Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205
04/07/2016 09:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS
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HB 77-DISABILITY: ID/LICENSE AND TRAINING REQUIREMENTS. 9:55:11 AM CHAIR STOLTZE announced the consideration of HB 77. [CSHB 77(FIN) was before the committee.] 9:56:40 AM REPRESENTATIVE STEVE THOMPSON, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, sponsor of HB 77, explained that constituents who are advocates for the disabled approached him to address legislation for non-apparent disabilities due to bad interactions with law enforcement officers. He detailed that his office worked with Wall Busters and Access Alaska to compose a bill that would improve communications between individuals with non-apparent disabilities and law enforcement. He detailed that HB 77 has three main components as follows: 1. Non-apparent disability awareness training at state trooper and police training academies. 2. Section added to the Division of Motor Vehicle's handbook addressing driver's responsibilities when interacting with law enforcement. 3. Statewide voluntary identification system for driver's licenses or state IDs that lets police officers or corrections officers know an individual has a non-apparent disability. REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON summarized that the bill can improve communication between all parties and help instruct people on what to expect when stopped by a police officer. CHAIR STOLTZE revealed that his family has a member with autism and interacting with police has been addressed. He remarked that an interaction between an individual with a non-apparent disability and a police officer who does not understand the disability can turn badly. He noted that an incident occurred in Kodiak that could have been prevented. He stated that he appreciated the legislation coming forward for more awareness and training for law enforcement officials. 9:59:18 AM LYNETTE BERGH, Staff, Representative Steve Thompson, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, explained that the bill evolved from statewide input so that the legislation could be accepted by the public and law enforcement. She set forth that the bill would help both disabled people and others on what to do when stopped by a police officer. 10:00:39 AM JUANITA WEBB, Member, Wall Busters Advocacy Group, Fairbanks, Alaska, testified in support of HB 77. She detailed that Wall Busters was a consumer-driven advocacy group that brought the bill forward with Access Alaska and Representative Thompson's office. She set forth that the bill came about because of a need, both on a national and local level. She asserted that law enforcement needs to understand how a person with a non-apparent disability may have communication or understanding opportunities that can drastically change the interaction with law enforcement. She specified that HB 77 would accomplish an understanding as follows: · Discreet icon on ID or driver's license that was completely voluntary. · Education of law enforcement, corrections, or probation officers at the academy level. · Education for anyone applying for a driver's license. She detailed that a person has to have diagnostic proof from a licensed physician, nurse practitioner or licensed psychiatrist in order to obtain a disability ID. She noted that the bill had a zero-fiscal note. She set forth that the disability ID was not a get-out-of-jail-free card. She summarized that the discreet indicator and education would create a safe environment for both the general public, people with disabilities, and law enforcement. She asked that the bill be waived from the Senate Finance Committee assignment due to the bill's zero-fiscal note. 10:04:26 AM PATRICK REINHART, Executive Director, Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education, Anchorage, Alaska, testified in support of HB 77. He set forth that the bill would improve the experience between people with unapparent disabilities and law enforcement. 10:05:26 AM CHAD GOEDEN, Academy Commander, Division of Alaska State Troopers, Department of Public Safety, Sitka, Alaska, testified that the department was neutral on HB 77. He stated that the academy can modify its training to meet the bill's requirements. He noted that the academy already had an 8-hour segment that covered disabilities. CHAIR STOLTZE asserted that Mr. Goden was neutral from a political standpoint and noted that his department as well as the governor's office did not take a position. He asked if Mr. Goden saw value in adding the training. MR. GOEDEN replied that he saw value, but remarked that the bill would not solve all of the problems. He stated that the bill was a step in the right direction to increase communication from both sides. CHAIR STOLTZE opined that the bill would also help law enforcement better understand the circumstances for both the person and public, ultimately strengthening the officer's position. 10:06:48 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if the state would be exposed to liability if the requirements were not followed if a person with disabilities was not recognized. MR. GOEDEN responded that he did not think he was the best person to answer Senator Wielechowski's question. CHAIR STOLTZE asked Ms. Berge if the liability question has come up before. MS. BERGH replied that she did not recall the question coming up, but noted that the designation was voluntary. She opined that she did not believe that a person could be held responsible if certain behaviors and interactions took place. She specified that the icon was just a notification to law enforcement that a person has a type of a disability. CHAIR STOLTZE stated that he did not want to rely on an opinion and noted that a very specialized area of disability law existed. 10:08:09 AM SENATOR MCGUIRE stated that she liked the bill. She revealed that she has a head-injured brother and remarked that everyone has been touched at some point or another by someone with disabilities. She said her biggest area of questioning centered on liability. She remarked that the bill may expose the state along with jurisdictions with corrections and village public safety officers due to the bill's new set of standards. She asked that Legal Services provide an opinion due to new actions caused by either disability-law theory or police council's training requirements. She detailed that receiving an opinion might mitigate or offset liability by setting mental standards or placing a cap on what the amount would be. She stated that all public-safety individuals should be included. She noted that she did not see not the inclusion of correctional officers in the bill. MS. BERGH noted that version W included correctional officers. SENATOR MCGUIRE confirmed that correctional officers, probation officers, police officers, and village public safety officers were covered in the bill. She asked Ms. Bergh to confirm that the regulations were equal for everyone. MS. BERGH replied that the standards applied to all officers throughout the state. 10:12:02 AM CHAIR STOLTZE noted that two committee members brought up liability issues. He offered that the committee meet on an ad hoc basis to receive legal opinions. SENATOR MCGUIRE stated that she would be happy to move the bill along and suggested that liability issue be flagged with recommendations for the next committee of assignment. CHAIR STOLTZE agreed to "flag" the bill and move it on. SENATOR COGHILL asked Chair Stoltze to confirm that the committee would get a legal opinion for the next committee. CHAIR STOLTZE confirmed that the next committee chair would be aware of the committee's concerns. 10:14:50 AM ART DELAUNE, Member, Wall Busters Advocacy Group, Fairbanks, Alaska, testified in support of HB 77. He noted that Wall Busters, a grassroots organization, was concerned about people being treated poorly. He detailed that Representative Thompson was enlisted to write the bill and noted improvements made by the bill. He pointed out that all three police academies had training in place, but upgrades to address certain disabilities must be made. He summarized that the bill would use of a discreet, medical information would not be shared, police officers would be made aware, and a conversation between the parties would be opened. He set forth that the bill's intent was to make interaction safer between law enforcement and the public. He specified that the resolve was not to have police officers discern specific disabilities with everyone they encountered. He asserted that the legislation would be a tool to help officers be more aware and facilitate better communication. CHAIR STOLTZE closed public testimony on HB 77. He asked Ms. Erickson to address what would be required for an icon designation on driver's licenses. 10:20:42 AM AMY ERICKSON, Director, Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Alaska Department of Administration, Anchorage, Alaska, explained that DMV envisioned a simple form that would be certified by a doctor under conditions outlined by the bill. She asserted that DMV would not want to know any medical information. CHAIR STOLTZE asked Ms. Erickson to confirm that she did not envision a fiscal note as well as a nominal fee being charged for the designation. MS. ERICKSON answered correct and noted that the designator fee would be $5, the same as the veterans' designator. 10:22:22 AM SENATOR MCGUIRE stated that she supported the bill and opined that there may be more cost than what was indicated in the bill's fiscal note. She noted that a cultural shift was occurring in the area of law enforcement to move away from adversarial interactions with citizens. She added that the bill could be improved in the next committee by clarifying that a new legal cause of action was not created as well as clarifying language about what the cause of action would be and what the set amount would be so that the state's exposure was limited. 10:23:41 AM SENATOR MCGUIRE moved to report CSHB 77 from committee with individual recommendations and attached zero-fiscal note. CHAIR STOLTZE announced that without objection CSHB 77(FIN) moves from committee.