Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/06/1998 09:05 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                          April 6, 1998                                        
                            9:05 a.m.                                          
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                
Senator Gary Wilken, Chairman                                                  
Senator Loren Leman, Vice-Chairman                                             
Senator Lyda Green                                                             
Senator Johnny Ellis                                                           
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                 
Senator Jerry Ward                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 237                                                            
"An Act extending the termination date of the Council on Domestic              
Violence and Sexual Assault."                                                  
     PASSED CSSB 387(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                     
SENATE BILL NO. 318                                                            
"An Act relating to marriage; and amending Rules 54 and 56, Alaska             
Rules of Civil Procedure."                                                     
     PASSED CSSB 318(HES) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                     
HOUSE BILL NO. 387                                                             
"An Act relating to dentists."                                                 
     PASSED HB 387 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 253                                                            
"An Act relating to medical assistance for certain disabled                    
persons; relating to personal care services for recipients of                  
medical assistance; and providing for an effective date."                      
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                   
PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                               
SB 237 - See HESS minutes dated 3/4/98 and 4/3/98.                             
SB 318 - No previous Senate committee action.                                  
HB 387 - No previous Senate committee action.                                  
WITNESS REGISTER                                                               
Anne Carpeneti                                                                 
Assistant Attorney General                                                     
Department of Law                                                              
P.O. Box 110300                                                                
Juneau, Alaska  99811-0300                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Explained the provisions of SCSSB 237(HES).               
Mike Pauley                                                                    
Staff to Senator Leman                                                         
Alaska State Capitol                                                           
Juneau, Alaska  99801-11182                                                    
POSITION STATEMENT:  Explained provisions of SB 318.                           
Al Zangri, Chief                                                               
Vital Statistics                                                               
Division of Public Health                                                      
Department of Health and Social Services                                       
P.O. Box 110675                                                                
Juneau, Alaska  99811-0675                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Available to answer questions.                            
Joe Balash                                                                     
Staff to Representative Therriault                                             
Alaska State Capitol                                                           
Juneau, Alaska  99801-1182                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Explained the provisions of HB 387.                       
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                               
TAPE 98-31, 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, Ellis, and Chairman Wilken.  Chairman Wilken            
announced SB 253 would be heard before the committee on Wednesday,             
April 15, and that CSSB 237 would be the first order of business               
before the committee.                                                          
      SB 237 - COUNCIL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & SEXUAL ASSAULT                      
Anne Carpeneti, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law,                 
explained that Section 7 of CSSB 237 was changed to read "acts of              
domestic violence" rather than "crimes of domestic violence,"  in              
relation to using such evidence in a domestic violence prosecution.            
She pointed out that the change brings into the evidence rules the             
practice most judges use today.  When a judge is considering entry             
of evidence of a prior bad act, the party attempting to introduce              
the evidence raises the issue before the judge, outside of the                 
presence of the jury.  The judge listens to arguments in favor of,             
and in opposition to, the admission of evidence by the prosecution             
and the defense.  The judge then considers whether the evidence is             
relevant, reliable, and whether other evidence rules apply such as             
whether the evidence was based on hearsay.  If the judge decides               
the evidence has passed that test, the judge then applies Evidence             
Rule 403, which requires that the prejudicial effect of the                    
evidence not outweigh its probative value.  Once the judge has made            
his/her determination, the evidence is or is not admitted and heard            
by the jury, depending on the judge's decision.                                
SENATOR GREEN asked if, in legal terms, crimes involving domestic              
violence and acts of domestic violence differ.                                 
MS. CARPENETI replied that in terms of this particular rule, there             
should be no difference.  Crimes involving domestic violence are               
defined, in Title 18 of Alaska statutes, as certain crimes against             
certain people.  The court would interpret acts of domestic                    
violence by the same definition as it would interpret crimes                   
involving domestic violence.  The problem with using the word                  
"crime"  is that at least one judge is interpreting that to mean a             
conviction rather than an act.                                                 
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                            
SENATOR LEMAN moved CSSB 237 from committee with individual                    
SENATOR ELLIS objected and asked if the provision to extend the                
life of CDVSA is still in the bill.                                            
SENATOR GREEN replied that provision is on page 3, line 10.                    
Number 113                                                                     
SENATOR ELLIS asked if the other language in the bill was requested            
by Senator Leman.                                                              
SENATOR LEMAN explained parts of SB 316 were rolled into this bill             
at his and Senator Parnell's request.                                          
SENATOR ELLIS asked whether the committee had received any                     
testimony from the domestic violence treatment community about the             
CHAIRMAN WILKEN replied Ms. Andreen testified in support of the                
legislation on the previous Friday.                                            
SENATOR ELLIS asked if the committee substitute had been adopted.              
CHAIRMAN WILKEN stated it had.                                                 
SENATOR ELLIS removed his objection to move CSSB 237 from                      
committee, therefore the motion carried.                                       
                   SB 318 - CHARTER MARRIAGES                                  
SENATOR LEMAN, sponsor of SB 318, described the bill as follows.               
SB 318 is an effort to enhance the basic structure of the family               
and marriage.  Over the years, changes in law have lead Alaska to              
join other states in the phenomenon known as "no fault divorce,"               
the result being an ever increasing divorce rate. Alaska ranks 37th            
among all states.  Recently, the Louisiana Legislature passed a                
"covenant marriage law."  SB 318 is tailored after that law, but               
uses the term "charter marriages" instead.  SB 318 will allow                  
people the option of entering into another kind of marriage                    
relationship when they seek a marriage license.  A current marriage            
license is for a testament marriage.  The charter marriage would               
raise the testament marriage standard by requiring three things: it            
requires counseling prior to marriage; it requires counseling prior            
to dissolution of the marriage; and it eliminates some of the                  
current reasons for divorce, such as incompatibility of                        
temperament.  SB 318 lists allowable reasons to dissolve a                     
marriage, such as adultery or commission of a felony.  SB 318 will             
provoke good dialogue between individuals seeking to marry.                    
Entering into a charter marriage will be a voluntary act.  Senator             
Leman noted the proposed committee substitute incorporates changes             
made to the House version as it is his intent to keep SB 318 as                
similar to that version as possible.                                           
Number 212                                                                     
SENATOR LEMAN moved the adoption of CSSB 318(HES), version E, as               
the working document of the committee.  SENATOR ELLIS objected for             
the purpose of an explanation.                                                 
MIKE PAULEY, staff to Senator Leman, explained the changes made in             
the committee substitute.  First, on page 2, lines 1-14, subsection            
(b) was removed.  That subsection provided that a couple who was               
issued their marriage licenses under current Alaska statute, could             
upgrade their testament marriage to a charter marriage.  This                  
subsection was removed because an official from the Bureau of Vital            
Statistics cautioned it would raise equal protection concerns since            
the Bureau would be unable to similarly change the terms of a                  
marriage contract issued in another state.  Second, on page 2, line            
28, the words "governed by the laws of this State" were inserted               
after the words "charter marriage" to clarify that SB 318 only                 
applies to marriages within the State of Alaska.  Third, on page 3,            
line 11, licensed clinical social workers were added to the list of            
individuals who are permitted to provide pre-marital counseling.               
That addition was requested by the Alaska Chapter of the National              
Association of Social Workers.                                                 
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked Mr. Pauley to clarify which version he was               
referring to.                                                                  
MR. PAULEY explained the page and line numbers he was referring to             
correspond to work draft A, the original draft.  MR. PAULEY stated             
the final change in the committee substitute is on page 4, line 24.            
Four additional reasons for grounds for divorce allowed under a                
charter marriage contract were added to the list.  The additions               
were requested by the Alaska Womens' Political Caucus because of               
concerns for victims of domestic violence.                                     
Number 260                                                                     
SENATOR ELLIS noted page 4 contains references to "habitual gross              
drunkenness contracted since marriage and continuing for one year              
before the commencement of the action," and "an addiction of either            
party, subsequent to the marriage."  He asked for clarification of             
the difference between habitual gross drunkenness and alcoholism,              
and whether the one year waiting period would have to be observed              
if the behavior was concealed by the spouse prior to the marriage.             
MR. PAULEY replied he did not know if habitual gross drunkenness               
and alcoholism are considered to be the same in clinical terms.  He            
also stated he did not know whether habitual gross drunkenness is              
defined in statute.  He pointed out that Section 6 is from existing            
law (AS 25.24.050) which contains the list of existing grounds for             
SENATOR LEMAN said he interpreted the bill to mean that the                    
behavior began after the marriage, and that the behavior would have            
to continue for one year before the spouse could begin the divorce             
SENATOR ELLIS asked if the bill incorporates any of those behaviors            
into the standards entering into, or breaking off, a charter                   
SENATOR LEMAN stated they are not listed.                                      
SENATOR ELLIS asked if the bill specifies the amount of counseling             
time that should occur prior to marriage and divorce.                          
MR. PAULEY stated the legislation simply requires, on page 3, line             
4, that the counselor attest in writing to the fact that the                   
parties were counseled as to the nature, purposes, and                         
responsibilities of marriage.  It does not specify any minimum time            
periods; that is left to the discretion of the counselor.                      
SENATOR ELLIS referred to line 7, page 4, and asked how proof is to            
be obtained.                                                                   
MR. PAULEY replied the proof would be different for each of the                
criteria listed, and it would largely be left to the discretion of             
the judge.                                                                     
Number 340                                                                     
SENATOR ELLIS asked Mr. Pauley if he agreed with the fiscal note.              
MR. PAULEY answered the fiscal note reported a cost of $13,300 for             
the initial year and a recurring annual cost of $5,000.  He thought            
those estimates were reasonable to cover the paperwork that will               
need to be completed.                                                          
SENATOR GREEN questioned the language on page 4, lines 6 and 7,                
that reads, "... the status as to the support and maintenance of               
the mentally ill person is not altered in any way by the granting              
of the divorce;".                                                              
MR. PAULEY explained that provision is in existing statute, but he             
was unable to recount the legislative history of that provision.               
SENATOR ELLIS commented Alaska's existing marriage statutes need               
CHAIRMAN WILKEN asked if the list on page 7 applies to current                 
divorces or whether this section is a whole new body of law.                   
MR. PAULEY answered Sec. 25.24.270, separation from bed and board,             
is a whole new section.                                                        
Number 371                                                                     
SENATOR ELLIS asked if that is a term of art for the separation of             
two people who have been married.                                              
MR. PAULEY said that is correct.                                               
SENATOR GREEN noted on page 4, line 15, and on page 7, line 15, the            
provision applies to a child who lives in the home.  She asked                 
whether abuse of other children is covered elsewhere.                          
MR. PAULEY stated page 4, line 21, of the committee substitute,                
provides that a divorce may be obtained if the spouse is convicted             
of a felony under AS 11.41 and that statute applies to crimes of               
murder, rape and sexual abuse.                                                 
SENATOR ELLIS asked if the Alaska Womens' Political Caucus                     
requested that physical abuse alone be added to the list of                    
legitimate reasons for obtaining a divorce, or whether they                    
requested other forms of abuse to be included.                                 
MR. PAULEY replied, to the best of his knowledge, the changes                  
reflect all of the requests made by the Alaska Womens' Political               
Caucus to Representative Pete Kelly.                                           
SENATOR ELLIS asked Mr. Pauley to verify that information for him.             
He then asked Mr. Pauley to explain Sec. 25.24.275, pertaining to              
the effect of decree, and in particular whether spouses cannot have            
any form of association with one another after a specific date,                
under subsection (2).                                                          
SENATOR LEMAN clarified that provision does not fall under the                 
dissolution of a charter marriage; if falls under separation from              
bed and board, which is a step in a separation.  Under the charter             
marriage law, a couple will have to be separated for one year, or              
18 months if there are children, before the marriage can be                    
Number 415                                                                     
SENATOR ELLIS asked if, during the one year waiting period, the                
spouses cannot have anything to do with each other.                            
MR. PAULEY said he did not think that was the case because it would            
conflict with number 3 on page 8, which refers to the separation               
remaining in effect until either reconciliation or divorce.                    
Reconciliation would be difficult if the couple could not see each             
other.  MR. PAULEY thought number 2 is an attempt to define a                  
situation in which the couple is no longer living in the same house            
and sharing in the responsibilities of daily life.                             
SENATOR ELLIS cautioned that that provision could easily be                    
misinterpreted.  He asked if conjugal cohabitation means living in             
the same household as married people.                                          
MR. PAULEY said that was correct.                                              
SENATOR ELLIS asked if the couple could meet and date.                         
MR. PAULEY said that was his understanding.                                    
SENATOR ELLIS removed his objection to adopt CSSB 318(HES),                    
therefore CHAIRMAN WILKEN announced the motion carried.                        
Number 434                                                                     
MR. AL ZANGRI, Chief of the Bureau of Vital Statistics, stated the             
committee substitute no longer contains the provision that the                 
Bureau found problematic.  The committee substitute also removes               
the need for the $5,000 recurring cost contained in the fiscal                 
note.  He offered to answer any questions.                                     
SENATOR ELLIS asked Mr. Zangri what the Bureau's original concern              
was with SB 318.                                                               
MR. ZANGRI replied the Bureau of Vital Statistics does not believe             
it can impact or change the terms and conditions of a marriage                 
contracted in another state without violating equal protection                 
rights.  Changing marriage contracts from other states will put the            
Bureau in opposition to the Interstate Exchange Agreement which                
will cut the Bureau off from all other states exchanging                       
certificates with Alaska. That is what happened in the State of                
Louisiana as a result of its covenant marriage legislation.                    
SENATOR ELLIS asked if existing Alaska marriages could be upgraded             
to this higher standard of cohesion.                                           
SENATOR LEMAN replied that was his original intent, but that                   
provision was removed because of the problem Mr. Zangri referred               
SENATOR LEMAN moved CSSB 318(HES) out of committee with individual             
recommendations.  There being no objection, CHAIRMAN WILKEN                    
announced CSSB 318(HES), version E, moves to the Senate Judiciary              
              HB 387 - DENTISTS ABILITY TO DO CPR                              
JOE BALASH, staff to Representative Therriault, gave the following             
explanation of HB 387.  This measure is intended to give the Board             
of Dental Examiners the ability to enter into a formal and binding             
memorandum of agreement (MOA) with applicants or licensees who are             
unable to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).  Currently              
the board enters into MOAs when it determines that an applicant or             
licensee is physically unable to perform CPR, however during a                 
legislative audit conducted last year, it was discovered that the              
board possesses no statutory authority to enter into such                      
agreements.  HB 387 will provide that authority to the Board of                
Dental Examiners while preserving the intent and spirit of the                 
statute to protect patients of dentistry.                                      
SENATOR ELLIS asked why Representative Therriault could not attend             
the meeting.                                                                   
MR. BALASH informed committee members Representative Therriault was            
attending a leadership meeting.                                                
Number 488                                                                     
SENATOR LEMAN noted the title of the bill is incredibly broad.  He             
remarked the bill seems reasonable to him since the dentist will be            
required to have another person in the room who is capable of                  
performing CPR.                                                                
SENATOR GREEN asked if, in Alaska, a dentist is required to have an            
MR. BALASH said he did not think so.                                           
SENATOR GREEN questioned how HB 387 will impact dentists who travel            
to rural communities for one day at a time to perform dental                   
services.  She questioned whether this bill will prevent dentists              
who cannot perform CPR from travelling to rural communities.                   
Number 507                                                                     
MR. BALASH answered the person who is able to perform CPR does not             
have to be a dental assistant; the bill does not restrict who can              
perform CPR in place of the dentist.  He pointed out a VPSO could              
assist the dentist who travels to rural communities.                           
SENATOR GREEN questioned the board's current ability to enter into             
CHAIRMAN WILKEN replied the Board of Dentistry is currently doing              
so without statutory authority.                                                
MR. BALASH stated this issue came to Representative Therriault's               
attention because the Board of Dentistry entered into an MOA with              
a Fairbanks dentist who was unable to perform CPR because of knee              
problems.  A legislative audit performed last year revealed the                
fact that the board did not possess the authority to enter into                
such MOAs.  An informal opinion was rendered by the Attorney                   
General's Office which stated that the Americans with Disabilities             
Act probably superseded Alaska law on that issue and would allow               
such arrangements, but Representative Therriault decided to sponsor            
this legislation to clarify the matter and prevent any legal                   
Number 541                                                                     
SENATOR ELLIS questioned whether statutory authority is necessary              
to decrease the liability of the board.                                        
MR. BALASH said the issue of liability has not been questioned.                
This problem arose when the Division of Occupational Licensing                 
learned from the audit that the Fairbanks dentist's license could              
not be renewed because of the board's inability to enter into an               
SENATOR ELLIS asked what the requirements are of the person able to            
perform CPR in place of the dentist.                                           
MR. BALASH replied that person is required to take a course and                
obtain a CPR card.                                                             
SENATOR ELLIS asked if the person can be of any age to qualify for             
a CPR card.                                                                    
MR. BALASH said that is correct.                                               
Number 561                                                                     
SENATOR LEMAN said he interprets this bill to apply to anyone under            
the jurisdiction of the board, which may include dental hygienists.            
He stated if that is the case, the title may need to be broadened              
to include those people, and the waiver should be extended to apply            
to dental hygienists.                                                          
MR. BALASH said the bill does apply to dental hygienists.  He                  
stated the Department of Law was aware of the letter written by the            
Division of Occupational Licensing.  He noted a title change may be            
necessary for the purpose of clarification.                                    
SENATOR LEMAN asked if the intent of the bill is that this will                
apply to anyone who is licensed by the board.                                  
MR. BALASH said that was correct.                                              
SENATOR LEMAN did not think a title change was critical since this             
is a House bill in the Senate.  He assumed a two-thirds vote could             
be garnered if the title was challenged.                                       
SENATOR LEMAN moved HB 387 from committee.  There being no                     
objection, CHAIRMAN WILKEN announced HB 387 was moved to its next              
committee of referral, the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.                
 CHAIRMAN WILKEN announced a committee substitute for SB 203 would             
be available the following day, and that it was his intent to pass             
that measure out of the committee on Wednesday, April 8.  He                   
adjourned the meeting at 9:50 a.m.                                             

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