Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 106

04/05/2016 03:00 PM House HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Recessed to 4/6/16 at 3:30 pm --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
Moved CSHB 315(HSS) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         HB 334-CHILD CUSTODY;DOM. VIOLENCE;CHILD ABUSE                                                                     
3:47:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  334, "An  Act relating  to visitation  and child                                                               
3:48:30 PM                                                                                                                    
CRYSTAL  KOENEMAN,  Staff,  Representative  Cathy  Munoz,  Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature,  on  behalf of  Representative  Munoz,  prime                                                               
sponsor of  HB 334, reported  that the  committee recommendations                                                               
had been  taken into consideration  and that she would  provide a                                                               
proposed committee substitute (CS) for review and approval.                                                                     
3:49:31 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
3:50:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  brought the committee  back to order.   He reopened                                                               
public  testimony  on HB  334,  [which  had  been closed  at  the                                                               
previous bill hearing on 3/29/16].                                                                                              
3:50:56 PM                                                                                                                    
KEELEY OLSON, Executive Director,  Standing Together Against Rape                                                               
(STAR), shared  her background working against  domestic violence                                                               
and sexual  assault since 1989.   She testified in  opposition to                                                               
the  proposed  bill,   as  it  did  not   provide  the  necessary                                                               
protections  for  the  victims  of domestic  violence  and  their                                                               
children.    She offered  her  belief  that the  requirement  for                                                               
criminal conviction was  too high a standard to be  placed on the                                                               
victims of  domestic violence  when they  were seeking  civil and                                                               
legal  protections.     She  suggested   that  the   rebuttal  of                                                               
presumption was  a very effective  tool to protect the  safety of                                                               
victims  and  children,  and  that   much  of  the  testimony  by                                                               
attorneys were complaints  that this created havoc  in the family                                                               
law  courts.   She  stated  that domestic  violence  was a  messy                                                               
business, and  was one of  most underreported crimes  in America.                                                               
She said  that there  would not  be an  increase of  criminal law                                                               
convictions  with   this,  and  that  the   requirement  for  the                                                               
conviction would  not offer any  protection to the victims.   She                                                               
declared that  it was  necessary to be  cautious and  to properly                                                               
vet the  claimed experts of family  law, as opposed to  those who                                                               
have worked in the field  and understand the dynamics of domestic                                                               
abuse.    She said  that  for  courts to  take  on  the issue  of                                                               
custody, it  needed to  be prepared  to hear  "some of  the messy                                                               
business that  goes on  behind closed doors  that is  the typical                                                               
situation of domestic  abuse."  She stated her  opposition to the                                                               
proposed bill.                                                                                                                  
3:56:13 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  relayed that  the proposed CS  had been  revised to                                                               
change  the  standard from  conviction  to  clear and  convincing                                                               
evidence  that  there  was  a   history  of  performing  domestic                                                               
3:56:56 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTINE  PATE,  Legal  Program   Director,  Alaska  Network  on                                                               
Domestic Violence  & Sexual  Assault (ANDVSA),  stated opposition                                                               
to  the  proposed bill.    She  relayed  that the  legal  program                                                               
provided civil  legal assistance, primarily in  family law cases,                                                               
to victims  of domestic violence  and sexual assault, as  well as                                                               
legal  advice  and counsel  to  advocates  in the  ANDVSA  member                                                               
programs.    She  shared  her  background in  family  law.    She                                                               
expressed her understanding of how  the custody statutes affected                                                               
victims, both  before and since  the enactment of  the rebuttable                                                               
presumption  law.    She  expressed concern  for  the  effect  on                                                               
children  of this  proposed  legislation.   She  stated that  the                                                               
rebuttable  presumption  law  was   enacted  to  protect  Alaskan                                                               
children  from  the  harmful  effects  of  exposure  to  domestic                                                               
violence.   She  expressed agreement  with the  sponsor statement                                                               
that fathers  were a critical  part of a child's  life; although,                                                               
she  declared, it  was most  important for  a child  to have  two                                                               
healthy  parents.   She stated  that  Alaska consistently  ranked                                                               
near  the  top  nationally  for   domestic  violence  and  sexual                                                               
assault.   She  pointed  out that  the  emotional, physical,  and                                                               
mental health  of children  in homes  with domestic  violence was                                                               
detrimentally  affected.    She  explained  that  the  rebuttable                                                               
presumption  against awarding  a  parent custody  was enacted  to                                                               
ensure that the  court made consideration of  domestic violence a                                                               
top priority in  the decisions for custody of  children, as prior                                                               
to this,  domestic violence  was only one  of nine  best interest                                                               
factors that  could be considered  by the court in  these custody                                                               
decisions.  She said that  domestic violence was such an enormous                                                               
issue in Alaska  that it needed to  be more than one  of the nine                                                               
best  interest factors,  declaring that  the proposed  bill would                                                               
return Alaska  to these  considerations unless  there had  been a                                                               
criminal  conviction  for  domestic  violence.   She  shared  her                                                               
concerns for the proposed committee  substitute regarding a clear                                                               
and convincing  evidence standard.   She offered her  belief that                                                               
domestic violence  was very  hard to prove  in court,  as victims                                                               
often did not want to come  forward because of fear or shame, and                                                               
often there  was not  extraneous evidence.   She stated  that the                                                               
clear and convincing standard made  domestic violence even harder                                                               
to prove  in a custody  case, and  she expressed support  for the                                                               
removal of  the criminal  conviction standard.   She  opined that                                                               
this standard was  an enormous burden to  overcome, especially in                                                               
Rural  Alaska.    She  stated  that  there  was  nothing  in  the                                                               
legislative  history  of  the  rebuttable  presumption  law  that                                                               
indicated  its  purpose was  to  require  a criminal  history  of                                                               
domestic  violence, as  the  current law  required  a history  of                                                               
perpetrating   domestic  violence   to   invoke  the   rebuttable                                                               
presumption.    She  reported  that  rebuttable  presumption  was                                                               
defined as one  act which caused serious physical  injury, a very                                                               
high standard,  or more than  one act of domestic  violence found                                                               
by a  preponderance of  the evidence,  51 percent  or more.   She                                                               
declared that the  history of domestic violence  was well defined                                                               
in  the statute.    She  stated that  an  accusation of  domestic                                                               
violence  was  not enough  to  invoke  the presumption  and  lose                                                               
custody of  the children,  as there  had to be  a finding  by the                                                               
trial court  that it was  more likely  than not, the  civil legal                                                               
standard, that one incident of  serious physical injury or two or                                                               
more  incidences occurred.   She  pointed out  that this  finding                                                               
could not  happen in  an ex parte  protection order  hearing, but                                                               
could only occur after a  long term domestic violence hearing, or                                                               
in  a custody  case where  both  parties had  the opportunity  to                                                               
fully present  evidence and  testify about  the incidences.   She                                                               
emphasized that courts are hesitant  to make findings of domestic                                                               
violence  in  long term  protection  order  cases because  of  an                                                               
understanding to  the significance of  the findings in  a custody                                                               
case.  She  declared that supervised visitation was  free in most                                                               
areas of Alaska.                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON pointed out that the  proposed bill would next go to                                                               
the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                         
4:04:00 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  closed public  testimony on  HB 334  after pointing                                                               
out that  the above two  testifiers had  been cut off  during the                                                               
previous hearing on HB 334 due to technical difficulties.                                                                       
4:04:32 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR   reflected  that  her  struggle   with  the                                                               
proposed bill was  that the testimony had been  in such contrast.                                                               
She pointed  out that the  testimony regarding  supervised visits                                                               
had ranged  from not being available,  to very costly at  $75 per                                                               
hour, to being free in most communities.                                                                                        
4:05:58 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO moved  to adopt  the proposed  committee                                                               
substitute (CS)  for HB 334, Version  29-LS1409\N, Bruce, 4/5/16,                                                               
as the  working draft.  There  being no objection, Version  N was                                                               
before the committee.                                                                                                           
4:06:38 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  KOENEMAN stated  that the  proposed bill  was a  complicated                                                               
issue, and  that the  sponsor was  trying to  find a  more middle                                                               
ground  for the  best interest  of  the children.   She  directed                                                               
attention  to  the  original  intent   language  adopted  by  the                                                               
legislature in 1981, which essentially  stated that it was in the                                                               
best   interest   for   parents   to   share   the   rights   and                                                               
responsibilities  of  child  bearing.     While  actual  physical                                                               
custody may not be practical or  appropriate in all cases, it was                                                               
the  intent  of  the  legislature   that  both  parents  had  the                                                               
opportunity to guide and nurture the  child and to meet the needs                                                               
of the children on an  equal footing beyond the considerations of                                                               
support or actual  custody.  She declared that  the proposed bill                                                               
was seeking to ensure that the needs of the child were met.                                                                     
CHAIR SEATON,  in response to Representative  Talerico, asked Ms.                                                               
Koeneman to explain  the changes made for  the proposed committee                                                               
substitute, Version N.                                                                                                          
4:08:43 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. KOENEMAN directed  attention to Section 1,  which removed the                                                               
rebuttable  presumption   language  in  AS  25.24.150(g).     She                                                               
reported that Section  2 added language for  clear and convincing                                                               
evidence  to   establish  a  history  of   perpetrating  domestic                                                               
violence, as well as the language  for the conviction of a crime,                                                               
for the judge to use in  determination of visitation rights.  She                                                               
moved on  to Section 3  which removed the  rebuttable presumption                                                               
language.   She explained  the changes to  Section 4  which dealt                                                               
with the  delegation of visitation  rights to a family  member by                                                               
deployed  parents.     She  relayed   that  Section  5   was  the                                                               
modification of  a custody or  visitation order that  removed the                                                               
rebuttable presumption.   She pointed out that  Section 6 removed                                                               
the  rebuttable presumption  language for  military families  for                                                               
the  delegation of  visitation rights  to a  family member.   She                                                               
reported  that Section  7  referenced  AS 25.24.150(c)(6),  which                                                               
removed  the  current  language  and changed  it  to  "clear  and                                                               
convincing evidence."  She reported  that Section 8 contained all                                                               
new language, which brought all  the custody arrangements back to                                                               
AS 25.20.061  if there was  any clear and convincing  evidence of                                                               
domestic violence, and that language was  set out in Section 2 of                                                               
the proposed  bill.  She noted  that the court could  order these                                                               
pieces  referenced  in  Section  2.   She  pointed  out  that  AS                                                               
25.24.150(m)  added a  time  frame around  the  acts of  domestic                                                               
violence.  She shared that AS  25.24.150(n) was in regard to both                                                               
parents committing  domestic violence,  and the award  of custody                                                               
to the  parent least likely  to perpetrate domestic  violence, or                                                               
to a suitable third party as ordered  by the court.  She moved on                                                               
to  the  changes for  Section  9  which repealed  the  rebuttable                                                               
presumption  language  as well  as  the  language regarding  both                                                               
parents  committing a  domestic  violence crime.   She  concluded                                                               
with  Section 10  which  stated  that this  act  only applied  to                                                               
visitation or  custody orders  issued on  or after  the effective                                                               
date of the proposed bill.                                                                                                      
CHAIR SEATON directed attention to page  5, line 14, and asked if                                                               
this language  was applicable if this  was a child of  either one                                                               
of the parents.                                                                                                                 
MS.  KOENEMAN  replied  that  the intent  was  to  include  step-                                                               
children or foster children.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WOOL suggested  that it  could read  "a child  of                                                               
either of the two parents."                                                                                                     
CHAIR SEATON opined that it would be a child within the family.                                                                 
4:16:46 PM                                                                                                                    
LINDA BRUCE,  Attorney, Legislative Legal and  Research Services,                                                               
Legislative  Affairs Agency,  in response  to Chair  Seaton, said                                                               
that the language  currently exists under AS  25.20.061, and that                                                               
it could  be altered  to apply to  a child of  either of  the two                                                               
CHAIR SEATON  asked if  this would cover  foster children  in the                                                               
MS.  BRUCE offered  her belief  that the  alteration would  cover                                                               
this,  although  she would  review  this  further and  provide  a                                                               
written response.                                                                                                               
4:17:52 PM                                                                                                                    
NANCY  MEADE, General  Counsel, Administrative  Staff, Office  of                                                               
the Administrative  Director, Alaska Court System,  said that she                                                               
would defer  to the Legislative  Legal and Research  Services for                                                               
the wording.   She stated  that definitions of  domestic violence                                                               
and household member already exist.                                                                                             
4:18:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ  offered  her  belief that  there  was  a                                                               
definition of child  in the adoption chapter, AS  25.23.240.  She                                                               
relayed that  her problem was  that it was very  restrictive, and                                                               
she pointed  out that if  the child  was not biological,  and had                                                               
yet to  be adopted, they would  not be technically covered.   She                                                               
suggested the use of "household member" or similar.                                                                             
CHAIR  SEATON  asked  if  this  could be  resolved  so  to  cover                                                               
domestic violence within the household.                                                                                         
MS. BRUCE said that she would.                                                                                                  
4:19:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  asked about  a circumstance with  two adults                                                               
and  a  blended  family  of  biological  children  from  previous                                                               
relationships,  although the  adults  were  not legally  married.                                                               
She  asked about  a time  frame for  legal custody  or visitation                                                               
rights by each parent.                                                                                                          
MS. MEADE  replied that  there were  grandparent rights  and that                                                               
she would research  the rights for a person with  a long standing                                                               
relationship with the child.                                                                                                    
4:20:53 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON suggested  a letter outlining the  questions be sent                                                               
to the next committee of referral.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR asked  that  the  circumstances around  non-                                                               
married couples be addressed.                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEATON reiterated  that a  letter  asking House  Judiciary                                                               
Standing Committee to address certain  issues could be sent along                                                               
with the proposed  bill.  He directed attention to  page 4, lines                                                               
11 - 14, and asked for an explanation.                                                                                          
MS.  KOENEMAN expressed  her agreement  that the  language should                                                               
also  conform   to  "clear  and  convincing   evidence"  or  "has                                                               
committed a  crime" in order for  there to be consistency  in all                                                               
the areas.                                                                                                                      
MS. MEADE replied  to an earlier question  by Representative Tarr                                                               
about supervised  visitation, and  its availability  in different                                                               
communities.   She explained  that she  had also  heard different                                                               
things.   She stated  that it  was most common  for the  judge to                                                               
seek that  the parties agree  on a  family friend or  relative to                                                               
supervise the  visitation, and  only if  there was  not agreement                                                               
would  there  be the  need  for  professional supervision.    She                                                               
opined  that  there was  no  longer  such  an entity  in  Juneau,                                                               
although this did vary by community.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR  asked  about participation  in  a  batterer                                                               
intervention program, offering her  belief that the only programs                                                               
available would  be prison  based, as  the funding  for community                                                               
based programs  was being  eliminated.  She  opined that  a judge                                                               
could  not order  this intervention  if there  was not  a program                                                               
within fifty miles.   She asked if this would  impact the ability                                                               
for these situations to be resolved favorably.                                                                                  
MS.  MEADE,  in  response  to Representative  Tarr,  offered  her                                                               
belief that, in Section 9,  the presumption was eliminated, hence                                                               
there  would  not be  any  need  for the  batterers  intervention                                                               
program; however,  directing attention to  page 2, lines 8  - 12,                                                               
she relayed that  if there was a finding by  clear and convincing                                                               
evidence  of  domestic  violence  or  a  conviction  of  domestic                                                               
violence, the court  may order that the perpetrator go  to one of                                                               
these programs.   She noted that if a program  did not exist, she                                                               
would not expect that the judge would order this.                                                                               
4:28:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON, noting that telehealth  programs had better results                                                               
as  they had  full attendance,  asked  if there  was a  batterers                                                               
program offered electronically.                                                                                                 
MS.  KOENEMAN   relayed  that  there  were   batterer  prevention                                                               
programs available  on-line, although they  were new and  not yet                                                               
used in the state.                                                                                                              
4:29:54 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
4:31:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON announced that HB 334 would be held over.                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 345 Supporting Document Guttmacher - general.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 345 Supporting Document UCSF Study Newspaper Article.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 345 Supporting Document Guttmacher Alaska Stats.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 345 Sponsor Statement.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 345 Supporting Document Unintended Pregnancies Study.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 345 Supporting Document Cost Savings Study.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 345 Supporting Document ADN Commentary.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 345vA.PDF HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 345 vH.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 345 fiscal Note- DCCED-DOI-04.01.16.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 345 Support- League of Women Voters.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 334 Opposition_SAFV_3.28.16.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 334
HB 334 Letter of Concern_Rep Josephson.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 334
HB 315 Proposed Cs Version N.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 315
hB 315Explanation of Changes from version A to W to E.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB 315 Proposed Amendment E.2.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB 345 Fiscal Note - DHSS-HCMS-3-16-16.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 315 Fiscal Note DRAFT-DHSS-SDSA -4-1-16 ver E.PDF HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB 315 Fiscal Note DRAFT-DHSS-HCMS 4-1-16 ver E.PDF HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB 315 Fiscal Notes DRAFT-DHSS-SDMS-4-1-16 ver E.PDF HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB334-ACS-TRC-04-05-16.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 334
HB 345 Background -SB 156 - Fiscal Note - DHSS 2.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
SB 156
HB 315 Support PCA April 5 Letter Support CSHB 315.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB 315 Proposed Amendment to the CS_N.5.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB 334 adopted CS version N.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 334
HB 315 Opposition -remove HCBS- AADD.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB 315 Letter of concern from the governors council.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB 315 CS HSS version P-HSS final.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB334 opposition - Christine Pate.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 334
HB 345 Support - Tanana Chiefs Conference.PDF HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 345 Support Samantha Savage.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 345 Testimony - Amend- Jamie Donley.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 345 Support - Beth Leban.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 345 Opposition - Small business association.PDF HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 345
HB 334 Proposed CS version P.pdf HHSS 4/5/2016 3:00:00 PM
HB 334