Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

05/11/2022 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY

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01:33:07 PM Start
01:33:42 PM HB62
02:19:30 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                          May 11, 2022                                                                                          
                           1:33 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Roger Holland, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Mike Shower, Vice Chair                                                                                                 
Senator Shelley Hughes                                                                                                          
Senator Robert Myers                                                                                                            
Senator Jesse Kiehl                                                                                                             
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 62(JUD) AM                                                                              
"An Act relating to the Legislative Ethics Act; relating to                                                                     
solemnization of marriage; and relating to consent to marriage."                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
HOUSE BILL NO. 325                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to domestic violence."                                                                                         
     - BILL HEARING CANCELED                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB  62                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: MARRIAGE: WITNESSES/SOLEMNIZATION/CONSENT                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) CLAMAN                                                                                            
02/18/21       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/15/21                                                                               
02/18/21       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/18/21       (H)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
02/25/21       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
02/25/21       (H)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
03/04/21       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/04/21       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/04/21       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/09/21       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/09/21       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/09/21       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/11/21       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/11/21       (H)       Moved HB 62 Out of Committee                                                                           
03/11/21       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/12/21       (H)       STA RPT 4DP 2DNP 1AM                                                                                   
03/12/21       (H)       DP: CLAMAN, STORY, TARR, KREISS-TOMKINS                                                                
03/12/21       (H)       DNP: EASTMAN, VANCE                                                                                    
03/12/21       (H)       AM: KAUFMAN                                                                                            
03/19/21       (H)       JUD AT 1:30 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/19/21       (H)       <Bill Hearing Canceled>                                                                                
03/24/21       (H)       JUD AT 1:30 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/24/21       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/24/21       (H)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
03/29/21       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/29/21       (H)       <Bill Hearing Canceled>                                                                                
03/31/21       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/31/21       (H)       Moved CSHB 62(JUD) Out of Committee                                                                    
03/31/21       (H)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
04/05/21       (H)       JUD RPT CS(JUD) NEW TITLE 4DP 3DNP                                                                     
04/05/21       (H)       DP: DRUMMOND, KREISS-TOMKINS, SNYDER,                                                                  
04/05/21       (H)       DNP: EASTMAN, VANCE, KURKA                                                                             
03/09/22       (H)       SUSTAINED RULING OF CHAIR Y21 N14 E4 A1                                                                
03/11/22       (H)       TECHNICAL SESSION 3/11 - ON 3/14                                                                       
03/16/22       (H)       TRANSMITTED TO (S)                                                                                     
03/16/22       (H)       VERSION: CSHB 62(JUD) AM                                                                               
03/18/22       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/18/22       (S)       HSS, JUD                                                                                               
04/05/22       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/05/22       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/05/22       (S)       MINUTE(HSS)                                                                                            
04/19/22       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/19/22       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/19/22       (S)       MINUTE(HSS)                                                                                            
04/26/22       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/26/22       (S)       Moved SCS CSHB 62(HSS) Out of Committee                                                                
04/26/22       (S)       MINUTE(HSS)                                                                                            
04/27/22       (S)       HSS RPT SCS(HSS)  4NR  SAME TITLE                                                                      
04/27/22       (S)       NR: WILSON, REINBOLD, BEGICH, HUGHES                                                                   
05/06/22       (S)       JUD AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
05/06/22       (S)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
05/09/22       (S)       JUD AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
05/09/22       (S)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
05/11/22       (S)       JUD AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE MATT CLAMAN                                                                                                      
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 62.                                                                                         
BREANNA KAKARUK, Staff                                                                                                          
Representative Matt Claman                                                                                                      
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented the  sectional analysis for  HB 62                                                             
on behalf of the sponsor.                                                                                                       
JOE CONNELLY, Owner                                                                                                             
Chugiak Peaks Photography                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided invited testimony in  support of HB
CIAN MULHERN, Reverend                                                                                                          
Celtic Ministries                                                                                                               
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided invited testimony in  support of HB
JERRY ANDERSON, Administrator                                                                                                   
Select Committee on Legislative Ethics                                                                                          
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT: Answered  questions  related  to travel  and                                                             
hospitality  compensation for  officiating a  wedding during  the                                                               
hearing on HB 62.                                                                                                               
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:33:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  ROGER   HOLLAND  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 1:33 p.m.  Senators Myers, Hughes,                                                               
Shower,  Kiehl, and  Chair Holland  were present  at the  call to                                                               
        HB 62-MARRIAGE: WITNESSES/SOLEMNIZATION/CONSENT                                                                     
1:33:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND  announced the consideration  of CS FOR  HOUSE BILL                                                               
NO. 62(JUD)  am "An Act  relating to the Legislative  Ethics Act;                                                               
relating to solemnization of marriage; and relating to consent                                                                  
to marriage."                                                                                                                   
[SCS CSHB 62(HSS) was before the committee.]                                                                                    
1:34:08 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MATT CLAMAN, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau,                                                                   
Alaska, presented the sponsor statement for HB 62.                                                                              
[Original punctuation provided.]                                                                                                
     Mr. Chair  and members  of Senate Judiciary,  thank you                                                                    
     for hearing House Bill 62.                                                                                                 
     At  present,  during  the  solemnization  of  marriage,                                                                    
     couples must assent to the  marriage in the presence of                                                                    
     each other,  the person  solemnizing the  marriage, and                                                                    
     at  least  two  additional  witnesses.  Afterward,  all                                                                    
     parties  must  sign  the marriage  certificates.  House                                                                    
     Bill  62  would  eliminate   the  requirement  for  two                                                                    
     additional witnesses  at the marriage  solemnization to                                                                    
     help  support  Alaska's  destination  wedding  industry                                                                    
     while preserving the integrity  of marriage. HB 62 adds                                                                    
     a  requirement that  a person  verify that  the parties                                                                    
     intend  to  marry each  other.  Thus,  both the  person                                                                    
     solemnizing and the person  verifying sign the marriage                                                                    
     certificate and provide contact information.                                                                               
     Finally, HB 62 repeals the  statute that allows a child                                                                    
     who is 14 or 15 years  old to marry, thus banning child                                                                    
     marriage  under age  16 with  no exceptions.  It limits                                                                    
     marriage of minors who are at  least 16 years of age to                                                                    
     those who  want to marry a  person who is no  more than                                                                    
     three years older. Thus, a  minor may only marry if (1)                                                                    
     they have  parental consent and  court approval  or (2)                                                                    
     they  have court  approval after  the court  finds that                                                                    
     the  parents  are   (a)  arbitrarily  and  capriciously                                                                    
     withholding   consent,   (b)    absent   or   otherwise                                                                    
     unaccountable, (c) in  disagreement among themselves on                                                                    
     the question, or (d) unfit to decide the matter.                                                                           
     Alaska is  one of  20 states  that require  two wedding                                                                    
     witnesses.  Twenty-three  states  and the  District  of                                                                    
     Columbia  do  not  require wedding  witnesses.  Wedding                                                                    
     witnesses  played   a  more   critical  role   in  past                                                                    
     centuries  when   record  keeping  was   not  reliable.                                                                    
     Witnesses could be contacted to  verify the wedding had                                                                    
     taken place if records  were damaged or missing. Today,                                                                    
     in contrast,  record keeping is  reliable and  the role                                                                    
     of a  wedding witness  is ceremonial. In  Alaska, while                                                                    
     the person  solemnizing the marriage must  meet certain                                                                    
     criteria, no form of  witness verification is required                                                                     
     just a name and signature.  HB 62 would allow Alaska to                                                                    
     compete  with states  like  Hawaii  and Florida,  which                                                                    
     require  no wedding  witnesses and  lead the  nation in                                                                    
     destination weddings.                                                                                                      
     Destination  weddings  are  a significant  and  growing                                                                    
     business  in   Alaska.  As  shown   in  the   chart  we                                                                    
     distributed, non-resident weddings  (where both parties                                                                    
     are non-residents)  already comprise  approximately 10%                                                                    
     of  marriages in  Alaska.  The two-witness  requirement                                                                    
     makes Alaska  a less  attractive location for  many who                                                                    
     travel  from  farther  away  or who  do  not  want  the                                                                    
     financial burden of a larger  wedding. Couples who come                                                                    
     to  the state  without their  own witnesses  are tasked                                                                    
     with finding  strangers to  witness their  wedding. The                                                                    
     burden  of supplying  these  witnesses  often falls  to                                                                    
     those  who work  in  Alaska's wedding  industry to  ask                                                                    
     friends  and family  to witness  the weddings  of their                                                                    
     out-of-town  clients. The  two-witness requirement  can                                                                    
     also  place  an  increased   financial  burden  on  the                                                                    
     couple.  For example,  for a  remote location  wedding,                                                                    
     such  as  on  a  glacier, the  couple  must  pay  extra                                                                    
     aircraft seating costs to transport the two witnesses.                                                                     
     At present, destination weddings  bring in an estimated                                                                    
     $1  million  in  revenue  to  Alaska  in  the  form  of                                                                    
     approximately  500 destination  weddings  a year.  This                                                                    
     revenue figure  doesn't even account for  the fact that                                                                    
     more than 90%  of the out-of-state couples  who come to                                                                    
     Alaska  to  get married  stay  for  days and  weeks  to                                                                    
     explore  our  great  state. The  resulting  benefit  to                                                                    
     Alaska's tourism  industry is  substantial. HB  62 will                                                                    
     help Alaska's  tourism industry  by allowing  Alaska to                                                                    
     compete with states on a level field.                                                                                      
     As   a  result   of  a   house  floor   amendment,  the                                                                    
     legislation  makes an  important change  to Alaska  law                                                                    
     regarding child  marriage, as described  earlier. There                                                                    
     is  increased  concern  about  the  connection  between                                                                    
     child   marriage   and   human  trafficking   and   sex                                                                    
     trafficking.   Reducing  or   even  eliminating   child                                                                    
     marriage  in   Alaska  is  an  important   step  toward                                                                    
     improving public safety and combatting trafficking.                                                                        
1:38:12 PM                                                                                                                    
     Research shows  that the substantial majority  of child                                                                    
     marriages90%  or moreinvolve  a  minor under the age of                                                                    
     18  and  an  adult  who may  be  several  years  older                                                                     
     sometimes as much  as 20 years older. As  you will hear                                                                    
     from the  invited testimony, a substantial  majority of                                                                    
     child  marriages  end  in  divorceapproximately   80%--                                                                    
     compared  to a  divorce rate  of approximately  50% for                                                                    
     adult marriages.                                                                                                           
     As  we  look  to  strengthen our  economy  and  improve                                                                    
     public safety, changing Alaska's  child marriage law to                                                                    
     reflect  our community  values  is  a much-needed  step                                                                    
     forward for our state.                                                                                                     
1:38:56 PM                                                                                                                    
BREANNA KAKARUK, Staff, Representative Matt Claman, Alaska State                                                                
Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, presented the sectional analysis                                                                   
for HB 62 on behalf of the sponsor.                                                                                             
[Original punctuation provided.]                                                                                                
     Section  1  AS  24.60.030(a).  Prohibited  conduct  and                                                                    
     conflicts  of interest.  Amends the  Legislative Ethics                                                                    
     Act  to  allow  a   legislator  to  accept  travel  and                                                                    
     hospitality for solemnizing a marriage.                                                                                    
     Section   2  AS   25.05.171(b).   Persons  capable   of                                                                    
     consenting to  marriage: Minimum  ages, and  consent of                                                                    
     parent  or guardian.  Amends  subsection  (b) to  limit                                                                    
     exceptions to minors  who are at least 16  years of age                                                                    
     who want  to get married and  marry a person who  is no                                                                    
     more than three years older.  A minor may only marry if                                                                    
     (1) they have  parental and court approval  or (2) they                                                                    
     gave  court approval  after the  court  finds that  the                                                                    
     parents   are   (a)    arbitrarily   and   capriciously                                                                    
     withholding   consent,   (b)    absent   or   otherwise                                                                    
     unaccountable, (c) in  disagreement among themselves on                                                                    
     the question, or (d) unfit to decide the matter.                                                                           
     Section   3  AS   25.05.301.  Form   of  solemnization.                                                                    
     Eliminates  the  requirement  of  two  witnesses  at  a                                                                    
     marriage solemnization  ceremony and adds a  person who                                                                    
     "verifies" the marriage by  (1) communicating with both                                                                    
     parties  to  confirm their  intent  to  marry; and  (2)                                                                    
     signing the marriage  certificate. The person verifying                                                                    
     the marriage is not required to witness the ceremony.                                                                      
1:40:14 PM                                                                                                                    
     Section  4 AS  25.05.321. Certificates.  Eliminates the                                                                    
     requirement  for two  witnesses  to  sign the  marriage                                                                    
     certificate  and  adds  a  person  who  "verifies"  the                                                                    
     marriage by signing the marriage certificate.                                                                              
     Section  5 AS  25.05.321. Certificates.  Specifies that                                                                    
     the  person solemnizing  the  marriage  and the  person                                                                    
     verifying   the  marriage   must   put  their   contact                                                                    
     information on the certificate forms.                                                                                      
     Section  6  AS  25.05.361.  Unlawful  solemnization  of                                                                    
     marriage.  Deletes  language  to conform  with  changes                                                                    
     made in section 2 of the bill.                                                                                             
     Section  7  AS  25.05.020.  Arrival  at  majority  upon                                                                    
     marriage.  Deletes  language  to confirm  with  changes                                                                    
     made in section 2 of the bill.                                                                                             
     Section  8  Repeals   AS  25.05.041(a)(3)  and  (a)(5)                                                                     
     statutes that  relate to marriage  witnessesto  conform                                                                    
     with changes made in section  3 of the bill. Repeals AS                                                                    
     25.05.171(a)    statutes   that  relate   to   allowing                                                                    
     marriage  involving a  16-  or  17-yearold person  with                                                                    
     parental  consentto   conform   with  changes  made  in                                                                    
     section 2 of the bill.                                                                                                     
1:41:29 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SHOWER stated  that  some  constituents raised  concerns                                                               
that provisions  in the  bill move  away from  more conservative,                                                               
traditional  marriages,   marriage  ceremonies,   and  witnessing                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  responded that  he previously  sponsored a                                                               
bill  that   allowed  elected   officials  to   perform  marriage                                                               
ceremonies. The bill  allowed anyone elected to  public office to                                                               
perform a marriage  ceremony. He stated he  had performed several                                                               
ceremonies  that he  would characterize  as traditional  ones. He                                                               
said even before  that law passed, a person could  obtain a 3-day                                                               
temporary marriage commissioner certificate  that would allow the                                                               
person to  perform a wedding.  He related that the  previous bill                                                               
intended to protect  the rights of religious  individuals who had                                                               
priorities for their religion. They did  not wish to be forced to                                                               
marry  someone outside  their traditions.  For  example, a  rabbi                                                               
might  limit performing  a marriage  ceremony to  members of  his                                                               
synagogue. Further, that law would  also allow someone to decline                                                               
officiating at a gay couple's wedding.                                                                                          
1:44:28 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER remarked that his  father-in-law officiated at his                                                               
daughter's wedding and a Justice  of the peace (JP) officiated at                                                               
his wedding.                                                                                                                    
1:44:52 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MYERS  referred to  a  chart  in members'  packets  that                                                               
showed  the  number of  resident  and  non-resident weddings.  He                                                               
asked  the  sponsor  whether  he  had  any  data  on  destination                                                               
weddings.  He  noted  that  the  military,  mining,  and  fishing                                                               
industry brings in significant non-residents.  He wondered if the                                                               
data  could separate  the people  coming to  Alaska as  a wedding                                                               
destination from residents getting married here.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN responded  that  one wedding  photographer                                                               
would testify  about weddings. He said  he spoke to four  or five                                                               
wedding  photographers who  indicated that  their schedules  were                                                               
booked for this  summer. He related his  understanding that there                                                               
were numerous destination weddings in Alaska.                                                                                   
1:46:46 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL referred  to the legislative ethics  portion of the                                                               
bill and asked whether the language was necessary.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE   CLAMAN  explained   that  Representative   Vance                                                               
requested those provisions.  She was worried that  the travel and                                                               
hospitality  costs might  get out  of control.  For example,  she                                                               
wondered  what would  happen  if someone  asked  a legislator  to                                                               
perform a  wedding on an  eight-day cruise  on one of  the cruise                                                               
ships. The question was if  the legislator could accept an eight-                                                               
day cruise,  including meals,  as a  gratuity for  performing the                                                               
ceremony. The goal  was to allow some level  of transportation as                                                               
gratis, including flying  an officiant to a glacier  to perform a                                                               
wedding ceremony  and attend the  reception. He stated  he wanted                                                               
to ensure that  people would not need to declare  it. However, if                                                               
a legislator took  an expensive cruise, they  probably would need                                                               
to disclose  it. Still,  the spirit  was to  recognize incidental                                                               
expenses  would   not  need  to   be  disclosed  on   the  ethics                                                               
1:49:56 PM                                                                                                                    
JOE CONNELLY, Photographer and  Owner, Chugiak Peaks Photography,                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska,  stated that  he supported the  provision that                                                               
would raise  the minimum age  for marriage, which wasn't  part of                                                               
the original bill. He indicated  his testimony would focus on the                                                               
state's  requirement  to have  two  witnesses  sign a  form  just                                                               
before or after a marriage ceremony.                                                                                            
MR.  CONNELLY said  he has  worked as  a wedding  photographer in                                                               
Alaska  since  2006. He  related  that  400-500 couples  come  to                                                               
Alaska to  get married, many of  whom do not bring  any family or                                                               
friends.  Further,  about  4,000-4,500 local  weddings  occur  in                                                               
Alaska,  many  without family  or  friends  present. Some  people                                                               
don't want a  large group present at their  wedding, so requiring                                                               
two  witnesses  to  verify  their  marriages  creates  an  unfair                                                               
burden.  Often marriage  commissioners  are  tasked with  finding                                                               
witnesses for people to fulfill  the state requirement. Witnesses                                                               
may not  know the bride or  groom but do  this as a favor  to the                                                               
marriage   commissioner.  Many   people   choose   Alaska  as   a                                                               
destination wedding  location because of its  remoteness, beauty,                                                               
independence, and grandeur. He stated  that anyone over 18 and of                                                               
sound  mind  could  pick  up   a  one-day  commissioner  license.                                                               
However, the  couple must bring  two witnesses along, even  if it                                                               
means the  witnesses also must hike  to the top of  a mountain or                                                               
fly to a glacier.                                                                                                               
Mr. CONNELLY remarked that hiking  and flying might seem unusual,                                                               
but it's a daily occurrence for Alaskan weddings.                                                                               
1:53:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND  reported that approximately 22  states require two                                                               
witnesses, 22 states  require none, and six  require one witness.                                                               
He wondered  if it would be  beneficial to go from  requiring two                                                               
witnesses to one or from two to zero.                                                                                           
MR.  CONNELLY  responded  that  it would  be  beneficial  not  to                                                               
require any  witnesses. He stated  that the process  requires the                                                               
couple to obtain  a marriage license, and  the person solemnizing                                                               
the  marriage must  sign the  original  marriage certificate.  An                                                               
officiant  must  be  18  years  of  age  and  of  sound  mind  as                                                               
determined by  the clergy or their  representative. The officiant                                                               
could attest  to the marriage  if there  were any doubt  that the                                                               
wedding  happened.  He noted  that  the  couple also  would  have                                                               
photos of their wedding.                                                                                                        
MR.  CONNELLY reported  that many  states,  including Hawaii  and                                                               
Florida, do not have witness  requirements. Those states have not                                                               
encountered problems because they  don't require any witnesses to                                                               
sign the marriage certificate. He  offered his view that weddings                                                               
in those states are no less  important or successful, nor do they                                                               
lead to increased marriage fraud.  He indicated that the original                                                               
requirement  for  witnesses  goes  back hundreds  of  years.  The                                                               
Church of England could not keep  track of the records. Since the                                                               
Bureau of Vital Statistics maintains  digital records of marriage                                                               
licenses, it is now more of a formality and tradition.                                                                          
1:56:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MYERS asked whether the photographer could be a witness.                                                                
MR. CONNELLY  responded that he could  be a witness. He  noted he                                                               
often  officiates  the  wedding.   He  described  a  hypothetical                                                               
wedding at  Hatcher Pass, in  which the bride and  groom traveled                                                               
to  Alaska  without  any family  or  friends.  The  photographer,                                                               
bride,  and  groom hiked  six  hours  to  a remote  setting.  The                                                               
photographer would  be able to  marry them if they  brought along                                                               
an  additional witness.  Under the  bill, the  photographer could                                                               
set up  a tripod, marry the  couple and capture the  wedding on a                                                               
video, but not need additional people.                                                                                          
1:57:53 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER  stated he  would not oppose  the bill  because he                                                               
has  strong  libertarian  convictions.   He  related  that  while                                                               
serving in  the military, he  saw that  many young men  and women                                                               
would get married.  However, many of these  marriages resulted in                                                               
divorce. He  wondered if removing the  witness requirements would                                                               
also  remove some  cross-checks. He  said he  supports increasing                                                               
the  minimum age  for  marriage  to 18  years  of  age. He  asked                                                               
whether the  witnesses would provide  some type of  stability for                                                               
these young military couples by  helping them decide if they were                                                               
doing the right thing.                                                                                                          
MR. CONNELLY  responded that two 18-year-old  military members do                                                               
not  look to  their buddies  or parents  for approval.  Witnesses                                                               
check a box and  sign, but don't have to be  related to the bride                                                               
and groom. The  state also doesn't require someone  to talk sense                                                               
into  the  couple. Instead,  the  state  only requires  that  two                                                               
random adults be physically present.  He said this requirement is                                                               
2:01:09 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  SHOWER  expressed  skepticism that  someone  would  just                                                               
solicit witnesses by  randomly asking people to  be witnesses for                                                               
a wedding.                                                                                                                      
MR.  CONNELLY answered  that  he observed  it  happening all  the                                                               
SENATOR SHOWER expressed surprise.                                                                                              
MR. CONNELLY said it happens every single week.                                                                                 
SENATOR SHOWER remarked that he was horrified.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN responded  that was  one reason  to remove                                                               
the witness requirement.                                                                                                        
MR. CONNELLY agreed it could be  awkward for a bride and groom to                                                               
ask random  people to sign  as witnesses to their  marriage, such                                                               
as a mom and grandma out for  a stroll, pushing a stroller. It is                                                               
why he initiated the whole process to remove the requirement.                                                                   
2:01:52 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  stated that Senator Shower's  question was                                                               
more specific to  the child marriage concept, such as  when a 16-                                                               
year-old wants to  marry an 18-year old. The  version that passed                                                               
the House  required parents  to consent to  the marriage  but did                                                               
not  require a  court proceeding.  The Senate  Health and  Social                                                               
Services Standing  Committee (SHSS)  changed it by  requiring the                                                               
court to be  involved in that decision. He  acknowledged that the                                                               
court noted it does not happen  often. He related one instance in                                                               
which the parents gave their  consent, and the judge subsequently                                                               
sent them  out of the  room because he  wanted to ensure  that no                                                               
one was pressuring the underage  child. The judicial review helps                                                               
provide  additional protection  to  ensure  the youth  understand                                                               
what they are  doing. It is essential to have  the court involved                                                               
if child marriages are not banned.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN acknowledged  that  he  had heard  stories                                                               
that some  parents pressured their  children to get  married, but                                                               
it doesn't always work out very well.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  indicated that Senator Shower  also raised                                                               
an  issue regarding  military  personnel. He  was  aware of  some                                                               
instances where  soldiers going  off to war  would get  married a                                                               
week  before  departure. However,  when  they  return six  months                                                               
later,  their wives  are gone  and have  sold their  property. He                                                               
acknowledged that this bill would  not solve all the problems. He                                                               
surmised that  commanders probably held conversations  with those                                                               
under  their command  to ensure  that they  understood what  they                                                               
were  doing. He  wondered  whether  it was  the  state's role  to                                                               
intervene or if  the community needed to ask  those questions. He                                                               
recalled  that a  family  friend married  early  in his  military                                                               
career, and the marriage ended,  so he understands that sometimes                                                               
people don't think through their decisions.                                                                                     
2:05:36 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KIEHL stated that he  appreciated that the bill addresses                                                               
those  under  18.  He  offered  his  view  that  having  marriage                                                               
witnesses  may  not be  necessary,  especially  since the  couple                                                               
might  select random  witnesses or  pay them.  He recalled  being                                                               
asked to officiate at a marriage  ceremony by a couple he did not                                                               
know. He said he used the  three-day waiting period to talk about                                                               
marriage  commitment.  He  asked  whether the  bill  retains  the                                                               
three-day waiting period requirement.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN responded  that the  bill does  not change                                                               
the three-day waiting period requirement.                                                                                       
2:07:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MYERS referred to page 5  of HB 62. He indicated that the                                                               
person verifying the  ceremony was supposed to  confirm that each                                                               
party intends  to marry the  other. He wondered why  the language                                                               
used  "intends"   instead  of   consents"  since   the  committee                                                               
discussed parents  consenting to  underage marriages ang  ways to                                                               
ensure someone was not getting duped.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN stated  that using  the word  "intent" was                                                               
purposeful because  it implies greater  thought. He  related that                                                               
he  had  been debating   intent   on  a  bill related  to  sexual                                                               
assault. In that context, the  question was related to what level                                                               
of  action or  inaction is  enough to  reflect consent.  It would                                                               
depend  on the  level  of passive  participation  that counts  as                                                               
consent.  He said  marriage means  substantially more  than that.                                                               
One  hopes  that  it  means  the person  wants  to  make  a  real                                                               
commitment to their partner and intends to do this.                                                                             
2:09:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MYERS offered  his view  that  consent   seemed stronger                                                               
than intent.                                                                                                                    
2:09:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND turned to invited testimony.                                                                                      
2:10:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CIAN  MULHERN, Celtic  Ministries, Wasilla,  Alaska, stated  that                                                               
military  members are  considered  Alaska  residents since  their                                                               
license  reads Joint  Base Elmendorf  Richardson  (JBER) or  some                                                               
other  base.  Thus,  military members  getting  married  are  not                                                               
considered out-of-state weddings.                                                                                               
2:11:10 PM                                                                                                                    
REVEREND MULHERN  spoke in  favor of raising  the minimum  age to                                                               
18.  He   explained  that  couples  sometimes   choose  witnesses                                                               
randomly. He  stated that  often no one  knows the  witnesses, if                                                               
they  are convicted  felons, or  in  good standing.  It is  often                                                               
impossible  to  locate  the witnesses  later  since  no  personal                                                               
identifier is  required or appears  on the  marriage certificate.                                                               
It  doesn't   mean  the  witnesses  ensure   that  the  officiant                                                               
appropriately performed the wedding ceremony.                                                                                   
2:13:11 PM                                                                                                                    
JERRY  ANDERSON, Administrator,  Select Committee  on Legislative                                                               
Ethics,  Anchorage, Alaska,  indicated that  he had  reviewed the                                                               
2:13:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND asked him to explain Section 1, subparagraph (D).                                                                 
MR.  ANDERSON responded  that subparagraph  (D) harmonizes  other                                                               
sections  of  the  Legislative  Ethics  Act  regarding  accepting                                                               
hospitality and travel outside of a  gift. He stated that it also                                                               
comports  with AS  24.60.085 related  to  restrictions on  earned                                                               
income and  honoraria. That section  relates to an  appearance or                                                               
speech  by   a  legislator,  so   adding  subparagraph   (D)  was                                                               
2:14:58 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MYERS  asked what  reporting requirements  were necessary                                                               
if  someone  were  to  pay  for  his  travel  from  Fairbanks  to                                                               
Anchorage to officiate at a wedding ceremony.                                                                                   
MR.  ANDERSON   answered  that  there   would  be   no  reporting                                                               
requirement under the current Legislative Ethics Act or HB 62.                                                                  
2:15:31 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND  asked him to  confirm that  reporting requirements                                                               
were not  required under current  law, and reporting  would still                                                               
not be necessary if the bill were to pass.                                                                                      
MR.  ANDERSON  answered  yes.  He  explained  that  just  as  for                                                               
restrictions on  earned income or an  honorarium, legislators are                                                               
not required to disclose travel expenses.                                                                                       
2:15:58 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER  asked if this  would only  apply in Alaska  or if                                                               
the legislator could travel to Hawaii.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  answered that the permission  only applied                                                               
to Alaska.  If a legislator  or other person wanted  to officiate                                                               
at a friend's wedding in  Hawaii, they would need permission from                                                               
the State of Hawaii.                                                                                                            
2:16:27 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR SHOWER asked for suggestions  on prudent limitations. For                                                               
instance,  he  surmised  that  it would  not  be  acceptable  for                                                               
someone to pay  for a legislator's expensive  cruise in Southeast                                                               
Alaska just to officiate a friend's wedding during the cruise.                                                                  
CHAIR HOLLAND envisioned  a scenario where a  legislator might be                                                               
invited to  fly to a lodge  during sockeye season to  officiate a                                                               
wedding. He wondered if the flight would pose a problem.                                                                        
2:17:38 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ANDERSON responded that AS  24.60.085 covers that question. A                                                               
legislator  would not  be able  to seek  or receive  compensation                                                               
significantly greater  than the  value of the  services rendered,                                                               
taking  into  account  the  higher  rates  generally  changed  by                                                               
specialists in  a profession. The  committee would  consider that                                                               
2:18:27 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HOLLAND  imagined  it would  be  an  expensive  helicopter                                                               
flight to the Chukchi Sea if  a couple wanted to be married while                                                               
wading in the water.                                                                                                            
2:19:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND held HB 62 in committee.                                                                                          
2:19:30 PM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Holland  adjourned the Senate Judiciary  Standing Committee                                                               
meeting at 2:19 p.m.                                                                                                            

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