Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/16/1996 08:07 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HJR 34 - LIMIT LEGISLATIVE SESSION TO 90 DAYS                               
 The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs             
 Committee was HJR 34.                                                         
 CHAIR JAMES called on Representative Jerry Sander, sponsor of HJR
 34, to present the resolution to the committee members.                       
 REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS said this was the same resolution he             
 presented three weeks ago.  If the resolution had been enacted the            
 legislators would have been home by now.  He cited he had received            
 21 constituent calls from his wife advocating for the resolution.             
 He stated the time was now to consider changing the length of the             
 legislative session to 90 days.                                               
 Number 1234                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said due to his years of contracting                      
 experience, a contract typically took the exact number of days                
 allotted.  He believed if the resolution was passed, legislation              
 would be prioritized enhancing the quality.  He supported HJR 34.             
 Number 1282                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS asked Representative Sanders if he had                  
 considered the change in the balance of power between the                     
 legislature and the Governor?                                                 
 Number 1303                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS replied the Governor was controlled by the             
 public as much as he was controlled by the legislature.  Therefore,           
 the extra time spent at home dealing with constituents would bear             
 more pressure on the Governor than by being in Juneau.                        
 Number 1320                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS asked Representative Sanders if HJR 34 was              
 drafted to mean 90 days and not 91 days as the present system                 
 Number 1338                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS replied HJR 34 was drafted so that 120 days            
 were substituted with 90 days.  Therefore, it was possible that a             
 session could go 91 days.                                                     
 Number 1366                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said 90 days could be self-imposed right              
 now if that was what the leadership wanted.  There were broader               
 issues concerned here that affected the budget cycle, resolutions,            
 bills presented, and bill crafted, for example.  She said she                 
 supported more interim committee work and more time off during the            
 legislative session to present the work of the committees to the              
 public.  Gavel-to-Gavel definitely involved the public more, but              
 it did not allow individual testimony from the public.  Moreover,             
 this was a very important and serious discussion.  She suggested an           
 interim or subcommittee to look at the issues further.                        
 Number 1540                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN replied if the issue was tabled or put into a             
 subcommittee the resolution was killed.  It was time to "fish or              
 cut bait."                                                                    
 Number 1572                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES agreed that if the session was shortened to 90 days the           
 work would get done.  More work would be done before arriving in              
 Juneau, for example.  She was not sure of the semantics of the                
 resolution, however.  She suggested keeping the resolution clean so           
 that when it went to the public it would be supported.  She                   
 announced she was willing to move the resolution forward today.               
 Number 1699                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS stated his major concern was how the balance            
 of power would be affected between the legislature and the                    
 Governor.  He was not sure how he would vote on this resolution               
 when it reached the floor of the House of Representatives.                    
 However, he believed a good healthy debate on the floor would be              
 very helpful to understand the issue and for the people that watch            
 Gavel-to-Gavel.  He would not vote against passing it out of the              
 House State Affairs Committee.                                                
 Number 1799                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that HJR 34 move from the committee               
 with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes.                    
 Representative Robinson objected.  She was the author of two                  
 proposed amendments that had not been heard yet.                              
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said there was a motion on the floor so it                
 either needed to be rescinded or action taken.                                
 Number 1866                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER rescinded the motion.  There was no                     
 Number 1896                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON explained Amendment 1 proposed to change              
 the constitution from an annual to a biennial state budget.  She              
 stated the change would allow state employees to do their job.  By            
 the time the legislature left Juneau, the departments started                 
 working on the next year's budget instead of doing their job.  She            
 believed the amendment would improve the process.                             
 Number 2020                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON moved to adopted Amendment 1.                         
 Representative Ogan objected.                                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN said he understood the argument that a shorter            
 session would save the state money.  He agreed it would require               
 more organization.                                                            
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN further stated Amendment 1 was a substantial              
 change.  He needed time to look at it further and how it would                
 affect the process.  He was afraid it would weigh down the                    
 resolution through the rest of the legislative process.  He would             
 vote against it.                                                              
 Number 2095                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said the idea of a biennial budget was                    
 laudable.  However, the reality of the state budget was such that             
 it fluctuated with the price of oil compared to a stable resource,            
 such as, a state income tax.  He reiterated the budget was too                
 unpredictable, therefore, he would not support the amendment.                 
 Number 2155                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES said she would vote against the amendment because it              
 turned the resolution into two issues.  She suggested looking at it           
 again in the future, however.                                                 
 CHAIR JAMES called for a roll call vote.  Representatives James,              
 Ogan, Ivan and Porter voted against the motion.  Representatives              
 Robinson and Willis voted in favor of the motion.  The motion                 
 Number 2205                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON moved to adopted Amendment 2.                         
 Representative Ogan objected.                                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON explained Amendment 2 allowed for a "baby             
 step" change.  It called for the first session to be 120 days and             
 the second session to be 90 days.  The first session was used more            
 for organization and familiarization.  The second session was                 
 before an election season so the shorter session would give more              
 time to go back home, for example.  She reiterated this was a baby            
 step towards the change that Representative Sander's proposed in              
 HJR 34.                                                                       
 Number 2338                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said he objected to the amendment.  There was             
 enough time during the interim.                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called for a roll call vote.  Representatives James,              
 Ogan, Ivan and Porter voted against the motion.  Representatives              
 Robinson and Willis voted in favor of the motion.  The motion                 
 Number 2419                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that HJR 34 move from the committee               
 with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes.  Hearing           
 no objection, it was so moved from the House State Affairs                    
 Number 2449                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES asked Representative Robinson to present amendments to            
 the Chair before the meeting to prevent the confusion earlier.  She           
 would not have accepted the motion from Representative Porter had             
 she known about the amendments.                                               
 TAPE 96-54, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 0000                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON apologized.  She believed the resolution              
 was going to be put into a subcommittee.                                      

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