Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/01/1998 01:06 PM House JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE April 1, 1998 1:06 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Joe Green, Chairman Representative Con Bunde, Vice Chairman Representative Brian Porter Representative Norman Rokeberg Representative Jeannette James Representative Eric Croft Representative Ethan Berkowitz MEMBERS ABSENT All members present COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE BILL NO. 203 "An Act relating to actions for unlawful trade practices." - HEARD AND HELD HOUSE BILL NO. 383 "An Act relating to expected deaths that occur at home or in a health care facility." - MOVED CSHB 383(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL NO. 406 "An Act relating to subsistence uses of fish and game." - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD HOUSE BILL NO. 344 "An Act relating to paternity establishment and child support; relating to the crimes of criminal nonsupport and aiding the nonpayment of child support; and amending Rule 37(b)(2)(D), Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure; and providing for an effective date." - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD (* First public hearing) PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 203 SHORT TITLE: ACTIONS FOR UNLAWFUL TRADE PRACTICES SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVES(S) DYSON Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 3/18/97 738 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 3/18/97 738 (H) L&C, JUDICIARY 4/23/97 (H) L&C AT 3:15 PM CAPITOL 17 4/23/97 (H) MINUTE(L&C) 5/05/97 (H) L&C AT 3:15 PM CAPITOL 17 5/05/97 (H) MINUTE(L&C) 5/06/97 1547 (H) L&C RPT CS(L&C) 3DP 2NR 5/06/97 1548 (H) DP: COWDERY, SANDERS, HUDSON 5/06/97 1548 (H) NR: ROKEBERG, BRICE 5/06/97 1548 (H) ZERO FISCAL NOTE (LAW) 5/06/97 1548 (H) REFERRED TO JUDICIARY 1/30/98 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120 1/30/98 (H) MINUTE(JUD) 2/09/98 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120 2/09/98 (H) MINUTE(JUD) BILL: HB 383 SHORT TITLE: EXPECTED DEATHS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVES(S) DAVIS Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 2/06/98 2239 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 2/06/98 2239 (H) L&C, JUDICIARY 2/25/98 (H) L&C AT 3:15 PM CAPITOL 17 2/25/98 (H) MINUTE(L&C) 2/27/98 2453 (H) L&C RPT 5DP 1NR 2/27/98 2453 (H) DP: KUBINA, RYAN, HUDSON, ROKEBERG, 2/27/98 2453 (H) SANDERS; NR: COWDERY 2/27/98 2453 (H) ZERO FISCAL NOTE (H.L&C/DHSS) 4/01/98 (H) JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120 WITNESS REGISTER PATRICK HARMAN, Legislative Assistant to Representative Fred Dyson Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 428 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-2195 POSITION STATEMENT: Presented HB 203. REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 428 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-2195 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 203. PAM LaBOLLE, President Alaska State Chamber of Commerce 217 Second Street, Suite 201 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 586-1254 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 203. KEVIN JARDELL, Legislative Administrative Assistant to Representative Joe Green Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 118 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-4990 POSITION STATEMENT: As committee aide, discussed conceptual amendment to CSHB 203(L&C). REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 513 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-2693 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 383. MICHAEL PROPST, Medical Examiner Division of Public health Department of Health and Social Services 5700 East Tudor Road Anchorage, Alaska 99508 Telephone: (907) 269-5090 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 383. CHRIS STOCKARD, Captain Department of Public Safety 450 Whittier Street Juneau, Alaska 99802 Telephone: (907) 465-4306 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 383. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 98-52, SIDE A Number 0001 CHAIRMAN JOE GREEN called the House Judiciary Standing Committee meeting to order at 1:06 p.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Green, Porter, Croft and Berkowitz. Representatives Bunde, Rokeberg and James arrived at 1:25 p.m., 1:28 p.m. and 1:08 p.m., respectively. HB 203 - ACTIONS FOR UNLAWFUL TRADE PRACTICES Number 0050 CHAIRMAN GREEN announced the first order of business would be HB 203, "An Act relating to actions for unlawful trade practices," sponsored by Representative Dyson. PATRICK HARMAN, Legislative Assistant to Representative Fred Dyson, Alaska State Legislature, came before the committee. He stated that the last time the legislation was heard there were several concerns expressed. He stated that some amendments have been drafted for the committee to consider. Mr. Harman referred to Amendment P.3 and said it defines the word "frivolous." It allows the defendant to recover attorney fees if the matter before the court is deemed frivolous. The amendment read as follows: Page 2, following line 31: Insert a new subsection to read: "(d) In this section, "frivolous" means (1) not reasonably based on evidence or on existing law or a reasonable extension, modification, or reversal of existing law; and (2) brought to harass the defendant or to cause unnecessary delay or needless expense." Number 0339 REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CROFT moved that Amendment 1 be adopted. He explained that the definition comes of Rule 11 in case law, both federal and state. It's pretty straight forward, he stated. REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER objected. REPRESENTATIVE ETHAN BERKOWITZ it merely restates what the existing law is. Number 0390 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked if (1) and (2) must both occur or should the "and" be an "or". REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said he would look up the law. He suggested the committee consider the other amendments. He then withdrew the Amendment 1. Number 0500 CHAIRMAN GREEN stated the committee would address Amendment 2, P.6, which follows: Page 2, following line 16: Insert a new section to read: "Sec. 45.50.536. Mediation. Notwithstanding the other provisions of AS 45.50.471 - 45.50.561, a civil action under AS 45.50.531 or 45.50.535 may be submitted to mediation under the Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure. The mediation must begin within 30 days after the court's order for mediation. During mediation, the court may, if it is determined appropriate by the court, enjoin the defendant from engaging in the act or practice that is the subject of the civil action." Page 3, following line 1: Insert a new bill section to read: "*Sec. 5. AS 45.50.536 enacted by sec. 3 of this Act only applies to causes of action that accrue on or after the effective date of this Act." MR. HARMAN explained the amendment would bring mediation in bringing a matter to the court's attention. He said they first attempted to have mandatory mediation, but that would involve a court rule change. He said it was rewritten so that the court may order mediation in these matters. Mr. Harman said as was pointed out in the last hearing, many cases that may be brought to court are basically misunderstands that could be resolved by mediation. This amendment would bring the mediation option into the dispute resolution. Number 0600 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER referred to reading Rule 100 and said he believes it is something that the court can currently do. He stated he doesn't know what the effect of the amendment would be. CHAIRMAN GREEN said it codifies it and then as we move down this track, perhaps we can get some support in the future for it being mandatory. While this is not mandatory, he believes that in courts throughout the country this seems to be a method that seems to work. He stated he has been told that we don't use it to a significant degree in Alaska. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked who was the source of the language in Amendment 2. MR. HARMAN responded that it was prepared by Terry Banister, but he doesn't know the source of the language. Number 0671 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said it adds a couple of concepts that aren't in Rule 100, maybe arguably under Civil Rule 100 general mediation. It sets up a time limit as to when it must begin. He said they thought that was appropriate because in this situation there is the possibility of a violation of the consumer protection rules. He said, "If you're doing that, you really ought to get this thing resolved pretty soon. You're stopping one or the other party from doing something they had a right to do before. So it's under the general ideas of Rule 11 , but it sets a time limit on it and it makes it clear that there is the injunction power still." REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ referred to the 30 days for beginning and asked if that essentially means to begin calendaring mediation or does it mean that actual formal mediation begins. He stated that there might be circumstances where someone says, "I can't do this within the next 30 days, I'm out of town, I've got an operation going, the mediators are booked up, conflict of schedules." REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said he would think the mediation has begun if you've started calendaring it. The court could work around that understanding. He said he does think it's appropriate to include some sort of encouragement to get it going. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ stated that clarifies it. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there was an objection to Amendment 2. There being none, Amendment 2 was adopted. Number 0832 CHAIRMAN GREEN indicated the committee would address Amendment 3, P.5, Bannister, which follows: Page 2, following line 2 Insert a new bill section to read: *Sec. 3 AS 45.50.531 is amended by adding new subsections to read: (i) If a person receives an award under (a) of this section, the court shall direct that the amount of the award that exceeds actual damages be deposited into the general fund of the state. This subsection does not grant the state the right to file or join a civil action to recover punitive damages. (j) The commissioner of administration shall separately account for money received under (i) of this section that is deposited in the general funds. The annual estimated balance in the account may be appropriated by the legislature for the expenses of the fair business practices section of the Department of Law. MR. HARMAN explained that the amendment is an attempt to restate tort reform. He said that we don't want to have a situation where people are seeking punitive damages to profit from. The amendment diverts a portion of punitive damages to the general fund. He said we want to stay focused on solving the problem and not creating unnecessary lawsuits where people are trying to profit if the driving force is to collect damages if they exist and not to profit from punitive damages. Number 0875 REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON interjected that he believes it reflects the standards set forth in the tort reform bill that was passed last year. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said one of the concerns he has is it seems to him that some of the consumer protection actions might be for relatively small amounts of money in which case the expenses and pursuing an action could exceed the reward. The punitive damage might help compensate for the costs of the action. He said that is one problem he sees with putting all the punitives over to the state. There is also the problem that if an attorney does this on a contingency basis, how would you do the math? Oftentimes, the only way an attorney would take a case like this is to do it on a contingency basis especially if the amounts involved were small. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he would move Amendment 3 so it would be before the committee. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER objected. He stated that to the point of the cost might exceed the recovery, he thinks that under the other sections of the bill that if it's not found to be frivolous the prevailing party gets their costs. Representative Porter said he doesn't that you would be awarded punitive damages unless you prevailed and he doesn't think that if you prevailed, you would have presented a frivolous lawsuit. Consequently, your costs are covered by other sections of the bill. The award is never going to be eaten up by costs in the area of punitive damages. Number 0990 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked Representative Porter if in the tort reform legislation didn't have half of the punitive damages going to the state and half going to the plaintiff. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER responded that 50 percent went to the state and the deduction for contingent fees was taken from that amount before the allocation. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said believes that there was a miscommunication with the drafter of the amendment. He stated that the intention was that half of the amount would go to the general fund and half would go the plaintiff. If that is case, on line 5 it should read, "The court shall direct that one-half the amount of the award exceeds the damage deposit to the state or 50 percent." Number 1090 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT explained that it isn't the intent of the bill to make anybody rich. He said, "It's simply to allow those cases that cannot now be filed - and not enough of them are covered by the attorney generals office to be filed. The reason I think it's drafted this way is because there is a treble damage provision in here. So you could say half, as tort reform did, but gets you in the odd case, I think, of treble damages and you in effect getting one and a half. And at some level in the discussion it just became cleaner to say you get your actual damages, you get attorneys fees to allow you to bring the action, but you don't get to keep a bonus reward, that goes to the state." He stated it is more restrictive than tort reform as tort reform would do half, but because it's a treble damage thing it didn't make any sense to triple it and then have it. If you win, you get your attorney fees and nothing extra. It takes even more of the additional and gives it to the state. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ referred to subsection (i) and said it doesn't grant the state the right to file, but it doesn't deprive the state of the right. The state can file an action, the state can pursue it. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER explained that the normal inclusion of that language is so that it won't provide an opportunity for the state to become a party to try collect their 50 percent of the punitive damage. That is the only exclusion it is referencing. Number 1227 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said it isn't meant to impinge any other right except to say that just because you have a potential interest in half this judgement doesn't mean you can get involved. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ withdrew his objection to the adoption of Amendment 3. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there were further objections. REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG objected. He said that some language was removed from the bill in the Labor and Commerce Committee that had to do with attorney fees. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT stated, "We added some language on page 2, line 27, about the competitive business advantage, and that was the Labor and Commerce addition and it remains." REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG removed his objection to the adoption of Amendment 3. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there were further objections to Amendment 3. There being none, Amendment 3 was adopted. Number 1412 CHAIRMAN GREEN announced the committee would address Amendment 1. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT moved that Amendment 1 be adopted. AN UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER objected. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said he would move to amend Amendment 1 to delete "and" and insert "or" on line 5. He stated he took it from Rule 11 which does say "and", but what they say is you shall certify that this true and that is true. What it really means is if either one is not the case, you're in trouble because you have to certify both. He said the transcription was correct, but by moving it from one context to another it should be "or". CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there was a further objection to Amendment 1. There being none, Amendment 1 was adopted. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG referred to adopting Amendment 1 and said to his knowledge, for the first time of the history of the state it codifies a frivolous lawsuit outside of the court rules. He said other than the court rules, there has been no definition of a frivolous or vexatious lawsuit in the state of Alaska. Number 1466 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said he understands the motivation of the bill and he applauds it as he thinks there is a void that needs to be filled. He then pointed out that he has concerns about the method of filling the void. He said, "In the debate on this bill and some others that I've heard on the same subject it frequently comes back to a discussion of telecommunications fraud, and I think we should attack telecommunications fraud with riffle and not a shotgun. And that's what I think this kind of represents. I am uncomfortable with the fact that it provides, to my knowledge, perhaps the only definition of 'frivolous,' but it also -- the only allowance for someone with no standing to bring a lawsuit. I don't think that there is any other provision in law that allows that to happen. That, Mr. Chairman, is so available for abuse especially with the consideration that we're going past Rule 52 in the allocation of attorneys fees, and this person that brings this suit doesn't have to pay the prevailing party's or any portion of the prevailing party's attorney fees and costs unless the very high standard of that suit having been frivolous is met. I appreciate the accommodation of that definition, but still reasonably high standards." He said for those reasons he can't support the bill but he supports the idea. Number 1560 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON informed the committee that since the last hearing on the bill, he attended a public hearing at the Chugach Senior Center. There was an immense amount of interest. There is a telephone scam that is going on which was discussed. Representative Dyson said people were calling and saying, "You can get a free eye exam and glasses for $59." When people went there to get it, as soon as the exam was done they were told, "your particular eye condition is not covered here, but for $79 or your particular eye condition that the exam shows doesn't qualify you for the eye ware. But for another $79 - no $150, we'll fix you up with the eye glasses." Then when you tell them, "No, I can't afford that," then they say, "okay, the exam is $79." One of the two reasons that we have chosen to allow a person who has not been injured there, in order to file suit under existing state law you have to have been taken by that. If you say, "This is a scam," and walk out of the door and don't pay them and are, therefore, uninjured unless you argue for the loss of your time, you don't have standing. This allows someone who saw the scam and didn't get taken in to do it. Number 1650 CHAIRMAN GREEN said, "There was some concern expressed that maybe Amendment 2 - we didn't have it on record as having been moved even though we've adopted it. So I would, for the record, say again move Amendment 2. And seeing no objection, it's adopted." Number 1650 PAM LaBOLLE, President, Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, came before the committee to testify on HB 203. She said she the chamber's problem is there doesn't have to be any wrong done to you to be able to bring a lawsuit. If you happen to be misled in your thinking that it was a wrong done to anybody, then you don't have to pay attorney fees as long as it wasn't deemed to be frivolous. Ms. LaBolle said nobody wants a business to get or have a bad name or to be able to take people unfairly. She said their problem is that if you have a "mom and pop" grocer and some says that their scales are tipped or whatever and brings a suit against them. Then the grocer is found to be innocent, they will still have all the costs of their lawsuit and there could a any number of underlying reasons that nobody ever finds out. The bottom line is that the small business is left with attorneys fees that might be their retirement. She said, "If the court rules on attorney fees are good in all other cases, then why should this be an exception? Why should it be more just to do it in this case and to not -- for somebody to be able to come in, not be affected personally, come in and file a suit, it costs somebody else money and walk away? We don't understand that, that's our problem." Number 1825 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ stated that he reads the bill entirely different. He pointed out that in Section 3, subsection (b), you have to first provide written notice that you see an unlawful act. Failure to correct the unlawful act at that time can lead to an action. Representative Berkowitz said the perspective that everyone has had with the bill is that it is a question of a consumer going against a seller. With this provision, it allows a competitor to complain about an unfair trade practice. He referred to the mom and pop grocery that might be victimized by an unfair suit could equally bring some kind of action against the huge grocery chain that's moving in and engaging in unfair practices. He said it seems to him that there is an opportunity for Alaskan small businesses to level the playing field to make sure that when they engage in business that they're engaged in a fair business field. MS. LaBOLLE said she understands when there is a wrong, we need to try and correct it. She said, "If you don't have the courage of your convictions to try to stop something that you're willing to put your money where you're mouth is, so to speak, then how committed are you to the fact that you're trying to right a wrong?" Number 1925 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked Ms. LaBolle to respond to the second part of his question regarding the bill enabling the smaller competitors to level the playing field. MS. LaBOLLE responded, "I would say that small competitors - if they believe that they are being wronged should be willing to put their money up to take it to court. If they believe they're wrong and take it on in court, let the judicial system decide and then pay the attorney fees if they were wrong." REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said, "You own this mom and pop grocery store, someone says your scales are slighted. You say, 'No they're not.' They bring you to court. If you're scales are off then you're doing something unfair in which case the award of attorneys fees against you is - you would agree appropriate. And if your scales are not off, this is a frivolous lawsuit because there is no - I believe the amendment we adopted, it's not reasonably based on evidence. So the backstop is there to prevent unfair accusations." MS. LaBOLLE asked, "How much more involved then is the lawsuit that you then have to carry this on that much further to have the big debate over evidence, frivolous and all those things?" REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said he would let the sponsor answer the question. Number 2013 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said the purpose of both the warning and the mediation provision was to get enough notice up-front so that you would have the basic underlying facts. He said "If you continue to bring a suit when it's not based on any underlying fact as the definition clarifies, it's frivolous. But I think it does come down to a policy decision on whether it's appropriate for individuals to enforce these rights or solely rely on the state to do through state attorneys. This is not a unique system or provision. In particular, the Civil Rights Act modeled on it because they just knew there was not going to be enough attorneys' general in the nation to enforce this law, and they put in this very simple kind of system that private individuals could do and the way that was affected was an attorneys fee shifting provision like this. We can either fund a large state bureaucracy to do this. We can fail to fund it and have it not done or we can empower people to do it on their own. And we've tried to put very careful sideboards on it so that things that go outside of the norm are penalized. But it simply impossible for a person defrauded for a small amount and if help from the state attorney general is not forthcoming for them to pursue a lawsuit, they can be clearly right and have it not be cost effective to bring the suit. We wanted to have the decision made is there merit to this suit or not. If there is merit and you win, you get your attorney's fees. If there is so little merit it's frivolous, you may be in very deep trouble." Representative Croft said it comes down to a philosophical idea of where this should be done, from the state level or trying to empower people to enforce these laws themselves. Number 2120 MS. LaBOLLE asked if it is Rule 82 that says that the plaintiff -- the prevailing party pays the attorney fees of the other. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT clarified pays a portion of the fees and it is usually a pretty small portion. MS. LaBOLLE said if the philosophy of Rule 82 is good for everything else, why should we make an exception. She said that there is a concern that exceptions are being made to laws. Groups come up against businesses all the time and they don't pay a 'lick' of the costs. This is just one more potential for that to happen. CHAIRMAN GREEN stated that he has been advised that there are a couple of exceptions of Rule 82. Suites regarding workers comp or suits based on violent crime doesn't fit into this. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said there are those complaints that aren't followed up on. There is one and a half attorneys pursuing these matters and they have to prioritize them. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said there is an agenda of cutting the state budget which has led to a reduction in the attorney generals available to pursue these types of actions. As a consequence, we have to develop an alternative and the bill is an alternative. He said if you want to increase the state budget and if the chamber wants to go on the record as putting more money into the attorney generals office, he is sure they would be happy to get the support. MS. LaBOLLE said what that comes down to is business pays for it one way or the other. Business is what is providing the taxes that is keeping the state running and business will pay the cost of the legislation if it becomes law. Number 2280 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER pointed out that the problem he has is he looks at how it can be abused and not how it can work. He referred to the warning and said if a business person doesn't believe that they have committed a violation, a warning won't be helpful. Representative Porter referred to the example of the scales and said he totally disagrees with the assertion that the definition of frivolous lawsuits would preclude the awarding of that case or the attorney fees. Evidence is a matter of weight and not a matter of it is or it isn't. If the plaintiff took the product that was weighed on the scale home and weighed it on their bathroom scales and found it was off, he is sure that would be a reasonable evidence basis, but then in trial when that particular scale was measured and it was found out that the bathroom scale was off, it wouldn't be frivolous, but it would be stupid. You would have just cost a business a whole lot of money. TAPE 98-52, SIDE B Number 0006 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES asked to hear the argument again as to why anybody can file this claim without having been damaged, and without being the injured party. She likes "that you have to go tell them," which she believes is a good idea. She also thinks the mediation, which is a "may," is a good idea. However, she shares some of the concerns mentioned by Representative Porter and Ms. LaBolle. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES noted that they are talking about small amounts. She suggested the $79 mentioned by Representative Dyson is a good example; it may be a lot of money for someone on Social Security or a fixed income, and it is certainly cruel and unforgivable. However, she said, if she had been damaged that amount, she would walk out, not pay, and challenge them to try to collect it from her. She suggested that the presumption throughout government that we have to protect everyone from themselves and from others creates a dependency by the public, and people don't believe they have to take care of themselves. She cited some examples from her own experience. Number 0121 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON responded that most of the pressure for this has been from senior citizens, and every senior citizen group he knows of in Alaska has been very enthusiastic about this. He said that someone who had walked out of the optometrist's office and refused to pay would not have standing under state law to help prevent this from happening to others. To go to court, that person would have to buy into the scam and pay in order to demonstrate damage. Representative Dyson pointed out this also provides the ability to get an injunction; that wasn't available before. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON next referred to Ms. LaBolle's comments and said he shares the concerns of all businesses, especially small ones, about actions against them. He suggested it would have a positive effect for legitimate Alaskan businesses, because when scam artists come here from elsewhere, including by phone, there will be people empowered to stop the illegitimate ones. He believes Alaskan businesses will prosper as the flimflam artists are enjoined, stopped and penalized. Number 0215 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked whether either sponsor had looked at "plugging the hole" of requiring the completion of the fraudulent transaction. He suggested it would be just as valid to say that a person who went all the way through the procedure with the eyeglasses, as described, but then didn't pay and said it is a scam, should be entitled to bring an action for that fraudulent attempt. Representative Porter added, "I don't know what would preclude it, an amendment to the law that would allow that to be a fraudulent practice without the culmination of the payment." Number 0245 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT replied that they had been trying to meet two concerns. Daveed Schwartz had told them he doesn't believe someone who had walked out without paying could bring suit under current law. In addition, there are people who have been defrauded and need a representative. An example is an aged grandmother on whose behalf one wishes to bring suit. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT suggested if the phrase "any person " is worrisome to the committee, they could close just the most basic loophole of having to be defrauded. He referred to page 2, lines 5 and 6, and proposed having two tiers. To get actual damages, one has to have lost money. To sue to stop someone, though, even after refusing to be conned, he suggested substituting for "any person" the phrase, "a person who was the intended victim of an act prohibited by 45.50.471 through .561, whether he or she suffered actual damage or not, may bring an action ...." He noted that those are the consumer protection statutes referred to by Daveed Schwartz. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked whether that would delete (c). REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said it would have to. Number 0360 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES again used the $79 example, where the person hasn't paid. She stated her understanding that after filing a case, the person could stop the perpetrator and then get costs back, plus damages, although there wouldn't be any in that case. Any penalties would go to the state. She said, "So, the only incentive that they would have to do this would be to get their fees, in case they happen to already be an attorney and could carry their own case, or that they would stop them, and that they're altruistic, because they can't get anything for it but they're going to stop them. And so I find, in this busy lifetime, not very many people willing to do that, unless there is some benefit for them. And I don't see any in here." CHAIRMAN GREEN said the motive is a different issue. Number 0410 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT agreed there would be no benefit to an individual, but with the bill there would be no bar. A person could do it on the merits, for the right reasons, without being penalized. Number 0432 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT made a motion to adopt Amendment 4, "that we take the language I described and that I've written down here in the place of 'any person' on page 2, line 5 and 6, and that we delete section (c), which is on page 2, lines 15 and 16, as basically superfluous with that." Number 0460 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG objected for discussion purposes. He said he agrees with the direction of the amendment but wants to know whether the standing is only related to this particular section, .535, which is private injunctive relief. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said yes. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG explained that he doesn't entirely agree with earlier objections about that, because it is only for injunctive relief, not for a cause of action for damages without having standing. Furthermore, a person requesting injunctive relief would have to prove it. He said he likes the amendment. Number 0506 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ objected to the wording of the proposed amendment. He pointed out that "intended victim" goes to the intent of the perpetrator, rather than the effect on the victim. He stated, "Looking at it this way, I have to show that someone intended me, personally, to be the victim, rather than me being a victim. And so, for example, if there's an ad placed, and I see an ad, and it's not something that targets me, I have no right to bring action. Or if I'm another business who is lawfully engaged in my business and competing fairly, ... I'm not the intended victim." REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ offered a friendly amendment "something along the line of someone who is victimized by this action, which puts the power in the hands of the person who suffers or who could suffer, rather than allowing the course of action to be dictated by the wrongdoer." Number 0560 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked how that would differ, if he were a sham artist presenting it to an audience; he asked whether that audience wouldn't be the intended victims. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ pointed out that a person could claim to be the intended victim, but that the perpetrator could claim otherwise, saying the target was someone else. It would require the victim to prove it. Number 0582 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said he would accept a friendly amendment to cross out "intended" from the amendment. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ responded that he would remove any objection if the friendly amendment is accepted. Number 0618 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG spoke to the amendment to the amendment. He stated, "Under .531, on the front page here, in Section 2, you have the victim, right? ... You have actual standing to bring the injunctive relief if you have had damages. So, what here we're talking about it somebody that doesn't have standing under .531, right?" REPRESENTATIVE CROFT agreed, adding that AS 45.50.531 says, "an ascertainable loss of money or property." REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said, "So, we're looking for something other than that here." REPRESENTATIVE CROFT agreed, adding that it would be a victim without damages. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER noted that in this context, it applies whether a person has or hasn't had damages. Number 0666 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether there was further discussion of the amendment to the amendment. He then asked whether there was any objection. Hearing none, he announced that "intended" had been dropped. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked that proposed Amendment 4 be restated. Number 0689 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT stated, "On page 2, lines 5 and 6, delete 'any person' and insert in its place, 'a person who was the victim of an act prohibited by 45.50.471 - .561, whether he or she suffered actual damage or not,' and then in addition delete page 2, lines 15 and 16, as superfluous." CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether there was further discussion of Amendment 4 or any objection. Number 0720 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG objected, saying it was just for a moment. He stated his understanding that under .531, there is a victim with damages, whereas there is a victim without damages under the pending amendment. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT concurred. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER commented that it wasn't because the defendant wasn't trying. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said he is thinking there are two different categories of victims here. CHAIRMAN GREEN added, "Under the same actions." REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG specified that his concern is about whether the words say that, not about the thrust of the amendment. CHAIRMAN GREEN suggested it just says a victim that didn't suffer damages, but it would be under the same action that could have caused damages to a victim. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said he would prefer to see some qualifier, suggesting it isn't a "100 percent victim." Number 0771 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER proposed an analogy of robbery and attempted robbery. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said he agrees but is asking whether they are saying that by this amendment. CHAIRMAN GREEN replied, "I think so." Number 0781 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG withdrew his objection. Number 0792 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether there was further objection to Amendment 4 [as amended]. Hearing none, he announced that Amendment 4 was adopted. Number 0797 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE directed his comments to Ms. LaBolle, saying he certainly doesn't admire scam artists, and he assumes the chamber doesn't either. MS. LaBOLLE affirmed that. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE noted that comments were made earlier, however, that this may be a problem because of lack of consumer protection attorneys in the state. He said, "I think the chamber, along with the majority of the citizens in the state, have asked that we reduce the size of state government. And short of providing a babysitter for every senior citizen in Alaska, would it be fair to say that most victims can't be victimized without some degree of their own cooperation? If you think it's too good to be true, in other words ...." MS. LaBOLLE acknowledged that adage and mentioned senior citizens and the concern of protecting people who can't protect themselves. She said she believes that is why there is a judicial system, to sort all that out. She then stated, "I wish we could afford a whole flock of attorneys to take care of the people who need defense, or perhaps the attorneys could start a foundation where they pay their own ... attorneys fees or something. But the point is that we just can't have it be at the cost - at the unfair cost - to one group, in which this case it would be business people who were innocent and ended up having to have a cost weighed against them because they were charged. And you're supposed to be, you know, innocent until proven guilty; they are, and they're still going to pay. ... That's what our problem is with it. It's just that policy position, as Representative Croft said." Number 0923 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG noted that the original bill draft had a provision for costs and attorney fees to be awarded to the prevailing plaintiff, and only to the defendant if there was a frivolous lawsuit. He asked Representative Croft to correct him if he misstated it, then added that there were either court rule or full fees. He indicated this section had been changed after review by the House Labor and Commerce Committee. It was an endeavor to keep the balance. The rationale about deviating from Rule 82 was that many of these actions would be for relatively small amounts of money. Under Rule 82, a prevailing party winning reimbursement for fees wouldn't be enough to even cover the cost of the attorney. Therefore, there is no real incentive or coverage, particularly in the lower levels in terms of consumer protection. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG stated, "So, we looked at this as an opportunity to jump beyond Rule 82 and have some better equity to prevailing parties, ... particularly businesses who were damaged by what would be called frivolous or 'vexatious' lawsuits. And that's what we endeavor to do here, with the idea of giving the ability of those people who were harmed to bring a cause of action - be compensated for it - but also to protect businesses. And particularly in the subsection (c) of .537, it's something we created ... when we were talking about multiple fact patterns where we could find that a business actually would bring the suit for business purposes, really. ... This was intended, there, to offset that or stifle that type of a cause of action." REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said to Ms. LaBolle, "You're asking the committee to reconsider Rule 82, when we had a different rationale. And I wanted to explain what went on in our thinking when we worked with the sponsors of the bill and with the committee." He said subsection (b) still troubles him somewhat. One idea had been to have the prevailing party receive fees on a 100 percent basis, not under Rule 82. Representative Rokeberg indicated he wouldn't object to that, but that they had been trying to compromise. Number 1090 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES said she'd feel a lot more comfortable if they were doing this just for senior citizens or vulnerable people, but the bill doesn't specify that. She then pointed out a language error on page 2, lines 9 through 12, which read, "the person first provides written to the seller or lessor who engaged in the unlawful act of practice that the person will seek an injunction against the seller or lessor unless the seller or lessor fails to promptly stop the unlawful act or practice". Number 1179 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT made a motion to delete "fails to" on page 2, line 11, and add an "s" after "stop", so that it says, "lessor promptly stops the". CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether there were any objections. Hearing none, he announced that Amendment 5 was adopted. Number 1203 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG made a motion to amend page 2, line 26, by putting the period after "rate" and deleting "if the action is found to be frivolous". If the award is to the defendant, then the plaintiff has to pay the full cost, he explained. Number 1222 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT objected. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER suggested it would have to say "if the defendant prevailed." REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG agreed, saying he would amend the amendment there. Number 1270 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT referred to Representative James' discussion. He said the reason he keeps saying "small" is that a huge scam may or may not be under regular tort law. These are little injustices that are not cost-effective to pursue, for a broken toaster or worthless life insurance policy, or else a person has no power, now, to enjoin. Representative Croft stated, "And I simply want that decision made on what you called altruism. It is the merits of the case. And it is both the sword and the shield here to enforce these laws." REPRESENTATIVE JAMES asked whether it could be a class action. Number 1326 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG withdrew his amendment, saying he would recast it. He then stated, "On line 26, after the word 'the', delete 'action is found to be frivolous' and insert 'defendant is the prevailing party'." He said that was his intention to begin with. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether that was offered as Amendment 6. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG affirmed that. He explained that it puts a burden on the plaintiff to make sure, when bringing suit, that there are grounds. He stated, "Failing that, if you think this is too onerous, then we could revert to a Rule 82 over here, or something like that. But I don't think that the defendants, when they're or the prevailing party, should not be compensated, at least in part. And I think that's what the state chamber's argument is, too." Number 1410 REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ said as he reads it, nothing would preclude the court, as a matter of equity, from awarding damages or attorney costs to a defendant if they prevailed. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said this prevents it. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ responded that this just requires it if it is frivolous. The court can say, "You prevailed but we're not giving you money," or the court can say, "You prevailed and we are giving you money." REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said this language precludes a prevailing defendant from getting any compensation for costs or attorney fees unless there is a court determination that the case that was brought against him or her was frivolous. REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ replied, "I would disagree even if Representative Croft is nodding 'no.' But it seems to me if that were the case, then it would say reasonable rate only if the action is found to be frivolous. That 'only' is not in there." Number 1472 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT referred to page 2, lines 21 through 23, and said it is "sort of in the conjunctive in (a)." He noted that the prevailing plaintiff would get full reasonable attorneys fees, he read from the subsequent language, which says, "and a private plaintiff, who is not the prevailing party, may not be required to pay attorney fees or costs to the defendant unless the court determines that the cause of action brought by the plaintiff is frivolous." REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ responded that it is a "may," not a "shall." REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said it is a "may not." REPRESENTATIVE PORTER suggested it is a polite way to say, "No way." CHAIRMAN GREEN and REPRESENTATIVE JAMES agreed. Number 1523 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked whether there was further discussion of Amendment 6 or any objection. Number 1541 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT renewed his objection. He said it puts the person trying to enforce the consumer protection laws, when that person sees a violation and no one else is enforcing it, in a worse position than before. That person could get hit with all of a big corporation's attorney fees, for example. In contrast, under the normal law and in the normal situation, a plaintiff could only get hit with probably 20 percent. This would be a discouragement to enforcing these laws. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG expressed willingness to amend Amendment 6 by reverting to Rule 82 for subsection (b), if that is the committee's wish. He said it would be a compromise. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT made a motion to adopt a conceptual amendment to Amendment 6, to rewrite subsection (b) so that it has Rule 82. "I think we know what we mean by that," he added. MS. LaBOLLE expressed appreciation for that. "We just want to make sure that the law is the same," she said. Number 1652 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER suggested there would have to be a conforming amendment to (a). He said the defendant can't get it if the plaintiff can't pay it. CHAIRMAN GREEN agreed. Number 1677 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said it would be making (b) read correctly for Rule 82, and eliminating everything on lines 21, 22 and 23, after "reasonable rate". He added, "I don't know how the language in (b) would read, but I think somebody with a little time could draft it." CHAIRMAN GREEN asked Mr. Jardell whether he had that idea down. Number 1710 KEVIN JARDELL, Legislative Administrative Assistant to Representative Joe Green, Alaska State Legislature, speaking as committee aide, asked whether they were still allowing full reasonable attorney fees for the frivolous actions, but only Rule 82 fees for prevailing. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said to accomplish the intent of the amendment to (b), they would have to remove the frivolous aspect in (a). He indicated the result would be a return to Civil Rule 82 for plaintiff and defendant payment of attorney fees. Number 1747 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG agreed with that analysis, but with the proviso that they further amend the amendment to this section to provide that the prevailing party in an action found to be frivolous would get full fees, as a separate section. In addition, he wanted to leave subsection (c) alone. CHAIRMAN GREEN noted that nobody had talked about (c) yet. Number 1800 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG offered to restate that. He said, "If I'm not mistaken, we make subsection (a) and (b) conform to Rule 82; have another subsection that would say that the prevailing party, if the suit was found to be frivolous, would get full, 100 percent recovery; and then leave (c) alone." Number 1825 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT responded that the original amendment changed one end of the deal, and the new amendment changes both; by changing both, they are doing nothing with the bill. He explained, "And the way it was originally stated was if the plaintiff does not prevail, then Rule 82 applies. That left, still, the portion that said if the plaintiff does prevail, they get full attorneys fees." He added, "If you lose, you may be stuck not only with your own but with 20 percent of the other's." REPRESENTATIVE CROFT continued, "Now, as it was just stated here, though, it takes away both ends of that, puts it under [Rule] 82, even when the plaintiff prevails, does all those things and prevails in enforcing this law. And if you do that, then you might as well delete the entire section, and, I think, except for some very minor changes, the entire bill. So, I would object to the way it was originally stated, even. I think ... you're gutting one half of it. But the way it was most recently stated, you're gutting the entire thing." Number 1930 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said, "Speaking to Representative Rokeberg's amendment, having stated objection to this general area, the movement that has been made, I think, is commendable. And I would not object to an amendment to this area that basically provided what Representative Croft just said: if, in this case, a plaintiff prevailed, under existing rules of determination of prevailing, that they be awarded 100 percent; if they do not prevail, that Rule 82 applies. But on the other end of the stick, if it is found to be frivolous, they get nailed, just as they were rewarded at the top end, with attorneys fees." REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said he thinks the frivolousness should be a two-way street. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said he has no problem with the frivolousness. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked whether a separate section would be easier for drafting. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER suggested it is going to require a "rewrite" that shouldn't be done at the table. CHAIRMAN GREEN agreed. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER indicated he could even support the bill that way. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said he thinks it will help a lot. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT suggested they write up the amendment, adding that he doesn't know whether or not it is something he could support. [HB 203 was held over.] HB 383 - EXPECTED DEATHS Number 2092 CHAIRMAN GREEN announced the committee would hear HB 383, "An Act relating to expected deaths that occur at home or in a health care facility," sponsored by Representative Gary Davis. REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS stated that HB 383 clarifies whether a peace officer needs to attend or respond when a person who is expected to die passes away in a residence. Currently, the statute is vague and being treated differently by the different law enforcement agencies around the state. He said that an "expected death form" is signed when someone has a terminal illness and is expected to pass away at home. This bill says the police do not have to respond to the scene of an expected home death. It also clarifies the state law, but it leaves it up to local law enforcement agencies and municipalities if they desire to have such a law. He pointed out that the bill does allow for situations of suspicion if it is felt that the person has died from causes other than the illness. Number 2328 REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE moved to adopt the proposed committee substitute for HB 383, dated 4/1/98, as the working draft. Number 2360 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS stated that there was some disagreement on the bill between the agency and his office. The committee substitute was drafted at the last minute, and that is why there is not the normal heading on the bill. He stated that his office has checked with the Legislative Legal Services on the wording and they have made the necessary corrections. Number 2450 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there was an objection to the adoption of the committee substitute. Hearing none, he announced that CSHB 383, dated 4/1/98, was before the committee. TAPE 98-53, SIDE A Number 0053 MICHAEL PROPST, Medical Examiner, Division of Public Health, Department of Heath and Social Services, stated that he has been working with Representative Davis and he is in concurrence with the way the bill is currently drafted. He said he is available to answer any questions the committee may have. Number 0100 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked if there is still a requirement to respond to an unattended death without this legislation and is that what the bill is trying to correct. Number 0110 DR. PROPST responded that the department is trying to get some statewide consistency and there is currently no law or regulation which mandates anything which is causing a series of prevailing practices. In Anchorage, the practice is to send a uniformed officer to the scene of an unattended death, however, other jurisdictions do not send officers to the scene. He explained that the bill lines up the criteria that the person must have a known fatal disease and die of that disease. He stated that the bill will make the state's position clear. Number 0266 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked if this would affect the provisions requiring an autopsy. Number 0286 DR. PROPST replied that it does not. He stated that if there was anything suspicious about an expected death he would be notified and the department would have the jurisdiction to make the appropriate decision. Number 0295 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there is a state form that is required. Number 0311 DR. PROPST stated that the forms that are in use now are of the Comfort One Program, which was passed by the legislature four years ago. Number 0324 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE stated that the committee has some testimony from a mother who went through a very trying time with the death of her son at home regarding the additional stress she had due to how the death was investigated. He asked how often are the unattended "naturally caused" deaths a factor in police investigations. Number 0410 DR. PROPST replied that it is rare, individual police officers vary in their ability and sensitivity in handling these situations. He stated that occasionally there has been a lack of sensitivity in the investigating officer, but it is not a frequent situation. Number 0445 REPRESENTATIVE ERIC CROFT asked if the practice in Juneau is that the police are required to be notified, but they often do not go to the home. DR. PROPST replied that is correct, as far as he knew. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT asked if that is under the current law. DR. PROPST replied that there is no current law, that is the current practice. Number 0471 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT asked if the Anchorage police could modify what they do now without this bill. Number 0479 DR. PROPST replied absolutely. Number 0500 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER stated that probably when the legislature adopted the new medical examiner bill they deleted a lot of stuff that maybe should have been looked at a little closer. Number 0508 DR. PROPST stated that the entire expected home death program was acquired from the coroner's office in Anchorage. Number 0525 CHRIS STOCKARD, Captain, Department of Public Safety, stated that the department does not have a problem with the bill. Number 0544 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if it was true that each jurisdiction handles the expected death situation on their own. Number 0550 CAPTAIN STOCKARD replied that is pretty much the case. State troopers are consistent because they try to do things by policy, statewide. He stated that 10 years ago police responded to every out of hospital death because the policeman had to be there until the coroner gave permission to remove the body. He stated that is what is continued to be done, out of habit. Number 0634 CHAIRMAN GREEN stated that the bill states that there would be an expectation for the physician to file a form with the law enforcement agency for that jurisdiction and asked if it would be the public safety agency in the bush. Number 0646 CAPTAIN STOCKARD replied that if you are in a city police jurisdiction, it would be with the city of Juneau, if it was in Hoonah it would be with the Department of Public Safety. Number 0670 CHAIRMAN GREEN asked what about the Village Public Safety Officers (VPSOs). CAPTAIN STOCKARD said that is a good question. He thought they would opt to have it go to the trooper post that covers that area because the record keeping is more formal. Number 0713 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER made a motion to move CSHB 383( ), April 1, 1998, with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal note. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked what the changes are between this version and Version B. Number 0766 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS stated that Version B gave the nurses the authority to sign the death certificate, but it was then found out that they already had that authority, therefore that was deleted. He stated that the version before the committee deletes the duty to respond to an expected death from state law. Number 0841 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT asked if Version B had it so someone is not required to notify and the current version states "a peace officer is not required to respond" and asked if that was the major shift. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS replied that is correct. Number 0861 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT stated that the deaths are still requiring notification. It is just that the peace officers do not have to come to the house if they choose not to. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS replied that is correct. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT that under the current state law, there are some places where peace officers do not come to the home, such as Juneau. Number 0895 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS replied that they believed they still utilized the form, but if it is known that it is a expected death, they may not respond. Number 0899 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT stated that he thought it was a good idea and a good bill, but he is trying to get a clearer idea. He asked if Juneau is not responding now, what effect will this have on the current state law. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS replied that it makes it uniform throughout the state, and currently it is being handled differently in different areas by different agencies. DR. PROPST stated that the bill allows local areas to negotiate with the police agency for those that have disagreement between how the police agency might want to respond and the way those who care for the dying would like them respond. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT stated that they can do that now. DR. PROPST replied that yes, they can. CHAIRMAN GREEN noted the addition of "medical examiner" and "peace officer" in this latest version of the bill. Number 0966 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS stated that the latest version takes out the duty to notify the medical examiner in Section 12.65.007, subsection (a)(4). CHAIRMAN GREEN responded that he was referring to (b)(2). Number 0981 DR. PROPST stated that the version before the committee should not have the medical examiner in the language. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS stated that is in (b)(2) regarding suspicious or unusual circumstances. CHAIRMAN GREEN stated that in (b)(2), "peace officer" was added, which was not in the prior version. Number 1025 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said he wanted to check the statute, and it would appear that every kind of a death that is not attended by a physician requires notification. Number 0150 DR. PROPST agreed with that. Basically, this bill would change the definition to attended deaths. Number 1060 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said he would renew his motion by amending the description of the bill to the version dated 4/1/98. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there was any objection. There being none, CSHB 383(JUD) passed from the House Standing Judiciary Committee. ADJOURNMENT Number 1117 CHAIRMAN GREEN adjourned the House Judiciary Standing Committee meeting at 2:55 p.m.