Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/16/1996 08:07 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 operated? 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 objection. 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 failed. 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 failed. 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 Committee. 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.