Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

03/29/2005 10:30 AM JUDICIARY

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Heard & Held
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Moved CSSB 67(JUD) Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 29, 2005                                                                                         
                           10:38 a.m.                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Ralph Seekins, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Senator Gene Therriault                                                                                                         
Senator Hollis French                                                                                                           
Senator Gretchen Guess                                                                                                          
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 106                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to sale, possession, and delivery of certain                                                                   
substances and precursors used in the unlawful manufacture of                                                                   
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 67                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to claims for personal injury or wrongful death                                                                
against health care providers; and providing for an effective                                                                   
     MOVED CSSB 67(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                        
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 106                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: SALE OF METHAMPHETAMINE AND PRECURSORS                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) GUESS                                                                                                    
02/14/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/14/05       (S)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
03/29/05       (S)       JUD AT 10:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                          
BILL: SB 67                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: CLAIMS AGAINST HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS                                                                               
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) SEEKINS                                                                                                  
01/21/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/21/05       (S)       L&C, JUD                                                                                               
02/08/05       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
02/08/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/08/05       (S)       MINUTE (L&C)                                                                                           
03/01/05       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/01/05       (S)       Moved SB 67 Out of Committee                                                                           
03/01/05       (S)       MINUTE (L&C)                                                                                           
03/02/05       (S)       L&C RPT 3DP 1DNP                                                                                       
03/02/05       (S)       DP: BUNDE, SEEKINS, STEVENS B                                                                          
03/02/05       (S)       DNP: ELLIS                                                                                             
03/08/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/08/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/08/05       (S)       MINUTE (JUD)                                                                                           
03/17/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/17/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/17/05       (S)       MINUTE (JUD)                                                                                           
03/22/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/22/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/22/05       (S)       MINUTE (JUD)                                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
Mr. Bill Hogan                                                                                                                  
Alaska Physicians and Surgeons                                                                                                  
No address provided                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 67                                                                                        
Mr. Don Bullock, Attorney                                                                                                       
Legislative Affairs Agency                                                                                                      
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 67                                                                                        
Mr. Paul Carr                                                                                                                   
North Slope Borough Police Department                                                                                           
PO Box 470                                                                                                                      
Barrow, AL 99723                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 106                                                                            
Mr. Paul Holland                                                                                                                
Fairbanks, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 106                                                                            
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR  RALPH   SEEKINS  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to order at  10:38:23 AM. Present were Senators                                                             
Hollis French, Charlie Huggins,  Gene Therriault, Gretchen Guess,                                                               
and Chair Ralph Seekins.                                                                                                        
           SB 67-CLAIMS AGAINST HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS                                                                       
10:38:23 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS announced  SB 67  to be  up for  consideration. He                                                               
asked  committee members  to submit  any proposed  amendments. He                                                               
advised public testimony was closed.                                                                                            
SENATOR GRETCHEN  GUESS asked whether  there was a  definition of                                                               
healthcare providers in the Alaska Statutes.                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  announced a brief  recess while his  staff checked                                                               
for a definition.                                                                                                               
10:46:00 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS read aloud the definition of healthcare providers:                                                                
     Our  intent is  to  cover  doctors, nurses,  nurse                                                                         
     practitioners,    physicians    assistants,    all                                                                         
     healthcare  providers  including  those  that  are                                                                         
     named  here, acupuncturists,  audiologists, speech                                                                         
     pathologists,  chiropractors,  dental  hygienists,                                                                         
     dentists,   dispensing   opticians,   podiatrists,                                                                         
     naturopaths,  optometrists, pharmacists,  physical                                                                         
     or    occupational   therapists,    psychologists,                                                                         
     psychological  associate,  hospitals. There  is  a                                                                         
     definition and it is under AS 09.55.530-560.                                                                               
10:47:46 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HOLLIS FRENCH commented one  issue is the small market of                                                               
insurance  providers in  the State  of Alaska.  He suggested  the                                                               
committee look at other like-sized markets for comparison.                                                                      
CHAIR  SEEKINS  voiced the  primary  concern  is Alaska  has  two                                                               
insurance providers, both  of which are mutual  companies. If one                                                               
of the  two companies leaves Alaska,  the fear is the  other will                                                               
not pick up  the physicians left behind. The main  concern is the                                                               
shrinking number of providers.                                                                                                  
10:50:30 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GENE THERRIAULT noted that  hedonic damages are separated                                                               
from non-economic damages in Section 2, subsection (c).                                                                         
CHAIR SEEKINS agreed it appeared redundant.                                                                                     
SENATOR  THERRIAULT asked  whether  there was  a  reason for  the                                                               
10:51:47 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS asked Mr. Bill  Hogan whether the wording should be                                                               
"other" hedonic damages.                                                                                                        
10:52:25 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  BILL  HOGAN,  Alaska Physicians  and  Surgeons,  agreed  the                                                               
wording  sounded  redundant.  He  said  he is  not  sure  of  the                                                               
distinction between  "hedonic damages" and "loss  of enjoyment of                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  whether the intent of  the Alaska Physicians                                                               
and  Surgeons group  was  to limit  damages  for the  occurrences                                                               
listed in Section 2, subsection (c).                                                                                            
MR. HOGAN answered correct.                                                                                                     
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  Mr. Hogan  if he  would object  to deleting                                                               
"but may not include hedonic damages" on Page 2, line 3.                                                                        
MR. HOGAN answered no.                                                                                                          
10:53:21 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  suggested  the  drafter  chose  to  use  the                                                               
language for a reason.                                                                                                          
CHAIR SEEKINS called  a brief at ease at 10:54:03  AM in order to                                                             
contact the drafter for comment on the chosen verbiage.                                                                         
CHAIR SEEKINS reconvened the meeting at 11:01:14 AM.                                                                          
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked drafter  Don Bullock  to explain  Section 2,                                                               
subsection (c).                                                                                                                 
MR. DON BULLOCK, attorney,  Legislative Affairs Agency, explained                                                               
"hedonic damages" means  life is not what it used  to be. Hedonic                                                               
damages would be different than  "pain and suffering" if the case                                                               
involved a  person suffering from  a brain injury  that precluded                                                               
them  from feeling  pain.  It  is difficult  to  put  a value  on                                                               
hedonic  damages since  it is  a "quality  of life"  issue rather                                                               
than a  "pain and suffering"  issue. The  definition in SB  67 is                                                               
out  of Black's  Law  Dictionary.  It is  an  additional type  of                                                               
damage from those listed in Section 2, subsection (c).                                                                          
11:03:41 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH suggested they modify  the current system to bring                                                               
assurance to  both the insurance industry  and the practitioners.                                                               
He  proposed they  bring the  cap down  slowly to  reach a  happy                                                               
11:05:20 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS  asserted there  is  no  restriction on  a  person                                                               
recovering  for  actual damages.  SB  67  speaks of  non-economic                                                               
11:05:56 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  FRENCH proposed  a conceptual  amendment  to change  the                                                               
caps  to $350,000  and $850,000.  Children and  old people  would                                                               
suffer most  from SB 67  because they cannot demonstrate  a large                                                               
earning capacity. He suggested the  committee revisit the changes                                                               
next session to see whether they are working.                                                                                   
11:07:09 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  THERRIAULT   objected.  He  maintained   the  conceptual                                                               
amendment would fix nothing.                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS agreed.                                                                                                           
SENATOR  FRENCH  disagreed.  He   stated  it  would  lower  total                                                               
exposure  by  a  significant  amount.  Under  his  proposal,  any                                                               
million-dollar  jury case  would be  reduced by  15 percent.  His                                                               
suggestion  would  show  the  Legislature  is  working  toward  a                                                               
solution that will result in a reduction in total awards.                                                                       
11:08:50 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  GRETCHEN GUESS  asked Senator  Therriault to  expound on                                                               
why he feels the split cap is not working.                                                                                      
CHAIR  SEEKINS offered  to answer  the question.  The Legislature                                                               
should  deal with  the definition  of "severe"  as it  applies to                                                               
many liabilities.  Currently severe  is defined as  anything that                                                               
can be  embarrassing. It is easy  to claim a case  belongs in the                                                               
higher cap  category. The intent with  medical malpractice issues                                                               
is to put a hard cap into place.                                                                                                
11:11:18 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS  stated the  Bethel case  had more  to do  with the                                                               
jury making the decision of  severity. She voiced the problem was                                                               
in defining severe personal impairment or severe disfigurement.                                                                 
CHAIR SEEKINS  agreed and stated  the Supreme Court  provided the                                                               
jury with the definition.                                                                                                       
SENATOR  GUESS  added it  is  difficult  to determine  where  the                                                               
middle ground should  be in regards to insurance  claim caps. She                                                               
voiced support for Senator French's proposed amendment.                                                                         
11:12:45 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  for a roll call and  the proposed conceptual                                                               
amendment failed 3-2 with Senators  Huggins, Therriault and Chair                                                               
Seekins dissenting.                                                                                                             
11:13:13 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR CHARLIE  HUGGINS moved CSSB  67(JUD) from  committee with                                                               
individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s).                                                                         
SENATOR  FRENCH objected.  He asserted  CSSB  67(JUD) would  deny                                                               
benefits to the most seriously injured Alaskans.                                                                                
11:14:18 AM                                                                                                                   
Roll call moved CSSB 67(JUD) out  of committee by a 3-2 vote with                                                               
Senators French and Guess dissenting.                                                                                           
Chair Seekins called a brief recess at 11:14:46 AM.                                                                           
Chair Seekins reconvened the meeting at 11:21:02 AM.                                                                          
         SB 106-SALE OF METHAMPHETAMINE AND PRECURSORS                                                                      
11:21:04 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS announced SB 106 to be up for consideration.                                                                
11:21:21 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS introduced a committee substitute (CS).                                                                  
SENATOR GENE  THERRIAULT moved  to adopt  Version \I.  Hearing no                                                               
objections, the motion carried.                                                                                                 
SENATOR GUESS explained the changes  within the CS. The intent of                                                               
SB  106 is  to  crack  down on  people  who  buy ingredients  for                                                               
cooking  methamphetamines (meth)  without  inhibiting people  who                                                               
are  legitimate   users  of  the  ingredients.   Section  1  adds                                                               
possession and delivery  of the makings of meth. A  new Section 5                                                               
is added  to explain  the slight  difference between  organic and                                                               
non-organic  solution. Section  2  clarifies  that possession  of                                                               
more  than nine  grams  of  Sudafed is  prima  facie evidence  of                                                               
intention to make  meth. There is an exemption for  people with a                                                               
valid prescription.                                                                                                             
11:23:54 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR THERRIAULT asked the amount of nine grams of Sudafed.                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS  explained nine  grams would  be equivalent  to 375                                                               
11:24:54 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS  continued Section 4 identifies  the chemicals used                                                               
to  create   meth.  Section  5   discusses  dispensing   and  the                                                               
identification  check, and  it  adds a  local  option avenue  for                                                               
mandatory reporting.                                                                                                            
11:26:39 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  GUESS  explained  SB  106 allows  for  lodge  owners  to                                                               
purchase a  case of Sudafed  for summer clients  without creating                                                               
undue suspicion.                                                                                                                
11:29:14 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  GUESS advised  the  committee she  is  working with  the                                                               
drafter  to  address the  issue  of  putting ingredient  products                                                               
behind the counter and also the issue of keeping the logbook.                                                                   
11:32:05 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  THERRIAULT asked  about the  availability of  government                                                               
issued identification in rural areas.                                                                                           
SENATOR  GUESS advised  she would  research and  get back  to the                                                               
SENATOR  HOLLIS FRENCH  made a  comment regarding  mail order  to                                                               
rural areas.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS expressed an affinity  against putting retailers in                                                               
11:35:46 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  FRENCH  said Oklahoma  has  proven  restriction of  meth                                                               
ingredients provides  a handle on  the meth problem.  However, he                                                               
agreed that lawful use of the ingredients should be protected.                                                                  
11:37:05 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  expressed a preference  for a second  indicator in                                                               
order to have prima facie evidence.                                                                                             
11:39:25 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  asked  Senator  Guess  the  problems  Alaska                                                               
should anticipate with SB 106.                                                                                                  
SENATOR GUESS indicated she did not know of any.                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS  wondered whether  a  person  could order  Sudafed                                                               
SENATOR  GUESS  specified  the   supplier  would  have  to  check                                                               
identification and keep a log.                                                                                                  
11:41:53 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. PAUL  CARR, Police chief,  North Slope Borough,  testified in                                                               
support of SB  106. He contended meth is an  epidemic and the use                                                               
of it is  causing crime to escalate. He said  he is familiar with                                                               
the use of Sudafed reduction in the making of meth.                                                                             
SENATOR FRENCH asked  Mr. Carr if they were busting  meth labs or                                                               
seeing an increase in meth-related crimes.                                                                                      
MR. CARR said  they have not busted  a lab yet but  have heard it                                                               
is being made locally.                                                                                                          
11:43:51 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. PAUL HOLLAND testified in support  of SB 106. Meth labs are a                                                               
large problem in Fairbanks.                                                                                                     
11:48:37 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. BARRY CHRISTENSON,  Alaska Pharmacists Association, testified                                                               
in support of SB 106.  He said limiting single source ingredients                                                               
such as Sudafed greatly limits  the problem. Combination products                                                               
are hard to cook down into meth.                                                                                                
11:51:05 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH asked for an example of a combination product.                                                                   
MR. CHRISTENSEN responded Tylenol Cold or Comtrex.                                                                              
SENATOR  CHARLIE HUGGINS  asked  Mr. Christensen  his opinion  of                                                               
people obtaining supplies from outside the state.                                                                               
MR. CHRISTENSEN said  he would prefer to see a  federal law since                                                               
the states  are setting laws  differently. Oklahoma has  gone the                                                               
extreme  by  making  the  purchase  of  Sudafed  a  pharmacy-only                                                               
transaction, which is not  geographically practical for Alaskans.                                                               
Stores  who monitor  the selling  of  ingredients are  negatively                                                               
affecting the creation of meth labs. Sudafed is still available                                                                 
online at this point.                                                                                                           
11:53:43 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS held SB 106 in committee.                                                                                         
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Seekins adjourned the meeting at 11:55:30 AM.                                                                           

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