Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/04/1995 02:05 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 68 - FOOD BANKS;MEAT & SEAFOOD PROCESSORS CO-CHAIR BUNDE turned the gavel over to Co-Chair Toohey. Number 113 JANET OGAN, Legislative Secretary for Senator Loren Leman, presented the sponsor statement on his behalf. She said Senator Leman introduced SB 68 at the request of the Food Bank of Alaska. The purpose of this bill is to encourage more entities to donate food to food banks and nonprofit agencies that serve the needy. It provides salmon hatcheries and meat and seafood processors with the same protection under the state law they have under the Federal Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (FGSFD). MS. OGAN explained the FGSFD relieves food donors from certain liability for death or injury resulting from the death of donated food. To qualify for protection under the Act as a donor, the person must donate the food for free distribution by a food bank. Current state law protects donors and food banks from civil and criminal liability arising from injury or death attributable to the condition of the donated food. MS. OGAN said however, the donating party remains liable if the injury or death results from gross negligence or recklessness, or intentional misconduct of the donor. Salmon hatcheries, and meat and seafood processors are not specifically listed as donors covered by this protection under existing state law. Number 207 MS. OGAN said upon the passage of this bill, the Food Bank of Alaska (FBA) expects thousands of pounds of seafood and meat to be contributed and distributed to the needy. The bill also clarifies to whom and how the FBA distributes goods. MS. OGAN introduced an amendment that provides for an effective date for SB 68. Basically, the amendment pertains to the fishing industry, so the industry will be able to contribute goods they have received. Number 258 CO-CHAIR BUNDE acknowledged the presence of Representative Robinson at 2:08 p.m., and invited Representative Ed Willis, who was observing the meeting, to sit at the committee table. Co-Chair Bunde also moved the committee accept CSSB 68(HESS). CO-CHAIR CYNTHIA TOOHEY found no objection, and the CS was adopted. She asked if there was a list of entities to which salmon hatcheries and meat and seafood processors could donate. MS. OGAN said there was not. The bill speaks specifically of the FBA, for distribution to the needy. CO-CHAIR BUNDE moved amendment one, K.1 dated 3/9/95. There were no objections, and the amendment was adopted. Number 385 JACK DOYLE, Executive Director of the FBA, said he has served in that position since late 1987. The FBA is an umbrella of over 200 nonprofit agencies all over Alaska. The FBA was chartered in 1979 as a nonprofit corporation in the state of Alaska. It is a member of Second Harvest, a national umbrella for 188 food banks scattered across the United States. MR. DOYLE said the role of the FBA in Alaska is unique. The FBA solicits, receives, sorts, inspects, stores, ships, delivers or provides food and household product donations through a network of soup kitchens, food pantries, emergency shelters, youth and adult day care centers, and youth agencies. Products come to the FBA from many sources: Purchased food, national donations, food drives, day-old products, U.S. Government commodities, and locally donated products within the state of Alaska. MR. DOYLE continued that persons or companies who donate products need the protection of the Alaska Good Samaritan Act, so if they donate in good faith, they will not be held responsible should something go wrong. Number 492 MR. DOYLE said currently such protection is excluded in Alaska's Good Samaritan Act for meat and fish processors, and bottlers. The proposed amendments would extend protection to potential donors who process meat, fish or bottled goods, and would allow the FBA to recover some of its overhead costs. The goal of the FBA is unique in that it accepts these large donations, sometimes in van-loads of products, from the Lower 48. When the food comes in to the FBA, it is stored, sometimes for several months, until the many agencies in the network can access that food. MR. DOYLE said the FBA is, by comparison, kind of the "J.B. Gottstein" of reusable food and household products. The FBA distributes not to people, but to the agencies which then provide the products at no cost to clients. MR. DOYLE thanked the HESS Committee members for the opportunity to testify in favor of the proposed amendments to Alaska's Good Samaritan Act, contained in SB 86. Number 567 CO-CHAIR BUNDE supports the Good Samaritan bills to protect people who are trying to do a good turn. However, he asked if there has been recent incidences in the FBA, or if Mr. Doyle knows of any incidences in which someone who has been a Good Samaritan has been the recipient of a lawsuit. MR. DOYLE was not aware of any lawsuits in his seven years at the FBA. The FBA has not had any donations which were tainted. The FBA watches and stores goods, and inspects goods on a regular basis. If the products look questionable, it is thrown away without hesitation. The FBA tries to exert that care. Mr. Doyle cannot respond in terms of individual food distribution centers such as the Glory Hole in Juneau. Number 642 CO-CHAIR BUNDE asked if Mr. Doyle would say SB 68 is a proactive measure rather than a reaction to a problem. Mr. Doyle said the bill was proactive. Number 664 RAY GILLESPIE, Lobbyist, represented four regional aquaculture associations and hatcheries. One is located in Cook Inlet, one is in Prince William Sound, one is in northern and one in southern Southeast Alaska. He said the four regional aquaculture associations support SB 68. There is, in the bill, a specific provision that deals with the donation of hatchery fish to a food bank. MR. GILLESPIE noted that Co-Chair Bunde had questioned whether there has been any lawsuits. The Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association had declined in the past, based on advice from their attorney, to donate fish. This bill will facilitate donations, and relieve the association of some legal concerns. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked if the legal concerns arose over fresh, frozen or canned fish. MR. GILLESPIE said the concerns arose over donated fish that was at the hatchery for brood stock. The fish is typically opened, the eggs are taken, and the salmon is then transferred, if it is fit for human consumption, to a food bank for consumption by whatever agencies distribute fish. In the past, the association's attorney had advised against the donation of this fish, because there is some legal exposure there. This legislation would eliminate that impediment to those donations. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY closed the hearing to public testimony, and asked for the wish of the committee. Co-Chair Bunde motioned HCS CSSB 68(HES) be moved from the HESS Committee with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes. There were no objections, and the bill was moved.