Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106

03/14/2006 08:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 475 PUB EMPLOYEE & TEACHER RETIREMENT & SBS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 475(STA) Out of Committee
+= HB 448 LICENSE PLATES FOR MASONS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 448(STA) Out of Committee
+= HB 438 INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM, RECALL PETITIONS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 45 CONTRIBUTIONS, LOBBYISTS, DISCLOSURE TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled But Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HB 438-INITIATIVE, REFERENDUM, RECALL PETITIONS                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:27:08 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON announced that the  next order of business was HOUSE                                                               
BILL NO.  438, "An  Act relating  to initiative,  referendum, and                                                               
recall petitions; and providing for an effective date."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
[Although  it  was never  adopted,  the  committee substitute  to                                                               
which  the   committee  referred  throughout  this   hearing  was                                                               
committee  substitute  (CS)  for  HB  438,  Version  24-LS1344\X,                                                               
Kurtz, 2/22/06, included in the committee packet.]                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:27:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS introduced  HB 438 as sponsor.   He said he                                                               
learned  recently that  there  is "a  certain  looseness" to  the                                                               
processes   related  to   initiative,   referendum,  and   recall                                                               
petitions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:29:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JIM  POUND,  Staff to  Representative  Jay  Ramras, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, offered further details  regarding HB 438, on behalf                                                               
of  Representative Ramras,  sponsor.   He described  the proposed                                                               
bill as  a "tweaking"  of House  Bill 31  - legislation  that was                                                               
passed  in  2004.    He  stated,  "The  process  is  broken  down                                                               
primarily  between  petitions  and   recalls,  but  it  deals  in                                                               
generalities between  the two, as  well."   Although it is  a law                                                               
that those collecting signatures must  be residents of the state,                                                               
there have been cases where nonresidents  have come up to work on                                                               
petitions during  particular "drives."   Mr. Pound said  there is                                                               
language in [Version  X] that would allow  the signature gatherer                                                               
up to $15  a day for food  if he/she travels more  than 100 miles                                                               
from home.   He explained that quite often,  individuals from one                                                               
of the urban centers travel to outlying regions.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. POUND  stated that HB  438 would require each  "committee" to                                                               
receive training related  to the rules of  circulating a petition                                                               
or recall.   Presently that  is not  a requirement.   There would                                                               
also  be   a  requirement  that   [the  sponsors]   instruct  the                                                               
circulators as to what the rules are.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  POUND indicated  that when  signature  collectors travel  to                                                               
rural  areas, they  sometimes have  no  idea whether  or not  the                                                               
district they  are in is  "qualified"; therefore,  the collectors                                                               
"run blind"  until they turn in  the petition books.   He said HB
438  would  allow the  petition  gatherers  or the  committee  to                                                               
submit up to 2,000 signatures  to the Division of Elections prior                                                               
to  the  actual  turning  in  of the  petition.    He  explained,                                                               
"There's a $1-dollar  fee that covers expenses  for the division,                                                               
but it will  also allow the petition gatherers ...  to ... have a                                                               
read on  ... the  number of signatures  and the  percentages that                                                               
they are receiving on an average."                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:31:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. POUND indicated [one of the  provisions in Version X is] that                                                               
an individual may not start a  recall effort if a public official                                                               
is within 270 days  of the term's end.  He  offered an example of                                                               
"term's end."  He said  the proposed legislation would change the                                                               
formula  for the  recall  petition from  10 to  20  percent.   He                                                               
emphasized that the  issue of recall is a serious  one and should                                                               
only  be approached  when there  is strong  support.   He posited                                                               
that the current  requirement to obtain signatures  of 10 percent                                                               
of those  who voted  in the previous  election within  a district                                                               
does  not represent  strong support,  ultimately costs  the state                                                               
money, and inflicts unnecessary  hardship on the public official.                                                               
Mr. Pound  said when a  person seeks  a recall, he/she  must make                                                               
charges against  the public official.   Regarding  those charges,                                                               
[he paraphrased  proposed language  in Version  X, which  read as                                                               
follows]:                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
               (5) a certification by each member of the                                                                    
     recall committee,  under penalty  of perjury,  that the                                                                
     facts alleged in  the application are true  to the best                                                                
     of the member's knowledge.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. POUND  noted that there  is no current definition  of "normal                                                               
use" and "recall efforts," and  he indicated that the sponsor has                                                               
attempted  to supply  those definitions.   He  said the  proposed                                                               
legislation  further defines  the  petition  and recall  process,                                                               
which will result  in a better and "cleaner" public  process.  He                                                               
urged the committee to support the bill.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:33:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  POUND,  in  response  to   a  question  from  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg, said  there are some  legal opinions regarding  HB 438                                                               
that he has not yet had an opportunity to review.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:33:50 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he  would like to  view them.   He                                                               
referred to  [the language on page  4, lines 8-10, which  read as                                                               
follows]:                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
          Sec. 15.45.490. Time of filing application. An                                                                      
     application may not be filed  during the first 120 days                                                                    
     or  the last  270 days  of the  term of  office of  any                                                                
     state public official subject to recall.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he wonders  if the addition of "270                                                           
days" may be unconstitutional, because  under Article 11, Section                                                           
8 of the constitution, all  public officials of the state, except                                                               
judicial offices,  are subject to  recall.  He said,  "This would                                                               
carve out a class of people  who are not subject to recall within                                                               
the last three-quarters of the year of their term.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:34:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS said, "I believe  that presently in statute                                                               
it's  180 days,  so  all  we're doing  is  adjusting the  current                                                               
statute.    So,  the  current  statute  would  have  to  also  be                                                               
unconstitutional.   But it's just  a tweak, so  it may or  not be                                                               
the  case, and  I think  a  lot of  this  is subject  to the  ...                                                               
Buckley case ...."                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:35:10 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  remarked, "Representative  Ramras, the  citation in                                                               
the bill, here, does not show a deletion of those terms."                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:35:14 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG clarified:                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     ... No, what  he is saying is  on line 9:   "may not be                                                                    
     filed  within the  first 120  days".   And logically  I                                                                    
     would have  to agree that if  that - the last  270 - is                                                                    
     unconstitutional,  then  probably  the first  120  days                                                                    
     might also be subject to the same challenge ....                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:35:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  POUND noted  that the  review he  received from  Legislative                                                               
Legal and Research Services does not address that issue.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:35:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  asked how many successful  recall efforts                                                               
have  been made  in Alaska  and  how many  recall petitions  have                                                               
actually made it to the ballot.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:36:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.   POUND   said   he   doesn't    know   the   exact   number.                                                               
Notwithstanding that, he related that  in most of the cases where                                                               
there  has  been  a  recall,   the  individual  in  question  has                                                               
resigned.   In response to Representative  Gardner's request that                                                               
he find out the answer, [Mr. Pound nodded].                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:36:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON noted  that in  Sections  5-8 of  Version X,  "270"                                                           
replaces "[180]", but  Section 2 - referred  to by Representative                                                               
Gruenberg -  is also amended to  "270 days", but from  "120", not                                                           
"180".  He suggested that there  may be some discrepancy in play.                                                               
He asked Mr.  Pound to check with Legislative  Legal and Research                                                               
Services to find out if that was an omission.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:37:22 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  directed attention  to  page  1, [line  12,                                                               
through page 2, line 1, of Version X], which read as follows:                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
               Sec. 15.45.003. Circulation; prohibition.                                                                      
     (a)  A  petition  may  be  circulated  only  in  person                                                                    
     throughout  the estate.    However, in  the  case of  a                                                                    
     petition to  recall a member of  the state legislature,                                                                    
     a  petition may  be circulated  only in  person in  the                                                                    
     senate or  house district  represented by  the official                                                                    
     sought to be recalled.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN asked  if that means, for  example, that [the                                                               
circulator] could  not gather signatures in  a supermarket across                                                               
the street if it was out of his/her district.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:38:31 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  POUND answered  that  for recalls,  everyone  who signs  the                                                               
petition has to  be a member of the district  in which the public                                                               
official being  recalled resides.   He added, "So,  going outside                                                               
of the district would probably be considered a violation."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN asked, "If you  got the signature outside the                                                               
district, but  the person lived  within the district,  would that                                                               
be acceptable?"                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. POUND responded,  "As I understand the change -  no, it would                                                               
not."                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:38:56 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON clarified  that the bottom of page 1  to top of page                                                               
2 [in Version X] is what is being discussed.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON, in response to  a query from Representative Ramras,                                                               
clarified that the questions from  Representative Lynn have to do                                                               
only with recalls, not with initiatives or referendums.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he thinks Representative  Lynn has                                                               
made a  good point;  it shouldn't make  any difference  where the                                                               
signature  is  obtained,  only  that the  person  who  signs  the                                                               
petition  is a  registered voter  in  the district  in which  the                                                               
person being recalled resides.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:39:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS responded  that his intent was  not to draw                                                               
boundaries as previously described by Representative Lynn.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:40:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  stated that HB  438 is  a complicated bill,  and he                                                               
said the committee would certainly work on it for awhile.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:41:22 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  POUND,  in  response  to   a  question  from  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg, stated that the person  who signs the petition must be                                                               
a registered voter.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:41:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANNETTE  KREITZER,  Chief  of Staff,  Office  of  the  Lieutenant                                                               
Governor,  revealed  that  Lieutenant Governor  Loren  Leman  has                                                               
spoken  with the  sponsor  of  the bill  and  has "encouraged  us                                                               
strongly to  work with  the sponsor and  help him  accomplish the                                                               
goals  that he's  set  out to  do  here."   She  stated that  the                                                               
sponsor has said  that he would like to have  "this discussion on                                                               
the record."   Ms. Kreitzer  recommended that the  most efficient                                                               
manner  to study  a bill  is to  deconstruct it  first, and  then                                                               
reconstruct  it -  to  not  build understanding  of  the bill  on                                                               
assumptions, but  rather on the sponsor's  explanation of his/her                                                               
intent.  She  referred to a list of questions  from the Office of                                                               
the Lieutenant  Governor [included in the  committee packet], and                                                               
she  explained that  they were  formed to  illicit the  sponsor's                                                               
intent, not to be adversarial.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:43:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. KREITZER,  in response  to a  request for  clarification from                                                               
Chair Seaton,  she said the  aforementioned list  shows materials                                                               
submitted by Whitney Brewster, addressed to Ms. Pierson.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. KREITZER said she examined the  bill in terms of issues.  One                                                               
of  the  first issues,  she  noted,  is  the qualification  of  a                                                               
circulator, to include the definition  of "not registered to vote                                                               
in any other state."   She said, "We do believe  that this is not                                                               
consistent with  the Buckley decision."   She said the  Office of                                                             
the Lieutenant Governor does not  think there is a constitutional                                                               
issue  regarding  the mandatory  training  of  sponsors, but  has                                                               
recommended  that  the   sponsor  "separately  and  independently                                                               
verify that."   In the  recent past, the [Division  of Elections]                                                               
has been asked to grant waivers  for people who have gone through                                                               
the training  in the past and  don't feel the need  to repeat it.                                                               
If  the bill  makes training  mandatory,  there will  be no  more                                                               
waivers.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said it seems  like a good idea to allow                                                               
[the  division] the  discretion of  a waiver.   He  asked if  Ms.                                                               
Kreitzer sees any benefit in disallowing the waiver.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. KREITZER  said the sponsor  and the director of  the division                                                               
would most  likely like to  weigh in on  the subject.   She noted                                                               
that  some people  who have  asked  for and  received the  waiver                                                               
still had "some  problems" that could have been  avoided had they                                                               
undergone the training again.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. KREITZER  cited another  issue of  the bill  is in  regard to                                                               
"the certification that  a circulator has not  received more than                                                               
$15 to  cover meals."   She said there  are some sections  in the                                                               
bill that  would best be  addressed by the Alaska  Public Offices                                                               
Commission (APOC), and she noted  that the director of APOC would                                                               
be available to testify.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:45:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KREITZER,  regarding  the   enforcement  of  infractions  of                                                               
election  law,  suggested  that   the  committee  hear  from  the                                                               
Criminal  Division of  the Department  of Law,  regarding how  it                                                               
currently handles  complaints related to those  infractions.  She                                                               
suggested APOC  address the  issue of  who enforces  and collects                                                               
civil  fines.     She  mentioned   an  advance   verification  of                                                               
signatures requirement, which Mr. Pound  had noted was being paid                                                               
for with $1  per signature fee.  However, Ms.  Kreitzer said, "As                                                               
you all know, [if] that fee  goes into the general fund, we would                                                               
still  have to  reflect  an  increased cost  to  the Division  of                                                               
Elections to implement this section."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. KREITZER,  regarding the  proposed raised  thresholds related                                                               
to recalls, indicated that the decision  to adopt them would be a                                                               
policy call of the legislature.   She mentioned a requirement for                                                               
certification  that facts  in the  recall  application are  true.                                                               
She added, "It  is an interesting application of  recall law that                                                               
these facts  don't necessarily have to  be true, and it's  a very                                                               
important point."  She offered  to provide additional material on                                                               
the subject.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:47:23 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  questioned how  something can  be a  fact if                                                               
it's not true.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:47:39 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG   said  he  would  like   to  see  that                                                               
material.   Referring to the issue  of raising the 10  percent to                                                               
the 20 percent, he noted that  in the field of taxation, there is                                                               
a distinction between a tax that  is regulatory in nature and one                                                               
that is  called, "confiscatory" and  has a "chilling fact  on the                                                               
activity."   He said  he thinks it  would be  unconstitutional to                                                               
require  that 100  percent of  people  in the  district sign  the                                                               
petition;  it would  have "a  chilling effect  on the  ability to                                                               
exercise  that activity."   He  questioned  whether doubling  the                                                               
requirement  for  signatures   would  have  an  "unconstitutional                                                               
chilling effect on the protected constitutional activity."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:49:22 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAMRAS  countered, "What if  it's too easy?   What                                                               
if 10 percent is  too low of a bar and  it's easier to 'un-elect'                                                               
somebody than it is for a person to get elected?"                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:49:59 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON clarified the issue as follows:                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     We're  talking about  a legal  question of  saying, "At                                                                    
     what point of  raising the amount do we get  to a legal                                                                    
     question of inhibiting  - probably unconstitutionally -                                                                    
     the ability to recall?"                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON said  it may be a  good idea to get  a legal opinion                                                               
in writing.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  asked  Mr.  Pound  if  this  issue  is                                                               
written in the legal opinion he spoke of previously.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:50:28 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. POUND answered no.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:50:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SARAH FELIX, Assistant Attorney  General, Labor and State Affairs                                                               
Section, Civil  Division (Juneau),  Department of  Law, concurred                                                               
with Chair  Seaton that the  aforementioned issue of  raising the                                                               
percentages is  not one  that attorney  Mike Barnhill  focused on                                                               
when  studying the  recall aspects  of the  bill; therefore,  she                                                               
recommended  bringing  the  issue  to  the  department  and  then                                                               
bringing  an opinion  back to  the House  State Affairs  Standing                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:51:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he would like  both the Department                                                               
of Law  and Legislative  Legal and  Research Services  to discuss                                                               
any possible constitutional problems with the bill.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:52:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. KREITZER  noted that  the following  areas currently  are not                                                               
defined in statute, but would  be through Version X:  corruption,                                                               
incompetence, lack of fitness, and  neglect of duties.  Regarding                                                               
Chair  Seaton's previous  observation that  of the  five proposed                                                               
changes in the  number of days related to term  of office, one of                                                               
the  references did  not match,  she said  it is  most likely  an                                                               
oversight and the department will research the matter.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:53:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WHITNEY  H.  BREWSTER,  Director,  Central  Office,  Division  of                                                               
Elections,  addressed the  fiscal implications  of HB  438.   She                                                               
directed attention to page 2, line  8, where reference is made to                                                               
a  form  from the  division  that  a  circulator would  fill  out                                                               
showing that  he/she traveled  more than 100  miles from  home in                                                               
one day  in order  to receive  $15 compensation.   She  said this                                                               
provision  in the  bill  would require  the  division to  develop                                                               
another  form  and  administratively   process  the  form.    She                                                               
directed attention to page 3, [paragraph] (6), which read:                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
          (6) that the circulator has not entered into                                                                          
         an agreement with a person or organization in                                                                          
     violation of AS 15.45.003(b);                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. BREWSTER suggested that that  language would take care of the                                                               
requirement  without  requiring  another form  to  be  processed,                                                               
because  the  circulator  would  sign that  he/she  has  met  the                                                               
requirements and has not "violated subsection (b) on page 2."                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:56:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  clarified that  Ms. Brewster  is saying  the person                                                               
would make submissions to the  signature gatherer that he/she was                                                               
out for 15  or 20 days, thus that proclamation  would not have to                                                               
be on a separate form designed  by the division.  He stated, "The                                                               
fact that  they have to sign  that they ... haven't  claimed more                                                               
than their due would take care of that fiscal responsibility."                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. BREWSTER said that's correct.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON  summarized,  "The  difference  between  those  two                                                               
approaches  is:   in  one way  we  would have  a  listing at  the                                                               
division  of  the  number  of  days  that  were  claimed  by  the                                                               
individual, and the other way  we would have a certification, but                                                               
no listing of the days.  Is that correct?"                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:58:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. BREWSTER  answered in  the affirmative.   Regarding  the same                                                               
issue, she  suggested, "This may  be more of a  responsibility of                                                               
APOC  than  a  Division  of   Elections'  responsibility."    She                                                               
directed  attention to  page 2,  line 21,  subsection (e),  which                                                               
read:                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     A person  who pays  a circulator  and a  circulator who                                                                    
     receives compensation  other than that  permitted under                                                                    
     (b)  of this  section are  liable  to the  state for  a                                                                    
     civil fine  of $1  for each  signature gathered  by the                                                                    
     circulator  on a  petition  filed  with the  lieutenant                                                                    
     governor.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. BREWSTER said  the question is, "Who will  assess and collect                                                               
this fine?"   She  explained that  historically the  division has                                                               
never been  a "fining body."   She suggested that  the collecting                                                               
of the fine may be more appropriate  a task for APOC than for the                                                               
division.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:59:15 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. BREWSTER turned focus to  language [beginning on page 3, line                                                               
31, through] page 4, line 2, which read as follows:                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The  sponsors may,  before  filing  a petition,  submit                                                                    
     individual numbered petitions containing  up to a total                                                                    
     of 2,000 subscriptions to the director for review.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BREWSTER  said the  additional  signatures  for review  will                                                               
require additional staff  time, which will have  a fiscal impact.                                                               
The $1  per signature fee  assessed will  go to the  general fund                                                               
and  will not  benefit the  Division of  Elections' budget.   She                                                               
directed attention to  page 4, line 17, which  shows the increase                                                               
in the percentage of required signatures  for a recall from 10 to                                                               
20 percent, which  she said will result  in additional signatures                                                               
for  review,  which  could  also  have a  fiscal  impact  on  the                                                               
division.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:00:59 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.   BREWSTER,  in   response   to  Representative   Gruenberg's                                                               
aforementioned  query,  said  any  time the  required  number  of                                                               
signatures  is  increased, it  makes  it  more difficult  for  an                                                               
individual or  committee to  recall or get  an initiative  on the                                                               
ballot.  Whether that difficulty  inhibits the person by creating                                                               
a  threshold  that  is  insurmountable  is  a  question  for  the                                                               
Department of Law, she said.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:01:37 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said  the recall process is  part of the                                                               
balance of power  among the people and the legislature.   He said                                                               
he would like  to hear feedback as to whether  or not the raising                                                               
of the signature requirement would  upset the balance of power in                                                               
state government from a constitutional point of view.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:02:29 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. KREITZER  interjected, "We're  happy to await  the Department                                                               
of Law's assessment."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:02:45 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
VICE  CHAIR GATTO  directed attention  back to  page 2,  line 21,                                                               
[text provided  previously], and stated  his concern is  not with                                                               
the fine, but  is related to whether a  signature collected "when                                                               
a  person is  performing an  illegal  act" qualifies  as a  valid                                                               
signature.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:03:32 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BREWSTER said  [page 2,  lines 25-27]  answer Representative                                                               
Gatto's question as follows:                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
               (f) In determining the sufficiency of a                                                                          
     petition,  the   lieutenant  governor  may   not  count                                                                    
     subscriptions on a petition  circulated by a circulator                                                                    
     who violated (b) of this section.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:03:49 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  said he  would  also  like that  issue                                                               
addressed in a  legal opinion.  He said, "It's  one thing to fine                                                               
the  person  because they're  getting  paid  too much,  but  it's                                                               
something  else not  to count  the signature  of the  citizen who                                                               
wishes to  endorse the  petition."   He said  he would  like that                                                               
issue examined from a constitutional point of view.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:04:21 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  remarked, "I don't  think we're just  talking about                                                               
constitutional,  we're  talking about  all  legal  issues in  the                                                               
state."                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG concurred.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:04:42 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  proffered, "It's  possible for  someone who                                                               
opposes  the recall  to  collect  a whole  lot  of signatures  in                                                               
violation of  the rule,  and therefore nullify  a whole  bunch of                                                               
people who  thought they were voting  for a recall, but  now have                                                               
been disqualified."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:05:23 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BREWSTER pointed  out that  if someone  wants to  sabotage a                                                               
recall effort,  they could do that  right now by not  signing the                                                               
back of  the book or not  signing whether or not  he/she has been                                                               
paid.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:05:53 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  amended his previous request  by asking                                                               
that  the legal  opinions also  address the  constitutionality of                                                               
the current law.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:06:33 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. BREWSTER,  in response  to Representative  Gardner's question                                                               
as  to how  many recall  petitions have  been successful  and how                                                               
many  have made  it to  the ballot,  said she  doesn't have  that                                                               
information at hand, but will follow up on that.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:06:47 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KREITZER  offered her  understanding  that  there have  been                                                               
three  court cases  on  recalls  that involved  municipal-elected                                                               
officials,  and  only one  for  a  state-elected official.    The                                                               
latter recall  was successful, she  reported.   It did not  go to                                                               
the  ballot,  because  the  individual   resigned;  but  had  the                                                               
individual not resigned,  it would have gone to the  ballot.  She                                                               
added that there is one recall pending in court.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER questioned why an  effort is being made to                                                               
make  recalls so  difficult  when there  has only  been  1 in  50                                                               
years.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:08:18 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KREITZER asked  that  Brook  Miles be  allowed  to speak  on                                                               
behalf of APOC,  since currently any committee  formed to support                                                               
or oppose  an initiative,  referendum, or  recall is  required to                                                               
file with  APOC.  She  stated, "There  is an opportunity  to file                                                               
what's  called  a  zero  report   for  efforts  that  are  merely                                                               
collecting signatures.   And  it would seem,  since the  focus of                                                               
those parts  of the bill  that I've  mentioned before have  to do                                                               
with  the reporting  of people  that  are collecting  signatures,                                                               
that it may be a good fit,  but it's for the committee to discuss                                                               
and decide."                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:09:27 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
BROOKE MILES, Director, Alaska  Public Offices Commission (APOC),                                                               
Department of  Administration, said  she hasn't  had a  chance to                                                               
study the  bill to "explain whether  or not it's a  good fit with                                                               
APOC."  She continued as follows:                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     As  the committee  may be  aware, the  requirements for                                                                    
     filing disclosure  reports are  limited to  when groups                                                                    
     are  collecting signatures.   In  other words,  they're                                                                    
     filing  zero  reports  until such  time  as  a  recall,                                                                    
     referendum, or  proposition is  certified to  appear on                                                                    
     the ballot.  At that  point, the groups that are formed                                                                    
     to  support or  oppose the  election must  file a  full                                                                    
     disclosure report.   ... At this point we  have no idea                                                                    
     who gets  paid a  dollar or doesn't  get paid  a dollar                                                                    
     for  signatures,  and  I'm not  really  sure  how  that                                                                    
     report  is going  to look  at APOC.   And  just from  a                                                                    
     fiscal standpoint ...  I have to, in  all fairness, say                                                                    
     at this  point I have  such limited staff I  don't have                                                                    
     one person  who can do  one more  thing.  So,  it would                                                                    
     certainly have fiscal impact on this agency.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
10:11:01 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON asked Ms. Miles to  consider some of the issues that                                                               
the  Division  of Elections  and  the  Office of  the  Lieutenant                                                               
Governor pointed out  might be more appropriate for  APOC, and to                                                               
assign any fiscal note necessary.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. MILES acquiesced.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:11:41 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  referred to  the  language  in the  bill                                                               
regarding training, [found  on page 3, lines 1-4],  which read as                                                               
follows:                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
          Sec. 15.45.005. Mandatory training. (a) At least                                                                    
     once  during  each   two-year  period  between  general                                                                    
     elections,  the  division   of  elections  shall  offer                                                                    
     training   explaining   the  legal   requirements   for                                                                    
     petitions.  Each committee  applying for or circulating                                                                    
     a  petition   during  that  period  shall   attend  the                                                                    
     training.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG asked  Ms.  Brewster  to offer  details                                                               
related  to the  training, including:   where  it is  offered, by                                                               
whom, how much  it costs, and how it would  affect someone from a                                                               
rural area trying to recall a state representative.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:12:32 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. BREWSTER relayed that currently  the training is offered by a                                                               
division employee,  in person or  over the  phone.  She  said she                                                               
does not  know the cost,  but can find out.   She stated  that an                                                               
individual or committee  in a remote rural area  could be offered                                                               
training by teleconference.  In  response to a follow-up question                                                               
from Representative  Gardner, she offered her  understanding that                                                               
the  training takes  several hours.   In  response to  a question                                                               
from Chair  Seaton, she said  she doesn't believe  [the training]                                                               
is required for municipal election recalls.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:14:03 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON asked  Ms. Brewster  to get  back to  the committee                                                               
with that  information, because he  said it is important  to know                                                               
which elections will be covered under the bill.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:14:12 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
HOPE L. CERMELJ,  testifying on behalf of  herself, revealed that                                                               
she  is  a  circulator  and  petition  gatherer.    She  directed                                                               
attention  to a  handout she  had obtained  from the  Division of                                                               
Elections [included in the  committee packet], showing statistics                                                               
from March 3,  2006, including that there will  be 450,985 voters                                                               
in the next election.  Ms. Cermelj stated:                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     240,211  people  - possible  voters  -  are upset  with                                                                    
     what's going on  with the Republican/Democratic process                                                                    
     here  in   the  state   of  Alaska;  that's   why  they                                                                    
     (indisc.).   I  myself was  certified in  the Fairbanks                                                                    
     office  at the  Division  of Elections  to  be a  voter                                                                    
     registrar, so  I was on  that ... petition  trail doing                                                                    
     the same.   We have a new political party  in the state                                                                    
     of Alaska  right now, which  Loren Leman  approved last                                                                    
     year, and that's the Veterans' Party.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. CERMELJ  noted that [there is  a missing column on  the first                                                               
page of  the handout],  which should show  a [column]  "V," which                                                               
displays the numbers for that  Veterans' Party.  She implored the                                                               
Division  of Elections  to include  that group's  numbers on  the                                                               
page of  statistics so that the  numbers are more accurate.   She                                                               
noted that she has carried  four petitions, and she listed places                                                               
in the  state in  which she has  lived and  mentioned legislative                                                               
topics of concern.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:18:09 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. CERMELJ  referred to the next  two pages of the  handout, and                                                               
pinpointed the  areas on  the page  that show  a list  of reasons                                                               
that people who signed petitions will  not be counted.  She noted                                                               
that on  the first page of  petition totals, it shows  that 8,171                                                               
people will  not be  counted because their  names did  not match.                                                               
Ms.  Cermelj opined,  "That is  against  their civil  liberties."                                                               
The  list shows  that  there  were 1,968  duplicate  names.   She                                                               
indicated  a  connection  between the  proposed  legislation  and                                                               
ensuring  that  petition  gatherers are  registered  voters  from                                                               
Alaska who  care about the  issues.  She  talked about a  man who                                                               
came up  from the state of  Washington to gather petitions.   The                                                               
man, she related,  was "in it for the money,"  and he intimidated                                                               
the Native  elders of the  village and was  asked to leave.   Ms.                                                               
Cermelj   related  further   personal   experience  in   petition                                                               
gathering.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:20:32 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. CERMELJ  indicated that there  has recently been a  change in                                                               
personnel within  the Division of  Elections and the  director is                                                               
currently  learning about  a new  system  that will  be in  place                                                               
forthcoming.   She relayed  that, as a  voter registrar,  she has                                                               
received four  phone calls  from people who  have yet  to receive                                                               
their voter cards.  She stated  her believe that their rights are                                                               
being violated.  Ms. Cermelj  offered statistics from the handout                                                               
showing the petition  totals from an initiative related  to a 90-                                                               
day regular session of the  Alaska State Legislature, emphasizing                                                               
that out of 450,985 voters,  the number of unqualified signatures                                                               
was 11,370, which  she reiterated is against  the civil liberties                                                               
of those people.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:22:56 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CERMELJ shared  further accounts,  including one  related to                                                               
homeless  people who  did not  receive  their voter  registration                                                               
cards, and  a story  of a woman  affected adversely  by political                                                               
decisions made, and she emphasized  that people sign petitions in                                                               
order to see change.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
10:24:41 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON said  the committee  is  not dealing  with any  one                                                               
specific  petition,  but  with  the system  in  general,  and  he                                                               
remarked  that  Ms.  Cermelj  brought  up  many  points  for  the                                                               
committee to consider.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:24:57 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CERMELJ,  in  response to  a  question  from  Representative                                                               
Gardner, said  she supports the  bill, with the exception  of the                                                               
$15 payment, which she said she hopes can be more.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:25:28 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GARDNER,   regarding  Ms.   Cermelj's   previous                                                               
reference  to the  person from  out  of state,  suggested that  a                                                               
local person  could also be rude  and disruptive and be  asked to                                                               
leave.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:25:43 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CERMELJ responded  that  that is  true;  however, the  local                                                               
people have good training.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:26:03 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  asked Ms.  Cermelj to specify  if she  supports the                                                               
bill's proposal  to increase the  number of  qualified signatures                                                               
for a recall petition  from 10 to 20 percent, and  also if she is                                                               
in favor of  not allowing a petition to be  filed within 270 days                                                               
of termination of office.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
10:27:08 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. CERMELJ answered yes to both.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  noted that neither  of the petitions for  which Ms.                                                               
Cermelj brought  the petition  totals would  have passed  had the                                                               
percentage been at 20.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:28:38 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER asked  Ms.  Brewster,  "If somebody,  say                                                               
Andy  Jones, is  registered as  Andrew Jones,  and he  signs Andy                                                               
Jones and provides a correct  birth date, would that signature be                                                               
qualified, or not?"                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:29:10 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. BREWSTER said that signature would count.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:29:20 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER   asked  at   what  point  is   the  name                                                               
dissimilar enough to be considered unmatched.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:29:32 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. BREWSTER  answered that if  there is a qualifier  that allows                                                               
the division to  locate the signer within  the voter registration                                                               
system, and the  name is similar, then the  signature will count.                                                               
If the  name is  entirely different,  she said,  it would  not be                                                               
counted.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:30:03 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  asked, "If  someone signs  Andy instead  of Andrew,                                                               
would that mean  that it probably wouldn't be a  computer match -                                                               
that would be a manual match?"                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:30:11 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. BREWSTER said she believes that would be a manual match.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:30:53 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON asked another testifier to return at the next                                                                      
hearing.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
[HB 438 was heard and held.]                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects