Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/14/1996 03:13 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 253 - BAN CRAFT BUYING ON LIQUOR PREMISES                                
 Number 882                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN KOTT announced the committee would hear HB 253,                      
 "An Act relating to the purchase of authentic Native handicrafts on           
 certain licensed premises; and providing for an effective date."              
 MARY SATTLER, Legislative Intern to Representative Nicholia, Alaska           
 State Legislature, said the bill was initiated because of a concern           
 regarding the sale of authentic Native handicrafts on all premises            
 that hold beverage dispensary licenses.  Entrepreneurs, bar patrons           
 and tourists often take advantage of intoxicated artists.  Artists            
 cannot make astute business decisions when they are intoxicated.              
 Artists are most often taken advantage of when under the influence            
 of alcohol and, as a result, the selling price of the art is far              
 below the markup price.   Ms. Sattler explained an artist can spend           
 so much time on an individual piece of art, that selling the art              
 far below its value is like throwing the artist's talent away.                
 Furthermore, this type of activity puts enough money in the                   
 intoxicated person's pockets to allow them to continue abusing                
 alcohol.  As well as supporting alcohol abuse, this activity is               
 degrading to the aesthetic value of the art and the artist.  Ms.              
 Sattler explained the bill is still being reviewed by the                     
 Department of Law and the Department of Public Safety.                        
 MS. SATTLER offered that many of the people engaged in the dialogue           
 of the bill came into the picture very recently and there wasn't              
 time to incorporate all of the changes that are being requested.              
 One of the main changes being reviewed relates to broadening the              
 bill to include all handicrafts and not just authentic Native                 
 handicrafts.  The concern, however, is the bill deals with criminal           
 statutes and people want to have a more focused definition of the             
 word "handicraft."  She noted there is a statute that does describe           
 and define "authentic Native handicrafts," but as the deputy                  
 commissioner of the Department of Public Safety said, it would be             
 hard for a police officer to go into a bar and know exactly what a            
 handicraft consists of.                                                       
 Number 1038                                                                   
 MS. SATTLER referred to the penalties that would be placed on the             
 buyer, seller and bar owner, and said Anne Carpeneti from the                 
 Department of Law is helping with that issue.  The penalties would            
 be a class B misdemeanor for the first offense and a class A                  
 misdemeanor for the second offense instead of the way it is stated            
 on page 1, line 10.                                                           
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked Ms. Sattler if she knows of any instances where           
 this provision has been applied.  MS. SATTLER responded in the                
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there is a problem or are we trying to be              
 proactive.  MS. SATTLER said there is a serious problem.  Anyone              
 who has gone to the Iditarod, who has gone into a bar, may have               
 seen this happening.  She noted a number of artists have even                 
 approached her pulled art work out of their sleeve or pocket and              
 tried to sell it to her.  A bar is one of the places they do a lot            
 of business, especially after hours when they are looking for money           
 to buy alcohol and the stores they sell to are closed.                        
 Number 1118                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG pointed out that along the road systems in            
 the state, there are road houses that consist of restaurants or               
 cafes, that perhaps have a liquor license, and also have gift                 
 shops.  He said he thinks the bill is very short sided in the sense           
 that it would restrict the sales and the sales opportunity, not               
 only of Native art and handicrafts, but any handicrafts.  He said             
 he could be sympathetic to the problem in the more rural areas of             
 the state.                                                                    
 MS. SATTLER said that is another area of the bill they are trying             
 to iron out.  She said the basic concern is when you're in a bar.             
 She noted the Hilton and Captain Cook, in Anchorage, have licenses            
 to sell and they also have shops.                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said he is sure that all the better artists           
 in the state would be very upset if the bill were to pass in its              
 current form.                                                                 
 Number 1225                                                                   
 ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, Central Office,                   
 Criminal Division, Department of Law, said the department is                  
 concerned about the criminal provisions of the bill in its current            
 form.  Generally, the department would prefer focusing on this                
 particular conduct in terms of the license of the operator of the             
 establishment, but if you were going to establish new crimes to               
 outlaw this type of behavior, the department would prefer to see              
 they are in the general terminology of our criminal statutes.  She            
 said for the first offense, they would suggest a misdemeanor                  
 violation.  It is not necessary and is not advisable to make a                
 separate section prohibiting a person who is not an individual from           
 committing the conduct.  There are current sentencing statutes that           
 provide for increased fines for offenders who are not individuals             
 and who are working in groups of two or more.  She noted you can't            
 put an organization in jail anyways.  Ms. Carpeneti said it would             
 be the Department of Law's recommendation to make it one offense              
 for all people which is what the criminal statutes currently do.              
 Then if you want to have two levels of offense in making the first            
 offense a violation and the second a B misdemeanor, or whichever              
 level is best.                                                                
 Number 1322                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if the bill applies to patrons purchasing, but            
 does not address the seller.  MS. CARPENETI said it is her                    
 understanding that it applies to both.                                        
 CHAIRMAN KOTT said there are problems with the bill and it is his             
 intent to hold the bill over in order to address some of the issues           
 expressed by the Department of Law.                                           
 Number 1385                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER explained he has some problems with the                 
 general idea of the bill.  He said he is extremely sympathetic to             
 the concern.  Representative Porter informed the committee that he            
 has a concern that we would be making a violation or a crime out of           
 something that a patron would be looking at as a kind act.  He said           
 he would really have a problem in making it a criminal offense for            
 the person we're trying to assist if it is that the handicraft                
 artist needs that assistance.  He said he would really have a                 
 problem with a patron who, when you think about it, who could be              
 suffering from the kind of problem and pay twice as much as they              
 should have.                                                                  
 Number 1482                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA said he is also sympathetic.  He noted he has           
 been in a spot where he has been offered carved ivory in a bar                
 where somebody was obviously selling it cheaper than what it was              
 worth.  He said he has also been in a spot where people have come             
 around the schools and were offering a good deal because they                 
 needed money for some reason.  Representative Kubina said he isn't            
 sure how to address the issue, but he sort of agrees with                     
 Representative Porter.  He isn't sure this is the way to correct              
 the problem.                                                                  
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON suggested holding the bill in committee until            
 the sponsor and other people involved have agreed on an a                     
 appropriate approach.                                                         
 CHAIRMAN KOTT said it is his intent to hold the bill.                         
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER pointed out that currently a proprietor can             
 preclude someone from being on their premise for any legitimate               
 reason and pestering customers is a legitimate reason.                        
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON said he can remember a specific case in which            
 a proprietor was taking advantage of a person and getting a lot of            
 ivory in exchange for drinks.  There was a serious problem.                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said he thinks the law now precludes that               
 kind of thing from happening.                                                 
 CHAIRMAN KOTT closed the public hearing on HB 253 and announced the           
 bill would be held.                                                           

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