Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/22/1997 09:15 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                         MINUTES{PRIVATE }                                   
                     SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                
                           22 April 1997                                     
                             9:15 a.m.                                       
SFC-97, Tape 121, Sides A and B                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                              
Senator   Bert   Sharp,   Co-chair,   convened   the   meeting   at            
approximately 9:15 a.m.                                                        
In  addition   to  Co-chair  Sharp,  Senators   Pearce,  Torgerson,            
Phillips, Parnell, Donley, and Adams were present.                             
ALSO ATTENDING:                                                              
Representative  Alan  Austerman;  Jeff Bush,  Deputy  Commissioner,            
Department  of Commerce  and  Economic Development;  Krag  Johnsen,            
Staff,  Senator  Drue  Pearce; Juanita  Hensley,  Chief  of  Driver            
Services,    Division   Of    Motor   Vehicles,    Department    Of            
Administration;  Joe Ambrose,  Staff, Senator  Robin Taylor;  Elmer            
Lindstrom,  Special Assistant  to the  Commissioner, Department  of            
Health and  Social Services; Amy  Skilbred, Alaska Civil  Liberties            
Union;  Garrey  Peska,  Lobbyist,  Alaska  State   Hospital/Nursing            
Homes  (ASHNHA); Benjamin  Brown,  Staff, Senator  Tim Kelly;  Rupe            
Andrews,  Alaska  Association  of Retired  Persons;  Nancy  Weller,            
Division  of Medical Assistance,  Department  of Health and  Social            
Services; Don  Dapcevich, Executive  Director, Governor's  Advisory            
Board  on  Alcoholism  and  Drug  Abuse;   Loren  Jones,  Director,            
Division  of Alcoholism and  Drug Abuse,  Department of Health  and            
Social Services.                                                               
                    Tim Wilson, Executive Director, Alaska State               
VIA TELECONFERENCE:                                                          
Council on the Arts.                                                           
SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                        
SB 17     CRIMINAL TRANSMISSION OF HIV                                         
          SB 17 was REPORTED out of committee with "no                         
          recommendation" and three previously published fiscal                
          notes: ADM, LAW, and DPS.                                            
SB 58     MINOR CONSUMING ALCOHOL: PENALTY                                     
          SB  58  was  HEARD  and  HELD in  committee  for  further            
SB 96     REGULATION OF HOSPICE CARE                                           
          CSSB  96 (FIN) was REPORTED  out of committee with  a "do            
          pass"  recommendation  and  with a  previously  published            
          fiscal  note from  the  Department of  Health and  Social            
SB 149    HEALTH CARE FACILITY AUDITS & REPORTS                                
          SB  149 was REPORTED  out of committee  with a  "do pass"            
          recommendation  and  with  a  previously  published  zero            
          fiscal  note  by  the  Department of  Health  and  Social            
SB 153    SPECIALIZED LICENSE PLATES FOR ARTS                                  
          SB  153 was REPORTED  out of committee  with a  "do pass"            
          recommendation  and with  fiscal note  by the  Department            
          of Administration.                                                   
SB 177    INTL TRADE AND BUSINESS ENDOWMENT                                    
          SB  177   was  transmitted  to  the   Senate  Secretary's            
CSHB 208 (L&C)                                                                 
          ALASKA AEROSPACE DEVELOPMENT CORP. BOARD                             
          SCS CSHB  208 (FIN) was REPORTED out of  committee with a            
          "do  pass" recommendation and  a zero fiscal note,  House            
          Labor  &  Commerce  Committee/Department  of  Commerce  &            
          Economic Development, 4/9/97.                                        
SENATE BILL NO. 177                                                          
     "An Act relating to the international trade and business                  
     endowment; and providing for an effective date."                          
Senator Pearce observed that the  committee had reported out SB 177            
contingent  upon  receipt of  fiscal  notes  and letters  from  the            
University of  Alaska and the  Department of Commerce  and Economic            
Development.  She  observed  that  the  committee  had  received  a            
sponsor statement,  a letter  of support  from the commissioner  of            
the  Department  of  Commerce and  Economic  Development,  and  the            
appropriate  fiscal notes.  There  being no  OBJECTION,  it was  so            
SB 177 was transferred to the Senate Secretary's Office.                       
CS for House Bill 208 (L&C)                                                  
     "An Act relating to the board of directors of the Alaska                  
     Aerospace Development Corporation."                                       
208 (L&C). He explained that when  the Alaska Aerospace Development            
Corporation (AADC) was initiated,  board members were selected as a            
scientific team  to assure that aerospace development  was feasible            
in Alaska.  He commended  the work  of the board  and noted  that a            
number  of  businesses had  started  in  Fairbanks to  support  the            
infrastructure. He  felt it was  time to change the  composition of            
the  board by  taking  off scientific  people  and adding  business            
Representative  Austerman provided the  committee with  a breakdown            
of the proposed  changes. He detailed that there  were four members            
from  the   University  of  Alaska   on  the  current   board;  the            
legislation  would  reduce  the   number  to  two.  The  number  of            
aerospace  members  would  be increased  by  one  commercial  space            
member.  In addition,  a business-sector  state  resident would  be            
added. He noted that the only  other significant change in the bill            
was  a  provision  to  change  the chair  of  the  board  from  the            
president of the University of  Alaska to choosing the chairman and            
vice-chairman from the elected board.                                          
Senator Adams observed  that there would also be a  change from two            
to three out-of-state members.                                                 
Senator   Pearce   questioned  whether   the   industry   positions            
(subsection  5) could  be filled  in-state.  She expressed  concern            
with the change from two to three  "outside" members and questioned            
whether  the  sponsor  would  object to  an  amendment  that  would            
prevent the three  outside members on the board  from being elected            
chair  or  vice-chair   of  the  board.   Representative  Austerman            
responded  that he  would  not have  a  problem  with the  proposed            
amendment. He did  not know whether the industry  position could be            
filled in-state; he opined that it could not at the time.                      
Senator Torgerson  referred to the  $100 per day  reimbursement for            
meeting  expenses  (Section  3)  listed  in  the  fiscal  note.  He            
referred to historical costs and  thought that a fiscal note should            
reflect  the costs.  Representative  Austerman  explained that  the            
board met four times  each year and that much of  the work was done            
by teleconference.  The department  felt that  it could  absorb the            
increase in costs.  The $10,000 fiscal note originally  attached to            
the bill was zeroed out because  he believed they would not need to            
bring people to the state.                                                     
Senator Pearce queried the position of the administration.                     
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT,  spoke in support of the changes  made in the            
legislation.  He  referred to  a  letter that  recommended  further            
changes, including  decreasing membership  from outside  the state.            
The  administration  felt that  there  should be  two  out-of-state            
members  with  aerospace  experience  instead  of  three.  He  also            
suggested that public representation  be increased from one to two.            
He  observed  interest  by  the   community  of  Kodiak  for  local            
representation and  concluded that Alaskans could  have an interest            
in the  board appointments.  The department  also recommended  that            
the one university  member would be sufficient.  He emphasized that            
the  recommendations were  only  suggestions  for improvement,  and            
that in general the department approved of the provision.                      
Senator Pearce MOVED  to ADOPT conceptual Amendment  1, which would            
require the  board chair  and vice-chair  to be Alaskan  residents.            
There being NO OBJECTION, conceptual Amendment 1 was adopted.                  
Senator Pearce MOVED to ADOPT conceptual Amendment 2:                          
     Page 2, line 6:                                                           
     Delete "three" and insert "two"                                           
     Page 1, line 8:                                                           
     Delete "two" and insert "three"                                           
Senator Pearce  explained that there  would then be  three in-state            
business members with Alaskan marketing  experience and two members            
with aerospace industry expertise.  She observed that the executive            
director of the aerospace program  already had years of experience.            
She argued for further Alaskan business connections.                           
Representative Austerman did not object to the amendment.                      
There  being  NO  further OBJECTION,  conceptual  Amendment  2  was            
Senator Pearce MOVED to REPORT  SCS CSHB 208 (FIN) out of committee            
with individual  recommendations and the accompanying  fiscal note.            
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                   
SCS CSHB 208 (FIN)  was REPORTED out of committee  with a "do pass"            
recommendation  and a  zero fiscal  note,  House  Labor &  Commerce            
Committee/Department   of   Commerce  and   Economic   Development,            
Senate Bill 153                                                              
     "An Act relating to issuance of special license plates."                  
KRAG  JOHNSEN,  STAFF,   SENATOR  DRUE  PEARCE,  stated   that  the            
legislation  would create a  special license  plate to benefit  the            
Alaska Arts Council.  He noted that the cost of the  plate would be            
(via teleconference),  supported  the intent of  SB 153 to  provide            
another  revenue  source  for   the  council.  He  noted  that  the            
council's budget  had been cut 68  percent since FY 91.  The budget            
had reached  its peak of $6 million  in the early 1980s;  the state            
appropriation for the current fiscal year was $460,400.                        
Mr. Wilson stated  concerns about the fee structure  set out in the            
provision. He referred  to a similar license program  in California            
that had  generated $650,000 to  the California Arts Council  since            
1994. He pointed  out that the amount was not significant  in light            
of California's  arts  budget and  population.  He emphasized  that            
the cost  of a  personalized art  plate in California  was  $75 and            
$40  for  renewal,  compared  to  $30  for  a  regular  plate  ($15            
renewal). He recommended  charging less for the plate  and adding a            
renewal fee.  The typical  specialty plate in  Alaska sold  for $30            
to $50. He recommended  charging $50 per plate to  generate greater            
Co-chair  Sharp queried the  number of  specialty plates  available            
in Alaska.                                                                     
VEHICLES, DEPARTMENT  OF ADMINISTRATION, replied that  there were a            
number  of  special  license  plates   offered  by  the  state;  in            
addition  to plates  for  veterans  and handicapped  plates,  there            
were  license   plates  for  collector   cars,  dog  mushers,   the            
university, and others.  She explained that the state  had to order            
a minimum of 900 of each specialty plate.                                      
Co-chair  Sharp  questioned  how  many types  of  specialty  plates            
exceeded  the 900  minimum  order. Ms.  Hensley  listed the  plates            
that were  popular,  including the  veterans plates;  the 900  sets            
had  not been  sold for  many of  the specialty  plates. She  added            
that new specialty  plates did not  have to be purchased  each year            
but were kept in inventory.                                                    
Co-chair Sharp noted the cost of $17,700 for an order of plates.               
Senator Adams queried  the loss of state revenue for  reduced costs            
to charitable  organizations  and suggested  further definition  of            
"charitable."  He  provided  members  with  a  list  of  charitable            
organizations  that  he felt  should not  fall  into the  category,            
such   as    electrical,   telephone,    ski,   and    construction            
associations.   Ms. Hensley calculated  that the division  had lost            
$1.6 million in reduced costs for charitable organizations.                    
Senator  Pearce   agreed  with   Senator  Adams  that   "charitable            
organization"   should   be    redefined   in   statute   so   that            
organizations   such  as  cooperatives   would  not  qualify.   She            
referred to related work done pertaining to gaming permits.                    
Senator  Parnell  observed  that municipalities  were  included  in            
Senator  Adams' list  and questioned  whether unincorporated  areas            
would also be included.  Ms. Hensley replied that  any extension of            
a   government  agency   would   be  included,   including   school            
districts.  School  bus  contractors  would not  be  exempted.  She            
clarified   that   electric   and   telephone   associations   were            
considered charitable  organizations because they  were non-profit.            
Co-chair Sharp expressed  support for retaining municipalities  but            
suggested  removing  other  non-profits  that could  recoup  costs,            
such as the electric cooperatives.                                             
Senator  Phillips   referred  to   the  classification   number  of            
historical vehicles.                                                           
Senator  Pearce  MOVED  to REPORT  SB  153 out  of  committee  with            
individual  recommendations   and  the  accompanying  fiscal  note.            
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                   
SB  153   was  REPORTED   out  of  committee   with  a  "do   pass"            
recommendation   and  with  fiscal   note  by  the  Department   of            
Senate Bill 17                                                               
     "An Act creating  the crime of criminal transmission  of human            
     immunodeficiency virus (HIV)."                                            
following Sponsor Statement into the record:                                   
     Senate  Bill  17  was introduced   with the  goal  of  putting            
     Alaska  in a  pro-active  position when  it  comes to  dealing            
     with  individuals who  knowingly place others  at risk  of HIV            
     infection.  SB 17 is  intended to be  preventative as  well as            
     punitive  and is  intended to  render a  criminal rather  than            
     moral  judgment. As  of December  31, 1996,  369 Alaskans  had            
     been confirmed  to have AIDS.  That's since tracking  began in            
     1982.  Of  these  cases,  194  are known  to  have  died.  The            
     Epidemiology   section  of  the  Division  of   Public  Health            
     reports  that  as  of December  31,  1996,  640  Alaskans  had            
     tested  positive  for HIV  infection. That  number  represents            
     only  those  who have  voluntarily  tested through  the  State            
     Section of Laboratories.                                                  
     The  statistics  show  that  HIV/AIDS affects  both  male  and            
     female, across  all age groups and without respect  to race or            
     residence.  The sad  fact  is that  the rate  of infection  in            
     Alaska  is increasing.  If someone intentionally  sets  out to            
     kill  another person by  infecting them  with the AIDS  virus,            
     they  can be  charged  under state  law with  attempted  first            
     degree  murder. But, what  do we do  with the person  who does            
     not  "intend"  to  kill,   but  who  still  places  others  in            
     jeopardy?  In 1990,  the  Attorney General's  office  reviewed            
     that  question and  suggested that  "it might  be possible  to            
     prosecute  the person  for reckless endangerment."  That  is a            
     class  A  misdemeanor   prohibiting  reckless   conduct  which            
     creates  a  "substantial  risk of  serious  physical  injury."            
     Most  people  would  equate  becoming  infected  with  HIV  as            
     something  more than  a "serious  injury." Twenty-seven  other            
     states  have seen  fit  to adopt  specific  laws dealing  with            
     criminal  penalties  for knowingly  transmitting  or  exposing            
     another  to  HIV  infection.  It would  only  be  prudent  for            
     Alaska  to have such a  statute on the  books. SB 17  is brief            
     and  to   the  point.  It   creates  the  crime   of  criminal            
     transmission  of HIV and covers  actions and conduct  known to            
     transmit  the disease. The  bill also provides an  affirmative            
     defense  when the  person exposed  knows  beforehand that  the            
     action could result in infection.                                         
     The  bill  also  provides  a  provision   excluding  perinatal            
     transmission  of the virus  and to  assure that an  individual            
     is  not  prosecuted  for an  involuntary  act.  SB 17  is  not            
     intended  to  punish those  who  have  contracted  HIV. It  is            
     intended to  protect others who may be unknowingly  exposed to            
     the   virus   by   what   should   be  a   criminal   act   of            
Mr.  Ambrose  informed  the  committee  that  an  Illinois  statute            
(adopted in  1989) was used almost  verbatim in drafting  SB 17. He            
noted  that the  Illinois  statute was  included  in the  committee            
packet as  well as  a summary of  the laws  passed in other  states            
and two court  rulings on the Illinois  law. On April 6,  1994, the            
Illinois  Supreme  Court held  that  the  statute did  not  violate            
state  or federal  constitutional  protections for  free speech  or            
for free association  and was not unconstitutionally  vague. In its            
ruling, the supreme court of Illinois stated:                                  
     Vagueness,  like beauty,  may be in the  eye of the  beholder.            
     However,  we read  the statute  to be  sufficiently clear  and            
     explicit, so  that a person of ordinary intelligence  need not            
     guess  at  its  meaning  or  application.   It  also  provides            
     sufficiently  definite standards for law enforcement  officers            
     and triers of fact, so that its application need not depend               
     merely on their private conceptions.                                      
Mr.  Ambrose  continued that  the  Illinois  court, in  a  separate            
case,  also ruled  that  the Illinois  statute  was  not vague.  He            
noted  opinion  that  adoption  of  the  statute  would  discourage            
HIV/AIDS testing  in Alaska; in  Illinois, the Illinois  Department            
of Health  reported that  after the  law was on  the books  for six            
years,  testing for  HIV/AIDS  had  increased. The  current  year's            
decrease  in  public  testing  was  attributed   to  the  increased            
availability  of  testing in  the  private sector  as  well as  the            
availability of home testing.                                                  
Senator  Adams agreed with  health providers  that the  legislation            
would  deter  people  from  getting  tested,  especially  in  rural            
Alaska,  and  would  have  a  negative  impact  on  prevention.  He            
maintained that the  burden of proof was being shifted  in the bill            
to the  defendant. Mr.  Ambrose disagreed  and  pointed out  that a            
person  would  have  to  "knowingly"   transmit  the  disease;  the            
affirmative defense  would be if they had advised  the other person            
Senator Adams wanted  an opinion from the Department  of Law on the            
DEPARTMENT  OF HEALTH AND  SOCIAL SERVICES,  summarized that  SB 17            
would criminalize  an individual knowingly exposing  another to HIV            
   1. Voluntarily engaging in intimate sexual or other physical                
      contact which could result in infection;                                 
   2. Transferring, donating, or providing blood, tissue, semen,               
      organs, or other potentially infectious bodily fluids for                
      transfusion, transplantation, insemination or other                      
      administration to another; or                                            
   3. Dispensing, delivering, exchanging, selling, or in any                   
      manner transferring to another non-sterile, intravenous,                 
      or intramuscular drug paraphernalia.                                     
Mr. Lindstrom  asserted that the  legislation could interfere  with            
public health  interventions that have  been shown to  be effective            
in  preventing  the spread  of  HIV. The  interventions  have  been            
based on  encouraging individuals  to seek  testing, receive  early            
medical  diagnosis and  treatment, receive  on-going education  and            
supportive   services  to   reduce  high-risk   behavior,  and   to            
participate  cooperatively in  partner-notification activities.  He            
maintained that  criminalization of  consensual sexual  conduct and            
introduction  of additional  criminal  penalties  for illicit  drug            
use activities relative  to a person's knowledge of  his or her HIV            
status could prevent individuals from seeking medical support.                 
[SFC-97, Tape 121, Side B]                                                     
Mr.  Lindstrom  observed  that   current  programs  were  based  on            
voluntary   and  confidential   identification   of  partners   and            
notification  of  partners.  He  maintained  that  the  legislation            
could  reduce participation  because  of  fear of  prosecution.  As            
written, he believed  SB 17 could create criminal  liability for an            
HIV-positive  person who did many  things without first  disclosing            
their HIV  status and  getting consent.  For example, people  could            
be  come  criminals  who  coach sports  or  work  in  health  care,            
emergency  response,  firefighting,  childcare, or  participate  in            
other  activities in  which bodily  fluids could  be exchanged.  He            
pointed  out that  there were  new techniques  to  reduce risk.  He            
believed  the  willingness   to  be  tested  was  at  the  core  of            
controlling HIV.                                                               
Senator   Parnell    queried   statistical   correlation    between            
implementation  of  the  law in  other  states  and a  decrease  in            
testing. Mr. Lindstrom  was not aware of any information  regarding            
a downward  trend,  but observed  that testing  through the  public            
sector   had  decreased   in  Illinois.  He   suggested  that   the            
legislation would encourage in-home and confidential testing.                  
Mr.  Lindstrom   opined  that  part   of  the  confusion   was  the            
difference between  transmission and  exposure. He pointed  to page            
1,  line   7  of  the   bill,  which   referred  to  the   criminal            
transmission  of  HIV  and  the  behaviors  that  could  result  in            
transmission.  He argued that  in the majority  of instances  where            
the  behaviors could  occur,  the  likelihood of  transmission  was            
small.  He  thought   the  bill  would  be  more   accurate  if  it            
criminalized potential  exposure of HIV, rather than  transmission.            
He observed  that the  chance of  transmittal for  one instance  of            
sexual intercourse was low.                                                    
Senator  Parnell   pointed  out  that  public  testing   originally            
increased  in Illinois after  implementation of  the law.  He asked            
whether the department  had looked at the response  in other states            
with similar  laws. Mr. Lindstrom  did not know and offered  to get            
the information.                                                               
Senator  Phillips queried  existing  statute  related to  knowingly            
transmitting  other diseases. Mr.  Lindstrom responded that  he was            
not  aware of  other statutes.  He  noted department  concern  with            
criminalizing  any  infectious  disease,  which he  maintained  was            
inconsistent  with effective  public health  practice. He  asserted            
that there was no  scientific basis for criminalizing  HIV exposure            
and that other  infectious agents  (such as hepatitis B  or C) were            
more  likely  to  cause  infection  after  exposure  and  to  cause            
serious  illness.  He  argued  that   there  were  many  infectious            
diseases,  many  of  which  were  more   infections  than  HIV.  He            
emphasized  that  the state  did  not criminalize  transmission  of            
other diseases.                                                                
Senator Adams  suggested that  current statutes regarding  reckless            
endangerment  and  assault  in the  first  degree would  cover  the            
intent of the legislation.                                                     
ACLU was  opposed to SB  17 on constitutional  grounds and  because            
of  the  adverse  effects  on  the  state's  public  health  system            
efforts  to combat  the spread  of HIV  through voluntary  testing,            
counseling, partner  notification, and prevention  case management.            
She maintained that  HIV infection was a public health  problem and            
not  a   criminal  problem.   She  believed   individuals   with  a            
transmittable   disease  (HIV,   tuberculosis,   Hepatitis  B,   or            
Hepatitis  C) should  be encouraged  to be tested,  and those  with            
positive  test results  should  be educated  to  understand how  to            
avoid infecting others and to use appropriate precautions.                     
Ms.  Skilbred argued  that SB  17 was  likely  to reduce  voluntary            
testing,  education,  and  case  management  of  HIV  cases,  which            
typically  accompanied being  tested and  learning results.  People            
would not  want to be tested (especially  by a public  institution)            
if the  result of  a voluntary  medical test  for HIV could  become            
the prosecution's  lynchpin  in a criminal  case against them.  She            
stressed  that  Alaska  law already  addressed  those  cases  where            
someone   intentionally  or   recklessly   transmitted  HIV   under            
criminal  and assault  laws; other  states  had successfully  tried            
the cases under fear  of imminent personal injury,  felony assault,            
assault  with  a  deadly  instrument,  reckless  endangerment,  and            
serious  bodily harm.  She maintained  that adding  the statute  to            
existing   Alaskan  law   would   not  provide   prosecutors   with            
additional  tools.  She  noted  that the  fiscal  notes  were  zero            
because  relevant individuals  would  already  be prosecuted  under            
existing law.                                                                  
Senator Donley  commented that  the position  of the ACLU  would be            
stronger if  it also advocated  for protection of Second  Amendment            
Co-chair Sharp  queried the penalty  for a Class B felony.  Senator            
Donley replied zero to five years.                                             
Senator Donley MOVED to ADOPT a conceptual amendment:                          
     Line 9:                                                                   
     Add "unprotected" after "voluntary" and add "unprotected"                 
     before "intimate contact" in the definitions                              
     Line 13:                                                                  
     Add "and no protective devise was used"                                   
Mr. Ambrose  referred to prior  discussion regarding the  issue and            
argued  against the  amendment. He  maintained that  the thrust  of            
the bill was  that an individual  needed to make someone  they were            
potentially exposing  aware of the infection. He observed  that the            
amendment would  add another element  that would have to  be proven            
in a  criminal case.  He noted  that condoms  break and the  person            
being exposed needed  to know that they had the potential  of being            
infected.  He maintained  that  the  department had  testified  the            
previous year  that most of  the cases in  the state resulted  from            
consensual  sex; the question  was whether  the consent would  have            
been given  if the individual was  informed upfront. The  amendment            
would criminalize the act, not the disease.                                    
In response to a  question by Senator Phillips, Mr.  Ambrose stated            
that he  did not  know of  any laws  currently in  place in  Alaska            
that prohibited  a person  from transferring  any other  infectious            
disease. He  added that a person  in Alaska with an active  case of            
tuberculosis  could be  involuntarily detained,  but the  detention            
was a civil action, not a criminal one.                                        
Senator  Phillips expressed  concerns. Mr.  Ambrose responded  that            
the  concern  related  to  the  consequences   of  contracting  the            
disease;  hepatitis cases  could be  fatal, but  could be  treated,            
while HIV was deadly.                                                          
Senator  Pearce  MOVED  to  REPORT  SB 17  out  of  committee  with            
individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal note.                   
An OBJECTION was MAINTAINED.                                                   
A roll call vote was taken on the motion.                                      
IN FAVOR: Pearce, Donley, Phillips, Torgerson, Sharp                           
OPPOSED: Adams                                                                 
The MOTION PASSED (5-1).                                                       
SB 17  was REPORTED out of  Committee with "no  recommendation" and            
three previously published fiscal notes: ADM, LAW, and DPS.                    
Senate Bill 149                                                              
     "An Act relating to reports and audits concerning health                  
     care facilities; and providing for an effective date."                    
Co-chair Sharp  noted that action needed  to be taken on  SB 149 in            
the current year.                                                              
(ASHNHA), testified  in support of  the legislation. He  noted that            
the  purpose of  the bill  was to  clarify in  Alaska statute  that            
Medicaid audits  of hospitals  and nursing homes  could be  used in            
the  rate-setting  process.  He  observed  that  legal  issues  had            
raised  the question  of whether  or not Medicaid  audits could  be            
used  to  set  hospital   rates  for  Medicaid  reimbursement.   He            
emphasized that  ASHNHA believed the  audits were necessary  to set            
rates and that federal  law required that the state  perform audits            
of hospitals  for  Medicaid purposes,  and emphasized  that SB  149            
was necessary to  allow the process to work properly.  He clarified            
that the  Department of  Health and Social  Services sponsored  the            
Senator  Adams  MOVED  to  REPORT  SB 149  out  of  committee  with            
individual  recommendations   and  the  accompanying  fiscal  note.            
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                   
SB  149   was  REPORTED   out  of  committee   with  a  "do   pass"            
recommendation  and with  a previously published  zero fiscal  note            
by the Department of Health and Social Services.                               
Senate Bill 96                                                               
     "An Act regulating hospice care."                                         
BENJAMIN BROWN, STAFF,  SENATOR TIM KELLY, spoke in  support of the            
legislation.  He observed  that the legislation  was introduced  by            
the Senate  Rules Committee in response  to a request  from Hospice            
of Anchorage.  Mr. Brown  noted that  the legislation  would  add a            
new chapter  to Title  18 of  Alaska Statutes  and would allow  the            
Department of  Health and Social  Services to regulate  and license            
hospice  programs; currently,  there were  no federal  requirements            
for  hospice programs.  He added  that  there were  40 states  that            
licensed hospice programs.                                                     
Mr.  Brown  detailed  that  the  need  for  hospice  licensing  was            
brought  to  Senator  Kelly's  attention  as  chair  of  the  Rules            
Committee by  a constituent on the  board of Hospice of  Anchorage,            
the largest  and  most formally  organized hospice  program in  the            
state.  Other hospice  programs  around the  state  were either  in            
support of  the bill or  not in objection.  He emphasized  that the            
advantage  of  licensing  hospice   programs  before  any  problems            
occurred  was  illustrated  by the  licensing  of  assisted  living            
homes; prior to licensing,  there had been an abusive  situation in            
Mr. Brown  informed the  committee that  Article 1 would  establish            
parameters  for   licensing  hospice  programs  that   were  formal            
businesses.  Article  2 would  establish  standards  for  volunteer            
hospice  programs. Article  3 would  define terms  in the bill  and            
provide penalties for violations of the statute.                               
In response  to a  question by  Senator Adams,  Mr. Brown  observed            
that the sponsor  and hospice programs supported an  amendment that            
would grant  limited immunity  to volunteers  working in  volunteer            
Senator  Pearce  MOVED to  ADOPT  Amendment  1, which  would  grant            
limited immunity to volunteers working in volunteer programs.                  
in  support  of the  legislation.  He stressed  the  importance  of            
hospice organization and standards.                                            
Mr.  Brown clarified  that  the legislation  was  supported by  the            
Alaska  State  Hospital/Nursing   Homes  Association  (ASHNHA).  He            
noted  that part  of the  potential problem  of  hospice not  being            
regulated was  presented by the growth  of managed care  and by the            
provision of hospice  programs within existing medical  facilities;            
a  large,  medical,  for-profit  institution  trying to  cut  costs            
could  offer a program  called  hospice that  consisted of  nothing            
but pain management.                                                           
HEALTH AND  SOCIAL SERVICES,  noted that  the department  supported            
the bill and the amendment.                                                    
There being NO OBJECTION, Amendment 1 was adopted.                             
Senate Adams  MOVED to REPORT CSSB  96 (FIN) out of committee  with            
individual  recommendations   and  the  accompanying  fiscal  note.            
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                   
CSSB  96 (FIN)  was REPORTED  out  of committee  with  a "do  pass"            
recommendation  and with  a previously published  fiscal note  from            
the Department of Health and Social Services.                                  
Senate Bill 58                                                               
     "An Act  relating to the privilege  to drive of minors  and to            
     the  penalty for the  consumption or  possession of  alcoholic            
     beverages by persons under 21 years of age."                              
JOE  AMBROSE,  STAFF,  SENATOR ROBIN  TAYLOR,  read  the  following            
Sponsor Statement into the record:                                             
     In  1995, the  Legislature  passed, and  the Governor  signed,            
     Senate  Bill 46.  The bill  moved underage  drinking  offenses            
     out of the juvenile  justice system and into  adult court. The            
     new  law  also   changed  minor  consuming  from   a  class  A            
     misdemeanor  to that of  a violation with  a fine of  not less            
     than   $100.  Senate   Bill   46  was   intended  to   toughen            
     enforcement   of  underage  drinking   laws  by  getting   the            
     offenders  and their  parents or guardians  into adult  court.            
     Two  problems have  arisen since  the passage  of SB 46  which            
     require  that  the  issue be  revisited.  Parents  in  several            
     communities  have complained  that the new  law is not  having            
     the  intended  effect.  The $100  fine  seems to  have  little            
     impact  on young  people  who receive  $1000+ in  the form  of            
     permanent fund dividend payments each year.                               
     And,  District Court  Judge  Patricia Collins  has ruled  that            
     minors charged  under the MCA  statute are entitled  to a jury            
     trial and  a public defender,  if they qualify, because  their            
     driver's licenses  are subject to revocation  upon conviction.            
     The Court of  Appeals upheld that ruling on December  6, 1996.            
     Senate  Bill 58  seeks to  restore legislative  intent to  the            
     process.  It would make minor  consuming a violation,  subject            
     to  a fine of  $250 on  the first offense.  The offense  would            
     revert  to  class B  misdemeanor  status  for the  second  and            
     subsequent offenses.  Senate Bill 58 would also  divorce minor            
     consuming from  penalties against driver's licenses,  at least            
     as  far  as  the courts  are  concerned.  Minors  who  consume            
     alcohol    would   still   lose    their   licenses    through            
     administrative  action  under the  "Use It and  Lose It"  law,            
     but  it would  no  longer be  a court  action.  The $250  fine            
     imposed  by  SB 58  would  also strengthen  the  message  that            
     underage  drinking is  against  the law,  while falling  below            
     the   threshold  of   fines  which   establish  a   "criminal"            
     prosecution.  More  importantly,   the  increased  fine  would            
     allow the establishment  of a screening and referral  program.            
     The  Senate   HESS  version   would  reduce  the   second  and            
     subsequent  offenses  to class  B misdemeanor  status if  they            
     occur  within two years  of the first  offense. That  two-year            
     window   will  give  ample   opportunity  to  target   problem            
     drinkers.  It should also  serve to  reduce the fiscal  impact            
     projected   by  the   Public  Defender   Agency.  The   second            
     provision  adopted  in  Senate   HESS  would  incorporate  the            
     "Junior"  Alcohol Safety  Action Program  suggested in  Senate            
     Bill  71. It would  allow the Legislature  to appropriate  the            
     $250  fines imposed  by SB 58  to pay for  this screening  and            
     referral program.                                                         
Mr. Ambrose  questioned the validity  of the fiscal notes,  stating            
that both  the Department  of Law  and the  Public Defender  Agency            
had submitted  fairly substantial  fiscal  notes that assumed  that            
1,200 of  annual minor consuming  cases would be repeat  offenders.            
Both agencies  acknowledged that only  about 60 of the  cases would            
go to  trial. He questioned  the assumption  that all 1,200  of the            
repeat  offenders   would  reoffend  within  the   two-year  window            
provided by the bill.  He questioned the assumption  that all 1,200            
would qualify  for a  public defender,  and asked  how many  of the            
repeat  offenders  would be  between  the  ages of  18  and 21  and            
gainfully  employed. He asserted  that combined,  the fiscal  notes            
assumed  a $416,000  cost  to  handle 1,200  misdemeanor  cases  in            
Alaska and take 60 of them to trial.                                           
In response  to a question by  Senator Adams, Mr. Ambrose  observed            
that  the second  offense would  be a  misdemeanor  if it  occurred            
within the two-year window.                                                    
Co-chair  Sharp  noted  that  different   departments  were  making            
widely different assumptions, as reflected in the fiscal notes.                
BOARD  ON  ALCOHOLISM  AND  DRUG  ABUSE,   stated  that  the  board            
strongly endorsed  SB 58. The board was particularly  interested in            
the youth  assessment  and referral  process in  the provision.  He            
noted  that in  the prior  year  in Alaska,  there  had been  about            
4,000  incidents  of  minor  consuming;   only  400  of  the  youth            
received  an assessment,  education,  or treatment.  Nearly all  of            
the 400 were  Juneau residents. He  observed that as a  director of            
similar  services in Juneau,  he was  able to  set up a  successful            
youth   assessment  and   referral  process   independent  of   any            
regulatory system.                                                             
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH  AND SOCIAL SERVICES, spoke in  support of the            
legislation.  He noted that  the bill would  transfer the  approval            
process  for  alcohol  information  schools from  the  Division  of            
Motor Vehicles  to the  Division of Alcoholism  and Drug  Abuse and            
allow for  quality assurance  for alcohol  information schools.  He            
stressed  that  the  provision would  be  especially  critical  for            
young people,  as the schools were  currently geared towards  adult            
drunk  drivers.   The  division   felt  that   a  curriculum   more            
accessible to young people needed to be established.                           
Mr. Jones  added that  the bill  would allow  the division  to make            
significant improvements  for adult  drunk drivers as well,  and to            
work with  community-based and  locally-organized programs  to both            
assess  and refer youth  who lost  driver's licenses  due to  minor            
consuming  or minor in  possession. He hoped  the number  of repeat            
offenders  would be  lessened.  He noted  that  the division  would            
target repeat offenders.                                                       
Senator Sharp  queried the  fiscal notes.  Mr. Jones observed  that            
there  were  two  fiscal  notes  because  they  addressed  separate            
components in  the department's  budget. He further explained  that            
the  $400,000 fiscal  note  would  fund a  grant program  within  a            
statutory-authorized   prevention  program   and  establish   youth            
assessment as one  of the functions that could be  funded under the            
program.  The $100,000  fiscal note  would establish  staff in  the            
division's   administrative  component   to  set  the   curriculum,            
monitor the alcohol information school, and work with the                      
communities to develop the youth-assessment program.                           
Senator Sharp expressed concern regarding the cost of the fiscal               
SB 58 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further consideration.               
The meeting was adjourned at 10:40.                                            

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