Legislature(2005 - 2006)HOUSE FINANCE 519

02/28/2005 01:30 PM FINANCE

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HOUSE BILL NO. 99                                                                                                             
     An Act  relating to controlled substances  regarding the                                                                   
     crimes  of manslaughter,  endangering the  welfare  of a                                                                   
     child, and misconduct involving  a controlled substance;                                                                   
     and providing for an effective date.                                                                                       
ANNE CARPENETI,  ASSISTANT ATTORNEY  GENERAL, LEGAL  SERVICES                                                                   
SECTION,  CRIMINAL DIVISION,  DEPARTMENT  OF LAW,  summarized                                                                   
what HB 99 would accomplish.                                                                                                    
   ·      It provides that it would be a manslaughter                                                                           
          conviction for manufacturing or delivering meth in                                                                    
          violation of drug laws, AS 11.71, if a person dies                                                                    
          as the direct result of ingesting the drug.                                                                           
   ·      It also provides that there is no additional                                                                          
          comparable  mental state required for  the State to                                                                   
          prove  the case.   Making the conduct  specifically                                                                   
          homicide does not operate new ground in the law.                                                                      
2:46:20 PM                                                                                                                    
   ·      The bill creates a new form of child endangerment                                                                     
          in the  1  degree by  providing that it would  be a                                                                   
          Class  C  felony  to   manufacture  or  attempt  to                                                                   
          manufacture  meth in violation of the  State's drug                                                                   
          laws  in a building,  especially if children  under                                                                   
          18 use the building as a dwelling.                                                                                    
   ·      The bill changes the penalty for possessing meth                                                                      
          amphetamine in an organic  solution.  Right now, it                                                                   
          is a  Class C felony  to possess the  substance and                                                                   
          it is  a Class A felony  to possess a  precursor to                                                                   
          the  substance with the  intent to manufacture  it.                                                                   
          It  is a known  fact that  people possess  the meth                                                                   
          amphetamine  in  an organic  solution  in order  to                                                                   
          extract the powered meth.                                                                                             
Co-Chair Chenault  noted an on-going case in  Fairbanks where                                                                   
a meth lab was  found in a motel.  Ms. Carpeneti  stated that                                                                   
was correct.                                                                                                                    
Representative  Weyhrauch commented  on the  vastness of  the                                                                   
problem  nationally with  meth.   He pointed  out that  "meth                                                                   
amphetamine" was  not in the title  of the bill and  asked if                                                                   
the bill was directed solely to that drug.                                                                                      
Ms.  Carpeneti  explained  that  two  of  the  sections  deal                                                                   
directly  with meth  amphetamines but  the bill  does have  a                                                                   
broader  context.     The   manslaughter  provision   is  for                                                                   
distribution  or manufacturing  of any  drug in violation  to                                                                   
the State's drug laws.                                                                                                          
Representative  Weyhrauch  asked   if  current  criminal  law                                                                   
allows seizure of a building or  car if it is involved in the                                                                   
manufacturing of  meth amphetamines.  Ms. Carpeneti  said she                                                                   
would research that and get back to the Committee.                                                                              
Representative  Weyhrauch asked if  it was correct  that meth                                                                   
amphetamine  could not be  made without  using Sudafed.   Ms.                                                                   
Carpeneti deferred to an online expert.                                                                                         
Representative  Weyhrauch inquired  about the possibility  of                                                                   
vapors of the  meth amphetamine being absorbed  into carpets,                                                                   
walls  and sheetrock  of  the  lab and  outside  areas.   Ms.                                                                   
Carpeneti understood that was  correct and that it could also                                                                   
permeate airwaves of an entire building.                                                                                        
Representative Weyhrauch  asked if the intent  of legislation                                                                   
was that criminal  prosecution and application  would address                                                                   
any effect that the meth amphetamine  reached.  Ms. Carpeneti                                                                   
advised that  it clarifies if  the drug is manufactured  in a                                                                   
building with reckless  disregard to the danger  of any child                                                                   
in that whole  structure, that person would  be prosecuted in                                                                   
first degree.                                                                                                                   
Representative  Weyhrauch commented  that reckless  disregard                                                                   
is a high standard.   Ms. Carpeneti responded that  it is the                                                                   
highest,  "knowingly"   is  the  second   highest,  "reckless                                                                   
disregard" the next and "criminal negligence" the last.                                                                         
Representative Weyhrauch discussed  "casting a wider net" for                                                                   
lowering  that to  a comparable  mental state.   He asked  if                                                                   
that  change  would create  a  fiscal  impact on  the  prison                                                                   
system.   Ms. Carpeneti  thought that  most meth lab  arrests                                                                   
would  be able  to prove  reckless disregard  because of  the                                                                   
dangerousness of the substance.                                                                                                 
Representative Weyhrauch revisited  the Sudafed question.  He                                                                   
asked if  it was  a critical component  of meth  amphetamine,                                                                   
would it then  be simpler to outlaw Sudafed  sales in Alaska.                                                                   
Ms.  Carpeneti  noted  that  there  are  legitimate  uses  of                                                                   
Sudafed.  There are several bills  in the Legislature at this                                                                   
time that could regulate the sale of that type of chemical.                                                                     
2:56:45 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Holm  mentioned a  bill  passed  a couple  of                                                                   
years ago that  dealt with mandatory cleanup  of these sites.                                                                   
He added that HB 149 deals with the meth issue.                                                                                 
SGT. TIM  BIRT, ALASKA STATE  TROOPERS, DEPARTMENT  OF PUBLIC                                                                   
SAFETY, JUNEAU,  testified in  support of  passage of  HB 99.                                                                   
Sgt. Birt commented  on the common trend of the  meth labs in                                                                   
the State  of Alaska.   There  is a  complete disregard  from                                                                   
those that manufacture  meth amphetamine for  their safety as                                                                   
well  as the  safety of  those around  them.   The manner  in                                                                   
which the  chemicals are stored  creates situations  that are                                                                   
extremely  hazardous.    He  stressed   that  whether  it  is                                                                   
intentional  or not, a  dangerous situation  is created  with                                                                   
the chemicals  that are used.   In the actual meth  labs, the                                                                   
chemicals  are  usually found  from  the  floor level  up  to                                                                   
counter top, the areas in which  children spend most of their                                                                   
Vice-Chair Stoltze asked for a  description of the compounds.                                                                   
Sgt. Burt  explained that  in Alaska,  there are two  primary                                                                   
methods of manufacturing meth amphetamine.                                                                                      
   ·      Using lithium metal and Sudafed                                                                                       
   ·      Using iodine and red phosperous                                                                                       
Vice-Chair  Stoltze inquired  about  the  amounts of  Sudafed                                                                   
used.      Sgt. Birt  explained  that  in  the  manufacturing                                                                   
process,  the more  chemicals put  into the  front, the  more                                                                   
finished product  that results.   What has  been seen  in the                                                                   
"box labs"  or "mom  and pop"  labs is that  they take  a few                                                                   
boxes  of Sudafed  and  manufacture  grams and/or  ounces  of                                                                   
meth.  For  every one unit of  Sudafed in the front  end, the                                                                   
result  is ¾  unit of  meth.   Some retailers  now limit  the                                                                   
number  of boxes  of  Sudafed,  which can  be  sold over  the                                                                   
3:03:32 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Chenault  asked how many meth labs  have been busted                                                                   
in Alaska in the last two to five  years.  Sgt Birt responded                                                                   
that those  numbers are  available but that  he did  not have                                                                   
them at this meeting.   In 2004, in the Mat-Su  valley, there                                                                   
were 50 to 60 meth labs busted.                                                                                                 
Co-Chair  Chenault pointed  out that  the three fiscal  notes                                                                   
all indicate a zero fiscal impact,  which surprised him given                                                                   
the size of the problem statewide.   He requested that the up                                                                   
front anticipated costs be submitted to the Committee.                                                                          
3:06:04 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Holm noted that  Alaska has no restrictions on                                                                   
the purchase  of Sudafed.  He  asked if there should  be laws                                                                   
in  place to  limit the  sale of  any ephedrine.   Sgt.  Birt                                                                   
commented that  Sudafed actually serves legitimate  purposes.                                                                   
He agreed it should be regulated  and restricted, which might                                                                   
help with  the problem.   Other  states that have  restricted                                                                   
the sales  have experienced a  dramatic decrease in  the meth                                                                   
labs.    That  drop  happened  almost  immediately  with  the                                                                   
passage of their legislation.                                                                                                   
Representative  Holm understood  that if  ephedrine came  off                                                                   
the market,  there are other options  for those that  need it                                                                   
and  could  be  purchased  over   the  counter.    Sgt.  Birt                                                                   
acknowledged  that there  are other  compositions of  Sudafed                                                                   
such as a gel cap or cough syrup.   In other states, only the                                                                   
actual cold tablets are regulated.                                                                                              
3:09:04 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Holm  questioned if that would  be possible in                                                                   
Alaska.  Sgt.  Birt replied that controlling  Sudafed tablets                                                                   
would definitely have an impact on the meth labs.                                                                               
Representative  Holm  recommended  that  the  Committee  look                                                                   
further into that possibility.                                                                                                  
3:09:36 PM                                                                                                                    
JAMES  STEELE,   (TESTIFIED  VIA  TELECONFERENCE),   MANAGER,                                                                   
OFFICE OF CHILDREN SERVICES, DEPARTMENT  OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL                                                                   
SERVICES,  WASILLA,  testified  in  support  of HB  99.    He                                                                   
commented that he comes into contact  with the issues of meth                                                                   
labs not only  in his role as manager of  children's services                                                                   
but also  as a deputy fire  chief.  Mr. Steele  stressed that                                                                   
Mat-Su  has the  fasted growing  population  and the  fastest                                                                   
growing number of drug labs in the State.                                                                                       
Mr. Steele  pointed out  that two years  ago, the  local drug                                                                   
teams seized  30 labs;  last year,  that number increased  to                                                                   
51.  He noted  that there is a critical problem  when cooking                                                                   
meth in  that all  surfaces become  contaminated through  the                                                                   
fumes.  Toxic fumes and poisonous  gases pose an extreme risk                                                                   
for anyone exposed.                                                                                                             
3:12:17 PM                                                                                                                    
Last year, the Office of Children  Services took custody of 8                                                                   
active labs.   There were  workers that transported  kids who                                                                   
had to  be decontaminated  because of  their exposure  to the                                                                   
meth.   He stressed that  children's normal behavior,  places                                                                   
them  at risk  for  contaminates of  the  meth and  dangerous                                                                   
chemicals.  Currently,  his office receives about  40 monthly                                                                   
reports related to  some aspect of meth production.   This is                                                                   
a  huge  growing  concern.   Mr.  Steele  offered  to  answer                                                                   
questions of the Committee.                                                                                                     
3:13:48 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair  Stoltze asked  how often  are firemen, the  first                                                                   
responders to the  meth lab scenes.  Mr.  Steele acknowledged                                                                   
that it does occur, however, often  times the fire department                                                                   
does not  find out  until later  in the  process.   Sometimes                                                                   
there  are  explosions.    He  pointed  out  that  they  have                                                                   
responded to car fires with mobile  labs.  It does occur, but                                                                   
he did not know the number.                                                                                                     
3:15:22 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Meyer noted that the  bill would be HELD in order to                                                                   
merge it with other bills with a similar concern.                                                                               
3:16:27 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Weyhrauch hoped  that  the legislation  would                                                                   
not affect homebrew, wine or beer making.                                                                                       
HB 99 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                                                                          

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