Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/22/1996 01:41 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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 5 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 6 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 7 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.