Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

02/28/2006 08:30 AM JUDICIARY

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                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       February 28, 2006                                                                                        
                           8:39 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. 222                                                                                                             
"An  Act  relating to  breaches  of  security involving  personal                                                               
information,  consumer report  security freezes,  consumer credit                                                               
monitoring,  credit  accuracy,   protection  of  social  security                                                               
numbers, disposal  of records, factual declarations  of innocence                                                               
after identity  theft, filing  police reports  regarding identity                                                               
theft,  and furnishing  consumer credit  header information;  and                                                               
amending Rule 60, Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure."                                                                             
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 20                                                                                                  
Proposing an amendment to the  section of the Constitution of the                                                               
State of Alaska relating to marriage.                                                                                           
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 284                                                                                                             
"An Act  relating to  sentencing for the  commission of  a felony                                                               
while under the influence of alcohol."                                                                                          
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 216                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to bail."                                                                                                      
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 222                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: PROTECTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION                                                                                 
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) THERRIAULT, GUESS                                                                                        
01/09/06       (S)       PREFILE RELEASED 12/30/05                                                                              
01/09/06       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/09/06       (S)       L&C, JUD                                                                                               
01/24/06       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
01/24/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
01/24/06       (S)       MINUTE(L&C)                                                                                            
02/14/06       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
02/14/06       (S)       Moved CSSB 222(L&C) Out of Committee                                                                   
02/14/06       (S)       MINUTE(L&C)                                                                                            
02/16/06       (S)       L&C RPT CS 4DP 1AM NEW TITLE                                                                           
02/16/06       (S)       DP: BUNDE, DAVIS, ELLIS, SEEKINS                                                                       
02/16/06       (S)       AM: STEVENS B                                                                                          
02/22/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
02/22/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/22/06       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
02/27/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
02/27/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/27/06       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
BILL: SJR 20                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: CONST. AM: BENEFITS & MARRIAGE                                                                                     
SPONSOR(s): JUDICIARY                                                                                                           
02/14/06       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/14/06       (S)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
02/16/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
02/16/06       (S)       <Pending Referral>                                                                                     
02/21/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
02/21/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/21/06       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
02/28/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: SB 284                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: SENTENCING FOR ALCOHOL-RELATED CRIMES                                                                              
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) THERRIAULT                                                                                               
02/13/06       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/13/06       (S)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
02/28/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
John George                                                                                                                     
American Council for Life Insurers                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 222                                                                                       
John Burton                                                                                                                     
Choice Point                                                                                                                    
1000 Alderman Dr                                                                                                                
Alphretta, GA 30005                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 222                                                                                       
Ed Sniffen, Chief Assistant Attorney General                                                                                    
Department of Law                                                                                                               
PO Box 110300                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99811-0300                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 222 and added                                                                  
some concerns                                                                                                                   
Margot Knuth                                                                                                                    
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to SJR 20                                                                         
Dixie Hood                                                                                                                      
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to SJR 20                                                                         
Kristen Bomengen                                                                                                                
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to SJR 20                                                                         
Cid Blase                                                                                                                       
Kodiak, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to SJR 20                                                                         
John Monagle                                                                                                                    
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SJR 20                                                                           
Ida Barnick                                                                                                                     
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SJR 20                                                                           
Sue Schrader                                                                                                                    
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to SJR 20                                                                        
Paul Grant                                                                                                                      
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to SJR 20                                                                        
Diane Mayer                                                                                                                     
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to SJR 20                                                                        
Janell Hafner                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to SJR 20                                                                        
Candace Brower                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to SJR 20                                                                        
Michael Macleod-Ball, Director                                                                                                  
Alaska Civil Liberties Union                                                                                                    
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to SJR 20                                                                        
Seina Aniheta                                                                                                                   
Fairbanks, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to SJR 20                                                                        
Kate Sunwood                                                                                                                    
Fairbanks, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to SJR 20                                                                        
William Hill                                                                                                                    
Fairbanks, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SJR 20                                                                           
Fred Traber                                                                                                                     
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to SJR 20                                                                        
Glen Biegel                                                                                                                     
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SJR 20                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to SJR 20                                                                        
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR  RALPH   SEEKINS  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 8:39:22 AM.  Present were Senators                                                             
Hollis French, Charlie Huggins,  Gene Therriault, Gretchen Guess,                                                               
and Chair Ralph Seekins.                                                                                                        
           SB 222-PROTECTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION                                                                        
CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS announced SB 222 to be up for consideration.                                                                
8:39:54 AM                                                                                                                    
JOHN  GEORGE, American  Council  of Life  Insurers, informed  the                                                               
committee  that  life  insurance  policies follow  a  person  all                                                               
around  the country  unlike  automobile  or homeowners  insurance                                                               
policies.  Once a  person dies,  the company  must ensure  proper                                                               
identification in  order to finish  the business that  the policy                                                               
dictates  and a  social security  number  is an  ideal method  of                                                               
identification. He  said the restrictions  posed in SB  222 would                                                               
not work for life insurance companies.                                                                                          
8:42:39 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  GEORGE  said  SB  222  would  impair  the  ability  of  life                                                               
insurance companies  to do business.  He recommended  carving out                                                               
life  insurance companies  so that  they would  not apply  to the                                                               
bill   since  they   already   are   controlled  extensively   by                                                               
8:44:05 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HOLLIS  FRENCH  asked the  reason  that  life  insurance                                                               
institutions  have  not  moved   forward  to  more  sophisticated                                                               
methods of  identification other  than a social  security number,                                                               
such as fingerprinting or retinal scans.                                                                                        
MR. GEORGE responded  it would not be practical  or convenient to                                                               
do  so. A  social  security number  follows  a person  throughout                                                               
their life and  insurance companies require it when  they pay out                                                               
8:45:44 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GENE  THERRIAULT said  it  was  not  the intent  of  the                                                               
sponsors to limit internal use of the social security number.                                                                   
MR. GEORGE  agreed the  bill does not  specifically state  that a                                                               
company could not  use the social security  number internally but                                                               
questioned whether the bill would allow it.                                                                                     
8:47:37 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. JOHN BURTON testified that  he was representing Choice Point,                                                               
a  data   information  company  that  provides   information  and                                                               
verification  to  a  cross  section   of  the  economy,  such  as                                                               
financial  institutions, insurance  companies,  banks, local  law                                                               
enforcement  and  state  and   federal  government  agencies.  He                                                               
highlighted Section 45.48.800  in the bill and  said Choice Point                                                               
opposes  any   regulation  or  prohibition  on   consumer  credit                                                               
information. He  said credit  header data  is a  consumer's name,                                                               
address, social  security number and  date of birth. They  do not                                                               
contain credit information.                                                                                                     
8:50:12 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BURTON  continued saying credit  header data is  the backbone                                                               
of   a  database   that  Choice   Point  provides   to  financial                                                               
institutions and others for fraud  prevention, tips and leads for                                                               
locating people,  and for US  Patriot Act compliance. He  said no                                                               
state  today  has  restrictions on  credit  header  data  because                                                               
federal  law already  regulates  it.  He believes  SB  222 to  be                                                               
unnecessary legislation.                                                                                                        
8:52:43 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BURTON added  his next concern regards  restriction on social                                                               
security numbers and  the use of them.  Section 45.48.500 appears                                                               
to mirror California law on  social security access. Choice Point                                                               
has no objection over California  law but they have problems with                                                               
paragraph (6)(b),  which he  said relates  back to  credit header                                                               
8:54:23 AM                                                                                                                    
Financial  institutions, law  enforcement,  banks, and  insurance                                                               
companies  facilitate   thousands  of  transactions   daily.  The                                                               
economy is built on the  ready and regulatory flow of information                                                               
from business to  business. A social security number  is a unique                                                               
form  of  identification and  if  it  weren't a  social  security                                                               
number, it  would be  some other form  of identification  and the                                                               
issue would be the same. He  said he could not imagine a scenario                                                               
where  a  bank would  have  to  secure  permission to  utilize  a                                                               
person's  social security  number  for  identification and  fraud                                                               
prevention purposes for every single transaction.                                                                               
8:56:11 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT said banks do  not use social security numbers                                                               
in order  to cash  checks or  do regular  business. He  asked Mr.                                                               
Burton the reason for using the bank example.                                                                                   
MR.  BURTON agreed  that  his comments  should  be more  directed                                                               
toward  the   overreaching  fraud  prevention   and  verification                                                               
services that Choice Point provides.  He said the social security                                                               
number still  remains the  most accurate  and reliable  method of                                                               
8:58:18 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH  asked  Mr.  Burton   whether  California  had  a                                                               
provision like (6)(b).                                                                                                          
MR. BURTON did not know.                                                                                                        
SENATOR FRENCH  asked what the  effect would be for  passing that                                                               
provision as far as common banking transactions.                                                                                
MR. BURTON  said every single  transaction would  require consent                                                               
and that would seriously slow down the ability to do business.                                                                  
9:00:30 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH suggested  it would  be  just one  more piece  of                                                               
paper to sign when setting up an account.                                                                                       
MR.  BURTON  asserted  it  would place  a  tremendous  burden  on                                                               
everyone  involved.  He  spoke   briefly  about  his  concern  of                                                               
ensuring  the  legislative  intent  of the  bill.  He  added  his                                                               
opinion that  some definitional  changes need  to be  made before                                                               
the bill is passed out.                                                                                                         
9:04:12 AM                                                                                                                    
ED SNIFFEN,  Assistant Attorney General, Department  of Law (DOL)                                                               
testified the  DOL supports the  efforts to curb  identity theft.                                                               
He  expressed  concern over  Article  1  and  noted it  does  not                                                               
provide a  requirement for  state government  to comply  with the                                                               
terms of  the bill. He said  it is imperative for  state agencies                                                               
to take extreme caution to protect personal information.                                                                        
He expressed concern  that the state might have  liability for an                                                               
inadvertent  disclosure  simply  due   to  the  sheer  volume  of                                                               
information that  the state  is required to  deal with  daily. He                                                               
cautioned against  making the state  a target for  litigation. He                                                               
suggested an  amendment to AS  45.48.060 that would  provide that                                                               
an action  could not  be brought  against a  governmental entity.                                                               
The state  would still be required  to comply with all  the terms                                                               
of the bill.                                                                                                                    
9:07:46 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SNIFFEN  explained that there  are ways to require  the state                                                               
to comply with  the requirements but not have  a liability issue.                                                               
He noted there wasn't an agency  set up to address the regulatory                                                               
issues as noted in Section 45.48.303(3)(A)(B)(C).                                                                               
9:09:17 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SNIFFEN summarized with a  reference to Section 45.48.410 and                                                               
said   the  provision   that  requires   additional  governmental                                                               
prohibition seems unclear  as to whether that  would also include                                                               
a requirement imposed by state regulation.                                                                                      
9:11:18 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT  asked for  clarification whether  his concern                                                               
was over the word "expressly."                                                                                                  
MR.  SNIFFEN replied  yes.  It seems  unclear  because there  are                                                               
arguments that could be made  that express authorization needs to                                                               
come from the Legislature and may  not be sufficient to come from                                                               
the agency.                                                                                                                     
9:13:38 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS  closed  public  testimony  and  held  SB  222  in                                                               
                    SB 216-BAIL RESTRICTIONS                                                                                
9:16:44 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS announced SB 216 to be up for consideration.                                                                
SENATOR  CHARLIE HUGGINS  reminded  the  committee that  previous                                                               
bill  hearing lacked  the testimony  of Portia  Parker and  Susan                                                               
Parkes. He called them both to the witness stand.                                                                               
9:17:27 AM                                                                                                                    
SUSAN PARKES,  Deputy Attorney General, Department  of Law (DOL),                                                               
and   PORTIA   PARKER,   Deputy   Commissioner,   Department   of                                                               
Corrections (DOC), introduced themselves for the record.                                                                        
SENATOR HUGGINS asked  Ms. Parkes to advise the  committee of the                                                               
reason SB 216 was on the docket.                                                                                                
MS.  PARKES  said it  was  due  to  publicity that  surrounded  a                                                               
notorious incident  of a temporary  release in Palmer.  Under the                                                               
current statute, a judge temporarily  reduced bail, which allowed                                                               
the release of  a prisoner to attend a funeral.  The prisoner cut                                                               
off his  electronic monitoring  device and  failed to  return. It                                                               
was several weeks before he was found.                                                                                          
9:19:29 AM                                                                                                                    
SB  216 would  prevent judges  from ordering  a temporarily  bail                                                               
reduction, and  Section 1  would increase  unlawful evasion  to a                                                               
class C felony.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR  HUGGINS noted  there was  more than  one case  in recent                                                               
history that highlighted  the need for the  legislation. He asked                                                               
Ms. Parker to comment.                                                                                                          
MS. PARKER  said temporary releases  are problematic for  the DOC                                                               
for a  variety of reasons;  primarily the entire  booking process                                                               
has  to  be  redone.  Additionally, there  are  the  problems  of                                                               
offenders not  returning, particularly  in Fairbanks  where fifty                                                               
percent  of all  offenders do  not return.  From a  DOC point  of                                                               
view, temporary  releases are not  necessary because there  is no                                                               
justification for it,  either they can make bail or  not. The DOC                                                               
has the ability  and capacity to provide an  escort and transport                                                               
for necessary things such as funerals and medical treatment.                                                                    
9:24:07 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. PARKER continued most of  the temporary releases are done for                                                               
substance  abuse assessments.  The DOC  can accommodate  those on                                                               
site and already do.                                                                                                            
9:25:25 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS expressed support for the bill.                                                                                 
SENATOR GENE THERRIAULT  asked whether there was a  reason not to                                                               
have an immediate effective date.                                                                                               
MS. PARKES  said no. An  immediate effective date could  apply to                                                               
anyone currently in the system.                                                                                                 
9:27:27 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT  moved Amendment  1. Provide for  an immediate                                                               
effective date. Hearing no objections, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                 
SENATOR  HOLLIS FRENCH  asked  Ms. Parker  of  the fifty  percent                                                               
releases  who did  not return  in Fairbanks,  the number  of them                                                               
that were charged with a crime.                                                                                                 
MS. PARKER did not know.                                                                                                        
SENATOR FRENCH  said SB 216 would  make it harder to  charge them                                                               
with a crime because they would have to be indicted.                                                                            
9:29:29 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. PARKER  countered SB 216  would not allow  temporary releases                                                               
at all.                                                                                                                         
SENATOR FRENCH said  it wouldn't lead to  temporary releases from                                                               
a court but  it would lead to temporary releases  from the DOC so                                                               
there will  still be unlawful  evasions. He asked  the definition                                                               
of "work release."                                                                                                              
MS.  PARKER  responded  a  furlough  is  considered  a  temporary                                                               
release. A  furlough can  be to go  into a  residential treatment                                                               
facility or a  halfway house. A furlough can be  for work release                                                               
as well.                                                                                                                        
SENATOR FRENCH  asked whether the DOC  allows pre-conviction work                                                               
9:31:34 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. PARKER said it depends on the kind of release.                                                                              
SENATOR FRENCH noted  when a person leaves a halfway  house to go                                                               
to work they would not be in custody.                                                                                           
MS. PARKER argued they would still be incarcerated.                                                                             
SENATOR  FRENCH countered  when  a person  walks  away from  work                                                               
while  on release,  it is  unlawful  evasion, but  when a  person                                                               
leaves in  the middle of  the night, it  is escape in  the fourth                                                               
degree. He said  the Glenwood Center in Anchorage  was a minimum-                                                               
security facility that sits in the  middle of town and is easy to                                                               
walk away from.                                                                                                                 
9:33:04 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. PARKES explained in Anchorage  they have third party releases                                                               
to  the   halfway  houses,  which  is   different  than  official                                                               
detention. More  typical of what  she sees pre-trial is  that the                                                               
halfway  house is  third party  and people  often disappear  when                                                               
they are living under third party conditions.                                                                                   
SENATOR  FRENCH  posed  a  hypothetical   situation  of  a  post-                                                               
conviction person living  in a halfway house on  work release. If                                                               
that  person did  not come  back from  work release  it would  be                                                               
unlawful evasion  and SB  216 would make  that a  blanket felony,                                                               
whether  that person  was  incarcerated for  a  misdemeanor or  a                                                               
MS. PARKES said that is correct.                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH  voiced  preference   for  making  a  distinction                                                               
between people  incarcerated for a felony  and those incarcerated                                                               
for a  misdemeanor. He said  misdemeanor offenses usually  do not                                                               
involve a gun  or serious assault or felony DWI  and would not be                                                               
as serious. He offered to work with the sponsor on that point.                                                                  
9:35:29 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. PARKER agreed.                                                                                                              
9:36:15 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GRETCHEN GUESS  asked  for  clarification whether  there                                                               
were any situations where only the  courts were allowed to give a                                                               
temporary release where the DOC cannot.                                                                                         
MS. PARKER said the DOC does  not allow temporary releases at all                                                               
for pre-trial or pre-sentence.                                                                                                  
SENATOR  GUESS  stated  SB  216 would  not  allow  for  temporary                                                               
releases  but a  person could  still  request for  an escort  for                                                               
something that they need to do.                                                                                                 
MS. PARKER said that is correct.                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS held SB 216 in committee.                                                                                         
          SB 284-SENTENCING FOR ALCOHOL-RELATED CRIMES                                                                      
9:38:16 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS announced SB 284 to be up for consideration.                                                                
SENATOR GENE THERRIAULT, sponsor,  noted that current language in                                                               
the bill requires  that the penalty would be for  the lifetime of                                                               
the defendant.  He said  he would  consider adding  language that                                                               
provides for time  up to the lifetime of the  defendant. It could                                                               
be up  to the discretion  of the court as  to the length  of time                                                               
the defendant would be ordered to abstain from drinking alcohol.                                                                
9:41:01 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT noted page 1  line 9 allows for consumption of                                                               
alcohol by prescription of a  medical professional for healthcare                                                               
SENATOR  GRETCHEN GUESS  asked for  the definition  of "alcoholic                                                               
MR.  STANCLIFF advised  he  would research  with  the drafter  to                                                               
ascertain whether there was an existing definition in statutes.                                                                 
9:44:24 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HOLLIS  FRENCH suggested adding multiple  DWI convictions                                                               
to the list for lifetime ban of alcohol.                                                                                        
CHAIR SEEKINS held SB 284 in committee.                                                                                         
CHAIR SEEKINS announced a brief recess at 9:45:25 AM.                                                                         
             SJR 20-CONST. AM: BENEFITS & MARRIAGE                                                                          
9:55:20 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS announced SJR 20 to be up for consideration.                                                                
KRISTEN  BOMENGEN   testified  in  opposition  to   SJR  20.  She                                                               
described her career  and life as one steeped  in public service,                                                               
including volunteering  for Hurricane  Katrina and serving  as an                                                               
international election  observer for  Ukraine. She said  she puts                                                               
as much  effort as  possible into  serving her  community, state,                                                               
country and  world. She said  it was important for  the committee                                                               
to know that she was more than a lesbian.                                                                                       
MS.  BOMENGEN   described  her  13-year  relationship   with  her                                                               
partner.  While  she  was  employed   as  an  assistant  attorney                                                               
general,  her   uninsured  partner  suffered   extensive  medical                                                               
issues, which  put them in  serious financial distress  for years                                                               
10:00:03 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS interrupted Ms. Bomengen to ask her to summarize.                                                                 
MS.   BOMENGEN  continued   describing   the  extensive   medical                                                               
treatments  sustained by  her  uninsured  partner. She  expressed                                                               
concern over  whether SJR 20 would  serve to allow a  hospital to                                                               
keep her  from visiting her  partner during a  medical emergency.                                                               
She urged  committee members to  consider the harm that  could be                                                               
caused by the resolution and urged them to reject it.                                                                           
10:02:13 AM                                                                                                                   
CID  BLASE  testified  in  opposition  to SJR  20.  As  a  school                                                               
teacher,  she said  her  favorite subject  to  teach was  history                                                               
because  she could  show her  students the  many amendments  that                                                               
have been  made to the  United States Constitution  creating laws                                                               
for the  equal treatment of  all, which  benefit the people  as a                                                               
whole. She suggested SJR 20  would reverse the historical tide of                                                               
making access to rights, benefits,  obligations, and qualities of                                                               
life  more equal.  She said  she wants  to continue  teaching her                                                               
students that Alaska sets good examples for other states.                                                                       
10:04:44 AM                                                                                                                   
MARGOT KNUTH testified in opposition  to SJR 20. She informed the                                                               
committee that  she worked for the  State of Alaska for  23 years                                                               
both  in  the  Department  of   Law  and  in  the  Department  of                                                               
Corrections.  She said  she is  pleased with  the Alaska  Supreme                                                               
Court  decision,  which  would  allow her  the  same  rights  and                                                               
benefits as her colleagues.                                                                                                     
MS.  KNUTH described  a letter  to Dear  Abby wherein  Abby sided                                                               
with  the parents  who allowed  their  gay son  and his  longtime                                                               
partner to  sleep in the  same room  while visiting, much  to the                                                               
dislike of the son who was  not married but was visiting with his                                                               
girlfriend and  was not  awarded the  same courtesy.  Abby noted,                                                               
like  the parents  did,  that  while the  unmarried  son and  his                                                               
girlfriend had  the option of  marriage and weren't, the  gay son                                                               
would have  married if  the option were  available. She  said the                                                               
unanimous  Alaska  Supreme  Court  decision was  similar  to  the                                                               
thinking of those  parents and, she said, if that  makes sense to                                                               
five justices of  the Alaska Supreme Court as well  as Dear Abby,                                                               
it should be  appropriate. She urged the committee  to reject the                                                               
10:08:15 AM                                                                                                                   
JOHN  MONAGLE  testified  in  support  of SJR  20.  He  said  the                                                               
taxpayers have a right to vote on the issue.                                                                                    
IDA BARNICK testified  in support of SJR 20. She  said the voters                                                               
have  decided that  marriage is  between a  man and  a woman  and                                                               
should not be interpreted any other way.                                                                                        
SUE SCHRADER testified in opposition of  SJR 20. She said she and                                                               
her  husband   have  enjoyed  the   benefits  from   his  15-year                                                               
employment with the  State of Alaska. The  benefits have provided                                                               
financial security and  peace of mind, she noted, and  they are a                                                               
good offset for  the high cost of living in  Alaska. The City and                                                               
Borough of  Juneau and  the University  of Alaska  offer domestic                                                               
partnership  benefits  without  incurring excessive  costs.  Many                                                               
large companies  such as IBM,  Microsoft, Ford, Wells  Fargo, and                                                               
Coors Brewing Company  know that providing such  benefits help to                                                               
attract and retain skilled employees.                                                                                           
MS. SCHRADER  suggested the court wisely  and appropriately ruled                                                               
to protect  the rights of  a minority  group, a principle  at the                                                               
heart of  government. She said  she could not comprehend  how SJR                                                               
20 could  strengthen her  marriage. She  suggested the  issue was                                                               
not about  letting the  people vote and  asked the  committee how                                                               
the  majority of  voters  in Alabama  or  Mississippi would  have                                                               
voted on school segregation in 1956.  She said she was proud that                                                               
the  Alaska State  Constitution protects  the rights  of minority                                                               
groups and  that the judges  uphold those  constitutional rights.                                                               
She asserted it was an issue  of fairness in a democratic society                                                               
and  said it  was  wrong to  seek to  amend  the Constitution  to                                                               
deprive Alaskans of equal protections.                                                                                          
10:13:41 AM                                                                                                                   
DIXIE HOOD testified  in opposition to SJR 20.  She asserted that                                                               
representation  of the  people of  the State  of Alaska  has been                                                               
undermined by  political opportunism.  Proposing an  amendment to                                                               
the Alaska  State Constitution to  further deprive  many Alaskans                                                               
of their  civil rights is  unjust and  contrary to the  ideals of                                                               
democracy,  she stated.  Discrimination  based on  self-interest,                                                               
ignorance or righteousness is all too  common and has no place in                                                               
Alaska. She urged the committee to reject the resolution.                                                                       
PAUL GRANT  testified in  opposition to SJR  20. He  suggested it                                                               
was   a   discriminatory   resolution   that   seeks   to   write                                                               
discrimination  into  the  Alaska  State  Constitution.  He  said                                                               
African Americans  would not be  allowed to vote  and segregation                                                               
would still  be allowed in schools  today if that issue  were put                                                               
on  the  ballot  in  southern states.  He  suggested  the  Senate                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee was  avoiding its responsibility for                                                               
upholding the anti-discriminatory  provisions of the Constitution                                                               
by allowing SJR 20 to go forward.                                                                                               
SENATOR  THERRIAULT questioned  Mr.  Grant's statement  regarding                                                               
African Americans not being allowed  to vote and said that wasn't                                                               
true since  it would  have been pre-empted  by the  United States                                                               
MR. GRANT said that was exactly  the point. The judiciary was the                                                               
body  that  decided  against  the  will  of  the  people  against                                                               
constitutional   and   statutory   provisions.   He   cited   the                                                               
interracial marriage case of Loving  versus Virginia in which the                                                               
United  States  Supreme  Court  said  state  laws  that  prohibit                                                               
interracial marriage are unconstitutional.  He said had the issue                                                               
been   put  to   a  popular   vote,  Virginia   law  would   have                                                               
overwhelmingly been supported by voters in the South.                                                                           
10:19:07 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  said Senator  Therriault's point  was there  is no                                                               
Supreme Court decision that addresses the topic of SJR 20.                                                                      
MR.  GRANT  countered  the  Alaska   Supreme  Court  decision  is                                                               
standing. There  is also  the recent Romer  versus Evans  case in                                                               
10:20:00 AM                                                                                                                   
DIANE MAYER  testified in opposition to  SJR 20. She said  it was                                                               
poorly  drafted,  confusing,  and  difficult  to  interpret.  She                                                               
questioned  the meaning  of it  and  its affects.  She asked  the                                                               
definition  of "qualities  of marriage"  and said  the resolution                                                               
was misleading since same-sex couples  are denied marriage in the                                                               
State of Alaska.  She said the Alaska Supreme  Court decision was                                                               
not about the benefits of marriage,  it was about equal access to                                                               
the benefits of employment.                                                                                                     
MS. MAYER said:                                                                                                                 
     You  can't sign  up for  life or  health insurance  for                                                                    
     your  family,  joint  or survivor  annuities,  a  death                                                                    
     benefit,  or health  insurance in  retirement for  your                                                                    
     life partner simply because  of a marriage certificate.                                                                    
     To  receive these  benefits  you  have to  successfully                                                                    
     compete for  a job, you have  to go to work  every day,                                                                    
     you  have to  be productive,  satisfactorily accomplish                                                                    
     your assignments.  These benefits  are all  provided as                                                                    
     benefits  of  employment   though  they  are  currently                                                                    
     granted  only to  those employees  who  are allowed  to                                                                    
MS.  MAYER said  Article 1  of the  Constitution states  that all                                                               
persons have a  natural right to the enjoyment of  the rewards of                                                               
their industry.  She asserted that  the benefits in  question are                                                               
linked  to  employment  and not  marriage.  The  opportunity  for                                                               
family stability is  a result of the  person's industriousness in                                                               
the workplace, she stated. She  urged the committee to uphold the                                                               
Alaska State Constitution and reject the resolution.                                                                            
MS.  MAYER pointed  to  a  report from  the  Conference of  Young                                                               
Alaskans held in  January 2006. Fifty-five young  Alaskans met to                                                               
commemorate   the   50    anniversary   of   the   Alaska   State                                                               
Constitution.  In  their  report  they  overwhelmingly  voted  to                                                               
approve language  that specifically  stated support of  a diverse                                                               
culture. Item  4 in their  report specifically says,  "Because it                                                               
directly  inhibits the  rights of  individuals, the  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature shall  repeal the 25   Amendment to the  Alaska State                                                               
Constitution defining marriage."                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS  asked Ms.  Mayer whether she  supported the  25                                                                
MS. MAYER said no.                                                                                                              
10:26:33 AM                                                                                                                   
JANELL HAFNER  testified in  opposition to SJR  20. She  said the                                                               
Alaska Supreme  Court decision could  be read in  conformity with                                                               
the Alaska State Constitution.                                                                                                  
CANDACE BROWER  testified in opposition  to SJR 20.  She strongly                                                               
urged members to dissolve the resolution in committee.                                                                          
10:28:29 AM                                                                                                                   
MICHAEL MACLEOD-BALL,  Executive Director, Alaska  American Civil                                                               
Liberties Union testified. He disagreed  with earlier comments of                                                               
some committee members  that their job is to  pass the resolution                                                               
on to  the people for  a vote. He said  they are mistaken  to say                                                               
that the  Alaska State Legislature  has no real  substantive role                                                               
to play in  the matter and that  its only duty is  to simply pass                                                               
the question  along to the people.  He said it ignores  the clear                                                               
obligation of the  Legislature to vet the very  serious matter of                                                               
amending the foundation document of Alaska State laws.                                                                          
He  encouraged the  committee members  to protect  the individual                                                               
rights of  all Alaskans. He  said pollsters get the  answers they                                                               
want when  they design the  question in  the right way.  A rigged                                                               
question  will  get  a  rigged  answer,  he  said.  He  said  the                                                               
question,  in this  case, is  misleading and  he is  still unsure                                                               
what SJR 20 means.                                                                                                              
10:31:55 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  MACLEOD-BALL  said  one  thing  it would  do  is  amend  the                                                               
Marriage Amendment  but the court decision  accepted the Marriage                                                               
Amendment  in full  and interpreted  the Equal  Protection Clause                                                               
and  said  the  existing  employment  benefit  system  for  state                                                               
workers was  discriminatory under the Equal  Protection Clause of                                                               
Article 1.  He suggested the  real problem was with  the question                                                               
that  the proponents  of SJR  20 would  propose to  offer to  the                                                               
He said:                                                                                                                        
     If you  insist on  passing on  your obligation  to stop                                                                    
     this  now, then  at least  you ought  to ask  an honest                                                                    
     question about  what you want  to achieve. You  want to                                                                    
     change  the outcome  of the  case that  was decided  in                                                                    
     October and that  means you want to  change the meaning                                                                    
     of the Equal Protection Clause.  If you want to let the                                                                    
     people decide,  then at  the very  least, ask  them the                                                                    
     right  question.  Do you  want  to  restrict the  Equal                                                                    
     Protection  Clause  so that  it  no  longer applies  to                                                                    
     unmarried individuals? Do you  want to exempt unmarried                                                                    
     individuals from  the benefits of equal  protection? In                                                                    
     that  case, I  think,  you will  have sidestepped  your                                                                    
     obligation to  protect individual  rights in  this body                                                                    
     but at  least you  will have  framed the  issue arising                                                                    
     out of  the case that  came down in October  and you'll                                                                    
     have raised it  in the context of  the Equal Protection                                                                    
     Clause,  which   I  think   is  the   more  appropriate                                                                    
10:33:48 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGGINS  took  exception Mr.  Macleod-Ball's  suggestion                                                               
that he was a party to a "rigging."                                                                                             
CHAIR SEEKINS advised Mr. Macleod-Ball  that he could not respond                                                               
to Senator Huggins' comment.                                                                                                    
SENATOR GUESS said:                                                                                                             
     Then I will  speak up on it. I think  it was a metaphor                                                                    
     and people  need to  listen to  the entire  argument. I                                                                    
     think the point  that I heard was the  question you ask                                                                    
     is  very important  and is  something that  actually we                                                                    
     haven't spent  any time in  this committee on,  nor has                                                                    
     the person that we hired  spent time explaining why the                                                                    
     question and  why it's framed  the way responds  to the                                                                    
     [Alaska] Supreme Court decision.                                                                                           
She said she used to write  polling questions for a living and it                                                               
is the case of spinning the question to get the desired result.                                                                 
CHAIR  SEEKINS said  it was  not the  intent of  the sponsors  to                                                               
trump equal rights  protection; and that SJR 20  was a legitimate                                                               
question to pose to the voters.                                                                                                 
10:38:48 AM                                                                                                                   
SEINA ANIHETA expressed concern as  an employee of the University                                                               
of  Alaska  that SJR  20  would  jeopardize  the ability  of  the                                                               
University  to attract  and retain  highly  trained workers.  She                                                               
said  the resolution  in its  broadness would  have unintentional                                                               
KATE SUNWOOD  testified in  opposition to  SJR 20.  She contended                                                               
the resolution was ambiguous and  unclear of intent. She said SJR                                                               
20  would  wipe  out  people's opportunity  to  purchase  medical                                                               
10:41:07 AM                                                                                                                   
WILLIAM HILL  testified in support  of SJR 20. He  suggested that                                                               
non-traditional marriages  create at-risk  youths. He  said every                                                               
child in  the state should  have the  opportunity to live  in the                                                               
traditional atmosphere  of a male  husband and female  wife since                                                               
that is what  creates stable citizens. All cultures  in the world                                                               
agree that marriage  and family are traditional. For  the sake of                                                               
at-risk  youth, he  said, Alaska  citizens  should do  everything                                                               
possible  to  discourage  non-traditional families,  rather  than                                                               
encourage them by providing benefits for them.                                                                                  
FRED  TRABER testified  in  opposition  to SJR  20.  He said  his                                                               
partner  and  he have  been  together  for  over 30  years.  They                                                               
jointly own  property, have  well respected  careers, and  make a                                                               
positive  contribution  to their  community.  He  said they  have                                                               
decades of experience  with discrimination and it  has been their                                                               
experience  that  intolerant  and  mean-spirited  people  promote                                                               
discrimination and bigotry.  There is no credible  reason for the                                                               
legislative  body  of the  people  to  put a  ballot  proposition                                                               
promoting discrimination before the people.                                                                                     
10:45:57 AM                                                                                                                   
GLEN  BIEGEL  commented on  SJR  20.  He  said he  supported  the                                                               
resolution   and  that   the   Alaska   Supreme  Court   overrode                                                               
precedence,  original intent,  lower  court rulings,  legislative                                                               
action, public  intent, common sense,  and the plain  language of                                                               
the Alaska State Constitution. He  suggested the problem was with                                                               
the  judiciary  and  said  they   are  not  interested  in  being                                                               
constrained and  will make their  own interpretations. SJR  20 is                                                               
an attempt  to redress a  judiciary that does not  understand the                                                               
He said  the resolution is not  apparent that it applies  only to                                                               
public  groups.  He said  the  Alaska  Supreme Court  might  also                                                               
ignore the  amendment and create  a new type of  relationship and                                                               
therefore grant that relationship benefits.                                                                                     
10:49:31 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. BIEGEL summarized by suggesting  there were difficulties with                                                               
the resolution being over broad.  He suggested the Alaska Supreme                                                               
Court caused the need for SJR 20.                                                                                               
Chair Seekins held SJR 20 in committee.                                                                                         
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Seekins adjourned the meeting at 10:51:35 AM.                                                                           

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