Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/29/1999 01:40 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                                         
March 29, 1999                                                                                                                  
1:40 P.M.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
TAPE HFC 99 - 55, Side 1.                                                                                                       
TAPE HFC 99 - 55, Side 2.                                                                                                       
TAPE HFC 99 - 56, Side 1.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Therriault called the House Finance Committee                                                                          
meeting to order at 1:40 P.M.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Therriault   Representative Foster                                                                                     
Co-Chair Mulder    Representative Grussendorf                                                                                   
Vice Chair Bunde   Representative Kohring                                                                                       
Representative Austerman  Representative G. Davis                                                                               
Representative J. Davies  Representative Williams                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Moses was not present for the meeting.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
George Utermohle, Attorney, Legislative Legal and Research                                                                      
Services, Legislative Affairs Agency; Lorali Meier, Staff,                                                                      
Representative Scott Ogan; Joel Bennett, Coalition Which                                                                        
Sponsored Proposition #3, Juneau.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Anchorage                                                                                                                       
Michele Keck; Patrick Wright, President, Scientific                                                                             
Management of Alaska's Resource Treasures (SMART).                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Fairbanks                                                                                                                       
Pete Buist, Alaska Trappers Association; Joe Mattie, Board                                                                      
of Directors, Alaska Trappers Association, Fairbanks                                                                            
Advisory Committee; Sean McGuire; Holly Carroll; Celia                                                                          
Hunter; Larry Paquin.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Homer                                                                                                                           
Jim Levine.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Matsu                                                                                                                           
Rod Arno, Alaska Outdoor Council.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HB 45 An Act relating to initiative and referendum                                                                              
petitions; and providing for an effective date.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
 HB 45 was HELD in Committee for further                                                                                        
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HJR 3 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the                                                                         
State of Alaska relating to initiatives regarding                                                                               
natural resources belonging to the state.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HJR 3 was HELD in Committee for further                                                                                         
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HJR 7 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the                                                                         
State of Alaska relating to initiative and                                                                                      
referendum petitions.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HJR 7 was HELD in Committee for further                                                                                         
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
HJR 25 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the                                                                        
State of Alaska relating to a petition for an                                                                                   
initiative or referendum regarding fish or                                                                                      
wildlife.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HJR 25 was HELD in Committee for further                                                                                        
consideration.                                                                                                                  
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 3                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State                                                                         
of Alaska relating to initiatives regarding natural                                                                             
resources belonging to the state.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE stated that the purpose of the                                                                         
proposed amendment would be to raise the bar for the passage                                                                    
of all natural resource ballot initiatives.  HJR 3 would                                                                        
require a natural resource initiative to obtain a two-thirds                                                                    
vote in order to pass. Raising the bar for management of                                                                        
resources would encourage that scientific data, both pro and                                                                    
con, become available to the public on issues.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bunde wanted to see that resource management                                                                     
be well reasoned and based on sound scientific principles.                                                                      
He recommended that Alaska should try to avoid the                                                                              
proliferation on initiatives that have plagued other states                                                                     
and that we maintain access to natural resources.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Recently, the Alaska Supreme Court in the Brooks vs. Wright                                                                     
case, Opinion No. 5066, January 15, 1999, found that the                                                                        
legislature does not have exclusive law-making powers over                                                                      
natural resources and that management of the State's natural                                                                    
resources could be an appropriate subject for an initiative.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bunde pointed out that Alaska's historic                                                                         
voter turnout is not a good credit reflection.  The number                                                                      
of people that vote in an election is relatively small in                                                                       
comparison to the number of registered voters.  HJR 3 would                                                                     
prevent resource management from being dictated by the                                                                          
"majority of the moment".                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bunde believed that Alaskans can not properly                                                                    
maintain resources if they do not participate in the                                                                            
process.  He emphasized that Alaska is an "Owner State" and                                                                     
should have a stake in assuring that a clear majority                                                                           
manages resources.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative Austerman pointed out that when the fish                                                                         
initiative was placed before voters' two years ago, it was                                                                      
"thrown out" by the Courts indicating that the "initiative                                                                      
process" would not be the best avenue from which to allocate                                                                    
resources.  Representative Bunde noted that the case which                                                                      
he had referenced was the wolf snaring initiative.  The                                                                         
Supreme Court stipulated that the Legislature does not have                                                                     
the sole authority in the management of resources.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
GEORGE UTERMOHLE, ATTORNEY, LEGISLATIVE LEGAL AND RESEARCH                                                                      
SERVICES, LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS AGENCY, referenced the fish                                                                       
initiative case, Helen vs. Palmer, in which, the Supreme                                                                        
Court stated that the constitutional provision prohibited                                                                       
initiatives dealing with the subject of appropriations.                                                                         
That was applicable to the initiative which attempted to                                                                        
provide a preference for an allocation of fishery resources.                                                                    
In the purpose of that constituitonal prohibition against                                                                       
initiatives, the Court found that the State had sufficient                                                                      
interest in ownership of the fish and game resources, that                                                                      
the allocation or granting of a preference to that fisheries                                                                    
resource would be an appropriation and was therefore,                                                                           
prohibited by the Constitution.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
During the deliberations on that initiative, the Court                                                                          
raised the issue that it could be prohibited by the                                                                             
provisions of Article 8, stating that the "Legislature                                                                          
'shall' provide for the conservation, utilization and                                                                           
development of the resources of the State".  That was the                                                                       
issue litigated in the Brooks vs. Wright case.  The Court                                                                       
found that indeed, fish and game matters were proper                                                                            
subjects for initiatives and could be addressed by the                                                                          
people.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Utermohle commented that the Brooks vs. Wright case did                                                                     
not disturb the decision in the fish initiative case,                                                                           
stating that fish and game initiatives which involve                                                                            
appropriations were not appropriate to change, however, the                                                                     
Legislature could deal with other fish and game issues.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Therriault questioned if that meant that the Courts                                                                    
had left the concern of whether "methods and means" would                                                                       
rise to the level of appropriation.  Mr. Utermohle replied                                                                      
that had been the issue before the Court in the Brooks vs.                                                                      
Wright case.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Grussendorf pointed out that since 1960,                                                                         
there has been twenty-nine initiatives.  Of those, only five                                                                    
addressed the area of natural resources.  He pointed out                                                                        
that most of those initiatives were defeated.  It appears                                                                       
that voters have been able to track initiatives and that                                                                        
they have voted according to their conscience.                                                                                  
Representative Bunde pointed out that in other states, there                                                                    
has been a growing number of initiatives and that the                                                                           
passage of even one "bad" could negatively affect the                                                                           
allocation of resources.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative J. Davies commented that the Court case                                                                          
clarified that those allocations are clearly off limits.                                                                        
The Courts have stipulated that certain allocations such as                                                                     
means and methods would be okay.  The uncertainty stems from                                                                    
combining the mixture of the two. Representative Bunde                                                                          
corrected his previous statement commenting that he should                                                                      
have used the term "management".                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Therriault inquired why the resolution had not used                                                                    
the two-thirds bar to the list of restrictions.                                                                                 
Representative Bunde did not believe that the public would                                                                      
support the two-thirds bar.  If an initiative was to happen,                                                                    
it should be reflective of the majority of citizens.  He                                                                        
added that he was concerned with an all resource harvest and                                                                    
that should be managed on a scientific basis, not as a                                                                          
popularity contest.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Grussendorf asked if there was a way in which                                                                    
the problem could be addressed so that citizens would not                                                                       
feel disenfranchised.  Mr. Utermohle explained that the                                                                         
Constitution provides for an initiative and for the                                                                             
Legislature to provide for an amendment to the Constitution.                                                                    
It would be within the scope of the Legislature to make an                                                                      
amendment to this effect.  He advised that the power of the                                                                     
Legislature is restricted to making an amendment to the                                                                         
Constitution.  That provision would make a "sweeping change"                                                                    
to the Constitution and would be considered a revision.  At                                                                     
present, there is no basis to determine whether or not                                                                          
prohibiting people from voting on matters such as a natural                                                                     
resource initiative would be considered by the Courts to                                                                        
constitute a revision.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bunde pointed out that the Alaska Supreme                                                                        
Court outlined four items in the Brooks vs. Wright case and                                                                     
that HJR 3 meets that criteria.  He questioned at what point                                                                    
would this become a "sweeping change".  Representative Bunde                                                                    
argued that the proposal would not require a constitutional                                                                     
convention.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HJR 3 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                                                                          
HOUSE BILL NO. 45                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
"An Act relating to initiative and referendum                                                                                   
petitions; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 7                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State                                                                         
of Alaska relating to initiative and referendum                                                                                 
petitions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIIVE BILL WILLIAMS stated that HJR 7 and its                                                                         
companion measure HB 45, were introduced to ensure statewide                                                                    
support of an issue prior to it being put before the voters.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The legislation would require signatures from 10% of those                                                                      
who voted in the preceding general election in at least 75%                                                                     
of the house districts for a question to reach the ballot.                                                                      
It would require signatures from 10% of the total number of                                                                     
voters in the prior election.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Williams noted, currently, because of the                                                                        
population dispersal, initiative sponsors could easily                                                                          
gather the required signatures from a single area of the                                                                        
State.  The current system does not require a statewide                                                                         
perspective in determining which topics will appear on the                                                                      
ballot as amendments to State law.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Therriault clarified the manner in which the two                                                                       
pieces of legislation would work together.  He pointed out                                                                      
that signing up for the signature process would be 10% of                                                                       
the past and previous vote and that those voters would                                                                          
represent 3/4 of the House election districts.  He argued                                                                       
that such a system could be "extra" complicated.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Grussendorf suggested that HJR 7 had the                                                                         
greatest merit of the three resolutions before the                                                                              
Committee's consideration, however, he voiced concerned with                                                                    
the 10% calculation.  Representative Williams advised that                                                                      
he had originally recommended 15%, and that in the House                                                                        
State Affairs Committee, it was changed to 10%.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative J. Davies spoke to the significance of the                                                                       
proposed increase.  He questioned how large the bar would                                                                       
need to be to require 10% in each of the 3/4 (30) voting                                                                        
districts.  He emphasized that it would be a substantial                                                                        
change and questioned if it could wipe out the referendum-                                                                      
initiative process.  Representative Williams referenced the                                                                     
handout "Districts" in member's packets, which illustrates                                                                      
how many voters turned out in the last election and what the                                                                    
10% percentage amount would be for each district.  [Copy on                                                                     
File].                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Williams believed that telecommunications                                                                        
would make it easier to access the signatures.                                                                                  
Representative J. Davies explained that a person would need                                                                     
to be "physically" in each district to collect the                                                                              
signatures.  He reemphasized how large of a change this                                                                         
would be.  Representative J. Davies suggested that lowering                                                                     
the percentage would make it easier than implementing it in                                                                     
electoral districts. He believed that there could be better                                                                     
ways to assure a more broad base input.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Therriault wondered if during the initial                                                                              
constitutional debate, it had been envisioned that the 2/3                                                                      
count would be taken from one or two districts, or had it                                                                       
been intended that the count would be evenly distributed                                                                        
throughout the State.  Representative Williams explained                                                                        
that the problem had arisen as communication resources                                                                          
available today were not understood at that time.  Co-Chair                                                                     
Therriault asked what prompted the determination to move                                                                        
from 2/3 to 3/4 and, additionally, add the 10% to each                                                                          
district.  Representative Williams stated that it would                                                                         
provide a better statewide perspective.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
(Tape Change HFC 99 - 55, Side 2).                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Therriault inquired if most initiatives acquiring                                                                      
signatures were currently being taken in Anchorage.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Grussendorf suggested that this legislation                                                                      
could create problems for the "grass root" ideas which would                                                                    
not have the financial resources needed to wage a petition                                                                      
throughout the State.  Co-Chair Therriault agreed,                                                                              
commenting that a well-financed group would be able to                                                                          
better place an initiative because of their resources.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster referenced back-up material from the                                                                      
original Constitutional Convention at which time, present                                                                       
day rural concerns were addressed.  He emphasized that                                                                          
material, when written, was protective of the Bush areas.                                                                       
[Copy on File].                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bunde asked if HJR 7 would meet the criteria                                                                     
established in Brooks vs. Wright case.  Mr. Utermohle stated                                                                    
that he had not been involved in the drafting of                                                                                
Representative William's resolution and was not familiar                                                                        
with the issues underlining it.  However, he believed that                                                                      
it would not constitute a revision.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Therriault pointed out that the resolution was                                                                         
specific to the initiative process.  Representative J.                                                                          
Davies disagreed, reiterating that it was making a "sweeping                                                                    
change" to the current procedure.  The process before had no                                                                    
limitation on the percentage of votes taken per district.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HB 45 and HJR 7 were HELD in Committee for further                                                                              
consideration.                                                                                                                  
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 25                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State                                                                         
of Alaska relating to a petition for an initiative or                                                                           
referendum regarding fish or wildlife.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
LORLI MEIER, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN, stated that                                                                      
HJR 25 would bar fish or wildlife issues from the initiative                                                                    
process.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Meier continued, the Constitution of the State of Alaska                                                                    
clearly states that the Legislature is the authoritative                                                                        
body to manage fish and game.  The Legislature can, however,                                                                    
delegate that authority to a board. The Boards of Game and                                                                      
Fisheries were created as an extension of that management                                                                       
body.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Meier noted that there is no constitutional restriction                                                                     
on the ability of the Alaska Legislature to propose an                                                                          
amendment to the Alaska Constitution that would alter,                                                                          
restrict, or even prohibit the use of the initiative by the                                                                     
people to enact laws relating to fish and game.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Therriault pointed out that during the                                                                                 
Constitutional Convention, it was clearly stated that there                                                                     
were items which were not to be included.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Grussendorf voiced opposition to the                                                                             
resolution.  He emphasized that any information is as good                                                                      
as the Board that represents it.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative J. Davies added that there are times when the                                                                    
fish and game board becomes heavily representative of a                                                                         
small segment of society.  He pointed out that only 15% of                                                                      
the Alaskan population have hunting licenses.  That is a                                                                        
small number of residents and that often times the                                                                              
scientific issue is not the entire debate.  Representative                                                                      
J. Davies emphasized that there are other valuable resources                                                                    
in addition to science that constitutes decisions made.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bunde questioned if the four criteria used in                                                                    
the Brooks vs. Wright case could be addressed in the                                                                            
proposed resolution.  Mr. Utermohle advised that this                                                                           
amendment did not seem to broach any issues or boundaries                                                                       
established by that case.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HJR 25 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                                                                         
TESTIMONY VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PETER BUIST, ALASKA TRAPPERS ASSOCIATION, FAIRBANKS, spoke                                                                      
in support of HJR 25 and HB 45.  He spoke of the hardships                                                                      
resulting from last year's campaigning against animal right                                                                     
extremists and their well funded attempt to vie an Alaskan                                                                      
right for their own political purposes.  He stressed that                                                                       
the Alaska Trappers do not have the funds to address such an                                                                    
attack every two years. Mr. Buist urged the Committee's                                                                         
favorable support of the legislation.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
JOE MATTIE, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, ALASKA TRAPPERS ASSOCIATION,                                                                    
FAIRBANKS ADVISORY COMMITTEE, FAIRBANKS, echoed the                                                                             
sentiments voiced by Mr. Buist.  He stated that he favored                                                                      
HJR 25, however, would support the other two resolutions in                                                                     
principle.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MICHELE KECK, ANCHORAGE, stated that she considered herself                                                                     
an expert on the petition "signature gathering process".                                                                        
She voiced concern with the proposed changes to the public                                                                      
process and changing the signature requirements at the                                                                          
beginning of the process.  She stressed that the signature                                                                      
gathering process is already difficult. Initiatives, which                                                                      
have made it through the process, have only been able to                                                                        
make it through with outside financial help.  The signature                                                                     
requirement takes the initiative process out of the hands of                                                                    
the Alaskan voters and more into the hands of outside                                                                           
interests.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Keck stated that she understood Representative                                                                              
Williams's intent with the signature process being more                                                                         
representational of a larger group of citizens.  However,                                                                       
she believed that the outcome would make it impossible for                                                                      
everyone and that 10% was too high.  In order to guarantee                                                                      
that there are enough valid signatures, it is important to                                                                      
gather more than 10%.  Ms. Keck suggested that no more than                                                                     
2% from each district would be more reasonable.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Keck concluded that it has become much more difficult to                                                                    
gather signatures.  If distribution were to be tightened, it                                                                    
should be taken from another area or everyone will become                                                                       
barred from the initiative process.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PATRICK WRIGHT, PRESIDENT, SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT OF ALASKAS                                                                     
RESOURCES TREASURES (SMART), ANCHORAGE, noted that SMART was                                                                    
dedicated to sound management of fish and wildlife                                                                              
resources.  Mr. Wright voiced support of HJR 25, which would                                                                    
provide for an amendment to the Alaska Constitution, Article                                                                    
11, Section 7, for the utilization and development in                                                                           
conservation of fish and wildlife resources.  He suggested                                                                      
that HJR 25 could clarify findings from the Brooks vs.                                                                          
Wright case.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JIM LEVINE, SELF, HOMER, advised that he felt strongly                                                                          
regarding the initiative process which the founding fathers                                                                     
of the Constitution provided to the citizens of Alaska.                                                                         
Passage of any of the proposed constitutional amendments                                                                        
would eliminate the initiative process as a voice for the                                                                       
average Alaskan.  The process is now difficult and if it                                                                        
were to be made more difficult, only groups with unlimited                                                                      
funds would be able to get an initiative on the ballot.  Mr.                                                                    
Levine stressed that a democracy can not succeed if the                                                                         
citizens can not petition their government and enact laws                                                                       
they deem necessary.  He urged Committee members not to pass                                                                    
any of the proposed resolutions.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ROD ARNO, ALASKA OUTDOOR COUNCIL, MATSU, voiced support for                                                                     
HJR 25.  He noted that the main concern was with fish and                                                                       
wildlife management.  Restrictions within the resolution                                                                        
would address two points:                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
? It would continue to legitimize the board process                                                                             
that is currently in play; and                                                                                                  
? It would allow the board and the Department to                                                                                
fulfill the constitutional mandate for fish and                                                                                 
game management.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
He stressed that HJR 25 would not disenfranchise the public                                                                     
process.  That process is codified into law in the                                                                              
Administrative Procedures Act, Section 44.62.210.  The                                                                          
public process is clearly available to all groups of                                                                            
Alaskans who wish to participate in addressing issues.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
(Tape Change HFC 99- 56, Side 1).                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
JOEL BENNETT, COALITION WHICH SPONSORED PROPOSITION #3,                                                                         
JUNEAU, spoke in opposition to HJR 25 and HJR 3, and HJR 7                                                                      
in its current form.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
He emphasized that the initiative process is very difficult.                                                                    
Most people are trying to color the process by saying that                                                                      
it is engineered throughout the State with influence and                                                                        
money.  Mr. Bennett noted that the effort on Proposition 3                                                                      
was basically an in State effort.  There was an in State                                                                        
group which was committed to the method change addressed                                                                        
within the initiative.  He emphasized that it was not an                                                                        
anti-hunting initiative.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bennett advised that the proposed legislation is an                                                                         
effort by special interest groups who lost that initiative                                                                      
campaign to try to now attack the future right of the public                                                                    
to engage in the initiative process.  He emphasized that                                                                        
this is not a broad base citizen effort to make meaningful                                                                      
changes to the initiative process.  Mr. Bennett argued that                                                                     
this effort is a direct assault from special interest groups                                                                    
who did not like the results from 1996 vote.  The public                                                                        
does have the ability to discriminate and does have the                                                                         
mental capacity to recognize whether media is distorted or                                                                      
not.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bennett reiterated that Proposition 3 was not an anti-                                                                      
hunting movement.  Mr. Bennett agreed that Representative                                                                       
Williams had provided good information, however, the 10%                                                                        
number would be unreasonably high and suggested that a lower                                                                    
number would work better.  The percentage should be                                                                             
calculated in the context of a larger forum including                                                                           
consideration of the ramifications of changing the basic                                                                        
ground rules.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Bennett hoped that the voters would reject the proposed                                                                     
bills if they passed from Committee.  He requested that                                                                         
there be "intent" to make the process better, rather than to                                                                    
"destroy" the current process.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Foster agreed that the people could                                                                              
discriminate under the initiatives, however, criticized the                                                                     
passage of the resolution requiring that government to use                                                                      
English as the first language, which has been hurtful to the                                                                    
Bush people.  He commented that he has received more angry                                                                      
correspondence from his district on that concern than on a                                                                      
combination of all other issues during his tenure.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bunde responded to criticism made by Mr.                                                                         
Bennett regarding media representation on the same day air                                                                      
borne initiative.  Representative Bunde clarified that he                                                                       
had been referring to the bill board initiative issue.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SEAN MCGUIRE, SELF, FAIRBANKS, spoke against the proposed                                                                       
resolutions to change the initiative process.  He pointed                                                                       
out that the initiative process was established by our                                                                          
Founding Fathers.  He strongly criticized the Republican                                                                        
majority making possible law from money received from                                                                           
special interest groups.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Therriault clarified that the three pieces of                                                                          
legislation before the Committee were resolutions and would                                                                     
not take affect without a 50% vote of approval by the                                                                           
people.  One of the resolutions does have a bill                                                                                
accompanying it that would make modifications to statute if                                                                     
the resolution was passed.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HOLLY CARROLL, SELF, FAIRBANKS, stated that the HJR 3                                                                           
sponsor statement contradicted HJR 25 intent.  One statement                                                                    
suggests that it is the right of the Legislature to govern                                                                      
the resources and the other indicates the opposite.  Ms.                                                                        
Carroll asked which is correct.  She agreed that media                                                                          
campaigns do become distorted and that issue had not been                                                                       
addressed.  All concerns of any kind are subject to                                                                             
popularity contests.  She believed that all the proposed                                                                        
resolutions would be establishing a bad precedence.  Ms.                                                                        
Carroll urged that the "people" not be taken out of the                                                                         
process.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CELIA HUNTER, SELF, FAIRBANKS, stated that the proposals                                                                        
which had been submitted were designed to deter the general                                                                     
public from making use of the initiative and referendum                                                                         
processes.  She stated that these attempts to amend the                                                                         
Alaska State Constitution are a misuse of legislative                                                                           
powers.  If passage of these initiatives were made, it would                                                                    
be undermining the basic fundamental operations of                                                                              
democracy.  Ms. Hunter submitted that the increase of voter                                                                     
signatures from 2/3 to 3/4 would definitely eliminate                                                                           
initiative efforts.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Hunter found these proposals, with a number of other                                                                        
proposals by the present majority party members, to be an                                                                       
"undermining" of the democratic process of government.  She                                                                     
suggested that the present situation represents an                                                                              
aggravated presence of power hunger by the majority of                                                                          
Republicans.  She continued that by eliminating the accepted                                                                    
tradition of Committee membership make-up has deprived                                                                          
voters of fair representation.  Ms. Hunter asked that the                                                                       
Committee veto all four proposals.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative Austerman disagreed with the previous                                                                            
speaker's comments regarding the Republican majority as                                                                         
"pushing" passage of the proposed resolutions.  He                                                                              
ascertained that what is "good for some is not always good                                                                      
for all".                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
LARRY PAQUIN, SELF, FAIRBANKS, stated that when an elected                                                                      
representative takes away or restricts the constitutional                                                                       
entitlement and democratic right of the people to represent,                                                                    
it should not be taken lightly.  He asked the motivation of                                                                     
those trying to mute the voice of the people on the                                                                             
initiative process?                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
In closing, Representative Bunde advised that special                                                                           
interest groups had not backed HJR 3.  He added that the                                                                        
intent of the legislation would be to give the public                                                                           
continued support to speak through the initiative process.                                                                      
The public has the right to put issues before the voters                                                                        
that must be passed by 50% majority plus 1.  HJR 3 would put                                                                    
an issue before the voters which would need to be passed by                                                                     
a vote.  Representative Bunde believed that the issue was                                                                       
worthy of consideration and that the public would continue                                                                      
to have the final say.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Public comment on the proposed legislation was closed for                                                                       
the day.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
The meeting adjourned at 3:30 P.M.                                                                                              
H.F.C. 8 3/29/99                                                                                                                

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