Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

03/16/2010 08:00 AM House STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 348(STA) Out of Committee
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         SB 194-MINORS: ALCOHOL VIOLATIONS/ I.D. CARDS                                                                      
9:37:23 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN announced that the final  order of business was CS FOR                                                               
SENATE  BILL NO.  194(JUD),  "An Act  relating  to penalties  and                                                               
civil damages for certain alcohol violations."                                                                                  
9:37:36 AM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTINE  MARASIGAN, Staff,  Senator Kevin  Meyer, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  introduced  SB  194  on behalf  of  Senator  Meyer,                                                               
sponsor.   She paraphrased the  sponsor statement, which  read as                                                               
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
     CSSB 194 increases civil damages from $1,000 to $1,500                                                                     
     for three alcohol violations.                                                                                              
      1) Minors who knowingly enter or remain in premises                                                                       
     licensed to sell alcohol.                                                                                                  
     2) People  who purchase  or deliver alcohol  to persons                                                                    
     under the age of 21.                                                                                                       
     3) Persons with restrictions  on purchasing alcohol who                                                                    
     knowingly enter or remain on  premises licensed to sell                                                                    
     Additionally, CSSB  194 may also  require a  person who                                                                    
     is  under  21  years  of   age  and  convicted  of  the                                                                    
     aforementioned  offenses to  pay  for and  enroll in  a                                                                    
     juvenile  alcohol  safety  action  program  or  similar                                                                    
     education or treatment program if one is available.                                                                        
     Underage drinking  is a problem  in Alaska.   According                                                                    
     to  the State  of  Alaska's Plan  to  Reduce &  Prevent                                                                    
     Underage  Drinking (October  2009), 11  percent of  all                                                                    
     treatment  admissions for  alcohol abuse  in the  state                                                                    
     were  youth  aged 12-20.    There  are currently  2,133                                                                    
     alcohol restricted licenses issued in the state.                                                                           
     An  increase  in  civil  damages  would  reinforce  the                                                                    
     message  to youth  that underage  drinking will  not be                                                                    
     tolerated.   The increased civil penalty  would also be                                                                    
     a financial  deterrent for  those who  purchase alcohol                                                                    
     for  minors  as well  as  adults  holding a  restricted                                                                    
     license who are tempted to purchase alcohol.                                                                               
     Passing CSSC  194 will encourage licensees  to continue                                                                    
     their  enforcement of  underage and  restricted license                                                                    
     drinking  laws.    This  bill  will  also  serve  as  a                                                                    
     deterrent  to  underage  and  restricted  consumers  of                                                                    
MS. MARASIGAN  said many underage  youths get their  alcohol from                                                               
adults.  She  said the increased civil penalty  would help offset                                                               
the  cost of  "tracking down  and pursuing  civil action  for the                                                               
licensees."    She  relayed that  licensees  like  this  program,                                                               
because  it  discourages  those  who  should  not  be  purchasing                                                               
alcohol from  even trying.   The proposed legislation  would help                                                               
enforce Alaska's laws while helping  the licensee protect his/her                                                               
license by discouraging  those under the legal  drinking age from                                                               
trying to acquire alcohol.                                                                                                      
9:42:35 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  MARASIGAN,  in  response   to  Representative  Seaton,  said                                                               
current law  addresses the  three situations  previously outlined                                                               
in  the   sponsor  statement;  the  proposed   legislation  would                                                               
increase the civil penalties for  occurrence of those situations.                                                               
She offered  an example of a  minor entering a bar  and trying to                                                               
get served alcohol,  and she said in that  instance, the licensee                                                               
could "take a civil action against" the minor.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  described  a  hypothetical  situation  in                                                               
which an adult buys alcohol from a  store and later gives it to a                                                               
minor.   He asked whether  - if it  is established in  a criminal                                                               
proceeding  that the  adult purchased  the alcohol  at a  certain                                                               
store  - the  licensee  of  that store,  based  on that  criminal                                                               
proceeding, could  "get a judgment  of $1,500" against  the adult                                                               
who bought the alcohol.                                                                                                         
MS. MARASIGAN responded as follows:                                                                                             
     This  is more  sort of  like an  on-site civil  penalty                                                                    
     that  people  try  to  enact.   I  can't  imagine  that                                                                    
     somebody would be following so  closely to every single                                                                    
     proceeding that  they would  track somebody  who bought                                                                    
     for a  minor in  a criminal proceeding,  because they'd                                                                    
     already be in  such big trouble that I  don't know that                                                                    
     anyone would then  end up going back  and then bringing                                                                    
     a civil [action], but it certainly is possible.                                                                            
9:46:05 AM                                                                                                                    
OTHAL C.  MADDEN III,  Director of  Operations, Brown  Jug, Inc.,                                                               
testified in  support of SB  194.  He  said Brown Jug,  Inc., has                                                               
used the aforementioned civil penalty  statutes for over 10 years                                                               
to  prevent underage  drinking.   He said  the law  deters minors                                                               
from coming in the door to  make the purchase in the first place.                                                               
In  the  event  the  minor  does  come  in,  the  law  gives  the                                                               
establishment some means by which to  "go after him."  Mr. Madden                                                               
related that  when a Brown  Jug, Inc., employee is  successful in                                                               
collecting  a  civil  penalty from  a  minor,  the  establishment                                                               
awards that employee  a bonus of $270.  He  said Brown Jug, Inc.,                                                               
also offers the minor involved  an opportunity to wave [the civil                                                               
penalty]  by  completing  a two-day  alcohol  education  training                                                               
through  the  Crime  for Life  program  handled  through  Mothers                                                               
Against  Drunk  Driving  (MADD)   and  sexual  assault  awareness                                                               
training through Standing Together Against Rape (STAR).                                                                         
MR. MADDEN  said one of  the great  aspects of the  civil penalty                                                               
program  is that  it gets  the  family involved  with the  minor.                                                               
Before the program, many families  never found out that the minor                                                               
had  been caught.   Now,  the family  gets a  letter in  the mail                                                               
saying  the family  owes  Brown Jug,  Inc.,  $1,000 for  "illegal                                                               
entry  into  the store,"  and  that  gets  the attention  of  the                                                               
family.   Mr.  Madden  said  since the  first  civil penalty  was                                                               
enacted in  1998, Brown  Jug, Inc.,  has pursued  actions against                                                               
over 2,000  minors who have  been caught.   He said  although the                                                               
company has not been successful  in collecting against all 2,000,                                                               
at  least the  process  has initiated  family  involvement.   Mr.                                                               
Madden  said Brown  Jug, Inc.,  has also  used the  civil penalty                                                               
program  to address  the  problem of  adults  buying alcohol  for                                                               
minors, and  to seek  civil damages against  the minors  who wait                                                               
outside to solicit adults to buy alcohol for them.                                                                              
9:49:23 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  asked if the  civil penalty has  been used                                                               
against "someone that is very much removed from your premises."                                                                 
MR.  MADDEN  responded,   "There  may  have  been   a  couple  of                                                               
situations with  kegs over the  years, where the  police actually                                                               
let us know that  an adult had bought a keg  from us and provided                                                               
[it] to  minors, but [in] most  cases the licensee would  have no                                                               
idea  that that  ever occurred,  or that  those events  were ever                                                               
related to the business."                                                                                                       
9:50:44 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  expressed appreciation  for the  work that                                                               
Mr. Madden  has been doing  regarding these civil penalties.   He                                                               
opined that everything that is  done to stop underage drinking is                                                               
a benefit to the entire state.                                                                                                  
9:51:09 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KEVIN MEYER,  Alaska State Legislature, as  sponsor of SB
194,  said related  city ordinance  was passed  by the  Anchorage                                                               
Assembly  in 1997,  and Fairbanks  adopted  a similar  ordinance.                                                               
The  aforementioned  statute followed  in  2003,  he said.    The                                                               
proposed legislation would  address the need to  raise the amount                                                               
of civil  damages, which have  not been raised since  the statute                                                               
was enacted.                                                                                                                    
9:52:04 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON asked  if Senator Meyer  has considered                                                               
increasing  the  amount to  $2,000  for  people who  purchase  or                                                               
deliver alcohol to person under the age of 21.                                                                                  
SENATOR MEYER responded that the  criminal penalty for adults who                                                               
supply alcohol  to minors  is effective.   He stated,  "The civil                                                               
side is handy  more for the kids  who are trying to buy  it."  He                                                               
explained that  sometimes when  Brown Jug,  Inc., gets  a minor's                                                               
identification and calls  the police, the police are  too busy to                                                               
do anything; however, the consequences  to the licensee are great                                                               
if they are caught selling alcohol to a minor.  He continued:                                                                   
     So,  ...  the  licensees  ... [are]  taking  action  on                                                                    
     behalf  of  the state  by  going  through civil  court,                                                                    
     because there  really isn't much  done on  the criminal                                                                    
     side for  the minors.   For  adults trying  to purchase                                                                    
     [for minors]  there ... [are] some  consequences on the                                                                    
     criminal  side and  whatever  we can  do  on the  civil                                                                    
     side.   So,  we're really  trying to  discourage adults                                                                    
     from even buying for the  kids, by ... [utilizing both]                                                                    
     the criminal and the civil side.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON explained  she is considering whether or                                                               
not other  businesses would have  more incentive to  get involved                                                               
if the fine was higher.                                                                                                         
9:55:11 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER  concurred that there  are some places,  like Brown                                                               
Jug, Inc., that  have a reputation for catching  minors trying to                                                               
buy alcohol.   He said the Cabaret Hotel  Restaurant & Retailer's                                                               
Association (CHARR) will "take this  action" on behalf of smaller                                                               
organizations.     In  response  to  a   follow-up  question,  he                                                               
confirmed that CHARR has been  following through with quite a few                                                               
civil actions.                                                                                                                  
9:56:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  noted  that   according  to  Mr.  Madden's                                                               
testimony, if the option for having  $700 waived if a minor takes                                                               
part  in one  of the  aforementioned programs  is used,  then the                                                               
establishment  only  gets  $300  of the  current  $1,000  amount.                                                               
Under the proposed bill, if the  option for having $700 waived is                                                               
taken advantage  of, then the  establishment would only  get $800                                                               
of the  $1,500.  He  asked Senator Meyer if  it is his  intent to                                                               
"just get the liquor store owner a higher award."                                                                               
SENATOR MEYER  reminded Representative Gatto that  that option is                                                               
the policy  of Brown  Jug, Inc.   He stated,  "Each establishment                                                               
has  kind   of  different  policies   and  costs   associated  in                                                               
implementing this program."                                                                                                     
9:58:22 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  moved  to  report CSSB  194(JUD)  out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal  notes.   There  being  no  objection, CSSB  194(JUD)  was                                                               
reported out of the House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                     

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