Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/22/1996 01:41 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  HOUSE BILL NO. 437                                                           
                                                                               
       "An Act establishing the Judicial Officers Compensation                 
       Commission;  relating  to the  compensation  of supreme                 
       court justices, judges of the  court of appeals, judges                 
       of the superior  court, and district court  judges; and                 
       providing for an effective date."                                       
                                                                               
  Representatives  Brown  and  Parnell provided  members  with                 
  Amendment 1 (Attachment 4).   Representative Brown explained                 
  Amendment  1.   She  noted  that  the first  portion  of the                 
  amendment on page 2, lines 23 -25 restate qualifications for                 
  membership   on   the  Commission.      She  stressed   that                 
  qualifications would be  more flexible.  "An  economist" was                 
  changed  to  "one  person  with  experience  in  economics",                 
  "business  executive"  was  changed  to  "one   person  with                 
  experience in business",  and "lawyer"  was changed to  "one                 
  attorney licensed to practice law in this state".                            
                                                                               
  ARTHUR H. SNOWDEN, II, ADMINISTRATIVE DIRECTOR, ALASKA COURT                 
  SYSTEM  spoke  in  support  of  the  first  portion  of  the                 
  amendment.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Representative  Brown  noted  that the  second  part  of the                 
  amendment  would  amend  the  time  an  order  changing  the                 
  compensation of a justice  or judge would take effect.   She                 
  observed that  the legislation  states that  an order  would                 
  take effect unless it  is disapproved in its entirety  in 60                 
  days.  She noted that the  amendment would delete "within 60                 
  days  after" and insert  "on or before  the last  day of the                 
  legislative  session."   She maintained  that the  amendment                 
                                                                               
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  would  allow  a  coordinated  decision between  disapproving                 
  legislation  and the budget.   Representative Brown asserted                 
  that  if  the Legislature  did  not  act and  the  change of                 
  compensation was not  funded in the  budget that the  Alaska                 
  Court System  would have to absorb any costs associated with                 
  the order in their budget.   She stressed that the intent is                 
  to make a decision, up or  down, and coordinate the decision                 
  in the budget.                                                               
                                                                               
  Mr.  Snowden emphasized that there  would not be enough time                 
  to include the  change in compensation  in the budget if  it                 
  was not approved prior to the end  of session.  He suggested                 
  that 80 or 85 days would allow  time to include this item in                 
  the House  Budget.   He stressed  the  difficulty of  adding                 
  items to the budget late in the process.                                     
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Hanley  referred to  Amendment 2  by Representative                 
  Brown (Attachment 5).   He questioned if the  order changing                 
  the compensation  was not specifically appropriated  and the                 
  Legislature fails  to  enact  legislation  disapproving  the                 
  order would the Alaska Court System absorb the change in its                 
  budget.                                                                      
                                                                               
  Mr.  Snowden stated  that there  would be  an obligation  to                 
  provide the pay  raise to judges.  He  stated that the raise                 
  would be paid from the Alaska Court System's budget.                         
                                                                               
  Co-Chair   Hanley   noted   that   the  issue   becomes   an                 
  appropriation choice.  Mr. Snowden emphasized that without a                 
  date for consideration of the appropriation "it is up in the                 
  air".                                                                        
  Representative Brown stated that there  should be a separate                 
  appropriation.                                                               
                                                                               
  Co-Chair  Hanley  suggested  that  Amendment 1  be  divided.                 
  Representative Brown  MOVED to  divide Amendment  1.   There                 
  being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.  Representative Brown                 
  MOVED to adopt Amendment 1A, amending page 2, lines 23 - 25.                 
  There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                 
                                                                               
  Representative  Martin  spoke in  support  of providing  the                 
  legislature  with  the maximum  amount  of flexibility.   He                 
  stressed that salary  raises for  judges should be  analyzed                 
  with the total budget.                                                       
                                                                               
  Representative Mulder suggested that "on  or before the last                 
  day of the legislative session" be inserted into Amendment 2                 
  and "within 60 days after" be deleted.                                       
                                                                               
  Representative Navarre  suggested that the order take effect                 
  on  the  date  of  a  separate  appropriation  to  fund  the                 
  increase.  He  noted that two  steps would be taken.   First                 
                                                                               
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  the  increase  would  be  turned  down  if  the  legislature                 
  disapproves the order.  Secondly,  the order would be turned                 
  down if it is not included in a separate appropriation.                      
                                                                               
  CHRIS  CHRISTENSEN,  STAFF  COUNSEL,  ALASKA  COURT   SYSTEM                 
  explained that the Court has  held that to be constitutional                 
  there has to be a two step process.  He noted that the Court                 
  did not address whether the steps can run concurrently.                      
                                                                               
  Mr.  Snowden  questioned if  problems  would occur  from one                 
  legislature  binding  another if  both  actions do  not take                 
  place  in  the  same  year.    He  emphasized  that  if  the                 
  Legislature  does   not  disapprove   of  the   Commission's                 
  recommendations that the raise would be 12 months later.                     
                                                                               
  (Tape Change, HFC 96-47, Side 2)                                             
                                                                               
  Mr. Snowden estimated that the Legislature will take as much                 
  time as is  given to act.   Co-Chair Hanley questioned  if a                 
  bill  disapproving the recommendations would be passed prior                 
  to 90 days.  He suggested  that the most likely scenario  is                 
  that the decision  will be made in the budget  process.  Mr.                 
  Snowden asked the  Committee to consider inserting  110 days                 
  in order to allow the  conference committee time to consider                 
  the item.  Representative Martin did not feel that this item                 
  should be treated  differently from  other items.   Co-Chair                 
  Hanley stated that  if the Legislature does not  take action                 
  then the Executive  Director of the Alaska Court System will                 
  argue  that  the  item  was  approved  because  it  was  not                 
  disapproved.                                                                 
                                                                               
  Representative Navarre  expressed concern that  on or before                 
  the last day  of the session  would not allow adequate  time                 
  for the recommendations  to be incorporated into  the budget                 
  if they are  not disapproved.  He  noted that if an  item is                 
  not in either the House or Senate budget it cannot be  added                 
  in conference  committee.   He  suggested  that  disapproval                 
  should be by  90 or 100 days  in order to  allow time for  a                 
  budget amendment.                                                            
                                                                               
  Representative  Mulder MOVED to adopted amended Amendment 2:                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
       "(c)  An  order  changing  the  compensation of  a                      
       justice  or  judge  takes  effect  unless  a  bill                      
       disapproving the order in its entirety is  enacted                      
       into  law  on  or  before  the  last  day  of  the                      
       legislative   session  in   which  the   order  is                      
       submitted to the legislature.  Unless disapproved,                      
       an order  increasing the compensation of a justice                      
       or judge is subject to funding through legislative                      
       appropriation and  takes effect  on the  effective                      
                                                                               
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       date of the first  separate appropriation to  fund                      
       the increase."                                                          
  Representative Navarre OBJECTED.  A roll call vote was taken                 
  on the MOTION.                                                               
                                                                               
  IN FAVOR: Brown,   Kohring,    Martin,   Mulder,    Parnell,                 
  Therriault,         Hanley                                                   
  OPPOSED:  Navarre                                                            
                                                                               
  Co-Chair Foster  and Representatives  Kelly and  Grussendorf                 
  were absent from the vote.                                                   
                                                                               
  The MOTION PASSED (7-1).                                                     
                                                                               
  Representative  Navarre  stated that  salary recommendations                 
  for   the  Legislature  should   be  contained   in  similar                 
  legislation.   He  noted  the  political nature  surrounding                 
  legislative  salaries.     He  gave   a  brief  history   of                 
  legislative salary levels.  He  suggested that the inclusion                 
  of legislative salary recommendations in similar legislation                 
  would  allow  for   objective  deliberation  regarding  fair                 
  compensation.  Representative Martin  noted that the  public                 
  expects  the  Legislature  to set  salary  levels  for state                 
  employees.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Representative Mulder MOVED to report CSHB 437 (FIN)  out of                 
  Committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  with  the                 
  accompanying fiscal notes.                                                   
                                                                               
  CSHB  437  (FIN)  was  reported out  of  Committee  with "no                 
  recommendation" and with  a zero fiscal  note by the  Alaska                 
  Court System, dated 1/30/96;  and with a fiscal impact  note                 
  by the Office of the Governor.                                               

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