Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

02/06/2020 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved HB 198 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
            HB 198-AGGRAVATING FACTORS AT SENTENCING                                                                        
                [Contains discussion of HB 82.]                                                                                 
3:04:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR FIELDS announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 198,  "An Act relating to  aggravating factors                                                               
considered at sentencing."                                                                                                      
3:04:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   ANDY   JOSEPHSON,  Alaska   State   Legislature,                                                               
paraphrased a  question asked by Representative  Vance during the                                                               
2/4/20 House  State Affairs Standing  Committee meeting:   "If we                                                               
are imposing  this on a  jury, we  need to define  certain terms,                                                               
otherwise it's a  heavy burden on our citizens.   It's our job to                                                               
provide  the scope  of what  this legislation's  intent is."   He                                                               
responded that the job of  jurors is already very difficult; they                                                               
already  must decide,  for example,  whether someone  intended to                                                               
pull the  trigger or whether the  gun just went off  by accident.                                                               
He said there is nothing in  the law that helps jurors; they just                                                               
must use their  judgments.  He mentioned that the  other terms in                                                               
AS 12.55.155(c)(22)  - the  hate crimes code  - are  not defined;                                                               
and the burden to define the new terms is no greater.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON stated  that he  performed a  search of                                                               
the number  of times courts consulted  Webster's dictionary since                                                               
1960  and found  they consulted  the  dictionary 316  times.   He                                                               
relayed  that yesterday  [2/5/20] the  Kenai City  Council joined                                                               
the  Soldotna  City  Council  in  supporting  legislative  action                                                               
[Resolution No. 2020-05,  included in the committee  packet].  He                                                               
mentioned  that the  committee will  receive a  letter from  Kaci                                                               
Schroeder,  legislative liaison  and Assistant  Attorney General,                                                               
Department of  Law (DOL),  to answer the  question as  to whether                                                               
the use  of the  word "sex"  in paragraph  (22) could  be infused                                                               
with  broader meaning  to  encompass the  goals  of the  proposed                                                               
legislation.   He offered  that the essence  of her  response was                                                               
that it is unlikely.                                                                                                            
3:07:54 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE moved  to adopt  Amendment 1,  [labeled 31-                                                               
LS1369\M.1, Radford, 2/4/20], which read:                                                                                       
     Page 4, line 6, following "person's":                                                                                      
          Insert "pregnancy or"                                                                                             
CO-CHAIR FIELDS objected.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE explained  that Amendment  1 would  add the                                                               
word "pregnancy"  to the list  of aggravating factors.   She said                                                               
that  pregnant women  have been  targeted and,  depending on  the                                                               
year, it  is the  second or  third leading  cause of  death among                                                               
pregnant women.   She offered the various  reasons pregnant women                                                               
are targeted:   the woman  doesn't want an abortion;  an intimate                                                               
partner  does not  want the  responsibility of  a child;  someone                                                               
wants to  cover up an affair.   The targeting is  solely with the                                                               
intent of  killing the  unborn child  in the  woman's womb.   She                                                               
expressed her  belief that  this group  of people  should receive                                                               
extra protections under the law.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE continued  by saying, "I do  realize that so                                                               
many  crimes  will be  eligible  for  hate  crimes -  hate  crime                                                               
treatment - that  those victims who are not  covered will perhaps                                                               
rightly feel  discriminated against."   She added that  all human                                                               
life  is   precious;  all  crimes  against   humanity  should  be                                                               
prosecuted  to the  full  extent  of the  law.    She asked,  "If                                                               
justice is  blind, why  are we  requiring the  judge and  jury to                                                               
examine  if the  person falls  into a  certain class  of people?"                                                               
She  mentioned that  under  the U.S.  Constitution,  all men  are                                                               
created equal;  society works to  ensure all are  treated equally                                                               
under the  law.   She asked,  "Why would  we continue  to propose                                                               
legislation that  treats some  more equal than  others?   On what                                                               
basis do  we conclude  that one  crime is  singled out  for extra                                                               
penalties  but not  others?"    She stated  that  the crime  that                                                               
occurred on  the Kenai  Peninsula [the  12/9/19 attack  on Tammie                                                               
Willis] is a terrible crime and  should be prosecuted to the full                                                               
extent of  the law but  questioned adding more categories  to the                                                               
statute.   She stated that she  feels for the pregnant  women who                                                               
have been  attacked because they  are carrying a  child; however,                                                               
since  the 14th  Amendment  of the  U.S. Constitution  guarantees                                                               
equal justice under the law, she is withdrawing Amendment 1.                                                                    
3:11:48 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR FIELDS opened public testimony on HB 198.                                                                              
3:12:12 PM                                                                                                                    
TAMMIE WILLIS relayed  the incident that occurred to  her and the                                                               
ensuing  negative  effects.    She  stated  the  following:    On                                                               
November 14 [2019]  she found a disparaging  and threatening note                                                               
on her truck,  [passed out during the 2/4/20  House State Affairs                                                               
Standing  Committee meeting  but  not included  in the  committee                                                               
packet].   On  November  22 an  object was  thrown  at her  truck                                                               
shattering her windshield.   On December 9, she  was assaulted in                                                               
her home, repeatedly  cut with a knife,  and punched extensively.                                                               
She required  medical treatment  and considerable  recovery time.                                                               
She has  moved to another  location; rarely goes out  alone; does                                                               
not  sleep  well;  has  panic attacks  and  nightmares.    Coming                                                               
forward with  her story has generated  considerable hate messages                                                               
on  social  media,  but  at  the same  time  there  has  been  an                                                               
outpouring of  support from people  all over Alaska and  from her                                                               
own community.   She  relayed that the  support was  most clearly                                                               
demonstrated on January  4, when close to 200 people  showed up -                                                               
including  many community  leaders -  to a  town hall  meeting to                                                               
discuss the  safety of the  lesbian, gay,  bisexual, transgender,                                                               
and questioning  (LGBTQ) community.   She said  that it  made her                                                               
realize  that there  were more  people  willing to  take a  stand                                                               
against hate then she ever imagined.   At the meeting, members of                                                               
the  LGBTQ community  and their  allies shared  their stories  of                                                               
bullying, harassment,  violence, prejudice,  and loss due  to the                                                               
issues related  to sexual orientation  and gender identity.   She                                                               
     In  an  ideal  world  where everyone  is  treated  with                                                                    
     respect and dignity, legislation like  HB 198 and HB 82                                                                    
     would not  be needed, but  our world is not  there yet.                                                                    
     Until  it is,  HB 198  sends a  clear message  from our                                                                    
     leaders that  hate and violence  are not the  values we                                                                    
     share as a community.   They are not Alaskan values and                                                                    
     they will not be tolerated.                                                                                                
3:15:27 PM                                                                                                                    
LESLIE BYRD  testified that  although not  an anti-discrimination                                                               
act, the proposed  legislation is a step in  the right direction.                                                               
She  stated  that  she  has heard  arguments  that  the  proposed                                                               
legislation is unnecessary and gives  one group special treatment                                                               
over others; she  maintained that it doesn't.   She asserted that                                                               
although   "sexual  orientation"   and   "gender  identity"   are                                                               
associated with  the LGBTQ community,  every person on  earth has                                                               
these characteristics,  just as everyone has  the characteristics                                                               
of sex,  age, ability,  and race.   She said,  "There's literally                                                               
nothing for anyone to lose with  HB 198 other than the time spent                                                               
arguing on it, and the perpetrators  of these violent acts."  She                                                               
maintained that these  types of laws are needed as  long as abuse                                                               
continues; just because a cisgender  heterosexual person does not                                                               
see  the  harm  and  violence  committed  towards  lesbian,  gay,                                                               
bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people,  that does not mean that                                                               
it  doesn't  occur.   She  added,  "Passage  of this  bill  would                                                               
acknowledge and  validate the  experiences of  these marginalized                                                               
people."  She urged the  legislators to demonstrate leadership in                                                               
a  positive and  inclusive direction.   She  offered that  crimes                                                               
targeting members of a class of  people are meant to instill fear                                                               
in everyone  in the  class, which makes  the inclusion  of sexual                                                               
orientation   and  gender   identity  in   aggravating  laws   so                                                               
3:17:15 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  BRIGHTON  offered  the  following  justification  for  the                                                               
proposed legislation:                                                                                                           
     I believe that the laws that  we create are in order to                                                                    
     deter things  that we  don't want to  see in  society -                                                                    
     violence -  and when  there is an  increased likelihood                                                                    
     of  violence as  we  see against  the LGBTQ  community,                                                                    
     creating legislation and laws  - punishments that would                                                                    
     deter that - is an  appropriate measure to take for our                                                                    
MR. BRIGHTON offered that as a  member of the LGBTQ community, he                                                               
has become  aware of  the violence  in his  community and  he has                                                               
been  anxious about  being  targeted.   He  offered  that no  one                                                               
should feel that  way.  He urged  the passage of HB  198 to deter                                                               
prejudiced  actions against  anyone in  society but  specifically                                                               
the LGBTQ community.                                                                                                            
3:19:38 PM                                                                                                                    
LILY SPIROSKI  testified that  she is  a bisexual  Alaska Native;                                                               
"coming  out"  to  her  peers  in  school  led  to  bullying  and                                                               
harassment.  Teachers  and principals did nothing  to protect her                                                               
because the  basis of the  harassment was  due to her  not liking                                                               
men -  her sexuality.   She mentioned that she  is proud to  be a                                                               
part of  the LGBTQ  community; however, the  fact that  people of                                                               
that  community  do  not  feel  safe and  are  not  protected  by                                                               
Alaska's hate crime  laws is "old-school."  She  urged passage of                                                               
HB 198  for the safety of  the LGBTQ community and  the safety of                                                               
future generations.                                                                                                             
3:21:45 PM                                                                                                                    
TRIADA STAMPAS,  Policy Director, American Civil  Liberties Union                                                               
(ACLU) of  Alaska, paraphrased from her  written testimony, which                                                               
read in part [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                   
     As you consider House Bill (HB) 198, the American                                                                          
     Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alaska urges you to                                                                        
     take a more comprehensive approach to providing safety                                                                     
     and protection against discrimination against lesbian,                                                                     
     gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) Alaskans.                                                                     
     HB 198 takes too narrow an approach to provide                                                                             
     meaningful protections against harm and discrimination                                                                     
     for LGBTQ Alaskans. We neither support nor oppose the                                                                      
     bill in its current form, and instead urge you to                                                                          
     make specific improvements.                                                                                                
     This formal acknowledgment that LGBTQ Alaskans are                                                                         
     targeted for hate-motivated crimes simply for who they                                                                     
     are reflects the unfortunate and unacceptable reality                                                                      
     for our LGBTQ neighbors. It also sends an important                                                                        
     message that crimes motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias merit                                                                     
     the same community condemnation as those motivated by                                                                      
     other forms of bias already in Alaska's hate crimes                                                                        
     law. We applaud the spirit of inclusivity that has                                                                         
     prompted this bill.                                                                                                        
     If the goal, however, is to provide greater safety and                                                                     
     protection from discrimination for LGBTQ Alaskans,                                                                         
     this incarceration-only approach is limited both in                                                                        
     its scope and effectiveness.                                                                                               
     An Incarceration-Only Approach Does Not Make LGBTQ                                                                       
     People Safer                                                                                                             
     Summarizing a large body of research related to crime                                                                      
     deterrence, the United States Department of Justice                                                                        
     has concluded, "increasing the severity of punishment                                                                      
     does little to deter crime." The research finds that                                                                       
     criminals generally know very little about the                                                                             
     penalties associated with specific crimes, and do not                                                                      
     calibrate their behavior accordingly. The evidence                                                                         
     does not show that imposing a longer term of                                                                               
     incarceration on a person convicted of a crime makes                                                                       
     others less likely to commit similar crimes. Instead,                                                                      
     some research shows that longer prison sentences lead                                                                      
     to a greater likelihood of recidivism, as incarcerated                                                                     
     individuals exit prison with diminished life prospects                                                                     
     and having had extended exposure to other criminals.                                                                       
     The research shows that the certainty of being caught                                                                      
     and punished is a more effective deterrent than the                                                                        
     severity of the punishment   that is, individuals are                                                                      
     far less likely to commit a crime if they believe they                                                                     
     will be caught.                                                                                                            
     In addition, imprisonment is a limited and often                                                                           
     counterproductive means of addressing the social                                                                           
     disorders that lead to crime,  and without affirmative                                                                     
     measures to address the underlying causes of bias-                                                                         
     based violence, it does not create conditions for                                                                          
     greater safety for LGBTQ Alaskans.                                                                                         
     As HB 198 only calls for longer terms of imprisonment,                                                                     
     it can not [sic] stand alone as an effective deterrent                                                                     
     of bias crimes against LGBTQ Alaskans.                                                                                     
     An Incarceration-Only Approach Does Not Protect LGBTQ                                                                    
     Alaskans from Discrimination                                                                                             
     Research shows that LGBTQ individuals are                                                                                  
     disproportionately likely to experience poverty, food                                                                      
     insecurity and homelessness (particularly youth                                                                            
     homelessness). Yet LGBTQ Alaskans still lack state-                                                                        
     level protections against discrimination in housing,                                                                       
     employment, financial services and public                                                                                  
     The ability to discriminate with near-impunity in                                                                          
     these aspects of everyday life leave our LGBTQ                                                                             
     neighbors less likely to be able to meet basic needs                                                                       
     and thrive in our communities.                                                                                             
     Real LGBT Protections for Alaskans Require a                                                                             
     Comprehensive Approach                                                                                                   
     We encourage you to pursue a more comprehensive                                                                            
     approach to providing safety and protection against                                                                        
     discrimination than HB 198 currently provides LGBTQ                                                                        
     Alaskans. The elements of a more comprehensive                                                                             
     approach should include the following:                                                                                     
       Passage of HB 82 to provide civil non-discrimination                                                                     
     protections to LGBTQ Alaskans;                                                                                             
       Dedicated law enforcement liaisons (whether Alaska                                                                       
     State Troopers or local law enforcement agents) to the                                                                     
     LGBTQ community in every region of the state, along                                                                        
     with law enforcement training on LGBTQ discrimination                                                                      
     and bias crimes, to enable law enforcement agnecies                                                                        
     [sic] to build trust within the LGBTQ community, spot                                                                      
     bias-related activity early, and increase the                                                                              
     likelihood that perpetrators of bias-motivated crimes                                                                      
     are identified and caught; and                                                                                             
       A prevention model that includes educational                                                                             
     programs  starting with antibullying measures in                                                                           
     schools   that debunk stereotypes and promote respect                                                                      
     and tolerance for difference, as well as community-                                                                        
     based antiviolence programs.                                                                                               
     The discrimination that LGBTQ Alaskans experience is                                                                       
     pervasive and abhorrent to the fair, free, and                                                                             
     welcoming state we all want Alaska to become. Alaska                                                                       
     needs a comprehensive approach that provides our LGBTQ                                                                     
     neighbors safety and protection from discrimination in                                                                     
     all aspects of everyday life   not just when a violent                                                                     
     crime has been committed. I thank you for the                                                                              
     opportunity to offer input and urge you to continue to                                                                     
     pursue this issue until full equality for all Alaskans                                                                     
     is achieved.                                                                                                               
       "Five Things about Deterrence." U.S. Department of                                                                       
     Justice National Institute for Justice, May 2016.                                                                          
     Available at https://nij.ojp.gov/topics/articles/five-                                                                     
       See, e.g., Marsha Weissman, Aspiring to the                                                                              
     Impracticable: Alternatives to Incarceration in the                                                                        
     Era of Mass Incarceration, 33 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc.                                                                        
     Change 235 (2009); Craig Haney, The Psychological                                                                          
     Impact of Incarceration: Implications for Post-Prison                                                                      
     Adjustment, U.S. Dep't of Health & Human Serv. & Urban                                                                     
     Institute, From Prison to Home: The Effect of                                                                              
     Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families and                                                                        
     Communities (2002), available at                                                                                           
     http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/prison2home02/haney.pdf; Dina                                                                      
     Rose and Todd Clear, Incarceration, Social Capital and                                                                     
     Crime: Implications for Social Disorganization Theory,                                                                     
     36 Criminology 441 (1998, rev. 2006).                                                                                      
       See, e.g., M.V. Lee Badgett et al. LGBT Poverty in                                                                       
     the United States: A Study of Differences between                                                                          
     Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Groups. UCLA                                                                        
     School of Law Williams Institute, October 2019; Taylor                                                                     
     N.T. Brown et al. Food Insecurity and SNAP                                                                                 
     Participation in the LGBT Community. UCLA School of                                                                        
     Law Williams Institute, July 2016; and Morton, M.H.,                                                                       
     Dworsky, A., & Samuels, G.M. (2017). Missed                                                                                
     opportunities: Youth homelessness in America. National                                                                     
     estimates. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall at the University                                                                      
     of Chicago.                                                                                                                
3:27:51 PM                                                                                                                    
RAYMOND LEE  testified as a transgender  man.  He stated  that he                                                               
is  in  the process  of  transitioning  to  a  man and  has  been                                                               
discriminated against in doctors'  offices, in insurance offices,                                                               
and  by police  officers.   He  said  that he  has  not yet  been                                                               
attacked   physically;    however,   LGBTQ    people   experience                                                               
discriminatory  attitudes  while  in  contact  with  the  various                                                               
professions in  Alaska and live  with the possibility  of someone                                                               
acting  on those  attitudes.    According to  the  ACLU, about  4                                                               
percent  of Alaskan  adults identify  as LGBT.   That  represents                                                               
about 20,000 people and is based  on the number of people willing                                                               
to admit  in the survey that  they are LGBT.   He maintained that                                                               
LGBT people  need protection from  violence, and they need  to be                                                               
considered under  hate crimes  laws.  Alaska,  as a  state, needs                                                               
more hate crime reporting and  education for police.  Hate crimes                                                               
vary and  groups experiencing hate  crimes have  different needs.                                                               
He  said  that on  the  national  level,  the Federal  Bureau  of                                                               
Investigation  (FBI) includes  hate  crime laws,  because of  the                                                               
terrorizing  effect  of hate  crimes  being  inflicted on  people                                                               
based  on identity  -  for  who they  are  and  not for  personal                                                               
3:32:45 PM                                                                                                                    
VERI DI SUVERO  expressed her support for HB 198.   She said that                                                               
she is  the director of an  organization, but even in  a position                                                               
of  some power,  she has  experienced discrimination.   She  said                                                               
that it  has not yet  turned violent, but  she is afraid  for her                                                               
safety  and is  afraid  to reveal  who  she is.    She urged  the                                                               
legislators to continue to uphold  the rights of Alaskans as they                                                               
are trying  to be successful  residents in  the state.   She said                                                               
that the  proposed legislation  is not  about making  people more                                                               
equal,  but about  recognizing  systematic disadvantages  against                                                               
people as well as ruining people's lives.                                                                                       
CO-CHAIR FIELDS closed public testimony on HB 198.                                                                              
3:34:54 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE thanked  the testifiers  and mentioned  the                                                               
importance   of   open   discussion.     She   acknowledged   the                                                               
vulnerability  of people  speaking "on  the record"  about crimes                                                               
committed against  them and against  those of the  LGBT community                                                               
and  stated   that  their  involvement   in  the   discussion  is                                                               
important.  She expressed her  belief that sexual orientation and                                                               
gender identity is an uncomfortable  topic; legislators feel that                                                               
they will  be targeted if they  do not approach the  subject with                                                               
sensitivity.   She  stated that  people need  to work  to respect                                                               
each  other regardless  of societal  beliefs.   She offered  that                                                               
hate  crimes  are  a  "slippery  slope,"  because  beliefs  don't                                                               
automatically equate  to being hate  speech or hate crimes.   She                                                               
maintained that legislation  that criminalizes people's thoughts,                                                               
beliefs, and  speech violates  the First  Amendment [to  the U.S.                                                               
Constitution]  rights  of  freedom   of  speech  and  freedom  of                                                               
religion  and   ultimately  the   14th  Amendment  of   the  U.S.                                                               
Constitution granting equal justice under  the law.  She said, "I                                                               
don't want to diminish the  experiences of the LGBTQ community or                                                               
anyone else  that has had  discrimination or a  crime perpetrated                                                               
against them.   All acts  against humanity is wrong,  because all                                                               
life is  precious."  She  advocated for dealing with  the crimes.                                                               
She stated that she cannot  support HB 198, because it segregates                                                               
different  groups  of  people  for  additional  penalties.    She                                                               
offered that  the proposed legislation  represents "going  down a                                                               
dangerous  road";  it  is  against   the  U.S.  Constitution;  it                                                               
promotes the belief  that justice is blind.   She maintained that                                                               
justice should  be equally  distributed for  everyone; it  is not                                                               
just an  LGBTQ issue but applies  to every American; it  leads to                                                               
discrimination against those  people who are not  included in the                                                               
special groups.                                                                                                                 
CO-CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS  expressed  his  appreciation  with  the                                                               
testimonies  of  Representative  Vance   and  Ms.  Stampas.    He                                                               
expressed his belief that community  condemnation for hate crimes                                                               
and what  they represent has  been a societal decision  in Alaska                                                               
and across the  country; it is a component of  the justice system                                                               
and an appropriate sanction.                                                                                                    
3:41:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS moved  to report HB 198  out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There being no objection,  HB 198 was reported  from the                                                               
House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 182 Letter of Support - Alaska Peace Officer Association 2.6.2020.pdf HSTA 2/6/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 182
HB 198 Supporting Document - City of Kenai Resolution 2.6.2020.pdf HJUD 3/2/2020 1:00:00 PM
HSTA 2/6/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 198
HB 198 Amendment #1 2.6.2020.pdf HSTA 2/6/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 198
HB 182 Amendment #1 2.6.20.pdf HSTA 2/6/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 182
HB 198 Letter of Support - Testimony #4 2.5.20.pdf HSTA 2/6/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 198
HB 198 Letter of Support - Testimony #5 2.6.20.pdf HSTA 2/6/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 198
HB 198 Letter of Support - Testimony #7 2.5.20.pdf HSTA 2/6/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 198
HB 198 Letter of Support - Testimony #6 2.5.20.pdf HSTA 2/6/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 198
HB 198 Letter of Support - Testimony 2.5.20.pdf HSTA 2/6/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 198
HB 198 Letter of Support - Human Rights Campaign 2.6.20.pdf HSTA 2/6/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 198
HB 198 Letter in Neutrality - ACLU 2.6.20.pdf HSTA 2/6/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 198
HB 198 Letter of Support - Testimony #2 2.5.20.pdf HSTA 2/6/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 198
HB 198 Letter of Support - Testimony #3 2.5.20.pdf HSTA 2/6/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 198