Legislature(2001 - 2002)

02/19/2001 01:15 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 102 - THEFT OF PROPELLED VEHICLES                                                                                          
Number 0522                                                                                                                     
CHAIR ROKEBERG  announced that the  next order of  business would                                                               
be  HOUSE  BILL  NO.  102,  "An Act  relating  to  the  theft  of                                                               
propelled vehicles."                                                                                                            
Number 0488                                                                                                                     
ROGER WORTMAN,  Staff to Representative  Pete Kott,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, presented  HB 102 on behalf  of Representative Kott,                                                               
Sponsor.   He  explained  that HB  102 focused  on  the crime  of                                                               
vehicle theft,  with equal penalties  associated with  the taking                                                               
of a  propelled vehicle.   All-terrain  vehicles (ATVs)  and snow                                                               
machines were  used in many parts  of the state of  Alaska as the                                                               
sole means  of preferred transportation  for some  Alaskans, and,                                                               
therefore, were more than merely  recreational vehicles for those                                                               
owners.  Equal  protection under the law demanded  that the theft                                                               
of such vehicles  be accorded the same treatment  as provided for                                                               
the principal  transportation vehicles  [of] other Alaskans.   He                                                               
went  on  to say  that  HB  102 provided  a  new  element in  the                                                               
commission  [of the  crime] of  taking the  propelled vehicle  of                                                               
another when  the owner was deprived  of the use of  that vehicle                                                               
for a  specific period  of time  and had  incurred expenses  as a                                                               
result of  the loss of  the vehicle.   It amended  the definition                                                               
for  "all-terrain  vehicles"  as   well  as  the  definition  for                                                               
Number 0338                                                                                                                     
MR.  WORTMAN  specified  for  Chair  Rokeberg  that  HB  102  was                                                               
introduced  because  of a  concern  brought  forth regarding  the                                                               
inequities between the  [levels of crimes of] theft of  an ATV, a                                                               
snow  machine, a  water  ski,  and a  personal  water  craft.   A                                                               
personal  water craft  is currently  defined under  "watercraft",                                                               
and the theft of a watercraft is  a class C felony.  The theft of                                                               
an  ATV  (if  damage  to  it  is under  $500  and  it  is  not  a                                                               
police/emergency vehicle) is  a class A misdemeanor.   He felt HB
102 would provide  equal protection under the  law, regardless of                                                               
the season, for  people who relied on these types  of vehicles as                                                               
their sole means of transportation.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN  pointed out that some  personal water craft,                                                               
referred to  in Section  3, were very  expensive and  he wondered                                                               
why they were exempted.                                                                                                         
Number 0188                                                                                                                     
ROBERT BUTTCANE,  Legislative & Administrative  Liaison, Division                                                               
of Juvenile Justice, Department of  Health & and Social Services,                                                               
said that  he came in  support of HB  102.   He said that  HB 102                                                               
accomplishes  two  significant  objectives  of  interest  to  the                                                               
Division  of Juvenile  Justice,  in particular.    One, it  gives                                                               
deference to victims  by addressing the disparity  in the current                                                               
vehicle theft statute.  Some Alaskans  depend on the use of their                                                               
snow machines and  ATVs in much the same way  that urban Alaskans                                                               
might  depend  on their  truck  or  car  as  a primary  means  of                                                               
transportation.  Under  the current statutes, theft of  an ATV or                                                               
snow machine constitutes a class  A misdemeanor, while theft of a                                                               
vehicle constitutes a class C felony.   Yet the impact on victims                                                               
in  some  cases  is really  quite  the  same.    In HB  102,  the                                                               
threshold by which severity of  impact could be determined is the                                                               
provision regarding a seven-day loss of  a vehicle.  The theft of                                                               
an ATV  would not automatically  be classified as a  felony; [the                                                               
theft]  only  did  so  after  a  certain  period  of  impact  and                                                               
inconvenience.  In  a restorative justice system  that strives to                                                               
make  victims  whole,  HB  102 gives  deference  to  victims  and                                                               
recognizes the severity of that  [criminal] behavior.  Second, by                                                               
classifying that [criminal] behavior as  a felony, it assists the                                                               
Division  of   Juvenile  Justice   in  holding   young  offenders                                                               
accountable for offenses  that are viewed as  serious with regard                                                               
to impact on victims.                                                                                                           
TAPE 01-20, SIDE A                                                                                                              
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
MR. BUTTCANE, in response to  Representative Ogan, explained that                                                               
the  division   did  not  anticipate   any  increased   cost  for                                                               
incarceration.   [The division] already  received these  cases as                                                               
misdemeanors;  the change  proposed  by HB  102 would  reclassify                                                               
some of the  existing referrals as felonies, some  of which would                                                               
be petitioned into superior court at  a slightly higher rate.  He                                                               
again offered  the reasons he  had listed earlier  as significant                                                               
motivation to  change current  statute.   He added  that although                                                               
more young  offenders might  not be detained,  HB 102  would give                                                               
the  division   the  ability  to  impose   "additional  intrusive                                                               
responses"  for  felony offenses,  such  as  additional hours  of                                                               
community work  service, additional  dollars of  restitution, and                                                               
additional periods of controlled supervision.                                                                                   
Number 0270                                                                                                                     
STEVE DUNNAGAN,  Lieutenant, Division  of Alaska  State Troopers,                                                               
Department  of Public  Safety,  testified  via teleconference  in                                                               
support of HB 102.  He  said equalized protection for vehicles of                                                               
people who  lived in rural Alaska  was viewed as a  good thing by                                                               
the department.  He added  that the department did not anticipate                                                               
any  fiscal  impact  because current  enforcement  efforts  would                                                               
absorb the changes  wrought by HB 102.  He  expressed, however, a                                                               
concern about  the language regarding personal  water craft being                                                               
excluded from  the category of  watercraft.  He pointed  out that                                                               
statutory definitions  of these  items were  infrequently placed,                                                               
and [the  department] did  not want any  terminology, or  lack of                                                               
definition, to  carry from  one statute to  another.   He pointed                                                               
out   that  driving   while   intoxicated  specifically   covered                                                               
operating  a   motor  vehicle,  aircraft,  or   watercraft  while                                                               
intoxicated.   He  warned that  the exception  in [HB  102] might                                                               
allow  a  person, arrested  for  intoxication  while operating  a                                                               
personal water craft, a loophole if  he or she claimed it was not                                                               
a watercraft by definition.                                                                                                     
Number 0493                                                                                                                     
CHAIR ROKEBERG asked Mr. Dunagan if  he believed [the theft of] a                                                               
jet ski  should be  considered in  the same  realm of  offense as                                                               
[the theft of] an ATV or snow machine.                                                                                          
MR. DUNAGAN  replied that he did  not.  Further, he  believed the                                                               
sponsor's  intent  was that  a  personal  water craft  would  not                                                               
necessarily be considered a primary  source of transportation for                                                               
somebody living in rural Alaska.   He said he thought [a jet ski]                                                               
could  be  excluded  from  that  principal  type  of  vehicle  or                                                               
transportation.     He  suggested   adding  an   amendment  which                                                               
specified that the definition regarding  the personal water craft                                                               
exception only applied  to AS 11.46 and did not  affect any other                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ observed  that all-terrain  vehicle was                                                               
defined in  Section 2  but not  mentioned at all  in the  text of                                                               
Section 1.                                                                                                                      
Number 0618                                                                                                                     
HEATHER  M. NOBREGA,  Staff  to  Representative Norman  Rokeberg,                                                               
House  Judiciary Standing  Committee,  Alaska State  Legislature,                                                               
clarified  that [AS  11.81.900]  already included  ATV under  the                                                               
definition   of   a  propelled   vehicle.      She  agreed   with                                                               
Representative Berkowitz  that perhaps the Revisor  [of Statutes]                                                               
should be  notified so that the  definition [in HB 102]  could be                                                               
moved to the definitional section of [AS 11.81].                                                                                
Number 0680                                                                                                                     
JERRY   LUCKHAUPT,    Attorney,   Legislative    Legal   Counsel,                                                               
Legislative  Legal  and  Research Services,  Legislative  Affairs                                                               
Agency, Alaska  State Legislature,  explained that the  intent of                                                               
Section 2  was to further  define an ATV  for the purposes  of HB
102  only, so  that other  types of  propelled vehicles,  such as                                                               
"hummers" and 4-wheel-drive  vehicles would not be  included.  He                                                               
added  that   because  the  only  place   where  that  particular                                                               
definition  of all-terrain  vehicle applied  was in  HB 102,  the                                                               
definition needed to be kept as  Section 2 of HB 102.  Everywhere                                                               
else  in  Title  11,  that  specific  definition  of  all-terrain                                                               
vehicle was not relevant to  the definition of propelled vehicle.                                                               
The  goal  was to  prevent  the  theft  of  such a  vehicle  from                                                               
automatically becoming a felony, unless  any of the provisions of                                                               
Section 1, subsection (a), paragraph (2), applied.                                                                              
Number 0847                                                                                                                     
CHAIR ROKEBERG  noted that the  concerns about the  definition of                                                               
"personal   water   craft"   being  separated   from   the   term                                                               
"watercraft"  warranted another  look at  HB 102.   He  asked Mr.                                                               
Wortman, Mr.  Luckhaupt, and  Ms. Nobrega to  work on  this issue                                                               
and bring [a proposed CS] back to the committee.                                                                                
Number 0927                                                                                                                     
MR. LUCKHAUPT  commented that  the language  in HB  102 specified                                                               
that the definition  of watercraft only applied  to that section;                                                               
therefore, it did not apply to  the definition in Title 28, which                                                               
has  its   own  definition  under  "operate   a  watercraft"  [AS                                                               
[HB 102 was held over.]                                                                                                         

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