Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/05/1996 01:30 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                   SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE                                  
                        February 5, 1996                                       
                           1:30 p.m.                                           
                                                                               
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
 Senator Robin Taylor, Chairman                                                
 Senator Lyda Green, Vice-Chairman                                             
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
 Senator Al Adams                                                              
 Senator Johnny Ellis                                                          
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
 None                                                                          
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
 SJR 31 - SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 31                                       
 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Alaska             
 relating to voter ratification of legislative approval of                     
 amendments of the Alaska Statehood Act affecting an interest of the           
 State of Alaska under that Act.                                               
                                                                               
 SENATE BILL NO. 238                                                           
 "An Act relating to the care and regulation of the care of animals;           
 relating to registration of animal abuse offenders; and relating to           
 crimes involving animals."                                                    
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
                                                                               
 SJR 31 - No previous Senate action.                                           
                                                                               
 SB 238 - No previous Senate action.                                           
                                                                               
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
                                                                               
 Senator Drue Pearce                                                           
 Alaska State Capitol                                                          
 Juneau, Alaska  99811                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of SJR 31                                       
                                                                               
 Senator Randy Phillips                                                        
 Alaska State Capitol                                                          
 Juneau, Alaska  99811                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of SB 238                                       
                                                                               
 Liz Dodd                                                                      
 Alaska Civil Liberties Union                                                  
 100 Parks St.                                                                 
 Juneau, AK  99801                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed to SB 238                                       
 Mr. Brett Reid                                                                
 City of Kenai                                                                 
 210 Fidalgo Ave., Suite 200                                                   
 Kenai, AK  99611-7794                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 238                                     
                                                                               
 Mr. Bill Godek                                                                
 City of Kenai                                                                 
 210 Fidalgo Ave., Suite 200                                                   
 Kenai, AK  99611-7794                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:    Commented on SB 238                                   
                                                                               
 Ms. Diane Zarfoss                                                             
 Alaska SPCA                                                                   
 520 Glacier Bay Circle #B                                                     
 Anchorage, AK  99508                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports SB 238                                         
                                                                               
 Ms. Janice Adair                                                              
 Dept. of Environmental Conservation                                           
 555 Cordova                                                                   
 Anchorage, AK  99503                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed to SB 238                                      
                                                                               
 Ms. Sally Clampitt                                                            
 Alaska Equine Rescue                                                          
 5540 E. 98th                                                                  
 Anchorage, AK  99516                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:    Supports SB 238                                       
                                                                               
 Ms. Michele Girault                                                           
 Friends of Pets                                                               
 3740 Reflection Dr.                                                           
 Anchorage, AK  99504                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:    Supports SB 238                                       
                                                                               
 Ms. Ethel Christensen                                                         
 AK SPCA                                                                       
 2748 Lore Rd.                                                                 
 Anchorage, AK  99507                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:    Supports SB 238                                       
                                                                               
 Ms. Carol Jensen                                                              
 4800 East 112th                                                               
 Anchorage, AK 99516                                                           
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 238                                     
                                                                               
 Sgt. James McCann                                                             
 Alaska State Troopers                                                         
 1979 Peger Rd.                                                                
 Fairbanks, AK  99709-5298                                                     
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 238                                     
 Mr. James Jenning                                                             
 422 NRA Lane                                                                  
 Fairbanks, AK  99709                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 238                                     
                                                                               
 Ms. Beverly Nester                                                            
 5465 Chena Hot Springs Rd.                                                    
 Fairbanks, AK  99712                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 238                                     
                                                                               
 Mr. John Glotfelty                                                            
 2355 Sunflower Loop                                                           
 North Pole, AK  99705                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed on SB 238                                       
                                                                               
 Mr. Jim Ellison                                                               
 PO Box 55590                                                                  
 North Pole, AK  99705                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed to SB 238                                       
                                                                               
 Mr. Larry Petty                                                               
 PO Box 56114                                                                  
 North Pole, AK  99705                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed to SB 238                                       
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-5, SIDE A                                                             
 Number 001                                                                    
                   SB 238 CRUELTY TO ANIMALS                                  
                                                                              
  CHAIRMAN ROBIN TAYLOR  called the Judiciary Committee meeting to             
 order at 1:31 p.m.  The first order of business was SB 238.                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS, sponsor of SB 238, gave the following                 
 overview of the measure.  He sponsored SB 238 at the request of the           
 Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) because of            
 the lack of enforcement of prevention of animal cruelty.  The SPCA            
 concerns include: lack of animal care; vague animal statutes; and             
 a lack of resources to investigate complaints.  Two groups worked             
 to craft the bill:  the SPCA and MUSH (a dog mushers'                         
 organization).  He expressed concern about the fiscal notes, and              
 the steel jaw leg-hole traps for domesticated animals.                        
                                                                               
 Number 075                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS asked how local ordinances would play into this                 
 legislation.  SENATOR PHILLIPS was not sure.  SENATOR ADAMS asked             
 who would pay for shelter and vaccination costs once an animal is             
 picked up by DEC.  SENATOR PHILLIPS expressed concern that the                
 state would pay the cost.  SENATOR ADAMS referred to page 5, lines            
 8-9, and asked if any cultures presently consume dogs or cats.                
 SENATOR PHILLIPS was not aware of any in Alaska.  SENATOR ADAMS               
 asked if the bill contains a definition of "domestic animals."                
 SENATOR PHILLIPS stated the definition is contained on page 7,                
 lines 8-15.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 139                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR ELLIS asked how the Legislature should address criticism              
 leveled at cost of the bill at a time when people are demanding a             
 reduction in the size of state government.  SB 238 would take away            
 a responsibility that has traditionally been under the purview of             
 local government.  SENATOR PHILLIPS repeated his concern about the            
 cost of shifting the responsibility to the state and felt the                 
 supporters of the measure will need to address that issue.  He                
 added the impetus for SB 238 was the Chistochina incident where 70            
 dogs were abandoned, the majority of which had to be destroyed                
 because the legal process for rescuing them was so time-consuming.            
 He noted a second incident in which seven horses died during                  
 transport to Colorado.                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 188                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS questioned the legitimacy of the animal abuser                  
 registration requirement in light of the fact that the sex offender           
 registration law is being contested in court.  SENATOR PHILLIPS               
 stated that is the section he hoped the Judiciary Committee would             
 review.                                                                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR addressed the search warrant provision and stated              
 although it may be effective, the potential for abuse of the use of           
 search warrants, when insufficient proof for intrusion of private             
 property exists, is of great concern.  SENATOR TAYLOR stated a Rule           
 change would be necessary to change the search warrant process,               
 since under current law a person cannot independently request a               
 search warrant and then request a peace officer to accompany                  
 him/her to the scene.                                                         
                                                                               
 Number 241                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS asked about the penalty provisions.  SENATOR PHILLIPS           
 explained the first offense is a class A misdemeanor which carries            
 a 0-1 year prison term with up to a $5,000 fine.  The third offense           
 is a class C felony.  He added the bill is meant to draw attention            
 to incidents of animal cruelty.                                               
 The committee delayed further testimony on SB 238 so that SJR 31              
 could be heard.                                                               
 Number 267                                                                    
       SJR 31 VOTER APPROVAL:AK STATEHOOD ACT AMENDMENT                       
 SENATOR DRUE PEARCE, sponsor of SJR 31, gave the following history           
 and synopsis of the legislation.  The statehood compact, as entered           
 into by the people of the State of Alaska, is an agreement that               
 outlines our relationship with the federal government.  The                   
 provisions within the agreement were designed to assure Alaskans              
 that their rights under statehood are protected.  Constituent                 
 concern about the state's role in amending the statehood compact              
 has been expressed.  Currently there is no constitutional guidance            
 as to the proper process Alaskans should use to amend the compace.            
 The Legislature passed AS 01.10.110 which allows, by statute, the             
 Legislature to amend the Compact unilaterally, without bringing any           
 proposed changes to a vote of the people.  This issue has become              
 very sensitive as the debate about opening ANWR to oil and gas                
 development continues before Congress.  The congressional                     
 legislation would give the State 50 percent of the mineral                    
 royalties.  The question as to what royalty share Alaskans will               
 accept should be decided on its merits, and should be taken to the            
 people of the state.  It would be more appropriate to answer the              
 fundamental question of how changes should be addressed, by placing           
 the question on the November ballot.  A mechanism needs to be                 
 created by which Alaskans can accept changes to the statehood                 
 compact because other issues will arise in the future.  SJR 31 is             
 offered as a solution to the problem.  She materials contained in             
 committee members' packets which include Charles Cole's article in            
 the Wall Street Journal regarding the lawsuit filed in 1993 against           
 the federal government for breach of the Alaska statehood compact,            
 a legislative update by Attorney General Botelho (#22).  She noted            
 the final brief was filed by the United States in November, and               
 oral arguments should begin soon.                                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR questioned whether the wording of the amendment                
 would require the legislature to affirmatively act on something               
 before the people would be asked to ratify that action.  He asked             
 if the question of whether to split the royalties 50-50 or 90-10              
 would be up to the people themselves, and whether the legislature             
 would merely be supplying the vehicle for public action.  SENATOR             
 PEARCE replied that providing the vehicle means the Legislature has           
 to affirmatively pass a resolution to put the question on the                 
 ballot, which is the only way to get to the ballot.                           
                                                                               
 Number 238                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR thought SJR 31 might go beyond that because the                
 phrase, "A law, enacted by the legislature, giving the approval of            
 the State to an amendment of the Act...," would mean that the                 
 Legislature has voted affirmatively to approve, in this example,              
 the 50-50 split.  That split would then be ratified by the people.            
 He suggested having the legislature pose the question of approval             
 to the people.  SENATOR PEARCE felt any legislature that puts a               
 compact question on the ballot would do so only if the majority of            
 legislators approve of it, however she would not be opposed to                
 changing that language.  She stated her goal is to get the question           
 to the people.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 343                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS disagreed with Senator Taylor's opinion of the                  
 language.  Under changes made in 1976 legislation, any legislature            
 is permitted to take action on an activity that involves the                  
 royalty split of 50-50 versus 90-10.  SENATOR ADAMS felt the                  
 committee should review the legal opinion, since the 50-50                    
 provision in the NPRA was not challenged by any Alaskan.  He added            
 that SB 200 provides for legislative action on ANWR, however is               
 only germane to ANWR.                                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR PEARCE commented she is personally uncomfortable placing              
 the ANWR split before the people on the ballot until Congress has             
 taken action.  SJR 31 was drafted to fit the statutes so that it              
 follows the same legislative approval process and adds voter                  
 ratification.  AS 01.10.110 could be changed at a later date if the           
 ballot passes.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 369                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR felt the question to be the vehicle by which the               
 change occurs: either through the legislative process or through              
 the legislature calling upon the people for approval.  In the 1976            
 legislative vote the legislature assumed it had this power unto               
 itself.                                                                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS asked if there are any other amendments being                   
 considered to the statehood compact at this time.  No one was aware           
 of any.                                                                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if the provision under discussion is part of             
 the Mineral Leasing Act.  SENATOR PEARCE replied affirmatively, and           
 explained the statehood compact provided that all laws of Congress            
 would effect Alaska as they did other states.  Under the Mineral              
 Leasing Act other western states get 50 percent of the royalties              
 and an additional 40 percent is placed in a fund under the                    
 Reclamation Act for distribution to states for reclamation                    
 projects.                                                                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR stated it is his sense from the outset of this issue           
 that the appropriate way to find authority for the type of                    
 amendment being contemplated is to return to the people who gave              
 their consent to be governed in this fashion originally.  There was           
 a significant debate on the issue of statehood itself and because             
 the issues debated were of such magnitude it is important they be             
 revisited.  One of those serious provisions is being changed in               
 Congress unilaterally at this time.  The Governor's decision to not           
 sue on behalf of the people for the violation of the statehood                
 compact was disturbing since the Governor put himself in the                  
 position of being sued for failing to protect Alaska's                        
 Constitution.  Senator Taylor urged the Governor to bring the issue           
 to the people for decision, and was informed by the Attorney                  
 General of the 1976 legislation giving that power to the                      
 legislature alone.  Senator Taylor believes, if challenged, that              
 argument would fail, on the same basis that the legislature's                 
 attempts to further define and amend the constitutional budget                
 reserve by legislative action failed before the court because the             
 legislature does not have the power to redefine a constitutional              
 amendment.  He repeated his concern about the manner in which the             
 vehicle created in SJR 31 brings a vote to the people.  The true              
 debate is whether the legislature will make the decisions about               
 amending the statehood compact, or whether those decisions will be            
 placed before the people that consented to be governed in this way            
 in the first place.                                                           
                                                                               
 Number 425                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR PEARCE explained that there is a basic misunderstanding in            
 Washington, D.C. about the compact lawsuit before the court.  The             
 state has already sued on 90-10.  The Governor has said that if               
 Congress passed 50-50, he would drop that portion of the lawsuit.             
 To date, the Administration has not done so.  She added that                  
 conversely, Alaskans may want to change the compact themselves, at            
 some point in time.  In such a case, Alaska would move first and              
 then ask Congress to approve the action.  She did not foresee the             
 legislature taking a position on an Act and placing it before the             
 voters.                                                                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR stated to get it from us to them, some would argue             
 that the legislature would unilaterally be able to speak for the              
 people.  Conversely, it is conceivable that the state could tell              
 Congress it wants a 95-5 split.  SENATOR PEARCE felt that requiring           
 both legislative approval and voter ratification would eliminate              
 that problem.  SENATOR TAYLOR stated the committee will have to               
 take a serious look at the attorney generals' opinions that have              
 been rendered over the last several years, as well as the 1976 law.           
                                                                               
 SENATOR PEARCE commented that the actions taken on NPRA are the               
 weak link in the statehood compact lawsuit, if one exists.                    
                                                                               
 DAVID BATTENBERG, representing the Northern Alaska Environmental              
 Center in Fairbanks, testified in support of voter ratification of            
 amendments to the statehood compact, regardless of whether the                
 amendment pertains to ANWR.  He commended Senator Pearce for her              
 work on SJR 31.                                                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR announced the committee would hold a worksession on            
 SJR 31 next week, and hopefully move it from committee at that                
 time.                                                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS asked that the committee request a legal opinion on             
 the legislation passed in 1976 in regard to the statehood compact.            
 SENATOR TAYLOR agreed to do so.                                               
 There being no further testimony on SJR 31, the committee                     
 readdressed SB 238 and took teleconference testimony.                         
 Number 459                                                                    
                  SB 238 CRUELTY TO ANIMALS                                  
                                                                               
 BRETT REID, City of Kenai, stated an alternative bill, HB 386,                
 includes a provision allowing first and second class boroughs to              
 establish and enforce cruelty prevention ordinances which he and              
 other animal control agencies, support.  Borough authority is not             
 in statute and is a loophole that needs to be closed.  His concerns           
 with SB 238 are as follows:  include animal control officers in the           
 definition of "humane enforcement officer" on page 4; delete the              
 section on consumption of dogs and cats as it might be a cultural             
 bias issue; and delete the registration section for reasons                   
 mentioned earlier.                                                            
                                                                               
 BILL GODEK, City of Kenai, agreed with Mr. Reid's testimony.  He              
 supported the rabies vaccination provision to prevent the spread of           
 rabies, especially in rural Alaska where rabies is endemic in the             
 wildlife population. He suggested adding a subsection (c) under               
 Section 3 to allow a person to destroy an animal for health and               
 safety reasons.  He also suggested changing Section 2 (1) to read,            
 "knowingly inflicts severe physical pain or suffering on an                   
 animal."                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 534                                                                    
                                                                               
 DIANE ZARFOSS, representing the Alaska SPCA, stated her strong                
 support for SB 238 as there is no sound legislation to cover                  
 incidents that do occur.  The goal of the AK SPCA is to have                  
 statutory definitions of animal cruelty to enable the legal system            
 to address the issue in a timely manner.  Regarding the fiscal                
 notes, she stated the AK SPCA has, and will, voluntarily assist               
 peace officers.  She thought the legislation would curb animal                
 abuse, with few cases ending up in court.  The AK SPCA is willing             
 to eliminate the registration provision and to modify the rabies              
 vaccination provision.                                                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS asked if the AK SPCA, or the animal owners, should              
 pay for rabies vaccinations, in light of the state's budget                   
 deficit.  MS. ZARFOSS explained that rabies vaccinations are                  
 currently made available by the state, to outlying areas.  She                
 would like to see that program continue and permit SPCA volunteers            
 to become lay vaccinators.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 580                                                                    
                                                                               
 JANICE ADAIR, Department of Environmental Conservation, stated DEC            
 would be responsible for investigating complaints, arranging for              
 care and shelter of abused animals, administering the rabies                  
 vaccination program, and maintaining an abuser registration system,           
 which would require abusers to notify the department of changes of            
 address for a 10 year period under SB 238.  She discussed                     
 differences in penalties provided in SB 238 as well as definitional           
 changes that are problematic.  For instance, the definition of                
 animal in existing law includes any animal but fish, therefore DEC            
 interprets the bill to mean hitting a moose with a railroad car to            
 carry a second degree cruelty to animal charge.  The bill would               
 essentially ban mouse traps.  Additionally, DEC would be required             
 to provide annually, to every municipality, rabies vaccines at no             
 more than the cost of the vaccine.  DEC believes animal cruelty is            
 a shameful activity that needs to be dealt with, but feels the                
 problem could be more expeditiously addressed at the local level,             
 by local animal control officers.                                             
                                                                               
 Number 561                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR ADAMS noted DEC projected 70 animal cruelty investigations            
 per year in its fiscal note.  MS. ADAIR stated DEC made that                  
 estimate based on the number of complaints currently received, and            
 added that many neighbors file animal complaints against each                 
 other. No complaints are investigated by DEC.                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked who investigates complaints.  MS. ADAIR                  
 responded the complaints are investigated by animal control                   
 officers or by the Alaska State Troopers.  SENATOR TAYLOR commented           
 that it appears there had not been a very spirited level of                   
 enforcement in the incidents referred to by Senator Phillips.                 
                                                                               
 JAMES JENNINGS, a furrier from Fairbanks, made the following                  
 comments.  SB 238 does not require a veterinarian to make the                 
 diagnostic call on an animal before it is seized, and the agencies            
 included in the bill do not have veterinarians on staff.  When an             
 animal is seized without a formal diagnosis, lawsuits may                     
 proliferate.  Regarding the horse tragedy last fall, the                      
 responsible party is being prosecuted.  By opening up search                  
 warrants to private citizens, a Nazi-type society could be                    
 established.  Regarding the definition of employees, the bill does            
 not specify whether a peace officer would be able to designate                
 power to an entity that is not professionally trained.  There are             
 differing opinions on animal care.  Animals are possessions,                  
 therefore it should be the owner's right to eat one, if desired.              
 Requiring that housing for animals be structurally sound could                
 require a structural engineer to design or inspect animal                     
 dwellings.  His primary concern with SB 238 is the lack of a                  
 requirement for a veterinarian to diagnose an animal, to protect              
 both the animals' and individual's rights.                                    
                                                                               
 Number 507                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if Mr. Jennings believes a greater level of              
 enforcement is necessary.  MR. JENNINGS replied the law is                    
 adequate; the problem lies with getting peace officers to enforce             
 those laws.  By using veterinary diagnoses, most cases will not               
 reach the court system, as owners will plead out.                             
                                                                               
 BEVERLY NESTER, a pet shop owner, highlighted her concerns with SB            
 238.  Peace officers would not be liable if the animal seized is              
 harmed.  There is no description of who the seized animal would be            
 given to, nor is there any description of who would be liable if              
 the animal got a disease or was harmed while in the person's care.            
 Many exotic animals need very specialized care.   Peace officers              
 are not trained to make vet calls.  People requesting warrants                
 should not be associates as the chance for conspiracy is too great.           
 Veterinarians should be the only ones to determine an animal's                
 condition and welfare.  She suggested having the Division of                  
 Agriculture oversee this program and determine minimum standards of           
 space needed for animals.  She does not believe scientific research           
 is an excuse for cruelty to animals.  The 72 hour feeding                     
 requirement is not appropriate for some pets, such as snakes.                 
                                                                               
 Number 458                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR ELLIS asked Ms. Nester to elaborate on her conspiracy                 
 comment.  MS. NESTER referred to page 3, lines 15-16.  She believed           
 the person applying for the search warrant should not be associated           
 with the witnesses they produce.  As a pet shop owner, and as a               
 former member of the Fairbanks Borough Animal Control Commission,             
 there have been acts of conspiracy to put pet shop owners out of              
 business, or to take animals away from certain people.                        
                                                                               
 SALLY CLAMPITT, representing Alaska Equine Rescue, testified in               
 support of SB 238.  There is an enormous amount of neglect and                
 cruelty to horses in this state.  Horses present a unique problem             
 in that they cannot be easily transported to a local animal                   
 shelter.  Alaska Equine Rescue is not concerned about the rabies              
 provision, since rabies do not apply to horses, and the group does            
 not have strong feelings about the registration provision.  A                 
 prevailing problem with animal abuse is with obtaining a clear                
 determination of whether or not abuse exists.  Veterinarians differ           
 in their opinions and there are no uniform standards of care.                 
                                                                               
 Number 413                                                                    
                                                                               
 LIZ DODD, representing the Alaska affiliate of the ACLU, testified            
 in opposition to SB 238, due to the registration requirement.  The            
 ACLU opposed the sex offender registration legislation on the basis           
 that it would open the floodgates to registrys.  Registrys are a              
 way of punishing people through public ridicule and admonishment.             
 The argument that a a sex offender registry would serve public                
 protection does not hold for this measure.  The bill does not                 
 contain any mention of who could access the registry and could lead           
 to a punishment not fitting the crime, since every employer in the            
 state could have access to the registry.  Regarding designating DEC           
 as the adminstering agency, DEC has more pressing needs, such as              
 water cleanup, and is not adequately staffed to run this program.             
 ACLU does not support cruelty to animals but does not feel SB 238             
 adequately addresses the problem.                                             
                                                                               
 CAROL JENSEN supported the testimony of Mr. Reid and Mr. Godek of             
 Kenai.  This legislation will not take authority away from local              
 governments because very few communities have organized animal                
 control forces or laws.  Even in Anchorage it is often difficult to           
 get action on some of the most severe and highly publicized abuses.           
 SB 238 would stop animal abusers from being protected by the lack             
 of adequate laws.  She suggested changing line 2 on page 5 to read,           
 "inflicts severe and prolonged suffering on an animal;...."                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR ELLIS asked Ms. Jensen to elaborate on her written                    
 testimony about accepted standards for scientific research.  She              
 replied she was hoping the committee would delete the section that            
 exempts people who cause pain and suffering to animals in research            
 labs from prosecution.  She noted there are many violations of                
 minimal standards for animal care and cruelty at research labs                
 nationwide and other more humane ways of conducting medical                   
 research exist.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 318                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR described PSP testing procedures conducted at the              
 Palmer testing lab to ensure mussels and oysters "farmed" in the              
 state are safe before they are sold on the commercial market.  That           
 lab would be subject to sanction if that section was removed.  MS.            
 JENSEN responded that other methods of PSP testing exist and should           
 be reviewed.                                                                  
                                                                               
 SGT. JAMES MCCANN, Alaska State Trooper and President of Alaska               
 Equine Rescue, testified from Fairbanks.  He stated prosecutors and           
 state troopers see the current statute as vague and too open to               
 subjective opinion.  The state troopers would require a                       
 veterinarian to make a decision about impoundment of an animal,               
 however local veterinarians called upon to do the job are afraid to           
 make the decisions as it impacts their reputations and businesses.            
 He noted the state veterinarian has not testified on this measure,            
 and he felt it is important to get feedback from the state                    
 veterinarian board.  Police officers can seize animals as evidence            
 in cruelty cases under current statute.  Regarding the search                 
 warrant provision in SB 238, anyone could sign an affidavit to get            
 a search warrant.  This procedure could create a chaotic situation            
 at AST headquarters.  The Dept. of Public Safety would like to see            
 the current method of obtaining a search warrant continue.  DPS               
 does not support the animal abuser registration provision because             
 of the problems associated with sex offender registry.  He added              
 people will be reluctant to report cruelty cases, and making the              
 punishment a felony would decrease reporting.  Alaska Equine Rescue           
 believes if a person wants to humanely kill his/her horse and use             
 the carcass for whatever purpose, the owner should have that right.           
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked Sgt. MCCANN to send written comments to                  
 committee members.                                                            
                                                                               
 Number 202                                                                    
                                                                               
 MICHELLE GIRAULT, representing Friends of Pets, testified in                  
 support of SB 238.  Friends of Pets believes it is time to take               
 animal abuse very seriously and believes there is a strong link               
 between animal abuse, child abuse, and other forms of abuse that              
 surface later in life.  SB 238 tightens up existing laws and                  
 provides prosectors with an important tool.                                   
                                                                               
 JOHN GLOTFELTY, a Delta farmer and President of the North Pole                
 Borough Planning Commission, made the following points.  Animal               
 control officers are not peace officers and should not be given the           
 same powers.  Second class boroughs which do not have law                     
 enforcement powers should not be granted those powers through the             
 back door.  The Division of Agriculture is the appropriate agency             
 to oversee animal care and should determine standards and solicit             
 public comment before legislation is passed.  He supports the                 
 position taken by the Department of Public Safety, and believes               
 serious constitutional and legal problems exist with this measure             
 since the legislature cannot grant powers to a borough without                
 voter approval.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 158                                                                    
                                                                               
 ETHEL CHRISTENSEN. volunteer director of the SPCA, testified in               
 support of SB 238.  The AK SPCA does not intend to create a new               
 bureaucracy, but rather to continue to be the focal point for                 
 complaints in the state.  It needs a list of qualified animal                 
 control or state humane officers.  Those officers could work                  
 outside of their jurisdictions but need state certification.  She             
 does not believe it is necessary to have a veterinarian do all                
 diagnoses.  The AK SPCA has been trying to work with the state to             
 establish a volunteer training program to administer rabies                   
 vaccinations.                                                                 
                                                                               
 JIM ELLISON, a farmer, testified from Fairbanks.  He believes the             
 Division of Agriculture should have oversight of this program,                
 since it is familiar with animal husbandry.  As written, range-run            
 cattle would be considered abandoned and could be seized by the               
 state.  SB 238 does not take into consideration traditional and               
 customary farming methods, such as roping, branding, and neutering,           
 which could be considered cruel treatment.  There are no nutrition,           
 housing and sanitation standards for livestock that fit all of                
 Alaska.                                                                       
                                                                               
 LARRY PETTY, testifying from Fairbanks, stated the Division of                
 Agriculture needs to oversee programs associated with farm animals.           
                                                                               
 ART GRISWOLD, testifying from Fairbanks, agreed with Mr. Petty and            
 added the Cooperative Extension Service supplies feeding guides for           
 animals of different types in Alaska.                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR TAYLOR announced the committee would be working with the              
 sponsor of the legislation and will provide sufficient public                 
 notice before the bill is rescheduled.  He adjourned the meeting at           
 3:05 p.m.                                                                     
                                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects