Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/03/1998 09:05 AM 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 3, 1998 9:05 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Gary Wilken, Chairman Senator Loren Leman, Vice-Chairman Senator Lyda Green MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Jerry Ward Senator Johnny Ellis COMMITTEE CALENDAR SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 25 Relating to Step Family Day. PASSED SCSSS HCR 25 OUT OF COMMITTEE. SENATE BILL NO. 237 "An Act extending the termination date of the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault." HEARD AND HELD. PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SSHCR 25 - No previous Senate committee action. SB 237 - See HESS minutes dated 3/4/98. WITNESS REGISTER Representative Fred Dyson Alaska State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SSHCR 25. Annette Kreitzer, Committee Aide Senate Labor and Commerce Committee Alaska State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed changes made in CSSB 237. Jayne Andreen, Director Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault P.O. Box 111200 Juneau, Alaska 99811-1200 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports CSSB 237. Anne Carpeneti Criminal Division Department of Law P.O. Box 110300 Juneau, AK 99811-0300 POSITION STATEMENT: Explained provisions of CSSB 237. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 98-30, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN WILKEN called the Senate Health, Education and Social Services (HESS) Committee to order at 9:05 a.m. Present were Senators Leman, Green, and Chairman Wilken. The first order of business before the committee was HCR 25. HCR 25 - STEP FAMILY DAY REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON, sponsor of the measure, gave the following testimony. Many "blended" families are living all across North America: approximately 70 percent of American families fall under that description. An international organization, the Stepfamily Foundation, Inc., is trying to set aside a day to honor step families and to date, 30 countries have adopted legislation to do so. The foundation publishes a newsletter, and has a web page, chat room, and consulting service to provide advice for step families and to exchange ideas. HCR 25 is a simple bill and has no associated cost. The measure recognizes the existence of these families and the particular challenges and struggles they face. Number 058 SENATOR LEMAN referred to Representative Dyson's sponsor statement and questioned the statement that says, "...of the 83.5 million households in American, close to 70% of them are step families. By the year 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than half of Americans will be living in step families versus the nuclear family." He asked if that number is skewed because it takes into account single parent families. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said that was correct according to the international organization. SENATOR LEMAN asked if the step family category includes single parent families in which one spouse died. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said no. SENATOR LEMAN asked if a new union would have to take place first. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said that is correct, and added that those families always have struggles. CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked if 70 percent of American families are step families and half of the population is estimated to live in those families. He also questioned whether including the source of those statistics and including a definition of what a step family is in line 1 of the resolution would improve it. Number 108 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON replied he will defer to the wish of the committee, but he thought the resolution itself will fade into the background the day after it is established, and that it will not get much circulation. SENATOR LEMAN moved to adopt a conceptual amendment, subject to slight revisor changes, beginning on line 3 as follows: "WHEREAS the Stepfamily Foundation has estimated that at least half of all Americans are members or relatives of step families; and" and to include a basic definition of a step family. CHAIRMAN WILKEN announced there being no objection, the conceptual amendment was adopted. Number 134 SENATOR LEMAN moved to report HCR 25 as amended from committee. There being no objection, the motion carried. Number 152 SB 237 - COUNCIL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & SEXUAL ASSAULT SENATOR LEMAN moved to adopt the proposed committee substitute for SB 237. There being no objection, the motion carried. ANNETTE KREITZER, legislative aide to the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee, gave the following explanation of the committee substitute for SB 237. Sections 1, 2, and 3 amend court referrals, protective orders, and probation conditions so that batterers' programs will meet the standards set by, and programs approved by, the Department of Corrections. Section 4 amends the duties of the Department of Corrections to ensure that this program's standards are set by, and approved by, that department. Section 5 extends the CDVSA by four years which is the maximum extension allowed under AS 44.66. 010(c). Section 6 amends Rule 404(b)(3) to ensure that if a defendant relies on a defense of consent, evidence of other sexual assaults is admissible. Section 7 amends Rule 404(b)(4) to clarify for judges that evidence of prior acts of domestic violence is not limited to convictions only. This change will allow the prosecution to produce evidence of previous acts of domestic violence. The court rule changes apply to proceedings on or after the immediate effective date of this act. Section 9 takes effect January 1, 1999. The state is mandated to have the programs in place and the standards set, with the expectation that anyone referred to a batterer's program after January 1, 1999 would be attending a state-approved program. Section 10 provides for an immediate effective date for the rest of the sections in the bill. This language is also part of SB 316. The sponsor is well aware that the language appears in other bills but he felt that state approval and funding of batterers' programs should be part of the CDVSA program. Number 196 SENATOR GREEN asked whether any approval process for batterers' programs exists at this time. MS. KREITZER said some standards have been established but no mandate requiring the courts to refer offenders to state-certified programs exists. Apparently a wide range of programs exists but only two are state approved. JAYNE ANDREEN, Director of the CDVSA, explained the Domestic Violence Act of 1996 included language to require courts to refer offenders to approved programs only, however, the courts have interpreted that language much more broadly than what was intended. SB 316, and the language in SB 237, are attempts to tighten the language so that the courts will order offenders to state approved programs only. SENATOR GREEN asked if a timely process exists to provide for state approval of these programs. MS. ANDREEN responded yes, it has taken awhile to establish a process that people can follow through on, due in part to funding for actual monitoring of the programs, but an application process was established in August. Two of 14 applications have been submitted to CDVSA. Two factors are delaying application submission: one is that the incentive is low since courts are already using the unapproved programs; and second, the Department of Corrections is in the process of revising its regulations. Number 229 SENATOR GREEN asked if the January 1, 1999 date is reasonable. MS. ANDREEN said it is reasonable and that she initially suggested an effective date of October 1. MS. KREITZER added that she and staff from Senator Parnell's office are concurrently reviewing the regulations regarding the implementation of state certified programs. They will be tracking that process closely to see if problems occur, stemming from the way the regulations are written, that restrict organizations from applying. Number 243 CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked how Ms. Andreen expects the $116,000 in the budget for batterers' programs to be used. MS. ANDREEN replied this year CDVSA received $60,000 for a batterers' programs grant which was awarded to Tongass Community Counseling Center. CDVSA has already issued an RFP competitive grant proposal for programs to apply for funds. CDVSA will be following its standard granting procedure and will be making awards at the end of June for FY 99. Number 251 CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked if the amount for FY 99 will be $116,000. MS. ANDREEN said the total amount will be $166,000. CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked whether that money will be allocated by region or by application. MS. ANDREEN said the grants will be allocated by application. CDVSA reviews each application on its own merits and makes the decisions accordingly. CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked if any regional consideration is given. MS. ANDREEN said that is one of the criteria CDVSA looks at but more importantly, CDVSA wants to make sure it is funding the most effective services available. CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked how long batterers' programs have been in place. MS. ANDREEN replied batterers' programs have been in place since the early 1980s. Number 267 SENATOR GREEN asked Ms. Andreen to speak to the ineffectiveness of batterers' programs. MS. ANDREEN answered the effectiveness of batterers' programs and the question of whether or not they should be funded or subsidized with state funds is the subject of a nationwide controversy. One problem with batterers' programs is the lack of a solid understanding of how effective they are. Studies have determined that no set criteria for defining effectiveness exists. Most studies only look at offenders' re-entry into the civil or criminal justice system. Some studies have reported that when offenders attend batterers' programs, they simply become smarter offenders and learn how to avoid that system for the following 12 month evaluation period. The Center for Disease Control has funded a contract to do an intensive study of batterers' programs around the country. The study is now in its third year and is being extended for two more years. Those conducting the study are experiencing a high success rate in tracking offenders once they leave a program. They are not just checking criminal and civil records, they are also interviewing the offenders and interviewing past and current partners to get a broader scope. This study is also comparing the effectiveness of different programs and the different modalities used. She noted 40 to 60 percent of offenders who are referred to a program never attend so it is important to have a strong systemic response for those offenders. She stated a success rate of about 25 percent of all offenders ordered to a program seems to be a safe estimate. SENATOR GREEN asked what the current standard is for allowing a previous accusation, or anything other than a conviction, to be entered as evidence in a current case. MS. KREITZER responded that at present no standard exists and judges are applying that information differently to different cases. Number 317 ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law, informed committee members that under Section 7, for prior acts of domestic violence, courts generally allow introduction of the evidence without a conviction. She noted she spoke with John Richards, a municipal attorney in Anchorage, who said the Municipality of Anchorage is having great success in getting this evidence admitted. A few judges are concerned that the use of the term "crimes involving domestic violence" requires a prior conviction which is why this bill makes it clear that a prior conviction is not required to allow the evidence to be admissible. SENATOR GREEN stated this section concerns her. She asked what the bar would be to admit evidence of a prior act. MS. CARPENETI replied the court would only admit the evidence when indications exist that it is reliable. SENATOR GREEN questioned how that can be assured in statute since the bill says a previous act, not convictions, can be admitted. MS. CARPENETI explained the Evidence Rules require a court, before evidence is admitted, to be satisfied that the evidence is reliable. Number 344 SENATOR GREEN asked if the defendant would have the right to respond and the right to counsel for the previous acts, or whether the evidence could be an accusation. MS. CARPENETI responded SCSSB 237 does not require that the offender be charged with the previous act. She added experts agree that victims are more likely to not pursue a prosecution for complex reasons. In many domestic violence cases, prosecutors have no victim. Prosecutors rely on the testimony of police officers which often involves their observations. She noted that is one reason that this type of evidence is extremely helpful. MS. ANDREEN maintained that domestic violence is an ongoing cycle that increases in severity over a period of time. She stated it is important to establish a pattern of behavior and that the case is not built on an isolated incident. CDVSA is comfortable that the process the court goes through to determine whether evidence is reliable will ensure that this provision is not abused. MS. CARPENETI added Rule 404(b) allows evidence of prior acts as they relate to various other charges, for example, in Section 6, Rule 404(b)(3) allows evidence of prior acts of sexual assault in certain circumstances when the charge is sexual assault or attempted sexual assault. The courts have been applying that rule without requiring a conviction for the use of the prior evidence as long as the court is assured that the evidence is accurate and reliable. CHAIRMAN WILKEN stated he would hold SCSSB 237(HESS) in committee, until the following Wednesday. There being no further business to come before the committee, CHAIRMAN WILKEN adjourned the meeting at 9:30 a.m.