Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/23/1997 01:44 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                   SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE                                  
                         April 23, 1997                                        
                           1:44 p.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator Robin Taylor, Chair                                                   
 Senator Drue Pearce, Vice-chair                                               
 Senator Sean Parnell                                                          
 Senator Johnny Ellis                                                          
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 Senator Mike Miller                                                           
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 119(JUD)                                                
 "An Act raising the limit on small claims actions to $7,500;                  
 amending Rule 9, Alaska Rules of Administration; and providing for            
 an effective date."                                                           
  MOVED CSHB 119(JUD) FROM COMMITTEE WITH INDIVIDUAL                           
 SENATE CS FOR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 30(L&C)                                   
 "An Act relating to civil liability for certain skating and cycling           
 activities; and providing for an effective date."                             
  HEARD AND HELD                                                               
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 6(FIN) am                                               
 "An Act relating to minors and amending laws relating to the                  
 disclosure of information relating to certain minors."                        
  HEARD AND HELD                                                               
 CS FOR HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 4(JUD)                                 
 Relating to records generated and maintained by the Department of             
 Health and Social Services.                                                   
  SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                      
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 HB 119 - No previous Senate committee action.                                 
 HB 30 - See Senate Labor & Commerce minutes dated 4/08/97.                    
 HB 6 - No previous Senate committee action.                                   
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Representative Mark Hodgins                                                   
 Alaska State Capitol                                                          
 Juneau, Alaska  99801-1182                                                    
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Sponsor of HB 119                                      
 Representative Eldon Mulder                                                   
 Alaska State Capitol                                                          
 Juneau, Alaska  99081-1182                                                    
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Sponsor of HB 30                                       
 Kevin Ritchie                                                                 
 Executive Director                                                            
 Alaska Municipal League                                                       
 217 Second St., Suite 200                                                     
 Juneau, AK  99801                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supports HB 30                                         
 Kevin Smith                                                                   
 Joint Insurance Company                                                       
 Alaska Municipal League                                                       
 217 Second St., Suite 200                                                     
 Juneau, AK  99801                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supports HB 30                                         
 Connie Jones                                                                  
 Cultural & Recreational Services Director                                     
 Municipality of Anchorage                                                     
 P.O. Box 196650                                                               
 Anchorage, AK  99519-6650                                                     
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supports HB 30                                         
 Colin Whiddon                                                                 
 1116 Baranof                                                                  
 Kodiak, AK  99615                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supports HB 30                                         
 Ian Fulp                                                                      
 Parks & Recreation Director                                                   
 City of Kodiak                                                                
 P.O. Box 1397                                                                 
 Kodiak, AK  99615                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports HB 30                                          
 Richard Bittick                                                               
 Parks & Recreation Division                                                   
 City of Seward                                                                
 P.O. Box 167                                                                  
 Seward, AK  99664                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supports HB 30                                         
 Nancy Robb                                                                    
 Parks & Recreation Director                                                   
 City of Valdez                                                                
 P.O. Box 307                                                                  
 Valdez, AK  99686                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supports HB 30                                         
 Laurie Whiddon                                                                
 1116 Baranof                                                                  
 Kodiak, AK  99615                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supports HB 30                                         
 Claudia Anderson                                                              
 P.O. Box 310                                                                  
 Kodiak, AK  99615                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supports HB 30                                         
 Chief Palmer                                                                  
 Kodiak Police Department                                                      
 City of Kodiak                                                                
 P.O. Box 1397                                                                 
 Kodiak, AK  99615                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supports HB 30                                         
 Mel Perkins                                                                   
 9349 Turn St.                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed to HB 30                                       
 Jay Sonner                                                                    
 9360 Turn St.                                                                 
 Juneau, Alaska                                                                
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Supports HB 30                                         
 Representative Pete Kelly                                                     
 Alaska State Capitol                                                          
 Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Sponsor of HB 6                                        
 Barbara Brink                                                                 
 Public Defender Agency                                                        
 900 W 5th Ave #200                                                            
 Anchorage, AK  99501                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed to HB 6                                        
 Pam Karalunas                                                                 
 P.O. Box 73893                                                                
 Fairbanks, AK  99707                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Expressed concerns about HB 6                          
 C-Joe Dimatteo                                                                
 3333 Denali St. #201                                                          
 Anchorage, AK  99503                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Expressed concerns about HB 6                          
 D. Bunti Reed                                                                 
 3725 Portage Blvd.                                                            
 Juneau, AK  99081                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed to HB 6                                        
 Laura Roen                                                                    
 9151 Parkwood Dr.                                                             
 Juneau, AK  99801                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:    Opposed to HB 6                                       
 Mary Messner                                                                  
 P.O. Box 1069                                                                 
 Barrow, AK  99723                                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Opposed to HB 6                                         
 Cecelia Davis                                                                 
 4853C Last Frontier Circle                                                    
 Eielson Air Force Base, AK  99702                                             
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Commented on HB 6                                      
 Lori Namyniuk                                                                 
 P.O. Box 190221                                                               
 Anchorage, AK  99519                                                          
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed to HB 6                                        
 Margo Knuth                                                                   
 Assistant Attorney General                                                    
 Department of Law                                                             
 P.O. Box 110300                                                               
 Juneau, AK  99811-0300                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Commented on HB 6                                      
 Dr. Russell Hoffman                                                           
 140 Kilbuk                                                                    
 Bethel, AK                                                                    
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Commented on HB 6                                      
 Johy Cyr, President                                                           
 210 Second St.                                                                
 Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Commented on HB 6                                      
 Diane Worley, Director                                                        
 Division of Family & Youth Services                                           
 Dept. of Health and Social Services                                           
 P.O. Box 110630                                                               
 Juneau, AK  99811-0630                                                        
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on HB 6                                       
 Angela Salerno                                                                
 National Association of Social Workers,                                       
   Alaska Chapter                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Opposed to HB 6                                        
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 TAPE 97-29, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 00                                                                     
  CHAIRMAN ROBIN TAYLOR  called the Judiciary Committee meeting to             
 order at 1:44 and announced the presence of Senators Pearce and               
 Parnell.  He noted the teleconference sites participating in                  
 today's hearing were Anchorage, Kodiak, Fairbanks, Petersburg,                
 Seward, Valdez and Wrangell.  The first order of business was HB
           HB 119 INCREASE SMALL CLAIMS JURISDICTION                          
  REPRESENTATIVE MARK HODGINS , sponsor of HB 119, explained the               
 measure raises the limit amount in small claims court from $5,000             
 (set in 1986) to $7,500 to reflect inflation, and will allow people           
 to use that court for more small claims.  HB 119 maintains the $25            
 fee for claims of $1 to $2500 but raises the fee for claims from              
 $2500 to $7500 to $50.00.  He urged committee members to support              
 the measure.                                                                  
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  noted he supported the increase in 1986.  There             
 were no other witnesses to testify on HB 119.                                 
  SENATOR PARNELL  moved HB 119 from committee with individual                 
           HB  30 CIVIL LIABILITY FOR SKATEBOARDING                           
  REPRESENTATIVE ELDON MULDER , sponsor of HB 30, gave the following           
 overview.  The measure was introduced at the request of the                   
 Municipality of Anchorage (MOA), City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ)             
 and numerous other communities throughout the State:  Fairbanks,              
 Sitka, Valdez, and Petersburg.  These communities have indicated              
 interest in creating skating and cycling parks so that skaters and            
 cyclers will have a designated place to ride, rather than using               
 pedestrian areas.  Municipalities are willing to develop areas                
 suitable for these activities if they can be insulated from                   
 liability for claims arising from hazards inherent to those                   
 activities.  The intent of HB 30 is to encourage municipalities to            
 proceed with development of areas for outdoor recreation without              
 unnecessarily increasing their liability.  HB 30 only applies to              
 municipal skating and cycling parks and is patterned after                    
 legislation that passed three years ago which pertained to ski                
 areas.  The protection from liability relates to inherent dangers             
 and risks associated with skating and cycling.  Municipalities will           
 be required to post signs warning participants of the risks                   
 involved and disclaiming liability.                                           
 Number 084                                                                    
  SENATOR ELLIS  asked if there might be any possible unintended               
 consequences on liability if those activities occur outside of                
 designated areas.                                                             
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER  did not believe so, but deferred to                   
 representatives from the Alaska Municipal League.                             
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  stated HB 30 is based on an assumption of an                
 inherent risk of using the facility.  He asked at what age the                
 discretion to make that assumption should occur.                              
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER  answered the assumption goes to the fact that         
 there is an inherent risk in skateboarding, in-line skating, or               
 using a bicycle on these premises, and is within those activities             
 rather than the facility itself.  Accidents are currently occurring           
 in public areas but there is no plethora or lawsuits because there            
 is no one to sue.  The facilities will have to be challenging to              
 encourage youth to use these facilities, which poses a risk to                
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  clarified he was asking at what age a child should          
 be considered capable of understanding the inherent risk involved:            
 age 5, 7, or at the age one can read a warning sign.                          
  TIM SULLIVAN , staff to Representative Mulder, explained the bill is         
 not age-specific but does contain a provision related to                      
 responsibility.  He read subsection (B) on page 4, line 12:                   
 (B) if the person does not have sufficient physical dexterity                
 or ability and knowledge to negotiate or use the facility                     
 safely; in the case of a minor who uses a municipal skating or                
 cycling facility, the minor's parent or legal guardian is                     
 responsible for determining whether the minor satisfies the                   
 requirements of this paragraph;                                               
 Mr. Sullivan said he believes that language is consistent with the            
 direction the Legislature has taken over the past few years to make           
 parents more responsible for their children's activities.                     
 Number 160                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked who would be responsible in a situation in            
 which a 14 year old, who is responsible for taking care of his 4              
 year old brother during the summer while the parents are working,             
 takes the 4 year old to the skateboard park where he is injured.              
 REPRESENTATIVE MULDER    thought it would depend on how the injury            
 occurred.  It could have occurred as the result of negligent                  
 construction or while the child was an onlooker.  He believed the             
 real question in that case is what the two children would be doing            
 if the facility was not there.  If the assumption is that they                
 would both be skateboarding, they would be doing so on the street.            
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  said that issue is related to whether or not the            
 Legislature needs to regulate laws that are currently on the books            
 that municipalities choose not to enforce.  He asked at what point            
 does immunity from liability attach to the four year old.  He                 
 repeated that HB 30 is based on the assumption that skateboard and            
 cycling are inherently riskier than other activities.                         
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER  answered the number of these types of                 
 injuries that occur in the public today cannot be accounted for               
 because no parks have been built so there has been no "deep                   
 pocket," but once a municipality officially sanctions a facility,             
 a "deep pocket" will be exposed.  He added the only municipally-              
 sanctioned facility in Alaska that he is aware of is a very small             
 facility in Kodiak and recently a child was injured at the facility           
 and is suing the city.                                                        
 Number 216                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  noted he has seen skateboard facilities in                  
 California, Washington, Idaho, and Florida.  He asked                         
 Representative Mulder to cite another State that has passed an                
 immunity bill similar to HB 30.                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER  deferred to representatives from the Alaska           
 Municipal League.                                                             
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked whether anyone requested information from             
 Legal Research about other states.   REPRESENTATIVE MULDER  replied           
 he did not.                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  said, if HB 30 is valid and municipalities need             
 immunity in order to have recreational equipment for children, the            
 Legislature needs to know how many children are injured when                  
 playing football and diving in swimming pools, or when                        
 participating in other activities on municipal lands.  He                     
 emphasized if there are cases where communities are suffering                 
 serious legal challenges because of liability for recreational                
 activities, the Legislature should provide immunity for all of                
 those activities.  He concluded there may not be a problem, since             
 communities do allow for recreational activities and cover the                
 risk.  He expressed concern that HB 30 will allow municipalities to           
 turn their backs on injured children and asked that Representative            
 Mulder provide legal research on this issue.                                  
 Number 256                                                                    
  KEVIN RITCHIE , Executive Director of the Alaska Municipal League            
 (AML), and  KEVIN SMITH , with AML's Joint Insurance Program, took            
 the witness stand.  Mr. Ritchie explained that the Joint Insurance            
 Program is an insurance pool governed separately from the AML.  He            
 stated HB 30 is a priority bill for the AML because it will allow             
 municipalities to provide an area for an activity which is                    
 inherently dangerous and is occurring in places that municipalities           
 have outlawed, or are in the process of outlawing, because it is              
 dangerous to participants and others.  Skateboarding has become a             
 tourism/business issue because it often occurs in downtown areas.             
 AML would like to channel these children into a supervised area.              
 Because the activities are currently occurring in illegal areas,              
 there is no liability issue when injuries occur but if parks are              
 created by municipalities, they will be assuming liability.  HB 30            
 would provide the same type of immunity that is currently provided            
 for municipal ski areas.                                                      
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  referred to the repeated use of the term                    
 "inherently dangerous" and asked Mr. Ritchie what the risks are.              
  MR. RITCHIE  replied that Representative Mulder referred to a broken         
 arm.  He noted an additional advantage to a designated park is that           
 protective gear can be required and limit the number and types of             
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked what specific injuries are known to exist             
 from this activity in skateboard parks.                                       
  MR. SMITH  responded that skateboarding is done with great speed and         
 requires balance. The injuries are not limited to, but include,               
 broken bones, backs, necks, and brain stem and head injuries.                 
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked if the municipalities insured under the Joint         
 Insurance Program have risk management programs and are advised on            
 how to avoid certain risks.   MR. SMITH  answered that is correct.            
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked how playground equipment is dealt with.   MR.         
 SMITH  answered it is inspected for entrapment hazards, for exposed           
 rivets, for adequate ground cover, etc.                                       
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked why that is done.   MR. SMITH  said it is done        
 to make the playground safer.   CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  said it is also done         
 to prevent lawsuits and keep insurance rates from increasing.  He             
 asked why there are fewer pieces of playground equipment on                   
 playgrounds today.   MR. SMITH  replied that a lot of lawsuits over           
 the safety of playground equipment have been filed against                    
 municipalities and safer equipment has been designed.                         
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked if Mr. Smith meant safer than something that          
 is inherently dangerous.   MR. SMITH  said yes, swinging is not as            
 inherently dangerous as skateboarding.   CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked if            
 some of the equipment that has been taken out of playgrounds is as            
 inherently dangerous as skateboarding.   MR. SMITH  replied some of           
 them probably were.                                                           
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked why HB 30 shouldn't be expanded to include            
 all of that equipment if we want to encourage activities that are             
 inherently risky.   MR. SMITH  said he was in favor of broadening the         
 immunity to any outdoor recreational activity.  He noted in his               
 research, he found that municipalities have been sued in a number             
 of states for skateboarding activities.  A number of states have a            
 broader statute and gives any property owner some limited liability           
 from injuries resulting from outdoor recreational activities.                 
 Number 391                                                                    
  MR. RITCHIE  pointed out the AML targeted skateboarding, cycling,            
 and in-line skating because they are becoming national sports and             
 have extensive safety guidelines and equipment.  HB 30 does not               
 stop the evolution of safety in the sport, it will help it.  If a             
 municipality designs a skateboard park that does not meet                     
 appropriate safety standards, the municipality will be liable if an           
 injury results.  Municipalities would be liable for negligence.               
 The type of inherent injury that hopefully will never happen can be           
 protected against, but not fully.  Although the Joint Insurance               
 Program is a large program, one serious injury would have a                   
 significant impact.                                                           
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  stated what AML wants is to be immune from                  
 negligence.   REPRESENTATIVE MULDER  explained the bill maintains             
 that a community is liable if the design of the facility is found             
 to be faulty.   CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  noted the only requirement for a             
 municipality is posting a sign.   MR. SMITH  said municipalities              
 would also be responsible for maintaining the facility.                       
 Number 425                                                                    
  MR. RITCHIE  did not believe HB 30, or the law that covers ski               
 areas, creates what attorneys call a "bright line."  It attempts to           
 add some definition and does not create a solid line as to what is            
 negligent and what is not.                                                    
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER  pointed out that language on page 3, line 10,         
 prohibits a municipality from constructing a facility in a                    
 negligent manner and recognizes that there is a safe way to build             
 and maintain these facilities.  Language on page 5, lines 7-8,                
 specifies that a municipality is not immune from liability for                
 negligence.  He repeated that is not the intention of HB 30.                  
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked how many cities the Joint Insurance Program           
 insures.   MR. SMITH  replied there are 113 participants, including           
 schools and municipalities.   CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked how much they            
 are charged for recreational coverage for skateboard parks now.               
  MR. SMITH  said it is included in the general liability policy and           
 began July 1, 1996.                                                           
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked what claims have been filed.   MR. SMITH  said        
 one claim has been filed against Kodiak by the child who broke his            
 arm while in-line skating.  The City of Kodiak had set up a                   
 grinding rail about 18 inches off the ground with ramps on either             
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  inquired whether the family filed a claim with the          
 city, or a lawsuit.   MR. SMITH  said the family has only filed a             
 claim at this date.                                                           
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  stated only one claim has been filed so far this            
 year in 100 cities.   MR. SMITH  agreed but said the AML only began           
 offering coverage less than one year ago and it takes a while to              
 build a skateboard park.  The injury in Kodiak occurred in the teen           
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked what the Joint Insurance Program charges the          
 cities for this increased risk.   MR. SMITH  said there was no                
 increase in premiums but the program requires a retrospective audit           
 at the end of the year and then premium adjustments are made.  The            
 Joint Insurance Program board members are getting pressure from               
 municipal officials and businesses to deal with the problem of                
 skateboarding so they decided to provide coverage and to support HB
 Number 480                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked to what extent this issue was researched              
 before the board decided to provide coverage.   MR. SMITH  said he            
 did a lot of research, but found there is not a great deal of data            
 available.  He found there is a great deal of paranoia within the             
 insurance industry about skateboarding and it was difficult to                
 determine a figure based on actuarial information.                            
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked whether Mr. Smith found any cases within the          
 last 15 years any place in the nation where someone actually sued             
 a skateboard park.   MR. SMITH  answered no, probably because there           
 are not a lot of skateboard parks because of the lack or expense of           
 liability insurance.  In a general liability insurance program,               
 skateboarding is excluded.  The Joint Insurance Program is a                  
 totally different creature from a commercial insurance company.  HB
 30 was initially introduced to provide coverage to municipalities             
 where coverage was not available.  Coverage is available at $10,000           
 to $25,000 on a stand alone basis for municipalities that are not             
 in the Joint Insurance Program pool.                                          
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked where Mr. Smith got that information.   MR.           
 SMITH  answered he got it from Gallagher, Heffern Insurance in San            
 Francisco and explained the varying amount depends on deductibles             
 and is site specific.                                                         
 Number 518                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  stated he is hearing conflicting information and            
 asked what the $25,000 premium is based on if no lawsuits have been           
 filed in the past 15 years.  He questioned whether this whole                 
 movement is being driven by the paranoia of the insurance                     
 companies.   MR. SMITH  replied the premium he was quoted was based           
 on the market.   CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  said usually insurance rates are            
 based upon claims, rather than what the market will bear.                     
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  repeated his concern that HB 30 grants immunity for         
 something that no one can find a case on in the past 15 years and             
 questioned whether municipalities should be immunized from                    
 liability for all recreational activities.                                    
  MR. RITCHIE  informed the committee that he is an ex-officio member          
 of the Joint Insurance Program board and acknowledged that the                
 board did not review this issue scientifically, but rather as                 
 municipal officials who were trying to help children.                         
 Number 541                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN TAYL  OR  commented he was very impressed with the Joint            
 Insurance Program's willingness to provide coverage, because unless           
 someone has the courage to not follow the masses, we will be driven           
 over a cliff called "inherent immunity for everything."  The board            
 took on that program for 100 cities and did not charge anything.              
 They decided to wait and find out what the real risks and costs are           
 and then assess members.  If the costs become too high, then the              
 board will reassess whether it is worth being in the business of              
 providing coverage for inherently risky activities.  He noted the             
 MOA refuses to build a skateboard park though it is self-insured.             
 Their best risk assessment showed it would cost a total of $2500              
 per year yet it is not willing to take on that risk and provide               
 insurance coverage.                                                           
  MR. SMITH  agreed that the MOA is self-insured, but explained that           
 the $2500 insurance premium probably includes a $1-$2 million self-           
 insured retention or deductible.  Although AML's Joint Insurance              
 Program covers 100 cities it does not insure Juneau, Petersburg,              
 Ketchikan, Kenai, Anchorage, and many of those municipalities have            
 pavement and youth interested in skateboarding.                               
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  announced it is not his intention to move HB 30 at          
 this time.  He asked for data on skateboard lawsuits in the United            
 States and information on how other states have dealt with the                
 issue of skateboard park liability.                                           
 Number 575                                                                    
  SENATOR PEARCE  asked whether any injuries have occurred on streets          
 or sidewalks in Alaska from skateboards.   MR. RITCHIE  answered that         
 he was the city manager of Juneau when the downtown skateboard                
 ordinance was passed.  That ordinance was passed because downtown             
 businesses were seriously concerned about near-misses.  Many                  
 elderly tourists were scared by the skateboard activity on                    
 sidewalks.  He offered to research actual injuries in Alaska and              
 TAPE 97-29, SIDE B                                                            
  SENATOR PEARCE  commented she had a child on a skateboard in the             
 street almost hit her recently.  She agreed skateboarders need a              
 designated place to go.   MR. RITCHIE  said that is the crux of the           
 matter: skateboarders are putting themselves and others in danger.            
 Although CBJ has an ordinance against skateboarding downtown, it              
 does not have enough police to enforce the ordinance.  In addition,           
 no one wants to turn an emerging sport into a criminal activity. He           
 repeated that any approved facility that is built will have to be             
 challenging enough to entice skateboarders off the streets.                   
  MR. SMITH  remarked he has been researching legal cases on                   
 skateboard parks and although those cases are difficult to find, he           
 has found cases outside of Alaska involving serious injuries that             
 resulted from accidents between skateboarders and cyclists.                   
 Number 565                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  emphasized that no one can back up this paranoid-           
 driven fear with numbers or cases and we cannot build facilities              
 because insurance companies have us scared to death.  He noted                
 Senator Kelly witnessed a skateboarder skate head-on into a car in            
 front of him while driving up the hill to the Capitol building                
 several days ago.  Fortunately the skateboarder bounced off and was           
 fine.  Although this problem needs closure, the solution should not           
 be based on paranoia.                                                         
  MR. SMITH  said skateboarding is an activity that is largely driven          
 by one's own abilities and is very different from using playground            
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  began taking teleconference testimony.                      
  CONNIE JONES , Director of Cultural and Recreational Services for            
 the MOA, testified.  She noted MOA's attorney has done an extensive           
 West Law search on skateboarding cases of which she has 37.  Most             
 of the cases do not concern skateboard parks and the history is               
 relatively short so it is unfair to compare it to other kinds of              
 recreational activities.  Most of the cases involve street                    
 skateboarding accidents.  There is very strong support for a                  
 skateboard park in Anchorage from the Youth Commission, Assembly,             
 the Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Anchorage Association.              
 Although the MOA is self-insured, it has a $2 million deductible.             
 MOA is concerned about a draw down on that because of the                     
 possibility of high cost injuries such as neck injuries or                    
 paralysis that can occur when skateboarders do not use protective             
 gear or act unsafely.  MOA believes HB 30 delegates equal                     
 responsibility to the MOA for building and maintaining an adequate            
 facility and to parents and participants for participating in an              
 inherently dangerous sport, one that involves being airborne over             
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked if MOA's risk management team calculated a            
 cost they would have to reserve each year to cover skateboarding              
 injuries.   MS. JONES  thought the extra cost would be about $60,000          
 for a separate policy, and no one would accept is as part of MOA's            
 self insurance.                                                               
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  noted the "no one" she is referring to is the               
 Anchorage Assembly and the risk management team is assuming the MOA           
 will be liable for so many injuries that the policy would cost                
 $60,000 per year.  He asked her to request the MOA to put that in             
 writing to him.                                                               
  MS. JONES  explained the problem is that the data is incomplete, and         
 the risk manager is basing that figure on cases that have occurred            
 in street accidents.  He is also speculating that when the MOA                
 invites people into a skateboard park made of hard surface cement,            
 injuries will occur when skateboarders attempt activities beyond              
 their skill level.  She repeated the MOA will accept full                     
 responsibility for all maintenance and construction.                          
 Number 492                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked if the MOA currently insures other parks and          
 greenbelt areas where people play soccer, touch football and rugby,           
 and hockey rinks.   MS. JONES  replied that those activities are              
 covered under MOA's self-insurance and althouth those sports are              
 dangerous, the inherent danger of skateboarding is higher because             
 of the height at which these injuries could occur and the cement              
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  again requested the MOA risk manager to send him an         
 estimate of the number of injuries that may occur and the number              
 for which the MOA may be liable.  He asked why one would base the             
 injury level in skateboard parks on the number of skateboard                  
 injuries on streets when the parks are properly built and                     
 supervised.   MS. JONES  speculated that might be done because there          
 is not enough history.   CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked Ms. Jones to send him         
 copies of the cases involving skateboard parks.                               
 Number 466                                                                    
  COLIN WHIDDON , a 15 year old from Kodiak, testified in support of           
 HB 30.  The few areas in Kodiak that were available to                        
 skateboarders are slowly becoming illegal, and skateboarders must             
 fend for themselves and are getting a bad reputation.  Kodiak                 
 skateboarders want a legal place to go to.  By passing HB 30, the             
 city will be able to support skateboarders' efforts to get a skate            
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked Mr. Whiddon if he was aware of the                    
 skateboarding accident that occurred in Kodiak.   MR. WHIDDON  said           
 he was not.                                                                   
  MR. IAN FULP , Kodiak Parks and Recreation Director, discussed two           
 aspects of skateboarding that make it inherently dangerous.  The              
 first is that skateboarders do acrobatic stunts while airborne over           
 a hard surface.  The second is that in order to improve,                      
 skateboarders must expose themselves to greater danger to learn new           
 tricks.  He described the accident that occurred in Kodiak.  A                
 grinding bar is bolted about 18 inches off the ground with mats on            
 either side.  The children would in-line skate on it then jump off.           
 The city felt it was fairly safe because the skaters could not go             
 very fast and because there were mats on either side.  One boy fell           
 forward onto the bar, put his forearm out to block his fall and               
 broke both bones.  Mr. Fulp expressed concern that because the                
 grinding bar has a history of one accident, if another occurs, the            
 city could be considered negligent for not removing it.                       
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked Mr. Fulp at what age he thought children              
 should be held accountable for their injuries.   MR. FULP  said he            
 has never seen a four-year old on a skateboard and that the                   
 possibility is not very realistic.  He thought that scenario could            
 be compared to a four year old walking onto a baseball field during           
 a game and that people would move that child off the field.                   
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  stated he is concerned about the age level a child          
 should be considered to have sufficient discretion to be                      
 accountable if an injury occurs.   MR. FULP  answered HB 30 should            
 apply to any child on a skateboard.                                           
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked Mr. Fulp if he thought there should be a              
 different standard for other recreational activities provided in              
 communities.   MR. FULP  said very much so because the other                  
 activities are not inherently dangerous.                                      
 Number 325                                                                    
  RICHARD BITTICK , the assistant director of the City of Seward Parks         
 and Recreation Department, testified in support of HB 30.  The City           
 of Seward is trying to provide a safer environment for                        
 skateboarding and cycling which are currently occurring on city               
 streets.  He believes skateboarders take on a greater inherent risk           
 when skateboarding on the streets rather than in a park.                      
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked Mr. Bittick if he is aware that Seward has            
 full coverage under the AML's Joint Insurance Program to build a              
 skateboard park now.   MR. BITTICK  said Seward is in the process of          
 building a park.   CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  encouraged completion of that             
 project because after it is in existence for several years, the               
 risk factor will become more apparent.  He asked if the City of               
 Seward wants HB 30 passed so that none of the skateboarders can be            
 compensated for injuries that might occur at the park.                        
  MR. BITTICK  explained the city has set aside an area for                    
 skateboarders, but is concerned about liability when skateboarders            
 do not follow the rules and get injured.   CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  repeated          
 he is not aware of any skateboarder who has actually sued a                   
 municipality and that the City of Seward is fully insured today.              
 He urged the city to build a park.                                            
  MR. BITTICK  responded the City of Seward is trying to provide a             
 safe facility without putting its neck on the chopping block at the           
 same time.  Skateboarding and cycling differs in that it is being             
 done in the middle of the street.  Other sports are not.                      
  NANCY ROBB , the Parks and Recreation Director in Valdez, informed           
 the committee that Washington State has been working on similar               
 legislation and offered to provide additional information on that             
 legislation to any interested parties.   CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked her           
 to also provide information on the other highest risk recreational            
 activities for children in Valdez.   MS. ROBB  answered it used to be         
 skiing but the City of Valdez no longer operates the ski area.                
 Number 208                                                                    
  LAURIE WHIDDON , a mother of three skateboarders, testified in               
 support of HB 30 because there are a large number of children in              
 Kodiak who are not interested in sports other than skateboarding.             
 Skateboarders need a safe and legal place to practice their sport;            
 the downtown area is off-limits, as are most paved parking lots.              
 The only locations available at this time are the school parking              
 lot and tennis courts.  The City has been discouraged from                    
 providing a safe place to skate because of the liability issue.  HB
 30 would remove a major hurdle in its efforts to provide another              
 recreational outlet.                                                          
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked Ms. Whiddon if she was aware that Kodiak has          
 had full insurance coverage for a skateboard park through the Joint           
 Insurance Program since July 1, 1996.                                         
  CLAUDIA ANDERSON , the mother of a skateboarder, testified that her          
 son's interest in skateboarding has caused him to have many                   
 unnecessary confrontations with authorities.  The city has not                
 built a park, and suggested that parents build a private facility             
 but Kodiak's population base is too small.  She urged the committee           
 to support HB 30 so the Kodiak City Council will build a park.                
 Number 130                                                                    
  JOHN PALMER , Kodiak Chief of Police, testified that the ordinance           
 to prohibit skateboarding in downtown Kodiak was the result of run-           
 in incidences with pedestrian traffic and building damage.  The               
 police department enforces that ordinance which puts a drain on its           
 resources and promotes an adversarial relationship with the                   
 teenagers which is counterproductive to the police department's               
 goal.  Although Kodiak may already be insured for a skate park,               
 there is no assurance that the Joint Insurance Program may decide             
 to stop the coverage in the future, or raise the premium                      
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  reiterated his comments about the need to build             
 parks now and determine what the liability is in five years.                  
  MEL PERKINS , a local Juneau business owner, expressed concern about         
 the lack of control and responsibility that will occur if HB 30               
 passes.  The CBJ skateboard park will be located next to his                  
 businesses.  He stated CBJ staff initially told him the skateboard            
 park would be supervised but he heard during the CBJ Assembly                 
 meeting that if HB 30 passes, no supervision will be necessary if             
 warning signs are posted.  If there is no supervision of the                  
 premises, it is possible that nefarious activities will occur.  In            
 addition, if no restrooms are available on the premises, the youth            
 will use the facilities in local businesses.  He stressed the need            
 for the CBJ to maintain and take responsibility for for the                   
 skateboard park if it builds it.                                              
 TAPE 97-30, SIDE A                                                            
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  commented his primary concern is that HB 30                 
 contains no requirement for supervision.                                      
  JAY SONNER  informed committee members he has been one of the local          
 students working on the CBJ skateboard park and is available to               
 answer questions.                                                             
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked if the construction of the Juneau skateboard          
 park is dependent on the passage of HB 30.   MR. SONNER  said                 
 passage of HB 30 will greatly improve the chance of getting a                 
 skateboard park, otherwise it will be very hard to get insurance              
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  encouraged Mr. Sonner to get information from the           
 CBJ on the cost of insurance and use it to inform the residents of            
  MR. SONNER  said that currently there are skate gyms and get                 
 togethers once a month in the summer time and about 200 youth                 
 There being no further testimony, the committee took up HB 6.                 
          HB   6 RELEASE OF INFORMATION ABOUT MINORS                          
  REPRESENTATIVE PETE KELLY,  sponsor of HB 6, stated currently there          
 exists a veil of secrecy around juvenile crime.  Current laws allow           
 juveniles to commit violent criminal acts, safe in the knowledge              
 that their names will be kept confidential by the authorities.                
 That public policy does not provide protection to the public.                 
 Several recent cases in Fairbanks illustrate the need for                     
 disclosure.  In one case a man was killed during a daytime robbery            
 by a teen.  The newspaper reported that the names of the two                  
 juveniles who were with the murderer would not be released.  Since            
 then, the juveniles were waived into adult court and their names              
 were released, but that does not often happen.  A second example              
 involved David Knutsen who shot a State Trooper three times.  He              
 was involved in numerous burglaries.  HB 6 has been reworked                  
 through the committee process and is a bill that will protect, and            
 give a second chance, to those juveniles who do not pose a threat             
 to public safety, but does allow the public to know the names of              
 juveniles who are committing serious crimes for the second time.              
  SENATOR PEARCE  asked Representative Kelly to explain how the                
 disclosure provision will work.                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KELLY  referred to a diagram illustrating a two prong          
 system.  When a juvenile is arrested, he/she would go through a               
 preliminary investigation and then if he/she admits guilt, an                 
 informal adjustment would occur with the outcome being restitution            
 and rehabilitation or placement.  If DHSS believes the juvenile to            
 be dangerous, or if the juvenile resists, the juvenile will be sent           
 to petition also to provide for juveniles who are released against            
 the wishes of DHSS before they are adjudicated.  There can be a               
 long time period between release and adjudication when they are               
 free to continue their activities.  Also, DHSS feared adjudication            
 would cause a logjam of petitions because of the chance that the              
 case would be thrown out of court.  As a compromise, a process was            
 established in which DHSS can petition the court to prohibit name             
 disclosure based on one of two factors: that the case is an                   
 isolated incident; or that the juvenile does not pose any further             
 danger to the public.  Representative Kelly added that he believes            
 the fiscal note for the bill is legitimate.                                   
  SENATOR PARNELL  asked Representative Kelly if he believes HB 6 will         
 be cost effective.   REPRESENTATATIVE KELLY  said he does and added           
 that this issue is extremely high profile and he has received a lot           
 of support on HB 6.                                                           
  SENATOR PARNELL  asked Representative Kelly if he believes HB 6 will         
 have any deterrent value.   REPRESENTATIVE KELLY  said he did not; HB
 6 is strictly to enhance public safety.                                       
 Number 223                                                                    
  BARBARA BRINK , the current Acting Director of the Alaska Public             
 Defender Agency, made the following comments.  The debate between             
 the public's need to know and juvenile confidentiality is not a new           
 one.  Courts and Legislatures have struggled with it for years.               
 Chief Justice Rehnquist addressed this issue in 1978 in Smith v.              
 Daly Publishing and wrote an opinion in favor of confidentiality as           
 It is a hallmark of our juvenile justice system in the United                
 States that virtually from its inception from at end of the                   
 last century, proceedings have been conducted outside of the                  
 public's full gaze and that youth brought before the juvenile                 
 courts have been shielded from publicity.  This insistence on                 
 confidentiality is born of a tender concern for the welfare of                
 the child, to hide his youthful errors and bury them in the                   
 graveyard of the forgotten past.  The prohibition of                          
 publication of a juvenile's name is designed to protect the                   
 young person from the stigma of his misconduct and is rooted                  
 in the principle that the court concern with juvenile affairs                 
 serves as a rehabilitative and protective agency of the state.                
 Publication of the names of juvenile offenders may seriously                  
 impair the rehabilitative goals of the juvenile justice system                
 and handicap the youth's prospect for adjustments to society                  
 and acceptance by the public.  This exposure brings undue                     
 embarassment to the families of youth offenders and may cause                 
 the juvenile to lose employment opportunities or provide the                  
 hard core delinquent with the kind of attention he seeks                      
 thereby encouraging him to commit further anti-social acts.                   
 The resultant widespread dissemination of a juvenile                          
 offender's name therefore may [indisc.] beneficient and                       
 rehabilitative purposes of the juvenile court system.                         
  MS. BRINK  pointed out that no other state provides for public               
 disclosure of this kind of informal and adjustment information.               
 These are the kinds of juvenile offenders who have a good chance at           
 rehabilitation.  Juveniles who get adjusted are prepared to accept            
 responsibility and make restitution.  Those juveniles will be                 
 stigmatized and branded.  Names will be disclosed prior to                    
 adjudication, so these juveniles will be tried in the court of                
 public opinion.                                                               
  PAM KARALUNAS , representing the Arctic Alliance for People, interim         
 Executive Director for the Resource Center for Parents and                    
 Children, and Big Brothers and Sisters, and as the parent of a                
 juvenile offender, testified.  Although she shares the frustrations           
 of many people in the community about how juvenile crime is                   
 mishandled, she does not believe HB 6 will correct the situation.             
 She expressed concern that HB 6 contains no age limit, that                   
 informal adjustments will be published, and that name disclosure              
 occurs before the juvenile is proven guilty.                                  
 Number 300                                                                    
  BETH GAMBRELL  expressed concern that children make mistakes, and            
 should be allowed to, except when firearms are involved.  She does            
 not believe publishing the names of those involved in informal                
 adjustment is appropriate.  Name disclosure should not occur prior            
 to a court decision, due to the negative effects of placing a label           
 on a child because the label could become a self-fulfilling                   
  C-JOE DIMATTEO , with the Alaska Council on Prevention of Alcohol            
 and Drug Abuse and a member of the Governor's Council on Youth and            
 Justice, echoed the previous witnesses' concerns.  He asked the               
 committee to consider including an age limit and to prevent names             
 from being submitted until after adjudication.  Many public                   
 comments made to the Governor's Council support those changes.                
  D. BUNTI REED , a parent of a child with a traumatic brain injury            
 and a secondary diagnosis of a mental illness, noted about 20 other           
 parents who were attending the Children's Mental Health Convention            
 attempted to testify today but had to leave.  She agreed with Judge           
 Rehnquist's opinion and is concerned with words contained in HB 6             
 such as "alleged" and "informal" because it will allow children and           
 parents to be labelled.  Many children in the juvenile system are             
 identified as having a mental illness in their first infraction               
 with the law.  Although the intent of HB 6 is to protect                      
 communities, she does not agree the bill will do that, and sees it            
 as a gross violation of parents and chidlren in Alaska.                       
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked Ms. Reed who the people were that left.   MS.         
 REED  provided some of the names.                                             
  LAURA ROREM , a parent of two children who have suffered from brain          
 disorders, one with mental illness and the other with fetal alcohol           
 syndrome, and a member of the Alaska Mental Health Board, made the            
 following comments.  Brain disorders are no-fault diseases that               
 affect behavior, thinking processes, mood, judgment, reason and               
 decision to name only a few.  They are caused by bio-chemical                 
 and/or abnormalities in the brain.  Weakness of will and bad                  
 parenting are not to blame.  These problems are not caused by                 
 problems in living, bad environment, abuse or neglect.  These                 
 diseases are grossly misunderstood and treatment for them is                  
 sporadic, haphazard, difficult to access, and blame-oriented.                 
 Children and adults with brain disorders are good people but their            
 brains are diseased.  They are often incapable of making the                  
 distinction between right and wrong and are unable to understand              
 consequences.  Often, early intervention is not available and                 
 services are not provided until after a child commits a crime.                
 Instead, the child and family will be ostracized and publically               
 humiliated, and HB 6 will bring punishment rather than treatment              
 and will violate one's right to privacy.                                      
 Number 464                                                                    
  SENATOR PEARCE  commented that she has a lot of sympathy for the             
 parents of mentally ill children but noted the crimes listed in HB
 6 involve deadly weapons, arson, burglary, child pornography,                 
 promoting prostition, and misconduct involving a controlled                   
 substance.  She questioned whether there is a linkage between                 
 mental illness in youth and those types of crimes.                            
  MARY MESSNER , a Public Health Nurse in Barrow, stated she works             
 with families and children with special needs.  Many of those                 
 children have neuro-biological disorders.  Forty to seventy percent           
 of the children in the juvenile justice system nationwide are not             
 diagnosed with mental health problems early enough.  Children with            
 neuro-biological disorders are most often not diagnosed at all, and           
 when they are diagnosed the disorders are complex, evolving, and              
 often co-exist with other disorders.  Public disclosure of the                
 names of juveniles and their families is wrong.  If the Senate                
 wishes to address juvenile crime, she suggested considering a bill            
 for mandatory mental health evaluation by a child and adolescent              
 psychiatrist of all juveniles who enter the juvenile justice at any           
 point and for juveniles entering substance abuse treatment, where             
 70 percent are shown to have treatable neuro-biological disorders.            
 Number 450                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked Ms. Messner to address Senator Pearce's               
 question about the delineation of serious crimes in HB 6 and their            
 link to mental illness.                                                       
  D. BUNTI REED  addressed Senator Pearce's question as follows.  The          
 cognitive disability of her son causes him to respond toward                  
 aggressive behavior of other students more violently than other               
 youngsters of his age.  Last week she was called into school                  
 because her son attempted to assault another student with a                   
 bookbag.  The police were also called and considered her son's                
 action to be classifiable as assault with a weapon.  Her son is               
 mentally retarded and mentally ill.  She felt the embarassment to             
 his siblings of an arrest in the family is almost criminal itself.            
  SENATOR PEARCE  asked if the other students and parents of those             
 students in the classroom with Ms. Reed's son are aware of the                
 disorder and that provocations that may seem normal to them to be             
 more difficult for her son.                                                   
  MS. REED  responded that the immediate classroom members are aware           
 but other students are not.  Because of his disability, he is                 
 fairly comical and due to adolescent impetuosity, he is teased and            
 baited frequently.                                                            
 Number 479                                                                    
  KENNETH DAVIS  testified in opposition to HB 6.  He is the parent of         
 four children; two are severely emotionally disabled; one with                
 fetal alcohol syndrome, psychotic brain disorder, seizure disorder,           
 learning disabled, attention deficit and hyperactive disorder, and            
 is an acting sex offender.  If HB 6 is passed, the effectiveness of           
 his son's treatment will cease.  As an active sex offender who is             
 receiving treatment, his son is required to live in specialized               
 foster care.  Publishing the names of the offender, his family, and           
 the specialized foster family who are acting guardians, will have             
 a negative effect.  He questioned how many foster families would be           
 willing to accept a high risk child if they must suffer harassment            
 and ridicule from friends and neighbors after name disclosure.                
  CECELIA DAVIS  stated that as parents, it is their duty and                  
 obligation to the community to protect it against their son which             
 is why he is in a specialized program.  But, she is also the parent           
 of both a victim and an offender and is stuck in several positions.           
 Often when the name of the offender is disclosed, the victim's                
 identity becomes known.  The victim can be devastated because of              
 the ridicule.  She informed the committee that her son's mental               
 disabilities are the result of his natural mother's misuse of                 
 alcohol.  As a victim of sexual abuse herself, she feels obligated            
 as a parent to protect society and educate others so that they can            
 help.  She cautioned that if HB 6 passes, as currently written, it            
 will be devastating to children with mental disabilities and to               
  REPRESENTATIVE KELLY  clarified that a provision on page 4 prohibits         
 the names of foster families from being disclosed unless they have            
 the child on a permanent or long term basis.  In addition, some of            
 the examples given previously would fall under the Children in Need           
 of Aid provisions, and their names would not be disclosed.                    
  LORI NAMYNIUK , President of the Substance Abuse Directors                   
 Association of Alaska, testified in opposition to HB 6 because of             
 the breaching of confidentiality at the petition stage and because            
 the bill contains no age limit.  There is no research that                    
 indicates that action of this type will decrease juvenile                     
 deliquency.  Rather than adopting a punitive approach, the                    
 Legislature needs to look for solutions.  The projected $1.2                  
 million cost of HB 6 could be used for intervention activities.               
 Number 547                                                                    
  MARGOT KNUTH , Assistant Attorney General and representative of the          
 Governor's Council on Juvenile Justice, testified.  At a conference           
 of the Council held last year, the most divisive issue discussed              
 was the issue of disclosure of the names of juvenile offenders.               
 The Conference ultimately recommended that some disclosure of                 
 juvenile names is necessary to protect the public; of those                   
 juveniles at least 15 years of age who committed a felony offense             
 against a person, or a second burglary offense.  SB 69 was                    
 introduced by the Governor and sets the age limit at 16.  The                 
 single largest provider of mental health care in the State of                 
 Alaska is the Department of Corrections.  There are more mentally             
 ill people housed by the Department of Corrections than in all                
 other mental health facilities.  The Governor's Conference                    
 recommendation bill differs from HB 6 is that it only follows the             
 cases that DHSS has identified as the serious offenders that need             
 to fall within the court's jurisdiction.  A serious concern                   
 expressed at the Conference was that disclosing the name of the               
 offender often identifies the victim inadvertently, especially in             
 sexual offenses among family members.  Yet, name disclosure to                
 protect others makes drawing the line a difficult policy issue.               
 She acknowledged and appreciates Representative Kelly's effort to             
 work very hard to accommodate the Council's concerns and noted the            
 HB 6 has been tailored to include only very serious crimes and                
 contains an escape provision where the court can be petitioned to             
 prevent name disclosure.                                                      
 TAPE 97-30, SIDE B                                                            
  DR. RUSSELL HOFFMAN  of Bethel stated that he has been practicing            
 medicine in Alaska since 1973 and specializes in psychiatry and               
 forensic psychiatry.  He advises the Court System about the reasons           
 for people's behavior and designs treatment programs for offenders.           
 He noted he travelled to Juneau at his own expense because he feels           
 strongly about the complex issue of disclosure.  He noted the bill            
 specifies in five different places that the release of information            
 about the victim will be prohibited which illustrates that the                
 release of information can be a hurtful process.  He discussed a              
 recent tragic event in the Bethel school system and how the gossip            
 and rumors about people periperally involved was extremely harmful            
 to those people and their families.  He noted the ripple effect of            
 those rumors on other community members.  He explained that is an             
 extreme example of how HB 6 could play out in a small community.              
 The issue of disclosure is a very important one for those who try             
 to treat children and turn a negative situation into a positive               
 one.  He stated in the past 4 1/2 hours he has received over 100              
 signatures from the Bethel community in opposition to HB 6.                   
  JOHN CYR , President of NEA-Alaska, stated that one thing of                 
 paramount importance to NEA's members is the ability to know the              
 kinds of students they work with on a daily basis.  NEA's primary             
 concern is with the stage at which the offender's name is released.           
 NEA prefers that the name be released after adjudication when the             
 juvenile has been convicted.  In his experience, he knows of                  
 juveniles who have been accused of very serious crimes erroneously.           
 Had those juveniles' names been released, serious consequences                
 would have occurred.  One of NEA's primary functions is to keep               
 students in school and needs to develop alternative programs,                 
 especially to deal with violence.  NEA also believes there is a               
 critical need for juvenile detention centers to provide adequate              
 help for these offenders.                                                     
  DIANE WORLEY , Director of the Division of Family and Youth                  
 Services, DHSS, stated that DHSS has worked very closely with                 
 Representative Kelly and understands the direction he is taking               
 with HB 6, but is concerned with how far the bill goes.  HB 6                 
 conflicts with DHSS' goal of working with families and children,              
 and to protect children and to rehabilitate where possible.  DHSS             
 is concerned about striking the necessary balance to protect                  
 communities from juveniles, who have committed serious crimes or              
 are repeat offenders, but believes HB 6 is too broad and covers all           
 ages, and does not take into account mitigating circumstances.                
 DHSS does support some level of disclosure but does not believe HB
 6 establishes the appropriate balance.                                        
 Number 465                                                                    
  SENATOR PARNELL  asked what specific changes need to be made to HB
 6 to get support from the Administration.                                     
  MS. WORLEY  answered that she is speaking only for DHSS and not for          
 the Governor's Children's Cabinet.                                            
  SENATOR PARNELL  asked Ms. Worley to clarify her statement.                  
  MS. WORLEY  said DHSS is part of the Children's Cabinet and has              
 worked closely with it on HB 6 but DHSS' perspective is slightly              
 different because it works with these juveniles on a daily basis.             
 She clarified that because of the direct impact HB 6 will have on             
 DHSS, it has more specific concerns than other departments.                   
  SENATOR PARNELL  asked if DHSS' specific concerns are age and mental         
 health.   MS. WORLEY  replied yes, and a third issue is informal              
 adjustment because that is the key to the work DHSS does with                 
 juveniles; with those who admit to a crime and are willing to work            
 with DHSS and their families on rehabilitation.                               
  SENATOR PARNELL  asked Ms. Worley if she thinks disclosure should            
 only occur when juveniles are on the yellow track.   MS. WORLEY  said         
 that is correct.                                                              
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  summarized Ms. Worley's preference as age 16,               
 yellow-track, upon conviction.                                                
  ANGELA SALERNO , Executive Director of the National Association of           
 Social Workers, pointed out that confidentiality of juvenile                  
 records was part of a larger reform measure which began early in              
 the Century and established juvenile courts to accommodate the                
 disability of youth.  HB 6 would be changing that in a fundamental            
 and critical way and creates a radical and untested measure.                  
 Although we are all concerned about juvenile crime, we should not             
 act out of desperation.  The purpose of HB 6 is to protect                    
 ourselves but is illusory and will make us less safe because we               
 will be forcing children further down the road toward crime.                  
 Number 398                                                                    
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  asked Ms. Salerno when "we" decided that non-               
 publication of the names of juveniles was an attribute of the                 
 juvenile justice system.   MS. SALERNO  said she did not have the             
 date in Alaska, but the practice was established when the first               
 juvenile court was created in Illinois at the turn of the Century.            
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  commented on the schizophrenic logic we have taken          
 toward the responsibilities we allow juveniles to have, and those             
 that we do not.                                                               
  MS. SALERNO  emphasised that DHSS' charge is to work with those              
 juveniles who might be rehabilitated.  Those children often suffer            
 the disabiilty of lack of parental control.                                   
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  said that sometimes parents do everything they can          
 for a child yet the child chooses to be delinquent.   MS. SALERNO             
  MR. CYR  commented he believes that adults are absolutely                    
 responsible for their children, but questioned at what point the              
 system should take over when a child gets in trouble.  He expressed           
 concern that we may be acting prematurely when children can be                
 saved or have been misidentified.                                             
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  noted many legislators are concerned that several           
 years ago, in attempt to keep names anonymous, foster parents were            
 not given information about the young people being placed in their            
 homes and the foster parents suffered major consequences because of           
 Number 347                                                                    
  REPRESENTATIVE KELLY  addressed comments made by previous witnesses.         
 The informal adjustment process allows DHSS to decide whether the             
 child can be rehabilitated.  He agrees with that provision and                
 adopted the Children's Cabinet amendment which provides for                   
 disclosure for a second offense.  A provision for formal                      
 adjudication was included in the original bill, but DHSS requested            
 that be changed to petition to prevent a logjam.  When he agreed to           
 petition, DHSS argued the need to change to informal adjudication.            
 At that point he included an amendment from the Lieutenant                    
 Governor's Office which allows DHSS to petition against disclosure.           
 At this point in time, DHSS is still pushing for informal                     
 adjudication.  He stated DHSS wants the parents or foster parents             
 of the defendant to be able to petition the court.  He believes, as           
 well as the Court System, that system will not work because every             
 attorney who represents one of these juveniles will be guilty of              
 malpractice for not petitioning the Court.  DFYS is not currently             
 able to disclose that a party who was arrested is innocent.  HB 6             
 would allow DFYS and the Court to release the names of those who              
 are found innocent.                                                           
 Regarding the two-track system,  REPRESENTATIVE KELLY  said he has            
 met everyone's objections except DFYS' because it is opposed to any           
 disclosure whatsoever.  HB 6 contains escape hatches and only                 
 applies to offenders who commit very serious crimes for a second              
  CHAIRMAN TAYLOR  announced HB 6 would be heard again on Friday,              
 April 25, and adjourned the meeting at 4:00 p.m.                              

Document Name Date/Time Subjects