Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/16/2003 01:51 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
          HB  18-PARENTAL LIABILITY FOR CHILD'S DAMAGE                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON announced  HB  18 [CSHB  18(JUD) AM]  to  be up  for                                                               
consideration and  that it is  similar to SB  2. He asked  if the                                                               
Senate  committee  substitute,  version  \I, brings  HB  18  into                                                               
conformity with the  Senate bill except that it  doesn't have the                                                               
effective date.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. SUSAN  CUNNINGHAM, staff to Representative  Meyer, sponsor of                                                               
HB 18, said that is correct.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GREEN  moved to  adopt SCSHB  18(HES), version  \I. There                                                               
were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. CUNNINGHAM  said the committee  substitute provides  that the                                                               
intent of  the legislation is  to promote responsibility  as well                                                               
as the  recovery of damages  and requires the involvement  of the                                                               
minor  who  caused the  damages  to  participate in  the  justice                                                               
process.  It raises  the  limit  on the  recovery  of damages  to                                                               
$25,000   and  provides   consistency  between   two  conflicting                                                               
statutes,  AS 13.26.070  (powers and  duties of  a guardian  of a                                                               
minor) and  AS 34.50.020 (liability  for destruction  of property                                                               
by minors).                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
She  explained  that  currently   under  AS  13.26.070,  a  legal                                                               
guardian  is not  liable to  third  persons. The  CS removes  the                                                               
legal  guardian from  all subsections  of AS  34.50.020. It  also                                                               
provides that the adoptive parents  of hard to place children are                                                               
not liable. The  reasoning is that the amount  an adoptive parent                                                               
could  be  liable  for  would  actually be  a  deterrent  in  the                                                               
adoption of children, which is  not the sponsor's intent. Lastly,                                                               
the   CS  involves   the  unemancipated   minor   in  the   court                                                               
proceedings, so if  damages are recovered under  the statute, the                                                               
court will  require the minor  to produce a report  that includes                                                               
the   financial  resources   he   may  have   available  to   pay                                                               
restitution,  what  restitution  has  already been  made  to  the                                                               
claimant and  what, if  anything, he has  learned from  the civil                                                               
justice process.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON said  when SB 2 passed from this  committee there was                                                               
no limit to liability, but  the Judiciary Committee established a                                                               
$25,000 limit.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GUESS  asked  them  to  comment  on  holding  the  minor                                                               
accountable, aside  from the written  report. She wanted  to know                                                               
if  the  court, regardless  of  whether  the  minor has  a  legal                                                               
guardian, or  is hard  to adopt  or is  living with  his parents,                                                               
could  make   the  child  responsible   and  can  they   be  held                                                               
responsible after they turn 18 years of age.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. CUNNINGHAM replied that she did  not think the child could be                                                               
held responsible  when he turns 18  as the parent is  sued if the                                                               
child  is  a   minor.  As  for  holding   the  minor  financially                                                               
responsible,  under the  Juvenile  Justice restitution  statutes,                                                               
the court can order restitution to be paid by the minor.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GREEN  asked if the  restitution could extend  past their                                                               
gaining the age of majority.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. CUNNINGHAM replied yes.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON said this issue was  discussed a lot in the Judiciary                                                               
Committee where Senator French researched  it and found that this                                                               
was about as good as they could do, given existing law.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GUESS followed  up that in the  Juvenile Justice statute,                                                               
it doesn't  matter if it's a  legal guardian or parent.  It's the                                                               
same statute for all kids.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR GREEN moved  to pass SCSHB 18(HES) out  of committee with                                                               
individual recommendations  and zero fiscal notes.  There were no                                                               
objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                               

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