Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 120

04/11/2005 01:00 PM JUDICIARY


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 246 REQUIRE OPT-IN FOR CLASS ACTIONS TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Postponed to 4/12>
= HB 14 DISCLOSURES BY FOSTER PARENTS
Heard & Held
* HB 257 STATE PROCUREMENT ELECTRONIC TOOLS
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled to 4/13>
+ HJR 9 URGE CONGRESS HONOR EXXON VALDEZ JUDGMENT TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+= HB 150 LICENSING RADIOLOGIC TECHNICIANS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
HB 53 CHILDREN IN NEED OF AID/REVIEW PANELS
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled to 4/12>
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
+= HB 12 TVS AND MONITORS IN MOTOR VEHICLES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 12(JUD) Out of Committee
+= SB 105 OVERTIME WAGES FOR FLIGHT CREW TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 105(L&C) Out of Committee
+= HB 96 CRIMES INVOLVING MARIJUANA/OTHER DRUGS TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled But Not Heard
HJR 9 - URGE CONGRESS HONOR EXXON VALDEZ JUDGMENT                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:00:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR McGUIRE announced that the  next order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION  NO. 9, Urging the  United States Congress                                                               
to honor  the process and judgment  of the federal courts  in the                                                               
case of  the Exxon Valdez  disaster and to refrain  from enacting                                                               
legislation  that  would  affect   the  outcome  of  the  courts'                                                               
resolution of the case.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:00:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUZANNE  HANCOCK,  Staff   to  Representative  Gabrielle  LeDoux,                                                               
Alaska State Legislature,  sponsor, presented HJR 9  on behalf of                                                               
Representative LeDoux.  She explained:                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     This  resolution  from  the  Alaska  State  Legislature                                                                    
     would urge  the United  States Congress to  respect the                                                                    
     judicial   process  and   refrain  from   enacting  any                                                                    
     legislation  that  would  alter  the  punitive  damages                                                                    
     awarded to more  than 32,000 plaintiffs as  a result of                                                                    
     the 1989 Exxon Valdez  oil spill, as finally determined                                                                    
     by  the federal  courts.   Nearly  15  years after  the                                                                    
     disaster  and more  than 10  years  after the  original                                                                    
     jury   verdict,  the   plaintiffs  are   still  waiting                                                                    
     resolution  of the  lawsuit.   While the  United States                                                                    
     Congress  considered the  Oil  Pollution  Act of  1990,                                                                    
     ExxonMobil Corporation  sought an amendment  that would                                                                    
     have  substantially reduced  the punitive  damages that                                                                    
     would have  been paid for  the Exxon Valdez  oil spill.                                                                    
     This resolution  urges Congress only to  let the courts                                                                    
     determine this matter.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG   offered   his   understanding   that                                                               
constitutionally,  after  a final  judgment,  there  could be  no                                                               
retroactive changes.   He questioned whether  the committee ought                                                               
to get  a legal opinion in  case another section should  be added                                                               
to HJR 9 to address this issue.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:03:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA replied:                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     [ExxonMobil Corporation]  is on  appeal to try  and get                                                                    
     rid of the  punitive damage verdict, get it  set up for                                                                    
     retrial  or rehearing  by the  court.   Once the  final                                                                    
     judgment  disappears, then  they feel  that they'll  be                                                                    
     free to  get Congress to  write the  law in a  way that                                                                    
     will  prevent  the  fishermen  from  getting  the  same                                                                    
     judgment as  they got the  last time. ... I  don't know                                                                    
     if what  they're doing is legal  or constitutional, but                                                                    
     that's how they address your  point.  They're trying to                                                                    
     vacate the final judgment.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:03:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA commented  that  he  thought the  resolution                                                               
should also  ask the  governor to make  a demand  upon ExxonMobil                                                               
Corporation.     He   asked  that   this  idea   be  relayed   to                                                               
Representative LeDoux.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:05:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JERRY   McCUNE,  Lobbyist   for  United   Fishermen  of   Alaska;                                                               
President,  Cordova  District   Fishermen  United,  testified  in                                                               
support of  HJR 9.   He commented  that the governor  has already                                                               
called for all parties to settle  this case.  He said, "All we're                                                               
asking is for  the ... courts [to]  rule on this -  win, lose, or                                                               
draw."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA confirmed  that the  governor has  called on                                                               
all parties  to settle the  case.   He explained that  he thought                                                               
the governor should call on ExxonMobil Corporation to pay.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:06:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MATTHEW  D.  JAMIN, Attorney  at  Law,  Jamin, Ebell,  Schmitt  &                                                               
Mason,  stated that  he is  one of  the lawyers  representing the                                                               
plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez oil spill litigation.  He said:                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     On  behalf of  plaintiffs' counsel,  we do  support the                                                                    
     resolution  and   we  think  it  is   a  very  sensible                                                                    
     resolution  at this  time.   The  suggestions thus  far                                                                    
     have  been that  there  might  be something  deliberate                                                                    
     that  would affect  the case,  and  certainly that's  a                                                                    
     possibility.   But we are equally  concerned that there                                                                    
     might be  something -  given the  attempts made  in the                                                                    
     federal    legislature   to    change   class    action                                                                    
     legislation, to change  tort legislation, what's called                                                                    
     tort  reform -  ... that  is  not deliberate.   And  we                                                                    
     think that the  legislators' proposed resolution brings                                                                    
     to  everyone's  attention  the   need  to  be  wary  as                                                                    
     legislation is  passed on the  federal side so  that it                                                                    
     does not affect this case.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  McGUIRE, after  ascertaining that  no one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HJR 9.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:08:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  moved to  report HJR  9 out  of committee                                                               
with individual recommendations and  the accompanying zero fiscal                                                               
note.   There being  no objection,  HJR 9  was reported  from the                                                               
House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                

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