Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/10/1993 01:00 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 3 LIMITING TERMS OF LEGISLATORS Number 044 REP. TERRY MARTIN, PRIME SPONSOR of HJR 3, said that the idea of term limitations had been around since the Greek and Roman empires. He commented that President Madison had been a strong advocate of term limitations as a means of curbing the power of special interest groups. Rep. Martin said that resolutions pertaining to term limitations had been introduced in the Alaska Legislature 19 times since 1960. He noted that term limitations had support from a broad spectrum of individuals. REP. MARTIN commented that the public had spoken in support of term limitations as a means of controlling the influence of special interest groups and legislators who had served for a long time. He said he agreed with the public, who continually elected him, because they knew that he was an advocate of term limitations. He noted that if HJR 3 were enacted, he would have to stop running for office. Number 140 REP. MARTIN said that HJR 3 had been crafted to reflect a moderate approach to term limitations, in terms of what other states had done. He stated that the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) had reported that 29 states were now addressing the issue of term limitations. He said HJR 3 would allow a person to serve a maximum of 12 years in the legislature before taking a required break. A legislator could then continue to serve in the legislature after that break, he added. Number 154 REP. GREEN called Rep. Martin's attention to a possible inconsistency in section 1 on page 1 of HJR 3. Number 161 REP. MARTIN replied that the section that Rep. Green had pointed out referred to appointments. Number 170 REP. GREEN noted that HJR 3 would allow a person to serve a maximum of four terms as a Representative and a maximum of two terms as a Senator. He said if a person served two Senate terms, for a total of eight years, and two House terms, for a total of four years, he or she would end up serving a grand total of 12 years. But, he said, HJR 3 limited combined service to 11 years. He commented that the resolution would end up limiting either a second House term or a second Senate term. He asked why HJR 3 referred to a limit of 11 years, instead of 12 years. Number 185 REP. MARTIN responded that the resolution had been drafted the way that it was to accommodate the appointment of legislators. He mentioned a situation involving the appointment of Governor Egan. A lawsuit was filed against the Governor, alleging that he could not run for a third term. The Governor's contention was that since he was appointed to his first term, that one did not count for the purposes of term limitations. Number 223 CHAIRMAN PORTER expressed his belief that HJR 3 prevented a person from running for a term that she or he would be prohibited from completing, under the provisions of the term limitation law. Number 245 REP. GREEN noted his continued concern over the number 11. Number 247 REP. MARTIN said that the resolution would allow a person to serve a maximum of 12 years in the legislature. He said that he would have to consult with the Division of Legal Services again as to why the number 11 was put into the resolution. Number 258 REP. PHILLIPS commented that she supported HJR 3, but advocated a maximum of 16 years, instead of 12. Number 266 REP. MARTIN replied that a maximum of 16 years would not reflect a moderate approach, compared to term limitations enacted in other states. Number 270 REP. PHILLIPS stated that she was not concerned with what other states were doing with regard to term limitations. She commented that a person ought to be able to serve two Senate terms and four House terms. Number 277 REP. GREEN noted that HJR 3 should be amended so as to change the maximum number of years a person could serve in the legislature from 11 to 12 years. REP. MARTIN said that he would consider Rep. Green's idea as a friendly amendment. REP. GREEN moved to amend the language on page 1, line 12, deleting the word "eleven" and replacing it with the word "twelve." Number 298 REP. NORDLUND objected for the purposes of discussion. He said that he supported Rep. Green's amendment. He noted that a person might serve two terms in the House, for a total of four years, and then move to the Senate, where he or she would be limited to only one term. He withdrew his objection. Number 310 REP. PHILLIPS objected to the motion for the purposes of discussing a term limitation of 16 years, instead of 11 or 12 years. Number 313 REP. PHILLIPS indicated that she was aware that the national average on term limitations was 12 years. However, she stated that in Alaska, it was difficult to find people willing to stay in office long enough to be effective, but not so long as to remain in office for an excessive period of time. She said that she agreed with the notion of term limits, but felt that people should be able to serve two terms in each body. Number 326 REP. MARTIN cited the writings of President Madison, which held that nine years was too long for a person to hold public office. He noted the balancing act between experienced legislators and "new blood." He expressed his opinion that there was no shortage of candidates in Alaska. He commented that, in his opinion, 16 years was way too long for a person to serve in public office without taking a break. Number 344 REP. PHILLIPS noted that of all of the representatives in the room, Rep. Martin was the one who had served closest to 16 years. She said that freshmen legislators began their service with high hopes of what they would accomplish, but those hopes were quickly dashed. She noted that it took a new legislator time to get up to speed on the issues and the process. She reiterated her support for a 16-year limitation. Number 363 REP. JAMES commented that, as a freshman legislator, she did not think she would learn how to do her job in 16 years. She said that when she was running for office, her constituents told her that they supported term limits. She had agreed with them during her campaign, but had nearly changed her mind after two months of public service. REP. JAMES said that the legislature was a whole new world to her, very different than what she had expected before arriving in Juneau. She commented that the learning curve in the legislature was very steep. She stated that it would take a good eight to ten years of legislative service for a person to be an effective Finance Committee chair, in her opinion. Number 400 REP. JAMES expressed her concern that, because the capitol was in Juneau, legislators almost had to give up their existing jobs to serve in the legislature. She noted the financial difficulty that her service in the legislature had created. Rep. James commented that she saw some benefits to legislators serving for long periods of time. She said that she felt obligated to support term limits, because that was what she said she would do during her campaign. She said that if the legislature were to limit service to 16 years, they might as well not limit service at all. She noted her belief that 12 years was a reasonable limitation on terms. (Rep. Davidson arrived at 1:30 p.m.) Number 421 REP. MARTIN commented that it was important that the legislature not pass a measure that the public perceived to be a way to ensure the legislators' own longevity. He noted that time was an extremely important factor when it came to accomplishing a task. He said that everyone procrastinated when they knew that they had a given amount of time during which to accomplish a task. He said that given term limits, legislators would work harder to accomplish their goals in the time allotted to them. Number 456 REP. JAMES noted that her constituents advocated term limitations of eight years, which she felt was too short. She expressed her opinion that 12 years was a good compromise, which would meet the public's desire for term limitations. Number 464 REP. DAVIDSON asked Rep. Martin how many years he had served in the legislature. Number 467 REP. MARTIN replied that he was currently serving his fifteenth year. REP. DAVIDSON asked Rep. Martin if he honestly believed in his resolution. REP. MARTIN said that he absolutely believed in his resolution, and noted that he had been sponsoring similar resolutions ever since he began his service in the legislature. REP. DAVIDSON asked Rep. Martin what had prevented him from voluntarily abiding by the terms of his yet-unpassed resolution. Number 472 REP. MARTIN said that as he was a staunch advocate of term limitations; his voluntary resignation from public service would aid the forces who objected to term limitations. He said that he thought it was only fair to have six or eight Democrats leave the legislature at the same time that he did. Number 482 REP. DAVIDSON noted that individuals were faced with fewer and fewer choices as time went on. He commented that if he lived in Rep. Martin's district, he might well choose to vote for Rep. Martin for many years. He questioned whose best interests would be served by term limitations. Number 500 REP. MARTIN replied that the public's best interests were served by term limitations. He reiterated his point that the idea of term limitations was not new. He mentioned the multiplicity of special interest groups and the advantages of incumbent lawmakers. Rep. Martin spoke of the most recent U.S. House of Representatives election, in which many incumbents were defeated. Number 524 REP. DAVIDSON asked Rep. Martin if there were interest groups which controlled his vote. Number 527 REP. MARTIN responded that he represented the views of many interest groups, including the military and the Right to Life movement. Number 534 REP. DAVIDSON commented on a situation, caused by reapportionment, in which some Senate terms were two years long, while others were four years long. He asked how that situation would mesh with HJR 3's language regarding full and partial terms. Number 544 REP. MARTIN replied that Rep. Davidson's comment answered Rep. Green's earlier question. Number 555 REP. DAVIDSON stated that it seemed that the people who gained from term limitations were special interests. He expressed his belief that information was power. He noted that institutional memory translated to information, and staff, bureaucrats, and lobbyists were the ones who carried the institutional memory forward. He called HJR 3 unfortunate legislation, which sounded great, but limited choices and held long-term dangers for democracy. He added that he would vote against HJR 3. Number 587 REP. GREEN commented that he still believed that the number 12 should be substituted for the number 11 in HJR 3. He noted that a person could conceivably serve two Senate terms, which together totalled four years. He suggested amending the language in HJR 3 on line 10 to say "may serve no more than eight years as a senator." Number 606 REP. MARTIN said that he had discussed his resolution with the NCSL and the Legislative Affairs Legal Services Division. He noted that some states limited legislators to one term only, ever. He said that in drafting his resolution, he had tried to be flexible in accommodating appointments and reapportionment. REP. PHILLIPS asked Rep. Martin how many members of the Alaska State Legislature had served over 12 years, and how many had served over 16 years. Number 625 REP. MARTIN replied that he believed that 12 legislators had served more than 12 years and five had served over 14 years. Number 646 CHAIRMAN PORTER said that the committee was currently considering a proposed amendment, which would change, on line 12, the word "eleven" to "twelve." Number 649 REP. DAVIDSON noted his concern that a person could serve eight years as a member of the House, but would be unable to serve even one full term in the Senate, as HJR 3 was currently drafted. CHAIRMAN PORTER stated that his interpretation was the same as that of Rep. Davidson. REP. GREEN noted that if the language were amended to read "twelve" instead of "eleven," HJR 3 would allow a person to serve one full Senate term after serving eight years in the House. REP. DAVIDSON said that he did not understand the rationale behind not allowing a person to serve two terms as a Senator. Number 670 CHAIRMAN PORTER stated that he would like to address the amendment currently before the committee to change the word "eleven" to "twelve" on line 12. REP. PHILLIPS moved to amend the amendment to replace the word "twelve" with "sixteen." CHAIRMAN PORTER objected for the purposes of discussion. REP. GREEN mentioned Rep. James' earlier comment about how the public would perceive term limitations that were rather long. Number 691 CHAIRMAN PORTER called for a roll call vote. Reps. Davidson, Kott, Nordlund, and Phillips voted "yea." Reps. Green, James, and Porter voted "nay." And so, the amendment to the amendment passed. Number 698 CHAIRMAN PORTER indicated that the amendment now before the committee would change the word "eleven" on line 12 to "sixteen." He objected to the amendment, commenting that his constituents advocated term limits of eight years. He said that he felt that an eight-year term limit was too short. He reminded the committee members that the Governor was limited to serving eight years. He mentioned that the public would not support a term limit of 16 years. He strongly urged a vote of "nay" on the amendment. Number 736 REP. DAVIDSON respectfully disagreed with the Chairman's comparison between the legislative and executive branches of government. He said that the Governor had power far beyond that of individual legislators. He noted the powerlessness felt by legislators when faced with a bill which enjoyed the support of high-pressure lobbyists. He said it was inappropriate to compare the executive branch with the legislative branch in the case of term limitations. REP. DAVIDSON commented that he considered himself a citizen legislator. He said that he had a family and had served in the House for six years. He mentioned his prior service on the Kodiak city council and school board, and described the family and financial sacrifices that went hand-in-hand with public service. He said that calling 16 years of service in the legislature a "career" was stretching the idea of what a career was all about. He commented that what legislators sometimes had to endure was sheer drudgery and pain, with slave wages to boot. REP. DAVIDSON stated that 16 years was not too long for a term limitation. He said that to encourage people to serve in the legislature, they should at least be allowed to get past the learning curve. Number 788 REP. PHILLIPS said that 72 percent of respondents to her constituent poll indicated that they supported term limitations of eight years in the House and eight years in the Senate. Number 796 CHAIRMAN PORTER said that the amendment before the committee was to change the word "eleven" to "sixteen" on page 1, line 12. A roll call vote was taken. Reps. Kott, Nordlund, Phillips and Davidson voted "yea." Reps. Green, James and Porter voted "nay." And so, the amendment was approved. TAPE 93-30, SIDE B Number 000 REP. MARTIN stated that the amendment made by the committee destroyed the idea behind HJR 3. He said that he would not be the author of a resolution calling for term limitations of 16 years. Number 012 CHAIRMAN PORTER called an "at ease" to consider the sponsor's comment. Number 027 CHAIRMAN PORTER called the meeting back to order. REP. PHILLIPS moved to rescind the committee's action on the amendment changing the number "eleven" to "sixteen." There being no objection, it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN PORTER stated that an amendment, replacing the word "eleven" with "twelve" on line 12 of HJR 3, was now before the committee. REP. PHILLIPS moved to amend the amendment, with the effect of changing the word "eleven" on line 12 to "fourteen." REP. GREEN objected. Number 065 REP. JAMES asked the Chairman to outline the action taken thus far on HJR 3. Number 110 CHAIRMAN PORTER explained that the committee had not yet amended HJR 3. The committee had made many motions to amend the resolution, but none had been accomplished, he said. He entertained a motion to rescind all previous motions to amend. REP. KOTT made the motion to rescind all previous motions to amend. CHAIRMAN PORTER said that Rep. Kott's motion would return the committee to addressing CSHJR 3(STA). Hearing no objection, the motion was adopted. Number 140 REP. NORDLUND made a motion to amend the language on page 1, line 12, so as to replace the word "eleven" with "fourteen." There was objection. Number 153 REP. GREEN commented that the language in HJR 3 relating to Senate terms seemed to cause difficulty, with respect to reapportionment. He suggested modifying the language relating to Senate terms to refer to eight years, instead of to the number of terms. REP. GREEN noted that if the resolution were to be amended to limit legislative service to 14 years, the public would likely perceive that the legislature had in effect done nearly nothing to limit terms. Number 197 CHAIRMAN PORTER expressed concern that changing "eleven" to "fourteen" would have deleterious effects on other language in HJR 3. Number 206 REP. GREEN stated that limiting service to 14 years would prevent a person from serving four terms in the House and two terms in the Senate. Number 220 REP. DAVIDSON commented that he did not understand why the committee was playing numbers games. He said he could envision a situation in which a person served four House terms and then was elected to the Senate. That person would only be allowed to serve one Senate term, regardless of how that person's constituents felt. He said the committee had already voted to amend the bill to limit terms to 16 years, but was now continuing to play numbers games. CHAIRMAN PORTER noted that the committee members now had CSHJR 3(STA) in front of them, with a motion to replace the number "eleven" with "fourteen." Number 265 REP. NORDLUND explained that a person who wanted to serve two terms in the Senate could choose to end his or her House career at six years. However, he noted the confounding situation of reapportionment, which created Senate terms of both two and four years. Consequently, he said, there were numerous possible scenarios for how a person might serve 12 years in the legislature. REP. NORDLUND noted that he offered his amendment changing the word "eleven" to "fourteen" as a compromise. Number 283 REP. DAVIDSON stated that even a term limitation of 14 years would take away choices from the people. He commented that putting numbers into HJR 3 which were not multiples of four confused the issue. He said that if there was going to be a limitation of eight years' service in the House, then there ought to be an equal limitation for service in the Senate. Number 299 CHAIRMAN PORTER commented that he agreed with Rep. Nordlund that 14 years would be a compromise. He noted that term limitations by definition took away some choices. Number 334 CHAIRMAN PORTER called for a roll call vote on the amendment changing "eleven" to "fourteen." Reps. Kott, Nordlund and Phillips voted "yea." Reps. Davidson, Green, James and Porter voted "nay." And so, the amendment failed. The Chairman noted that the committee still had CSHJR 3(STA) before it. He mentioned that two people wished to testify on HJR 3. Number 339 RESA JERREL, representing the NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESSES (NFIB), testified in support of HJR 3. She said that in 1991, 80 percent of respondents to the NFIB member poll voted in favor of term limitations. She added that the majority of respondents advocated limits of eight years in each body of the legislature. Number 350 REP. GREEN asked Ms. Jerrel who had been polled. Number 354 MS. JERREL replied that the entire Alaska membership of the NFIB was polled. She said that when she put the question on the ballot, she did not think to ask about cumulative term limits. Number 360 REP. DAVIDSON asked Ms. Jerrel if she received responses from all 5,000 Alaska NFIB members. Number 367 MS. JERREL said that there had been a response rate of approximately 20 percent to her poll. Number 381 REP. DAVIDSON asked if the return rate was normal, or if the issue of term limitations was very important to the NFIB members, resulting in a higher-than-average response rate. MS. JERREL said that the 20 percent response rate was normal. REP. DAVIDSON said that his understanding was that NFIB members did not want anyone to serve more than 16 years in the legislature. MS. JERREL reiterated her point that her poll question did not address combined terms in the House and the Senate. REP. DAVIDSON asked Ms. Jerrel to provide the committee with a copy of the ballot question regarding term limitations. MS. JERREL indicated that she would be happy to provide a copy of the ballot question to the committee. Number 387 REP. KOTT mentioned that a 20 percent response rate was considered to be a very high rate of return. Number 394 REP. JAMES said that as a former NFIB member, she felt that their questionnaires were very indicative of the attitudes of the members. MS. JERREL said that the ballots were designed to include what NFIB considered critical issues that would be addressed by the legislature. She noted that the questionnaires included "pro" and "con" statements for each ballot question. Number 413 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked Ms. Jerrel if she believed that respondents meant that a person should serve either a maximum of eight years in the House, or a maximum of eight years in the Senate, or a maximum of eight years in each house for a total of 16 years. MS. JERREL responded that the questionnaire had asked "How many terms should a member of the House of Representatives serve?" and "How many terms should a member of the Senate serve?" She indicated that a majority had voted for eight years, in response to both questions. MS. JERREL added that 93 percent of respondents to the House question advocated term limitations from four to eight years, and 88 percent advocated two Senate terms. She said that she felt that was an indication that NFIB members might approve a cumulative term limitation of 12 years. Number 435 REP. KOTT said that his interpretation of the NFIB poll results showed that people favored service of eight years, period, whether in the House or the Senate. Number 454 HEATH HILYARD, a POLITICAL SCIENCE STUDENT from the UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA-FAIRBANKS, testified in opposition to HJR 3. He said that he had written a thesis paper on the issue of term limits. He stated that 40 state legislatures had introduced legislation limiting the terms of legislators. He noted that there had been a major push for term limitations in the state of Washington in 1990, but the effort had failed. MR. HILYARD said that term limitations robbed people of a legitimate choice and responsibility. He stated that term limits gave voters an opportunity to not think, and took responsibility away from the voters. He noted the growing distrust and disgust that citizens felt toward government. He called HJR 3 a "band-aid" solution to the problem. MR. HILYARD said that society was growing more and more ignorant about government. He stated that his argument was solely ideological and theoretical. He commented that the American people were becoming less responsive and less responsible. He stated that HJR 3 would take away Alaskans' right to a legitimate choice. MR. HILYARD expressed his opinion that the "power elite" in American society was the voting public. He said that instead of short-term remedies, government should instead focus on educating citizens. Number 522 REP. GREEN expressed his appreciation for Mr. Hilyard's testimony. He asked him to discuss the advantages enjoyed by incumbent legislators. Number 554 MR. HILYARD commented that incumbents did have some advantages over non-incumbents. He reiterated his point that education was the ultimate answer to society's problems, not term limits. He cited the need for increased ethical standards and campaign regulation. He said term limits might be unconstitutional. Number 598 REP. DAVIDSON noted that he was an incumbent legislator now, but he got to be an incumbent legislator by beating an incumbent. He added that it was not impossible to beat an incumbent legislator. He asked Mr. Hilyard to discuss some good aspects of term limits. Number 609 MR. HILYARD replied that the purpose behind term limit legislation was good. He said term limits would protect the American people from corrupt politicians, to some extent. He noted that ultimately, however, term limits did a disservice to the American people, as they prevented citizens from having the opportunity to become more educated and aware so that they would be able to spot corrupt politicians. Number 664 REP. KOTT asked Mr. Hilyard to think about representative democracy and the public's desire for term limits, in light of his testimony in opposition to term limits. Number 670 MR. HILYARD expressed his opinion that "delegates" were weather vanes of public opinion, whereas "representatives" made decisions for the good of the people. He said that he did not believe in the delegate theory, but rather in the representative theory of democracy. Number 694 REP. JAMES offered an amendment changing the word "eleven" to "fourteen" on line 12 of CSHJR 3(STA). Number 698 REP. KOTT objected. He said the committee had already voted on that amendment. Number 700 CHAIRMAN PORTER said that he would rule Rep. James' motion in order, because if the committee failed to pass out HJR 3, it would die in the Judiciary Committee. Number 704 REP. DAVIDSON asked why letting HJR 3 die in committee was not a viable option. TAPE 93-31, SIDE A Number 003 CHAIRMAN PORTER ruled that Rep. James' motion was in order. Number 012 REP. DAVIDSON objected to Rep. James' motion, for the purpose of amending her amendment, replacing "fourteen" with "fifteen." Hearing objection, a roll call vote was taken. Reps. Nordlund and Davidson voted "yea." Reps. Kott, Phillips, Green, James and Porter voted "nay." And so, the amendment to the amendment failed. A roll call vote was taken on amending CSHJR 3(STA) to replace "eleven" with "fourteen." Reps. Nordlund, Phillips, Davidson, James and Porter voted "yea." Reps. Kott and Green voted "nay." And so, the amendment was adopted. REP. GREEN noted that he was still concerned that language on line 10 of the resolution might restrict some Senators from serving more than four years due to reapportionment. Number 123 REP. PHILLIPS said the committee should move the bill out, but request that the Legal Services Division clarify the language regarding Senate terms later. REP. JAMES stated that the Judiciary Committee had no business passing on a piece of legislation that would not pass legal muster. Number 135 CHAIRMAN PORTER commented that he was concerned with the language pertaining to Senate terms, but not terribly confident about the proposed solution to the problematic language. REP. JAMES said the committee could craft the bill so as to put a limit on the cumulative number of years that a person could serve in the legislature and not break the requirement down any further with regard to House and Senate terms. She suggested that the Legal Services Division explore some other ideas for term limitations. CHAIRMAN PORTER responded that the committee could not ask the Legal Services Division to come up with the "best" option, as HJR 3 set out one method in particular. Number 180 REP. GREEN suggested that a subcommittee be appointed to create acceptable language for HJR 3. Number 187 CHAIRMAN PORTER appointed Reps. Nordlund and Kott, along with himself, to form a subcommittee on HJR 3. REP. KOTT stated that because he was a co-sponsor of HJR 3, he would request that the Chairman appoint another member to serve on the subcommittee in his stead. CHAIRMAN PORTER appointed Rep. Green to serve on the subcommittee, instead of Rep. Kott. Number 197 REP. DAVIDSON applauded the decision to hold HJR 3 in committee, due to the gravity of constitutional amendments. He said that he would like to understand why the delegates to the Constitutional Convention opted not to impose term limitations. He questioned what had happened since the Constitutional Convention that would warrant the imposition of term limitations. REP. DAVIDSON mentioned Mr. Hilyard's comment about the need to educate citizens. He said that when constitutional amendments were hurried through the legislative process, the legislature was guilty of not taking the time to educate constituents. He said the committee had touched on a few arguments for and against term limits, but commented that the committee had only scratched the surface. He urged the committee to consult with constitutional lawyers and with people in other states that had term limits. Number 247 REP. JAMES said she would consult with her constituents on the issue of term limitations, and asked the Chairman to not bring HJR 3 back before the committee until she had time to do so. CHAIRMAN PORTER stated that the subcommittee would endeavor to rework the language in HJR 3 and bring the resolution back before the committee at a time uncertain.