Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/27/1996 03:04 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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.                                      

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