Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/20/2003 08:02 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB  18-PARENTAL LIABILITY FOR CHILD'S DAMAGE                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 2410                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that  the next  order of  business was                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  18, "An Act relating to the  liability of parents                                                               
and legal guardians of minors who destroy property."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 2430                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN MEYER, Alaska  State Legislature, as sponsor                                                               
of HB 18, told the  committee that the proposed legislation would                                                               
remove the  cap of up  to $10,000 for intentional  damages caused                                                               
by  a child  to  corporations, schools,  villages, churches,  and                                                               
charitable  organizations.   He  said, "$10,000  just isn't  very                                                               
much.  It's  not uncommon for a child  to be able to go  out on a                                                               
weekend and cause  up to $100,000 in damage  to school property."                                                               
He stated that  the money [that schools spend  to repair damages]                                                               
should  go into  the classroom  to  buy computers  and to  reduce                                                               
classroom size, for example.   He noted that the Anchorage School                                                               
District suffered  almost $750,000 in  damages last year.   It is                                                               
an ongoing and increasing problem, he said.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER stated  that at one time the cap  was set at                                                               
$2,000.  In 1995  the cap was raised to $10,000.   He pointed out                                                               
to Chair Weyhrauch  that the amount to which [HB  18] would raise                                                               
the  cap  has been  "left  open."    He referred  to  information                                                               
[included  in  the  committee  packet]  that  lists  the  varying                                                               
amounts of caps in other states in the nation.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 2532                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER stated  his  belief that  removing the  cap                                                               
will have the  following effects:  to give  school districts more                                                               
money  for teaching;  to make  parents more  aware of  what their                                                               
kids are doing,  where they are doing it, and  who they are doing                                                               
it with;  and to  impress upon  children that  they will  pay for                                                               
foolish acts.   For example, Representative Meyer  stated that if                                                               
his  own  daughter ever  [was  involved  in vandalism]  he  would                                                               
[withhold] her  permanent dividend for  a few years and  make her                                                               
go to work and reimburse him.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER  urged the  committee  to  pass HB  18  and                                                               
offered to  answer questions.   He  noted that  [the issue]  is a                                                               
priority for  the Anchorage School District,  therefore they will                                                               
be able to testify much better than himself.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1590                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH   stated  that   it  is  a   fundamental  policy                                                               
discussion taking place regarding whether to have a cap at all.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2668                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CAROL  COMEAU,  Superintendent,  Anchorage  School  District,  on                                                               
behalf  of   the  school  board  and   the  community,  expressed                                                               
appreciation to Representative  Meyer for sponsoring HB  18.  She                                                               
reminded  the  committee  that [the  Anchorage  School  District]                                                               
suffered a lot  of vandalism last year, which peaked  the need to                                                               
eliminate the  cap on  vandalism caused by  juveniles.   She said                                                               
that the  district is now  finding that the courts  are reluctant                                                               
to assess damages,  even to [$10,000] level if  the juvenile does                                                               
not have  the ability to  pay, "or their  parents do not  have an                                                               
ability to pay past the age of nineteen."                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. COMEAU said there is concern  about the message being sent to                                                               
young people when there are  very few consequences for vandalism.                                                               
She  said she  thinks that  most  people in  the community  share                                                               
Representative  Meyer's   aforementioned  comments.     "Students                                                               
should  have an  obligation and  it may  extend into  their adult                                                               
life  that they  have to  repay damages  for vandalism  to public                                                               
property," she said.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  COMEAU mentioned  other  acts of  vandalism  at Dimond  High                                                               
School and Chugiak Elementary School.   She urged eliminating any                                                               
cap, thereby allowing  the courts to impose  judgments based upon                                                               
the  situation,  the damage  caused,  and  the attitudes  of  the                                                               
students  and   parents  toward  working  off   the  damages  and                                                               
restitution.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2804                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  referred to  page 1, line  14, to  page 2,                                                               
line 15, and read, "without regard  to legal custody but with due                                                               
consideration  for the  actual care  and custody...".   He  asked                                                               
Representative Meyer to clarify that.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER said he would defer the question to his                                                                    
staff.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2845                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG offered the following explanation:                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Generally, if  the parents are divorced  and custody is                                                                    
     awarded,  there  are two  types  of  custody.   There's                                                                    
     legal custody  and physical custody.   Legal custody is                                                                    
     a  decision  as to  who  will  make decisions  for  the                                                                    
     child,    generally,   decisions    involving   health,                                                                    
     education,  religious upbringing,  that sort  of thing.                                                                    
     And the  physical custody  is where  the kid  lives and                                                                    
     with  whom  the child  spends  their  time.   And  it's                                                                    
     usually some form  of a divided physical  custody.  So,                                                                    
     what  this  means  is  that,   in  determining  who  is                                                                    
     responsible  among  the   parents  -  apportioning  the                                                                    
     damages  between the  parents up  to the  limit at  the                                                                    
     present time  - the  court shall  do it,  regardless of                                                                    
     who has legal  custody, in the sense [of]  who can make                                                                    
     the decisions for  education and this sort  of a thing.                                                                    
     But,  the  court  shall consider  where  the  child  is                                                                    
     living  and  the  amount of  control  particularly  the                                                                    
     absent parent has.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Let's give an example.   Let's say that the parents are                                                                    
     divorced, and one of the  parents moves to another part                                                                    
     of the  state, or  even to a  different state,  ... and                                                                    
     they  have  joint  legal  custody.    The  parent  that                                                                    
     actually has the child may  be the only parent that has                                                                    
     any  practical   control  over   the  child   when  the                                                                    
     vandalism occurs,  and the court  would then  take that                                                                    
     into consideration  in determining who  was responsible                                                                    
     between the parents for the damages.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2929                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked, for example, if a father does not                                                                  
have physical custody during the time that a child commits                                                                      
vandalism, is that father "off the hook"?                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG responded  that  [the  language in  the                                                               
proposed  legislation] would  give  the judge  the discretion  to                                                               
consider that factor; it's not an absolute rule.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2989                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM asked about [unemancipated minors].                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 03-11, SIDE B                                                                                                            
Number 2990                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM offered the following  example:  A child runs                                                               
away from  home, gets into  a program,  such as the  Family Focus                                                               
program in  Fairbanks, Alaska, where  "the troopers say  that you                                                               
cannot  have any  control over  your child  in that  program, you                                                               
have no contact  with that program."  At that  point in time, the                                                               
child commits  an act of  vandalism, he  proposed.  He  asked how                                                               
the language of the proposed legislation would address that.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2946                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER  replied that  it is his  understanding that                                                               
[the  parent of  that child]  would not  be responsible  for that                                                               
child's actions, if  the parent had turned over the  child to the                                                               
state's custody, or the state took custody of the child.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2925                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG,  in   confirmation  of  Representative                                                               
Meyer's reply, referred to a  portion of AS 34.50.020, subsection                                                               
(b), which reads as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
          (b) A state agency or its agents, including a                                                                         
     person working  in or responsible for  the operation of                                                                    
     a foster,  receiving, or detention home,  or children's                                                                    
     institution,   is   not   liable  for   the   acts   of                                                                    
     unemancipated  minors  in its  charge  or  custody.   A                                                                    
     state agency or  an agent of a  state agency, including                                                                    
     a  nonprofit corporation  that designates  shelters for                                                                    
     runaways under  AS 47.10.392 - 47.10.399  and employees                                                                    
     of or  volunteers with that corporation,  is not liable                                                                    
     for  the acts  of a  minor sheltered  in a  shelter for                                                                    
     runaways, as defined in AS 47.10.399.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2850                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN, notwithstanding  the aforementioned statute,                                                               
asked why the  state would not be responsible, if  it has claimed                                                               
it can better care  for a child.  He stated that  it did not make                                                               
sense, because the state is then acting [in loco parentis].                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 2837                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG stated  that that was a  decision that a                                                               
previous legislature  made, and if the  current legislature would                                                               
like  to  revisit  the  issue,   it  could  consider  a  "partial                                                               
appellate."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH noted  that that addresses only the  cap, not the                                                               
liability  of the  state in  [subsection] (b),  which is  another                                                               
fundamental policy  issue that would have  to be taken up  by the                                                               
committee in a separate bill or as an amendment to HB 18.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   LYNN  interjected,   "I   want   to  make   that                                                               
observation."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2811                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER  concurred that the  purpose of the  bill is                                                               
solely  to  change  the  cap.   He  said  that  there  are  other                                                               
complications involved  that, perhaps, should  be looked at.   He                                                               
noted that Representative  Lynn has a bill similar to  HB 18 and,                                                               
after speaking  to Representative  Meyer, agreed jointly  that HB
18 would be "the vehicle on  the house side."  Senator Fred Dyson                                                               
also has a similar bill, which will be [heard by the Senate.]                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2783                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH referred  to a  page included  in the  committee                                                               
packet, and noted  that Florida allows what he said  looks like a                                                               
case-by-case  review of  damage claims,  with some  absolution of                                                               
parents or guardians,  depending on the circumstances.   He said,                                                               
"We all know about the child,  even with good parents, who cannot                                                               
be controlled  at all."  He  said it appeared that  Florida might                                                               
allow  an exception  to making  the parent  responsible for  that                                                               
child's  damages and,  instead, "set  it  on the  child where  it                                                               
belongs - a tougher love approach."                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER  said that "we"  are open to  suggestions to                                                               
improve the existing law.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH stated that another concern  is that a cap may be                                                               
necessary  in order  to  protect a  destitute  family from  being                                                               
bankrupted by the actions of a child.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER, in response to  a query by Chair Weyhrauch,                                                               
reiterated that  the cap  of $10,000  was set in  1995.   He said                                                               
that  he thinks  some  states may  have  "an automatic  inflation                                                               
kicker" that  allows the cap  to be raised periodically  to match                                                               
inflation.    He   suggested  that  that  plan   might  help  the                                                               
legislature  to avoid  having to  address this  issue every  five                                                               
years.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH   referred  to  the  article   included  in  the                                                               
committee  packet about  the two  teenagers  who ran  amuck on  a                                                               
tractor  through  a  school.    He  said,  "It's  the  worst-case                                                               
scenario you're playing to in this kind of thing."                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 2750                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ referred  to existing statutory language                                                               
[AS 34.50.020(a)], which says in  part [beginning at page 1, line                                                               
12, of the bill]:                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     However, for  purposes of this subsection,  recovery in                                                                    
     damages shall  be apportioned by the  court between the                                                                    
     parents or  between the parents and  legal guardian, or                                                                    
     both,  without regard  to legal  custody  but with  due                                                                    
     consideration for  the actual  care and custody  of the                                                                    
     minor provided by the parents or legal guardian.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ  said  that  there  is  no  mention  of                                                               
accountability or  responsibility "for  the juvenile."   He asked                                                               
if the juvenile is excluded from responsibility.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MEYER stated that it  is his understanding that it                                                               
is  up to  the  courts and  sometimes [the  courts]  do hold  the                                                               
juveniles responsible.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2645                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said, "No,  the juvenile is responsible.                                                               
This is  only in addition to  the juvenile.  That  doesn't permit                                                               
double recovery."                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked where in statute that is written.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  responded that  he  did  not have  the                                                               
title of the  statute, but that it deals with  "people other than                                                               
the juvenile."   He  said, "The juvenile  is [as]  responsible as                                                               
any  other  tort-feasor.    This   allows  responsibility  to  be                                                               
assessed against  a third party -  the parent.  That's  the whole                                                               
purpose of the statute."                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2583                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
VICKI HORODYSKI testified as follows:                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     At  first glance,  this bill  looks like  a bill  which                                                                    
     will force parents to  provide adequate supervision and                                                                    
     guidance for their children.   However, there's another                                                                    
     side to this issue, which  does not immediately come to                                                                    
     mind.   Why would any  family or couple  willingly risk                                                                    
     their financial  security by taking a  child or sibling                                                                    
     group  [who  may  be involved  in]  high-risk  juvenile                                                                    
     delinquency, including property damage.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Many families do accept such  children into their homes                                                                    
     through  guardianship  and  adoption.   These  families                                                                    
     work  diligently towards  helping  their children  grow                                                                    
     into the most successful,  responsible adults that they                                                                    
     can be.  That journey is not necessarily smooth.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     I'm  a  foster  and  adoptive  parent  who  takes  only                                                                    
     children  with fetal  alcohol  spectrum  disorders.   I                                                                    
     volunteer  as a  coordinator  of our  local FAS  [fetal                                                                    
     alcohol  syndrome]  parent  support group,  and,  as  a                                                                    
     surrogate  parent, I  am  an  educational advocate  for                                                                    
     children  in   state  custody.    I'm   also  a  parent                                                                    
     navigator  with  the  Fairbanks  FAS  diagnostic  team.                                                                    
     This  puts  me  in   contact  with  many  children  and                                                                    
     families who are facing a variety of situations.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     In particular, I  am working with an  adolescent who is                                                                    
     being considered for adoption  by a very knowledgeable,                                                                    
     competent family  who wants  to add  one more  child to                                                                    
     their  family  of  seven, of  which  three  have  fetal                                                                    
     alcohol syndrome.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     My  fear  is  that  this family  may  reconsider  their                                                                    
     decision  to  add one  more  high-risk  child to  their                                                                    
     family.    As an  adolescent,  it's  a miracle  that  a                                                                    
     family  is  even considering  adopting  him.   If  they                                                                    
     change their  minds because of financial  risk to their                                                                    
     family, there will be no other opportunity for him.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2471                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked Ms. Horodyski if  people who take in an FAS                                                               
child or serve  as foster parents have  a contractual arrangement                                                               
with the  agency through which they  get the child to  allow them                                                               
"indemnification for damages."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. HORODYSKI answered,  "I know we're not responsible.   I don't                                                               
recall signing that type of a contract."                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH posed the following question:                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Would that  give you some  comfort, if you  were taking                                                                    
     these high risk kids and  knowing that they're going to                                                                    
     act  outside the  bounds of  what  you may  or may  not                                                                    
     consider normal  or acceptable behavior, in  some case,                                                                    
     where the  state, or the  agency ... through  which you                                                                    
     obtained the  child would indemnify and  defend you, in                                                                    
     exchange for you taking that?                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  clarified  that  his question  applied  to  Ms.                                                               
Horodyski as either a foster parent or an adoptive parent.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HORODYSKI  answered, "As  an  adoptive  parent, yes."    She                                                               
clarified that  it is already  the case  that a foster  parent is                                                               
not responsible.   She added,  "When you're talking  about really                                                               
high risk  kids, a  lot of  times they've already  done a  lot of                                                               
damage, and families  try to help them make changes  so that that                                                               
doesn't continue."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 2384                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  stated  that  he  has  a  conflict  of                                                               
interest on [HB 18] and asked  that he be allowed to abstain from                                                               
voting on it.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ objected.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  asked Representative  Gruenberg to  "continue to                                                               
participate in this discussion."                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said  that he thinks that it  is hard to                                                               
place  some  children.    Throwing  up  roadblocks  or  requiring                                                               
indemnification would make  it impossible to place  them, as [Ms.                                                               
Horodyski] stated.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH   asked  Ms.  Horodyski,  if   the  state  would                                                               
indemnify her  for damage  caused by the  child, would  that give                                                               
her comfort?                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HORODYSKI said  yes.  In response to a  follow-up question by                                                               
Chair  Weyhrauch,  she concurred  that,  if  there was  a  policy                                                               
decision to indemnify her for the  acts of "these kids," it would                                                               
"smooth  the   way  for   you  to  want   to  enter   into  these                                                               
arrangements."                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG clarified,  "I meant  the opposite.   I                                                               
mean, certainly,  they'd like to  be let off  the hook.   I don't                                                               
know that any state would want to be on the hook for (indisc.)."                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2261                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  asked, "Are we  going to find that  we are                                                               
actually  stimulating emancipation  of  minors.   Because  that's                                                               
what it sounds like, that  as soon as they're emancipated, you're                                                               
out from under this hook."                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2170                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN commended  [Ms. Horodyski]  and others  like                                                               
her who  take in children  with fetal alcohol syndrome  and high-                                                               
risk children into their homes.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CARL  ROSE,  Executive  Director, Association  of  Alaska  School                                                               
Boards  (AASB), stated  that [AASB]  would  like to  see the  cap                                                               
removed.   He offered the  following anecdote:  A  juvenile broke                                                               
into a  "pop" machine  and, to  remove the  evidence, he  set the                                                               
school on fire.   That [took place at]  Mountain Village [School]                                                               
and the damage  totaled $7 million.  Mr. Rose  told the committee                                                               
that,  at  the  time,  he  was employed  as  a  president  of  an                                                               
insurance  company that  was insuring  schools.   He said,  "That                                                               
entire loss was picked up with a $10,000 deductible."                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.   ROSE   stated   that   the   school   districts   are   the                                                               
indemnification;  they take  insurance, pay  the deductible,  and                                                               
assume the  cost.  He said  that there is no  remuneration - that                                                               
money  comes  from  instructional  dollars.   In  the  worst-case                                                               
scenario, he said,  the numbers could be alarming.   He mentioned                                                               
a  resolution  adopted by  AASB,  which  he  said he  would  make                                                               
available to Representative Meyer.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROSE mentioned policy implications.   He said, "When we start                                                               
to  look at  the unintended  consequence of  simply removing  the                                                               
cap, that  becomes a problem."   He prevailed upon  the committee                                                               
and the  legislature to "take a  look at what we're  dealing with                                                               
here," for example,  vandalism that can be  demoralizing and puts                                                               
the  tax  payers  at  risk  of  picking up  the  bill.    In  the                                                               
previously mentioned  case of the  Mountain Village School,  a $7                                                               
million loss  affected all the  members of the  [insurance] pool,                                                               
by increasing their rates for insurance dramatically.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROSE concluded as follows:                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     To be able  to take advantage of the  uniqueness of the                                                                    
     circumstance    and    to   not    create    unintended                                                                    
     consequences, that's  an area of policy  that you folks                                                                    
     will  have to  deal with.   Our  interest is  simply to                                                                    
     remove  the   $10,000  cap,   because  we   think  it's                                                                    
     inadequate.  We'd like to  recover the actual cost, and                                                                    
     somewhere in between there there's a solution.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  told Mr. Rose  that it  would be very  useful to                                                               
receive the resolution and any  other supporting information from                                                               
his agency.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1955                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ  told  Mr.   Rose  that  he  raised  an                                                               
interesting  point.   The proposed  legislation is  an effort  to                                                               
solve a school  district problem through one approach.   He noted                                                               
that Mr.  Rose had  raised the issue  of insurance  and insurance                                                               
pooling.    He  asked  if  there  is  another  way  of,  perhaps,                                                               
combining different  approaches to solve  the problem.   He asked                                                               
if something could be done with insurance pooling.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROSE  replied that that  might be a possibility;  however, he                                                               
noted  that there  are only  two  active insurance  pools in  the                                                               
state:   the Alaska Municipal League  Joint Insurance Association                                                               
(AML/JIA),  and  the  Alaska   Public  Entity  Insurance  Company                                                               
(APEI).  He  mentioned the commercial market.  He  said that "we"                                                               
are  getting into  a highly  competitive area  and there  will be                                                               
some "proprietary interest."  He  questioned if that's where [the                                                               
legislature] wants  to go in  regard to legislation, but  said he                                                               
thinks  it's an  issue that  needs to  be addressed.   He  stated                                                               
that, in  the extreme cases,  there are costs involved  "that are                                                               
assumed, not only  by tax payers, but by the  actual consumers of                                                               
insurance across the state."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROSE said, "Vandalism can become  a very expensive thing.  If                                                               
you're just  talking about graffiti,  it's still expensive.   But                                                               
if you're talking about major  losses that result from this, that                                                               
takes us into a whole 'nother  arena."  He reiterated that [AASB]                                                               
would like to  see the cap lifted,  but does not want  to see any                                                               
unintended consequences.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  noted that conflict exists,  on the one                                                               
hand,  regarding the  previously stated  examples of  "commercial                                                               
interest  with insurance."   Furthermore,  he  stated, there  are                                                               
constitutional  questions  "on  the  other side,"  in  regard  to                                                               
requiring accountability  for the  actions of  a third  party for                                                               
unspecified conduct.   He suggested  that perhaps there  might be                                                               
an option to explore, a middle ground, third option.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1830                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  referred to the  $7 million in  damages at                                                               
the  Mountain   Village  School.     He   asked  if   that  money                                                               
realistically could have  been recovered from the  parents of the                                                               
child responsible.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROSE  answered that his  recollection is that that  child was                                                               
taken away  by juvenile  services.   He stated  that he  does not                                                               
think there was any attempt  to get any remuneration, because the                                                               
loss was so extreme.  He said  he thinks the case has been raised                                                               
that  when people  don't have  the  money, there  is no  recourse                                                               
other than to put  them in debt for the rest of  their lives.  He                                                               
stated that  AASB's issue is that,  when there is damage  done to                                                               
schools, it  wants to be able  to cover some of  those costs when                                                               
available.  He mentioned "no-fault"  insurance and car insurance.                                                               
He posed,  "When people who are  not insured get in  an accident,                                                               
what recourse do you have if they have nothing?"                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1753                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG  stated   that  people   can  purchase                                                               
"uninsured"  or "underinsured"  motorist coverage.   He  asked if                                                               
school districts are insured "for this type of loss."                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ROSE  answered  yes;  it  is required  by  law  that  school                                                               
districts  carry  insurance.   The  limits  of coverage  and  the                                                               
actual  premiums that  are paid  are  contingent on  deductibles.                                                               
Some school districts  choose to take a large  deductible to keep                                                               
rates down,  while others  take a smaller  deductible.   He said,                                                               
"You need  a case,  maybe even  the deductible  could be  -- that                                                               
might  be what  you  go after."   He  clarified  that all  school                                                               
districts carry both property and liability insurance.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG noted  that  parents  hold policies  if                                                               
they can  afford to.   He indicated  insurance rates  "going up."                                                               
He said  that the question  is, "Whose pool  do you want  to have                                                               
going up?"   The only  other issue, he  stated, is the  amount of                                                               
the deductible.  He noted  that, based upon the previously stated                                                               
testimony of  Mr. Rose, there  was no  attempt to "go  after" the                                                               
$10,000 [deductible].                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROSE responded  that it appeared in that case  that there was                                                               
no money to be recovered.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1635                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   BERKOWITZ  focused   on  the   "school  district                                                               
component,"  because he  said  that it  is  "the anecdote  that's                                                               
driving  this  legislation, which  is  always  problematic."   He                                                               
asked how  many times  the cap  has been  a barrier  to recovery.                                                               
Specifically, he asked  how many times damages  have fallen below                                                               
or above  $10,000.  He wondered  if it would be  possible just to                                                               
raise the limit somewhat, instead of having no cap at all.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROSE  said that he did  not have that information,  but could                                                               
try to get it.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH said  that  "we'll" work  with  the sponsor,  as                                                               
well, to address some of these questions.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
[HB 18 was heard and held.]                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                

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