Legislature(2015 - 2016)HOUSE FINANCE 519
03/15/2016 01:30 PM House FINANCE
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HOUSE BILL NO. 77 "An Act relating to training regarding disabilities for police officers, probation officers, parole officers, correctional officers, and village public safety officers; relating to guidelines for drivers when encountering or being stopped by a peace officer; relating to driver's license examinations; and relating to a voluntary disability designation on a state identification card and a driver's license." Co-Chair Thompson read the bill title. 2:29:24 PM Co-Chair Neuman MOVED to ADOPT the proposed committee substitute for HB 77, Work Draft 29-LS0072\N (Martin, 12/2/15). There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. JANE PIERSON, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE STEVE THOMPSON, presented the "Sponsor Statement" and "Explanation of Changes HB 77 version E to version N" (copy on file): SPONSOR STATEMENT When people with non-apparent disabilities interact with peace officers and corrections officers, elements of their disabilities often brush against officers' protocols and may result in serious misunderstanding or even tragedy. The goal of HB77 is to improve communications between law enforcement and corrections professionals who interact with people who have non- apparent disabilities, whether these disabled individuals encounter the "systems" as victims, witnesses, or alleged perpetrators. The first part of HB 77 focuses on training regarding interactions with people with non-apparent disabilities. The bill requires the implementation of a non-apparent disability awareness training component for Alaska peace officers, corrections officers and parole/probation officers. The Alaska Police Standards Council, has established a basic course at the academy level. The training instructs officers how to engage in appropriate interactions with individuals who experience a non-apparent disability. The course instructs officers and the guidelines will stress understanding of the different manner in which people with non-apparent disabilities process sensory stimuli and language. The bill also requires that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) add a section to the Passenger Vehicle Driver Handbook that instructs drivers as to their responsibilities when interacting with a peace officer. Basic instruction will be added to the driver's manual and one or more questions will be added to the written driver's license test. Awareness training for both police officers and the public will aid in increasing the safety of most encounters. Another component of HB 77 is to implement a statewide voluntary identification system where a discrete marker will be placed on an Alaska Driver's license or an Alaska ID card. The marker would indicate that the individual has a disability that may not be apparent. The police or corrections officer, having taken the disability awareness training, will be able to understand and more appropriately interact with the individual. If a person's disability is not recognized during an encounter, it may affect the outcome of that encounter. This bill would push to improve communication between peace officers, corrections officers and parole/probation officers when interacting with people who have non-apparent disabilities. The hope of this bill is to reduce the potential for tragic encounters in our state. EXPLANATION OF CHANGES: Section 1 was added back into the bill, as it was in the original W version of the bill. The Alaska Police Standards Council has now adopted regulations concerning the training component relating to people with disabilities. This disability training component is part of the required curriculum for Alaska police officers, correctional officers, and parole officers. The curriculum focuses on training officers to recognize and interact appropriately with persons with disabilities, as well as familiarize the officers with resources that are available to those with hidden disabilities. Section 3 was also added back into HB 77 to include training for village public safety officers. 2:33:10 PM Co-Chair Neuman asked if the identifier was voluntary. Ms. Pierson responded affirmatively. Co-Chair Neuman told of having a discussion with an officer in his district in which the officer had gone through a program that trained in identifying psychiatric disorders. He wondered if that was similar training. Ms. Pierson stated that he was correct. There was already exceptional training available. Representative Gattis asked about the training. She queried the reason for removing the training aspect of the legislation. Ms. Pierson replied that the training program regulations were being drafted at the time. The training program was removed, so it could be drafted to match the regulations. The reinserting of the training was to ensure that the statutory inclusion may have to opportunity to be offered to conforming to Title 2. Representative Gattis wondered if the bill sponsor had worked through that issue. Ms. Pierson replied in the affirmative. Representative Kawasaki spoke to the voluntary component of the bill. He wondered whether a nonpermanent disability could be cancelled from the designation. He wondered if the disability would always be a part of their personal record. Ms. Pierson answered that it did not relate to the Alaska Public Safety Information Network (APSIN), which was through DPS. The disability designation would only be on the identification card or driver's license. 2:39:36 PM Representative Kawasaki noted that his driver's license was tied to his conceal and carry permit. He wondered if the license would attach to broader systems. Ms. Pierson deferred the question to Mr. Hansen. Representative Kawasaki noted that Sections 4 and 5 related to new language addressing the duties and responsibilities of drivers when encountering a peace officer. He queried the duties of the peace officers. Ms. Pierson replied that the duty was to pull over when safely possible, ensure license and insurance were available. Representative Kawasaki did not know the exact duties and responsibilities. He shared that some definition he would be more comfortable with the language. Representative Wilson referred to section 4 and 5. She wondered how there was a zero fiscal note if rewriting tasks was necessary. Ms. Pierson answered that the book was revised annually so there would be no extra cost. Representative Wilson queried DMV process. Co-Chair Thompson noted that DMV was online to answer questions as well. Ms. Pierson reviewed the basics. She did not believe it would come through regulation 2:43:20 PM AMY ERICKSON, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF MOTOR VEHICLES, DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATION (via teleconference), answered that all of the items on the driver's test were set in statute, but the division could easily add things to the system. Representative Wilson asked about putting the provision in the manual. She wondered if there was a regulatory requirement when adding to the manual. Ms. Erickson replied that the DMV would insert the language. Representative Wilson stressed that she was concerned about greater causing of problems as related to not understanding the procedures. Co-Chair Thompson believed even young people did not know the procedures if they were stopped by police. Representative Gara believed duties and responsibilities were defined by law. Ms. Pierson agreed. Vice-Chair Saddler asked if a designation of a disability record be kept anywhere. He wondered if it be retained in DMV's records. Ms. Pierson replied that she had not thought through the question and did not know. She imagined it may stay in the DMV file. Ms. Erickson answered that if it went into the DMV system it would go into APSIN, it would be possible to restrict it from going into APSIN if that was the desire of the committee. Vice-Chair Saddler looked at page 1, line 13, and wondered if the professions had the ability to designate a person as having a disability for any other purpose such as a handicap parking space. Ms. Pierson deferred the question to Ms. Erickson. Co-Chair Thompson wondered if the physical disability requirement was in statute. Vice-Chair Saddler repeated the question. 2:47:50 PM Ms. Erickson answered in the affirmative. Vice-Chair Saddler referred to other definitions for disability. He stated that the bill focused on drivers of motor vehicles. He wondered how many people may likely get a designation on a license who did not drive. Ms. Pierson did not know, but the bill did include ID cards. Vice-Chair Saddler relayed that he had a previous bill to include a veteran's designation on the driver's license, and remarked that it had a very high fiscal note. He wondered why there was no fiscal note for the current bill. Ms. Erickson replied that there was a new vender for the cards. She stated that it was currently a simple change. Representative Pruitt relayed that he had visited DMV, and shared that the DMV was no longer printing the manuals. Ms. Erickson answered that the division still printed some manuals in hardcopy and had lightened the printing load. Representative Pruitt relayed that the individual who worked for DMV had good ideas. He wondered about the barriers to access the system to prevent potential abuse. 2:51:33 PM Ms. Erickson replied that she did not believe under the legislation the person would not be required to disclose the specific disability. Representative Pruitt stated that he must have misunderstood the earlier comments on the disability. He wondered if someone had a temporary concern, he wondered how the scenario would be dealt with. Ms. Erickson answered that because it was voluntary she did not see the harm if a person wanted a temporary indicator. Ms. Pierson pointed to line 13 and read from the bill. Representative Pruitt pointed to Sections 4 and 5, wondered about the rights of the individual being stopped. 2:54:55 PM Ms. Pierson believed it should be left to the discretion of the legal team. She stressed that the bill only addressed the basics. Representative Pruitt countered that the committee was writing law and did not believe it was an acceptable answer. He wanted to know the goal of the sections (4 and 5). Ms. Pierson replied that the sections were developed because of the issue of what to do when pulled over. The sections were only the basics to ensure safety. Co-Chair Thompson interjected that the bill did not set new precedents. Ms. Pierson agreed and elaborated. Co-Chair Neuman remarked that the sections were included to provide the information about statutes. Representative Pruitt stated that Section 4 added a subsection. He wondered about the crux of the issue. He wondered if it was a real problem. 2:59:19 PM Co-Chair Thompson replied that the issue had been brought forward due to some actions that had taken place in the past. He provided an example of someone who may not be able to communicate. Ms. Pierson replied that she worked with someone who had been pulled over, and did not know what to do. She remarked that the sections were knowledge. Representative Edgmon believed with the neurological spectrum increasing, specifically the autism spectrum and Asperger's and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome the bill reflected an evolution of things. Representative Pruitt understood the main portion of the bill, but he was trying to connect the other sections. He pointed to the sticker symbol that would appear on the licenses. 3:02:35 PM Representative Wilson thought that when someone had a disability it was important the issue was documented and documented privately. She stated that for many people it was not possible to visibly see a disability. She thought it may be important information for an officer. Ms. Pierson answered that the sponsor did not want to get into HIPPA law. She imagined that if a person was pulled over multiple times that it would show up on APSIN. She did not think the sponsor wanted to identify everyone and their disorders. She believed it would be a problem to start compiling everyone's disabilities. Co-Chair Neuman stated that it was one of his problems with the prescription database. He did not support compiling all of the information on people. Representative Wilson spoke to the option to share the information if it was voluntary. Ms. Pierson deferred the question to the department. 3:07:56 PM Representative Wilson stated that the individual did show up on the database. She was concerned that it would not help if a person was not able to verbalize the issue. Representative Gara referred to APSIN, and did not think there was any danger that a police officer would think that a person committed a crime. He surmised that if the purpose of the bill was to protect individuals with a disability. 3:11:37 PM JUANITA WEBB, WALLBUSTERS, FOX (via teleconference), relayed that she is a normal person with a disability. She supported the concept of making the standard the same across the state. She explained that Wallbusters was a grassroots organization that was made up of normal individuals with disabilities. 3:14:46 PM RICK WEBB, WALLBUSTERS, FOX (via teleconference), shared that he is blind. He supported the bill. He shared a story about a young deaf woman who had been at a party. The individual had decided not to drive right away. She started her car because it was cold and climbed into the back and fell asleep. The military police had grabbed the woman by the leg to see if she was alive. She had been in fear and thought she was being attacked. She had been drug out of the car and restrained all because she could not hear the instructions of law enforcement. She ended up with 5 felonies including assaulting an officer and drunken driving. She had plead guilty to all of the charges and now lives with family in California. He stressed that it was just one story out of many. He stated that a little knowledge on law enforcement's part could have ended in different result. He thanked the sponsors of the bill. 3:19:36 PM CATHY GERBY, ACCESS ALASKA, ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), testified in support of the bill. She provided a story related to one of the program participants. 3:22:46 PM SARAH HIEB, ALASKA POLICE STANDARDS COUNCIL, JUNEAU, relayed that she was available for questions. Co-Chair Thompson asked where the council stood on having the issue in statute rather than regulation. Ms. Hieb replied that the council supported training for officers in disability awareness. She stated that there were some regulatory changes that would mandate basic training, including eight hours of disability awareness. She noted that the same regulations would require eight hours of training in recognizing and dealing with emotionally disturbed individuals, who were different but related to disability awareness. 3:25:26 PM Co-Chair Thompson explained that the language had been put back in related to statute. He stressed that funding may be cut from training, so the bill would ensure that the training occur. Ms. Hieb agreed. Representative Pruitt wondered how difficult it would be for the council if the issue was placed in statute. Ms. Hieb answered that if the council wanted to go above and beyond what the legislature put into statute it had the ability to do so. Representative Pruitt asked about the council's resistance to the change. Ms. Hieb understood that the issue had been put in regulation and not in statute by the prior committee. She observed that statute and regulation were both law and imagined it was somewhat redundant. 3:28:01 PM ART DELAUNE, GOVERNOR'S COUNCIL ON DISABILITIES AND SPECIAL EDUCATION; AND WALLBUSTERS, ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), testified in support of the legislation. He relayed that the bill would help police officers to understand that a person had a disability. He hoped to make encounters between police and individuals with disabilities safer. He did not believe records should be kept anywhere on a person's disability related to the issue. He continued that some individuals carried an autism card, a person with FASD was confused by multiple orders by a police officer. He stressed that the bill was about safety and communication. Co-Chair Thompson thanked the individuals for their testimony. He relayed that the bill would be before the committee again in the future. 3:34:49 PM Representative Gattis shared that she has an adult nephew with autism. She supported the idea of the sticker to get the conversation going. She wondered how someone would have the opportunity to opt in. She stressed that it was in issue of the safety of family members. Co-Chair Thompson assumed that the identification on the state ID would start the conversation. Ms. Pierson stated that the person should be able to keep a visible ID. Representative Gattis stated that her nephew would keep his ID. Representative Edgmon wanted to ensure that a tribal identification card was included. He would hold his question to the next hearing. Co-Chair Thompson believed it was a good idea. Vice-Chair Saddler asked if there was a limit to the maximum number of designations on a driver's license or ID card. Ms. Erickson agreed to provide that information. Vice-Chair Saddler liked the motive behind the bill, but had some problems with some of the language. He believed it would be very difficult to train police. He would be concerned about liability protection to police officers. He stated that the state was asking too much. HB 77 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further consideration. Co-Chair Thompson discussed the agenda for the following day.