Legislature(2001 - 2002)
02/14/2002 03:40 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SCR 22-SOBRIETY AWARENESS MONTH: MARCH 2002 SENATOR WARD, prime sponsor, explained that several years ago a small group of people decided they were going to become role models who did not abuse either alcohol or drugs. Sobriety month is discussed in all the schools in Alaska in the month of March and is advertised during the Iditarod as well as other venues through out the state. People are encouraged to speak about sobriety as an alternative lifestyle that is worthwhile to promote. In committee member's packets there was a letter from Frank Dahl, President of Cabaret Hotel Restaurant and Retailers Association (CHARR) that encouraged support for SCR 22. A copy of his letter is enclosed in the bill file. Everyone he's ever met has been touched in some way by drug and alcohol abuse. This doesn't mean individuals must give up alcohol altogether to lend their support; this resolution is simply honoring those who honor sobriety. "By making March Sobriety Month, we are enabling thousands of people in Alaska to become warriors for sobriety." DAVID KATZEEK testified in both English and Tlingit in support of SCR 22. My grandfather told me a man who became sober and lived a sober life was a very wise individual and could learn a lot. Sobriety is more than being able to not drink; it is looking at all the types of things that are happening to us as a people. Sobriety could mean we are becoming aware of a problem in the State of Alaska that results in approximately 96 percent of those re-offenders that go back to jail have been involved with alcohol, resulting in a high cost to the State of Alaska and to its citizens. The cost is even greater than the money that is spent. Who hears the cry of a little child where alcohol is reigning? Who sees the broken heart of a teenager who is having a difficult time in school because of the emotional, painful and difficult kinds of things he heard the night before he goes to school. This is called sobering up. Not just by the individual who is using alcohol, but society in general, in regarding the kinds of things that face us as a people. This is a major problem. This resolution isn't to tell everyone to quit drinking and everybody should abstain. It is a notice to the people in the State of Alaska that the state recognizes and realizes that there is a problem. We are going to take time to look at this particular issue and stand with the people in the State of Alaska regarding this. To me this is sobering up when the Legislature and the government begins to see the kinds of problems we're facing. Not just the drunk, not just the alcohol abuser or not just the alcoholic, but society in general. I appreciate this time and I like speaking in my language because this is where I come from and I'm proud of my people. But my grandfather would have said may it be as if you heard, not from me, David Katzeek, but from the elders of the Tlingit nation saying this is really really important and we need your help. This may seem like a small resolution, but it is a very big one in my personal opinion. It's like a pebble being dropped in a pond where the rings will reach out all over. He then asked that his son be allowed to testify. SHAAN KATZEEK introduced himself and explained his American Government class requires each student to select and follow a bill. He selected SCR 22 to follow and didn't realize his father was going to be speaking on behalf of the same bill. He thinks it's a good thing to do because it lets everyone know they can take that step of being sober during the month of March and then they can tell others what they did. PAMELA WATTS, executive director of the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, expressed her appreciation to Senator Ward for sponsoring the resolution as he does every year. She said this is a foundation piece for the strategies that are contained in the state plan for alcohol and drug abuse services. The number of communities around the state that have begun to take responsibility for the negative consequences of alcohol and drug abuse in their areas encourages them. The benefits of taking responsibility for the negative consequences of alcohol include improvement in the quality of life for individuals, families and communities. When communities take responsibility, there is a reduction in the recidivism rate in the criminal justice system. The reduced burden on government by not having to exhaust its resources to pay for the pervasive problems caused by alcohol and drug abuse is another issue. Not only is there the high economic cost to be paid to keep an individual incarcerated but also the un-quantified cost of separating parents from their children. A recent McDowell report conservatively estimates that the economic cost of alcohol abuse comes to about $453,000 million per year. She urged committee members to seriously consider the pieces of legislation that will come before them this session that address alcohol related problems. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT noted there was no prepared CS, no proposed amendments. The bill had a zero fiscal note. He asked for the will of the committee. SENATOR PHILLIPS made a motion to move SCR 22 and zero fiscal note from committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, SCR 22 moved from committee.