Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/14/1996 03:13 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 253 - BAN CRAFT BUYING ON LIQUOR PREMISES Number 882 CHAIRMAN KOTT announced the committee would hear HB 253, "An Act relating to the purchase of authentic Native handicrafts on certain licensed premises; and providing for an effective date." MARY SATTLER, Legislative Intern to Representative Nicholia, Alaska State Legislature, said the bill was initiated because of a concern regarding the sale of authentic Native handicrafts on all premises that hold beverage dispensary licenses. Entrepreneurs, bar patrons and tourists often take advantage of intoxicated artists. Artists cannot make astute business decisions when they are intoxicated. Artists are most often taken advantage of when under the influence of alcohol and, as a result, the selling price of the art is far below the markup price. Ms. Sattler explained an artist can spend so much time on an individual piece of art, that selling the art far below its value is like throwing the artist's talent away. Furthermore, this type of activity puts enough money in the intoxicated person's pockets to allow them to continue abusing alcohol. As well as supporting alcohol abuse, this activity is degrading to the aesthetic value of the art and the artist. Ms. Sattler explained the bill is still being reviewed by the Department of Law and the Department of Public Safety. MS. SATTLER offered that many of the people engaged in the dialogue of the bill came into the picture very recently and there wasn't time to incorporate all of the changes that are being requested. One of the main changes being reviewed relates to broadening the bill to include all handicrafts and not just authentic Native handicrafts. The concern, however, is the bill deals with criminal statutes and people want to have a more focused definition of the word "handicraft." She noted there is a statute that does describe and define "authentic Native handicrafts," but as the deputy commissioner of the Department of Public Safety said, it would be hard for a police officer to go into a bar and know exactly what a handicraft consists of. Number 1038 MS. SATTLER referred to the penalties that would be placed on the buyer, seller and bar owner, and said Anne Carpeneti from the Department of Law is helping with that issue. The penalties would be a class B misdemeanor for the first offense and a class A misdemeanor for the second offense instead of the way it is stated on page 1, line 10. CHAIRMAN KOTT asked Ms. Sattler if she knows of any instances where this provision has been applied. MS. SATTLER responded in the negative. CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there is a problem or are we trying to be proactive. MS. SATTLER said there is a serious problem. Anyone who has gone to the Iditarod, who has gone into a bar, may have seen this happening. She noted a number of artists have even approached her pulled art work out of their sleeve or pocket and tried to sell it to her. A bar is one of the places they do a lot of business, especially after hours when they are looking for money to buy alcohol and the stores they sell to are closed. Number 1118 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG pointed out that along the road systems in the state, there are road houses that consist of restaurants or cafes, that perhaps have a liquor license, and also have gift shops. He said he thinks the bill is very short sided in the sense that it would restrict the sales and the sales opportunity, not only of Native art and handicrafts, but any handicrafts. He said he could be sympathetic to the problem in the more rural areas of the state. MS. SATTLER said that is another area of the bill they are trying to iron out. She said the basic concern is when you're in a bar. She noted the Hilton and Captain Cook, in Anchorage, have licenses to sell and they also have shops. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said he is sure that all the better artists in the state would be very upset if the bill were to pass in its current form. Number 1225 ANNE CARPENETI, Assistant Attorney General, Central Office, Criminal Division, Department of Law, said the department is concerned about the criminal provisions of the bill in its current form. Generally, the department would prefer focusing on this particular conduct in terms of the license of the operator of the establishment, but if you were going to establish new crimes to outlaw this type of behavior, the department would prefer to see they are in the general terminology of our criminal statutes. She said for the first offense, they would suggest a misdemeanor violation. It is not necessary and is not advisable to make a separate section prohibiting a person who is not an individual from committing the conduct. There are current sentencing statutes that provide for increased fines for offenders who are not individuals and who are working in groups of two or more. She noted you can't put an organization in jail anyways. Ms. Carpeneti said it would be the Department of Law's recommendation to make it one offense for all people which is what the criminal statutes currently do. Then if you want to have two levels of offense in making the first offense a violation and the second a B misdemeanor, or whichever level is best. Number 1322 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if the bill applies to patrons purchasing, but does not address the seller. MS. CARPENETI said it is her understanding that it applies to both. CHAIRMAN KOTT said there are problems with the bill and it is his intent to hold the bill over in order to address some of the issues expressed by the Department of Law. Number 1385 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER explained he has some problems with the general idea of the bill. He said he is extremely sympathetic to the concern. Representative Porter informed the committee that he has a concern that we would be making a violation or a crime out of something that a patron would be looking at as a kind act. He said he would really have a problem in making it a criminal offense for the person we're trying to assist if it is that the handicraft artist needs that assistance. He said he would really have a problem with a patron who, when you think about it, who could be suffering from the kind of problem and pay twice as much as they should have. Number 1482 REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA said he is also sympathetic. He noted he has been in a spot where he has been offered carved ivory in a bar where somebody was obviously selling it cheaper than what it was worth. He said he has also been in a spot where people have come around the schools and were offering a good deal because they needed money for some reason. Representative Kubina said he isn't sure how to address the issue, but he sort of agrees with Representative Porter. He isn't sure this is the way to correct the problem. REPRESENTATIVE ELTON suggested holding the bill in committee until the sponsor and other people involved have agreed on an a appropriate approach. CHAIRMAN KOTT said it is his intent to hold the bill. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER pointed out that currently a proprietor can preclude someone from being on their premise for any legitimate reason and pestering customers is a legitimate reason. REPRESENTATIVE ELTON said he can remember a specific case in which a proprietor was taking advantage of a person and getting a lot of ivory in exchange for drinks. There was a serious problem. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said he thinks the law now precludes that kind of thing from happening. CHAIRMAN KOTT closed the public hearing on HB 253 and announced the bill would be held.