
Garish, were killed by a  first-time offender.  She remarked that                                                               
it had previously been .12.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KOHRING asked what the result of that was.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. CASHEN replied that she does  not have those statistics.  She                                                               
noted that a  strong member of the alcohol industry  has come out                                                               
in  full force  by announcing,  on the  steps of  the capitol  in                                                               
Washington, D.C., support of .08.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1832                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LOREN JONES,  Director, CMH/API Replacement Project,  Division of                                                               
Mental  Health  and  Developmental  Disabilities,  Department  of                                                               
Health & Social  Services Department of Health  & Social Services                                                               
(DHSS), came  forth to answer questions  on the fiscal note.   He                                                               
informed the committee  that the department is in  support of the                                                               
bill.   He  clarified  that  the governor  of  Maryland and  [the                                                               
governor of] Arizona have signed [similar bills].                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KOHRING asked  Mr. Jones  whether he  has any  information                                                               
about the  correlation between [the  BAC] level being  lowered in                                                               
the past and a reduced incidence of [drunk driving].                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. JONES responded that he does not have any information.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK noted  that from  the information  provided                                                               
from MADD,  it states that MADD  does not have a  position on the                                                               
BAC estimator.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON asked which fiscal note [was being used].                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. JONES  responded that there  are two fiscal notes  from DHSS.                                                               
Both  relate to  the .08  BAC.   One  is for  the alcohol  safety                                                               
action program, and one is for  the alcohol and drug abuse grant.                                                               
He stated  that with the  estimations that [DHSS] has  been given                                                               
by the  Department of Public  Safety, DMV, and the  courts, there                                                               
would  be  about   a  10  percent  increase  in   the  number  of                                                               
convictions  for  drunk driving.    Therefore,  the fiscal  notes                                                               
represent  the additional  persons who  would be  in the  alcohol                                                               
safety action program statewide.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON asked  whether  the fiscal  notes will  be                                                               
added together.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JONES replied  that he  believes there  will be  more fiscal                                                               
notes from other departments.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KOHRING  remarked that  there was  a concern  brought forth                                                               
earlier  by Kace  McDowell,  who noted  that  if [the  committee]                                                               
looks at the  fiscal note in a monetary perspective,  the gain in                                                               
return  would   be  $800,000  in   road-related  monies   for  an                                                               
expenditure  of about  $2.4 million.    Looking at  it from  that                                                               
perspective, he  said, it's not  a justifying reason to  pass the                                                               
legislation.  He  stated that to him  it is more of  any issue of                                                               
getting and keeping drunks off the road.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2022                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MARY  MORAN, Administrator,  Highway Safety  Office, Division  of                                                               
Statewide  Planning,   Department  of  Transportation   &  Public                                                               
Facilities,  came forth  and stated  that she  has recently  been                                                               
talking with  representatives from  the national  Century Council                                                               
who have all been in agreement with passing a .08 [BAC limit].                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KOHRING asked who makes up the Century Council.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MORAN  answered  that  it is  basically  levels  of  alcohol                                                               
distributors  who are  not beer  distributors.   She pointed  out                                                               
that  studies  show that  a  .08  [limit], along  with  increased                                                               
enforcement and education, does make  a difference.  She remarked                                                               
that  Alaska has  a very  high rate  of drunk  driving, which  is                                                               
steadily  going  down  over  the  years,  possibly  due  to  more                                                               
enforcement  and  education.    In response  to  Chair  Kohring's                                                               
request, she said she could provide  a letter of support from the                                                               
Century Council.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2139                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MASEK referred to the  federal law that was passed                                                               
last year  under the Clinton  Administration and asked  Ms. Moran                                                               
how many  states have enacted  the .10  to .08 [BAC  level] since                                                               
then.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. MORAN  responded that it  had been her understanding  that 21                                                               
states had passed .08 laws.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK  asked  whether  states  had  passed  bills                                                               
because of the  loss of the federal funding or  in support of the                                                               
.08 [BAC].                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. MORAN responded that the  federal legislation doesn't go into                                                               
effect until 2004;  therefore, states that are  passing .08 right                                                               
now are either doing  it because they think it is  a good idea or                                                               
because  they are  anticipating  the sanction  of  [the loss  of]                                                               
federal funding.  She added  that since [the federal legislation]                                                               
only came out  last summer, most likely very few  of those states                                                               
have passed .08 [limits] because of the federal sanction.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2239                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK requested  information on  how many  states                                                               
have  complied with  the .08  based on  the merit  that it  would                                                               
reduce drunk driving or because of the loss of federal funding.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. MORAN remarked that she thinks  it will be a combination, and                                                               
doesn't think  anyone would say,  "We only passed it  because the                                                               
[federal government]  said we had  to."   She added that  .08 has                                                               
been an ongoing  discussion, and she thinks  [the committee] will                                                               
find out  that most  states have  passed .08  on its  own merits,                                                               
because  people  think it's  a  good  idea,  and because  of  the                                                               
looming sanction.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK referred  to  a question  from the  Century                                                               
Council ".08  Event" in the  committee's packet that  read, "What                                                               
is the  stance on the  Century Council's  BAC estimator?   Do you                                                               
feel  it is  accurate?"   She  said MADD  and  the Department  of                                                               
Public Health  don't have a position  on the BAC estimator.   She                                                               
noted that  it goes on to  say, "We believe each  state must make                                                               
their  own  decision  on  the best  kind  of  public  information                                                               
education efforts for  their citizens."  They do  support a legal                                                               
BAC limit of  .08, she said, noting  that it goes on  to say, "We                                                               
encourage people to  designate a nondrinking driver  if they plan                                                               
to drink alcohol."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. MORAN said  the Century Council estimator is  basically a CD-                                                               
Rom  that provides  percentages and  how much  a person  needs to                                                               
drink  before he  or she  reaches a  certain percentage  based on                                                               
weight.   She added  that she  doesn't see it  as anything  but a                                                               
toy.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 2422                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KOHRING  addressed Mr.  Wortman  and  asked what  kind  of                                                               
compelling evidence  there is that  suggests a  direct connection                                                               
between lowering the incidence of  drunk driving and passing this                                                               
legislation.   In addition, he  asked whether the dollars  can be                                                               
directed to education and enforcement  as opposed to lowering the                                                               
[BAC level].   He  noted that there  was previous  testimony that                                                               
lowering  [the level]  to .08,  by  itself, may  not produce  any                                                               
concrete change  as far  as the  number of  people on  the roads,                                                               
because it is an issue that  has to work in tandem with education                                                               
and enforcement.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. WORTMAN  responded that  there is  no concrete  evidence that                                                               
lowering  the  blood  alcohol  level  by  itself  reduces  [drunk                                                               
driving]; it is a tie-in to other bills.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 01-27, SIDE B                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WORTMAN continued,  stating  that  as far  as  the money  is                                                               
concerned,  sooner or  later something  has  to be  done or  else                                                               
[Alaska] is  going to  lose key  highway funds.   He said  it was                                                               
stated earlier  that [Alaska] would receive  some incentive funds                                                               
for enacting this earlier, which  is something the committee will                                                               
have  to decide  on.   He reiterated  that this  is not  a fiscal                                                               
situation but a policy situation.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 2428                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KOHRING,  referring  to statistics  he  had,  stated  that                                                               
deaths attributed  to drunk driving incidents  were approximately                                                               
70,000 in the United States as a  whole 15 years ago, and are now                                                               
approximately  17,000.   He said  he  doesn't know  what that  is                                                               
attributed to; however, progress is being made.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK  commented  that  she  can  understand  the                                                               
intent;  however, she  thinks the  focus needs  to be  toward the                                                               
high-risk driver.   She noted that  the last page of  the Century                                                               
Council's ".08  Event" states, "It must  aggressively address the                                                               
hardcore drunk drivers."                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON stated:                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     My  feelings  are, where  are  we  going to  spend  the                                                                    
     money?  Obviously, we aren't  spending the money on the                                                                    
     education end  of it. ...  We aren't even  spending the                                                                    
     money  to educate  our kids  in school.  ... The  money                                                                    
     issue - it's  not whether we're going to  spend it here                                                                    
     or  we're going  to spend  it here,  because we  aren't                                                                    
     spending it at the other end.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     If this  saves one life,  it's probably been  worth it,                                                                    
     no matter  what it  costs.   Whether it's  blackmail or                                                                    
     whatever, the  fact is, that's what's  going to happen.                                                                    
     By us not putting this  into effect, I don't think it's                                                                    
     going  to affect  one hill  of beans  what the  federal                                                                    
     government  does.    They're  just  going  to  keep  on                                                                    
     trucking; they don't care whether  they have to give us                                                                    
     any money or  not.  So I  think we have to  look at the                                                                    
     facts.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON   asked  Chair  Kohring  whether   he  was                                                               
planning on moving the bill out today.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KOHRING  responded that  he didn't  have any  intention one                                                               
way or the other.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 2261                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SCALZI  said he  didn't see  any changes  he would                                                               
make to  the bill, and therefore  saw no advantage in  leaving it                                                               
in the committee.  He recommended moving HB 12 out of committee.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK   pointed  out   that  she   had  requested                                                               
information on a few topics.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KOHRING asked  Representative Scalzi  whether he  would be                                                               
amenable  to  holding the  bill  over  in  order to  receive  the                                                               
information.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SCALZI responded that  he was amenable to whatever                                                               
Chair Kohring and the committee would like to do.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
[HB 12 was held over.]                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Transportation Standing  Committee meeting was adjourned  at 2:41                                                               
p.m.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                

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