Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/15/1994 03:35 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.