Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 211
02/19/2009 09:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 72-CHILD SAFETY SEATS & SEAT BELTS 9:24:46 AM CHAIR MENARD announced the consideration of SB 72. SENATOR MEYER moved to adopt the committee substitute (CS) to SB 72, labeled 26-LS0376\R, as a working document. Hearing no objection, Version R was before the committee. SENATOR FRENCH said the bill is about booster seats for children who fall into a gap. Between about 20 to 80 pounds a kid is too big for an infant seat and too small for a seat belt. The bill is to make sure that kids riding in cars in Alaska are safe by lifting them up a couple of inches with a simple booster seat so that the seat belt meets them at the appropriate place on their bodies to restrain them in event of an accident. The CS changes the phrase from "over 20 pounds" to "20 pounds or more," to clarify that children exactly 20 pounds are included. On page 2, line 12, "not yet 16 years of age" was changed to "less than 16 years of age" to make the bill more understandable. 9:27:37 AM SENATOR FRENCH said the passage of this bill will make Alaska eligible for up to $200,000 in federal highway funds. Up to 50 percent of that may be used to fund programs to purchase and distribute booster seats to low income people. Some people need to watch every dollar, and these federal funds will help them comply with the law. The remaining money shall be used for child safety seat enforcement, promotion, and education. There are a lot of people who support the bill. He pointed out a letter from the Alaska Auto Dealers Association. They have been extremely helpful. He read a statement by them, dated February 4, 2009: As automobile dealers, we can assure you that no vehicle manufacturer recommends placing a small four- year-old in a seat belt only. Doing so could result in serious injury or death to the child. SENATOR FRENCH said he is thankful for the letter. SENATOR MEYER asked the penalty for not complying. SENATOR FRENCH said the first ticket received will be a "fix-it ticket," whereby the person who is busted for not having a booster seat can go buy one and present the purchase receipt to the magistrate, and the ticket will be voided. The second and subsequent offense provides for a $50 fine. 9:31:24 AM SENATOR KOOKESH asked where the bill says that. ANDY MODEROW, staff to Senator Hollis French, Alaska State Legislature, said the penalty is specified in AS 28.05.099 and won't change. The bill is clarification language. SENATOR MEYER said it seems like it should be in the bill. SENATOR FRENCH said he will defer to the drafters. A new law would need to spell out the penalties, but there are current safety seat laws and the bill just creates a new subsection. Currently a person taking a new baby home from the hospital without an infant seat can get a fix-it ticket that can then be waived once the seat is purchased. 9:33:26 AM SENATOR KOOKESH said one hospital would not let a new baby leave the hospital without one. SENATOR FRENCH said he remembers strapping his baby boy into a seat for the first time, and he knew he was entering a new era. SENATOR PASKVAN said he suspects that this is enforced like seat belts. If someone runs a red light and strikes a car with a mother and an infant who isn't in a safety seat, the mother would be at fault for not complying with the law. 9:35:18 AM CHAIR MENARD said she received this bill from Safe Kids in the Kenai Peninsula, and it states that SB 72 will clarify that Alaska has booster seat legislation in line with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. The legislation will make it clear that children need to be in booster seats until they are at least 4'9" tall and less than 80 pounds. Vehicle belts do not secure small children properly, leaving them at high risk during a crash. It will save children's lives. SENATOR MEYER moved to report the CS of SB 72, labeled 26- LS0376\R, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). There being no objection, CSSB 72(STA) moved out of committee.