Legislature(1993 - 1994)

1993-04-20 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

1993-04-20                     House Journal                      Page 1386
"Alcohol policy issues have taken up a great deal of time and attention        
in our State legislature in the last decade.  The problems caused in our       
society by alcohol abuse have demanded and received consideration              
from our elected representatives who have adopted legislation on drunk         
driving, state excise tax rates, fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol server        
training, and many other alcohol related issues.  But this legislation has     
been adopted on a piecemeal basis, as a reaction to a perceived                
individual need of the moment, and indeed, some legislation has never          
been implemented.                                                              
The State of Alaska Alcohol Beverage Control Board is the agency               
charged with enforcement of our laws dealing with the sale and use of          
beverage alcohol and yet is currently operating with three fewer               
investigators than it did in 1977, despite the growth in population and        
number of licenses in use.  Little has been done to address the problem        
of the repeat drunk driving offender, the cause of most of our alcohol-        
related highway accidents.  Legislation providing for an 'interlock'           
devise that would inhibit a person convicted DWI from operating a              
motor vehicle was adopted but never implemented.                               
Although we as a society decry the problem of underage drinking, little        
has been done to curb the use of false identification used to purchase         
alcohol and unless tragedy results from such an incident, it is often          
regarded by communities as 'sowing wild oats' and shrugged off as 'a           
rite of passage - boys will be boys'.  During 1990, the State of Alaska        
spent nearly $12 million on alcohol abuse treatment, yet the Office of         
the Ombudsman concluded in a 1993 report that the Division of                  
Alcoholism and Drug Abuse 'fails to insure that the programs it funds          
are effective.'                                                                
Alcohol ABUSE is a grave and disturbing dilemma facing our state               
and deserves to be examined on a broad level, seeking an overview of           
our existing policies, reconciling the conflicts in our positions, and         
establishing a strategy for the rational regulation of a legal product and     
deterrents for the abuse of that product.  The Twenty-first Amendment          
to the U.S. Constitution reserves to the states the right to regulate          
alcohol issues and the State of Alaska should assume responsibility for        
exercising that right in a coordinated, logical manner.                        
Examination of existing law and policies regarding alcohol as a legal          
product and the separate issue of laws and policies dealing with               
alcohol abuse is a method of assuming the State's constitutional right