Legislature(2001 - 2002)

02/14/2002 03:40 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                                                              
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                                                                      
        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.                                                                          

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