Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/08/1995 01:34 PM House FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                     HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                   
                        February 8, 1995                                       
                            1:30 P.M.                                          
  TAPE HFC 95-18, Side 1, #000 - end.                                          
  TAPE HFC 95-18, Side 2, #000 - 683.                                          
  CALL TO ORDER                                                                
  Co-Chair  Mark Hanley  called  the  House Finance  Committee                 
  meeting to order at 1:34 p.m.                                                
  Co-Chair Hanley               Representative Kohring                         
  Co-Chair Foster               Representative Martin                          
  Representative Mulder         Representative Navarre                         
  Representative Brown          Representative Parnell                         
  Representative Grussendorf    Representative Therriault                      
  Representative Kelly                                                         
  ALSO PRESENT                                                                 
  Jan  Rutherdale, Department  of Law;  George Bingham,  State                 
  Farm Insurance; Patty  Swenson, Staff, Representative Bunde;                 
  Geron  Bruce,  Legislative Liaison,  Department of  Fish and                 
  Game; Jack Chenoweth, Attorney, Legislative Legal Services.                  
  HB 9      An  Act  relating to  recovery  of damages  from a                 
            minor's  parent or legal guardian when property is                 
            destroyed by the minor.                                            
            HB 9 was HELD in Committee for further discussion.                 
  HB 58     An Act establishing  the Chickaloon Flats Critical                 
            Habitat Area.                                                      
            CSHB 58 (res) was reported out of Committee with a                 
            "do pass"  recommendation and  with a zero  fiscal                 
            note by  the Department  of Fish  and Game,  dated                 
  HOUSE BILL NO. 58                                                            
       "An  Act  establishing  the  Chickaloon Flats  Critical                 
       Habitat Area."                                                          
  PATTY  SWENSON,  STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE  BUNDE testified  in                 
  support  of  HB  58.   She  noted  that  the legislation  is                 
  accompanied by  a zero  fiscal note  from the  Department of                 
  Fish and  Game.  She explained that the  purpose of HB 58 is                 
  to  establish  the Chickaloon  Critical  Habitat Area.   She                 
  asserted  that the  designation will  protect the  waterfowl                 
  habitat in Cook Inlet.  She emphasized that, in the Fall, up                 
  to  25,000 birds use  this area daily.   She  added that the                 
  area is used by hunters who access the area by  float plane,                 
  boat and four wheel drive vehicles.                                          
  Ms. Swenson stressed  that "critical  habitat" is the  least                 
  restrictive of all land designations.   She stated that  the                 
  uses specified in  the legislation  are compatible and  will                 
  continue.  She noted  that there are  no oil and gas  leases                 
  presently in  the area.   She observed that  the legislation                 
  received  support  from  various  groups  during  the  House                 
  Resources Committee hearings.                                                
  In response  to a  question by  Representative Kohring,  Ms.                 
  Swenson noted that  the designation will be  permanent.  She                 
  reiterated that the area is heavily used by waterfowl.                       
  GAME  stressed the  importance  of the  area  as a  wildlife                 
  Representative Kohring noted that the area would remain open                 
  to  oil  and  gas  activity.    Mr. Bruce  stated  that  the                 
  designation would provide that the area is managed primarily                 
  to protect critical fish and  wildlife habitat.  Other  uses                 
  are  permitted  as  long  as  they  are  compatible  to  the                 
  protection  of the  habitat.   He noted that  pipelines runs                 
  through some  critical habitats.   He  stressed that  of 212                 
  applications  for special area permits in critical habitats,                 
  refuges  and sanctuaries  only  two were  denied.   The area                 
  would be open to multiple use with the caveat that the  uses                 
  be consistent with the protection of fish and wildlife.                      
  In response to a question by Representative Kelly, Mr. Bruce                 
  clarified that Department of Fish and Game's staff will make                 
  the determinations of  compatible use  in regards to  permit                 
  Representatives Kelly and Parnell expressed concern that the                 
  guiding  criteria  of  "compatible  use"  is open  to  broad                 
  interpretation.    Mr. Bruce  stressed  that it  is  not the                 
  intention  of   the  Department   to  prohibit   hunting  or                 
  harvesting of fish  and wildlife.   He pointed out that  the                 
  legislation  is  designed  to  provide   protection  to  the                 
  environment which  supports fish and wildlife population for                 
  use by citizens.                                                             
  In response to a question by Representative Grussendorf, Mr.                 
  Bruce emphasized that the Department  of Fish and Game works                 
  with applicants to  allow requested  activities in a  manner                 
  which will  not damage the habitat.  A permit is denied only                 
  if there is no  way to allow an  activity without damage  to                 
  the habitat.                                                                 
  Representative Brown asked how  the designation changes  the                 
  land management.  Mr. Bruce  reiterated that the designation                 
  makes the protection  of the fish  and wildlife habitat  the                 
  primary purpose for which the land is managed.                               
  Mr.  Bruce  further explained  that  oil and  gas activities                 
  would be permitted on a site  specific basis if the activity                 
  does  not   endanger  the   habitat's  ability  to   support                 
  waterfowl.  The area  has not been offered  for oil and  gas                 
  leases during the past five years.                                           
  Representative  Kelly   asked  if  the  area   is  currently                 
  threatened.  Ms. Swenson stated that  the impact due to high                 
  population  growth  in the  Anchorage  area is  the greatest                 
  concern.  Mr.  Bruce added  that concerned individual's  who                 
  use the  area want  to assure  that it  remains healthy  for                 
  future  generations of  Alaskans to  enjoy.   He noted  that                 
  Alaska's population grew  by 40  percent from  1979 -  1992.                 
  The  Department  of  Labor  projects  a further  40  percent                 
  increase in population over the next fifteen years.                          
  Representative Navarre MOVED to report  CSHB 58 (RES) out of                 
  Committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  with  the                 
  accompanying fiscal note.                                                    
  CSHB 58 (RES) was reported out of Committee with a "do pass"                 
  recommendation and with a zero fiscal note by the Department                 
  of Fish and Game, dated 2/3/95.                                              
  HOUSE BILL NO. 9                                                             
       "An Act relating to recovery of damages  from a minor's                 
       parent or legal guardian when  property is destroyed by                 
       the minor."                                                             
  Representative Therriault, the  sponsor of HB 9,  noted that                 
  the  legislation  updates  statutes  written  in 1957.    He                 
  explained  that the  legislation  is  intended to  encourage                 
  responsibility among  parents and juveniles  and to  provide                 
  recourse  for  victims   who  have   lost  property.     The                 
  legislation is based on the principal that  parents or legal                 
  guardians  of  juveniles   who  cause   damages  should   be                 
  monetarily responsible for the loss.                                         
  Representative Therriault recounted  instances of  vandalism                 
  in Fairbanks schools.   The  legislation would increase  the                 
  amount  a victim  may recover  from $2.0  to $10.0  thousand                 
  dollars.    The   legislation  also  includes  unintentional                 
  damages that may  be caused as  a result of the  intentional                 
  action.   He  added that  HB 9  allows part  or  all of  the                 
  individuals  permanent fund dividend to satisfy a judgement.                 
  Representative  Grussendorf  expressed  concern  that  $10.0                 
  thousand  dollars  may   be  a  little  on  the  high  side.                 
  Representative Therriault thought that the national  average                 
  that a victim may recover is between $10.0 to $15.0 thousand                 
  dollars.  He noted that revision  of Alaska statutes in 1967                 
  increased the recoverable  amount from $500 hundred  dollars                 
  to  $2.0 thousand  dollars.   He  emphasized  the effect  of                 
  Representative  Mulder spoke  in  support of  the  increased                 
  recovery amount.   He noted that  his vehicle was stolen  in                 
  the  past year by minors.   He recalled  that the damage was                 
  $13.0 to $14.0 thousand dollars.  He was limited to recovery                 
  of $2.0 thousand  dollars.  He  observed that the minor  was                 
  involved in other thefts after the incident.                                 
  In  response   to  a  question   by  Representative   Brown,                 
  Representative Therriault explained that a minor's and their                 
  parent's permanent fund  dividends could  be garnished.   He                 
  observed that the dollar amount in existing statute is being                 
  amended.   The mechanism  is not  being changed.   Permanent                 
  fund dividend checks could be garnished in consecutive years                 
  to pay the recovery judgement.   By statute victims would be                 
  allowed  up  to  $10.0  thousand  dollars in  recovery  upon                 
  judgement from the court.  A victim could petition the court                 
  for a higher settlement.                                                     
  Representative  Brown  asked  the  effect  of  changing  the                 
  language on page  1, lines  10 and 11  from "maliciously  or                 
  wilfully" to "as a result of  a knowing or intentional act".                 
  Representative Therriault used the example of an intentional                 
  act   of  vandalism   which   leaves   windows  broken   and                 
  subsequently all the pipes in the  house freeze.  The vandal                 
  would  be  responsible  for the  damage  resulting  from the                 
  frozen pipes.   He noted that all  the terms are  defined in                 
  criminal  law.  He noted that  "malicious" and "wilful" pre-                 
  date the 1978 criminal code revision.                                        
  Representative Parnell questioned if  the Committee wants to                 
  make  a  person  who  has  no  custody or  oversight  rights                 
  responsible   for   recovery.     Representative  Therriault                 
  stressed that he did  not intend to change current  statutes                 
  which  determine  who  costs  can be  recovered  from.    He                 
  observed that the State, as the  entity of custody, would be                 
  Representative Grussendorf  asked if  a joy  rider would  be                 
  responsible for damages incurred after a car that was  taken                 
  was discarded.                                                               
  JAN RUTHERDALE, DEPARTMENT OF LAW advised that the joy rider                 
  would be  responsible for  damage occurring  to the  vehicle                 
  before  it was returned to  its owner.   She noted that, but                 
  for the actions of  the joy rider, further damage  would not                 
  have happened.  She  emphasized that the victim needs  to be                 
  Representative Martin noted  the high rate of  separated and                 
  divorced families.  He expressed concern that responsibility                 
  be  pin pointed to the parent that  has custody of the minor                 
  at the time of the act.                                                      
  Representative Therriault  reiterated his desire to  see the                 
  issue of custody addressed in separate legislation.                          
  Representative  Brown   asked  if   the  court  would   have                 
  jurisdiction  to  determine  what  is  the most  appropriate                 
  recovery under  the circumstances.  Ms.  Rutherdale observed                 
  that "or person having legal custody"  is not meant to limit                 
  the  phrase "parents".  Discussion ensued  in regards to the                 
  courts  ability  to determine  who  recovery will  be judged                 
  Representative  Parnell expressed  support for  an amendment                 
  which  would  allow the  court  to determine  who  should be                 
  responsible for  any given  point in  time.   Representative                 
  Brown noted that a child could be visiting a parent who does                 
  not  have  legal custody  when the  act  occurs.   The legal                 
  guardian  or  parent  may  not  have  any  control over  the                 
  Ms. Rutherdale noted that the  victim can seek recovery from                 
  either or both  parents or  person(s) having legal  custody.                 
  The court cannot determine who should provide recovery.                      
  (Tape Change, HFC 95-18, Side 2)                                             
  GEORGE  BINGHAM,  STATE  FARM  INSURANCE  thought  that  the                 
  court's decision includes the determination  of who will pay                 
  recovery.    He  did  not  know  the  percentage  of  claims                 
  involving  minors  pursued  by   the  State  Farm  Insurance                 
  Company.  He stressed the effort involved  in collection for                 
  $2.0 thousand dollars.                                                       
  Representative Brown noted that $10.0 thousand dollars could                 
  be a hardship  on poor families.   Representative Therriault                 
  stressed the hardship placed on the victim.                                  
  Co-Chair Hanley  observed that  the amount  of recovery  was                 
  raised in 1967 to $2.0 thousand dollars.  He accentuated the                 
  impact of  $2.0 thousand  dollars in  1967.   He noted  that                 
  recovery is being expanded to include  "as a result of".  In                 
  addition,   statutes   governing  permanent   fund  dividend                 
  attachments are being  revised to allow satisfaction  of the                 
  clarified that the determination of who will be recovered is                 
  independent of the amount recovered.  He explained that  the                 
  plaintiff  may  bring  action  against the  minor's  father,                 
  mother or  both.  Suit can also be brought against the legal                 
  guardian or person  having legal  custody.  If  the suit  is                 
  brought  against  both  parents  and  recovery  awarded  the                 
  plaintiff may seek redress from either or both  to pay up to                 
  the ceiling established in statute  through joint or several                 
  Mr. Chenoweth thought that the minor could be sued directly.                 
  In lieu or in addition to suing  the minor the damaged party                 
  can look  to the minor's  parents, legal guardian  or person                 
  having legal custody.                                                        
  Representative Navarre noted  that the  judge does not  have                 
  discretion to  limit who  the suit  can be brought  against.                 
  Mr.  Chenoweth stated  that  the  plaintiff  determines  the                 
  identity of the defendant.   If the defendant does  not have                 
  legal custody then the parent having legal custody could  be                 
  pled into the suit.                                                          
  Representative Martin noted that most  parents would have an                 
  insurance policy.                                                            
  Representative  Foster recognized the  high number  of rural                 
  children who  are being  cared for  by relatives  other than                 
  their parents.                                                               
  Representative Brown  observed  that  "person  having  legal                 
  custody" stands alone,  as an independent source  from which                 
  recovery could take  place.  She  added that "custody"  does                 
  not  modify  "parent".    Mr.   Chenoweth  agreed  with  her                 
  observation.  Co-Chair  Hanley noted that a  plaintiff could                 
  seek  redress from both parents  and the person having legal                 
  Mr.  Chenoweth  clarified that  if  formal adoption  has not                 
  taken place the relative taking care  of the minor cannot be                 
  recovered against.                                                           
  Representative Therriault  emphasized that  the decision  to                 
  birth a child brings responsibilities.                                       
  Co-Chair Hanley  acknowledged concern  by committee  members                 
  that the person or  persons who has legal custody  should be                 
  the  responsible party.    Representative Martin  reiterated                 
  that the minor may commit the action while under supervision                 
  of a parent having visitation rights.   He stressed that the                 
  person(s) having responsibility  of the minor "at  the time"                 
  of the act should be responsible.                                            
  Co-Chair  Hanley reiterated  concerns detailed  by committee                 
  members.   Mr. Chenoweth  noted  that some  of the  members'                 
  concerns could be addressed through an amendment setting out                 
  responsibility  in  regards   to  custody.    Representative                 
  Therriault reiterated  his  desire to  address the  member's                 
  concerns in separate legislation.  He emphasized that  he is                 
  attempting to raise the recovery  ceiling not the mechanism.                 
  He  stressed  the  complexity   of  statutes  governing  the                 
  mechanism of recovery.   Representative Martin  stressed the                 
  need to reflect current societal needs in statute.                           
  Representative Brown asked what is involved  in establishing                 
  paternity.    Mr.  Chenoweth  observed   that  there  is  no                 
  technical definition of "parent."   The biological father of                 
  a child  could be included in a suit if their parenthood was                 
  established in a paternity proceeding.                                       
  Representative Kelly MOVED to refer HB 9 to a subcommittee.                  
  Representative   Navarre   asked   if   recovery  could   be                 
  prioritized.  Mr.  Chenoweth agreed  that recovery could  be                 
  prioritized.  He restated that a parent whose child had been                 
  adopted would not be responsible for recovery.  The adoptive                 
  parent would  be substituted  for the  biological parent  in                 
  terms of any legal action.                                                   
  Representative Therriault restated that his intent to change                 
  the  dollar   amount  associated  with   recovery,  not  the                 
  mechanism  involved.    Representative  Therriault MOVED  to                 
  report  CSHB  9  (JUD)  out  of  Committee  with  individual                 
  recommendations and with the accompanying fiscal notes.                      
  Representative Kelly WITHDREW his motion to refer HB  9 into                 
  a subcommittee.                                                              
  Representative Brown OBJECTED  to the motion to  move CSHB 9                 
  (JUD) from  Committee.   She  stressed  that the  issues  of                 
  responsibility  rises  to  a  level  of  debate  due  to the                 
  increased dollar amount and ability to attach permanent fund                 
  dividend checks.   She suggested that  the bill be held  for                 
  further consideration.  Co-Chair  Foster agreed that changes                 
  in society warrant changes in statutes.                                      
  Representative Therriault WITHDREW his motion to move CSHB 9                 
  (JUD) from Committee.  Co-Chair Hanley noted that HB 9 would                 
  be rescheduled for Friday, February 17, 1995.                                
  HB 9 was HELD in Committee for further discussion.                           
  The meeting adjourned at 3:00 p.m.                                           

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