JUNEAU — An Alaska Senate committee on Thursday approved a bill proposing to delete language in a state law that requires authorities to serve minor citations in person.
Senate Bill 116, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Dennis Egan of Juneau, would remove the word “personally” from the law.
With passage by the Senate State Affairs Committee, the measure next moves to the Senate Rules Committee.
“This bill corrects an unintentional consequence of a bill that stops officers from putting parking tickets under windshield wipers,” Egan said.
In 2013, an Alaska court ruled that authorities must serve traffic tickets — as well as other minor citations such as violation of animal ordinances — to offenders in person based on the 2010 law.
Citations involving moving vehicles still must be personally served by authorities.
Kenai city attorney Scott Blume said his city was chaotic last summer when word about the law was made public.
“As word got out, people ignored citations blocking driveways and fire hydrants,” Blume said. He said the city of Kenai sees as many as 15,000 visitors a day in the summer because of salmon season.
Juneau Animal Control and Protection supervising officer Matt Musslewhite told the committee his employees often are going back to the same location multiple times a day to serve a $20 citation.
“It’s pretty hard to tell someone who has a dog bite, ‘We can’t cite that person without their cooperation,’” Musslewhite said.
Musslewhite said Juneau considers a dog bite a citable offense. It’s a citation that would not have to be served in person if the state law is changed.
He noted every effort is made, however, to make contact with the owner to verify it is the animal in question. The proposed change in the state law would allow animal control to send a citation in the mail to an owner who refused to make contact, Musslewhite said.