Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

04/11/2009 08:00 AM House STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Time Change from 9:00 am --
Moved Out of Committee
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled from 04/09/09>
Moved HCS CSSB 72(STA) Out of Committee
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled from 04/09/09>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 106(STA) Out of Committee
Moved CSHJR 31(MLV) Out of Committee
SB  72-CHILD SAFETY SEATS & SEAT BELTS                                                                                        
8:09:42 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN announced  that the next order of business  was CS FOR                                                               
SENATE BILL NO. 72(STA), "An Act  relating to use of child safety                                                               
seats and seat belts."                                                                                                          
[Before the committee was HCS CSSB 72(TRA).]                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 8:10:15 AM to 8:11:49 AM.                                                                
8:11:51 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HOLLIS  FRENCH, Alaska  State Legislature,  introduced SB
72 as prime  sponsor.  He said the proposed  bill would [protect]                                                               
children who  are too big  for a  "child" safety seat,  but still                                                               
too small  to wear  a regular  seatbelt.   He explained  that the                                                               
leading cause of death for children  between the ages of 3 and 14                                                               
is motor vehicle accidents.   Children between those ages need to                                                               
be  boosted up  in  a car  seat  about four  inches  so that  the                                                               
seatbelt lies across  their sternum, not across their  neck.  The                                                               
device that  frequently is used  to do so  is "a little  block of                                                               
plastic."  He relayed that  the U.S. Department of Transportation                                                               
would give $200,000 in federal funds                                                                                            
8:13:41 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  LYNN  expressed  concern   that  a  smaller  than  average                                                               
teenager  would be  upset  by  being told  he/she  had  to use  a                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH responded that a child  who is more than 4' 8" and                                                               
weighs more than 80 pounds [would not have to use the device].                                                                  
8:15:18 AM                                                                                                                    
ANDY  MODEROW,   Staff,  Senator  Hollis  French,   Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  testified  on  behalf   of  Senator  French,  prime                                                               
sponsor of SB 72.  He stated that  he would have been "one of the                                                               
children in a  booster seat" without [Section  2, subsection (b),                                                               
paragraph (5)], which read as follows:                                                                                          
               (5) eight years of age [FOR A CHILD SAFETY                                                                   
     DEVICE FOR  INFANTS.   IF THE CHILD  IS FOUR]  but less                                                                
     than [NOT YET] 16 years of  age who does not exceed the                                                            
     height  and   weight  requirements   in  (3)   of  this                                                                
     subsection [THE  CHILD] shall be properly  secured in a                                                                
     child safety device  approved for a child  of that [AGE                                                                    
     AND]   size  by   the  United   States  Department   of                                                                    
     Transportation  or  in  a  safety  belt,  whichever  is                                                                    
     appropriate for the particular child.                                                                                      
8:16:11 AM                                                                                                                    
NANCY  MANLY,  Staff,  Representative   Bob  Lynn,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, testified that  her son is in 10th  grade and weighs                                                               
less than 80  pounds.  She stated, "I mentioned  to him about ...                                                               
maybe  having to  use a  booster seat,  and ...  it's just  a big                                                               
laugh; he's  not going to wear  a booster seat ...."   She added,                                                               
"And there  is ... an exemption  that says ... you  don't have to                                                               
do it, but if you don't have to do it, why is it in the bill?"                                                                  
8:16:46 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH directed  attention to [paragraph (5)]  on page 2,                                                               
lines  [18-23], [text  provided  previously], and  said the  term                                                               
"child  safety  device"  used  here   refers  to  "essentially  a                                                               
shoulder harness."                                                                                                              
8:17:13 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. MANLY again questioned providing an "option," as follows:                                                                   
     But what I'm  saying is, why is it even  in the bill if                                                                    
     ... it's  already up to  the parents, just take  it out                                                                    
     of the bill.                                                                                                               
8:17:47 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH  suggested that at  this point in the  hearing, it                                                               
may be helpful  to hear from the experts available  to speak.  He                                                               
stated  that  the main  intent  of  the  bill  is to  access  the                                                               
$200,000, not  to "ticket and  fine parents."  He  concluded, "No                                                               
one is out to harass children  or harass high school kids.  We're                                                               
really  just trying  to make  the state  a little  bit safer  and                                                               
qualify for some federal money."                                                                                                
8:18:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked what provisions  must be in the bill                                                               
in order to qualify for the federal money.                                                                                      
8:19:04 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH deferred to other  people present who could better                                                               
answer that question.                                                                                                           
8:20:00 AM                                                                                                                    
TIM  BUNDY,   Chief,  Injury   Prevention  &   Emergency  Medical                                                               
Services,  Division of  Public Health,  Department of  Health and                                                               
Social Services(DHSS), read a statement as follows:                                                                             
     Motor vehicle  related injuries  are the  leading cause                                                                    
     of death in the U.S. of  children between the ages of 2                                                                    
     and  14.   In Alaska,  motor vehicles  crashes are  the                                                                    
     second  leading cause  of  hospitalization of  children                                                                    
     who are  prenatal to 14  years of age, and  the leading                                                                    
     cause of  fatality ....   In 2006, seven  children were                                                                    
     severely  injured in  motor vehicle  crashes, and  from                                                                    
     2002-2006, 63  children have been injured  in ... motor                                                                    
     vehicle  crashes  in  Alaska   per  the  Alaska  Trauma                                                                    
     Children  who are  restrained in  booster seats  are 59                                                                    
     percent  less likely  to  be injured  in  a crash  than                                                                    
     children restrained  by a lap  belt only.   Nationally,                                                                    
     voluntary seatbelt inspections  report 80-85 percent of                                                                    
     the  children are  improperly restrained  and one-third                                                                    
     of the children under the age  of 14 use the wrong type                                                                    
     of  restraint.     According   to  the   Alaska  Trauma                                                                    
     registry,  greater  than  85 percent  of  the  children                                                                    
     hospitalized  were   improperly  restrained   with  lap                                                                    
     belts, shoulder  harnesses, or  were not  restrained at                                                                    
     Current  statute that  references child  safety devices                                                                    
     is  confusing  about  specific standards  for  age  and                                                                    
     weight-based  restraints.    The bill  is  designed  to                                                                    
     eliminate  the  confusion  about which  restraints  are                                                                    
     appropriate for  each age and  weight level.   The bill                                                                    
     clarifies the type of  passenger restraints required by                                                                    
     children  of  various  ages and  size  to  prevent  and                                                                    
     minimize vehicle  injuries.  Currently, 43  states have                                                                    
     passed  booster seat  legislation, qualifying  them for                                                                    
     U.S.  Department   of  Transportation   highway  safety                                                                    
8:22:30 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO indicated that he  finds the language of the                                                               
bill  confusing, and  he asked,  "How  many kids  will be  unhurt                                                               
because we passed  this legislation compared to if  we don't pass                                                               
MR.  BUNDY said  he thinks  the bill  will clarify  the types  of                                                               
child safety seats and restraints that  should be used based on a                                                               
child's height and  weight.  He mentioned rear-facing  seats.  In                                                               
response to  Representative Gatto,  he said  many people  use the                                                               
seats improperly.   He  said that  Injury Prevention  & Emergency                                                               
Medical  Services has  an expert  who trains  trainers throughout                                                               
the  state on  the  proper  use of  the  child  safety seats  and                                                               
restraints,  and those  trainers then  relay that  information to                                                               
parents and caregivers.   Mr. Bundy said the  biggest problem has                                                               
been  that adults  are unclear  regarding the  child safety  seat                                                               
laws, and offered  his understanding that SB 72 is  an attempt to                                                               
clear up the confusion.                                                                                                         
8:25:23 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BUNDY, in  response to Representative Gatto,  said the Alaska                                                               
Trauma registry  would have statistics showing  any reductions in                                                               
the number of motor vehicle-related  injuries to minors.  He said                                                               
he  could  try  to  get  that information.    He  specified  that                                                               
fatalities  are  usually  looked  at  nationally,  while  serious                                                               
injuries are listed in the aforementioned registry.                                                                             
8:26:19 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG said  he wants  to  see a  copy of  any                                                               
statute,  regulation,  or  policy  that  specifies  exactly  what                                                               
Alaska's state law must say.                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN  asked Ms. Cashen  to provide that information  to his                                                               
8:27:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  referred to [paragraph (5),  text provided                                                               
previously], and  interpreted the language  to mean that  a child                                                               
who is between  the age of 8  and less than 16  would be required                                                               
to be  in a child  safety [device] "if  they are not  80 pounds."                                                               
She offered  her understanding  that Ms. Manly  had said  the law                                                               
was optional; however, she said it would be law - not optional.                                                                 
8:28:35 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BUNDY read through the  bill to highlight its specifications.                                                               
He interpreted [paragraph  (5)] as meaning that  "if you're under                                                               
16 and  you're over 8,  you still have to  be in a  seatbelt, and                                                               
you have to be restrained."                                                                                                     
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS indicated disagreement.                                                                                   
8:31:47 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  LYNN suggested  that  a graph  chart  showing heights  and                                                               
weights may be helpful.                                                                                                         
8:32:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON asked  where  in statute  a definition  of                                                               
"child safety device" exists.                                                                                                   
8:32:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CINDY CASHEN,  Administrator, Highway Safety Office,  Division of                                                               
Program  Development,  Department   of  Transportation  &  Public                                                               
Facilities   (DOT&PF),  offered   her   understanding  that   the                                                               
description is in Anton's Law [S.980, 107   Congress, 2D Session,                                                               
a copy of which is included in the committee packet].                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON noted  that Ms.  Manly had  approached her                                                               
and questioned  why the cut-off  of 65  pounds, which is  used in                                                               
federal  law, is  not incorporated  in  SB 72  so that  teenagers                                                               
would not have to use a child safety device.                                                                                    
MS. CASHEN responded that SB 72  would exempt anyone over the age                                                               
of eight from having to [sit in]  a booster seat.  In response to                                                               
disagreement, she directed attention to  the language [on page 2,                                                               
lines 15-16],  which read:   "or in  a safety belt,  whichever is                                                               
appropriate for the particular child."                                                                                          
8:34:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  opined,  "This  is  one  of  the  most                                                               
confusingly drafted  statutes I have  seen in  a long time."   He                                                               
opined   that   the   federal  regulations   should   have   been                                                               
8:37:53 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. CASHEN,  in response  to Representative  Gruenberg, explained                                                               
that the  provision in [paragraph (5)]  of SB 72 is  not language                                                               
that  is found  in federal  regulation, but  is language  that is                                                               
supported by the federal government.                                                                                            
8:38:31 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  directed attention  to page 2,  lines 3-4,                                                               
regarding   the    standards   of   the   U.S.    Department   of                                                               
Transportation.    He  mentioned  the  National  Highway  Traffic                                                               
Safety  Administration  (NHTSA)  and   asked  if  there  are  any                                                               
differences between  the standards set by  "the [U.S.] Department                                                               
of  Transportation  and the  language  you're  proposing in  this                                                               
MS. CASHEN asked Representative Seaton  to clarify if he wants to                                                               
know whether  NHTSA standards have  changed "between our  law and                                                               
this bill."                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON responded, "No,  I believe that what you're                                                               
doing here is just incorporating NHTSA standards."                                                                              
MS. CASHEN said that is correct.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON stated the following:                                                                                     
     When we  dealt with this  before, we ... cited  the DOT                                                                    
     standards, so that  we would not have to  come back and                                                                    
     redo them when  NHTSA ... will change  the standards at                                                                    
     some point  in time  and we wouldn't  have to  create a                                                                    
     new law.   So, that's what  our current law says.   And                                                                    
     apparently  the  Department  of  Public  Safety  cannot                                                                    
     interpret  or  cannot  somehow   figure  out  what  the                                                                    
     national  standards are  - even  though they're  on the                                                                    
     DOT web  site.  And  the purpose for having  this whole                                                                    
     law here is  to come in and -- parents  aren't going to                                                                    
     read this.   I  mean, parents don't  go to  the statute                                                                    
     books and  read the statutes.   This is solely  here so                                                                    
     that  the police  can more  easily understand  what the                                                                    
     statute  is, because  it's the  same  statute as  we're                                                                    
     currently  enforcing;  these  are  the  DOT  standards,                                                                    
     there's no change.                                                                                                         
     I think  it's very  confusing.  You  know, we  tried to                                                                    
     get  around it  two years  ago when  we passed  the law                                                                    
     establishing  the  DOT standards.    We  do have  those                                                                    
     standards  enforced.    I  don't  know  why  we're  not                                                                    
     getting the  $200,000, because  that should  have taken                                                                    
     care  of it.   But  apparently we  have the  government                                                                    
     saying that they don't want to enforce it.                                                                                 
     So, my  question again  is:   what we're  putting here,                                                                    
     whether it's  up to 16  and all of those  things, those                                                                    
     are the  currently required ...  standards on  line for                                                                    
     here,    and   they're    the   U.S.    Department   of                                                                    
     Transportation.  Is that correct?                                                                                          
MS. CASHEN answered that is correct.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said he wants everyone to understand                                                                      
"we're not changing anything in the law."  He continued:                                                                        
     This has nothing  to do with these  [regulations].  The                                                                    
     standards  are  published  ...  in  the  Department  of                                                                    
     Transportation,  and  if  you  go to  their  web  site,                                                                    
     you'll  find  all  this exact  same  stuff  that  we're                                                                    
     putting in here.  And  the only reason we're putting it                                                                    
     in  here -  we're changing  our  law -  is because  the                                                                    
     Department of  Public Safety cannot  go to the  DOT web                                                                    
     site and see what is required for them to enforce.                                                                         
8:41:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  offered her understanding that  Ms. Cashen                                                               
had said that  [paragraph (5)] is totally  different from federal                                                               
law and  that Alaska  had been commended  by the  U.S. Government                                                               
for including that language.                                                                                                    
MS. CASHEN confirmed  that SB 72 goes  beyond federal regulations                                                               
by including  language regarding children who  weigh greater than                                                               
65 pounds.   She  said, "Chief Council  ... supports  states that                                                               
provide a broader definition, ... but it's not a requirement."                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON clarified then  that her conclusion is that                                                               
"this indeed is not the same as the federal law."                                                                               
MS. CASHEN answered that is correct.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  offered her understanding that  Ms. Cashen                                                               
had previously  told Representative  Seaton that  [SB 72]  is the                                                               
same as the federal law.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  clarified that  he meant  that [SB  72] is                                                               
the  same as  [Alaska's]  current law,  which  requires that  the                                                               
state   enforce  the   standards  of   the  U.S.   Department  of                                                               
Transportation.   He proffered  that for  some reason,  even with                                                               
the current law  in place, police departments  are having trouble                                                               
understanding  what the  Department of  Transportation [&  Public                                                               
Facilities'] web site says.                                                                                                     
8:43:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  pointed to [the language  in paragraph (5)                                                               
that is  written in upper  case within  brackets and is  bold and                                                               
underlined], and  she concluded that  the language of the  law is                                                               
being changed.                                                                                                                  
8:44:24 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. CASHEN clarified that current  Alaska law requires the use of                                                               
proper safety  devices for children under  the age of 16,  but it                                                               
does not specify  which device must be used based  on the child's                                                               
age,  height,  and  weight.    In  response  to  a  request  from                                                               
Representative Wilson for further  clarification, Ms. Cashen said                                                               
she  believes Representative  Seaton  is talking  about the  U.S.                                                               
Department of Transportation's federal  standards.  She explained                                                               
that  when   a  booster  seat   meets  the  U.S.   Department  of                                                               
Transportation's standards,  that approval  is designated  with a                                                               
sticker,  which then  informs an  enforcement officer  whether or                                                               
not  a child  is  sitting in  a DOT-approved  booster  seat.   In                                                               
response  to  Representative  Wilson,   she  restated  that  [the                                                               
language of  paragraph (5) of SB  72] does not appear  in federal                                                               
CHAIR LYNN  asked if [paragraph (5)]  must be in the  language of                                                               
SB 72 in order to qualify for the $200,000.                                                                                     
MS. CASHEN answered no.                                                                                                         
8:46:27 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  directed attention  to a  [five-page list                                                               
of child  restraint laws  in all  50 states  and the  District of                                                               
Columbia,  included in  the committee  packet],  and offered  his                                                               
understanding that  no other state requires  a restraining device                                                               
for children over the age of eight.   He asked Ms. Cashen if that                                                               
is accurate.                                                                                                                    
MS.  CASHEN answered  that since  the list  is a  summary of  the                                                               
states' laws,  she would have  to read each state's  law entirely                                                               
to be able to answer that question with certainty.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON, in  response  to Representative  Wilson,                                                               
explained  that  the  information  on which  he  was  basing  his                                                               
observation is found  in the column [marked, "Must be  in a child                                                               
restraint."]  He asked Ms. Cashen  if she would say that based on                                                               
the  information  in the  list,  there  are  no states  with  the                                                               
aforementioned requirement.                                                                                                     
8:48:44 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. CASHEN responded that she  believes that would be an accurate                                                               
assessment based on the information in the list.                                                                                
8:48:57 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN asked about the  origins of the language in [paragraph                                                               
MS. CASHEN deferred to the bill sponsor.                                                                                        
MR.  MODEROW indicated  that [paragraph  (5)]  clarifies that  "a                                                               
child  seat could  be  used for  a parent  who  wants that  added                                                               
protection for their child."                                                                                                    
8:51:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  reiterated that  the drafting of  SB 72                                                               
is  problematic.   He said  that getting  rid of  [paragraph (5)]                                                               
would  mean deleting  the  entire paragraph  -  new and  existing                                                               
language.  He  said that Jerry Luckhaupt, the  bill drafter, told                                                               
him that  he had  been reading [paragraph  (4)] as  "between four                                                               
and eight years  of age," but Representative  Gruenberg said that                                                               
is  not how  it  reads.   He  indicated  that  deleting "all  the                                                               
current language  in the current  law that's not  even bracketed"                                                               
in  [paragraph (5)]  would "achieve  the result  these folks  are                                                               
talking  about."    Representative  Gruenberg  said  the  federal                                                               
regulations are slightly confusing.   He referred to page 5112 of                                                               
the  aforementioned Federal  Register, and  noted that  there are                                                             
references  made to  the Safe,  Accountable, Flexible,  Efficient                                                               
Transportation Equity Act:  A  Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) "and                                                               
some regulations."   He said Alaska is  enforcing child restraint                                                               
laws that  conform to the  federal requirements, and he  asked if                                                               
the bill  sponsor could  provide the  language of  those statutes                                                               
and regulations.                                                                                                                
MR. MODEROW  assured Representative  Gruenberg that  although the                                                               
language of  those statutes  and regulations is  not on  hand for                                                               
the committee,  "federal counsel" has  reviewed each draft  of SB
72 and  certified that  the language in  them fulfills  the needs                                                               
for the  federal grant and meets  certain standards.  He  said he                                                               
cannot speak to those standards in particular.                                                                                  
8:54:44 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH said he thinks  some of the debate over [paragraph                                                               
(5)] is  a result  of not focusing  on the word  "or" on  page 2,                                                               
line 22.  He said the "or" means  a [child eight years of age but                                                               
less than 16]  can be in a  child safety device or  wear a safety                                                               
belt, "whichever is appropriate".                                                                                               
CHAIR LYNN said that seems rather simple.                                                                                       
8:55:45 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said he is  confused because he thought the                                                               
intent of [paragraph (5)] is to  define what is appropriate for a                                                               
child under  57 inches and  under 80 pounds  who is of  a certain                                                               
age,  as stated  previously.    He added,  "It  seems like  we're                                                               
putting in a  caveat that says ... but if  you're under 80 pounds                                                               
you're in  violation of the  other because  it's not going  to be                                                               
the  appropriate device."   He  questioned whether  this language                                                               
would put  parents and police in  a quandary.  He  explained that                                                               
he  is trying  to figure  out what  the police  would do  if they                                                               
found someone who is 65 pounds wearing just a seatbelt.                                                                         
SENATOR FRENCH said he thinks  the point Representative Seaton is                                                               
making is  the same  point as  Ms. Manly was  making, and  is the                                                               
reason for  [paragraph (5)].   The  language would,  for example,                                                               
give a  parent the choice  to put their "thin,  little nine-year-                                                               
old" into a seatbelt if he/she throws  a fit at the idea of being                                                               
put into a child safety device.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said he had  thought it would be the police                                                               
that would  decide what  is appropriate,  however [it  seems] the                                                               
sponsor actually  means what  is appropriate in  the view  of the                                                               
parents.   He  said  if that  is  the case,  then  he thinks  the                                                               
language should  be more specific  "so that we don't  have people                                                               
getting citations for following what they think is the law."                                                                    
8:59:07 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. MODEROW responded  that the proposed bill  deals with height,                                                               
age, and weight,  "and so when they start lining  up there's some                                                               
difficulty."   Current  statute reads  like [paragraph  (5)], but                                                               
without  the proposed  new language  regarding height  and weight                                                               
requirements   from  [paragraph   (3)].      The  "whichever   is                                                               
appropriate" language is already in statute.                                                                                    
9:00:22 AM                                                                                                                    
JANE  FELLMAN,   Coordinator,  Safe  Kids  Coalition,   told  the                                                               
committee that she  has been a child  passenger safety technician                                                               
since 1998 and is currently  a child passenger safety instructor.                                                               
She indicated that  [the proposed bill] is  confusing.  Regarding                                                               
state  law, she  stated,  "We've  always had  the  law that  said                                                               
whichever is appropriate,  but it has fallen out of  the realm of                                                               
... NHTSA  and the  guidelines saying that  we qualify  as having                                                               
... a booster  seat law.  That's why we've  gone through all this                                                               
concern about updating ... and  clarifying our current law."  She                                                               
recognized  Representative  Seaton's  efforts   in  the  past  to                                                               
improve the  language of the  law, but  it is still  necessary to                                                               
include the correct wording so that the state does qualify.                                                                     
MS. FELLMAN related  that her job is to educate  the public as to                                                               
the safest  practice.  She  said part of that  education includes                                                               
talking  about the  law.   Although  there is  one  group of  the                                                               
population  who  will do  the  safest  thing for  their  children                                                               
whether or not  it is required by law, there  is another group of                                                               
the population who looks to the law for guidance.                                                                               
MS. FELLMAN  indicated that  the purpose  of SB 72  is to  fill a                                                               
gap.   She  explained that  there are  many children  between the                                                               
ages of 4 and  10 who are riding in vehicles  unsafely.  She said                                                               
it is  a simple  process to put  a child in  a booster  seat that                                                               
will allow  the child to  then correctly wear an  adult seatbelt.                                                               
She related  that at  age 10,  one of her  children still  had to                                                               
ride in  a booster seat  in one of  the family vehicles,  but not                                                               
the  other.   She opined  that "we"  owe it  to children  and the                                                               
state of Alaska to "get children  into these seats," which is why                                                               
SB 72 is critical.                                                                                                              
MS. FELLMAN  said teenagers are  another issue.  It  is important                                                               
to ensure  they wear seatbelts  correctly and use a  booster when                                                               
necessary.    She  talked  about  the  changes  in  manufacturing                                                               
vehicles,  and she  said she  has seen  adults in  booster seats.                                                               
She  warned, "But  if we  delete  ... [paragraph  (5)] and  don't                                                               
address the  ages between 8  and 16,  we're creating a  whole new                                                               
gap  of  children  that  aren't  going to  be  protected."    She                                                               
concluded by  encouraging the committee  to support  the proposed                                                               
legislation.  She added, "It will  save lives and there are a lot                                                               
of gray areas and I appreciate it."                                                                                             
9:06:04 AM                                                                                                                    
MARGARET  HAYASHI  told  the  committee  that  she  has  been  an                                                               
emergency nurse  for 43 years  and has seen the  trauma resulting                                                               
from improper use  of child restraint devices.  She  said that as                                                               
a child passenger safety instructor,  she has checked hundreds of                                                               
seats,  and thousands  of  seats have  been  checked since  "this                                                               
program"  began in  1997.   She  stated, "The  reason that  we've                                                               
moved to  do this is because  there is a misunderstanding  of our                                                               
current  law ...  [by] not  only policemen,  but families."   She                                                               
indicated that "the clarification that  you see before you today"                                                               
resulted from the  feedback of several parents.   She said, "What                                                               
we've done is in each  category we've addressed what is necessary                                                               
to restrain  a child properly,  and our  current law does  not do                                                               
that  -  it says  whichever  is  appropriate according  to  DOT's                                                               
standards."   Ms.  Hayashi said  unfortunately  nobody ever  goes                                                               
back and looks  at DOT's standards.  She indicated  that there is                                                               
a drop  in the number  of children after  age four who  are being                                                               
put in booster seats; instead they are being put in seatbelts.                                                                  
MS. HAYASHI said  vehicle manufacturers have said  that seats and                                                               
lap/shoulder  belts are  not configured  for  children or  adults                                                               
under 4  foot 9  inches in  height.  She  said what  happens when                                                               
children [under that height] use  a seat belt [without benefit of                                                               
a  child safety  device or  booster seat]  is they  take the  top                                                               
portion of the harness and put  it behind them, which leaves them                                                               
restrained only by  a lap belt, which is disastrous  in the event                                                               
of a  crash.  Ms.  Hayashi said she has  seen the result  of that                                                               
practice in emergency  rooms over the years.   She indicated that                                                               
[because  of  providing  education  regarding the  use  of  child                                                               
safety  devices] the  percentage of  misuse has  dropped from  90                                                               
percent  to  approximately 85  percent.    She noted  that  child                                                               
safety  devices are  now  made  for children  up  to 100  pounds,                                                               
because "it is the safest way for children to travel."                                                                          
MS. HAYASHI opined, "As parents  and as grandparents, if you deal                                                               
with  this on  a  day-to-day  basis, you  actually  can read  and                                                               
understand what  this says."  She  stated that [SB 72]  is vital.                                                               
She spoke  of two  children, seven  and eight  years of  age, who                                                               
died as  a result of a  catastrophic vehicle crash and  not being                                                               
properly restrained.                                                                                                            
9:10:05 AM                                                                                                                    
DAVID WALLACE told the committee that  he is a paramedic with the                                                               
Anchorage Fire  Department who spends  time as a  child passenger                                                               
safety technician instructor,  and he is testifying  as a parent.                                                               
Mr.  Wallace said  he  has  a six-year-old  who  is reaching  the                                                               
height requirements  but is still  under the weight limit,  and a                                                               
booster seat  is still  the most  appropriate way  for her  to be                                                               
restrained in the back seat of  the vehicle.  Mr. Wallace said SB
72  is  not only  important  for  law  enforcement, but  is  also                                                               
important to the  education of parents.  He said  parents do look                                                               
to  the law  for  guidance on  how  to best  take  care of  their                                                               
children and on  what the best practice is.   Mr. Wallace said SB
72 would  provide a defined criteria  for each age group  so that                                                               
parents  have a  way to  ensure  that their  children are  safely                                                               
restrained  while  riding  in  a  vehicle.    He  encouraged  the                                                               
committee to support the proposed legislation.                                                                                  
9:11:49 AM                                                                                                                    
ARLENE PATUC  testified that she is  an RN and a  child passenger                                                               
safety technician for 10 years.   She said she thinks parents who                                                               
read the  bill are confused and  think that a child  between four                                                               
and eight years  of age can be  put in a lap/shoulder  belt.  She                                                               
explained that  the lap  portion of  a lap/shoulder  harness seat                                                               
belt, when  used on a child,  crosses the child's body  above the                                                               
hip bone.  Therefore, in  a vehicular accident, the first "strong                                                               
point" in the body that that  belt hits is the spine, which would                                                               
cause massive  internal and spinal  injury.  Ms. Patuc  said that                                                               
as a discharge planner, she  has had the opportunity to discharge                                                               
children  with  complex medical  conditions.    The $200,000  the                                                               
state stands to  gain by meeting federal standards is  a "drop in                                                               
the bucket" compared to the cost  of spinal or head injuries.  It                                                               
is a massive  impact on the family and community.   She urged the                                                               
committee to support SB 72.                                                                                                     
9:13:43 AM                                                                                                                    
JILL HODGES, Alaska Brain Injury  Network (ABIN), said people are                                                               
not the same  size and shape, but  each person has a  brain.  She                                                               
said the Centers for Disease  Control and Prevention (CDC) states                                                               
that traumatic  brain injury  is the leading  cause of  death and                                                               
disability  among   children.    Ms.  Hodges   said  during  past                                                               
presentations  by  ABIN, many  legislators  have  asked what  the                                                               
legislature  can do  to help  decrease the  numbers of  traumatic                                                               
brain injuries that  occur.  She stated that passing  SB 72 today                                                               
is one the things that can be done.                                                                                             
9:14:59 AM                                                                                                                    
GORDON  GLASER,  Booster Seat  Task  Force,  Injury Prevention  &                                                               
Emergency   Medical   Services,   Division  of   Public   Health,                                                               
Department  of  Health  and  Social  Services  (DHSS),  told  the                                                               
committee  that   he  is  involved  in   child  passenger  safety                                                               
training.   He said,  "I just  want to echo  the words  that were                                                               
said before  me."   Regarding a previous  question as  to whether                                                               
passing  legislation such  as SB  72  would have  an impact,  Mr.                                                               
Glaser noted  that research conducted  by Children's  Hospital in                                                               
Philadelphia indicates  that those  states that have  passed such                                                               
legislation  saw  an   increase  in  the  use   of  child  safety                                                               
restraints from 21  percent to 75 percent for  children ages four                                                               
to  five.    He said  although  there  is  no  way to  provide  a                                                               
definitive number of  how many will be saved, of  the 39 four- to                                                               
eight-year-olds  who  were injured  in  Alaska  over a  five-year                                                               
period, 15  were in safety  belt harnesses,  9 were in  lap belts                                                               
only,  and  11 were  unrestrained  -  none  were in  boosters  or                                                               
[children's car seats].   Mr. Glaser stated that SB  72 will have                                                               
a direct impact  not only in terms of medical  costs, but also in                                                               
preventing injuries and securing some federal funds.                                                                            
MR. GLASER  said [paragraph (5)]  would offer clarification.   He                                                               
commended Representative  Seaton's past  efforts to get  a ruling                                                               
from the attorney general to  encourage compliance.  He said, "It                                                               
was sent to  all the police chiefs,"  but "unfortunately, without                                                               
the clarifying legislation that you  have before you, it was just                                                               
not something that the police  officers could enforce nor parents                                                               
could easily understand."                                                                                                       
9:17:47 AM                                                                                                                    
JANICE  TOWER,  Executive   Director,  Alaska  Chapter,  American                                                               
Academy of Pediatrics,  reported that a 20007  National Survey of                                                               
the Use  of Booster Seats,  conducted by NHTSA's  National Center                                                               
for Statistics and  Analysis revealed that booster  seat use rate                                                               
for children ages  six and seven dropped from 36  percent in 2006                                                               
to  25 percent  in 2007.   The  study concluded  that there  is a                                                               
premature  graduation  of  children  from  birth  to  age  12  to                                                               
restraint  types  that are  inappropriate  for  their height  and                                                               
MS. TOWER said  the chapter feels that SB 72  would help increase                                                               
the  use  of booster  seats  and  alleviate confusion  [regarding                                                               
their proper use].  She  stated her belief that pediatricians are                                                               
committed to counseling parents during doctor's visits.                                                                         
9:19:05 AM                                                                                                                    
JODYNE  BUTTO, M.D.,  President, American  Academy of  Pediatrics                                                               
(AAP) Alaska Chapter, stated that  AAP, in cooperation with NHTSA                                                               
developed guidelines  to fully  spell out  proper use  of booster                                                               
seats and "five-point" harnesses.   She said it benefits children                                                               
to be  restrained properly  while riding  as passengers  in motor                                                               
vehicles,  especially in  the  winter time  when  driving can  be                                                               
challenging.  She stated that AAP fully supports SB.                                                                            
9:20:30 AM                                                                                                                    
TIM LAMKIN told the committee  that although he works for Senator                                                               
Gary  Stevens, he  is testifying  today on  his own  behalf as  a                                                               
concerned parent.  He voiced concern  that there is both a height                                                               
and weight requirement.   He remarked that a  booster seat "makes                                                               
you  taller."   He  mentioned regulations  and  Anton's Law,  and                                                               
stated, "Nowhere in the literature does  it require that you be a                                                               
certain  minimum weight  to lawfully  or safely  transition to  a                                                               
standard seatbelt."                                                                                                             
MR. LAMKIN urged  the committee to consider amending  the bill to                                                               
reduce the  proposed 80-pound  requirement and  delete [paragraph                                                               
(5)].  He said he thinks  the language of [paragraph (4)] - which                                                               
states that  those over four years  of age who exceed  the height                                                               
and  weight requirements  "in  (3) of  this  subsection shall  be                                                           
properly  secured in  a seat  belt" -  "logically covers  all the                                                           
bases."  He stated, "If we're trying  to set the law up such that                                                               
we  can get  these grant  monies, there's  already a  loophole in                                                               
existence and we're not changing that  loophole.  So, it seems to                                                               
me that  we continue to set  ourselves up for being  denied those                                                               
MR. LAMKIN  offered his understanding  that "this law  was passed                                                               
in 2002  with $5  million at  the federal  level for  four fiscal                                                               
years."  He  questioned whether the money is  really still there.                                                               
He further questioned  the need to create law in  which a mandate                                                               
includes a choice.                                                                                                              
9:23:57 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN,  after ascertaining  that there was  no one  else who                                                               
wished to testify, closed public testimony.                                                                                     
9:25:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  moved to adopt Conceptual  Amendment 1, as                                                               
     On page 2, line 23:                                                                                                        
          Following "child"                                                                                                     
          Insert "as determined by the driver"                                                                                  
9:25:48 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN objected for discussion purposes.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  said Conceptual Amendment 1  would clarify                                                               
that the  driver of the vehicle  would be the individual  to make                                                               
the determination  as to  which child safety  device is  the most                                                               
appropriate for  children under 16  - not  a police officer.   He                                                               
stated his understanding  that that is what is  currently in law,                                                               
but it is not explicit.                                                                                                         
9:26:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN  questioned whether  Conceptual Amendment                                                               
1 would  remove any  course of  action for  a police  officer who                                                               
pulls  over  a  driver  and  discovers a  child  in  the  vehicle                                                               
improperly restrained.                                                                                                          
9:27:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON answered no.   He explained that Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 1 would  clarify that a parent could  choose whether it                                                               
is  more appropriate  for his/her  child to  wear a  child safety                                                               
device or  an adult  seatbelt.  However,  it would  not eliminate                                                               
the requirement for a child to be secured in a seat.                                                                            
9:28:09 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN  removed his  objection.  There  being no                                                               
further objection, Conceptual Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                          
9:28:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON moved to adopt  Amendment 2, which read as                                                               
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
     Page 2, Line 11:                                                                                                           
          Delete: "80"                                                                                                          
          Insert: "65"                                                                                                          
     Page 2, Lines 18-23                                                                                                        
          Delete all material                                                                                                   
9:28:26 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON objected.   He asked Representative Johnson                                                               
if he would divide the question.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON said he would have no problem with that.                                                                 
9:29:08 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN  moved to amend Amendment  2, such that it  would read                                                               
as follows:                                                                                                                     
     Page 2, Line 11:                                                                                                           
          Delete: "80"                                                                                                          
          Insert: "65"                                                                                                          
[The remainder  of Amendment  2 was  considered Amendment  3, and                                                               
read as follows:]                                                                                                               
     Page 2, Lines 18-23                                                                                                        
          Delete all material                                                                                                   
9:29:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON spoke  to Amendment  2, as  amended.   He                                                               
said  it would  bring Alaska  into concurrence  with every  other                                                               
state in the union and  into compliance with federal regulations.                                                               
He  said he  appreciates the  accolades that  have been  received                                                               
from  the federal  government for  proposing  language above  and                                                               
beyond  federal   requirements;  however,   he  said   he  thinks                                                               
Amendment 2,  as amended,  would eliminate  many of  the problems                                                               
related  to  weight  and  height  requirements  and  address  the                                                               
testimony of "a concerned parent here this morning."                                                                            
9:30:15 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH responded that after  hearing from EMS responders,                                                               
pediatricians,   and  other   professionals,  [Amendment   2,  as                                                               
amended] is not a step he would take without detailed analysis.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  looked again  at other  states statistics                                                               
and noted that none of  the weight requirements exceed 60 pounds.                                                               
He indicated  that the studies  and testimony that  the committee                                                               
has heard  thus far  "may only  be dealing  with those  states in                                                               
those  areas where  we're  dealing with  children  under the  ...                                                               
weight of 65 pounds."                                                                                                           
9:32:22 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH explained  that his  reluctance is  based on  the                                                               
related experience of those who have testified.                                                                                 
9:32:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  noted  that both  North  Carolina  and                                                               
North Dakota  have a  weight requirement  set at  80 pounds.   He                                                               
said  he  would  like  to hear  Ms.  Cashen's  opinion  regarding                                                               
[Amendment 2, as amended].                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON pointed  out that  the age  limit set  by                                                               
North Carolina and North Dakota are seven and six, respectively.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG   offered   his   understanding   that                                                               
Wisconsin's child restraint law also goes to 80 pounds.                                                                         
9:33:10 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. CASHEN  prefaced her remarks  by relating that the  Office of                                                               
Highway   Safety    is   responsible   for    administering   the                                                               
aforementioned   federal  funds   to   programs   based  on   the                                                               
requirements of NHTSA.   She then stated that the  65 pounds is a                                                               
federal  requirement, while  the  80 pounds  is a  recommendation                                                               
from APA, CDC, and "all the Health & Social Services."                                                                          
9:33:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  offered his recollection that  he had made                                                               
an objection and he removed that objection.                                                                                     
9:34:04 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG objected [to  the amendment to Amendment                                                               
9:34:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON moved to amend  Amendment 2, as amended, to                                                               
change "65" to "70".                                                                                                            
9:34:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  objected.  He  said he wants to  stick with                                                               
the federal limit of 65 pounds.                                                                                                 
9:35:19 AM                                                                                                                    
A  roll  call  vote  was   taken.    Representatives  Wilson  and                                                               
Gruenberg  voted in  favor of  the amendment  to Amendment  2, as                                                               
amended.   Representatives Petersen, Seaton, Gatto,  Johnson, and                                                               
Lynn voted against it.   Therefore, the amendment to Amendment 2,                                                               
as amended, failed by a vote of 2-5.                                                                                            
9:35:55 AM                                                                                                                    
[REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  maintained his objection  to Amendment                                                               
2, as amended.]                                                                                                                 
9:36:06 AM                                                                                                                    
A roll call vote was  taken.  Representatives Gatto, Johnson, and                                                               
Seaton   voted   in   favor   of   Amendment   2,   as   amended.                                                               
Representatives  Wilson,  Gruenberg,  Petersen,  and  Lynn  voted                                                               
against  it.   Therefore, Amendment  2, as  amended, failed  by a                                                               
vote of 3-4.                                                                                                                    
9:37:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON moved to  adopt Amendment 3 [text provided                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON objected.                                                                                                 
9:37:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON   observed  that  [paragraph   (4)]  would                                                               
provide that any  child over age four who exceeds  the height and                                                               
weight  requirements  "in  (3)  of this  subsection  "  shall  be                                                           
"properly  secured  in  a  seat   belt",  while  [paragraph  (5)]                                                           
provides that any child from  age eight through fifteen "who does                                                           
not  exceed the  height and  weight requirements  in (3)  of this                                                           
subsection"  shall  wear either  the  child  safety device  or  a                                                           
safety  belt,  "whichever is  appropriate".    She stated,  "That                                                               
makes more sense  to me know than it did  before; however, I feel                                                               
that if we would have changed the  weight to ... 70, then I would                                                               
feel a lot more comfortable ... to  keep this part in.  But at 80                                                               
pounds, that's just too much."   She said she also thinks the age                                                               
is wrong, that  the age of 13  should be the cut-off  point.  She                                                               
explained,  "I think  the problem  is  that we're  clear up  into                                                               
teenagers and that's just not going to fly."                                                                                    
9:40:08 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  said  eliminating [paragraph  (5)]  would                                                               
result in  lowering the state's  current seatbelt standards.   He                                                               
said someone  who is  tall can have  a slim build.   He  said, "I                                                               
think with the addition that  it's clarified that the driver gets                                                               
to make the  determination, if they're 15 I think  that that gets                                                               
us to where we  ... can be.  I also would have  like to have seen                                                               
a little  less on  the weight,  but I think  that this  will take                                                               
care of the  circumstances that we need to take  care of, and so,                                                               
I won't support Amendment 3."                                                                                                   
9:41:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  asked  Representative Johnson  if  the                                                               
current law would be eliminated if Amendment 3 was adopted.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON replied that it  is his intention to leave                                                               
the law the way it is.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG   offered   his   understanding   that                                                               
Representative  Johnson means  that  if Amendment  3  were to  be                                                               
adopted, the language of [paragraph (5)] would read as follows:                                                                 
     [FOR A CHILD  SAFETY DEVICE FOR INFANTS.   IF THE CHILD                                                                    
     IS FOUR]  but [NOT YET] 16  years of age [,  THE CHILD]                                                                    
     shall  be properly  secured in  a  child safety  device                                                                    
     approved  for a  child of  that [AGE  AND] size  by the                                                                    
     United  States Department  of  Transportation  or in  a                                                                    
     safety   belt,  whichever   is   appropriate  for   the                                                                    
     particular child.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  stated,  "I   don't  think  that  that                                                               
measures with the rest of the bill."                                                                                            
9:42:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON responded  that his  concern is  not with                                                               
anyone  under the  age of  eight,  but with  the proposed  weight                                                               
requirement,  because there  may  be  a person  who  is under  80                                                               
pounds and 15 years of age.  He continued:                                                                                      
     I think  having them pulled  over -- "as deemed  by the                                                                    
     parent  or  the driver"  I  think  is what  the  actual                                                                    
     amendment was  goes a long  way to satisfy what  I want                                                                    
     to do.                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  asked for the chair's  permission to make                                                               
Amendment 3 conceptual.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked for  further clarification of what                                                               
changes would be made by [Conceptual] Amendment 3.                                                                              
CHAIR  LYNN  reminded  the  committee   that  the  amendment  was                                                               
conceptual and should be worked out "in the conceptual form."                                                                   
9:44:19 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON withdrew Conceptual  Amendment 3.  He said                                                               
he thinks  "the driver amendment  that we adopted  earlier" makes                                                               
Conceptual Amendment 3 moot.                                                                                                    
9:44:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN  asked how  parents might be  informed of                                                               
any changes made to the law.                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN said he  thinks the word will be spread  as it is with                                                               
other legislation.                                                                                                              
9:46:00 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON remarked  that a  person 14  years of  age                                                               
might be  a driver,  because at  that age  he/she is  eligible to                                                               
have a driver's permit.                                                                                                         
9:46:42 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  moved to adopt Conceptual  Amendment 4, on                                                               
page 2, line 19, to change "16" to an age that includes 13.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG objected to hear from Ms. Cashen.                                                                      
9:48:35 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  CASHEN  responded  that Conceptual  Amendment  4  would  not                                                               
disqualify  the   state  [to   receive  the   $200,000],  because                                                               
[paragraph (5)] is not required.                                                                                                
9:49:06 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON objected  to Conceptual  Amendment 4.   He                                                               
explained that a  driver with a learner's permit has  to be under                                                               
the supervision  of a  licensed driver, which  he said  he thinks                                                               
covers Representative Wilson's concern.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  PETERSEN  suggested  clarifying that  the  driver                                                               
must be licensed.                                                                                                               
9:50:34 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH said  he does  not support  [Conceptual Amendment                                                               
9:50:46 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  clarified  that  Conceptual  Amendment  4                                                               
would read "less than 14 years  of age" in order to include those                                                               
age 13.                                                                                                                         
9:50:59 AM                                                                                                                    
A roll call  vote was taken.  Representatives  Johnson and Wilson                                                               
voted  in  favor  of Conceptual  Amendment  4.    Representatives                                                               
Gatto, Gruenberg,  Petersen, Seaton,  and Lynn voted  against it.                                                               
Therefore, Conceptual Amendment 4 failed by a vote of 2-5.                                                                      
9:51:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  moved  to  report HCS  CSSB  72(TRA),  as                                                               
amended,  out of  committee with  individual recommendations  and                                                               
the  accompanying fiscal  notes.   There being  no objection  HCS                                                               
CSSB  72(STA)  was  reported  out  of  the  House  State  Affairs                                                               
Standing Committee.                                                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects