Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/15/1994 03:35 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
    SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE                     
                         April 15, 1994                                        
                           3:35 p.m.                                           
                                                                               
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
 Senator Steve Rieger, Chairman                                                
 Senator Loren Leman                                                           
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
 Senator Judy Salo                                                             
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
 Senator Bert Sharp, Vice-Chairman                                             
 Senator Jim Duncan                                                            
 Senator Johnny Ellis                                                          
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
 SENATE BILL NO. 323                                                           
 "An Act requiring that all official interviews with children who              
 are alleged to have been abused or neglected be videotaped."                  
                                                                               
  HB 472  (REFERRALS INVOLVING DENTAL SERVICES) WAS SCHEDULED, BUT NOT    OT   
 HEARD THIS DATE.                                                              
                                                                               
  HB 339  (NO CENSORSHIP: AMERICAN HISTORY DOCUMENTS) WAS SCHEDULED,           
 BUT NOT HEARD THIS DATE.                                                      
                                                                               
  HJR 54  (SUPPORT MEDICAL SAVINGS ACCT LEGIS) WAS SCHEDULED, BUT NOT     T    
 HEARD THIS DATE.                                                              
                                                                               
  SJR 48  (FEDERAL IMPEDIMENTS TO WELFARE REFORM) WAS SCHEDULED, BUT           
 NOT HEARD THIS DATE.                                                          
                                                                               
  SB 346  (REPORT CHARITABLE GAMING WINNERS) WAS SCHEDULED, BUT NOT            
 HEARD THIS DATE.                                                              
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
                                                                               
 SB 323 - No previous action to record.                                        
                                                                               
 SB 346 - See Labor & Commerce minutes dated 3/31/94.                          
                                                                               
 SJR 48 - No previous action to record.                                        
                                                                               
 HB 472 - See Health, Education & Social Services minutes dated                
          4/15/94.                                                             
                                                                               
 HB 339 - See Health, Education & Social Services minutes dated                
          4/15/94.                                                             
                                                                               
 HJR 54 - See Health, Education & Social Services minutes dated                
          4/15/94.                                                             
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
 Tina Barker                                                                   
 3560-B College Road                                                           
 Fairbanks, Alaska 99709                                                       
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Related letters regarding issues encompassed           
                      in SB 323.                                               
                                                                               
 April Rodgers                                                                 
 212 Steelhead Road                                                            
 Fairbanks, Alaska 99709                                                       
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Felt SB 323 would give credibility.                    
                                                                               
 Naomi Hodson                                                                  
 P.A.C.T.                                                                      
 P.O. Box 3687                                                                 
 Soldotna, Alaska 99669                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 323 and offered suggestions.              
                                                                               
 Ronald Hodson                                                                 
 P.A.C.T.                                                                      
 P.O. Box 3687                                                                 
 Soldotna, Alaska 99669                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported videotaping of interviews.                   
                                                                               
 Vickie Stilz                                                                  
 Anchorage, Alaska                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 323.                                      
                                                                               
 Walter Gauthier                                                               
 Victims of the State                                                          
 P.O. Box 2246                                                                 
 Homer, Alaska 99603                                                           
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 323.                                      
                                                                               
 Gene Ottenstroer                                                              
 Victims of the State                                                          
 P.O. Box 1055                                                                 
 Delta Junction, Alaska 99737                                                  
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Felt SB 323 is a good bill and offered                 
                      suggestions.                                             
                                                                               
 Jeanne Phipps, Board of Directors Member                                      
 Guardians of Family Rights                                                    
 P.O. Box 704                                                                  
 Delta Junction, Alaska 99737                                                  
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported videotaping of the interviews.               
                      Offered suggestions to SB 323.                           
                                                                               
 Pat Obrist-Druck                                                              
 557 Fairbanks Street                                                          
 Fairbanks, Alaska 99709                                                       
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 323.                                      
                                                                               
 Rondi Aldridge                                                                
 P.O. Box 56853                                                                
 North Pole, Alaska 99705                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supported SB 323.                                      
                                                                               
 Jodi Delaney                                                                  
 Concerned Parents for Reform                                                  
 P.O. Box 56873                                                                
 North Pole, Alaska 99705                                                      
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Reviewed SB 323 and offered suggestions.               
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
 TAPE 94-31, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER called the Senate Health, Education and Social                
 Services (HESS) Committee to order at 3:35 p.m.  He introduced                
 SB 323  (VIDEOTAPE ALL INTERVIEWS OF ABUSED MINORS) as the first              
 order of business.                                                            
                                                                               
 TINA BARKER began to read two letters which she agreed to fax to              
 the committee.  She related her personal experience with this                 
 issue.                                                                        
                                                                               
 APRIL ROGERS indicated that SB 323 would supply credibility for the           
 state and the parents.  She said, "These laws are being used                  
 against parents."  She pointed out that reports of abuse can be               
 anonymous and nothing is done to the reporter in the case of a                
 false allegation.  She expressed astonishment that the service                
 would intentionally lead a child.  The children should be protected           
 against such abuses, but the accused should not be overlooked.  She           
 noted that some cases are false and a review of the case could                
 uncover leading by the investigator.  SB 323 would stop that and              
 the lack of credibility.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 123                                                                    
 NAOMI HODSON, P.A.C.T., supported SB 323, but thought that it could           
 use some amendments.  She related her own experience with her                 
 daughter.  She said that parents no longer have rights.  She                  
 expressed the need for accountability from DFYS or anyone having              
 contact with children.  She inquired as to who would determine the            
 need for an interview or the truthfulness of the child.  She                  
 recommended that no leading questions or hearsay be used, the court           
 does not allow such.  SB 323 would help all concerned parties.  She           
 felt that the videotape should be available to all of the involved            
 parties.  She believed that SB 323 was more appropriate than HB 333           
 because SB 323 would be less traumatizing with only one interview             
 of the child rather than several.                                             
                                                                               
 RONALD HODSON, P.A.C.T., felt that videotaping the interviews is a            
 good idea.  This videotaping would allow DFYS and others to review            
 the interview and use the videotape to determine areas needing to             
 be restructured.  He expressed the need to return parental rights             
 back to parents.                                                              
                                                                               
 VICKIE STILZ supported SB 323.  She explained that SB 323 would               
 bring about accountability of DFYS.  Videotaping of interviews                
 would help to inhibit false allegations while also serving as a               
 check on DFYS.  She felt that trust in the system could return with           
 mandatory videotaping of the interviews.  She noted that anyone can           
 report alleged child abuse, AS 47.17.050.  SB 323 would provide a             
 safeguard.  She concluded with her own personal experience with               
 false allegations of child abuse.  She urged the committee's                  
 consideration of SB 323.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 208                                                                    
                                                                               
 WALTER GAUTHIER, Victims of the State, recommended that the                   
 committee review Lieutenant Governor Coghill's Family Law Review              
 Task Force Report for 1991 which documents horror stories from                
 DFYS.  He informed the committee that in the history of the state             
 of Alaska, no worker from DFYS has been arrested or prosecuted for            
 crimes against children.  He felt that something was wrong for this           
 to happen; there is no accountability.  He said that DFYS                     
 repeatedly places children in opposition to their parents.  He                
 asserted that these bureaucracies are having to generate business             
 in order to justify their funding.  He informed the committee that            
 most DFYS and child abuse system workers enter into this field                
 because they suffered abuse as a child; therefore, their past is              
 carried into their professional life.  He urged the committee to              
 pass SB 323.                                                                  
                                                                               
 GENE OTTENSTROER, Victims of the State, believed that SB 323 was a            
 good bill if the interviewing was done by a non-bias party.  He               
 indicated the possibility of editing the videotapes which would               
 pose a problem.  He felt that the decision to do an interview                 
 should be left up to the parents not the department.  He spoke to             
 SB 317 which creates another department; there are already too many           
 departments.                                                                  
                                                                               
 JEANNE PHIPPS, member of the Board of Directors of the Guardians of           
 Family Rights, said that she supported videotaping of interviews of           
 children; however, the parents should be allowed to be present                
 during the interview.  Videotaping should be done by someone who is           
 not associated with DFYS, DPS, or any law enforcement agency or               
 agent.  She noted that the burden now lies on the accused to prove            
 their innocence.  She indicated that the above agents or agencies             
 harass children into complaints when the child is angry.  Often               
 interviews use hearsay and rumors without a full investigation by             
 DFYS or any other department.  She said that children do lie, and             
 felt that constant questioning and rewording of questions could               
 cause confusion, fear, and agitation.  Videotaping would end the              
 harassment of children.                                                       
                                                                               
 PAT OBRIST-DRUCK supported SB 323.  She related her own experience            
 with being falsely accused of child sexual abuse.  She urged the              
 legislature to give children the right to speak out.                          
                                                                               
 Number 308                                                                    
                                                                               
 RONDI ALDRIDGE supported SB 323.  She explained that she was the              
 mother of a child in need.  For the past three years, she had been            
 dealing with DFYS which seems to be a system in greed.  She related           
 her personal experience with her son and DFYS.  She disagreed with            
 the policy making process of most all of the programs available for           
 children; they should have anger management programs.                         
                                                                               
 JODI DELANEY, Concerned Parents for Reform, related her personal              
 experience with alleged abuse of her son.  She expressed the need             
 to improve the agency; why would one not want a check and balance,            
 videotaping of the interview, on this system.  She said that                  
 everyone would review the same videotape which would eliminate                
 opinions of current interviewing procedures.  She indicated that              
 the system is only interested in covering its tracks.  She                    
 suggested that this could be a self-funding program if the over 60            
 percent of false allegations were dissolved.  She said that it                
 would be cheaper to purchase video cameras, especially when                   
 individuals are volunteering to purchase them, than to falsely                
 accuse an individual.  That creates much litigation.                          
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN RIEGER invited anyone on teleconference to submit written            
 testimony.  He said that it was his intention to bring SB 323 back            
 before the committee next week as well as the other bills                     
 calendared for today.                                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN inquired as to the possibility of taking up and                 
 moving SJR 48 if there was no objection.  CHAIRMAN RIEGER preferred           
 to have a full quorum, especially since he had informed individuals           
 that the bills calendared for today would be held.                            
 There being no further business before the committee, the meeting             
 was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.                                                    
                                                                               

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