Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/27/1996 03:04 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 179 - LIMIT TERM OF COMMRS OF EDUC. & FISH/GAME Number 2009 JOSHUA DONALDSON, Legislative Secretary to Representative Gene Therriault, read the following sponsor statement: "House Bill 179 is intended to change the term of office for the commissioners of Education and Fish and Game so their terms do not exceed the term of the governor who appointed them. House Bill 179 is needed to avoid a situation in which an outgoing commissioner's contract must be honored by an incoming administration. "The Alaska State Constitution provides the power for the governor to appoint each principal department head. The Department of Education and the Department of Fish and Game are unique due to the involvement of their respective boards. "The principal head of the Department of Education is the Board of Education. The Board of Education appoints its principal executive officer. The board has the right to dismiss the commissioner, if a dismissal is deemed necessary. House Bill 179 would eliminate the present 5-year term as specified in current statute. "The Commissioner of Fish and Game is appointed by the governor from a list compiled by the Board of Fisheries and the Board of Game. HB 179 clarifies that the commissioner does serve at the pleasure of the governor and eliminates the reference to the commissioner of Fish and Game being approved to a 5-year term. "The Alaska State Constitution grants the governor the power to appoint department heads. House Bill 179 reaffirms this constitutional right." Number 2080 CHRYSTAL SMITH, Legal Administrator, Department of Law, testified on behalf of the Administration. She said the Governor heartily supports CSHB 179(FSH). It parallels his efforts in legislation introduced last year to ensure that the commissioners of the Departments of Fish and Game and Education are on basically the same grounds as the other commissioners; that is, they serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority. In the case of the Department of Fish and Game commissioner, the appointing authority would be the governor and in the case of the Department of Education commissioner, it would be the Board of Education. There would be no fixed terms that could potentially overlap the governor's term. She noted that last year, there was a concern about the Commissioner of Education, who had a contract which would have gone over the term of the governor. There was a need to buy that contract out which is not only expensive for the state, but it puts the incoming governor and his/her Board of Education in a difficult position. This legislation would make it very clear that the Commissioner of Education serves at the pleasure of the board; there would be no fixed term contracts, and the Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game serves at the pleasure of the governor. The recommendation for the position would come through the Board of Fish and Game, but the governor would make the appointment; therefore that person would serve at the pleasure of the governor. Currently, the Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game has a five-year term. Number 2162 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked where the governor's bill was currently in terms of the legislative process. MS. SMITH responded she didn't know where the House bill was currently, but added the Senate version is in the Senate Finance Committee. She added that Representative Martin had a similar bill that apparently got bogged down in the House Finance Committee toward the end of the legislative session last year. CO-CHAIR BUNDE closed public testimony on HB 179. Number 2194 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY moved to pass HB 179 out of the House HESS Committee with zero fiscal note and individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.