Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205

03/24/2015 08:30 AM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Time Change --
-- Public Testimony --
+= SJR 3 CONST. AM: MEMBERSHIP OF JUDICIAL COUNCIL TELECONFERENCED
Moved SJR 3 Out of Committee
*+ SB 75 PFD CONTRIBUTIONS TO TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 75 Out of Committee
*+ HB 35 MARCH 27: GREAT ALASKA EARTHQUAKE DAY TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled but Not Heard
+= SB 22 MOTOR VEHICLE REG. TAX: COLLECTION COSTS TELECONFERENCED
Scheduled but Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         SJR 3-CONST. AM: MEMBERSHIP OF JUDICIAL COUNCIL                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:56:13 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE announced that  the next order of  business before                                                                
the committee is SJR 3.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:56:37 AM                                                                                                                    
HEATHER   SHADDUCK,   Staff,   Senator   Kelly,   Alaska   State                                                                
Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, stated that SJR 3 has 3 main goals:                                                                
                                                                                                                                
  1. Create the possibility of better regional representation on                                                                
     the Alaska Judicial Council.                                                                                               
  2. Protect the Chief Justice of the Alaska Supreme Court from                                                                 
     a conflict of interest or even the perception of a conflict                                                                
     of  interest  in  the  selection  of  his  or   her  future                                                                
     colleagues or  allies  in certain  issues that  might  come                                                                
     before them.                                                                                                               
  3. Make attorney members of the Judicial Council minimally                                                                    
     accountable to the people by requiring legislative                                                                         
     confirmation, just like every other regulatory or quasi-                                                                   
     judicial board or commission.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STOLTZE asked if Senator Kelly wanted to add anything.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:57:29 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR PETE  KELLY, Alaska  State Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska,                                                                
SJR 3 sponsor, replied no.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STOLTZE announced  that  the  committee will  go  through                                                                
public testimony and see  what the will of the committee is.  He                                                                
noted that Senator  McGuire is anxious to  continue deliberation                                                                
for the resolution in the Judiciary Committee.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MCGUIRE asked Senator  Kelly if SJR 3 differed from  the                                                                
previous year's version.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KELLY answered that SJR 3 was the same as the resolution                                                                
introduced the previous year.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MCGUURE asked if there had been any changes.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SHADDUCK  explained  that  during  the  previous  year,  an                                                                
amendment was added  during the committee process that  required                                                                
attorney members to be confirmed.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  KELLY  specified  that   the  House  version  had   the                                                                
confirmation requirement.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:58:23 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE  announced that  the committee  would take  public                                                                
testimony on SJR 3.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
8:59:01 AM                                                                                                                    
TOM WAGNER, representing himself, Juneau, Alaska, stated that he                                                                
was a  lawyer and has practiced law  in Alaska for 34 years.  He                                                                
proclaimed that  Alaska's system of  judicial selection was  not                                                                
broken and did not  need to be fixed. He said  Alaska's judicial                                                                
selection system is one  of the best systems in the  country and                                                                
SJR 3  would weaken the  system. He specified  that SJR 3  would                                                                
cause harm as follows:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
  · Increasing the Judicial Council's size from six to nine people                                                              
     would cause difficult interaction to do business, be less                                                                  
     efficient, and increase expenses.                                                                                          
  · Create a perception that lawyers would dominate the process and                                                             
     non-lawyers would be overrun. Lawyers are just like other                                                                  
     Alaskans.                                                                                                                  
  · Politicize the judicial selection process during the Judicial                                                               
     Council's nomination process.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. WAGNER stated that the Judicial Council's nomination process                                                                
was meant to  be non-partisan where the  applicants' credentials                                                                
are evaluated in a non-political type of way. He summarized that                                                                
the  second part  of the  judicial selection  process where  the                                                                
governor makes a selection was political and  governors know how                                                                
to do politics.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:02:38 AM                                                                                                                    
KENNETH FISHER, representing himself, Juneau,  Alaska, announced                                                                
that he  was representing no  other organization. He stated  his                                                                
support for SJR 3.  He disclosed that he serves on the Board  of                                                                
Regents  of the  University  of  Alaska. He  remarked  that  his                                                                
perspective  was  from   someone  who  serves  on  a   similarly                                                                
constituted board or committee. He pointed out that the Board of                                                                
Regents and the  Judicial Council are one  of the few boards  or                                                                
committees identified in Alaska's constitution.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
He detailed  that he was  appointed to the  Board of Regents  in                                                                
2009. He remarked that SJR 3, if  approved, would add numbers to                                                                
the Judicial Council by increasing the number to 10. He said SJR                                                                
3  would ensure greater  geographical representation across  the                                                                
state  in   addition  to  producing   better  and  more   robust                                                                
deliberations.  He   stated  that  contrary   to  the   previous                                                                
testimony, more  people will  improve a  body's discussions  and                                                                
deliberations. He  noted that  the 11  regents on  the Board  of                                                                
Regents ensures robust exchanges on many policy issues.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
He said the main reason for his support was his  belief that SJR                                                                
3  would  provide a  better  structure for  good  government  by                                                                
incorporating a  greater level  of accountability into  Alaska's                                                                
judicial process.  He opined  that the Judicial  Council was  an                                                                
unelected   and    unaccountable   organization   which    makes                                                                
appointments  for the  majority  of  the council  if  the  Chief                                                                
Justice is a member  in good standing. He added that  Alaska Bar                                                                
Association members  from outside  of Alaska  are impacting  the                                                                
state's decision by having  a role in the selection  process and                                                                
not the legislature.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER summarized as follows:                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Society should  do what our  founders did by  building                                                                     
     structures  in   our  founding  documents  that   hold                                                                     
     accountable with check  and balances.  The legislature                                                                     
     should  have  the  authority   and  responsibility  to                                                                     
     confirm Judicial Council appointments so that Alaskans                                                                     
     can hold somebody accountable for those decisions.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:05:55 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  if  Mr.  Fisher's comments  are  on                                                                
behalf of the University of Alaska.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER  answered no. He  noted that  his comments where  his                                                                
own.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked to  confirm that Mr. Fisher works  as                                                                
the senior representative for the  U.S. Environmental Protection                                                                
Agency (EPA) in Alaska.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER answered yes.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if Mr. Fisher believes that the EPA's                                                                
actions in the State of Alaska are constitutional.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER replied that presumptively so, but added that he  was                                                                
not at the meeting to speak about EPA policy.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  noted that Mr.  Fisher spoke  a lot  about                                                                
violating the  constitution. He asked Mr.  Fisher if he  thought                                                                
what the EPA is doing in Alaska is constitutional.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FISHER  inquired  when  he  had   mentioned  violating  the                                                                
constitution.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  pointed out that  Mr. Fisher talked  about                                                                
trying to establish a better constitutional balance.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER replied yes, regarding better  accountability and the                                                                
legislature should have a role.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STOLTZE asserted that the committee is not trying to run a                                                                
tribunal. He pointed out that he has some  problems with the way                                                                
the court system runs things.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  remarked that he  has a right  to ask  the                                                                
witness a question.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STOLTZE stated  the he  thinks  Senator Wielechowski  was                                                                
going beyond the bounds.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   WIELECHOWSKI  specified   that  Mr.   Fisher   brought                                                                
constitutionality into play  when he talked  about what was  and                                                                
what was not  constitutional. He reiterated that he has a  right                                                                
to ask the question.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:07:16 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE announced that the committee will stand at ease.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:07:43 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE called  the committee back to  order. He asked  if                                                                
Mr. Fisher had any other comments to make.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. FISHER stated that he thanked Senator Huggins for  a comment                                                                
he made prior to the committee meeting.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS thanked Mr. Fisher.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:08:23 AM                                                                                                                    
DAVID LANDRY, representing himself, Anchorage, Alaska, announced                                                                
that  he opposes  SJR  3. He  revealed  that he  was  a  general                                                                
contractor in Anchorage  and has been  in business for about  30                                                                
years. He said one of his concerns about SJR 3  is the dismissal                                                                
of  professional knowledge  that attorneys  bring to  the  table                                                                
during  a judicial  selection process.  He  remarked that  as  a                                                                
contractor, when  the time comes to  replace a  subcontractor or                                                                
vendor,  his first  order  of business  is  to talk  with  other                                                                
contractors to get their  assessments of who does good work.  He                                                                
said  he seeks  the  opinion of  knowledgeable professionals  in                                                                
order to  inform and make his  decisions. He set forth that  the                                                                
Judicial  Council's current  makeup  and balance  makes  use  of                                                                
professional experience  in a  similar way. He  stated that  the                                                                
Judicial Council  was currently in good  balance. He noted  that                                                                
most cases that  come before a judge have attorneys  on opposing                                                                
sides  of an  issue or  lawsuit. He  said  even though  opposite                                                                
outcomes are often  sought, attorneys share in the benefit  from                                                                
competent and fair judges.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. LANDRY  opined that the underlining assumption  of SJR 3  is                                                                
that fellow Alaskans and the Alaska  Bar Association are getting                                                                
together to pull  an ideological fast-one on everyone else  does                                                                
not make sense. He said Alaska Bar  Association members are just                                                                
as diverse as any other group of Alaskans.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
He set forth  that attorney members of the Judicial  Council are                                                                
the crux  of the  merit-based selection system.  He opined  that                                                                
attorney members are in a unique position to know which judicial                                                                
candidates are up to  the task of running fair  and professional                                                                
courts. He said  regarding an attorney confirmation, giving  the                                                                
legislature the ability to cherry-pick which attorneys are to be                                                                
allowed or disallowed  on the Judicial Council  injects politics                                                                
into the most  merit orientated part of the  merit-based system.                                                                
He remarked that proponents of  legislative confirmation seek to                                                                
inject political considerations into the one crucial part of the                                                                
process that  does not  come under  the political influence.  He                                                                
stated  that he  does not  see confirmation  being a  pro  forma                                                                
process if SJR 3 passes, but rather a political screening.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
He stated that his bottom line as a business person is that fair                                                                
courts are  good for business. He  declared that he was  already                                                                
receiving what he sought  from the Alaska Court System. He  said                                                                
what  the state's  founders intended has  largely  come to  pass                                                                
where a judiciary is free of  scandal and political cronyism. He                                                                
summarized  that SJR  3  puts  fair and  professionally  handled                                                                
courts into jeopardy.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:11:25 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MCGUIRE  pointed out that Mr.  Landry stated his  belief                                                                
that all three provisions of the bill would inject cronyism into                                                                
the process.  She asked Mr.  Landry if  he believed that  adding                                                                
average Alaskan citizens would qualify for his statement.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. LANDRY answered that he does not have  a problem with adding                                                                
average  Alaskans  who   are  attorneys  or   non-attorneys.  He                                                                
specified that  he does not  want judicial  selection to have  a                                                                
super-majority of political appointees as  called for in SJR  3.                                                                
He remarked that  he would not have  a problem with the  balance                                                                
remaining the  same with additional  members. He specified  that                                                                
adding a super-majority of  gubernatorial appointments is court-                                                                
packing. He  said he wants  to go into  a court with  confidence                                                                
that  a  smart, knowledgeable,  and  fair judge  was  running  a                                                                
courtroom that could handle complicated business law  issues. He                                                                
remarked that a courtroom with a judge that is a political crony                                                                
is not going to work and is not good for business.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:13:15 AM                                                                                                                    
MARK ANDREWS, representing himself, Fairbanks, Alaska, disclosed                                                                
that  he is  a  candidate for  the  Bar Association's  Board  of                                                                
Governors.  He explained  that Alaska  has  what is  called  the                                                                
Missouri Plan,  a  plan that  started in  Missouri in  1940  and                                                                
remains in  effect in Missouri after  75 years. When the  Alaska                                                                
Constitutional Convention considered the Missouri Plan, the plan                                                                
was considered  to be  the best  idea of the  time for  judicial                                                                
selection.  He  said  currently there  are  34  states  and  the                                                                
District of  Columbia using the Missouri Plan  as the model  for                                                                
some  or  all  of  the judicial  vacancies.  He  noted  that  he                                                                
concurred  with  Mr.  Wagner that  Alaska's  judicial  selection                                                                
system was not  broke. He detailed that the  Judiciary Council's                                                                
process  is a  way  to balance  the  separations of  powers.  He                                                                
conceded that there  is politics in  the system, but added  that                                                                
the best way to get politics out of the system would be  to look                                                                
at the results of the system. He said Alaska should be  proud of                                                                
the  quality of  its judiciary  system produced  by the  current                                                                
system. He summarized that that Alaska's judiciary is competent,                                                                
free of corruption, and does not need fixing.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:15:28 AM                                                                                                                    
MARGARET  SIMONIAN,  representing  herself,  Anchorage,  Alaska,                                                                
noted that she has been an Anchorage based attorney for 15 years                                                                
in addition  to being a  mom and  lifelong Alaska resident.  She                                                                
declared  her  opposition  to   SJR  3.  She  remarked  that   a                                                                
fundamental  misunderstanding exists  regarding what  goes  into                                                                
bars, deliberations and  votes, both for the  Judicial Council's                                                                
attorney members and for candidates for  judicial positions. She                                                                
stated that  she has strong political  views, but her views  are                                                                
not  the things  that inform  how she  rates a  candidate for  a                                                                
judicial position in  any way.  She said how  fair, hardworking,                                                                
intelligent, and  careful judges are  directs her  life and  all                                                                
lawyers' lives  every day  in very  specific ways;  that is  why                                                                
lawyers are in the best position to judge other lawyers who hope                                                                
to go to that level of their careers.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:20:33 AM                                                                                                                    
ALISON  ARIANS,  representing herself,  Anchorage,  Alaska,  she                                                                
stated that  she was born and  raised in Alaska  and is a  small                                                                
business owner in Anchorage of the "Rise and  Shine Bakery." She                                                                
noted  that she  is  not an  attorney.  She read  the  following                                                                
statement:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     As a small business owner,  I appreciate efficiency, a                                                                     
     limited bureaucracy, and  expert advice. I agree  with                                                                     
     the way  our Judicial Council  works now; adding  more                                                                     
     people to  the group will  add significant expense  to                                                                     
     the travel budget of this  group. I'm comfortable with                                                                     
     asking  people  with law  degrees  to  evaluate  their                                                                     
     peers, the combination seems efficient the way  it is.                                                                     
     I respect the Chief Justice's opinion if necessary for                                                                     
     him or her  to vote, to  know whether a judge is  well                                                                     
     qualified for a job. Also, I think the citizen members                                                                     
     on the  group deserve a  little more credit for  being                                                                     
     able to make  good recommendations to their  group and                                                                     
     to back them up; it's only been 16  times out of 1,149                                                                     
     votes when the  Chief Justice sided with  the attorney                                                                     
     group against the  public members and  it looks to  me                                                                     
     like the group  worked very well, since 99  percent of                                                                     
     the time,  that's not happening.  For several years  I                                                                     
     volunteered as a  court appointed special  advocate, I                                                                     
     acted as volunteer guardian ad litem  for children and                                                                     
     that is  the  only experience  I have  in  front of  a                                                                     
     judge, I  was impressed by the  caliber of our  judges                                                                     
     then and  want to  retain that kind  of high  quality.                                                                     
     It's important to me that  the judges making decisions                                                                     
     about the  future  of our  citizens  are evaluated  by                                                                     
     their merit, not  by their political leanings. When  I                                                                     
     vote for the  judges, I want to  be able to  know that                                                                     
     the judges I vote for are well qualified and I believe                                                                     
     that the  Judicial Council as  it stands is  effective                                                                     
     and efficient.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:22:35 AM                                                                                                                    
GRANT CALLOW, representing himself, Anchorage, Alaska, explained                                                                
that he  is an attorney that  has been in practice in  Anchorage                                                                
for 37  years. He  noted that during  the past 25  years he  has                                                                
represented the State of  Alaska as a member of the  Uniform Law                                                                
Commission. He stated his  opposition of SJR3. He  revealed that                                                                
his father  was a Supreme Court  justice in Wisconsin and  noted                                                                
that Wisconsin has an  elected system for judges. He noted  that                                                                
his father is  against Wisconsin's system due  to politicization                                                                
and  he is  working  with other  Supreme  Court justices  for  a                                                                
constitutional change  that is  more in line  with the  Alaska's                                                                
constitution. He questioned a previous comment that SJR 3  would                                                                
increase attorney accountability. He  asserted that SJR 3  would                                                                
do   the   opposite   where   politicization   leads   to   less                                                                
accountability.  He  summarized that  SJR  3  would  be  a  step                                                                
backwards in terms of having a fair and impartial judiciary.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:26:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE  asked if anyone  else would  like to testify.  He                                                                
announced that hearing requests, public record was closed.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:27:53 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MCGUIRE moved  that the  committee move  SJR 3  out  of                                                                
committee with  individual recommendations  and attached  fiscal                                                                
notes on to the Judiciary Committee.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STOLTZE objected for discussion purposes.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STOLTZE announced that his objection was removed and asked                                                                
if any  other committee members  objected. He noted  that SJR  3                                                                
would  be  more  thoroughly  vetted  in   the  Senate  Judiciary                                                                
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  announced his objection and  asked if  the                                                                
committee would hear from the Alaska Judicial Council.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STOLTZE pointed out that  he just asked if there were  any                                                                
more people and nobody stepped forward.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  noted  that  a  representative  from  the                                                                
Judicial Council was  in the room  and asked that the  committee                                                                
hear from them.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:29:16 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE stated that he was not going to  beg the Judiciary                                                                
Council to come up and noted that he asked  if there was anybody                                                                
here to testify.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI reiterated that he would like to  hear from                                                                
the Judicial Council.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STOLTZE replied that he did not see  anyone jumping up. He                                                                
remarked that the  court system has  been very arrogant and  not                                                                
wanting to testify.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI announced his objection to  Chair Stoltze's                                                                
comment.  He stated  that Chair  Stoltze's characterization  was                                                                
completely inappropriate. He added that calling the court system                                                                
arrogant was completely inappropriate.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STOLTZE replied  that the  court  system has  refused  to                                                                
engage in  any  individual discourse and  had previously  stated                                                                
that their  role was  not to interact  with the legislature.  He                                                                
announced that Senator Wielechowski's objection has  been noted.                                                                
He  asked that the  advocate for  the Judicial  Council to  come                                                                
forward.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:30:02 AM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:30:24 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STOLTZE called the committee back to order.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SUZANNE DIPIETRO,  Executive Director, Alaska Judicial  Council,                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska, explained the Judicial Council as follows:                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
  · Consists of six members.                                                                                                    
  ·  All attorney members were born and raised in Alaska or were                                                                
     long time attorney members.                                                                                                
  ·  Procedures  for  judicial  selection  are  among  the  most                                                                
     transparent in the country.                                                                                                
  ·  Judicial  selection applications  are 20  pages  and  list:                                                                
     education experience, work experience, credit reports, and                                                                 
     criminal history checks.                                                                                                   
  ·  Applicants' non-confidential information is  posted on  the                                                                
     Judiciary Council's website for public review.                                                                             
  ·  Information from the  public is continuously solicited  via                                                                
     phones calls, letters, and website e-mails.                                                                                
  ·  Alaska  Bar  Association  members  are  surveyed  to   rate                                                                
     applicants   on   specific   qualities:    legal   ability,                                                                
     temperament,  integrity,  fairness,   and  suitability   of                                                                
     experience. Survey  results  are  posted on  the  Judiciary                                                                
     Council's website.                                                                                                         
  ·  Questionnaires are submitted  to people who have  litigated                                                                
     against applicants on specific cases.                                                                                      
  · Interviews are scheduled with all applicants.                                                                               
  ·  Public hearings are held in the location of the  vacancy in                                                                
    order to hear public testimony on what types of qualities                                                                   
        sought in a judge and the challenges faced by the                                                                       
     community.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:32:58 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  DIPIETRO   summarized  the  Judicial   Council's  judiciary                                                                
selection process as follows:                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
  ·  The  Judicial Council  votes  in  public. 19  of  38  other                                                                
     judicial selection commissions do not vote in public.                                                                      
  ·  Applicants'  names  and  biographies  are  posted  on   the                                                                
       Judicial Council's website. Only 14 other judicial                                                                       
     selection committees post applicants' information.                                                                         
  ·  Focus is placed  on the candidates' qualifications. Due  to                                                                
   the council's focus on qualifications, members have a high                                                                   
   rate of agreement about nomination decisions, approximately                                                                  
     81 percent of the time.                                                                                                    
  ·  Votes on an applicant are unanimous or almost unanimous due                                                                
     to the focus on applicant qualifications.                                                                                  
  ·  The Chief Justice rarely  votes. In the past 30 years,  the                                                                
     Chief Justice has only voted 6 percent of the time.                                                                        
  ·  Over the  past 30 years, attorney/non-attorney splits  have                                                                
     only occurred 16 times out of 11,049 votes.                                                                                
  ·  Chief Justices have sent more than one  applicant's name to                                                                
     the Governor 75 percent of the time.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:34:32 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MCGUIRE asked  to  confirm  that Ms.  DiPietro  is  the                                                                
Executive Director for the Judicial Council.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. DIPIETRO answered correct.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MCGUIRE asked if the Judicial Council is taking a formal                                                                
position on SJR 3.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. DIPIETRO replied that  the Judicial Council has not taken  a                                                                
formal  position and  specified that  she  is at  the  committee                                                                
meeting to provide information.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  MCGUIRE  noted  that  she  appreciated  Ms.  DiPietro's                                                                
response that  the Judicial  Council has  remained neutral.  She                                                                
asked  Ms.  DiPietro if  the  legislature made  changes  to  the                                                                
Judicial  Council if  she would  service  the additional  public                                                                
members in a professional manner.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. DIPIETRO answered yes.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STOLTZE added  that the  people  would ultimately  decide                                                                
whether or not to change the  Judicial Council. He asserted that                                                                
the Judicial Council  does get involved in politics and  pointed                                                                
out situations  relating to  advertising, discussions about  the                                                                
content  of web  pages,  election  pages on  another  bill,  and                                                                
removing parties.  He asked  if the  Judicial Council should  be                                                                
more  agnostic  and   just  put  the  ratings  down  without   a                                                                
recommendation for or against.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  DIPIETRO replied that  the  statutes simply  says that  the                                                                
Judicial Council may make a recommendation on retention and  the                                                                
council  has historically  made  recommendations to  assist  the                                                                
voters, which the voters can take or leave.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STOLTZE responded that given that the  recommendation is a                                                                
statutory authority,  maybe the legislature should  look at  the                                                                
statute in order to keep the council pure  and agnostic in order                                                                
to keep the council out of politics.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:37:12 AM                                                                                                                    
NANCY MEADE,  General Counsel,  Alaska Court System,  Anchorage,                                                                
Alaska, said  she is representing the  Court System. She  stated                                                                
that the Alaska Court  System (ACS) is opposed to SJR 3  because                                                                
fundamentally ACS  depends  on the  Judicial Council  to  screen                                                                
applicants in order  to provide good  judges. She said the  ACS'                                                                
core mission is to  provide a fair and just forum for  people to                                                                
have their disputes adjudicated by the best possible judges. She                                                                
provided reasons  to  support her  claim to  retain the  current                                                                
system as follows:                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
  · The Court System has a strong bench because the Judicial                                                                    
     Council has done a good job in naming the most qualified                                                                   
     applicants.                                                                                                                
  · The Court System does not have a bench that is marred by                                                                    
     kickbacks and scandals.                                                                                                    
  · The Judicial Council's process is non-partisan.                                                                             
  · There have not been any problems with lawyer members on the                                                                 
     Judicial Council.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. MEADE pointed out that the governor's selection process from                                                                
the  candidates deemed  qualified  by the  Judicial  Council  is                                                                
appropriately political. She remarked that the  Judicial Council                                                                
has reached consensus approximately  96 percent of the time  and                                                                
is not  split or  marked by factions.  She asserted that  having                                                                
partisan considerations earlier in the candidate process has the                                                                
potential to  provide names  that are not  necessarily the  best                                                                
qualified.  She pointed  out  that  candidates selected  by  the                                                                
Judicial  Council  come   from  every  end  of   the  political,                                                                
educational, and social spectrum. She noted that most cases that                                                                
come before  the court for  resolution have nothing  to do  with                                                                
politics.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
She summarized that the  Court System believes that there is  no                                                                
need to amend the constitution. She  cautioned that problems may                                                                
be  created  where   considerations  are  added  that  are   not                                                                
appropriate for the selection and retention of judges.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:41:51 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MCGUIRE pointed out that the  decision regarding changes                                                                
to the Judicial Council will go to the voters. She asked  why it                                                                
is appropriate for  the Judicial Council's public members to  be                                                                
subject to legislative  hearings and confirmations, but not  the                                                                
attorney  members. She  inquired why  the resolution's  proposed                                                                
changes would politicize a  process any more than it already  is                                                                
politicized. She pointed  out that the Judicial  Council's three                                                                
public  members  are  fully  vetted   throughout  the  committee                                                                
process. She added that  there is nothing in SJR 3  that changes                                                                
the fact that  the Judicial Council will continue to select  the                                                                
names that will  go forward to the governor. She  specified that                                                                
the SJR  3 would  change the  Judicial Council's composition  of                                                                
those who get to make selection. She questioned how SJR  3 would                                                                
corrupt the Judicial  Council. She queried why the Court  System                                                                
was resistant  to trying a  different way  when only three  more                                                                
public Alaskans  are added to  the Judicial Council. She  opined                                                                
that having attorneys go through a  public hearing process would                                                                
actually be more public and transparent.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:44:56 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  MEADE replied  that  adding three  members would  make  the                                                                
Judicial Council imbalanced where six governor appointees are of                                                                
a  similar  mind  of  the  governor.  She   cautioned  that  the                                                                
governor's appointees could vote as  a block to ensure that  the                                                                
governor's views  dictate name selection  rather than on  merit.                                                                
She added  that having attorney  members go through  legislative                                                                
confirmation  would  lead to  political  questions  rather  than                                                                
caring about getting the best judges. She  maintained that focus                                                                
should be  based on the judicial  applicants' merits and not  on                                                                
politics.  She  summarized that  the  proposed  change  has  the                                                                
potential to change things in a very negative way  as opposed to                                                                
leaving the emphasis on merit.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MCGUIRE noted that she had made a motion.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:48:22 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI objected to moving SJR 3 out of committee                                                                  
and stated the following:                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Our constitution is  one of the best  constitutions in                                                                     
     the United States; it was developed over 50  years ago                                                                     
     when we learned from  all of the mistakes from  all of                                                                     
     the  other states.  Amending the  constitution is  not                                                                     
     something you take  lightly, it is something that  you                                                                     
     do  when   something  is  seriously  broken.  Is   our                                                                     
     constitution broken in regards to how  we pick judges?                                                                     
     No, the facts are very clear on that  and you can look                                                                     
     at the  documents that  we have been  provided by  the                                                                     
     court  system.  There have  been  1,149  votes  as  of                                                                     
     January 22, 2015 that the  Judicial Council has taken,                                                                     
     1,149 votes;  of those  1,149 votes,  there have  been                                                                     
     exactly 16  ties, 16 ties  out of 1,149  votes between                                                                     
     attorneys and  public  members,  and where  the  Chief                                                                     
     Justice  had to  vote  to  decide whether  or  not  to                                                                     
     forward a name on to the  governor for appointment, of                                                                     
     those 16 votes,  the Chief Justice voted 9  times. So,                                                                     
     we are dealing with  9 times in a 30 year  history out                                                                     
     of  1,149  votes  when  you've  had  a  split  between                                                                     
     attorneys  and  the  public  members,  and  the  Chief                                                                     
     Justice  didn't  forward  it  on.  In   the  Judiciary                                                                     
     Committee, we're going to those 9 times, because every                                                                     
     single one  of them there  was a  good reason why  the                                                                     
     name  wasn't forwarded  on;  for example,  there  were                                                                     
     times  when  the people  who  were  applying  for  the                                                                     
     judgeship were rated unsatisfactory. Should  that name                                                                     
     be forwarded  on? Well, the  public members said  yes,                                                                     
     but the Chief  Justice wisely said no. In  other cases                                                                     
     there were incidences where the names put forward were                                                                     
     not as qualified as the other  members, yet the public                                                                     
     members agreed to  put them forward. Should that  name                                                                     
     be  forwarded on?  Clearly  no,  we are  going  to  go                                                                     
     through each one of those  in the Judiciary Committee,                                                                     
     this is  going to politicize  the judiciary, which  is                                                                     
     one of the best in the nation, and  we don't need more                                                                     
     politics  in  the   Judiciary.  Mr.  Chairman,  I   am                                                                     
     maintaining my objection.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STOLTZE asked that a roll call vote be taken.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was taken. Senator Huggins, McGuire, and Chair                                                                 
Stoltze voted in favor of moving SJR 3 from committee; Senator                                                                  
Wielechowski voted against it. Therefore, SJR 3 moved from                                                                      
committee by a vote of 3 to 1.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:50:58 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STOLTZE  moved  to  report  SJR  3  from  committee  with                                                                
individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). He added                                                                
that the Senate Judiciary Committee will delve more  deeply into                                                                
SJR 3.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS commented as follows:                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     I  hope  we  all  appreciate  that  there's  no  elite                                                                     
     fraternities that are appropriate for any place  in us                                                                     
     getting  to where  we  need  to  be when  we  look  at                                                                     
     opinions. So, for  myself as a  guy from a rural  area                                                                     
     called Mat-Su,  I feel  perfectly comfortable that  my                                                                     
     constituents will be celebrating the fact that  we are                                                                     
     having a  conversation about this  and looking at  how                                                                     
     common, everyday citizens who are  pretty good people,                                                                     
     they are good  fishermen, they are good  hunters, they                                                                     
     are artists, and they pay a few taxes once in a while,                                                                     
     and oh by  the way, they will standup and  be counted.                                                                     
     So,  in that  respect,  I  am  not looking  for  elite                                                                     
     fraternities of people.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if the committee was re-debating the                                                                 
issue because SJR 3 had moved out of committee.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS replied that he was explaining his vote.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STOLTZE asked Senator Huggins if he had summary comments.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS summarized as follows:                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     As I said earlier, for  my constituents, explaining my                                                                     
     vote, is that I don't support elite fraternities and I                                                                     
     know that my good friends and neighbors would like for                                                                     
     us  to  have  this  conversation  so   that  they  can                                                                     
     understand  the  dynamics, and  ever  how  the  debate                                                                     
     finishes, and  the dust  settles on  it, that's  okay;                                                                     
     but, we should not be beyond  question about how we've                                                                     
     done things and how we do things.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SJR3 Opposition Document - Letter AFL-CIO 3-9-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SJR 3
SJR3 SSTA Emails of Opposition 3-22-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SJR 3
SJR3 SSTA Emails of Support 3-22-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SJR 3
SB75 Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 75
SB75 Sectional Analysis.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 75
SB75 Support Document - Letter Chickaloon Village Traditional Counci 3-23-15l.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 75
SB75 Support Document - Letter Native Village of Afognak 3-23-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 75
SB75 Fiscal Note DOR-PFD 3-23-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 75
SJR3 SSTA Emails and Faxes of Opposition 3-23-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SJR 3
SB22 Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 22
SB22 Sectional Analysis.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 22
SB22 Fiscal Note DOA-DMV 2-4-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 22
SB22 Sponsor's Additional Questions to DMV.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 22
SB22 Supporting Document - Analysis of DMV Responses by Dan Moore.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 22
SB22 Supporting Document - Commission Agents Cost to DMV (sponsor).pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 22
SB22 Supporting Document - DMV Data Summary (sponsor).pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 22
SB22 Supporting Document - DMV PCN Info (sponsor).pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 22
SB22 Supporting Document - DMV-MVRT Information.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 22
SB22 Supporting Document - DMV-MVRT Leasing Costs (sponsor).pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 22
SB22 Supporting Document - Letter MOA Daniel Moore 2-2-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 22
SB22 Supporting Document - Municipality of Anchorage Supplemental Info SB 22.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SB 22
HB35 Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 35
HB35 Explaination of Changes in HSTA.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 35
HB35 Fiscal Note DOA-DGS 1-30-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 35
HB35 Supporting Document - Facts and Figures.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 35
HB35 Supporting Document - Letter AK SHSC 2-4-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 35
HB35 Supporting Document - Letter Anchorage Mayor Sullivan 2-2-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 35
HB35 Supporting Document - Letter Chuck Volanti 1-26-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 35
HB35 Supporting Document - Letter PCI Armand Feliciano 2-2-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 35
HB35 Supporting Document - Letter Valdez Mayor Weaver 1-27-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 35
HB 35 Ver W.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
HB 35
SJR3 Opposition Document - Email Bud Carpeneti 3-24-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SJR 3
SJR3 SSTA Emails of Opposition 3-24-15.pdf SSTA 3/24/2015 8:30:00 AM
SJR 3