Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/02/2004 01:35 PM Senate L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
           HB 356-EXTEND ALCOHOL DELIVERY SITE SUNSET                                                                       
CHAIR CON BUNDE announced HB 356 to be up for consideration.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   REGGIE   JOULE,   sponsor,  said   some   larger                                                               
communities in his district have  elected to go damp, which means                                                               
being able to import alcohol, but  not legally being able to sell                                                               
it. Dry means not being able  to import any liquor to communities                                                               
at all.  Barrow, Kotzebue and Bethel  are damp; Nome is  wet. All                                                               
of  the  villages  surrounding   Barrow  and  Kotzebue  are  dry.                                                               
Bootlegging  is a  challenge in  these communities  and residents                                                               
are constantly voting  on whether to be either wet,  damp or dry.                                                               
Finally in 2001, the Alcohol  Delivery Site Law allowed Barrow to                                                               
vote on using  a distribution center. Now,  Gold Streaks, freight                                                               
and luggage coming into Barrow  arrived through that distribution                                                               
center. A  permit is  required and  an ordinance  has established                                                               
amounts of alcohol that can be  brought in. Barrow, with a little                                                               
over 1,700 permits, has found  that this system helped smooth out                                                               
the emotional  turmoil it continually  went through in  voting on                                                               
whether to be  wet, dry or damp. Kotzebue and  Bethel have chosen                                                               
not  to utilize  this method.  Representative Joule  said SB  356                                                               
simply  extends the  sunset provision  for  the alcohol  delivery                                                               
site to July 1, 2008.                                                                                                           
CHAIR BUNDE  asked how much  alcohol a Barrow resident  can bring                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE  replied they  may not  import more  than 13                                                               
gallons of  malt beverages, 20  liters of  wine or 4.5  liters of                                                               
distilled spirits  per month. If  an alcoholic beverage  is being                                                               
carried as  luggage, it's supposed  to be marked on  the luggage.                                                               
After people got fined a few times, it worked pretty well.                                                                      
CHAIR BUNDE noted that at  Christmas time, at least one Anchorage                                                               
post  office refused  to  accept presents  that  were wrapped  in                                                               
alcohol-labeled  boxes,   because  they  might  be   going  to  a                                                               
distribution center.  He asked  how much  people were  charged to                                                               
pay for the program.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE replied a $25 annual fee.                                                                                  
SENATOR  HOLLIS FRENCH  asked how  the  distribution center  kept                                                               
alcohol  from  being  shipped  through  Barrow  to  Nuiqsut,  for                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JOULE answered  that first of all, you  have to be                                                               
a resident  of Barrow. Theoretically,  alcohol could  be smuggled                                                               
to the smaller villages, but then  the permit is at risk. Most of                                                               
those villages  have flights from  Fairbanks through  Prudhoe Bay                                                               
and  Barrow  could  be  easily bypassed.  This  program  has  not                                                               
stopped alcohol from  going to the villages, but it  has cut down                                                               
on the amount.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR GARY STEVENS said he assumed  the goal of the program was                                                               
to reduce alcohol  problems and he wanted to know  if the program                                                               
reduced consumption.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  JOULE  replied  that  the  Department  of  Public                                                               
Safety  on  the North  Slope  feels  that  it  has. It  has  also                                                               
improved the emotional wars over what status to be in.                                                                          
CHAIR BUNDE  asked if anyone  else wanted  to testify on  HB 356.                                                               
There was no response and he  said this was the first hearing and                                                               
he would hold the bill for a future date.                                                                                       

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