Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/16/2004 09:09 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                              MINUTES                                                                                         
                     SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                 
                          April 16, 2004                                                                                      
                              9:09 AM                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TAPES                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SFC-04 # 84, Side A                                                                                                             
SFC 04 # 84, Side B                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                              
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Con Bunde convened  the meeting at approximately 9:09 AM.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Con Bunde, Vice Chair                                                                                                   
Senator Ben Stevens                                                                                                             
Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                                                                           
Senator Donny Olson                                                                                                             
Senator Fred Dyson                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Also Attending:   JANE ALBERTS, Staff to Senator Bunde;  TOM BOUTIN,                                                          
Deputy Commissioner, Department  of Revenue; RACHEL LEWIS, Unclaimed                                                            
Property Administrator,  Treasury  Division, Department of  Revenue;                                                            
CINDY  CASHEN, victim  of  drunk driving,  and  Executive  Director,                                                            
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Juneau Chapter;                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Attending  via  Teleconference:    From an  offnet  location:  PATTY                                                          
OLMSTEAD,   certified  speech   language   pathologist  and   Alaska                                                            
resident; From  Anchorage: NANCY LOVERING, President,  Alaska Speech                                                            
and  Hearing  Association,  and  speech  language   pathologists  in                                                            
private practice; MARY  ELLEN BEARDSLEY, Assistant Attorney General,                                                            
Commercial/Fair  Business  Section,  Civil Division,  Department  of                                                            
Law; From Mat-Su:  LAURA YOUNG CAMPBELL,  Alaska Speech and  Hearing                                                            
Association, and licensed  speech language pathologist in the Mat-Su                                                            
school system;                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY INFORMATION                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SB 365-SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST ASSISTANTS                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
The Committee  heard  from the  sponsor and  speech pathologists.  A                                                            
committee  substitute was  adopted and  the bill  was reported  from                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SB 231-DECREASE TIME TO CLAIM UNCLAIMED PROPERTY                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
The  Committee  heard  from  the  Department   of  Revenue  and  the                                                            
Department  of Law. An amendment  was considered  but no action  was                                                            
taken. The bill was held in Committee.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SB 170-CRIMINAL LAW/SENTENCING/ PROBATION/PAROLE                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
The  Committee  heard from  the  Department  of  Law. The  bill  was                                                            
reported from Committee.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     SENATE BILL NO. 365                                                                                                        
     "An Act relating to the regulation of speech-language                                                                      
     pathologist assistants; and providing for an effective date."                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
JANE ALBERTS,  Staff to  Senator Bunde, testified  the Senate  Labor                                                            
and Commerce  Committee  sponsored this  bill on  behalf of  Alaskan                                                            
speech  pathologists.   She  told  about  the  current  shortage  of                                                            
qualified  speech language  pathologists in  Alaska. This bill,  she                                                            
stated  would  provide  for  credentials  and  authority  to  speech                                                            
language  pathologist assistants  to administer  specific  services.                                                            
She  defined  speech  language  pathologist   assistants  as  having                                                            
completed  certain  coursework  and  clinical  training,  and  could                                                            
perform  tasks  prescribed,  directed  and  supervised  by  licensed                                                            
certified  speech language  pathologists. She  gave examples  of the                                                            
duties   the  assistants   would  undertake,   including   preparing                                                            
materials  and  performing  clerical  duties  associated  with  case                                                            
management.  She stressed the assistant  is not intended  to replace                                                            
the  pathologists  but  rather  extend  services.  She  reported  on                                                            
significant changes in  recent years in the field of speech language                                                            
pathology  in the manner  in which services  are delivered,  such as                                                            
health care finance  reform, public school workloads,  technological                                                            
advances   and  expanded   scope   of  practices.   She  noted   the                                                            
pathologists  are  licensed  though   Department  of  Community  and                                                            
Economic Development.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Alberts stated  this  bill  would mandate  that  assistants  be                                                            
regulated  and  supervised  to  ensure  the  consumer  is  receiving                                                            
appropriate speech language services.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Alberts  predicted this program  would increase availability  of                                                            
services  while maintaining  quality. She  pointed out this  program                                                            
may  be the  only  way that  services  could  be received  in  rural                                                            
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde asked how one would become an assistant.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Alberts  told   of  the  training  program  underway   and  the                                                            
approximate  30 students enrolled.  She expressed intent  that these                                                            
assistants would be utilized in rural communities.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  clarified that the  University operates the  training                                                            
program and supports this legislation.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Alberts affirmed.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson  asked the number of  speech language pathologists  in                                                            
the State and the number of assistants that would be employed.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Alberts deferred.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde  pointed  out  that  assistants   are  not  currently                                                            
licensed and recognized.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde  disclosed   he  had  worked  as  a  speech  language                                                            
pathologist,  although   he  has  no  intention  to  return  to  the                                                            
profession.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PATTY OLMSTEAD,  certified  speech language  pathologist and  Alaska                                                            
resident, testified via  teleconference from an offnet location from                                                            
the American  Speech  Language Hearing  Office in  Washington  DC in                                                            
support  of   this  bill.  She  informed   that  approximately   235                                                            
audiologist  and speech  language pathologists  practice in  Alaska,                                                            
primarily  in schools located  in larger  communities. She  spoke to                                                            
the benefits  of providing  education  to Alaskans  to perform  this                                                            
work.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson  asked the prerequisites  for the assistance-training                                                             
program.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Olmstead replied  that the majority of students  in the training                                                            
program have  at least a  high school education,  and that  most are                                                            
studying for an Associates of Arts degree.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator   Olson  asked  how   this  compares   to  the  educational                                                             
prerequisites for speech language pathologists.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Olmstead  answered   that  speech  language  pathologists   are                                                            
required to have  a Bachelors degree, a Masters degree  and one-year                                                            
clinical fellowship.  She furthered  that a national examination  is                                                            
required to become certified.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
NANCY LOVERING,  President, Alaska  Speech and Hearing Association,                                                             
and speech language  pathologist in private practice,  testified via                                                            
teleconference  from  Anchorage that  most  of the  students in  the                                                            
Associates of Arts degree  speech language assistance program attend                                                            
Prince William Sound Community  College or the University of Alaska-                                                            
Anchorage.  While the assistance would  not qualify as replacements                                                             
for  speech language  pathologists,  she  noted the  position  would                                                            
supplement  the  efforts  of the  pathologists.  She  surmised  that                                                            
clients would advance further with the aid of the assistants.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LAURA YOUNG  CAMPBELL, Alaska  Speech and  Hearing Association,  and                                                            
licensed speech  language pathologist  in the Mat-Su school  system,                                                            
testified via teleconference  from Mat-Su about the largest need for                                                            
speech therapy  services in schools,  especially given the  shortage                                                            
of teachers. She  stated the assistant program would  allow for more                                                            
individualized  treatment  for  students using  programs  she, as  a                                                            
pathologist  develops. She  furthered that  use of assistance  would                                                            
provide  her  more  time  to  complete  paperwork,   including  that                                                            
required  for the federal  No Child Left  Behind program. She  noted                                                            
this bill outlines  the supervision  that assistants would  receive.                                                            
She spoke  to  the positive  impacts on  students  able to  complete                                                            
their treatment  plan in a shorter period of time,  which would also                                                            
cost less to implement.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator  B.  Stevens  offered  a motion  to  report  the  bill  from                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator B. Stevens removed his motion.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator  B. Stevens  moved  to adopt  CS SB  365,  23-LS0540\Q as  a                                                            
working document.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Without objection the committee substitute was ADOPTED.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator B. Stevens offered a motion to report CS SB 365, 23-                                                                    
LS0540\Q  from   Committee  with   individual  recommendations   and                                                            
accompanying fiscal note.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
There was  no objection  and CS  SB 365 (FIN)  MOVED from  Committee                                                            
with fiscal  note #1 for $800 from  the Department of Community  and                                                            
Economic Development.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 231(STA)                                                                                            
     "An Act relating to unclaimed property; and providing for an                                                               
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
TOM BOUTIN,  Deputy Commissioner,  Department of Revenue,  testified                                                            
this bill would change  the Alaska Uniform Unclaimed Property Act to                                                            
generally  comply with  other regulations  in  the nation  governing                                                            
unclaimed property.  He specified that this bill would  shorten time                                                            
periods  after  which  ownership  of  unclaimed  property  would  be                                                            
transferred to the State.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
RACHEL LEWIS,  Unclaimed Property Administrator, Treasury  Division,                                                            
Department  of  Revenue,  testified   this  bill  would  reduce  the                                                            
"dormancy periods"  of unclaimed property.  She overviewed  that the                                                            
amount of  time before  which unclaimed property  would transfer  to                                                            
State ownership  would change from either five years  to three years                                                            
or seven years  to five years. She  surmised this legislation  would                                                            
improve chances of locating  the owners of unclaimed property, would                                                            
permit  businesses  to remove  the liabilities  from  accounts,  and                                                            
would transfer  unclaimed property to the State general  fund sooner                                                            
"where it could  be used for everyone  in the state of Alaska."  She                                                            
qualified   this   legislation   does   not   specifically   address                                                            
demutualization,  which is a new practice  began the release  of the                                                            
Uniform Law Commissioners  Draft of 1995, which this  legislation is                                                            
based upon.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde  asked for further definition  of the demutualization                                                             
matter.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lewis deferred to industry representatives.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson asked the  percentage of  property currently  claimed                                                            
after the third year and before five to seven years.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lewis replied  the incidence of  claims is greatly reduced  over                                                            
time. She  predicted an increase  of claimed  property in the  first                                                            
two years due to the compressed timeframe.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator Hoffman  asked what additional measures would  be undertaken                                                            
to identify, locate and notify owners of unclaimed property.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Lewis  replied  that currently  the  Division  is  required  to                                                            
advertise  in newspapers  unclaimed property  notices annually.  She                                                            
stated  this is expensive,  and that  the Division  has found  other                                                            
more  cost-effective  methods,  including  maintaining  an  Internet                                                            
website, national  television programs  and commercials,  and booths                                                            
at  conferences  and fairs.  She  stressed  that funding  for  these                                                            
efforts is limited  to the $30,000 budget and that  this legislation                                                            
would  allow  the  Division  to  identify  and  implement  the  most                                                            
efficient and successful methods.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Hoffman  asked if the Internet is the most  effective method                                                            
for Alaska.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lewis  reiterated that  currently, the  Division is required  to                                                            
advertise through  newspapers, although more effective  methods have                                                            
been  identified.  This  legislation  would allow  the  Division  to                                                            
evaluate different  methods. She listed 300 claims  resulting from a                                                            
$30,000 newspaper  advertising campaign the previous  year, compared                                                            
to 1,600  claims resulting  from an Internet  posting at no  cost to                                                            
the State.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson  challenged   that  many  rural  residents   are  not                                                            
"property minded" and unlikely to surf the Internet.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lewis replied  that many people  tend to surf the Internet,  and                                                            
notify neighbors, friends and relatives if information is found.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson countered  that  rural  areas have  limited  computer                                                            
access and therefore Internet surfing is not possible.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lewis responded that  this legislation would permit the Division                                                            
to determine the  best way to address the issue of  notifying owners                                                            
of  unclaimed   property.  She  surmised   that  if  the   newspaper                                                            
advertising  were not  required, the  funds could  be utilized  in a                                                            
more effective manner.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Amendment #1:  This amendment replaces the language  in Section 5 on                                                            
page 3 of the committee substitute to read as follows.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 5.  AS 34.45 is amended  by adding a new section  to read:                                                            
                                                                                                                                
          Sec. 34.45.175. Certain property distributed in insurance                                                             
     company reorganizations.  Property distributable  in the course                                                            
     of a demutualization  or related reorganization of an insurance                                                            
     company shall be deemed abandoned as follows:                                                                              
          (A) any funds, two years after the date of the                                                                        
     demutualization   or  reorganization,   if  the  funds   remain                                                            
     unclaimed,  and the owner has  not otherwise communicated  with                                                            
     the holder or its  agent regarding the property as evidenced by                                                            
     a memorandum  or other  record on file  with the holder  or its                                                            
     agent;                                                                                                                     
          (B) any stock or other equity interest, two years after                                                               
     the   date  of  the   demutualization   or  reorganization   if                                                            
     instruments  or  statements  reflecting  the  distribution  are                                                            
     either mailed  to the owner and returned by the  post office as                                                            
     undeliverable,   or not  mailed  to  the owner  because  of  an                                                            
     address  on the books and records  of the holder that  is known                                                            
     to be incorrect,  and the owner has not otherwise  communicated                                                            
     with  the  holder  or  its  agent  regarding  the  property  as                                                            
     evidenced  by a  memorandum or  other record  on file with  the                                                            
     holder or its agent.                                                                                                       
          (C) property not subject to (A) or (B) above within two                                                               
     years of  the distribution shall remain reportable  under other                                                            
     sections of this chapter.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde  moved  for  adoption  and  objected  for  discussion                                                            
purposes.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Boutin indicated  he has read the amendment and  agreed with the                                                            
concept.  He deferred  to Ms.  Lewis and  the Department  of Law  to                                                            
explain the provisions.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Lewis remarked  that the Division  agrees "wholeheartedly"  with                                                            
the amendment,  which was suggested  by industry and she  noted that                                                            
the National Association  of Unclaimed Property Administrators  also                                                            
supports the amendment.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MARY ELLEN  BEARDSLEY, Assistant Attorney  General, Commercial/Fair                                                             
Business Section,  Civil Division, Department of Law,  testified via                                                            
teleconference  from Anchorage that  she has not had an opportunity                                                             
to adequately  review the  amendment. She  indicated the  Department                                                            
agrees with the concept of the proposed changes.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde   directed  attention   to  a  memorandum   from  the                                                            
legislative Division of  Legal and Research Services [copy on file],                                                            
which also raises concerns with the amendment.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
No further action was taken on the amendment or the bill.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 170(JUD)                                                                                            
     "An  Act  relating   to  murder  in  the  second   degree,  the                                                            
     justification  of  defense  of self  or others,  immunity  from                                                            
     prosecution,  sentencing, probation, discretionary  parole, and                                                            
     the right  to representation  in certain criminal proceedings;                                                             
     relating  to  violation  of a  custodian's  duty;  relating  to                                                            
     sexual  abuse of a  minor; relating  to release of information                                                             
     concerning  certain cases involving a minor;  relating to local                                                            
     options   regarding   alcoholic  beverages,   the  offense   of                                                            
     furnishing  or  delivery of  alcoholic  beverages  to a  person                                                            
     under 21 years of  age, and forfeiture of property used in, and                                                            
     money  or other items of value  used in financial transactions                                                             
     derived from,  violation of certain laws relating  to alcoholic                                                            
     beverages;   relating  to  assault  by  means  of  a  dangerous                                                            
     instrument;  relating to operating or driving  a motor vehicle,                                                            
     aircraft,  or  watercraft  while  under  the  influence  of  an                                                            
     alcoholic  beverage, inhalant, or controlled  substance, to the                                                            
     refusal to  submit to a chemical test, and to  the presumptions                                                            
     concerning  the  chemical  analysis  of  breath or  blood;  and                                                            
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SUSAN PARKS, Deputy Attorney  General, Criminal Division, Department                                                            
of Law, noted  this is a comprehensive  bill that covers  many areas                                                            
of criminal  law. She stated it addresses  many "problems"  that law                                                            
enforcement  and public safety  officers are  faced with. She  noted                                                            
this  committee  substitute  is  significantly  different  than  the                                                            
original  legislation,   as  a result  of  concerns   raised  during                                                            
hearings  in  the Senate  Judiciary  Committee.  She  reported  that                                                            
extensive public testimony  was taken on the committee substitute in                                                            
the aforementioned  committee. She remarked upon the  efforts of the                                                            
Senate  Judiciary  Committee  to ensure  this  legislation  balances                                                            
public safety with the rights of defendants.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks stated that Sections  1 through 11 address "the problem of                                                            
alcohol", specifically  bootlegging laws. She explained  the goal of                                                            
these provisions  it to  provide communities  with more options  and                                                            
greater  ability to  enforce  their local  liquor  option laws.  She                                                            
noted Sections 1 through  4 would allow local communities to adopt a                                                            
lower  threshold  standard  for possession  of  alcohol  within  the                                                            
community.  She informed  that currently State  statue contains  one                                                            
standard, and  although some communities have adopted  lower limits,                                                            
the State  does not have  the ability to  enforce the lower  limits.                                                            
The provisions  in these  bill sections  she said  would grant  that                                                            
enforcement ability.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde asked  whether  local  communities would  retain  the                                                            
option to adopt  local liquor option laws but would  not be required                                                            
to do so.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Parks  affirmed. She  continued  that  these  provisions  would                                                            
eliminate  a loophole,  which she  explained occurs  as a result  of                                                            
closed  communities   adoption  of   conflicting  rules,   and  from                                                            
overlapping boundaries.  She stated that bootleggers  have been able                                                            
to take advantage of these discrepancies.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks noted bootlegging  statutes currently do not allow for the                                                            
confiscation  of property  and pointed  out this  legislation  would                                                            
match provisions for seizure of property used in drug crimes.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks also  noted this legislation would create  new statutes in                                                            
Sections  14  and  17. She  described  Section  14,  to  correct  an                                                            
omission  in the  current statutes  governing  assaults. She  stated                                                            
this  provision would  create a  new Class  C felony  for crimes  in                                                            
which criminal  negligence causes  serious physical injury  by means                                                            
of a  dangerous instrument.  She gave  as the  most common  example,                                                            
instances  in which  the driver  of a vehicle  was  not found  to be                                                            
intoxicated,  but who nonetheless  inflicted  serious injury  due to                                                            
criminal negligence.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks  stated that  Section 17  relates to  violation of  third-                                                            
party custodian duties.  She informed that currently a judge has the                                                            
option of releasing a defendant  on bail into the custody of a third                                                            
party  who promises  to  report  any violations  the  defendant  may                                                            
commit.  Unfortunately,   she  reported  many  of  the  third  party                                                            
custodians fail  to fulfill these duties and the State  only has the                                                            
option of pursuing criminal  contempt charges. This legislation, she                                                            
said  would  establish  a and  b  misdemeanor  crimes  depending  on                                                            
whether the  person the  third party custodian  was supervising  was                                                            
charged with a felony or a misdemeanor.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks  continued  that this  legislation would  also amend  some                                                            
existing  statutes to  "make them  stronger". Section  13, she  said                                                            
would modify the  felony murder statutes, noting that  currently all                                                            
participants in a serious  felony crime, such as a robbery, in which                                                            
someone other  than the participant  is killed, is held responsible                                                             
for that  death. She stated  this legislation  proposes that  if the                                                            
death  of  a  participant   is  caused  by  someone   other  than  a                                                            
participant, such as a  store clerk shooting one of the robbers, all                                                            
participants are  held accountable for the death.  She remarked this                                                            
is because the  conduct of the participants in the  robbery or other                                                            
crime prompted the death.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks  informed  that Sections  15  and 16 would  amend  current                                                            
statues pertaining  to the crime of sexual abuse of  a minor, noting                                                            
that currently statutes  make no distinction between penetration and                                                            
touching in  offenses perpetrated  on a minor by juveniles  15 years                                                            
of age or younger.  The crimes are  all classified as misdemeanors,                                                             
she  said,  despite   the  disproportion  of  the   harm  caused  by                                                            
penetration.  She  remarked  that this  legislation  would  classify                                                            
penetration of  victims three or more years of age  younger than the                                                            
juvenile offender  who is 15 years of age or younger,  as a C felony                                                            
crime. She qualified the  case would remain in the juvenile judicial                                                            
system, but  that the higher classification  would be a recognition                                                             
of the seriousness of the conduct.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Parks  indicated  that  Sections  26 and  27  would  amend  the                                                            
statutes relating to felony  driving under the influence of drugs or                                                            
alcohol.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks informed  that currently  provisions allow the  Department                                                            
of Health and Social Services  to release identifying information on                                                            
juvenile offenders  to schools and  law enforcement, but  not to the                                                            
general public.  Section 32, she stated  would allow the  release of                                                            
this  information   in  certain  circumstances  for   public  safety                                                            
reasons, although  in such a manner  as to protect confidentiality,                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dyson  asked if this  would allow  child care providers  who                                                            
employ teenagers to obtain this information.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks replied  that is the situation that prompted  this change.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Parks then  reminded  that current  statutes  are intended  for                                                            
judges to impose  consecutive sentencing  for each victim  and crime                                                            
committed by  an offender; however,  she stated adequate  sentencing                                                            
is not  occurring.  She remarked  that Sections  22,  23, 30 and  31                                                            
would mandate the legislative intent of the current statute.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks then  told the Committee this legislation  would establish                                                            
procedures  for instances in which  a witness in a court  proceeding                                                            
is  granted  immunity  in exchange  for  testimony  but  refuses  to                                                            
testify  citing  protection  under the  Fifth  Amendment  to the  US                                                            
Constitution.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks next  told of situations of gang or drug-related  violence                                                            
whereby all  parties claim  self defense when  an innocent  party is                                                            
injured. She remarked  that this bill would prohibit  a self-defense                                                            
plea for anyone who brings a gun to drug or gang activities.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks addressed  the "big gulp" defense claim  sometimes made in                                                            
driving under  the influence arrests  that the alcohol was  consumed                                                            
shortly before  the driver took the wheel and that  the driver would                                                            
have reached his  or her destination before the alcohol  entered the                                                            
blood stream had the driver not been stopped.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CINDY  CASHEN, victim  of  drunk driving,  and  Executive  Director,                                                            
Mothers  Against   Drunk  Driving   (MADD),  Juneau  Chapter,   read                                                            
testimony into the record as follows.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     MADD supports  the committee substitute for House  Bill 244. We                                                            
     support  the right  for communities  to adopt  lower limits  of                                                            
     alcohol  possession  and importation  in order  to improve  the                                                            
     health  and safety of their people.  Empowering communities  to                                                            
     take  part in dealing  with alcohol abuse  and the breaking  of                                                            
     the laws is something that MADD supports.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     We  support  stricter  drunk  driving  sanction  for  high-risk                                                            
     drivers  - these are drunk drivers  who have repeatedly  chosen                                                            
     to endanger  themselves and everyone  else who shares  the road                                                            
     system - must be held  accountable for their crimes. About one-                                                            
     third  of all drivers  arrested or convicted  of driving  under                                                            
     the  influence  are  repeat offenders.   These drivers  are  40                                                            
     percent more likely  to be involved in a fatal crash than those                                                            
     without  prior DUIs. We support  increased penalties  for those                                                            
     who  chose to drink  and drive,  which results  in the  serious                                                            
     injury of an innocent victim or victims.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     People  who  drink and  drive  - referring  to  the "big  gulp"                                                            
     theory - they're not  doctors. They're not experts. They aren't                                                            
     able  to determine if  they're sober  before arriving  at their                                                            
     destination.  If a person chooses  to drink and drive,  they've                                                            
     broken  the law; they've committed  a crime and they  should be                                                            
     held accountable for it. It's that simple.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Cashen then  relayed her story in which the drunk  driver was to                                                            
receive a  sentence for each  life taken and  a lesser sentence  for                                                            
the serious injury  caused to another. She stated  that the victims'                                                            
families  agreed  to  this,  but the  judge  "felt  sorry"  for  the                                                            
offender and imposed a lesser sentence, combining the crimes.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Cashen  also stressed  the  need  to address  the  third  party                                                            
custodian statutes. She  told of a drunk driving death that occurred                                                            
in Hoonah and her assistance to the mother of the deceased boy.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SFC 04 # 84, Side B 09:56 AM                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Cashen  continued  that the  offender  was released  to a  third                                                            
party  custodian  pending  trial and  subsequently  drank  and  even                                                            
partied  in the house  of the  victim, and  yet no  action could  be                                                            
taken  against  the  third  party  custodian.   She  predicted  this                                                            
legislation  would provide consequences  for third party  custodians                                                            
who fail to report violations committed by their charge.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Dyson  thanked  the  witness for  turning  a  tragedy  into                                                            
something useful to others.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Hoffman asked the number of MAAD chapters in Alaska.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Cashen listed  Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau  with established                                                            
chapters, and the June  2004 opening of a chapter in Mat-Su, and the                                                            
formation of another in Petersburg.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Cashen  commented   that  April  19  would  be  the   four-year                                                            
anniversary of  her father's death and "yet nothing  has been done."                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Hoffman  referenced  Ms.  Park's   testimony  that  several                                                            
communities requested  lower alcohol possession limits  and he asked                                                            
which communities  made this request.  He also asked the  impetus of                                                            
the proposed changes to  the alcohol possession statutes made to the                                                            
bill  in the  Senate Judiciary  Committee.  He noted  the  committee                                                            
substitute  received only  one "do  pass" recommendation  from  that                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Parks  replied that  the  community  of  St. Mary's,  plus  two                                                            
others,  has  adopted  rules  providing   lower  levels  of  alcohol                                                            
possession.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
AL STORY, Lieutenant,  Alaska State  Troopers, Department  of Public                                                            
Safety, testified  via teleconference  from an offnet location  that                                                            
currently  troopers  are  unable  to  enforce  the  limited  alcohol                                                            
possession rules because of current statutory language.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks informed  the matter of the alcohol possession  provisions                                                            
was discussed extensively in the Senate Judiciary Committee.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Hoffman  pointed out these  provisions were not included  in                                                            
the original  version of the bill  and asked why it was included  in                                                            
the Senate Judiciary committee substitute.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks  replied that over  the interim,  it became a priority  of                                                            
Governor Murkowski to keep alcohol out of "dry" communities.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Hoffman  wanted  to  know how  this  provision  would  keep                                                            
alcohol  out of  communities.  He  reminded  that he  sponsored  the                                                            
original  legislation  to  provide  for  the  establishment  of  dry                                                            
communities  and  questioned how  the  proposed provision  would  be                                                            
effective.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks responded  that it would provide the State  the ability to                                                            
better  enforce  community  decisions.  She  admitted  there  is  no                                                            
"silver bullet" for those who want to commit crimes.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Hoffman   noted  the  additional  penalties   for  offenses                                                            
involving alcohol.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks  explained the  proposal to  increase to  a C felony,  the                                                            
penalty  for supplying  alcohol  to a  minor  in an  area closed  to                                                            
alcohol.  She noted  mandatory  forfeiture  of seized  items if  the                                                            
offense involved "egregious" circumstances.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Hoffman  asked  if conviction  of  a  C felony  results  in                                                            
forfeiture of permanent fund dividends.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Parks answered yes.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Dyson  appreciated   the  efforts  made  in  drafting  this                                                            
legislation and commented  that the bill must also pass the House of                                                            
Representatives  and that other opportunities would  be available to                                                            
address concerns.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Dyson  offered a  motion to report  the bill from  Committee                                                            
with  individual  recommendations  and  an accompanying   and a  new                                                            
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
There was  no objection  and CS  SB 170 (JUD)  MOVED from  Committee                                                            
with fiscal note  #3 for $3,400 from the Department  of Corrections,                                                            
and  a  new  fiscal   note  for  $90,800  from  the  Department   of                                                            
Administration dated 4/8/04.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Con Bunde adjourned the meeting at 10:05 AM.                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects