Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/24/1994 03:00 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  HB 360 - AIRCRAFT/WATERCRAFT GUEST PASSENGER LAW                             
                                                                               
  Number 085                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. CON BUNDE, Prime Sponsor of HB 360, stated that HB 360                  
  was offered in response to the current law that permits a                    
  person to get sued if they take friends out fishing or                       
  flying and there is an accident.  This bill would allow that                 
  to happen without jeopardizing personal finances.  The bill                  
  would provide for the guest passenger to acknowledge that                    
  there are inherent risks when traveling in recreational                      
  vehicles to access the outdoors.                                             
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE stressed that the bill does not excuse anyone                     
  from responsibility for gross negligence.                                    
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE offered an amendment that would include                           
  watercraft in the bill, stating it was an oversight in                       
  drafting.                                                                    
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked for an explanation of the exception on                 
  line 14, page 1.                                                             
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE answered that the exception covers the situation                  
  where a person is demonstrating the use of a vehicle for the                 
  purpose of selling it to the person.                                         
                                                                               
  Number 156                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. GREEN asked if this would provide for the release of                    
  liability that is not afforded to an operator of an                          
  automobile.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 167                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE responded that it did.  He noted that the risk is                 
  somewhat different than boating or flying.                                   
                                                                               
  Number 175                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MULDER asked if any other states have guest passenger                   
  laws on automobiles.                                                         
                                                                               
  Number 180                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. PATTI SWENSON, Staff, Rep. Bunde, responded that there                   
  were no guest passenger laws for automobiles.                                
                                                                               
  Number 194                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MULDER offered a technical amendment to page 2, line 1,                 
  to add "watercraft."  No objections were heard; it was so                    
  ordered.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 205                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER moved Amendment 1 with friendly amendment.  No                   
  objections were heard; it was so ordered.                                    
                                                                               
  Number 214                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. JOHN GEORGE, Lobbyist, representing the National                         
  Association of Independent Insurers and the Alaska Outdoor                   
  Council, testified in support of HB 360.  He stated that it                  
  was important to understand that when buying aircraft                        
  insurance you buy two different things, one for the number                   
  of seats you have and two for what the airplane does when it                 
  crashes into something.                                                      
                                                                               
  Number 257                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. MIKE PANNONE, immediate past president of the Alaska                     
  Airmen's Association, testified via teleconference in                        
  support of HB 360.                                                           
                                                                               
  Number 267                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. MIKE SCHNEIDER testified via offnet in opposition to HB
  360.  Mr. Schneider noted that HB 360 is special interest                    
  legislation that would treat watercraft and aircraft owners                  
  differently than owners of other types of vehicles and may                   
  pose a constitutional problem.                                               
                                                                               
  MR. SCHNEIDER suggested that owners of aircraft and                          
  watercraft may conclude that they don't need insurance if                    
  this bill passes, since they would be immune to any                          
  liability.  If an owner fails to purchase insurance and the                  
  law is found infirm, the owner would find himself in a bad                   
  legal situation.                                                             
                                                                               
  MR. SCHNEIDER stated that litigation against uninsured                       
  persons in this kind of situation is rare and rarely results                 
  in significant judgments.                                                    
                                                                               
  MR. SCHNEIDER said that HB 360 would make it impossible for                  
  persons who wish to insure their liability to protect their                  
  family if something did happen.                                              
                                                                               
  Number 337                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked if other states have this kind of                      
  immunity.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 342                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. SCHNEIDER replied that he did not know.                                  
                                                                               
  Number 349                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE listed 14 states that have guest passenger                        
  legislation.                                                                 
                                                                               
  Number 360                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. GREEN asked, even if an operator was not liable under                   
  HB 360, would not the operator be able to contractually deal                 
  with an insurance company?                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 362                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE replied yes.                                                      
                                                                               
  Number 376                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked Mr. Schneider why he thought this bill                 
  would be declared unconstitutional.                                          
                                                                               
  Number 378                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. SCHNEIDER replied that since the bill would establish                    
  different classes of people:  those that operate aircraft                    
  and have guest passengers as opposed to those who operate                    
  anything else.  Mr. Schneider believed this would trigger an                 
  equal protection analysis.  Under Alaskan constitutional law                 
  there is a sliding scale analysis where you have to show a                   
  reasonable relationship between the legislative enactment                    
  and the purpose that it seeks.                                               
                                                                               
  Number 410                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. BUNDE noted that the Department of Law helped craft HB
  360 and did not raise any constitutional problems.                           
                                                                               
  Number 415                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER moved HB 360 as amended with individual                          
  recommendations and zero fiscal notes.  No objections were                   
  heard; it was so ordered.                                                    

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