Legislature(2009 - 2010)

03/24/2010 02:20 PM House JUD

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       SB 194 - ALCOHOL VIOLATIONS: PENALTY/CIVIL DAMAGES                                                                   
2:22:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
CS FOR  SENATE BILL NO.  194(JUD), "An Act relating  to penalties                                                               
and civil damages for certain  alcohol violations."  [Included in                                                               
members packets was  a House committee substitute  (HCS) for CSSB
194(JUD),   Version  26-LS0895\C,   Luckhaupt,  3/23/10;   and  a                                                               
proposed  House   Concurrent  Resolution,   labeled  26-LS1624\A,                                                               
Luckhaupt, 3/22/10.]                                                                                                            
2:22:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS moved to adopt  House Concurrent Resolution, labeled                                                               
26-LS1624\A, Luckhaupt,  3/22/10.   There being no  objection, it                                                               
was so ordered.                                                                                                                 
2:22:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON   moved  to  adopt  the   House  committee                                                               
substitute   (HCS)  for   CSSB  194(JUD),   Version  26-LS0895\C,                                                               
Luckhaupt,  3/23/10, as  the working  document.   There being  no                                                               
objection, Version C was before the committee.                                                                                  
2:23:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KEVIN MEYER, Alaska State  Legislature, explained that SB
194 would increase  the civil damages, which are  already part of                                                               
existing law, from $1,000 to $1,500.   He pointed out that SB 194                                                               
would bring civil damages to  both an underage alcohol purchaser,                                                               
and a person purchasing for  an underage person.  Upon conviction                                                               
for this offense,  the person would also be required  to attend a                                                               
juvenile alcohol safety action program.   He stated that underage                                                               
drinking  in Alaska  is  a problem  and that  this  would send  a                                                               
message that it  would not be tolerated.  He  reminded that there                                                               
is a tough penalty for the  adults involved, but not much is done                                                               
to the underage youth.                                                                                                          
CHAIR  RAMRAS,  testifying  as a  licensee,  concurred  that  law                                                               
enforcement has been reluctant to police underage youth.                                                                        
SENATOR MEYER  noted that the licensee  is at risk, and  that the                                                               
increase in the  civil damages was written at the  request of the                                                               
Alaska  Cabaret,   Hotel,  Restaurant  &   Retailers  Association                                                               
(CHARR).  He  pointed to the support of licensees  as they have a                                                               
lot to  lose, and  are willing  to help  support and  enforce the                                                               
2:27:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS  remarked on  an inconsistency  with the  ABC Board.                                                               
He  reflected  that  when  the IDs  of  underage  consumers  were                                                               
impounded by the establishment,  law enforcement would not follow                                                               
up, much  less collect the  IDs.  He  compared this to  a "sting"                                                               
operation,  when the  trooper  involved  collected the  impounded                                                               
fake  ID  from  the  establishment, so  that  the  "sting"  could                                                               
continue at  another establishment.   He reflected that  this was                                                               
not teaching a good lesson to the servers at the establishment.                                                                 
2:29:58 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MEYER  replied that  one  of  the reasons  the  industry                                                               
supports the  bill is  because they  are trying  to abide  by the                                                               
CHAIR  RAMRAS reflected  on  the industry's  effort  to be  self-                                                               
policing  and he  depicted the  minors as  the predators  in this                                                               
2:31:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  expressed his support  for SB 194.   He                                                               
asked  about  the  differences   between  the  House  and  Senate                                                               
SENATOR MEYER replied that both versions were the same.                                                                         
The committee took an at-ease from 2:34 p.m. to 2:35 p.m.                                                                       
2:35:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  repeated his  question, and  pointed to                                                               
Version  P, which  included  an amendment  to  AS 04.16.047  (b),                                                               
lines 3-8, which were deleted in Version C.                                                                                     
CHAIR  RAMRAS replied  that he  had spoken  with the  sponsor and                                                               
asked that  it be deleted.   He explained  that he had  a concern                                                               
for  assessing   greater  monetary   penalties  on   adults  with                                                               
substance  abuse  addiction.    He emphasized  that  he  was  not                                                               
interested in targeting adults, but  wanted to focus the issue of                                                               
minors  acquiring and  consuming.   He shared  that this  was the                                                               
reason for the title change.                                                                                                    
2:38:39 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG offered  his  opinion that  this was  a                                                               
disease for  a minor  as well and  it did not  make sense  to not                                                               
increase the fine  for both adults and minors.   He asked whether                                                               
Chair  Ramras  would  oppose  the   bill  if  that  section  were                                                               
CHAIR RAMRAS replied that this was  precisely why he spoke to the                                                               
sponsor and is offering a committee substitute.                                                                                 
SENATOR  MEYER  explained  that  the  bill  was  specifically  to                                                               
increase the  fine for minors,  and those purchasing  for minors,                                                               
as  both of  these  groups  impact the  licensee.    It was  then                                                               
amended to include  those with restricted licenses,  but that was                                                               
not  the  sponsor's original  intent.    He reflected  that  this                                                               
amendment  was  different  than   the  original  intent,  and  he                                                               
expressed support for Chair Ramras.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked  to clarify that this  was now the                                                               
original bill version.                                                                                                          
SENATOR MEYER verified that it is.                                                                                              
CHAIR RAMRAS  opined that  there is  a difference  between minors                                                               
forming their habits and adults fighting alcoholism.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked if  the Senate would  accept this                                                               
SENATOR MEYER replied, yes.                                                                                                     
2:41:53 PM                                                                                                                    
DALE FOX,  President & CEO,  Alaska Cabaret, Hotel,  Restaurant &                                                               
Retailers  Association (CHARR),  stated  that it  was the  minors                                                               
entering the  premises that were  making the choice to  break the                                                               
law, yet  it was  the licensees who  suffered the  greatest risk.                                                               
He offered  his belief that  this bill will provide  a deterrent.                                                               
He said that many of  the smaller establishments could not afford                                                               
to  execute these  claims without  some outside  help, hence  the                                                               
increase in the claims.                                                                                                         
2:44:10 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS asked whether the  Anchorage CHARR was collecting on                                                               
behalf of the licensees.                                                                                                        
MR. FOX replied that CHARR was  helping with the claims forms and                                                               
paperwork to file.                                                                                                              
CHAIR RAMRAS asked Senator Meyer  for an explanation to the civil                                                               
penalty which could be applied to the alcohol safety program.                                                                   
2:44:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTINE  MARASIGAN, Staff,  Senator Kevin  Meyer, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  replied that  part of  the civil  damages could  be                                                               
used toward  the alcohol  safety program,  or a  similar program.                                                               
She shared  that Anchorage  CHARR had  negotiated about  42 cases                                                               
with 15 more court cases pending.                                                                                               
2:45:32 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER  added that  it was his  understanding that  with a                                                               
civil penalty, the alcohol safety program could not be required.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG offered his  belief that, as the current                                                               
Version C  was now  the same as  the original SB  194, it  was no                                                               
longer necessary  for the  title amendment  offered in  the House                                                               
Concurrent Resolution.                                                                                                          
[CHAIR RAMRAS  indicated to Representative Gruenberg  to withhold                                                               
his request.]                                                                                                                   
2:47:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SHIRLEY  GIFFORD,  Director,  Alcoholic  Beverage  Control  Board                                                               
(ABC), Department  of Public Safety,  in response to  the earlier                                                               
question regarding compliance checks,  agreed that the program is                                                               
not supported  by all licensees.   She relayed that in  2008, the                                                               
Board conducted  more than  500 compliance  checks, and  in 2009,                                                               
this was increased by 42 percent.   She reported that during this                                                               
time the  success rate increased  from 83 percent to  87 percent.                                                               
She praised the  licensees, and shared that the ABC  goal was for                                                               
95 percent  success.  She  referred to studies which  showed that                                                               
compliance  checks  increased  compliance.     She  defended  the                                                               
program.   She pointed to  AS 04.16.09  (f), which stated  that a                                                               
person under 21  years of age does not violate  the section.  She                                                               
emphasized  that  the  compliance  program was  working  and  she                                                               
voiced  her pride  for  it.   She  stated  that  it protects  the                                                               
licensees, in the long term.                                                                                                    
2:52:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS expressed  his appreciation for the zeal  of the ABC                                                               
board, and directed attention to  HB 75, which required minors to                                                               
surrender their  driver's license upon  turning 21 years  of age.                                                               
He pointed out  that this would remove vertical  license use, but                                                               
he reported little assistance from  law enforcement agencies.  He                                                               
reported that his businesses would  not accept a minor's driver's                                                               
license  as identification.   He  expressed dissatisfaction  with                                                               
the lack of  interest from local law  enforcement for enforcement                                                               
of HB  75.  He  questioned the  aggressiveness of the  ABC agents                                                               
involved  in  the sting  operations,  and  opined that  a  better                                                               
sensitivity training for treatment of people is warranted.                                                                      
2:59:18 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. GIFFORD indicated that she  would strive to make improvements                                                               
in the training  of the agents.  She indicated  that she has made                                                               
some  procedural changes  that she  hopes  will soon  be seen  by                                                               
licensees.  She stated that she  would be in contact with Mr. Fox                                                               
to work toward improvement.                                                                                                     
CHAIR  RAMRAS   expressed  concern   for  the  behavior   of  law                                                               
enforcement officers toward those  that pass the sting operation,                                                               
and  asked  for  a  written  statement  from  ABC  outlining  the                                                               
improvements to the procedures.                                                                                                 
MS. GIFFORD agreed to do so.                                                                                                    
3:05:32 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  RAMRAS, after  ascertaining  that no  one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on SB 194.                                                                                     
3:05:40 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  moved  to  report  CSSB  194(JUD),  as                                                               
amended,  out of  committee with  individual recommendations  and                                                               
the accompanying  fiscal notes.   There  being no  objection, HCS                                                               
for CSSB 194(JUD) was reported  from the House Judiciary Standing                                                               
3:06:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG   moved  to  report   House  Concurrent                                                               
Resolution,  labeled  26-LS1624\A,   Luckhaupt,  3/22/10  out  of                                                               
committee.  There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                        

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