Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/03/1998 09:05 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                          April 3, 1998                                        
                            9:05 a.m.                                          
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                
Senator Gary Wilken, Chairman                                                  
Senator Loren Leman, Vice-Chairman                                             
Senator Lyda Green                                                             
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                 
Senator Jerry Ward                                                             
Senator Johnny Ellis                                                           
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                             
Relating to Step Family Day.                                                   
     PASSED SCSSS HCR 25 OUT OF COMMITTEE.                                     
SENATE BILL NO. 237                                                            
"An Act extending the termination date of the Council on Domestic              
Violence and Sexual Assault."                                                  
     HEARD AND HELD.                                                           
PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                               
SSHCR 25 - No previous Senate committee action.                                
SB 237 - See HESS minutes dated 3/4/98.                                        
WITNESS REGISTER                                                               
Representative Fred Dyson                                                      
Alaska State Capitol                                                           
Juneau, Alaska  99801-1182                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of SSHCR 25.                                      
Annette Kreitzer, Committee Aide                                               
Senate Labor and Commerce Committee                                            
Alaska State Capitol                                                           
Juneau, Alaska  99801-1182                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Discussed changes made in CSSB 237.                       
Jayne Andreen, Director                                                        
Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault                                
P.O. Box 111200                                                                
Juneau, Alaska  99811-1200                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Supports CSSB 237.                                        
Anne Carpeneti                                                                 
Criminal Division                                                              
Department of Law                                                              
P.O. Box 110300                                                                
Juneau, AK  99811-0300                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:  Explained provisions of CSSB 237.                         
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                               
TAPE 98-30, SIDE A                                                             
Number 001                                                                     
CHAIRMAN WILKEN called the Senate Health, Education and Social                 
Services (HESS) Committee to order at 9:05 a.m.  Present were                  
Senators Leman, Green, and Chairman Wilken.  The first order of                
business before the committee was HCR 25.                                      
                    HCR 25 - STEP FAMILY DAY                                   
REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON, sponsor of the measure, gave the                    
following testimony.  Many "blended" families are living all across            
North America: approximately 70 percent of American families fall              
under that description.  An international organization, the                    
Stepfamily Foundation, Inc., is trying to set aside a day to honor             
step families and to date, 30 countries have adopted legislation to            
do so.  The foundation publishes a newsletter, and has a web page,             
chat room, and  consulting service to provide advice for step                  
families and to exchange ideas.  HCR 25 is a simple bill and has no            
associated cost. The measure recognizes the existence of these                 
families and the particular challenges and struggles they face.                
Number 058                                                                     
SENATOR LEMAN referred to Representative Dyson's sponsor statement             
and questioned the statement that says, "...of the 83.5 million                
households in American, close to 70% of them are step families.  By            
the year 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than half             
of Americans will be living in step families versus the nuclear                
family."  He asked if that number is skewed because it takes into              
account single parent families.                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said that was correct according to the                    
international organization.                                                    
SENATOR LEMAN asked if the step family category includes single                
parent families in which one spouse died.                                      
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said no.                                                  
SENATOR LEMAN asked if a new union would have to take place first.             
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said that is correct, and added that those                
families always have struggles.                                                
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked if 70 percent of American families are step              
families and half of the population is estimated to live in those              
families.  He also questioned whether including the source of those            
statistics and including a definition of what a step family is in              
line 1 of the resolution would improve it.                                     
Number 108                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE DYSON replied he will defer to the wish of the                  
committee, but he thought the resolution itself will fade into the             
background the day after it is established, and that it will not               
get much circulation.                                                          
SENATOR LEMAN moved to adopt a conceptual amendment, subject to                
slight revisor changes, beginning on line 3 as follows:                        
     "WHEREAS the Stepfamily Foundation has estimated that at least            
     half of all Americans are members or relatives of step                    
     families; and"                                                            
and to include a basic definition of a step family.                            
CHAIRMAN WILKEN announced there being no objection, the conceptual             
amendment was adopted.                                                         
Number 134                                                                     
SENATOR LEMAN moved to report HCR 25 as amended from committee.                
There being no objection, the motion carried.                                  
Number 152                                                                     
      SB 237 - COUNCIL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & SEXUAL ASSAULT                      
SENATOR LEMAN moved to adopt the proposed committee substitute for             
SB 237.  There being no objection, the motion carried.                         
ANNETTE KREITZER, legislative aide to the Senate Labor and Commerce            
Committee, gave the following explanation of the committee                     
substitute for SB 237.  Sections 1, 2, and 3 amend court referrals,            
protective orders, and probation conditions so that batterers'                 
programs will meet the standards set by, and programs approved by,             
the Department of Corrections.  Section 4 amends the duties of the             
Department of Corrections to ensure that this program's standards              
are set by, and approved by, that department.  Section 5 extends               
the CDVSA by four years which is the maximum extension allowed                 
under AS 44.66. 010(c).  Section 6 amends Rule 404(b)(3) to ensure             
that if a defendant relies on a defense of consent, evidence of                
other sexual assaults is admissible.  Section 7 amends Rule                    
404(b)(4) to clarify for judges that evidence of prior acts of                 
domestic violence is not limited to convictions only.  This change             
will allow the prosecution to produce evidence of previous acts of             
domestic violence.  The court rule changes apply to proceedings on             
or after the immediate effective date of this act.  Section 9 takes            
effect January 1, 1999.  The state is mandated to have the programs            
in place and the standards set, with the expectation that anyone               
referred to a batterer's program after January 1, 1999 would be                
attending a state-approved program.  Section 10 provides for an                
immediate effective date for the rest of the sections in the bill.             
This language is also part of SB 316.  The sponsor is well aware               
that the language appears in other bills but he felt that state                
approval and funding of batterers' programs should be part of the              
CDVSA program.                                                                 
Number 196                                                                     
SENATOR GREEN asked whether any approval process for batterers'                
programs exists at this time.                                                  
MS. KREITZER said some standards have been established but no                  
mandate requiring the courts to refer offenders to state-certified             
programs exists.  Apparently a wide range of programs exists but               
only two are state approved.                                                   
JAYNE ANDREEN, Director of the CDVSA, explained the Domestic                   
Violence Act of 1996 included language to require courts to refer              
offenders to approved programs only, however, the courts have                  
interpreted that language much more broadly than what was intended.            
SB 316, and the language in SB 237, are attempts to tighten the                
language so that the courts will order offenders to state approved             
programs only.                                                                 
SENATOR GREEN asked if a timely process exists to provide for state            
approval of these programs.                                                    
MS. ANDREEN responded yes, it has taken awhile to establish a                  
process that people can follow through on, due in part to funding              
for actual monitoring of the programs, but an application process              
was established in August.  Two of 14 applications have been                   
submitted to CDVSA.  Two factors are delaying application                      
submission: one is that the incentive is low since courts are                  
already using the unapproved programs; and second, the Department              
of Corrections is in the process of revising its regulations.                  
Number 229                                                                     
SENATOR GREEN asked if the January 1, 1999 date is reasonable.                 
MS. ANDREEN said it is reasonable and that she initially suggested             
an effective date of October 1.                                                
MS. KREITZER added that she and staff from Senator Parnell's office            
are concurrently reviewing the regulations regarding the                       
implementation of state certified programs.  They will be tracking             
that process closely to see if problems occur, stemming from the               
way the regulations are written, that restrict organizations from              
Number 243                                                                     
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked how Ms. Andreen expects the $116,000 in the              
budget for batterers' programs to be used.                                     
MS. ANDREEN replied this year CDVSA received $60,000 for a                     
batterers' programs grant which was awarded to Tongass Community               
Counseling Center.  CDVSA has already issued an RFP competitive                
grant proposal for programs to apply for funds.  CDVSA will be                 
following its standard granting procedure and will be making awards            
at the end of June for FY 99.                                                  
Number  251                                                                    
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked if the amount for FY 99 will be $116,000.                
MS. ANDREEN said the total amount will be $166,000.                            
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked whether that money will be allocated by                  
region or by application.                                                      
MS. ANDREEN said the grants will be allocated by application.                  
CDVSA reviews each application on its own merits and makes the                 
decisions accordingly.                                                         
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked if any regional consideration is given.                  
MS. ANDREEN said that is one of the criteria CDVSA looks at but                
more importantly, CDVSA wants to make sure it is funding the most              
effective services available.                                                  
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked how long batterers' programs have been in                
MS. ANDREEN replied batterers' programs have been in place since               
the early 1980s.                                                               
Number 267                                                                     
SENATOR GREEN asked Ms. Andreen to speak to the ineffectiveness of             
batterers' programs.                                                           
MS. ANDREEN answered the effectiveness of batterers' programs and              
the question of whether or not they should be funded or subsidized             
with state funds is the subject of a nationwide controversy.  One              
problem with batterers' programs is the lack of a solid                        
understanding of how effective they are.  Studies have determined              
that no set criteria for defining effectiveness exists.  Most                  
studies only look at offenders' re-entry into the civil or criminal            
justice system.  Some studies have reported that when offenders                
attend batterers' programs, they simply become smarter offenders               
and learn how to avoid that system for the following 12 month                  
evaluation period.  The Center for Disease Control has funded a                
contract to do an intensive study of batterers' programs around the            
country.  The study is now in its third year and is being extended             
for two more years.  Those conducting the study are experiencing a             
high success rate in tracking offenders once they leave a program.             
They are not just checking criminal and civil records, they are                
also interviewing the offenders and interviewing past and current              
partners to get a broader scope.  This study is also comparing the             
effectiveness of different programs and the different modalities               
used.  She noted 40 to 60 percent of offenders who are referred to             
a program never attend so it is important to have a strong systemic            
response for those offenders.  She stated a success rate of about              
25 percent of all offenders ordered to a program seems to be a safe            
SENATOR GREEN asked what the current standard is for allowing a                
previous accusation, or anything other than a conviction, to be                
entered as evidence in a current case.                                         
MS. KREITZER responded that at present no standard exists and                  
judges are applying that information differently to different                  
Number 317                                                                     
ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law,                 
informed committee members that under Section 7, for prior acts of             
domestic violence, courts generally allow introduction of the                  
evidence without a conviction.  She noted she spoke with John                  
Richards, a municipal attorney in Anchorage, who said the                      
Municipality of Anchorage is having great success in getting this              
evidence admitted.  A few judges are concerned that the use of the             
term "crimes involving domestic violence" requires a prior                     
conviction which is why this bill makes it clear that a prior                  
conviction is not required to allow the evidence to be admissible.             
SENATOR GREEN stated this section concerns her.  She asked what the            
bar would be to admit evidence of a prior act.                                 
MS. CARPENETI replied the court would only admit the evidence when             
indications exist that it is reliable.                                         
SENATOR GREEN questioned how that can be assured in statute since              
the bill says a previous act, not convictions, can be admitted.                
MS. CARPENETI explained the Evidence Rules require a court, before             
evidence is admitted, to be satisfied that the evidence is                     
Number 344                                                                     
SENATOR GREEN asked if the defendant would have the right to                   
respond and the right to counsel for the previous acts, or whether             
the evidence could be an accusation.                                           
MS. CARPENETI responded SCSSB 237 does not require that the                    
offender be charged with the previous act.  She added experts agree            
that victims are more likely to not pursue a prosecution for                   
complex reasons.  In many domestic violence cases, prosecutors have            
no victim.  Prosecutors rely on the testimony of police officers               
which often involves their observations.  She noted that is one                
reason that this type of evidence is extremely helpful.                        
MS. ANDREEN maintained that domestic violence is an ongoing cycle              
that increases in severity over a period of time.  She stated it is            
important to establish a pattern of behavior and that the case is              
not built on an isolated incident.  CDVSA is comfortable that the              
process the court goes through to determine whether evidence is                
reliable will ensure that this provision is not abused.                        
MS. CARPENETI added Rule 404(b) allows evidence of prior acts as               
they relate to various other charges, for example, in Section 6,               
Rule 404(b)(3) allows evidence of prior acts of sexual assault in              
certain circumstances when the charge is sexual assault or                     
attempted sexual assault.  The courts have been applying that rule             
without requiring a conviction for the use of the prior evidence as            
long as the court is assured that the evidence is accurate and                 
CHAIRMAN WILKEN stated he would hold SCSSB 237(HESS) in committee,             
until the following Wednesday.  There being no further business to             
come before the committee, CHAIRMAN WILKEN adjourned the meeting at            
9:30 a.m.                                                                      

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