Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/31/1993 03:00 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HB 195:  AUTHORIZING YOUTH COURTS                                            
  Number 028                                                                   
  REP. JOE SITTON testified as prime sponsor of HB 195.  He                    
  said he was representing the co-sponsors, as well as the                     
  young Democrats and Young Republicans of Alaska.  He read a                  
  sponsor statement that described the Anchorage Youth Court                   
  as a successful way to deal with young offenders, and said                   
  the bill would make it possible for other areas in the state                 
  to duplicate the Anchorage Youth Court by establishing                       
  similar programs under the Department of Health and Social                   
  Services (DHSS).  The bill would allow nonprofit                             
  organizations to operate such courts.  He said the state                     
  could benefit from the volunteer efforts of some youth to                    
  help address criminal behavior in other youths.                              
  (Rep. Brice arrived at 3:13 p.m. and departed at 3:20 p.m.)                  
  Number 171                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE said his experience had shown him that juveniles                 
  have strict conceptions of what is wrong and what is right,                  
  and can be stricter than adults in judging their peers.                      
  REP. VEZEY asked if it would be possible to amend the bill                   
  to replace the word "nonprofit corporations" with the word                   
  REP. SITTON said he had no problem, but the change might                     
  carry legal ramifications.  He said the Anchorage Youth                      
  Court framework required the use of the words "nonprofit."                   
  Number 197                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY noted that the use of nonprofit organization was                  
  good or bad in various cases.  He asked whether the Legal                    
  Assistance and Juvenile Justice Grant Fund referred to in                    
  Section 3 was a new fund.                                                    
  REP. SITTON responded that the bill would change the name of                 
  the existing Legal Assistance Fund.                                          
  REP. VEZEY expressed concern over co-mingling of funds.  He                  
  asked why there was a matching grant requirement when such                   
  requirements could also be waived.                                           
  REP. SITTON said that waivers would not be automatic.  He                    
  stated he wanted to give the commissioner of DHSS the                        
  authority to waive the match if he saw fit to do so.  He                     
  said the waiver would be adopted in regulation.                              
  Number 230                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY suggested eliminating language indicating it was                  
  a matching grant, and simply calling the program a grant                     
  REP. SITTON objected, saying the matching grant provision                    
  encouraged community involvement, which he said was a key to                 
  the success of the Anchorage Youth Court.  He added,                         
  however, that he would be willing to eliminate the matching                  
  provisions if that were necessary to get the bill passed.                    
  Number 243                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY asked the scope of the regulations that would be                  
  created under the statute.                                                   
  REP. SITTON said the regulations would establish a procedure                 
  by which an entity could apply for a grant, and would                        
  outline departmental overview and monitoring of such grants                  
  to assess their success.  He noted, however, that it was                     
  impossible to control exactly what form the regulations                      
  would finally take.                                                          
  Number 262                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY expressed reluctance to grant regulatory                          
  authority to state agencies.  He cited a legislative effort                  
  to allow an election on the question of whether the                          
  legislature could annul regulations, and said that until                     
  such a provision was in place he was very reluctant to grant                 
  regulatory authority to state agencies.                                      
  CHAIR BUNDE asked why HB 195 carried a zero fiscal note when                 
  the bill calls for $5,000 grants from the legal assistance                   
  and juvenile justice grant fund.                                             
  REP. SITTON said it was probably not the first time the                      
  legislature had seen a zero fiscal note that may have been                   
  creative.  He said his zero fiscal note was not creative.                    
  He anticipated receiving no more than 10 requests for such                   
  CHAIR BUNDE said that would cost $50,000.                                    
  REP. SITTON stated that he had been told that the fiscal                     
  note from the Department of Community and Regional Affairs                   
  addressed whether the department would have additional                       
  CHAIR BUNDE asked whether the Department of Community and                    
  Regional Affairs could absorb such costs without additional                  
  REP. SITTON answered that that was his understanding.                        
  CHAIR BUNDE invited public testimony on HB 195.                              
  Number 310                                                                   
  BOROUGH and a BOROUGH ASSEMBLY MEMBER, testified in Juneau                   
  in support of HB 195.  She said the Anchorage Bar                            
  Association (ABA), which supported the Anchorage Youth Court                 
  (AYC), had won a national award for its work with AYC.  She                  
  said those involved in youth courts would prefer the legal                   
  protections afforded by a nonprofit status and that would                    
  probably be the best form to use.  She said it would be                      
  logical to establish the next youth court in Fairbanks, and                  
  the community there could probably come up with a $5,000                     
  match.  She said youth courts help youth gain respect for                    
  the legal system and also provide an alternative to the                      
  juvenile court system that functioned as an effective                        
  Number 347                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE said he did not intend his comments on matching                  
  grants to mean that municipalities could not come up with a                  
  fair share for matching funds for youth courts.                              
  Number 352                                                                   
  DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES, testified in                       
  Juneau in support of HB 195.  He cited a zero fiscal note                    
  from the Department of Health and Social Services dated                      
  3/11/93.  He said community support from the Anchorage                       
  School District (ASD) and the ABA has helped the Anchorage                   
  Youth Court be a successful model.  He cited "legislative                    
  resolve" number 61 from 1992 which asked the Department of                   
  Health and Social Services to consider starting other youth                  
  court programs in Alaska similar to the one in Anchorage.                    
  He said the department had started that process in Juneau,                   
  Anchorage and Fairbanks, but was facing some drawbacks in                    
  Juneau, which had a small student population.                                
  CHAIR BUNDE asked if the youth court might not be a usable                   
  tool in smaller communities.                                                 
  Number 371                                                                   
  MR. HINES said youth courts would look different in smaller                  
  communities, but could be adapted to those settings.                         
  Number 379                                                                   
  CAREN ROBINSON, LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS, testified in Juneau                  
  for herself and for the League in support of HB 195, saying                  
  there was great interest in the program in Juneau.  She said                 
  youth court was based on the idea that judgement by peers                    
  prevented young offenders from repeating their offenses.                     
  Such courts also save money, prevent delinquency, and                        
  educate youth about the legal system, she said.  Sentencing                  
  should be appropriate, she stated, and has included                          
  community service, alcohol treatment or payment of                           
  restitution.  She strongly encouraged the bill and said that                 
  almost every community contained organizations willing to                    
  support youth court.                                                         
  (Rep. Toohey arrived at 3:36 p.m.  Rep. G. Davis arrived at                  
  approximately 3:40 p.m.)                                                     
  CHAIR BUNDE invited those testifying to limit their                          
  testimony to two minutes and not to repeat earlier                           
  testimony, if possible.                                                      
  Number 438                                                                   
  testified via teleconference from Anchorage in support of                    
  HB 195.  She described the history of AYC.  She said the                     
  court was unique in that it was run solely by youths with                    
  adult advisors.  She described the qualifications and                        
  training youths had to have to serve in AYC.  She said the                   
  AYC tries cases referred from Juvenile Intake, and it                        
  requires the juvenile and his parent or guardian to agree to                 
  have the case tried by AYC and to agree to abide by its                      
  judgement.  She said the AYC have had youth accused of                       
  joyriding, carrying a concealed knife on school grounds,                     
  snow machine theft, and other crimes.  She said the AYC                      
  hears about 20 cases a year, most of them misdemeanors.                      
  Convictions in AYC are wiped from an offender's record upon                  
  completion of sentence, she said.  She listed the benefits                   
  of AYC for youth, including business experience, increasing                  
  respect for law, allowing redress of criminal activities,                    
  resolution of criminal cases without leaving youth with                      
  criminal records.  She said the program also reduced the                     
  number of cases in Juvenile Intake.                                          
  Number 522                                                                   
  ASSOCIATION, testified via teleconference from Anchorage in                  
  support of HB 195.  He said he had served in other                           
  capacities in the AYC.  He said he wanted the AYC to have                    
  the authority to subpoena witnesses, a power granted by                      
  HB 195.                                                                      
  Number 537                                                                   
  testified via teleconference from Anchorage in support of                    
  HB 195.  He said those youths that go through AYC have low                   
  recidivism rates, which he attributed to the fact that the                   
  AYC provided for trial of youth by their peers.                              
  Number 567                                                                   
  DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY AND YOUTH SERVICES, testified via                       
  teleconference from Anchorage in support of HB 195.  He said                 
  the AYC was a way for the Division of Family and Youth                       
  Services (DFYS) to meet its dual obligations to protect the                  
  public while addressing the needs of youthful offenders.  He                 
  said peer judgement was an outstanding feature of AYC and                    
  led to low recidivism rates.  He said the AYC was one of the                 
  most effective diversion programs he had ever seen, though                   
  not all youth were good candidates for trial by AYC.  He                     
  said he supported the bill as a way to make youth courts                     
  possible across the state.                                                   
  TAPE 93-53, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 008                                                                   
  STUDENT VOCATIONAL PROGRAM, testified via teleconference                     
  from Anchorage in support of HB 195.  She said offenders                     
  tried by AYC, and those likely to be tried by other youth                    
  courts, do not realize that what they might consider                         
  mischief is actually illegal.  She said many communities had                 
  made inquiries about AYC in the past year, and while some                    
  had been scared off by the complexity of the program, she                    
  said, youth courts could take many forms.  She said students                 
  involved with AYC respect the confidentiality of those                       
  involved in the system.                                                      
  Number 070                                                                   
  testified via teleconference from Anchorage in support of                    
  HB 195.  He said the AYC was almost all-volunteer, but                       
  received early support from an American Bar Association                      
  grant.  He said the $5,000 state grant would help smaller                    
  communities get set up before finding their own funding                      
  sources.  He said it was important that youth courts be                      
  operated as nonprofit corporations so as to collect grants                   
  and tax-deductible contributions.  He said the jurisdiction                  
  of youth courts would be up to local authorities.  He                        
  reminded the committee that all cases brought before a youth                 
  court would be pre-screened, probably by a lawyer, to ensure                 
  that they were appropriate for the court.  He said youth                     
  courts impose creative sentences, tailored to each youth and                 
  in the context of each community.  He praised youth courts                   
  as a good way for children to learn the legal system and for                 
  lawyers to be involved in schools.                                           
  Number 114                                                                   
  SCHOOL DISTRICT, testified via teleconference from Anchorage                 
  in support of HB 195.  She said the AYC was among the best                   
  real-life educational opportunities for youth she had ever                   
  seen.  She said it was a very successful partnership between                 
  schools and the community, that it had received two national                 
  awards, and that it received many queries form other states                  
  and cities.  She said she was glad it could be used as a                     
  model for similar programs around the state.                                 
  Number 134                                                                   
  ASSOCIATION, testified via teleconference from Anchorage in                  
  support of HB 195.  He said the ABA had long been involved                   
  in the AYC, supported it vigorously, and still contributed                   
  money to it each year, partly because the state had provide                  
  money to the program early on.  He said a nonprofit                          
  designation is useful for youth courts.  He said the AYC has                 
  been responsible in reporting its financial activities, even                 
  in the absence of formal, rigid financial regulations.  He                   
  suggested making the youth court available to boroughs as                    
  well as first- or second-class municipalities and cities.                    
  Number 178                                                                   
  testified via teleconference from Anchorage in support of                    
  HB 195.  He said the AYC provided benefits for both                          
  defendants and attorneys, was educational, and led to lower                  
  state court costs.                                                           
  Number 201                                                                   
  ASSOCIATION, testified via teleconference from Anchorage in                  
  support of HB 195.  He said the AYC saved the state money                    
  and was effective.  He noted that the AYC had a five percent                 
  recidivism rate, compared to 50 percent for the normal                       
  juvenile court system.                                                       
  Number 219                                                                   
  YOUNG LAWYER SECTION, testified via teleconference from                      
  Anchorage in support of HB 195.  He said the program gets                    
  lawyers involved with students, helps students learn about                   
  the judicial branch of government, reduces recidivism rates,                 
  and saves the government money.                                              
  Number 250                                                                   
  FOUNDATION, testified via teleconference from Anchorage in                   
  support of HB 195.  She said the foundation, which has                       
  funded the AYC, has rigid financial requirements which the                   
  AYC has always met.  She called the program a model to be                    
  followed nationwide.  She said the foundation trustees                       
  support HB 195.  She stated that in 1991 the DOE had                         
  attempted, through its rural outreach program and in                         
  conjunction with the ABA, to establish two pilot rural youth                 
  court programs.                                                              
  Number 275                                                                   
  PREVENT SHOPLIFTING, INC., testified via teleconference from                 
  Anchorage in support of HB 195.  He said it was a good                       
  program to educate youth who are good candidates for                         
  rehabilitation about the consequences of crimes often                        
  committed under peer pressure.  He encouraged expansion of                   
  the youth court program to pay for follow-up assistance for                  
  poor youth.                                                                  
  Number 300                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE thanked those testifying from Anchorage for                      
  their testimony.                                                             
  Number 303                                                                   
  ASSOCIATION, testified via teleconference from Fairbanks in                  
  support of HB 195.  She said the bill would help Fairbanks                   
  learn from Anchorage's example while setting up its own                      
  youth court.  She also noted with approval that the bill                     
  provided for alternative approaches in smaller communities.                  
  Number 324                                                                   
  THE ANCHORAGE YOUTH COURT, testified via teleconference from                 
  Anchorage in support of HB 195.  He noted that the program                   
  attracted many dedicated volunteers, including police,                       
  teachers, judges, attorneys, court workers, and all types of                 
  students.  He voiced the hope that the offenders would                       
  become part of the AYC system.  As a family lawyer, he said                  
  the AYC was a more positive solution to youth crime than the                 
  normal juvenile justice system and could be a good model for                 
  the rest of the state.                                                       
  Number 358                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE closed public testimony on HB 195 and invited                    
  the committee to discuss the bill.  He asked Rep. Sitton to                  
  comment on the suggestion that the bill be extended to                       
  include boroughs.                                                            
  REP. SITTON said he hoped the committee would entertain such                 
  a motion.                                                                    
  Number 362                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY observed that amending the bill to substitute the                 
  word "person" for the word "nonprofit corporation" in the                    
  bill would extend the bill to include boroughs.                              
  CHAIR BUNDE observed that someone had testified that                         
  establishing a youth court under a nonprofit corporation                     
  umbrella would allow the youth courts to accept tax-exempt                   
  REP. VEZEY countered that an organization merely had to have                 
  tax-exempt status, granted by the Internal Revenue Service                   
  (IRS) in order to accept tax-deductible contributions.  He                   
  said most nonprofit corporations did not necessarily have                    
  such status.                                                                 
  Number 372                                                                   
  REP. B. DAVIS said that an organization needed 501 3(c)                      
  status, as did the AYC.                                                      
  REP. G. DAVIS noted that a slight change to the bill on page                 
  3, line 24, changing the word "cities" to the word                           
  "municipalities" would extend the bill to boroughs and                       
  REP. SITTON concurred.                                                       
  Number 380                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE moved the amendment suggested by Rep. G. Davis,                  
  changing the word "cities" to the word "municipalities"                      
  on page 3, line 24.  Hearing neither discussion nor                          
  objection, he declared the motion passed.                                    
  REP. VEZEY proposed an amendment to Section 3 of the bill to                 
  establish an independent fund for the youth court grants                     
  instead of mingling the fund with the legal assistance fund.                 
  He suggested such an amendment might take some legal                         
  REP. SITTON said he appreciated Rep. Vezey's concern for                     
  state money management, but added that he would hate to see                  
  the bill delayed by what he saw as an insignificant problem.                 
  Number 395                                                                   
  REP. G. DAVIS pointed out that two paragraphs in Section 3                   
  of the bill defined the two distinct uses to which the fund                  
  would be put.                                                                
  CHAIR BUNDE asked Rep. Vezey if that would satisfy his                       
  Number 403                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY answered that it would not, and that there was a                  
  need, in his opinion, for separate funds in order to                         
  properly manage the funds.                                                   
  REP. NICHOLIA moved for passage of HB 195 from the committee                 
  with individual recommendations.                                             
  REP. VEZEY objected.                                                         
  CHAIR BUNDE asked Rep. Vezey if he had made a motion.                        
  Number 413                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY answered that he had not made a formal motion, as                 
  he believed it would first be necessary to perform research                  
  on the issue he had raised.  He said he had two other                        
  amendments he wanted to present.                                             
  REP. NICHOLIA withdrew her amendment.                                        
  Number 418                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY moved an amendment to the bill to substitute the                  
  word "person" for the words "corporation" or "nonprofit                      
  corporation" in four places:  page 2, line 23; page 2, line                  
  29; page 3, line 21; and page 4, line 1.                                     
  REP. B. DAVIS objected to the motion and said the committee                  
  should have representatives from Legal Services present                      
  before voting on the motion.                                                 
  CHAIR BUNDE said HB 195 was apparently going to take longer                  
  than he had thought.  He suggested that the committee take                   
  up the confirmation of Stowell Johnstone to the State Board                  
  of Education and delay action on HB 195 pending arrival of a                 
  representative from Legal Services.  He declared his                         
  intention to finish discussion on HB 195 that day.                           
  HB 195:  AUTHORIZING YOUTH COURTS                                            
  CHAIR BUNDE noted that there was a question of the necessity                 
  of 501 (c) nonprofit designation.                                            
  REP. SITTON invited his aide to address that question.                       
  Number 520                                                                   
  PAULA TERRELL, AIDE TO REP. JOE SITTON, testified on HB 195.                 
  She said she had consulted with Jack Chenoweth of the                        
  Legislative Legal Counsel in the Legislative Affairs Agency,                 
  who had answered some of the committee's questions on                        
  HB 195.  She stated Mr. Chenoweth said that the use of the                   
  word "person" would include nonprofits and the bill language                 
  was broad enough to allow communities to adapt the bill to                   
  their own purposes.  She said the courts might look askance                  
  at having a single individual person operate a youth court,                  
  but that issue could be resolved when such a person                          
  attempted to establish a youth court program.                                
  Number 527                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE said that answered his question.                                 
  REP. VEZEY noted that the term "nonprofit" was used three                    
  times in the bill, and the term "corporation" was used                       
  Number 530                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE asked whether the nonprofit designation would                    
  remain should the committee pass Rep. Vezey's proposed                       
  amendment to change "nonprofit" to "person."                                 
  MS. TERRELL said that she believed, based on her                             
  conversation with Mr. Chenoweth, that this was correct.                      
  REP. TOOHEY moved passage of Rep. Vezey's amendment.                         
  CHAIR BUNDE noted that Rep. Vezey had already made that                      
  REP. TOOHEY said that she would therefore repeat the                         
  CHAIR BUNDE asked for objections.                                            
  Number 541                                                                   
  REP. B. DAVIS said she had voiced objection to the motion                    
  earlier, but she wished to withdraw her objection.                           
  CHAIR BUNDE said, "That takes care of that amendment.  And,                  
  Rep. Vezey, you had another amendment that you were                          
  concerned with."                                                             
  Number 542                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY moved an amendment to page 4, line 4, of the                      
  bill, deleting the last sentence of the paragraph, (an                       
  amendment which would have the effect of preventing waiver                   
  of the requirement for matching grants).  He said the bill                   
  offered enough flexibility in the form of matching                           
  contributions such that if a community was not willing to                    
  provide some matching contribution, the state should not                     
  provide the grant.                                                           
  REP. NICHOLIA objected.                                                      
  REP. SITTON said the amendment would not substantially alter                 
  the bill.  He said he agreed with the amendment.                             
  Number 555                                                                   
  REP. NICHOLIA said she believed the commissioner of the DOE                  
  should have the ability to waive the match because rural                     
  areas might not be able to afford the match and would be                     
  deprived of the benefits of youth courts.                                    
  TAPE 93-54, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE asked for further discussion on the amendment.                   
  Hearing no further objection, he called for a roll call                      
  vote.  Those voting yes were Reps. Vezey and Kott.  Those                    
  voting no were Reps. G. Davis, Olberg, B. Davis, Nicholia,                   
  Toohey and Bunde.  The motion failed 2-6.                                    
  Number 032                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY moved an amendment to split the legal assistance                  
  grant fund from the juvenile justice grant fund.                             
  REP. G. DAVIS said he had no problem with the amendment.  He                 
  said it was a good bill and suggested the committee pass it                  
  along to the Judiciary Committee with a letter of intent to                  
  avoid the delay that would come with drafting an amendment.                  
  Number 048                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE asked Rep. Vezey if that would satisfy his                       
  concerns.  He also said he was willing to return the bill to                 
  the committee again the next day to allow time to draft the                  
  REP. VEZEY said he would be willing to act at the pleasure                   
  of the chair, and he did not see any large rush.  He                         
  observed that HB 195 would not make it to the floor, as the                  
  legislative session was nearing an end.  He agreed to send a                 
  letter to the Judiciary Committee requesting his amendment.                  
  Number 064                                                                   
  REP. OLBERG asked if the committee would vote on the motion                  
  or view the amendment first.                                                 
  CHAIR BUNDE said he would prefer to hold the bill one day to                 
  allow language to be drafted to address Rep. Vezey's                         
  concerns and avoid the need to try to have another committee                 
  try to assess the HESS Committee's will.  He announced the                   
  end of business on HB 195.                                                   

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