Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/05/2001 08:05 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB  28 - MOVE SECOND LEGISLATIVE SESSION                                                                                      
Number 2300                                                                                                                     
CHAIR COGHILL  announced that  the next  item of  business before                                                               
the committee  would be HOUSE  BILL NO.  28, "An Act  relating to                                                               
the  location  of  legislative sessions;  and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective  date."   He  said his  intention was  not  to hear  or                                                               
discuss the bill today, but simply to have it presented.                                                                        
Number 2360                                                                                                                     
DAVID  STANCLIFF,  Staff  to Representative  Scott  Ogan,  Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature,   came  forward  to  testify   on  behalf  of                                                               
Representative Ogan,  sponsor of HB  28.  He explained  that many                                                               
of  Representative   Ogan's  constituents  have  asked   why  the                                                               
legislature cannot  conduct more  of its  business closer  to the                                                               
more populated  part of Alaska.   He  explained that there  is an                                                               
initiative in  statute, the so-called FRANK  Initiative, that was                                                               
put there  to make sure that  if the capital is  ever moved, that                                                               
the public  is informed  on all expenses  and everything  that it                                                               
would  take  to  move  the   capital.    Moving  the  legislature                                                               
occasionally  might be  a viable  alternative, but  that also  is                                                               
very expensive.  So Representative  Ogan decided "that maybe what                                                               
we  should  do  is  give  the legislature  the  authority  to  by                                                               
concurrent resolution  approve a  change in  legislative location                                                               
for  the   first  part   of  each   two-year  session   based  on                                                               
solicitation from communities."                                                                                                 
MR. STANCLIFF  said he had  done some rough calculations  on what                                                               
the  legislature  brings  to Juneau's  economy,  and  found  that                                                               
legislators  and  their staff  generate  a  little more  than  $5                                                               
million.   He  suggested  that hosting  the  legislature meet  in                                                               
Anchorage  or  Fairbanks   would  not  be  "nearly   as  risky  a                                                               
proposition  financially  as  the Olympics,"  and  recalled  that                                                               
Anchorage "got very  excited about the Olympics at  one time" and                                                               
had been willing  to commit to major building projects.   He said                                                               
he  thought  that  Fairbanks,  Anchorage,  the  Mat  Valley,  the                                                               
Peninsula,  or some  other municipality  would  be interested  in                                                               
attracting $5  million worth of  business in a  four-month period                                                               
and  might try  to accommodate  the legislature  by offering  the                                                               
facilities, amenities, and the things  that the legislature might                                                               
need.    At   that  point  the  community  would   offer  to  the                                                               
legislature  a  proposal of  what  they  had  to offer,  and  the                                                               
legislature  would consider  if it  was fiscally  or logistically                                                               
possible  to  move   the  session  there.    Under   HB  28,  the                                                               
legislature would  have the  authority to approve  doing so  by a                                                               
concurrent resolution.                                                                                                          
Number 2111                                                                                                                     
MR. STANCLIFF offered reasons for  considering doing so.  He said                                                               
HB 28 "would  probably be one of the best  things the legislature                                                               
could  do ensure  that the  capital always  remained in  Juneau,"                                                               
because  if people  "had the  legislature  occasionally in  their                                                               
part of the world, they would not  be nearly as apt to want to go                                                               
to  the extreme  of moving  the  entire capital."   In  addition,                                                               
meeting  in  other parts  of  the  state  would contribute  to  a                                                               
healthy perspective.   "We're really a state of  many states," he                                                               
said,  and many  people  do  not see  the  diversity of  Alaska's                                                               
Native  cultures,  economy,  and geography.    Furthermore,  many                                                               
voters  feel it  is unfair  that their  government is  so remote.                                                               
"Our people  tell us that they  would like to be  more involved,"                                                               
he said.   "The constituents that  many of us represent  and work                                                               
for do not  have the same access to government  as people here in                                                               
Southeast  do," as  it is  too expensive  and time-consuming  for                                                               
them to travel to the legislature.  "If you want to truly address                                                               
the urban-rural divide, bringing  the legislature closer to rural                                                               
Alaska  would  be  a  wonderful  thing to  do,"  he  added.    He                                                               
     For any  major policy decision  such as a  fiscal plan,                                                                    
     you have to have public  trust.  And if the legislature                                                                    
     stays  in Juneau  in a  distant place,  then the  ideas                                                                    
     seem distant also.  And if  you were to ... show a good                                                                    
     faith effort to take government  to the people, I think                                                                    
     it would go a long way in building more trust.                                                                             
     Passing  around  the  legislature and  the  legislative                                                                    
     process spreads a little bit  of the economy that comes                                                                    
     with them.   If you have families you  can't bring down                                                                    
     or  kids  you  have  to  dislocate  from  other  school                                                                    
     systems, its a  very costly project, but  its costly in                                                                    
     terms  of   more  than  just  dollars.     It's  costly                                                                    
Number 1784                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  COGHILL   asked  if  any  municipalities   have  expressed                                                               
interest  in taking  advantage  of the  opportunity  HB 28  would                                                               
MR. STANCLIFF  said he did  not think any  of them will  take the                                                               
idea seriously until HB 28 is passed out of committee.                                                                          
CHAIR COGHILL asked  him to let Representative Ogan  know that he                                                               
would be  interested in knowing  about any municipality  that was                                                               
anticipating what it might do.                                                                                                  
MR. STANCLIFF  noted that there  is a referendum  being sponsored                                                               
in the Matanuska Valley to move the legislature there.                                                                          
Number 1725                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HAYES  said he would  appreciate knowing  if there                                                               
is any other state that moves its legislature around.                                                                           
Number 1700                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD asked how  the legislature would go about                                                               
deciding,   if   there   was  a   bidding   competition   between                                                               
MR. STANCLIFF said he thinks  the community that offers the least                                                               
expensive option would rank very  high, but also that there would                                                               
be some effort  made to move to places where  the legislature had                                                               
not been.   He  said he  thinks communities  have the  ability to                                                               
make offers  to the legislature  that would involve little  or no                                                               
cost to it.                                                                                                                     
Number 1540                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON asked  how many places to  stay a community                                                               
would have to provide.                                                                                                          
MR. STANCLIFF  said Juneau provides homes  for approximately 200,                                                               
and he  thought Anchorage or  Fairbanks could  easily accommodate                                                               
that type of influx, especially during the winter.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON   asked  how  Gavel  to   Gavel  would  be                                                               
MR.  STANCLIFF replied,  "Hopefully, the  same.   We would  still                                                               
want  to have  coverage because  rural Alaska  especially depends                                                               
heavily  on that,  because they  don't  get down  here hardly  at                                                               
all."  He  expected that it would continue  with electronic feeds                                                               
from the alternative location.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON volunteered  that North  Carolina has  had                                                               
several  places besides  Raleigh  as its  capital,  and that  the                                                               
legislature usually meets in each  of those other locations for a                                                               
day once each  session.  Also, she said, if  the session moved to                                                               
other locations,  there would still  be family upheaval  for many                                                               
legislators and staff, and that  it would not make any difference                                                               
to rural Alaska  because there would be so few  places that could                                                               
accommodate it.  The problem is simply displaced, she said.                                                                     
Number 1402                                                                                                                     
CHAIR COGHILL  sent best wishes  to Representative Ogan,  who was                                                               
in the hospital, and said he  looked forward to his coming before                                                               
the committee to answer questions about HB 28.                                                                                  
MR. STANCLIFF said Representative Ogan  had asked the House State                                                               
Affairs  Standing  Committee  to  consider, "Is  there  any  good                                                               
reason  you wouldn't  want to  grant  the authority  to a  future                                                               
legislature to consider ... such  a proposal from another area of                                                               
the  state, because  that's  all this  does."   [HB  28 was  held                                                               

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