Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/12/1993 01:00 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Number 409 REP. NORDLUND mentioned Rep. Bunde's HB 100, Prosecution of Juvenile Felons, and the sponsor's comment that children under the age of 18, in some cases, ought to be tried as adults. Yet in HB 79, he said, the sponsor provided that parents should be responsible for the actions of children under the age of 18. He asked Rep. Bunde to explain this apparent incongruity. Number 425 REP. BUNDE said that Rep. Nordlund's point was well taken. He said HB 79 relied somewhat on existing law in that it was difficult to recover damages from a person under the age of 18. Number 442 REP. NORDLUND commented that the approaches of HB 100 and HB 79 seemed to be at cross-purposes. Number 446 REP. BUNDE stated that he understood Rep. Nordlund's point, but he did not entirely concur. He said he did not see his ideas as mutually contradictory. REP. NORDLUND clarified his point by saying that if a child was able to make adult decisions, then the parents should be released from responsibility for the child's actions. Number 459 REP. BUNDE said that parents could be released from responsibility through legal action. Number 464 REP. JAMES stated that she viewed HB 79 and HB 100 as addressing two entirely different issues. She said that the issue of parental responsibility did not necessarily enter into HB 100. Number 479 REP. BUNDE expressed his opinion that the two bills addressed two different issues. REP. KOTT asked if HB 79 would result in the state being obligated to cover damages committed by a minor. He mentioned a case on the Kenai Peninsula in which a child in the custody of the state and living in a foster home had committed arson. REP. BUNDE said that under current law, a state agency or its agents would not be liable for the acts of a minor in their custody. He said his bill would not change that or increase the state's liability. Number 514 REP. DAVIDSON asked Rep. Bunde if he had children, and if so, what tools he employed to control the behavior of his teenagers. Number 515 REP. BUNDE said that he did have children and used remedies ranging from a strong voice and spankings to "time out" and threats of kicking the children out of the house if they did not behave. He noted that if he had been responsible for $50,000 in damages committed by his children, he would have adjudicated them as delinquent as soon as he felt they might commit damage in retaliation for being kicked out of the house. He said that he subscribed to the theory of "Tough Love," whereby a child was told that if he or she lived with parents, he or she would have to abide by rules set by the parents. Number 531 REP. KOTT asked what happened once a child was adjudicated as delinquent. Number 535 REP. BUNDE replied that he believed that such children became wards of the court. Number 543 REP. DAVIDSON commented that a parent could not have a child adjudicated as delinquent unless the child had committed a crime, in his understanding. Number 547 REP. BUNDE said that his research indicated that if a child were out of control, a parent could have him or her adjudicated as delinquent. He noted that the process was not a simple one. Number 554 CHAIRMAN PORTER noted that it was his understanding that a court had to judge whether or not a child was delinquent. Number 560 REP. DAVIDSON said that a parent could not necessarily have an unruly child adjudicated as delinquent. CHAIRMAN PORTER replied that Rep. Davidson was correct. REP. NORDLUND asked about a child who committed an act of vandalism, was caught, and was charged with a crime by the police. At that point, he asked, would the child be adjudicated as delinquent, and therefore not covered under the provisions of HB 79? Number 574 REP. BUNDE said that the child would not be considered delinquent at the point at which the crime was committed. He or she would be adjudicated as such after the crime was committed. Number 579 CHAIRMAN PORTER commented that one malicious act would not guarantee that a child would be branded "delinquent." Number 586 REP. KOTT asked if a parent could petition the court to adjudicate a child as delinquent if that child ran away from home. Number 596 RANDALL HINES, YOUTH CORRECTIONS SPECIALIST with the DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES, commented that children entered the juvenile justice system through a number of means: petitions filed by law enforcement agencies, school district referrals, and parental referrals. However, he said if a child did not break the law, no delinquent offense had occurred. He stated that a child could not be adjudicated as delinquent just because he or she had run away from home and was incorrigible. Number 613 REP. KOTT asked if, under HB 79's provisions, a parent could be liable for $50,000 worth of damage caused by a teenage runaway. Number 620 MR. HINES noted that parents could not "adjudicate" their children as delinquent; only the court could do that. Number 626 REP. KOTT commented that the committee should get a legal opinion as to whether adjudication was the only mechanism for alleviating parental responsibility for damage caused by their children. He asked Mr. Hines to discuss the emancipation process. Number 631 MR. HINES said that in order for a child to be legally emancipated, it had to be demonstrated to the court that the child was recognized as an adult. CHAIRMAN PORTER noted that for a child to be emancipated, the child often had to demonstrate talents, not liabilities. Number 639 REP. JAMES expressed her belief that if a parent could not control a child, he or she could have the child placed in foster care. Number 646 MR. HINES replied that emergency foster care could be provided for such children in some cases. Number 654 REP. DAVIDSON asked Mr. Hines if he felt that changing laws so as to give parents reasons to relinquish control of their children to the state was a good idea. Number 663 MR. HINES said that each family was "a fingerprint," and the issues surrounding a family's ability to care for a child were very complex. He said that strengthening the runaway law might be a step in the right direction. He added that providing additional foster care might also be part of the solution. He said that there was not one simple answer to this complex problem. Number 689 REP. PHILLIPS made a motion to move HB 79 out of committee with individual recommendations. Number 692 REP. DAVIDSON objected. He asked that the committee hear testimony from the court system on the issue. Number 697 CHAIRMAN PORTER commented that the committee had addressed many important issues. He said that in his understanding HB 79 was not intended to solve the whole problem of delinquent juveniles. He said that the bill had a relatively narrow focus in deterring some juveniles from committing acts of vandalism. Number 715 REP. DAVIDSON maintained his objection, as he was not convinced that HB 79 was a good bill. He noted that bills that the committee passed out might well become state law. He said that the legislature needed to address all the aspects of the problem of delinquent juveniles. He said he appreciated the sponsor's effort, but felt that HB 79 would result in more pressure on the family unit. He said that he would like to hear from more agencies, more parents, and perhaps some children. CHAIRMAN PORTER called for a roll call vote on the motion to move the bill from committee. Reps. Green, Kott, James and Porter voted "yea." Reps. Davidson and Nordlund voted "nay." And so, HB 79 was moved out of committee with individual recommendations and a zero fiscal note.