Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/29/2004 04:12 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CSHB 476(STA)-AK STATEHOOD CELEBRATION COMMISSION CHAIR GARY STEVENS announced CSHB 476(STA) to be up for consideration. JIM SHINE, staff to Representative Tom Anderson, introduced the bill for the sponsor and paraphrased the sponsor statement: January 2009 will mark the 50th anniversary of Alaska's admission as the 49th state of the United States of America. It's important that we celebrate this landmark with a celebration of the state's magnificent heritage and reflect upon the opportunities that 50 years of Statehood have brought to this state. This bill establishes a commission, which will consist of nine members. Four public members will be appointed by the governor, of whom one member shall be a resident of and be appointed from each of the four judicial districts in the state. The presiding officer from the Alaska House of Representatives and the Alaska Senate will appoint a majority and a minority member from each body. The governor and or the governor's designee will occupy the 9th seat. This commission shall be planning and administering all the official state activities leading up to the 50th anniversary of Alaska Statehood. This commission will initiate a public process to solicit ideas about this celebration. The commemorative quarter honoring the State of Alaska, which is HB 467, which is also in this committee, will be issued in the same calendar year as Alaska celebrates its 50th year. CHAIR GARY STEVENS remarked that the two bills certainly have similarities yet two separate commissions are to be established. He questioned why the Commemorative Quarter Commission shouldn't be a responsibility of the Alaska Statehood Celebration Commission. MR. SHINE told him that the drafters decided on two separate commissions. Although one certainly could be a subcommittee of the other, it might be too much to combine the two considering the magnitude of the Statehood Celebration and that the Commemorative Quarter Commission entails working with the U.S. Mint. CHAIR GARY STEVENS agreed that the argument had merit. He asked if he knew that the University of Alaska was planning a celebration of the writing of the Alaska State Constitution as well as the statehood issue. MR. SHINE said he was aware of that and learned from Gail Phillips that U.S. Senator Ted Stevens requested $450,000 for the university to develop an Alaska online curriculum for students to participate in during the year leading up to the statehood celebration. CHAIR GARY STEVENS said he also thought the university was involved in celebratory plans. MR. SHINE admitted he wasn't aware of that. SENATOR BERT STEDMAN asked why the commission should be started so early. MR. SHINE said that a celebration of this magnitude takes considerable time to plan because of the number of issues and activities that must be addressed. SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS noted that the fiscal note was zero even though the commission would receive per diem and travel expenses. She asked whether those expenses would come out of the governor's contingency fund or somewhere else. MR. SHINE said the House Finance Committee zeroed the fiscal note because the bill gives the commission the power to establish a budget. SENATOR GUESS asked whether an indeterminate fiscal note wouldn't be more appropriate. MR. SHINE referred to Gail Phillips' proposal stating that for the first three years the commission should be voluntary and the last two years should be paying positions. SENATOR GUESS stated for the record that his explanation causes her concern because that's starting down a path that you might not want to take. Volunteering time is one thing, but everyone can't necessarily afford to pay for travel expenses and some people would therefore be excluded if those expenses weren't reimbursed. When you're trying to develop a diverse commission, socio-economic diversity should certainly be a consideration. MR. SHINE said that the House Finance Committee also made the comment that something of this magnitude might attract other organizations that might want to help financially. SENATOR STEDMAN reiterated Senator Guess's remark that the zero fiscal note is inaccurate. Clearly the 50th statehood celebration isn't going to be free for the State of Alaska. MR. SHINE agreed. SENATOR GUESS expressed appreciation that the commission would represent both the majority and the minority. CHAIR GARY STEVENS commented that the majority party could change over the course of five years. SENATOR GUESS motioned to report CSHB 476(JUD) from committee with individual recommendations and attached zero, but should be indeterminate, fiscal note. There being no objection, it was so ordered.