Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/21/1995 01:05 PM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
              HOUSE COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS                             
                       STANDING COMMITTEE                                      
                         March 21, 1995                                        
                           1:05 p.m.                                           
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
 Representative Ivan Ivan, Co-Chair                                            
 Representative Alan Austerman, Co-Chair                                       
 Representative Kim Elton                                                      
 Representative Al Vezey                                                       
 Representative Pete Kott                                                      
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
 Representative Jerry Mackie                                                   
 Representative Irene Nicholia                                                 
 COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                            
 *HB 247:  "An Act relating to election of municipal governing                 
           bodies and municipal school boards."                                
           HEARD AND HELD                                                      
 *HB 248:  "An Act relating to application of the Public Employment            
           Relations Act to municipalities and other political                 
           PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                             
  HB 185:  "An Act relating to an exemption from municipal property            
           taxes for certain primary residences; and providing for             
           an effective date."                                                 
           PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                             
 (* First public hearing)                                                      
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
 DAVID KOIVUNIEMI, Acting Director                                             
 Division of Elections                                                         
 Office of the Lieutenant Governor                                             
 P.O. Box 110017                                                               
 Juneau, AK 99811                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 465-4611                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 247                                      
 TOM WRIGHT, Committee Aide                                                    
 House Community and Regional Affairs Committee                                
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 State Capitol Building, Room 503                                              
 Juneau, AK 99801                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 465-4942                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on teleconference schedule for                 
                      HB 247.  Gave statement for HB 185.                      
 WILLIE ANDERSON, Field Staff                                                  
 National Education Association (NEA)                                          
 114 Second Street                                                             
 Juneau, AK 99801                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 586-3090                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 248                                 
 DON VALESKO, Business Manager                                                 
 Public Employees Local 71                                                     
 2510 Arctic Boulevard                                                         
 Anchorage, AK 99503                                                           
 Telephone:  (907) 276-7211                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 248                                 
 BRUCE LUDWIG, Business Manager                                                
 Alaska Public Employees Association (APEA)                                    
 Alaska Federation of Teachers (AFT)                                           
 211 Fourth Street, Suite 306                                                  
 Juneau, AK 99801                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 586-2334                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 248                                 
 CLAUDIA DOUGLAS, President                                                    
 National Education Association (NEA)                                          
 114 Second Street                                                             
 Juneau, AK 99801                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 586-3090                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 248                                 
 KARLA FEELEY, Assistant Executive Director                                    
 National Education Association (NEA)                                          
 114 Second Street                                                             
 Juneau, AK 99801                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 586-3090                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 248                                 
 CLARENCE BOLDEN, Field Staff                                                  
 National Education Association (NEA)                                          
 114 Second Street                                                             
 Juneau, AK 99801                                                              
 Telephone:  (907) 586-3090                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified against HB 248                                 
 ED FLANAGAN, Assistant Commissioner                                           
 Department of Labor                                                           
 P.O. Box 21149                                                                
 Juneau, AK 99802-1149                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 465-2700                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against HB 248                                  
 PREVIOUS ACTION                                                               
 BILL:  HB 247                                                               
 SHORT TITLE: MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS                                              
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) VEZEY                                           
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG                  ACTION                                   
 03/09/95       677    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 03/09/95       678    (H)   CRA, HES, STATE AFFAIRS                           
 03/21/95              (H)   CRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 124                       
 BILL:  HB 248                                                               
 SHORT TITLE: LOCAL EXEMPTION FROM PERA                                        
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) VEZEY                                           
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG                  ACTION                                   
 03/10/95       701    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 03/10/95       701    (H)   CRA, STATE AFFAIRS, FINANCE                       
 03/17/95       791    (H)   STATE AFFAIRS REPLACED WITH L&C                   
 03/21/95              (H)   CRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 124                       
 BILL:  HB 185                                                               
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) IVAN                                            
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG                  ACTION                                   
 02/20/95       418    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 02/20/95       418    (H)   COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS, FINANCE             
 03/09/95              (H)   CRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 124                       
 03/09/95              (H)   MINUTES(CRA)                                      
 03/16/95              (H)   CRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 124                       
 03/16/95              (H)   MINUTES(CRA)                                      
 03/21/95              (H)   CRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 124                       
 ACTION NARRATIVE                                                              
 TAPE 95-9, SIDE A                                                             
 Number 000                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN IVAN called the House Community and Regional Affairs            
 Committee meeting to order at 1:05 p.m.  He noted the members                 
 present were Representatives Kim Elton, Alan Austerman and Al                 
 Vezey.  Members absent were Representatives Jerry Mackie and Irene            
 Nicholia.  The day's agenda included HB 247, HB 248 and time                  
 permitting HB 185.                                                            
 HCRA - 03/21/95                                                               
 HB 247 - MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS                                                 
 CO-CHAIR IVAN invited Representative Al Vezey to give the sponsor             
 statement for HB 247.                                                         
 Number 027                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY explained the current Title 29 statutes               
 were enacted in 1972 in response to the 1965 Voter's Rights Act.              
 He noted there had not been any substantial changes in the statutes           
 since then.  The Voters' Rights Act have been amended on four                 
 occasions and a lot of new laws regarding voter's rights have been            
 established by the Supreme Court.  The purpose of the bill is to              
 mandate that municipalities elect their governing body out of                 
 districts with no more than one member per district.  He said it              
 basically is the law of the land and just good democracy.                     
 Representative Vezey referred to a 1970s court case where the                 
 Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a complaint of a violation             
 of the Voters Rights Act and Justice Bright dissented from the                
 Circuit Courts opinion.  The Supreme Court then heard the case on             
 appeal, overturned the Circuit Court and adopted Justice Bright's             
 decision.  The dissenting opinion became the Supreme Court's                  
 opinion ruling in favor of single member districts.  Justice Bright           
 spelled out ten reasons relating to his opinion which were quite              
 scholarly on the fundamental principals of what democracy is.  The            
 purpose of the bill is to mandate that our municipalities follow              
 the same procedures of every state in the union, currently required           
 in terms of its legislature, and its elected officials be elected             
 from single member districts.                                                 
 Number 103                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN noted, for the record, the attendance of                        
 Representative Pete Kott.  He welcomed comments or questions from             
 committee members.                                                            
 Number 108                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON stated he didn't have a fiscal note even             
 though he thought the sponsor made reference to one.                          
 Number 112                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said that there was one prepared even though             
 it is a null fiscal note.  He said he wasn't aware of any impact              
 this would have on the state.                                                 
 Number 119                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON said it would have a fiscal implication for              
 local municipalities, especially this close to the time to the last           
 Number 122                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY replied that HB 247's fiscal notes don't                 
 address political subdivisions.  It would have no impact on the               
 state.  The cost on local governments would be the cost of enacting           
 an ordinance.  The local governments could decide whether or not to           
 hire consultants to do this work.  This is nothing that couldn't be           
 done with existing resources.  He said the expense would result if            
 the party became involved in litigation or a Voter Rights Act                 
 Number 137                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON said one of his concerns with the bill is  it            
 mandates the reapportionment process which would incur some cost              
 but it also provides an open door for potential litigation allowing           
 citizens to challenge the municipal process.  This would also have            
 a cost to the municipality.                                                   
 Number 150                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY disagreed with Representative Elton's                    
 characterization.  He stated one could put as many resources into             
 a reapportionment effort that one wanted.  This bill doesn't give             
 citizens any rights that they don't currently have under law.                 
 Rather than going through the expense of having an election to                
 ratify an reapportionment plan, we would do away with that                    
 election.  This statute merely clarifies this is the process, the             
 remedy is available to all citizens.                                          
 Number 171                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked if the sponsor was aware of any                    
 situations in which a citizen has gone to court protesting existing           
 municipal elections and municipal reapportionment of seats on their           
 local assemblies or councils.                                                 
 Number 177                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY answered that he knew of only two Supreme                
 Court decisions involving a representation on county seats and both           
 outside the state of Alaska.                                                  
 Number 180                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked whether or not there has been an                   
 expressed need for change by citizens in Alaska or if changes have            
 been expressed through a court suit.                                          
 Number 187                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY replied that he's personally aware of someone            
 that has considered challenging the electoral system in court.  He            
 stated that he's also aware that there was at least one                       
 municipality where there was an active movement to effect a portion           
 of a municipality.  These are issues that are related to                      
 representation.  He stated one of the reasons for moving this                 
 legislation forward is due to the movement to force a change                  
 through some other legal means.                                               
 Number 202                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked if there was anything that precludes a             
 municipality from making the change on their own rather than having           
 it mandated by the state.                                                     
 Number 211                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY replied it can be done under existing laws.              
 It's not illegal to do it but there are some mechanical loops that            
 have to be gone through.                                                      
 Number 214                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR ALAN AUSTERMAN asked about Title 29.  He wanted to clarify           
 whether this bill dealt basically with schools and school boards or           
 if the bill deals with all government bodies.                                 
 Number 222                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY answered that it deals with all government               
 Number 224                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN asked how it would affect those communities that           
 have a difficult time getting someone to run for a service                    
 Number 236                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY replied that this bill didn't address what               
 would happen if no one ran for an office.  Legally, a vacancy would           
 occur and the statutes, or ordinance, regarding how a vacancy was             
 filled would take effect.                                                     
 Number 242                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN pointed out that someone could be appointed who            
 wasn't necessarily interested in the vacant seat.  He referred to             
 the open school board on Kodiak Island where everyone runs that's             
 interested.  Upon the implementation of districting in Kodiak, for            
 example, uninterested representation from the villages on the                 
 school board may occur.  Co-Chair Austerman had not perceived this            
 Number 255                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said service districts weren't an appropriate            
 analogy because there was no population basis for a service                   
 district but one of common political interest.  If you go to a                
 system that's different from what you currently have, there is a              
 transition period during which people have difficulty in perceiving           
 the change.                                                                   
 Number 278                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN noted that districting Kodiak Island would                 
 create additional costs if each village became its own district               
 because of the necessary cost of flying the representatives into              
 Kodiak for school board meetings.  He stated this bill would have             
 some financial impact through the separate districts.                         
 Number 294                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN stated that he had a proposed amendment for HB 247.             
 He commented on his small communities mentioning one village with             
 a population of 35 people.                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN said his amendment would exclude second class cities,           
 including towns such as Bethel and Kotzebue, and several                      
 communities within his own district.  He moved his amendment for              
 adoption by the committee.                                                    
 Number 313                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY expressed his appreciation for the work done             
 by Co-Chair Ivan concerning the amendment.  He stated it might not            
 be an appropriate amendment because a second class city form of               
 government has no bearing on the size of the municipality.  There             
 is some size barrier with single member districts where it would              
 not be practical to move toward the process of democracy.                     
 Number 326                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN agreed to this and stated that he would discuss it              
 Number 328                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN again referred to the villages on Kodiak Island,           
 some with a population of 250, and stated that the number wasn't              
 very different from the population of 35 in Co-Chair Ivan's                   
 district.  He questioned determining the districts affected by the            
 bill, by basis of population, because the makeup of the rural                 
 communities is different from that of the urban areas.                        
 Number 340                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said he wasn't sure of the size limit of a               
 first class city but looking at population wasn't the right                   
 mechanics to address the problem.  He agreed to further discuss               
 this problem.                                                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY stated that he had his own amendment                     
 suggesting referral to a population limit.  He stated that it                 
 wasn't in the original bill because he thought the committee                  
 members would want to decide amongst themselves at what level to              
 impose this requirement for this level of representation.                     
 People's rights, under democracy, can be deminimized by at-large              
 Number 368                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN stated that he would like to work with Representative           
 Vezey to come up with a compromise concerning the proposed                    
 amendment.  He wants to accommodate the small rural areas that                
 might have problems under HB 247.                                             
 Number 377                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY wanted to hear opinions from the other                   
 committee members concerning where the line should be drawn.  His             
 only suggestion was to determine it by population.                            
 Number 383                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON stated current action would be to take a                 
 philosophical approach and only apply it in certain areas.  His               
 preference, he noted for the record as being facetious, would be at           
 500,000 because the bill wouldn't  mandate to any community.  In              
 his opinion, this bill would be telling communities what to do and            
 what's good for them.  Representative Elton stated he didn't know             
 of a rational way to apply a number.  He would be more compelled to           
 try to come up with a number if he thought there was a problem the            
 communities were facing and unable to solve for themselves.                   
 Number 412                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN agreed with Representative Elton's remarks.  He            
 also thought it difficult to come up with a number at which to draw           
 the line.  Co-Chair Austerman stated he wasn't totally in favor of            
 this bill and questioned how it would affect school districts.                
 Number 426                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT agreed that this bill was complex.  He               
 suggested that if you looked further into the population base for             
 some of the incorporated cities, you could come up with a                     
 reasonable number.                                                            
 Number 435                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN invited Mr. David Koivuniemi from the Division of               
 Elections to testify.                                                         
 Number 438                                                                    
 DAVID KOIVUNIEMI, Acting Director, Division of Elections, Office of           
 the Lt. Governor, said he was of the opinion this bill would have             
 a fiscal impact on the Division of Elections.  He is concerned                
 about small communities with very few registered voters.  Upon                
 reduction of districts, a single household could be established as            
 the voting area for a district.                                               
 MR. KOIVUNIEMI mentioned a concern of the Division of Elections               
 pertaining to Title 15.07.064, under which voter registration is              
 allowed for small communities that are a single precinct without              
 having them give a physical resident address.  This bill would                
 require a community be divided into several districts and the                 
 community itself would have to be able to identify actual address             
 locations.  He stated that within the state of Alaska, many rural             
 areas lack street and/or post office box addresses and physical               
 location is quite general.  Administratively, the registration                
 system currently in use is the Geographic Information Files (GIF)             
 and is based on the physical description of a piece of property.              
 These GIFs determine districts where a voter is registered.                   
 Currently, over 17,000 GIFs exist and with this bill, each GIF                
 would be opened to determine districts, creating an intensive work            
 load for the Division of Elections.                                           
 Number 504                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN commented that this problem was similar to that faced           
 within his community of Akiak.  He stated that voter registration             
 was done based on post office boxes.  His community tried to come             
 up with a central geographical location such as the school where              
 addresses are listed in reference to distance from the school.   He           
 again asked members if they had comments or questions.                        
 Number 516                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked when a fiscal note could be made                   
 available to committee members.                                               
 Number 518                                                                    
 MR. KOIVUNIEMI wasn't sure and he stated that he didn't want to               
 come up with a fiscal note and say this project would be just like            
 reapportionment.  This bill does have many reapportionment aspects            
 due to the fact that the GIFs would have to be manipulated.  This             
 adheres even to Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau, where the                   
 Division of Elections would have to set up minor subdivisions for             
 everyone in the state.  Some areas would take three different                 
 additions such as Fairbanks which would include the borough                   
 subdivision, the city subdivision, the subdivisions within the                
 borough subdivision within the city government and subdivisions               
 within the school district.  Mr. Koivuniemi said to try to come up            
 with an estimate pertaining to the number of work hours necessary             
 to make GIF corrections makes it difficult to come up with a fiscal           
 note for the bill.                                                            
 Number 537                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked for any other questions or comments from                  
 committee members.                                                            
 Number 540                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY noted the REAA's are impacted by the bill.  In           
 regard to the concerns expressed by the Division of Elections, he             
 stated there is a point in trying to calculate how much break down            
 is going to have to be done in the voter tabulating system.  He               
 stated the GIFs were synonymous to Census Blocks.  It's pointless             
 to break down a census block because you lose any legal basis you             
 have for trying to subdivide the fundamental building block of                
 census populations.  These blocks vary considerably in size and               
 it's difficult to justify breaking a census block for any purpose             
 of calculating the equality in terms of voting.                               
 Number 567                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN said that he'd withdraw the amendment and work on               
 merging the population version and his proposal.                              
 Number 571                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN commented that this type of discussion was held            
 in Kodiak and the discussion didn't amount to anything because if             
 Kodiak Island Borough was districted, the Island's six villages               
 with no population base would have only one representative per                
 district, whereas Kodiak City would have five.  The same thing                
 would happen to school districts where the six villages would have            
 six representatives, and the five schools in Kodiak City would have           
 five representatives.  Kodiak Island Borough never believed they              
 would get districting passed by a vote of the people.  He asked why           
 teleconferencing wasn't scheduled for this meeting.                           
 Number 593                                                                    
 TOM WRIGHT, Committee Aide, House Community and Regional Affairs              
 Committee, Alaska State Legislature, said there were no requests              
 for teleconferencing in time to get people on line.                           
 Number 596                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN stated that he would hold this bill over for further            
 Number 598                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY referred to Co-Chair Austerman's comment in              
 request to how villages would be treated.  If it is possible to get           
 an accuracy of one more person, the Supreme Court just about                  
 mandates that you do.  For state legislatures, there is a much                
 looser standard.  This is normally a variation of 8 to 10 percent             
 and justification has been considered for more.  State level has a            
 considerable variance.  A limited number of local reapportionment             
 cases before the Supreme Court indicate they would look upon an               
 even wider population variance because of the nature of the small             
 communities.  If you have seven people in the borough assembly, you           
 have 2000 people per assembly position.  You would think they would           
 have to be combined with another population center to select                  
 someone.  He asked if this wouldn't maximize their representation             
 on the assembly and the representative would be accountable to the            
 village people, no matter where the representative lived?                     
 Representative Vezey said this was the essence of the value of                
 single member districts as Judge Bright outlined 20 years ago.                
 Number 628                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON suggested that the bill sponsor send out a               
 sectional analysis, as well as a copy of the new drafted committee            
 substitute for HB 247, to all the communities that would be                   
 affected by this bill to give them the opportunity to respond to              
 this legislation.  He thought it would be important because if the            
 committee is going to mandate from the state level the way that               
 something has to be done, those affected should be aware of what              
 was happening.                                                                
 Number 641                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN stated this was his intent also and he didn't want to           
 pass legislation without involvement from the communities.  He                
 again stated he would hold the bill over until further notice.                
 HCRA - 03/21/95                                                               
 HB 248 - LOCAL EXEMPTIONS FROM PERA                                          
 CO-CHAIR IVAN invited Representative Al Vezey to give the sponsor            
 statement for HB 248.                                                        
 Number 654                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said this bill's purpose is when the Public              
 Employment Relations Act (PERA) was established, a means was                  
 provided by which municipalities could, by democratic ways, select            
 to opt out of being in PERA.  Approximately 15 communities did not            
 opt out, and 2 other communities that tried to opt out were                   
 informed by the courts that they no longer had the option of opting           
 out according to the requirements of PERA.  This bill clarifies               
 that there is a democratic process by which communities can either            
 opt in or out of PERA.  The reason behind the bill is just one of             
 fundamental fairness because the state of Alaska is currently                 
 imposing a mandate on how municipal management and labor relations,           
 between municipal employees, will be managed for a small number of            
 communities in the state.  The other communities are totally free             
 to structure their own system of managing their labor and                     
 management relations.                                                         
 Number 679                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN asked about the communities that did not opt out           
 of PERA.                                                                      
 Number 681                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY directed the members to look at the list in              
 their bill packet and listed the names of the communities still               
 covered under PERA: Bristol Bay, Fairbanks North Star Borough,                
 Haines, Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Kodiak Island Borough, the City            
 of Bethel, the City of Cordova, the City of Dillingham, the City of           
 Fairbanks, the City of Hoonah, Nome, Petersburg, the City of                  
 Seldovia, Unalaska, the City of Whittier and the Thomas Bay Power             
 Authority.  He listed four examples of those that are no longer               
 under PERA:  Juneau, Anchorage, and the Mat-Su and North Pole                 
 boroughs.  Most of the population of the state have opted out of              
 PERA, but the communities that didn't no longer have that option              
 according to the courts.                                                      
 Number 694                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked for any other questions or comments from the              
 committee.  He invited Willie Anderson to testify on HB 248.                  
 TAPE 95-9, SIDE B                                                             
 Number 000                                                                    
 WILLIE ANDERSON, Field Staff, National Education Association (NEA),           
 stated he wanted to suggest an addition to the sponsor statement.             
 In 1992, the Alaska State Legislature passed SB 16 which decrees              
 mandatory participation for every school in the state to be in                
 PERA.  Every community in the state is covered by PERA as it                  
 relates to school districts employees.  Every REAA would have to              
 have an election to opt into PERA and this would have major                   
 disruptions to the districts around the state.  It is a policy                
 statement for the state of Alaska to cover labor relations,                   
 especially as it relates to school district employees where the               
 state funds 70 percent of most district funding and up to 100                 
 percent of some districts' funding.  It is an issue for the state             
 to make that policy  call.  NEA opposes this bill for several                 
 reasons.  First of all, it causes major disruption to what has                
 worked in this state in an experimental basis until 1992, and on a            
 permanent basis from 1992.  NEA asks the committee not to pass this           
 bill and to consider the disruption that would happen in the state            
 as it relates to having every community vote on whether they are              
 going to be covered by PERA.  Mr. Anderson believed there would be            
 a fiscal impact to the state and REAAs with those elections.  He              
 stated that this bill was like an unending circle because you could           
 opt in then out and then back in to PERA.                                     
 Number 066                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked if the committee members had any questions for            
 Mr. Willie Anderson.                                                          
 Number 068                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN wanted to clarify comments made by Mr. Anderson            
 concerning his phrase, `major disruption.'  Co-Chair Austerman                
 stated that most communities have elections every year, on an on-             
 going basis, during which the PERA elections could be included in             
 the already existing structure.                                               
 Number 074                                                                    
 MR. ANDERSON explained the disruption he referred to is that you a            
 volatile issue would come up in the community that would divide the           
 community between the those that support the right of PERA against            
 those who oppose PERA.                                                        
 Number 092                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked for comments from the committee.  He then                 
 invited Mr. Don Valesko to testify.                                           
 Number 100                                                                    
 DON VALESKO, Business Manager, Public Employees Local 71, said                
 Local 71 employs about 2,300 people that work in the public sector            
 throughout the state of Alaska.  Some members work only for the               
 state of Alaska but some of them do work for the Anchorage School             
 District, the municipality of Anchorage, the Borough of Haines, the           
 City of Dillingham and the Mat-Su Borough School District.  He                
 opposed HB 248 because it's regressive and not a progressive piece            
 of legislation.  In the early 1970s, the Alaska State Legislature             
 enacted PERA.  He said he was an employee of the state of Alaska at           
 that time and believed that he'd moved up in stature from a second            
 class citizen to a first class citizen of the state.  He stated               
 that this bill would politicize a system of communication that has            
 been working well for the past few years.  They would put the                 
 option to opt out of collective bargaining systems before the                 
 voters but then where would the contracts that the employees have             
 end up?  They have to go through the political arena because they             
 can no longer talk to their employers.  Going back prior to                   
 collective bargaining with the state of Alaska, you had a system of           
 employees collectively begging the legislature to have the                    
 government decide each of their issues.  Then you might get a cycle           
 of people that are pro-collective bargaining and they put out a               
 vote for the citizens and encourage the voters to go back to the              
 system of collective bargaining.  A system has been worked out that           
 allows for communication between the employer, the Administration             
 and the employees which has worked quite well.  Mr. Valesko urged             
 the committee not to pass the bill.                                           
 Number 180                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked Mr. Valesko for an analysis on what                
 happened to a collective bargaining process whereby two parties try           
 to come to a reasonable agreement.  He was curious as to what                 
 happened to that process when, in effect, the ultimate hammer may             
 be the local legislative body pushing for an agreement and getting            
 none, putting it up for vote by the public.                                   
 Number 190                                                                    
 MR. VALESKO responded that it takes away the employees' ability to            
 communicate effectively with their employers on their concerns.  He           
 stated that employees that find it difficult to speak out now might           
 find their right to speak out lost in the future.  A system becomes           
 poorer and less effective and repressing.                                     
 Number 206                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN invited Mr. Bruce Ludwig to testify.                            
 Number 211                                                                    
 BRUCE LUDWIG, Business Manager, Alaska Public Employees Association           
 (APEA), Alaska Federation of Teachers (AFT), opposed HB 248.  He              
 stated that he thought it was bad public policy.  Upon entering a             
 position where you are going to have elections deciding the rights            
 of employees to bargain collectively, you are going to enter a                
 situation where contracts are signed for one term and no contracts            
 for another.  The local subdivision would not be able to budget               
 properly and there are going to be changes for the supervisors to             
 maintain.  APEA/AFT is against HB 248.                                        
 Number 228                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN invited Claudia Douglas from NEA to come forward.               
 Number 233                                                                    
 CLAUDIA DOUGLAS, President, NEA, said NEA opposes HB 248.  Since              
 the early 1970s, state policy extended the statutory right to                 
 bargain to public employees.  School employees have struggled for             
 over ten years to establish their rights under PERA.  The schools             
 and school employees have developed a successful pattern of                   
 bargaining under PERA for nearly six years.                                   
 MS. DOUGLAS also said that bargaining provides public employees a             
 good participatory way to influence decisions that affect the work            
 place.  At the bargaining table, public employees share in the                
 decision making process affecting wages and working conditions.               
 They have become more responsive and better able to exchange ideas            
 and information on school operations with their administrators.               
 Successful businesses are moving to management models designed to             
 involve employees in a meaningful participatory role.  Studies have           
 shown that successful school reform occurs in school districts                
 where mature bargaining relationships exist.                                  
 MS. DOUGLAS stated that if HB 248 were to become law, labor                   
 relations between school districts and school employees would be              
 disrupted.  Good faith bargaining would give way to politics.                 
 Management and school boards would have great latitude to delay and           
 forestall the bargaining process.  Some school districts could                
 submit the question of continuance, under PERA, to voters annually            
 or during each round of bargaining.  In effect, local governments             
 could use this bill to become "right to work" employers.  School,             
 municipal, borough or state employees will lose.  Inconsistencies             
 between units and school districts would occur.  The bargaining               
 process would be weakened and, in some instances, destroyed.                  
 She said the bill calls for a vote of the people.  Who pays for the           
 election?  Will the election activate adversarial clashes between             
 the special anti-labor groups with agendas opposed to working                 
 MS. DOUGLAS' last statement was that we live in a republic where              
 representatives are elected to make decisions for their                       
 constituency in view of the public good.  HB 248 proposes a poor              
 approach to their decision making.  The issue of inclusion of                 
 school employees, under PERA, has been debated on the state level.            
 A majority of the legislature, after weighing carefully the facts             
 and information, decided it is good policy.  In its declaration of            
 policy, Section 23.40.070, "The legislature finds that joint                  
 decision making is the modern way of administering government."               
 Number 277                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked Karla Feeley to come forward and testify.                 
 Number 285                                                                    
 KARLA FEELEY, Assistant Executive Director, NEA, directed the                 
 attention of the committee members to the opening section of the              
 Public Employees Relation's Act.  She stated this act was adopted             
 because the legislature felt it was good public policy.  This act             
 would ensure labor peace and better service to Alaska's customers,            
 the citizens and students of the state, because it would allow a              
 voice for those in the front serving customers.  Upon reviewing               
 recent literature pertaining to private sector management, there is           
 a consensus that companied work best when front line employees are            
 included in decisions.  This is what bargaining does and what                 
 applies to the private sector also applies to the public sector in            
 this instance.  The bargaining law was good public policy when                
 passed and Ms. Feeley urged the committee members not to adopt HB
 Number 303                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked for questions or comments and then invited                
 Clarence Bolden to testify on HB 248.                                         
 Number 307                                                                    
 CLARENCE BOLDEN, Field Staff, NEA, stated his experience in working           
 with districts not primarily on the roadway system, and that the              
 communities are accustomed to the calm way negotiations carried out           
 primarily because of PERA.  There is a clear understanding now that           
 PERA has been in the state for some time on how this process works.           
 He stated that he fears what would happen if the committee adopted            
 the bill and that communities' calmness would be destroyed.                   
 Number 321                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked for comments or questions from the committee.             
 He didn't see any other witnesses signed up to testify on HB 248.             
 Number 328                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if a member from the Department of Labor            
 would be willing to answer questions regarding the department's               
 position on this matter.                                                      
 Number 336                                                                    
 MR. ED FLANAGAN, Assistant Commissioner, Department of Labor (DOL),           
 said the department has a position but currently there is no                  
 coordinated administrative position because there hasn't been any             
 chance for affected departments to get together.  The Department of           
 Labor is opposed to this legislation.  He said the DOL sees the               
 bill as "union busting."  This would have the effect of taking                
 employees that have had collective bargaining rights for 23 years             
 and removing the security in those rights.  PERA fosters and                  
 promotes the welfare of wage-earners around the state of which                
 public employees are a large portion.                                         
 Number 358                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT questioned the department's opposition even               
 though the developing change should ultimately reduce the work                
 Number 363                                                                    
 MR. FLANAGAN said it is possible that there would be a period of              
 very intense increased work load depending on who had the                     
 jurisdiction over the numerous unfair labor practice charges that             
 would result.  These may go straight to the courts rather than to             
 the agency.  The Department of Labor would not have quite so much             
 work if the government repealed all the statutes.                             
 Number 372                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY questioned Mr. Flanagan's referral to the bill           
 as a union busting bill.  He asked whether the Department of Labor            
 was in the business of promoting unions.                                      
 Number 375                                                                    
 MR. FLANAGAN replied that the department was in the business of               
 promoting the welfare of the wage-earners in the state.  The                  
 department feels that the right to collectively bargain is deserved           
 by everyone in the free world.                                                
 Number 381                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if Mr. Flanagan was aware that the City            
 and Borough of Juneau is not covered by PERA.                                 
 Number 383                                                                    
 MR. FLANAGAN said that he was aware.  All those areas not covered             
 have statutes that are similar to PERA, and incorporated with other           
 municipalities that bargain, you are faced with the vast majority             
 of state public employees.                                                    
 Number 390                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked whether Mr. Flanagan questioned the fact           
 that the Municipality of Anchorage is free to determine the                   
 structure of how it constructs its labor relations.  The                      
 municipality isn't bound to a state statute.                                  
 Number 394                                                                    
 MR. FLANAGAN replied that it is not and some believed that was the            
 intent of the Koslosky Amendment, to allow municipalities to                  
 develop their own system of labor relations.  The effect in those             
 communities that do opt out is that their system of labor relations           
 means no labor relations.  They ignore efforts by the employees to            
 Number 401                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY questioned a previous comment made about an              
 ordinance very similar to PERA.                                               
 Number 406                                                                    
 MR. FLANAGAN stated that some of the municipalities that have opted           
 out have not formed an ordinance similar to PERA, and others have             
 and it all depended upon the opt out of their municipality.                   
 Number 415                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY referred to the change in the statutes, in               
 1992, that brought school districts under PERA.                               
 Number 417                                                                    
 MR. FLANAGAN confirmed this and said they were changed and renewed            
 in 1992.  He also said that school teachers were probably                     
 represented by a union and very few school classified employees               
 were.  These latter employees were excluded from any rights that              
 teachers had until 1988, when they got the full rights.  The rights           
 these classified employees had before did not have finality,                  
 meaning they didn't have a right to strike or binding arbitration.            
 The rights were really a diminished form of collective bargaining             
 with no finality to the process.                                              
 Number 432                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON commented on the City and Borough of Juneau              
 and their decision to opt out but they did have a collective                  
 bargaining process which they have opted into with more than one              
 union.  Even though they opted out of PERA, they didn't opt out of            
 collective bargaining.                                                        
 Number 440                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR AUSTERMAN asked Mr. Flanagan if the Department of Labor              
 believed that all municipalities and school districts ought to be             
 part of PERA and have collective bargaining mandated by state law.            
 Number 446                                                                    
 MR. FLANAGAN stated that it wasn't the issue but in past                      
 legislatures there were efforts to go the other way from the                  
 current legislation and to remove the Koslosky Amendment.  The                
 Department of Labor would support a bill like that but is not                 
 expecting to see one.  He said this bill does two things as far as            
 opting under PERA, any municipality can currently do this and the             
 city of Fairbanks did so back in 1989.                                        
 Number 457                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked for questions or comments from committee                  
 members.  He welcomed the testimony from anyone else in the                   
 audience.  Then he asked the desire of the committee concerning HB
 Number 464                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY suggested that the bill be held until a                  
 teleconference could be scheduled for a future meeting to see if              
 there was more testimony from the public.                                     
 Number 470                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT stated that there were additional committees of           
 referral and the next committee referral was the Labor and Commerce           
 Committee which be the most appropriate committee for HB 248.                 
 Number 276                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN again questioned the desire of the committee                    
 concerning the bill.                                                          
 Number 477                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT made a motion to move HB 248 out of the                   
 Community and Regional Affairs Committee, with individual                     
 recommendations, and the accompanying fiscal note.                            
 Number 479                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked if there were objections.                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON objected.                                                
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked the committee secretary to call a role vote.              
 A roll call vote was taken and Representatives Austerman, Ivan,               
 Vezey and Kott voted to move HB 248 out of the committee.                     
 Representative Elton voted against moving the bill out of the                 
 committee.  The motion passed on a vote of 4 to 1.                            
 HCRA - 03/21/95                                                               
 HB 185 - MUNICIPAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTIONS                                   
 CO-CHAIR IVAN invited Tom Wright to discuss HB 185 and entertained           
 a motion to adopt the committee substitute for HB 185.                       
 Number 500                                                                    
 TOM WRIGHT, legislative aide to Representative Ivan, stated that              
 the committee substitute incorporates two changes that were adopted           
 at the last committee hearing.  He referred to page 1, line 14,               
 where the words 'after 1) up to $150,000', meaning that as far as             
 the local funding for schools, that the local school districts                
 would not be penalized and would keep the status quo.  The second             
 change was on page 3, line 1, concerning the amendment that was               
 adopted.  The wording "approved by the voters" was deleted, so a              
 municipality may by ordinance exempt from taxation the assessed               
 value of real property without going before the voters.  This can             
 be achieved by ordinance.  In conversation with Steve Van Sant, the           
 state assessor, Mr. Wright said the property exempted in Section 1            
 is up to $150,000.  This amount isn't added on to the original                
 $75,000.  Property is exempted only up to $150,000.                           
 Number 520                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked if the committee members had any questions.               
 Number 522                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON asked if it was the intent of the co-chair to            
 move the bill out of the committee during this meeting.                       
 Number 523                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN replied that this was his intent.  He said that the             
 committee had spent a lot of time going over the bill and revising            
 it and he stated that it was time to move the bill on the next                
 committee.  He asked what the wish of the committee was concerning            
 HB 185.                                                                       
 Number 529                                                                    
 TOM WRIGHT asked the chairman if he was aware of anyone wishing to            
 testify on HB 185.                                                            
 Number 531                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT noted that this bill had been heard a number of           
 times and looked at from many angles and new language to the bill             
 had been added.  He said he was comfortable with the bill in it's             
 current state as it was the work of a lot of compromise.  He moved            
 and asked unanimous consent to pass HB 185 out of the committee,              
 with individual recommendations.                                              
 Number 540                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON objected.                                                
 Number 542                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON briefly stated that he appreciated the work              
 gone in to revising and amending HB 185.  He said there had been a            
 movement by all parties, but he had a philosophical objection to              
 the process and direction of HB 185.  His first objection was that            
 this bill was just piece-mealing an approach referring to one small           
 portion of people being exempted from property taxes.  He also                
 stated that the bill is not addressing a lot of the other people              
 that are paying property taxes.  He said that this legislature,               
 acting as an assembly for the unorganized borough, has been kind of           
 weak.  The state has many Alaskans that are exempted from property            
 taxes but CRA isn't addressing those people.  His second objection            
 concerned exempted senior citizens that are different from many               
 other Alaskans.  These people have paid income taxes and with the             
 revenue crunch affecting the state, the legislature is turning to             
 those that have paid their share and leaving alone those that                 
 haven't ever paid income taxes.  He is of the opinion that this               
 bill is sending the wrong message to some of the more responsible             
 Alaskans across the state.  He stated he would belabor the bill               
 should it make it to the floor.                                               
 Number 573                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN commented that the committee process system is open             
 as bills move through the various committees with lots of                     
 opportunities to make changes.  He stated that it was not his                 
 intent to target the senior citizens but the bill is trying to                
 reduce some of the mandates that communities have.  He said                   
 municipalities can deal with this more because they are more                  
 closely aware of their constituent concerns.                                  
 Number 586                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON agreed with Co-Chair Ivan and again expressed            
 his appreciation over the willingness of the chair and the                    
 committee to work with the different groups to make this bill as              
 good as possible.                                                             
 Number 592                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked if Representative Elton was in favor or            
 opposed to HB 185 to which Representative Elton responded that he             
 was opposed.                                                                  
 Number 595                                                                    
 CO-CHAIR IVAN asked the committee secretary to call the vote in               
 regards to passing HB 185 out of the committee.                               
 Representatives Ivan, Austerman, Vezey and Kott were in favor of              
 passing HB 185 out of committee.  Representative Elton was opposed.           
 The bill passed out with a vote of four to one.                               
 CO-CHAIR IVAN reviewed the next meeting's agenda.                             
 CO-CHAIR IVAN adjourned the House Community and Regional Affairs              
 Committee meeting at 2:28 p.m.                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects