Legislature(1995 - 1996)

1995-03-22 Senate Journal

Full Journal pdf

1995-03-22                     Senate Journal                      Page 0747
SB 138                                                                       
SENATE BILL NO. 138 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                              
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                          

1995-03-22                     Senate Journal                      Page 0748
SB 138                                                                       
"An Act relating to the state's tuberculosis control                          
program, including provisions for certain penalties;                           
and providing for an effective date."                                          
was read the first time and referred to the Health, Education and              
Social Services and Finance Committees.                                        
Zero fiscal notes published today from Department of Law,                      
Department of Administration (2), Department of Health and Social              
Governor's transmittal letter dated March 21:                                  
Dear President Pearce:                                                         
Under the authority of art. III, sec. 18, of the Alaska Constitution,          
I am transmitting a bill to update the state's tuberculosis control            
program to ensure that our statutes expressly recognize constitutional         
requirements when the state must order a person involuntarily                  
detained or confined for essential medical testing or treatment or to          
protect the public health.  The bill also makes miscellaneous                  
amendments to recognize new developments in the field and to                   
improve the reporting requirements for a case involving a person               
with tuberculosis.                                                             
Tuberculosis is still a serious public health problem in Alaska.               
Tuberculosis is a disease that can be spread through fairly routine            
contact such as coughing in a confined, crowded area.  In 1994,                
tuberculosis was diagnosed in several outbreaks in rural villages in           
Alaska.  Tuberculosis can be successfully treated, but the treatment           
requires a patient to take medication for six months to 24 months.             
Since some patients face lifestyle problems that make it difficult for         
that patient to voluntarily successfully complete the entire course of         
treatment or to isolate themselves from the public to protect the              
public health, it is sometimes necessary for orders to be issued and           
enforced to ensure that the patient is following the treatment plan or         
is isolated from the public.  If treatment is prematurely abandoned,           
a patient's tuberculosis can become more resistant to treatment and            
place the public at risk of catching an even more difficult form of            
this disease in the future.                                                    

1995-03-22                     Senate Journal                      Page 0749
SB 138                                                                       
The state's tuberculosis control program and involuntary detention             
laws should be revised to explicitly recognize constitutional                  
safeguards required in order to quickly respond to tuberculosis                
incidents and to detain or confine a person if that person is unable           
or unwilling to undergo treatment and is a threat to the public                
health.  While the Department of Health and Social Services                    
anticipates that the involuntary detention and commitment provisions           
in the bill will be used only rarely because most people will                  
voluntarily take treatment and use safeguards when advised by a                
medical professional, the bill is necessary to allow a system to be in         
place to respond quickly in a crisis situation.                                
I urge your support of this bill in response to an important public            
health issue.                                                                  
						Tony Knowles