Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/08/2010 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 209 Out of Committee
Moved CSSB 260(JUD) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Moved SCS CSHB 6(JUD) Out of Committee
                   HB   6-CRUELTY TO ANIMALS                                                                                
                   SB 214-CRUELTY TO ANIMALS                                                                                
2:02:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH announced  the consideration of HB 6 and  SB 214. He                                                               
relayed that the prime sponsors  have been in discussion and have                                                               
agreed on a Senate committee substitute for HB 6.                                                                               
2:03:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MCGUIRE joined the committee.                                                                                           
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI moved  to adopt work draft Senate  CS for CS                                                               
for HB 6, labeled 26-LS0022\S, as the working document.                                                                         
SENATOR COGHILL objected for an explanation.                                                                                    
SHELLY MORGAN, staff to Senator  Wielechowski, explained that the                                                               
Senate CS amends  HB 6 to also include the  language from SB 214.                                                               
Both bills contain language pertaining  to acts of animal cruelty                                                               
and both  propose to amend  the same statute. The  combined bills                                                               
would  strengthen   the  punishment  for  animal   cruelty  while                                                               
ensuring that violent acts of bestiality are punishable by law.                                                                 
MS.  MORGAN noted  there is  an  amendment for  the committee  to                                                               
consider,  which would  make violent  crimes against  both people                                                               
and animals aggravating factors  at sentencing. This will provide                                                               
an  additional  tool  to  make   it  more  difficult  for  repeat                                                               
offenders of violent crimes to plea down their punishment.                                                                      
CHAIR   FRENCH   asked  Mr.   Sica   if   he  agrees   with   the                                                               
representations Ms.  Morgan made  with respect to  the conjoining                                                               
of the bills.                                                                                                                   
MICHAEL SICA, staff to Representative  Bob Lynn, sponsor of HB 6,                                                               
said Representative Lynn supports this.                                                                                         
2:06:03 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  asked for  a more  extensive explanation  of the                                                               
new  language   and  statutory  references   in  Section   3,  AS                                                               
MS. MORGAN explained that with  the exception of paragraphs 6 and                                                               
7  they  come  from  SB  214, which  creates  an  animal  cruelty                                                               
provision for  knowingly inflicting severe and  prolonged pain or                                                               
suffering on an  animal and for killing or injuring  an animal by                                                               
use  of a  decompression chamber  or poison.  In comparison,  the                                                               
penalty for the  serious injury of a person is  typically a class                                                               
A or class B felony. The  penalty for poisoning a person to death                                                               
is  an  unclassified  felony.  SB  214 also  creates  a  class  A                                                               
misdemeanor for  a first  offense and class  C felony  for second                                                               
offense within  10 years for failing  to care for an  animal with                                                               
criminal negligence resulting in  death, severe pain or suffering                                                               
and knowingly  killing or injuring  an animal with the  intent to                                                               
intimidate, threaten, or terrorize another person.                                                                              
These  penalties  have been  merged  into  HB  6 with  the  added                                                               
provision creating  a class A  misdemeanor for the  first offense                                                               
and a class C felony for  the second offense within ten years for                                                               
knowingly  engaging   in  sexual  conduct  with   an  animal.  In                                                               
comparison,  negligent  child endangerment  would  be  a class  C                                                               
felony, stalking  is a class  A misdemeanor on the  first offense                                                               
and a  class C felony  on the  second offense. There  are varying                                                               
arrays of  sexual abuse of  a minor. Sexual  abuse of a  minor in                                                               
the fourth degree  is a class A misdemeanor, in  the third degree                                                               
it's  a class  C felony,  and  if you  go  up to  a first  degree                                                               
offense it would be an unclassified felony.                                                                                     
In  nearly all  of  these provisions,  the  penalties for  crimes                                                               
inflicted  on humans  are  much greater  than  the penalties  for                                                               
crimes  inflicted on  animals, she  said. However,  the penalties                                                               
for  stalking are  the  same  as that  for  knowingly killing  or                                                               
injuring an  animal with  the intent  to intimidate,  threaten or                                                               
terrorize  another  person  because   this  provision  of  animal                                                               
cruelty is  essentially one component of  stalking or terrorizing                                                               
another person.                                                                                                                 
2:09:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  FRENCH   clarified  that  Section  1,   pertaining  to  AS                                                               
11.61.140(a),  has  the  different  forms of  animal  cruelty  in                                                               
subsections (a)(1), (a)(3), and  (a)(4). They are automatically a                                                               
class C felony on the  first offense. Subsections (a)(2), (a)(5),                                                               
(a)(6), and (a)(7)  list crimes that are an  A misdemeanor unless                                                               
a person has been convicted once before ten years previously.                                                                   
SENATOR  COGHILL said  he assumes  that a  fourth degree  assault                                                               
would be a misdemeanor.                                                                                                         
CHAIR  FRENCH  explained  that  a fourth  degree  assault  is  to                                                               
recklessly  cause   physical  injury.  The   misdemeanor  assault                                                               
statute defines physical injury as  pain so it's a misdemeanor to                                                               
causes any kind of pain recklessly.                                                                                             
SENATOR COGHILL  said he's  just trying  to get  his feet  on the                                                               
ground on equivalency.                                                                                                          
MR. SICA said  the animal cruelty statute doesn't  talk about any                                                               
amount of pain; it talks  about prolonged pain. A similar offense                                                               
against a human would bring a much greater penalty.                                                                             
CHAIR  FRENCH  agreed;  subsection  (a)(1) looks  like  the  only                                                               
analog  and would  probably be  in  the higher  felony range,  he                                                               
said. He asked Senator Coghill  if he maintained his objection to                                                               
the adoption of the CS.                                                                                                         
SENATOR COGHILL  said no, but  he's concerned that  someone could                                                               
be charged  with felonious behavior  on an animal while  the same                                                               
behavior on a human might be pled out.                                                                                          
2:12:57 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  said the  penalty for  knowingly inflicting                                                               
severe  and prolonged  physical pain  or suffering  on an  animal                                                               
would  be the  lowest felony  possible,  whereas it  would be  at                                                               
least a class A felony to do the  same thing to a human. It would                                                               
be a  class C  felony to  kill or injure  an animal  by use  of a                                                               
decompression  chamber,  whereas  it  would  be  an  unclassified                                                               
felony to  do that to a  human. It would  be a class C  felony to                                                               
intentionally kill  or injure livestock using  poison, whereas it                                                               
would be an unclassified felony to do the same to a human.                                                                      
SENATOR  COGHILL  asked  the significance  of  the  decompression                                                               
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  replied it is  language that's been  in the                                                               
statutes for a  long time and it's a particularly  heinous way to                                                               
kill   an   animal.   AS  11.61.140(a)(4),   which   relates   to                                                               
intentionally  killing  an animal  by  poison,  is similarly  old                                                               
statutory language.                                                                                                             
SENATOR COGHILL removed his objection.                                                                                          
CHAIR FRENCH  announced that without  objection version  S Senate                                                               
CS for HB 6 is before the committee.                                                                                            
2:14:46 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI moved  Amendment 1,  labeled 26-LS0022\S.1.                                                               
He explained  that this is an  amendment that was adopted  in the                                                               
House Judiciary  Committee. Including  it in the  conjoined bills                                                               
maintains parity.                                                                                                               
                      A M E N D M E N T  1                                                                                  
     OFFERED IN THE SENATE                                                                                                      
          TO: SCS CSHB 6(   ), Draft Version "S"                                                                                
     Page 1, line 1, following "animals":                                                                                     
     Insert  ";  and  relating  to  aggravating  factors  at                                                                  
     sentencing  involving assaultive  behavior and  cruelty                                                                  
     to animals;"                                                                                                             
     Page 3, following line 16:                                                                                                 
     Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                         
        "* Sec. 5. AS 12.55.155(c)(8) is amended to read:                                                                   
     (8)   the defendant's  prior criminal  history includes                                                                    
     conduct involving aggravated  assaultive behavior, [OR]                                                                
     repeated  instances  of assaultive  behavior,  repeated                                                                
     instances  of  cruelty   to  animals  proscribed  under                                                                
     AS 11.61.140(a)(1) and  (3) - (5), or  a combination of                                                                
     assaultive behavior  and cruelty to  animals proscribed                                                                
     under  AS 11.61.140(a)(1)  and  (3)   -  (5);  in  this                                                                
     paragraph,   "aggravated  assaultive   behavior"  means                                                                    
     assault that is a felony under AS 11.41, or a similar                                                                      
     provision in another jurisdiction;                                                                                         
     Renumber the following bill section accordingly.                                                                           
     Page 3, line 20, following the first occurrence of                                                                         
       Insert ", and to aggravating factors at sentencing                                                                       
     under AS 12.55.155(c)(8) made by sec. 5 of this Act"                                                                       
CHAIR FRENCH  said the amendment is  appropriate; inflicting pain                                                               
and  suffering  on animals  is  a  highly accurate  predictor  of                                                               
people who will be assaultive toward humans.                                                                                    
2:15:43 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BOB LYNN,  sponsor of HB 6, opined  that the bills                                                               
were  good individually  and he  wholeheartedly supports  putting                                                               
them  together. It's  a  good  example of  the  House and  Senate                                                               
working  together to  craft good  legislation that  protects both                                                               
animals and humans.                                                                                                             
CHAIR FRENCH  thanked Representative Lynn for  generously opening                                                               
his bill to amendments.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  replied his main  concern is to  protect the                                                               
community;  animal cruelty  is  a stair  step  to crimes  against                                                               
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI said  he'd like  to associate  himself with                                                               
Senator French's comments. He is most appreciative.                                                                             
SENATOR COGHILL  said he agrees  that cruelty to animals  and the                                                               
way  people sometimes  treat one  another is  egregious. However,                                                               
this could be  misused, he said. For example, we  ask soldiers to                                                               
do things  that look cruel and  unusual, but there is  a purpose.                                                               
Likewise, we train  animals to do specific and  noble things that                                                               
may cause  prolonged pain.  I would  hate for  that to  be called                                                               
into question, he cautioned.                                                                                                    
2:18:52 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  moved to  report CS for  HB 6,  as amended,                                                               
from  committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  attached                                                               
fiscal note(s).                                                                                                                 
At ease                                                                                                                         
2:19:31 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH reconvened the meeting and noted that a Senate                                                                     
Concurrent Resolution for a title change will move with the                                                                     
There being no objection, SCS CSHB 6(JUD) moved from the Senate                                                                 
Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB284 Sponsor Statement.doc SJUD 3/8/2010 1:30:00 PM
SB 284
Sectional Analysis SB 284.PDF SJUD 3/8/2010 1:30:00 PM
SB 284
SB202 Sponsor Statement.pdf SJUD 3/8/2010 1:30:00 PM
SB 202