Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

02/20/2020 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= SB 144 ESTABLISH JUNE 7 AS WALTER HARPER DAY TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 144 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
*+ HB 148 MARRIAGE WITNESSES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ HB 225 PROSTITUTION/TRAFFICKING; VACATE CONVICT. TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        HB 225-PROSTITUTION/TRAFFICKING; VACATE CONVICT.                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
4:03:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS  announced  that   the  final  order  of                                                               
business would  be HOUSE BILL  NO. 225,  "An Act relating  to sex                                                               
trafficking; establishing the crime of  patron of a victim of sex                                                               
trafficking;  relating   to  the  crime  of   human  trafficking;                                                               
relating  to  sentencing for  sex  trafficking  and patron  of  a                                                               
victim  of  sex  trafficking;  establishing  the  process  for  a                                                               
vacation  of  judgment  for a  conviction  of  prostitution;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:03:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN SKIDMORE, Deputy Attorney General,  Department of Law (DOL),                                                               
on  behalf  of  the  House  Rules Committee  by  request  of  the                                                               
governor, stated  that human trafficking is  "forced labor"; over                                                               
1 million people per year are  forced into labor trafficking - or                                                               
human  trafficking -  and  25 million  currently  are victims  of                                                               
human trafficking  globally.   He mentioned  a USA  Today article                                                               
[2/20/20]   discussing  Airbnb's   commitment   to  fight   human                                                               
trafficking.  He said that  there are approximately 20,000-50,000                                                               
individuals in  the U.S.  who are  victims of  human trafficking;                                                               
and according  to [Encyclopedia] Britannica,  the U.S. is  one of                                                               
the   most   significant   destinations  for   victims   of   sex                                                               
trafficking.    Sex  trafficking  is the  third  most  profitable                                                               
business  for organized  crime,  following  drug trafficking  and                                                               
arms  trades.   Organized crime  is making  $32 billion  per year                                                               
from  human trafficking  and sex  trafficking.   He offered  that                                                               
there are  federal laws addressing  the issue and  several states                                                               
have  begun to  adjust  their laws  to align  with  those of  the                                                               
federal government to ensure that  they can appropriately respond                                                               
to these  issues.   He cited  a 1/30/18  USA Today  article which                                                               
stated  that  every year  10,000  minors  become victims  of  sex                                                               
trafficking in the  U.S.  A 2016 study from  the Center for Court                                                               
Innovation,  [entitled "Youth  Involvement  in  the Sex  Trade"],                                                               
reported  8,900-10,500 victims  of  sex  trafficking between  the                                                               
ages of 13-17.   He mentioned that the number  of women in Alaska                                                               
domestic violence shelters who are  victims of sex trafficking or                                                               
human trafficking increased  115 percent from 2016 and  2019.  He                                                               
acknowledged  that the  number is  not large  - in  2019 only  42                                                               
people - but it is increasing.   The Alaska Native Justice Center                                                               
worked with 126  victims in 2018; Priceless Alaska  - an anti-sex                                                               
trafficking  organization  in Anchorage  -  is  working with  150                                                               
survivors of sex trafficking and 16 are in shelter currently.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SKIDMORE  maintained  that human  and  sex  trafficking  are                                                               
issues  that impact  the state,  and Alaska  must be  prepared to                                                               
respond appropriately.   He said  that the goal  of HB 225  is to                                                               
bring  Alaska closer  in  line with  the  federal government  and                                                               
other states in classifying and  in responding to sex trafficking                                                               
and human  trafficking.  Under HB  225, Alaska will look  at best                                                               
practices.    The  effort  will  take  coordination  with  police                                                               
departments,  the  Department of  Public  Safety  (DPS), and  the                                                               
Department of  Law (DOL).   He asked  the committee to  assist in                                                               
ensuring  that law  enforcement  and prosecutors  have the  tools                                                               
necessary to  participate in  this effort  effectively.   He said                                                               
that  most of  the  cases in  Alaska have  been  referred to  the                                                               
Federal  Bureau of  Investigation (FBI)  because law  enforcement                                                               
personnel do not believe that Alaska statutes are adequate.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:10:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. SKIDMORE reviewed the sectional analysis, which read:                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Section 1 is conforming changes to the amendments made                                                                   
     in section 2.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Section 2 enacts a new offense series; sex trafficking                                                                   
     in the first, second, and third degrees. In essence a                                                                      
     person  is  guilty  of sex  trafficking  in  the  first                                                                    
     degree   (unclassified  sex   felony)  if   the  person                                                                    
     traffics a person under the  age of 20, uses force when                                                                    
     trafficking   a  person,   or   manages   a  place   of                                                                    
     prostitution. A person is guilty  of sex trafficking in                                                                    
     the second  degree (class A  sex felony) if  the person                                                                    
     recruits,  entices, or  otherwise induces  or causes  a                                                                    
     person  to engage  in  commercial  sexual conduct.  Sex                                                                    
     trafficking in  the first and  second degrees  would be                                                                    
     sentenced  under  the  enhanced  penalties  for  sexual                                                                    
     felonies and  the person would be  required to register                                                                    
     as a sex offender.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     4:14:41 PM                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
          A  person  is guilty  of  sex  trafficking in  the                                                                    
     third  degree  if  the  person  provides  resources  in                                                                    
     furtherance of  the commission of sex  trafficking. Sex                                                                    
     trafficking in the third degree  is a class B felony if                                                                    
     the value of the resources is  $200 or more and a class                                                                    
     C felony  if the  value of the  resources is  less than                                                                    
     $200.  A  person who  commits  sex  trafficking in  the                                                                    
     third  degree would  be  sentenced  under the  enhanced                                                                    
     sexual felony  sentences but would  not be  required to                                                                    
     register as a sex offender.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
          This section also enacts the  new crime of "patron                                                                    
     of a victim of sex  trafficking." A person is guilty of                                                                    
     being a  patron of a  victim of sex trafficking  if the                                                                    
     person solicits sexual  conduct with reckless disregard                                                                    
     that the person they are  soliciting is a victim of sex                                                                    
     trafficking. If the person solicited  is under 18 years                                                                    
     of age  this offense  will be  a B  sex felony.  If the                                                                    
     person solicited is an adult,  this offense will be a C                                                                    
     sex felony.  This crime would  be sentenced  under then                                                                    
     enhanced penalties  for sexual felonies and  the person                                                                    
     would be required to register as a sex offender.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
          While there are sex  trafficking crimes already in                                                                    
     statute, these new crimes are  broader and have updated                                                                    
     language to  capture the ways in  which sex trafficking                                                                    
     actually  occurs.  The   sex  trafficking  statutes  in                                                                    
     current  law  are repealed  as  that  offense will  now                                                                    
     appear in AS 11.41 as specified in this section.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. SKIDMORE added that AS 11.41 is traditionally the location                                                                  
of all statutes that represent crimes against persons.  He also                                                                 
discussed "a place of prostitution"  as not being clearly defined                                                               
in the  proposed legislation:  it  is not a residence  someone is                                                               
using  for  himself  or  herself,  but one  that  the  person  is                                                               
allowing  someone  else  to  lease   for  sex  trafficking.    He                                                               
acknowledged  that  the definition  needs  adjustment.   He  also                                                               
explained  the  justification for  the  $200  threshold in  third                                                               
degree sex  trafficking in  terms of the  cost of  moving victims                                                               
around Alaska.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:18:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. SKIDMORE  continued to review  the sectional  analysis, which                                                               
read:                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Section 3 amends the crime  of human trafficking in the                                                                  
     first  degree to  be an  unclassified  felony when  the                                                                    
     person uses force  against the victim or  the victim is                                                                    
     under the age of 20.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Section 4  denotes that human trafficking  in the first                                                                  
     degree is an unclassified felony.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Section  5  amends  human  trafficking  in  the  second                                                                  
     degree to include situations in which the perpetrator                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
          (1)  exposes or  threatens to  expose confidential                                                                    
     information  or  a  secret,   whether  true  or  false,                                                                    
     tending  to subject  a person  to hatred,  contempt, or                                                                    
     ridicule;                                                                                                                  
          (2)  destroys, conceals,  or threatens  to destroy                                                                    
     or  conceal   an  actual   or  purported   passport  or                                                                    
     immigration  document or  another  actual or  purported                                                                    
     identification document of any person;                                                                                     
          (3) threatens  to report a person  to a government                                                                    
     agency for the purpose of arrest or deportation;                                                                           
          (4) threatens to collect a debt;                                                                                      
          (5)  instills in  another person  a fear  that the                                                                    
     person  will withhold  from any  person lodging,  food,                                                                    
     clothing, or medication;                                                                                                   
          (6)  provides or  withholds controlled  substances                                                                    
     from the person; or                                                                                                        
          (7) deceives the victim.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Section 6 denotes that human  trafficking in the second                                                                  
     degree is a class A felony.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Section 7 Enacts the new  crime of human trafficking in                                                                  
     the  third   degree.  A  person  is   guilty  of  human                                                                    
     trafficking in the third degree  if the person provides                                                                    
     resources  in furtherance  of human  trafficking. Human                                                                    
     trafficking in the third degree  is a class B felony if                                                                    
     the value of the resources is  $200 or more and a class                                                                    
     C felony  if the  value of the  resources is  less than                                                                    
     $200.                                                                                                                      
          This section also  clarifies that corroboration of                                                                    
     a victim's  testimony is  not necessary.  This codifies                                                                    
     current law in  that a jury has the  ability to convict                                                                    
     based on  a victim's  testimony alone. This  section is                                                                    
     in  current law  and is  simply relocated  to AS  11.41                                                                    
     along with  the rest  of the sex  trafficking statutes.                                                                    
     This section  also makes clear  that any  property used                                                                    
     to commit sex or human trafficking may be forfeited.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Section   8  is   the   definition   section  for   sex                                                                  
     trafficking and human trafficking.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Section 9 clarifies that the  crime of coercion is only                                                                  
     to be used if the  sex trafficking or human trafficking                                                                    
     elements are not present.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Section 10 cleans up the  references to sex trafficking                                                                  
     in the prostitution statute.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Section  11 makes  a conforming  change to  a provision                                                                  
     that  is  repealed in  the  repealer  section (being  a                                                                    
     patron of a prostitute under the age of 18).                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Sections  13     19  make  conforming  changes  to  sex                                                                  
     trafficking  and  human   trafficking  references  that                                                                    
     appear in those statutes.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Section 20  establishes that  human trafficking  in the                                                                  
     first  degree,  as  an  unclassified  felony,  will  be                                                                    
     sentenced between five and 99 years.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Section   21   makes   conforming  amendments   to   AS                                                                  
     12.55.125(i),  the  sex  offense  sentencing  statutes,                                                                    
     incorporating  the  new  sex trafficking  statutes  and                                                                    
     patron  of a  victim of  sex trafficking  statute. This                                                                    
     ensures  that these  offenses will  be  subject to  the                                                                    
     higher sentences associated with sex offenses.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:25:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Section 22  makes conforming  changes to  the statutory                                                                  
     definition of  "most serious  felony," by  removing sex                                                                    
     trafficking in  the first degree,  which is  then added                                                                    
     to  the  statutory  definition of  "sexual  felony"  in                                                                    
     section 23.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Section 23 adds sex trafficking  and patron of a victim                                                                  
     of  sex  trafficking  to   the  definition  of  "sexual                                                                    
     felony."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Section 24 makes changes to  the definition of "serious                                                                  
     offense"  reflecting  the  changes   made  to  the  sex                                                                    
     trafficking and human trafficking statutes.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Section  25  adds  sex trafficking  in  the  first  and                                                                  
     second   degree  and   patron  of   a  victim   of  sex                                                                    
     trafficking to the list of registerable sex offenses.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Section  26 establishes  a process  whereby people  who                                                                  
     have  been  convicted  of  prostitution  can  get  that                                                                    
     conviction vacated if  they are able to  show that they                                                                    
     were a victim of sex  trafficking at the time that they                                                                    
     committed the  prostitution offense. If  the conviction                                                                    
     is  vacated the  court system  may not  publish records                                                                    
     relating  to the  conviction on  CourtView nor  may the                                                                    
     Department  of Public  Safety release  that information                                                                    
     as part of an employment background check.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS asked whether  the provision described in                                                               
Section 26 exists in other states.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SKIDMORE responded  that some  states have  provisions under                                                               
which the conviction  can be removed; some states  mandate that a                                                               
person under the age of  18 cannot be convicted for prostitution.                                                               
He added  that such modifications  could be made to  the proposed                                                               
legislation; he is open to suggestion.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:30:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   HOPKINS   asked    why,   under   the   proposed                                                               
legislation,  the  victim  in  a class  B  misdemeanor  would  be                                                               
defined as a criminal.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. SKIDMORE  answered that sex trafficking  can victimize anyone                                                               
of any age;  therefore, Section 26 provides that anyone  who is a                                                               
victim could  have the conviction  removed.  He relayed  that the                                                               
focus  of   many  other   states  is   on  minors;   federal  law                                                               
automatically considers  a person  under the  age of  18 involved                                                               
with sex  trafficking a  victim.   He maintained  that HB  225 is                                                               
trying to achieve this "best  practice"; however, for someone who                                                               
is age 18  or older, engaging in prostitution is  still a class B                                                               
misdemeanor with a penalty of up to  90 days in jail.  For people                                                               
who are trafficked, the state  would still pursue the traffickers                                                               
while providing  the trafficked person  a means to  maintain that                                                               
he/she  was  a victim  and  should  not  have the  conviction  on                                                               
his/her record.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS referred to  paragraph four of the 1/24/20                                                               
transmittal letter  from Governor  Michael J.  Dunleavy, included                                                               
in the committee packet, which read:                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     The threat  of being  charged with a  crime is  often a                                                                    
     tactic  that  traffickers  will   use  to  continue  to                                                                    
     control their  victims. It is important  for society to                                                                    
     recognize  that  these  victims  often  have  no  other                                                                    
     choice,  and they  should not  be treated  as criminals                                                                    
     when they are, in fact, victims themselves.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS  stated that  under  Alaska  law all  the                                                               
trafficked  victims  are being  criminalized  and  the burden  of                                                               
proof is on them to have  the conviction vacated.  He described a                                                               
scenario  of a  shipload  or a  truckload  of trafficked  victims                                                               
brought into Alaska  from a foreign country or  a 20-year-old who                                                               
has  been sex  trafficked for  the past  ten years.   The  victim                                                               
would be  required to  produce evidence  and navigate  the Alaska                                                               
Court System.  He  asked why HB 225 is not  written so that these                                                               
victims would not have to go to court.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. SKIDMORE  responded that  individuals in  those circumstances                                                               
would not  be prosecuted for  prostitution; the state  would have                                                               
no  interest in  prosecuting  them.   Law  enforcement would  ask                                                               
their  cooperation  and  work  with  them to  build  a  case  for                                                               
prosecution [of  the traffickers].   In answer  to Representative                                                               
Hopkins's question,  he offered  that the legislature  could make                                                               
the law specific to prevent them from being prosecuted.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS  asked  why  that specific  law  was  not                                                               
included in the proposed legislation.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. SKIDMORE replied that the  approach of the administration was                                                               
to  correct past  harms that  occurred.   The past  harm involves                                                               
people   who  have   already   been   prosecuted;  the   proposed                                                               
legislation  was  drafted  to  help  those  people  vacate  their                                                               
convictions.     He  stated  that  in   the  scenario  described,                                                               
prosecutors  would  not  pursue those  victims  for  prosecution;                                                               
therefore,  it  was  not  addressed   in  HB  225;  however,  the                                                               
legislature  could   prevent  it  from  ever   happening  through                                                               
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS expressed  his interest  in incorporating                                                               
that provision into the proposed legislation.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:35:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE  asked whether  the wording in  the proposed                                                               
legislation  is  to  distinguish   between  someone  who  chooses                                                               
prostitution and someone who is a victim of sex trafficking.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. SKIDMORE restated  the question:  How  would we differentiate                                                               
between  those  who are  victims  and  those  who  are not?    He                                                               
maintained  that   it  is  an   important  challenge  -   how  to                                                               
differentiate and who makes that  determination.  He offered that                                                               
other states have  focused on minors; he hasn't  seen a provision                                                               
that addresses adults.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                              
MR. SKIDMORE  continued to review  the sectional  analysis, which                                                               
read:                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                              
     Sections  27     29  make  conforming  changes  to  the                                                                  
     changes made to the sex trafficking statutes.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Section 30  clarifies that  if a  person's prostitution                                                                  
     conviction made  them ineligible  for a  permanent fund                                                                    
     dividend and that conviction  was vacated under section                                                                    
     26  of the  bill, the  person would  be eligible  for a                                                                    
     permeant fund  dividend from the  date of  the vacation                                                                    
     forward.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Sections 31-34  make conforming changes to  the changes                                                                  
     made to the sex trafficking statutes.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Section 35 is the repealer section.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Section 36  is the applicability section.  The majority                                                                  
     of this  bill will  apply to  offenses occurring  on or                                                                    
     after the effective date.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Section 37  establishes the effective  date as  July 1,                                                                  
     2020.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:39:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  asked whether a victim  working to vacate                                                               
a  class  B misdemeanor  crime  would  have  access to  a  public                                                               
defender or would have to hire an attorney.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:40:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SAMANTHA  CHEROT,   Public  Defender,  Public   Defender  Agency,                                                               
answered that  under HB 225, there  would not be a  mechanism for                                                               
the  victim  to  have  an  appointed  counsel  in  that  type  of                                                               
situation.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STORY relayed  that she has heard  that for people                                                               
engaged in  prostitution, it is not  a choice; it has  more to do                                                               
with  the economic  system, a  limited  income, and  the need  to                                                               
provide for a family.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS stated HB 225 would be held over.                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 148 Sponsor Statement v. A 2.11.2020.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 148
HB 148 Sectional Analysis 2.11.2020.pdf HJUD 3/2/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 3/4/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 3/6/2020 1:00:00 PM
HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 148
HB 225 Transmittal Letter 1.27.2020.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225
HB 225 Sectional Analysis v. A 1.27.2020.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225
HB 225 Fiscal Note Law Crim. Div. 1.27.2020.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225
HB 225 Fiscal Note DPS VCCB 1.27.2020.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225
HB 225 Fiscal Note DPS Statewide Support 1.27.2020.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225
HB 225 Fiscal Note DPS ABI 1.27.2020.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225
HB 225 Fiscal Note DOC IDO 1.27.2020.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225
HB 225 Fiscal Note DOA-DMV 1.27.2020.PDF HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225
HB 225 Fiscal Note DHSS DJJ 1.27.2020.PDF HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225
HB 225 Fiscal Note DOA PDA 1.27.2020.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225
HB 225 Fiscal Note DOA OPA 1.27.2020.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225
HB 148 Supporting Document HAP.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HSTA 2/27/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 148
HB 228 Supporting Document Sex Offender Registration Chart 2.18.2020.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 228
HB 228 Supporting Document Alaska Sex Offender Recidivism and Case Processing Study 2.18.20.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 228
HB 225 Letter of Support - Priceless Nurses 2.25.20.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225
HB 225 Letter of Support - AKH&LA 3.5.20.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225
HB 225 Letter of Support - Covenant House AK 3.3.20.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225
HB 225 Letter of Support - ANJC 3.3.20.pdf HSTA 2/20/2020 3:00:00 PM
HB 225