Legislature(1993 - 1994)
01/18/1994 08:00 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE January 18, 1994 8:00 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Al Vezey, Chairman Representative Pete Kott, Vice-Chairman Representative Gary Davis Representative Harley Olberg MEMBERS ABSENT Representative Bettye Davis Representative Jerry Sanders Representative Fran Ulmer COMMITTEE CALENDAR *HB 277: "An Act relating to public employers defending and indemnifying public employees with respect to claims arising out of conduct that is within the scope of employment." HEARD AND HELD TO TIME UNCERTAIN *HJR 40: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to the individual right to keep and bear arms. HEARD AND HELD TO TIME UNCERTAIN (* First public hearing.) WITNESS REGISTER REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER Alaska State Legislature State Capitol, Room 122 Juneau, AK 99811-1182 Phone: 465-4930 Position Statement: Primary Sponsor of HB 277 GORDON PARKER, Director Carrier Relations and Public Policy Anchorage Telephone Utility 600 Telephone Ave. Anchorage, AK 99504 Phone: 561-3000 Position Statement: In favor of HB 277 STEVE TERRY, Director Human Resources Anchorage Telephone Utility 600 Telephone Ave. Anchorage, AK 99504 Phone: 561-3000 Position Statement: Testified in favor of HB 277 (via teleconference) ROBERT KROGSENG, Legislative Aide Representative Jerry Sanders Alaska State Legislature State Capitol, Room 115 Juneau, AK 99811-1182 Phone: 465-4522 Position Statement: Rep. Sanders Prime Sponsor of HJR 40 DEAN GUANELI Criminal Division Department of Law P.O. Box 100300 Juneau, AK 99801 Phone: 465-3428 Position Statement: Testified in opposition to HJR 40 BUD WIESE 1426 Second Ave. Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: Not given. Position Statement: Testified in favor of HJR 40 (via teleconference) LYN LEVINGOOD Alaska Wildlife Conservation Assoc. 1008 16th Ave. Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: Not given. Position Statement: Testified in favor of HJR 40 (via teleconference) GREG MACHACEK P.O. Box 56245 North Pole, AK 99705 Phone: Not given. Position Statement: Testified in favor of HJR 40 (via teleconference) TED LEONARD Interior Alaska Air Boaters and Interior Chapter of the Alaska Boating Association 55 Mile Salcha River Salcha, AK 99714 Phone: Not given. Position Statement: Testified in favor of HJR 40 DAN PORTWINE 1500 Alaska Way Fairbanks, AK 99708 Phone: Not given. Position Statement: Testified in favor of HJR 40 (via teleconference) DAN SCARBOROUGH 1776 Paroka Dr. Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: Not given. Position Statement: Testified in favor of HJR 40 (via teleconference) BILL HAGER 431 Gaffney Rd. Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: Not given. Position Statement: Testified in favor of HJR 40 (via teleconference) JIM ROLAND 557 Roberts Roost Dr. Fairbanks, AK 99712 Phone: Not given. Position Statement: Testified in favor of HJR 40 (via teleconference) C.E. SWACKHAMMER, Deputy Commissioner Department of Public Safety 450 Whittier Juneau, AK 99801 Phone: 465-4322 Position Statement: Testified in opposition to HJR 40 ARNOLD BUCKMEYER 1725 Cottonwood Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: Not given. Position Statement: Testified in favor of HJR 40 (via teleconference) BUZZ OTIS P.O. Box 72441 Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: Not given. Position Statement: Testified in favor of HJR 40 (via teleconference) LEROY WIEDEMAN 1360 Little Fox Trail Fairbanks, AK 99701 Phone: Not given. Position Statement: Testified in favor of HJR 40 (via teleconference) PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 277 SHORT TITLE: INDEMNIFICATION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) PORTER JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 04/07/93 1070 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 04/07/93 1070 (H) STATE AFFAIRS,JUDICIARY,FINANCE 01/18/94 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HJR 40 SHORT TITLE: RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) SANDERS,Olberg,Green,Kott JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 04/13/93 1178 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S) 04/13/93 1178 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY 04/20/93 1387 (H) CORRECTION TO ORIGINAL SPONSORS: 04/20/93 1387 (H) SANDERS, OLBERG 04/22/93 1449 (H) COSPONSOR(S): GREEN 05/01/93 1641 (H) COSPONSOR(S): KOTT 01/18/94 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 94-1, SIDE A Number 000 CHAIRMAN AL VEZEY called the meeting to order at 8:03 a.m., announcing the meeting was being teleconferenced to Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Barrow. Representatives G. Davis, Kott and Olberg were present. Representatives B. DAvis, Sanders and Ulmer were absent. HB 277 - INDEMNIFICATION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES Number 029 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER, prime sponsor of HB 277, stated that HB 277 has the support of municipalities and the public and private sector. He stated that HB 277 was necessary because of public employees being adversely affected by being named in suits; and without formal indemnification, it causes them personal problems. He stated an example. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER explained that HB 277 provides more than adequate protection for the public employer, state, municipalities and boroughs. He said HB 277 would not indemnify an employee whose acts were beyond the scope of his/her employment; gross negligence; intentional acts; or punitive damages. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER submitted suggestions from the Department of Law. (Attachment on file.) He noted that he disagreed with provision AS 39.90.160(b)(1) outlined on page 2, paragraph 3. Number 185 CHAIRMAN VEZEY inquired what was preventing employers from indemnifying their employees? Number 211 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER responded there was nothing preventing the employer; however, it would require a legislative body to codify an effective law. Number 222 CHAIRMAN VEZEY conveyed the equality of an effective law and a good employer policy, noting the private sector's common practice of indemnification of employees in almost all cases. Number 237 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER expounded upon the idea of unstable work relations via employer/employee. Number 249 REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT questioned why, other than collective bargaining, the university employees are excluded. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER replied he did not know and he did not have a preference. Number 268 CHAIRMAN VEZEY introduced GORDON PARKER, testifying via teleconference from Anchorage. Number 273 GORDON PARKER, Director of Carrier Relations and Public Policy for the Anchorage Telephone Utility (ATU), introduced STEVE TERRY, Director of Human Resources for ATU. Number 307 STEVE TERRY spoke in favor of HB 277, expressing the vulnerability of employers in such cases as wrongful termination and the expenses they incur. Mr. Terry believed the passage of HB 277 would succeed in making cases harder to try for the plaintiff's attorney due to the closer relationship which would develop between the employer and the organization. Number 360 CHAIRMAN VEZEY expressed his concern that the issue of punitive damages may be better addressed under the tort reform bill now circulating within the legislature. Number 372 MR. TERRY deferred to the subject of future pay options. Number 389 CHAIRMAN VEZEY questioned the matter of Anchorage not addressing this issue at the municipal level. Number 393 MR. TERRY heeded Chairman Vezey's suggestion as an alternative. However, he felt there were others in the state who could benefit from HB 277. Number 398 CHAIRMAN VEZEY did not believe HB 277 would indemnify those in violation of the Open Meetings Act which covers public employees/officials liabilities. He asked Mr. Terry to clarify. Number 411 MR. TERRY believed the coverage would become inevitable. Number 440 REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS requested additional time for the sponsor to gather support and documentation. Number 450 CHAIRMAN VEZEY agreed and stated HB 277 would be held in committee until a time uncertain. HJR 40 - RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS Number 470 CHAIRMAN VEZEY opened the floor to testimony on HJR 40. Number 473 ROBERT KROGSENG, representing Representative Jerry Sanders, primary sponsor of HJR 40, stated that the resolution was a clarification of Article 1, Section 19, of the Constitution of the State of Alaska. He said it is "prompted by nationwide attempts to subvert the true meaning of Article 2 of the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by removing the individuals' rights." He then detailed the specific wording additions and stated that the passage of HJR 40 would result in the proposed amendment appearing on the public ballot at the next general election in conformity with Article 8, Section 1, Constitution of the State of Alaska, and the Election Laws of the State. Number 502 CHAIRMAN VEZEY remarked that Justice Reinquist, U.S. Supreme Court, issued an opinion in a recent case whereby the right to bear arms was an individual right because of the use of the word "person." Number 514 ROBERT KROGSENG expressed his concerns with the changes of interpretation which have evolved over time in the constitution. Mr. Krogseng felt clarification of terms was necessary. Number 520 CHAIRMAN VEZEY introduced DEAN GUANELI to offer testimony. Number 525 DEAN GUANELI, representing the Criminal Division of the Department of Law, testified in opposition to HJR 40. Mr. Guaneli shared other sources of opposition, such as the Department of Law, Department of Public Safety, Alaska State Troopers, and the Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police. He said the Alaska State Constitution need not be amended because there was nothing wrong with the current laws. Alaska has one of the most liberal fire arms laws in the country, expressed Mr. Guaneli. He indicated that guns can already be carried virtually anywhere in the state while in plain view, and concealed while near home or while hunting. Rather than clarification, HJR 40 merely shifts the power from the legislature to the courts to interpret the legislative history behind the right to bear arms provision of the constitution. MR. GUANELI warned of the court's tendency to have a difficult time judging constitutional grounds for individual rights such as the right to privacy. He pointed out that HJR 40 may also lead the current fire arms laws, i.e., concealed weapons, to be construed differently in the future. Mr. Guaneli stated that SJR 1 and HJR 26 were satisfactory substitutes for HJR 40. TAPE 94-1, SIDE B Number 000 CHAIRMAN VEZEY again questioned Justice Reinquist's decision regarding the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and the interpretation of individual right as implied by the use of the word "person." MR. GUANELI said he was not familiar with the decision. Number 028 CHAIRMAN VEZEY believed the increase of federal decisions on gun laws since 1955 has spurred the movement for revision of the constitution on the state level. Number 053 In summation, MR. GUANELI believed we should not run the risk of eroding our laws by an unexpected interpretation of the Alaska constitution. Number 133 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT believed the Supreme Courts are more cautious about overriding laws than Mr. Guaneli expressed. Number 146 MR. GUANELI clarified he was relating to acts by Congress. Number 190 BUD WIESE, testified from Fairbanks in favor of HJR 40. He believed the people should make the decision based on what they want. Number 205 LYN LEVINGOOD testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR 40 and expressed his knowledge of the Reinquist decision which marked the right of the individual "person." He noted the word "militia" in Alaska Statute Title 26, "which makes every man over the age of 17 a member of the militia," to endorse his belief that assault weapons are appropriate for individuals. Number 289 CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked if the State of Alaska has a constitutional problem with the right to bear arms. MR. LEVINGOOD believed it does, on both the federal and state level. Number 363 GREG MACHACEK testified from Fairbanks in favor of HJR 40 because of the breakdown he has noticed in wording and the interpretation of individual rights. Number 384 TED LEONARD, representing the Interior Alaska Air Boaters and the Interior Chapter of the Alaska Boaters Association, testified in favor of HJR 40. He urged a stronger guarantee of individual rights in fear of overpowering government. Number 408 DAN PORTWINE testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR 40. Number 417 TOM SCARBOROUGH testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR 40, scrutinizing the compromises offered. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT questioned Mr. Scarborough on his perception of the overriding reason of the right to gun ownership. Number 451 MR. SCARBOROUGH cited the example of being called by the Governor to form a militia, and for this purpose an appropriate fire arm was necessary. Number 468 BILL HAGER testified from Fairbanks in favor of HJR 40. He believed we as a people have the power of the country vested in ourselves. He also believed we need to reestablish the value of the state constitution. Number 497 JIM ROLAND stated his support for HJR 40 via teleconference from Fairbanks. Number 504 CHAIRMAN VEZEY deferred further committee action on HJR 40 until prime sponsor Representative Sanders could be present. Number 513 C.E. SWACKHAMMER, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, testified that the department was against HJR 40. Offering SJR 1 as a substitute due to it's compromising language, MR. SWACKHAMMER explained that the Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police would drop their opposition to the change in current laws if they were assured this protection. Number 531 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT questioned Mr. Swackhammer if he believed the courts would outlaw gun ownership in the future. Number 536 MR. SWACKHAMMER believed it would not. He stated his main concern was expressed the misinterpretation of the written law if HJR 40 passed, and the competing weight of public policy versus individual rights. He also noted the diverse size and location of communities within Alaska and the varying legal needs corresponding to these areas. Number 553 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if Mr. Swackhammer thought it was reasonable for a person to own a gun. Number 554 MR. SWACKHAMMER replied yes. Number 555 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked what Mr. Swackhammer felt the citizens' main concerns were; i.e., self-protection. Number 564 MR. SWACKHAMMER explained that federal level was more of a threat than the state level; i.e., the Brady Bill. Number 581 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT requested the percentage of gun ownership in Alaska. Number 584 Not knowing exact figures, MR. SWACKHAMMER responded that Alaska has a fairly high percentage due to lifestyle. Number 596 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT wondered if the number of police officers in Alaska, 1 per 100,000, could be a factor in the whole breakdown of the citizen trust in the current laws. Number 605 MR. SWACKHAMMER reiterated it was Alaska's lifestyle, not a fear from crime. Number 614 ARNOLD BUCKMEYER testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR 40. Number 627 BUZZ OTIS testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR 40 and asked members to focus on the penal system as the cause for high crime rates, and not guns. Number 644 LEROY WIEDEMAN testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR 40 and stressed that citizens need self-protection and the ability to have a balance of power. TAPE 94-2, SIDE A Number 000 REPRESENTATIVE HARLEY OLBERG expressed his belief that courts are not the solution, they are the problem. He said that with all the choices at hand, however, he would take his chances with HJR 40. Number 020 CHAIRMAN VEZEY replied "no piece of paper, constitution or otherwise, can take the place of vigilance." CHAIRMAN VEZEY announced that HJR 40 would be held in committee until a time uncertain. Seeing no further business before the committee, CHAIRMAN VEZEY adjourned the meeting at 9:32 a.m.