Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205
03/03/2009 01:00 PM Senate TRANSPORTATION
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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SB 51-MOTOR VEHICLE WINDOW TINTING 1:28:53 PM CHAIR KOOKESH announced the consideration of SB 51 and asked for a motion to adopt the committee substitute (CS). 1:29:47 PM SENATOR DAVIS moved to adopt committee substitute (CS) for SB 51, labeled 26-LS0323\R, as the working document. There being no objection, version R was before the committee. SENATOR FRENCH, Sponsor of SB 51, said the CS contains the changes that Senator Davis requested. The first change on page 2, lines 4-5 clarifies that a person can install window tinting that varies from regulations outlined in the first part of the bill in certain instances. Currently there are exceptions for medical reasons in the window tinting regulations and this brings those into the statute. The second change found on page 2, lines 13-14, requires that the medical reasons are certified by a physician and provided to the installer at the time of installation. Grammatical changes were made on page 2, lines 6- 18, but none of those changed the substance of the legislation. 1:31:20 PM STEVE VINCENT, General Manager, Auto Trim Design, Fairbanks, noted that the medical exemption must be renewed every year, but there is no designation on a license plate that a person has a medical exemption so the driver can still get pulled over for supposedly having illegal tinting. He asked if there will be changes to the regulation. 1:32:05 PM ANDY MODEROW, Staff to Senator French, confirmed that this legislation does not change the current regulations that require the medical exemption to be recertified every year. He further confirmed that there is no designation on the license plate, but the current regulation and this legislation note that the certification should be carried within the vehicle. MR. VINCENT referenced Trooper Dial's testimony from last week and clarified that Alaska tint laws mirror the federal DOT allowable manufacturing compliance levels for automobiles. He brings that up because there aren't federal laws regarding window film. It's just window tint, he said. Refuting the statement that 90 percent of Canadian provinces have similar or more restrictive tint laws, he said all but two provinces do not allow tint on the driver or passenger windows, but the rest of the windows could be painted black. Furthermore he said he found that only five U.S. states have similar or more restrictive tint laws than the state of Alaska and 62 percent of the states allow medium tint on the front two windows. Finally, he doesn't agree with the statement that the general rule is that the hotter the climate the greater the window tint that's allowed. He believes that the general rule is that more window tint is allowed in places that have more sun. Alaska has more sun in the summer than any other state. He noted that he distributed the packets with tint samples to the committee members so they could compare the tint against their own vehicles. He agrees with Lieutenant Dial that you can't tell how dark window tint is from a photograph. MR. VINCENT said there is anecdotal information about problems with police officers approaching cars with dark tint, but he can't find anecdotal information about medium tint on vehicles causing problems for law enforcement. He said he continues to oppose SB 51 as currently written, but he would support an amended version to allow 35 percent window film on the front two windows of passenger vehicles. 1:37:07 PM BOB BOSWOOD, President and CEO, Auto Trend Design, Fairbanks, said he has 32 employees. He hopes everyone reviewed the information in the packets he distributed that proves that medium window tint film installed on vehicles provides visibility into and out of a vehicle at night and during the day. All the testimony by the troopers and the sponsor refers to dark window film. He agrees with the essence of the legislation, but as currently written it won't accomplish what it intends to do. "It will only serve to put legitimate tint installers out of business and thus increasing the sales of cash-in-fist non-tax- paying less-than-honest tint installers." The reality is that people will continue to have their windows tinted regardless of the regulations. If SB 51 were amended to mirror Washington laws it would give people the option of having their windows tinted by legitimate businesses that do not install dark films. It would also encourage others to quit installing dark films. That would accomplish the goals of the troopers and the sponsor. As currently written the legislation will be difficult to impossible to enforce. Passing SB 51 will affect his business bottom line in a catastrophic way. 1:40:48 PM RODNEY DIAL, Lieutenant, Department of Public Service (DPS), responded to the previous testimony. He clarified that when he spoke about the federal DOT law, he was talking about the regulation that specifies that light must be able to pass through the windshield and to the immediate right and left of the driver. That's the same as is required under current state law. He said that when he provided the statistics involving other states, he gave the disclaimer that those change on an annual basis. Next, he reminded the committee that a 35 percent film blocks 65 percent of the light. When applied on top of the factory tint, it blocks a significant amount of light and DPS refers to it as dark tinting. Finally, his experience with this infraction is that most drivers blame the installer. In 19 years he has never encountered anyone who has had a medical exemption for window tint and he can't recall anyone saying that they had the tint installed knowing that it was illegal. 1:42:36 PM SENATOR PASKVAN said he understands what he's saying about the cumulative effect and Mr. Boswood is saying that he agrees. However, he isn't saying that the 35 percent tint applied on top of a factory tint would be a dark tint. He noted that the sponsor statement also talks about dark tint that completely blocks an outside view. He said he's struggling as to why the medium tint wouldn't be satisfactory for public safety purposes. LIEUTENANT DIAL said his experience is that vehicles coming from the factory typically have windows that block between 25 percent and 30 percent of the light. When DPS talks about a 35 percent film, it would be applied to a window that already has some tint and it's that cumulative effect that DPS is concerned with. Our experience is that 35 percent tint on top of the factory tint makes for very dark windows, he said. 1:45:49 PM SENATOR PASKVAN said he understands that his Suburban can have dark tint in the back windows, but he doesn't believe the driver side, passenger side and front windows have any tint. He asked if he would have a problem if he wanted a medium tint on that glass. LIEUTENANT DIAL clarified that those windows do have factory tint that blocks approximately 30 percent of the light. Applying additional tint would have a cumulative effect. If you were to compare your car windows to your house windows you'd see the difference, he said. SENATOR PASKVAN said, assuming that's true, would that be a public safety problem. LIEUTENANT DIAL said yes; in low light situations even 35 percent film makes it very difficult for law enforcement to see inside a vehicle. It also makes it difficult for the driver to see out through the windows under low light conditions, particularly in areas that don't have street lights. DPS sees that the current law is working well and changing tint standards serves no purpose other than to create future problems. "If nothing else, we would certainly ask that the standards not be changed," he said. 1:48:26 PM MR. BOSWOOD said the samples he distributed showed a vehicle with 35 percent window tint applied on top of factory tint both at night from a trooper's point of view and during the day from a driver's point of view. He's driven cars with that level of tint for 20 years and he can see clearly at night and during the daytime. It allows good visibility and is allowed in some 30 other states. CHAIR KOOKESH closed public testimony and asked the will of the committee. SENATOR PASKVAN said he's somewhat troubled and isn't clear as to what he wants to do. He wants to advance public safety, but he doesn't want to be overly restrictive. SENATOR DAVIS noted that Mr. Boswood's testimony hadn't changed and asked Mr. Moderow if the sponsor took that under advisement when he had the CS prepared. MR. MODEROW explained that similar recommendations were brought forward last year. "It should be noted that on top of Lieutenant Dial's testimony, the Fairbanks police department last year opposed changing the tinting restrictions." The Anchorage police department also had hesitation about that, which is why there were no changes made to the CS, he said. SENATOR DAVIS noted that the bill has to go the judiciary committee. She believes the transportation committee gave the bill a good review but she is reticent. CHAIR KOOKESH asked the will of the committee. 1:52:56 PM SENATOR PASKVAN said he will probably recommend that the bill be amended. The testimony hasn't convinced him that [35 percent tint] blocks light to the point that he wholeheartedly agrees with Lieutenant Dial. CHAIR KOOKESH said he'd like to move the bill on to the judiciary committee. 1:53:34 PM SENATOR MEYER moved to report CS for SB 51, version R, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. There being no objection, CSSB 51(TRA) moved from the Senate Transportation Standing Committee.