Legislature(1997 - 1998)
03/24/1997 09:03 AM Senate HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE HEALTH, EDUCATION AND SOCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE March 24, 1997 9:03 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Gary Wilken, Chairman Senator Loren Leman, Vice-Chairman Senator Lyda Green Senator Jerry Ward Senator Johnny Ellis MEMBERS ABSENT All members present COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 58 "An Act relating to the privilege to drive of minors and to the penalty for the consumption or possession of alcoholic beverages by persons under 21 years of age." - MOVED CSSB 58 (HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 11 "An Act relating to state aid for school construction debt; and providing for an effective date." - MOVED CSSB 11 (HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 132 "An Act relating to registration of sex offenders and central registry of sex offenders; relating to access to, release of, and use of criminal justice information and systems; relating to notices concerning sex offender registrants; and providing for an effective date." - HEARD AND HELD SENATE BILL NO. 146 "An Act relating to the public school funding program; relating to the definition of a school district, to the transportation of students, to school district layoff plans, to the special education service agency, to the child care grant program; imposing a school tax in the unorganized borough; and providing for an effective date." - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 58 - See Senate Health, Education & Social Services minutes dated 3/10/97, 3/21/97. SB 11 - See Senate Health, Education & Social Services minutes dated 2/26/97, 3/21/97. SB 132 - No previous Senate action to record. SB 146 - No previous Senate action to record. WITNESS REGISTER Joe Ambrose, Staff Senator Robin Taylor State Capitol Bldg. Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Staff to sponsor of SB 58. Loren Jones, Director Division of Alcohol and Drug Programs P.O. Box 110607 Juneau, AK 99811-0607 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported CSSB 58(HES). Juanita Hensley, Chief Driver Services Division of Motor Vehicles P.O. Box 20020 Juneau, AK 99811-0020 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported CSSB 58(HES). Brett Huber, Staff Senator Halford State Capitol Bldg. Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Staff to sponsor of SB 11. Anne Carpeneti, Assistant Attorney General Criminal Division Department of Law P.O. Box 110300 Juneau, AK 99811-0300 POSITION STATEMENT: Discussed SB 132. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 97-33, SIDE A Number 001 SB 58 MINOR CONSUMING ALCOHOL: PENALTY CHAIRMAN WILKEN called the Senate Health, Education and Social Services (HESS) Committee to order at 9:03 a.m. and announced SB 58 to be up for consideration. SENATOR GREEN moved to adopt CSSB 58(HES). There were no objections and it was so ordered. JOE AMBROSE, Staff to Senator Taylor, sponsor, said as per Chairman Wilken's request he met with representatives of the court system, Department of Law, Department of Health and Social Services, and the Department of Public Safety who all had something to do with the CS to SB 58 and Senator Taylor is very comfortable with this bill. Mr. Ambrose said it is surprising how little lee-way district court judges have when dealing with minors consuming alcohol. In 1995 minor consuming was moved from the juvenile justice system to district court. SB 58 was introduced to correct some problems that occurred with that move. Some kids thought the $100 fine was a joke and there continued to be repeat offenders. One of the punishments a judge had available was to revoke the driver's license which entitle the defendant to a jury trial and a public defender. So SB 58 removes the driver's license revocation from the purview of the court and makes it an administrative action by the Division of Motor Vehicles. Mr. Ambrose then reviewed the sections of the bill. Mr. Ambrose said there is startling data about the rate of minors consuming in Alaska, especially repeat offenders. These are the offenders Senator Taylor is concerned with - the teenagers who are on their 12th, 13th, and 14th offense. CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked how the success of this bill could be measured over time. JOE AMBROSE responded that question was asked about the effectiveness of alcohol treatment programs in Alaska. There was a study commissioned by the legislature at that time which came back with the result that alcohol treatment programs in Alaska are a lot more effective than some people think they were. The Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse will be providing the curriculum for the classes. He said they would hopefully see a drastic reduction in the numbers of repeat offenders. LOREN JONES, Director, Division of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, said the sections that moved into the CS from SB 71 transfer the approval process for alcohol information schools, for both adults and minors, from the DMV to Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse so they can set up age appropriate curriculum for minors and improve upon the current curriculum for adult services. It also gives authority to the division for that purpose. This allows them to also monitor kids who are being processed through this. The division will also use the funds available to grant to local agencies throughout the state the ability to operate the youth assessment programs. He said the grants have specific evaluative criteria to measure the reduction in number of repeat offenders. The division hopes to get the message out that there are consequences that are certain and will be monitored, that teenagers will not be able to simply walk away and do nothing about it. Mr. Ambrose said the state is in the third year that the "use it or lose it" has been in effect and between the first and second year there was not a significant increase in the number of first time offenders; there was an increase in the second and third time offenders and these are the targets of this legislation. LOREN JONES said success would be measured by the number of offenders going down in a five-year period. Number 270 SENATOR WARD asked if he knew what questions were asked of a person applying for a driver's permit. LOREN JONES replied that he did not. SENATOR WARD did not know if young citizens taking the test are currently required to actually know the answer. JOE AMBROSE pointed out that there is other information up-front that this kind of activity would place the young person's license at risk. He clarified that this bill does not propose any kind of study. It is a bill to divert kids into actual treatment programs. SENATOR GREEN asked if there was a current component in the adult ASAP program requiring those people to stay in touch even after going through the program. LOREN JONES explained that currently an individual stays until the individual has successfully completed the assignment, whether it be alcohol education or treatment. Once that process is over the ASAP function is closed. Most persons get a year probation with the court. If for some reason the individual has not completed the program, the program managers try to monitor the participants through the process until they do. Number 302 JUANITA HENSLEY, Division of Motor Vehicles, said there are several ways to educate students regarding the consequences of using alcohol. A brochure is available to all the students in all the schools and two driver improvement specialists, one in Anchorage and one in Juneau, who speak in schools. She said there is a section in the driver's manual that deals strictly with drugs and alcohol and driving. The driver's test also has specific questions that deal with alcohol. She mentioned that students usually know about the "use it or lose it" because a friend or acquaintance has been in contact with police and had his/her license revoked. The information is out there. SENATOR WARD suggested the test ask the question of how many under age young citizens have lost their license due to having alcohol in the car. He thought that would make the issue even more prominent and would not cost any money. JUANITA HENSLEY responded that she would be more than happy to work with him on developing questions on that issue; the department is in the process of revising the driver's manual. SENATOR LEMAN related an incident of a constituent of his whose driver's license was suspended for something like 10-years and he would be 30 before he could legally drive. He said he supported the law, but wanted to know if this law was really working and if there was something the division could do to be flexible in cases like this. JUANITA HENSLEY clarified that the fiscal note on whic estimated the number of students caught with alcohol to be 2,500 was in error and there are 3,900 plus now. The law went into effect July 1, 1994 and the division does not know whether it is working at this point, because at the same time in 1995 it was taken out of the criminal justice system and put into violations where the judges have no control to mandate that the person go to alcohol treatment. This bill will mandate the person be screened and go to alcohol treatment before the person's license is returned which would help them determine whether it is working or not. SENATOR WARD said the reason the 1983 drunk driving bill was as successful as it was is because it made mandatory penalties. There has to be the deterrent of penalties rather than alcohol treatment programs to make the number go down. Senator Ward did not think this message was clear enough to the youngsters now. Senator Ward asked Mr. Ambrose to let Senator Taylor know of his concern about the testing and see if it could be worked into the bill somewhere in the process. Senator Ward moved to pass CSSB 58(HES) from committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SB 11 SCHOOL DEBT REIMBURSEMENT CHAIRMAN WILKEN announced SB 11 to be up for consideration. SENATOR WARD moved to adopt the CS to SB 11. There were no objections and it was so ordered. BRETT HUBER, Staff to Senator Halford, sponsor, explained the changes in the CS which addressed the concerns of the committee. SENATOR LEMAN noted the language referring to 75 rather than 70 percent on page 4, line 13 that he did not recall from last week's amendment. CHAIRMAN WILKEN explained that it is personal preference; he liked 75 percent better because it is a fixed number and it becomes rooted in people's minds that the state pays three quarters. He noted that Senator Leman was not in the room when it was discussed before the committee. SENATOR GREEN moved to pass CSSB 11(HES) from committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SB 132 CRIMINAL JUSTICE INFO, INCL. SEX OFFENDER CHAIRMAN WILKEN announced SB 132 to be up for consideration. ANNE CARPENETI, Department of Law, explained that this bill has two parts dealing with criminal background information. The first part amends AS 12.62 which is the criminal justice information systems and the security statutes in two general ways; first by clarifying procedures for a person to get background information held by the FBI. Secondly, it eliminates the historical time limitation on prior convictions and the ability to obtain information on prior convictions for State records. Ms. Carpeneti said the second part of the bill brings the state in compliance with the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act. In order to stay eligible for 100 percent funding from the Burn formula funding grants the legislation is necessary. It requires the state to adopt a two-tier sex offender registration program - one for certain offenses against children and sexually violent crimes and requires registration for at least 10 years. The other second part of the Wetterling Act provides more stringent registration requirements for sexually violent predators. Ms. Carpeneti informed the committee that Alaska already has a two-step sex offender registration procedure. The first is for 15-years for first time sex offenders and the second requires recidivist sex offenders to register for life. Ms. Carpeneti explained that the Wetterling Act requires the state to appoint panels of experts in behavior and the treatment of sex offenders which would examine a person who has been convicted of a sex offense and make a recommendation to the sentencing court whether or not that person should be classified as a sexually violent predator. If a person is classified as a sexually violent predator, he or she would remain there until the board examined the person at a later date and made the recommendation that the person is no longer sexually violent. The recommendation would have to go back to the original sentencing court and the court would make the determination if that person has ceased to be a sexually violent predator. Ms. Carpeneti said there are several problems with that approach. The cost of establishing a statewide board of experts would be significant and the second and more significant cost would be to litigate whether or not the individual is a sexually violent predator and remains one. The potential for litigation is for the life of the person. For these reasons, the department has been working with the federal government on an alternate approach which the department expects will be accepted. The legislation proposes in addition to the life-time registration of recidivist offenders, to add to that category persons who are convicted for the first time of the most serious sexual offenses, sexual assault in the first degree (an unclassified felony) and sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree (also an unclassified felony). Ms. Carpeneti said the Wetterling Act also requires verification of the addresses of sexually violent predators through registration every 90 days. SENATOR WARD asked for a copy of the Wetterling Act for all committee members and asked if the state is receiving the grant money now. ANNE CARPENETI replied yes. SENATOR WARD asked if there is a document saying that our laws are out of compliance and the state will not receive it this year. Senator Ward requested a copy of that also. ANNE CARPENETI noted that the department has had communications with the Department of Justice setting forth the requirements of what the state must do. At this point, the department knows that the state is not in compliance. The federal government has not formally said that the federal money will be cut off. SENATOR WARD asked her to get a letter stating that to the committee. ANNE CARPENETI replied that she would do her best. SENATOR GREEN asked if there was a timing sequence that other things might happen at the federal level. TAPE 97-33, SIDE B Number 580 SENATOR GREEN said that might make it easier for the state to comport to what they have done afterwards. ANNE CARPENETI replied that two other pieces of law have been passed since the Wetterling Act. One is Megan's Law which addresses notification of the location of sex offenders and that is addressed in this bill by allowing the Department of Public Safety to adopt regulations addressing notification. The second is a bill requiring some time in the future the FBI to establish a tracking system of sex offenders. That is provided in this bill by requiring the Department of Public Safety to notify the State and FBI whenever a sex offender moves out of State and notify the state they are moving to. Ms. Carpeneti explained that other states are trying to find creative alternatives for the board of experts, but some of the provisions of the Wetterling Act can't be changed. The state has adopted guidelines, which she will provide the committee, which gives them a lot more freedom in certain areas. SENATOR GREEN did not think the current sex offender registration system in Alaska went far enough. ANNE CARPENETI pointed out that Alaska is more stringent than federal statutes, in that first offenses must register for 15 years. The Wetterling Act starts with 10 years as a floor rather than a ceiling. Alaska also has the life-time registration for recidivists which is more serious that federal requirements. SENATOR GREEN was concerned that the state would be pulling people into the system who have only been charged, but not convicted. Number 556 ANNE CARPENETI thought that was a reading mistake because you only have to register after conviction. SENATOR GREEN asked her to explain page 2, section 4. ANNE CARPENETI explained that section addresses the criminal justice information security system which is different than the Wetterling Act. CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked what was challenged in court and then came back in State law over the last couple of years. ANNE CARPENETI replied that the ex-post facto issue, which means adopting a punishment that was not in affect when the act was committed was challenged. She found that no state or federal court has upheld the challenge based and our case in Alaska has been dismissed. CHAIRMAN WILKEN said that SB 132 would be held for further discussion and adjourned the meeting at 9:56 a.m.