Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

04/22/2006 09:30 AM JUDICIARY


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Continued from 04/20/06 --
+= SB 316 COURT REVIEW OF STRANDED GAS DECISION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= SB 313 SALVIA DIVINORUM AS CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 313(JUD) Out of Committee
+= SB 48 PSYCH. EVALUATION/TREATMENT FOR STUDENTS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 48(HES) Out of Committee
+= HB 446 PENALTY FOR UNLAWFUL TRADE PRACTICE TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 446(JUD) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 22, 2006                                                                                         
                           9:44 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. 313                                                                                                             
"An Act relating  to scheduling Salvia divinorum  as a controlled                                                               
substance."                                                                                                                     
     MOVED CSSB 313(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 48                                                                                                              
"An Act  relating to recommending or  refusing psychotropic drugs                                                               
or certain types of evaluations or treatments for children."                                                                    
     MOVED CSSB 48(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 446(JUD)                                                                                                  
"An  Act  relating to  the  amount  of  a  civil penalty  for  an                                                               
unlawful act  or practice  in the conduct  of trade  or commerce;                                                               
and  eliminating mandatory  continuances in  these matters  after                                                               
issuance of an injunction."                                                                                                     
     MOVED CSHB 446(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 316                                                                                                             
"An  Act amending  the  Alaska Stranded  Gas  Development Act  to                                                               
eliminate  the opportunity  for judicial  review of  the findings                                                               
and determination  of the  commissioner of  revenue on  which are                                                               
based legislative review for a  proposed contract for payments in                                                               
lieu of taxes  and for the other purposes described  in that Act;                                                               
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB 313                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: SALVIA DIVINORUM AS CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE                                                                           
SPONSOR(s): STATE AFFAIRS                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
04/05/06       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/05/06       (S)       HES, JUD                                                                                               
04/12/06       (S)       HES AT 2:45 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/12/06       (S)       Moved SB 313 Out of Committee                                                                          
04/12/06       (S)       MINUTE(HES)                                                                                            
04/13/06       (S)       HES RPT 3DP 2NR                                                                                        
04/13/06       (S)       DP: DYSON, WILKEN, GREEN                                                                               
04/13/06       (S)       NR: ELTON, OLSON                                                                                       
04/20/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/20/06       (S)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
04/22/06       (S)       JUD AT 9:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB 48                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: PSYCH. EVALUATION/TREATMENT FOR STUDENTS                                                                           
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) DAVIS                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
01/12/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/12/05       (S)       HES, JUD                                                                                               
04/05/06       (S)       HES AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/05/06       (S)       -- Meeting Canceled --                                                                                 
04/12/06       (S)       HES AT 2:45 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/12/06       (S)       Moved CSSB 48(HES) Out of Committee                                                                    
04/12/06       (S)       MINUTE(HES)                                                                                            
04/13/06       (S)       HES RPT CS 2DP 2NR                                                                                     
04/13/06       (S)       DP: DYSON, ELTON                                                                                       
04/13/06       (S)       NR: WILKEN, OLSON                                                                                      
04/20/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/20/06       (S)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
04/22/06       (S)       JUD AT 9:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 446                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: PENALTY FOR UNLAWFUL TRADE PRACTICE                                                                                
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) MCGUIRE                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
02/13/06       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/13/06       (H)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
02/24/06       (H)       JUD AT 2:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
02/24/06       (H)       Moved CSHB 446(JUD) Out of Committee                                                                   
02/24/06       (H)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
02/27/06       (H)       JUD RPT CS(JUD) NT 4DP                                                                                 
02/27/06       (H)       DP:   COGHILL,    ANDERSON,   GRUENBERG,                                                               
                         MCGUIRE                                                                                                
03/15/06       (H)       FIN AT 1:30 PM HOUSE FINANCE 519                                                                       
03/15/06       (H)       Moved CSHB 446(JUD) Out of Committee                                                                   
03/15/06       (H)       MINUTE(FIN)                                                                                            
03/17/06       (H)       FIN RPT CS(JUD) NT 3DP 8NR                                                                             
03/17/06       (H)       DP: FOSTER, KERTTULA, MEYER;                                                                           
03/17/06       (H)       NR: HAWKER, WEYHRAUCH, STOLTZE, JOULE,                                                                 
                         MOSES, HOLM, KELLY, CHENAULT                                                                           
04/10/06       (H)       TRANSMITTED TO (S)                                                                                     
04/10/06       (H)       VERSION: CSHB 446(JUD)                                                                                 
04/12/06       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/12/06       (S)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
04/20/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/20/06       (S)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
04/22/06       (S)       JUD AT 9:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB 316                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: COURT REVIEW OF STRANDED GAS DECISION                                                                              
SPONSOR(s): JUDICIARY                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
04/13/06       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/13/06       (S)       JUD                                                                                                    
04/19/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/19/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/19/06       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
04/20/06       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/20/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/20/06       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
04/21/06       (S)       JUD AT 9:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/21/06       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/21/06       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
04/22/06       (S)       JUD AT 9:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Dave Stancliff, Legislative Aide                                                                                                
Staff to Senator Gene Therriault                                                                                                
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Introduced SB 313                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Jack Degenstein                                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to SB 313                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Chris Beheim, Supervisor                                                                                                        
Alaska State Crime Lab                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 313                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bettye Davis                                                                                                            
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Introduced SB 48                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Richard Benavides, Legislative Aide                                                                                             
Senator Bettye Davis                                                                                                            
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions regarding SB 48                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Stuart Thompson                                                                                                                 
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 48                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Margaret Anthony                                                                                                                
MatSu Valley, Alaska                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 48                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Frank Turney                                                                                                                    
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 48                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Greg Sternquist                                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 48                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Angela Tillery, Director                                                                                                        
Church of Scientology                                                                                                           
No address provided                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 48                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Richard Warner                                                                                                                  
Citizens Commission on Human Rights                                                                                             
Seattle, Washington                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 48                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Craig Johnson, Legislative Aide                                                                                                 
Staff to Representative Lesil McGuire                                                                                           
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Introduced HB 446                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ed Sniffen, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                          
Department of Law                                                                                                               
PO Box 110300                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99811-0300                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions regarding HB 446                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RALPH   SEEKINS  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 9:44:21 AM.  Present were Senators                                                             
Hollis French, Gene Therriault,  Charlie Huggins, Gretchen Guess,                                                               
and Chair Ralph Seekins.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
        SB 313-SALVIA DIVINORUM AS CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:44:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS announced SB 313 to be up for consideration.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GENE THERRIAULT  asked  Dave Stancliff  to introduce  SB                                                               
313.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DAVE  STANCLIFF,  Staff  to Senator  Therriault,  introduced  the                                                               
bill.  Salvia  divinorum  is  a   very  powerful  substance  used                                                               
primarily by  the Mazatec  Indians for  the purpose  of obtaining                                                               
spiritual visions. It is the  most potent hallucinogenic material                                                               
known to man  and due to a proliferation of  Internet sales, this                                                               
substance is  now being  sold in stores  in Alaska.  Purveyors of                                                               
the substance give grave warnings  about its use. The sponsor has                                                               
several   letters  of   support   for  the   bill  from   varying                                                               
departments,  including  the  Department  of  Health  and  Social                                                               
Services.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:47:44 AM                                                                                                                    
Studies  have  shown that  people  predisposed  to depression  or                                                               
schizophrenia  can  be tipped  further  in  that direction  after                                                               
using  Salvia. There  are long-term  effects such  as flashbacks.                                                               
After consumption  of the substance  the high can last  for hours                                                               
and the effects  can last for days. Salvia  divinorum is enjoying                                                               
a rise in  use due to the lack of  restrictions on the substance.                                                               
Alaska should stay ahead of the game  and add this to the list of                                                               
Schedule II illegal drugs.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:50:24 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS asked whether  someone who needed it would                                                               
be able to still get the drug if the bill were to pass.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. STANCLIFF stated yes with  permission from a doctor. It would                                                               
also be able to be legally used for scientific study.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  moved  version  G as  the  working  document                                                               
before the committee. Hearing no objections, the motion carried.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HOLLIS  FRENCH  asked  the  penalty  for  possession  of                                                               
Schedule II drugs.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. STANCLIFF said  it depends on whether the  possession is near                                                               
a school ground or other  different considerations. The committee                                                               
should  know  is  that  it  can't be  grown  from  seeds.  It  is                                                               
primarily grown in Mexico, California and Hawaii.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH asked what the  penalty would be for buying Salvia                                                               
divinorum.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. STANCLIFF  said it  would be  the same  as it  is for  LSD or                                                               
cocaine, which is a class C felony.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:53:14 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS called for public testimony.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
JACK DEGANSTEIN, Anchorage, testified  in opposition to the bill.                                                               
He asserted  that Salvia divinorum  was not a dangerous  drug. He                                                               
contended that  the substance was  not a  problem and said  it is                                                               
primarily used  in a responsible  manner. He said the  facts have                                                               
been  distorted and  he has  never seen  evidence that  it causes                                                               
depression. The effects are more  in the manner of providing hope                                                               
and enlightenment, he stated.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:57:27 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS  asked  Mr.  Deganstein whether  it  was  safe  to                                                               
operate a car while using the drug.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DEGENSTEIN  reported  it  would  be  impossible  to  operate                                                               
equipment.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHRIS  BEHEIM, Supervisor,  Alaska  State Crime  Lab, offered  to                                                               
answer  questions. He  said he  has been  working on  obtaining a                                                               
sample of  the ingredient so that  he can do a  chemical analysis                                                               
of the substance.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS closed public testimony.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  noted drug  dealers  do  currently not  sell                                                               
Salvia divinorum because it is  readily available to purchase. He                                                               
said the  committee should add the  drug to the list  of Schedule                                                               
II drugs.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:03:15 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR CHARLIE HUGGINS expressed support  for the bill. He moved                                                               
CSSB 313(JUD) from committee  with individual recommendations and                                                               
attached fiscal notes. Hearing no objection, the motion carried.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS announced a brief recess at 10:04:08 AM.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
         SB 48-PSYCH. EVALUATION/TREATMENT FOR STUDENTS                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:12:15 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS announced SB 48 to be up for consideration.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BETTYE DAVIS  introduced the  bill. She  said there  are                                                               
many other states that have passed similar legislation.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
RICHARD  BENAVIDES, Staff  to Senator  Davis, explained  that the                                                               
bill  basically states  that a  public  school may  not deny  any                                                               
student  access  to  programs or  services  because  the  parents                                                               
refuse to  place the student  on psychotropic medications,  get a                                                               
psychiatric evaluation or  seek treatment for the  child. It also                                                               
spells  out   what  communications   are  allowed,  who   can  do                                                               
evaluations and the protections a  parent or guardian has against                                                               
being reported to the Office of Children's Services (OCS).                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
The  sponsor recognizes  that  psychotropic  drugs are  sometimes                                                               
used to  address mental health  problems. The U.S.  Department of                                                               
Education   has   clearly   informed   educators   that   medical                                                               
professionals, not  education professionals, are  responsible for                                                               
prescribing medication.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
A 2004  reauthorization of the  Individuals with  Disabilities in                                                               
Education  Act  (IDEA)  requires  that each  state  prohibit  any                                                               
school  district personnel  from requiring  a child  to obtain  a                                                               
prescription for  psychotropic drugs as a  condition of attending                                                               
school. This does not prevent teachers from sharing classroom-                                                                  
based observations  with parents  or guardians.  Essentially, any                                                               
medical decision to address a  student's need is a matter between                                                               
the student,  the parent and a  competent healthcare professional                                                               
chosen by the parent.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Nothing  in the  bill prevents  school personnel  from using  any                                                               
other  means  of  dealing  with  behavioral  problems.  The  bill                                                               
targets teachers  who attempt to prevent  children from attending                                                               
school.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:17:26 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS called for public testimony.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
STUART THOMPSON, Wasilla,  testified in support of  SB 48. School                                                               
administrator  training   is  not  designed  to   make  educators                                                               
competent  to   practice  any  type   of  medicine,   he  stated.                                                               
Advertisements  by pharmaceutical  companies attempt  to convince                                                               
the  mainstream  that children  with  excess  energy suffer  from                                                               
chemical  imbalances,  which their  drugs  would  cure. Years  of                                                               
using  legal  drugs  begets  years of  using  illegal  drugs,  he                                                               
claimed. He encouraged the committee to support SB 48.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:22:27 AM                                                                                                                   
MARGARET  ANTHONY,  Fairbanks,  expressed concern  regarding  the                                                               
number of children in America  on psychotropic drugs. Some of the                                                               
most talented people in history had  a hard time sitting still in                                                               
school, such as  Albert Einstein and actor Tom  Cruise. Today the                                                               
two might  be diagnosed with ADD  and put on drugs.  She informed                                                               
the committee  that any person who  was been on Ritalin  for more                                                               
than two years is not eligible to serve in the military.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
People on psychotropic drugs present  higher risks of suicide and                                                               
violent behavior.  One of the  students who went on  the shooting                                                               
spree in  Columbine High School was  on such types of  drugs, she                                                               
stated. The  drugs appear  to interfere  with good  judgment. She                                                               
encouraged the committee to support the bill.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:26:33 AM                                                                                                                   
FRANK TURNEY,  Fairbanks, said  he was  a community  activist who                                                               
supported  SB  48. He  informed  the  committee of  a  resolution                                                               
passed  in  2005 by  the  borough  assembly  in support  of  this                                                               
legislation.  Many  parents  are concerned  with  their  children                                                               
being  misdiagnosed  with  attention deficit  disorder  (ADD)  or                                                               
attention deficit  hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and  then denied                                                               
the  opportunity to  serve in  military service.  He agreed  with                                                               
previous testimony  from Ms. Anthony regarding  increased erratic                                                               
behavior  of  young adults  who  have  been put  on  psychotropic                                                               
drugs.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:31:50 AM                                                                                                                   
GREG STERNQUIST,  Chiropractor, said he has  treated children for                                                               
ADHD  for  many   years  and  considers  himself   an  expert  on                                                               
psychotropic drugs. He recognized that  teachers are doing a good                                                               
job overall but  they do not have possess the  education level to                                                               
diagnose  or   suggest  treatment  to  children.   He  urged  the                                                               
committee to support the bill.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:33:35 AM                                                                                                                   
ANGELA  TILLERY, Director,  Church of  Scientology, testified  in                                                               
support of  the bill.  She has  counseled parents  whose children                                                               
have   been  recommended   psychotropic   drugs   due  to   their                                                               
hyperactivity.  School districts  want a  quick fix  because they                                                               
have  too many  children in  the classroom  and they  seek easier                                                               
control, she claimed.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:36:47 AM                                                                                                                   
RICHARD  WARNER,   President  of  the  Seattle   Chapter  of  the                                                               
Citizen's  Commission on  Human Rights,  testified in  support of                                                               
the bill.  Similar legislation has  passed in many  other states.                                                               
Children  are  exposed  to many  different  factions  in  today's                                                               
society  and  there are  many  different  root causes  to  mental                                                               
instability   including  too   much  television   watching,  poor                                                               
nutrition,  and exposure  to  environmental  toxins. The  Surgeon                                                               
General's  1999  report  on  mental   health  says  there  is  no                                                               
definitive  lesion,  laboratory  tests or  abnormality  in  brain                                                               
tissue that can identify mental illness.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
The FDA  has recently issued  an unprecedented series  of warning                                                               
against   psychotropic  drugs.   They  have   found  that   anti-                                                               
depressants can double a child's  risk of becoming suicidal. ADHD                                                               
drugs such as Ritalin can  increase cardiovascular problems, lead                                                               
to hallucinations, aggression,  violence, and psychotic behavior.                                                               
Tests show that the drugs are  no more effective than placebos in                                                               
treating children for hyperactivity.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:41:18 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. WARNER continued  his only problem with the S  version of the                                                               
bill is that  the original bill was much  stronger. He encouraged                                                               
the  committee to  return the  bill to  its stronger  position of                                                               
protecting parents who refuse to put their children on drugs.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:44:16 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR CHARLIE  HUGGINS asked Senator  Davis whether  she agreed                                                               
with Mr. Warner's stance for a stronger bill.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DAVIS said she felt the bill was in good form.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS closed public testimony.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GRETCHEN  GUESS  moved   to  report  CSSB  48(HES)  from                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations  and attached  fiscal                                                               
notes. Hearing no objections, the motion carried.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS called a brief recess at 10:45:56 AM.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
           HB 446-PENALTY FOR UNLAWFUL TRADE PRACTICE                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:47:39 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  RALPH  SEEKINS  announced  CSHB  446(JUD)  to  be  up  for                                                               
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CRAIG  JOHNSON,  Staff   to  Representative  Lesil  McGuire,                                                               
introduced  the  bill. The  first  consumer  protection bill  was                                                               
introduced in  1979. Today  Alaska's current  consumer protection                                                               
laws provide the  lowest allowable civil penalties  of any state.                                                               
The  bill is  meant to  strengthen consumer  protection laws  and                                                               
bring the  penalties up  in accordance  with inflation.  The bill                                                               
has seen no opposition to this point.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:49:35 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HOLLIS FRENCH  remarked that the bill  simply updates the                                                               
amounts of fines and does not change any substantive law.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
ED SNIFFEN, Assistant Attorney General,  Department of Law (DOL),                                                               
testified that  his responsibilities  include enforcement  of the                                                               
Consumer Protection  Act, which the  bill would amend.  He agreed                                                               
with Senator  French's comment that  the bill would  bring Alaska                                                               
Statutes in line with the fines of the current times.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS referred  to page 1, line 6  and questioned whether                                                               
the provision "A  person who violates the terms  of an injunction                                                               
or restraining  order" implies that  the person  would "knowingly                                                               
and willfully" do so. He stated  that was not always clear to the                                                               
average person.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. SNIFFEN agreed  but said there are a number  of statutes that                                                               
have the same implied effect.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:53:55 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  Mr. Sniffen  the standard  that is  used to                                                               
bring someone to court.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. SNIFFEN responded that the DOL  looks at a variety of factors                                                               
in each individual  case. It is policy to consider  the impact of                                                               
the conduct  on the citizens  of the  State of Alaska.  There are                                                               
cases involving  private disputes  between individuals  where the                                                               
Department would be unlikely to  spend resources as the impact is                                                               
localized  and  unique  and  does  not  demonstrate  patterns  of                                                               
illegal behavior.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked whether it  was normal practice to advise the                                                               
person of  the illegal practice  and to  order them to  cease and                                                               
desist.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. SNIFFEN  said yes.  If the  harm is  not monumental,  the DOL                                                               
will advise  them of the law  and have them sign  an assurance of                                                               
voluntary compliance, which is then filed with the court.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:56:58 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS closed public testimony.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GRETCHEN  GUESS  moved  to  report  CSHB  446(JUD)  from                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations  and attached  fiscal                                                               
notes. Hearing no objections, the motion carried.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS announced a brief recess at 10:57:33 AM.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
          SB 316-COURT REVIEW OF STRANDED GAS DECISION                                                                      
                                                                                                                              
11:08:38 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS announced SB 316 to be up for consideration.                                                                
He said the intent today was to discuss proposed language so                                                                    
that the bill could move forward. The committee did not expect                                                                  
to move the bill out but the chairman hoped to do constructive                                                                  
work on it. He said his draft would allow the Legislature to                                                                    
view the contract and would allow a public citizen to challenge                                                                 
the findings and determinations provided that the Legislature                                                                   
authorized and approved the signing of the contract. If the                                                                     
committee agreed on the draft, he would have it drawn up into a                                                                 
committee substitute (CS) to be considered on the following                                                                     
hearing date.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:10:31 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS said as he reads the original bill, the challenge                                                                 
could be made at the point where the decision was made to                                                                       
execute the contract. There was nothing for the court to                                                                        
consider until an action on the contract was made.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
It appears that the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee is                                                                      
trying to put one more step into the process before there could                                                                 
be a judicial review, he stated. Any challenger to the contract                                                                 
would legitimately try to determine whether or not the contract                                                                 
was in the best fiscal interest of the state. The only party                                                                    
that could possibly challenge a contract while it was in the                                                                    
middle of the process would be someone who wanted to "high-                                                                     
center" the contract and halt the process for political or                                                                      
private reasons, which should not be allowed. The opportunity                                                                   
for any challenge should be at the end of the process.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
11:12:41 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS said he was also concerned that there be plenty of                                                                
opportunity to view the body of evidence that the commissioner                                                                  
used to come to his conclusion. For example, currently the                                                                      
commissioner has not released any preliminary findings and as a                                                                 
result, none of the body of evidence, including the contract                                                                    
currently under consideration, is a public document except for                                                                  
the proprietary information identified in Section 310.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GENE THERRIAULT said there is a category of documents                                                                   
that are part of the deliberative process that can also be                                                                      
withheld.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS said his concern was that every document that                                                                     
would be discoverable in a legal challenge should be made                                                                       
public.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
11:15:16 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS directed the committee's attention to the current                                                                 
Stranded Gas Act (SGA), page 21, line 8, and the term                                                                           
"supporting financial, technical, market data." He said that                                                                    
indicated that only the documents supporting a particular                                                                       
decision are required to be disclosed. He passed out his                                                                        
untitled draft and proposed that word "supporting" would be                                                                     
deleted, thereby broadening the amount of documents that would                                                                  
be discoverable.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HOLLIS FRENCH noted there are two clear definitions of                                                                  
the word "support." A government lawyer would lose his argument                                                                 
that the only documents that get released are the ones favoring                                                                 
his client. He said every single word is subject to contrasting                                                                 
interpretations.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asserted the importance of transparency and                                                                       
inclusion regarding consideration of any contract.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH pointed out in the same paragraph it states the                                                                  
documents "considered by the commissioner" would be submitted                                                                   
with the final findings and determination. A clever federal                                                                     
government lawyer could contend that many of the documents were                                                                 
not "considered," he stated.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS replied that the Legislature could only hold the                                                                  
commissioner to those things that he actually considered.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
11:21:00 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS said the intent was to make the bill as clear as                                                                  
possible and to allow someone to examine the body of documents                                                                  
that the commissioner used to come up with the final findings                                                                   
and determination. At that point, the Legislature goes to work                                                                  
and it becomes their responsibility to examine the contract to                                                                  
ensure that it meets the terms of the SGA.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
11:24:52 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS asked the committee whether they were in agreement                                                                
regarding the steps they want the process to go through.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
They would make sure that the body of evidence that the                                                                         
commissioner used to come up with his preliminary findings is                                                                   
made public at the point that the preliminary findings are                                                                      
signed. Then there would be a period of time of at least 30 days                                                                
for the legislative and public review. Then the commissioner                                                                    
would close off public comment and within 30 days prepare a                                                                     
summary of the public comment and legislative comment. He would                                                                 
consolidate the body of evidence together and bring it to the                                                                   
governor along with the contract. The governor would then                                                                       
forward all of that to the Legislature.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
11:27:07 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH interrupted to ask whether the committee was                                                                     
operating under the new [untitled] draft.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS said yes and read Section 43.82.430 as follows:                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Sec. 43.82.430.  Final findings, determination, and proposed                                                                    
amendments; execution of the contract.                                                                                          
     (a) Within 30 days after the close of the public comment                                                                   
period under AS 43.82.410(4), the commissioner of revenue shall                                                                 
     (1) prepare a summary of the public comments received in                                                                   
response to the proposed contract and the preliminary findings                                                                  
and determination;                                                                                                              
     (2) after consultation with the commissioner of natural                                                                    
resources, if appropriate, and with the pertinent municipal                                                                     
advisory group established under AS 43.82.510, prepare a list of                                                                
proposed amendments, if any, to the proposed contract that the                                                                  
commissioner of revenue determines are necessary to respond to                                                                  
public comments;                                                                                                                
     (3) make final findings and a determination as to whether                                                                  
the proposed contract and any proposed amendments prepared under                                                                
(2) of this subsection meet the requirements and purposes of                                                                    
this chapter.                                                                                                                   
     (b) After considering the material described in (a) of this                                                                
section and securing the agreement of the other parties to the                                                                  
proposed contract regarding any proposed amendments prepared                                                                    
under (a) of this section, if the commissioner determines that                                                                  
the contract is in the long-term fiscal interests of the state,                                                                 
the commissioner shall submit the contract to the governor.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH noted for the people watching on television that                                                                 
the chairman was reading the statute as it currently stands and                                                                 
is suggesting no change to AS 43.82.430.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS agreed and said he just wanted to make it clear.                                                                  
He read Section 435 as he proposed in his draft CS.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Sec. 43.82.435.  Legislative authorization.                                                                                     
    (a) The governor may transmit a contract developed under                                                                    
this chapter to the legislature together with a request for                                                                     
authorization to execute the contract.                                                                                          
     (b) Concurrent with the submission of the contract and                                                                     
request for authorization to execute the contract to the                                                                        
legislature, the governor shall:                                                                                                
          (1) submit the commissioner's final findings and                                                                      
determinations and the financial, technical, market data,                                                                       
including work papers, analyses, and recommendations of any                                                                     
independent contractors used under AS 43.82.240, that were                                                                      
considered by the commissioner to make the final findings and                                                                   
determinations to the legislature; and                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH interrupted to ask to whom the final findings and                                                                
determinations would be submitted.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS said to the Legislature. He continued reading his                                                                 
proposed language to the committee and clarified that there                                                                     
would be 120 days after the execution of the contract for                                                                       
someone to be able to bring a challenge.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:31:43 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR CHARLIE HUGGINS reported that Chair Seekins' CS would                                                                   
satisfy the concerns of his constituents.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GUESS agreed with Senator Huggins. She asked whether the                                                                
law authorizing the contract is what would be challenged.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS explained that the challengeable part would be                                                                    
that the contract entered into was not cohesive to the long-term                                                                
fiscal interest of the state.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH compared Chair Seekins' proposed Section 440 with                                                                
the current AS 43.82.440 and said, "it looks as if a person                                                                     
could challenge the enforceability of a contract executed under                                                                 
a law authorizing the contract."                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:34:10 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS agreed to add that into his CS.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH reiterated his earlier concern with changing the                                                                 
focus of the legal contest from the findings and determination                                                                  
of the commissioner to the findings and determinations forwarded                                                                
to the Legislature. He said he could not know for a certainty                                                                   
that the committee wasn't "shrinking" the amount of discoverable                                                                
information.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS said he has struggled over that because it is                                                                     
difficult to challenge the actions of the Legislature in passing                                                                
a law. If the Legislature were to determine that the contract                                                                   
did not meet the requirements of the law, they could still                                                                      
accept it because a new law would authorize it.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS said he heard Senator French say that the                                                                       
language of the proposed CS denotes a narrowing of things that                                                                  
would be available for people to challenge.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH agreed that was his concern.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS said that it was not his intent to narrow the                                                                     
scope of the challenge but to properly place it.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:37:05 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS asserted under the old law there was a clumsy                                                                     
situation that would allow a "high-centering" of a contract. He                                                                 
advised the committee that he would submit his CS to the                                                                        
drafters for their review and bring the bill up again. He held                                                                  
SB 316 in committee.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Seekins adjourned the meeting at 11:41:22 AM.                                                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects