Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/28/1996 08:15 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
             HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                            
                         March 28, 1996                                        
                           8:15 a.m.                                           
                                                                               
                                                                               
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
                                                                               
 Representative Jeannette James, Chair                                         
 Representative Scott Ogan, Vice Chair                                         
 Representative Joe Green                                                      
 Representative Ivan Ivan                                                      
 Representative Brian Porter                                                   
 Representative Caren Robinson                                                 
 Representative Ed Willis                                                      
                                                                               
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
                                                                               
 All members present.                                                          
                                                                               
 COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                            
                                                                               
 * HOUSE BILL NO. 349                                                          
 "An Act relating to elections; relating to the division of                    
 elections; relating to voter registration procedures; and providing           
 for an effective date."                                                       
                                                                               
      - PASSED CSHB 349(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                  
                                                                               
 * HOUSE BILL NO. 198                                                          
 "An Act relating to absences from the state and eligibility for               
 permanent fund dividends; and providing for an effective date."               
                                                                               
      - HEARD AND HELD                                                         
                                                                               
 * HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 34                                               
 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Alaska             
 relating to the duration of a regular session.                                
                                                                               
      - HEARD AND HELD                                                         
 * HOUSE BILL NO. 485                                                          
 "An Act relating to interference with the distribution or reading             
 of free newspapers or other free periodicals."                                
                                                                               
      - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                
 * HOUSE BILL NO. 490                                                          
 "An Act relating to grants and other financial assistance                     
 authorized or made by the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation            
 for the BIDCO assistance program."                                            
      - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                
 (* First public hearing)                                                      
                                                                               
 PREVIOUS ACTION                                                               
                                                                               
 BILL:  HB 349                                                               
 SHORT TITLE: ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATION & VOTER REG'N                           
 SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                  
                                                                               
 JRN-DATE      JRN-PG            ACTION                                        
 05/13/95      2174    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 05/13/95      2174    (H)   STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY, FINANCE                 
 05/13/95      2174    (H)   ZERO FISCAL NOTE (GOV)                            
 05/13/95      2174    (H)   GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                     
 03/28/96              (H)   STA AT  8:15 AM CAPITOL 102                       
                                                                               
 BILL:  HB 198                                                               
 SHORT TITLE: PFD ALLOWABLE ABSENCES                                           
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) ELTON, Robinson, Davies                         
                                                                               
 JRN-DATE      JRN-PG            ACTION                                        
 02/27/95       487    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 02/27/95       487    (H)   STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY, FINANCE                 
 03/28/96              (H)   STA AT  8:15 AM CAPITOL 102                       
                                                                               
 BILL:  HJR 34                                                               
 SHORT TITLE: LIMIT LEGISLATIVE SESSION TO 90 DAYS                             
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) SANDERS                                         
                                                                               
 JRN-DATE      JRN-PG            ACTION                                        
 03/08/95       641    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 03/08/95       641    (H)   STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY, FINANCE                 
 03/28/96              (H)   STA AT  8:15 AM CAPITOL 102                       
                                                                               
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
                                                                               
 DIANE SHRINER, Elections Outreach Coordinator                                 
 Division of Elections                                                         
 Office of the Lieutenant Governor                                             
 P.O. Box 110017                                                               
 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0017                                                     
 Telephone:  (907) 465-3051                                                    
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Presented HB 349.                                      
                                                                               
 KATHLEEN STRASBAUGH, Assistant Attorney General                               
 Governmental Affairs Section                                                  
 Civil Division                                                                
 Department of Law                                                             
 P.O. Box 110300                                                               
 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300                                                     
 Telephone:  (907) 465-3600                                                    
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided testimony on HB 349.                          
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON                                                      
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 State Capitol, Room 112                                                       
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
 Telephone:  (907) 465-4947                                                    
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Sponsor of HB 198.                                     
                                                                               
 NANCI A. JONES, Director                                                      
 Central Office                                                                
 Permanent Fund Dividend Division                                              
 Department of Revenue                                                         
 P.O. Box 110460                                                               
 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0460                                                     
 Telephone:  (907) 465-2323                                                    
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Provided testimony on HB 198.                          
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS                                                  
 Alaska State Legislature                                                      
 State Capitol, Room 414                                                       
 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                     
 Telephone:  (907) 465-4945                                                    
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Sponsor of HJR 34.                                     
                                                                               
 ACTION NARRATIVE                                                              
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-42, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 0015                                                                   
                                                                               
 The House State Affairs Committee was called to order by Chair                
 Jeannette James at 8:15 a.m.  Members present at the call to order            
 were Representatives Porter, Ivan, Green, Ogan, Willis and James.             
 Member absent was Representative Robinson.                                    
 HB 349 - ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATION & VOTER REG'N                             
                                                                               
 CHAIR JEANNETTE JAMES called on Diane Shriner, Office of the                  
 Lieutenant Governor, to present HB 349.                                       
                                                                               
 Number 0054                                                                   
                                                                               
 DIANE SHRINER, Elections Outreach Coordinator, Division of                    
 Elections, Office of the Lieutenant Governor, thanked Walter                  
 Wilcox, Committee Aide, House State Affairs Committee, for his help           
 on the committee substitute (9-GH0051/C).  She announced Kathleen             
 Strasbaugh, Department of Law, was also here to answer any                    
 questions regarding the National Voter Registration Act of 1993               
 (NVRA).  She explained CSHB 349(STA) (9-GH0051/C) was primarily a             
 housekeeping bill for the Division of Elections.  The sections in             
 the bill addressed things that the division already had the                   
 capability to do, or had begun to do already.  For example, the               
 division did not use paper ballots anymore but instead used ballot            
 cards.  The division also did not use magnet tapes and computer               
 centers anymore but instead was on-line.  The bill also allowed the           
 concept of voting by FAX.  Many of the sections also described the            
 protection of ballot secrecy using a secrecy sleeve.  Furthermore,            
 the bill also contained two substantive sections recommended by the           
 Election Transition Policy Team.  The first recommended simplifying           
 the role of the personal representative in helping an elderly or              
 disabled person to vote (Sec. 20).  The second recommended a pilot            
 project for total by-mail elections where feasible (Sec. 40).  She            
 suggested eliminating line 21, page 14, "are located in a rural               
 area of the state and that have no more than 200 registered                   
 voters," due to the fact that urban areas might be more conducive             
 or amenable to a pilot project.  She reiterated CSHB 349(STA) (9-             
 GH0051/C) was a clean-up bill.  She thanked the committee members.            
                                                                               
 The record reflected the arrival of Representative Caren Robinson             
 at 8:20 a.m.                                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 0442                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN asked Ms. Shriner what type of procedures            
 would be taken to ensure that the ballot casted by-mail was from              
 the correct person?                                                           
                                                                               
 Number 0468                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER replied the secrecy envelope would be inside an outer-            
 envelope that would contain the voter's signature and                         
 identification.  The outer-envelope would be checked first to                 
 ensure it was from the correct voter.  The ballot would then be               
 separated from the outer-envelope and counted separately.                     
                                                                               
 Number 0508                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he appreciated that approach.  He further           
 wondered, however, what type of procedures would be taken to                  
 prevent multiple ballots being cast from the same voter?                      
                                                                               
 Number 0559                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER said there was a criminal penalty against voting more             
 than once which would be well publicized.  The best way was to                
 check the by-mail ballot against the registered voter rolls to                
 ensure that there was only one acknowledgement of a vote per                  
 person.  Furthermore, the by-mail election was different than a               
 by-FAX election in that the division would make sure that there was           
 as much advanced notice of the registration deadline in a by-mail             
 election.  A ballot would then be mailed to each registered voter             
 which would also help to avoid extra ballots floating around.                 
                                                                               
 Number 0646                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said in a rural setting there were more                  
 opportunities for fraud.  A by-mail election would be on the honor            
 system.  He wondered again if there were further safeguards that              
 could be taken.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 0735                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER said she appreciated his concerns.  She did not have              
 all the answers, however.                                                     
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN replied at least the department would be on              
 guard for those types of fraudulent activities.                               
                                                                               
 Number 0751                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN IVAN explained the community of Akiak                     
 experienced disillusionment when it participated in a by-mail                 
 election.  There was mass confusion.  The first ballots were                  
 incorrect and not everyone received the second round of ballots.              
 He called it a horrifying experience for the community.                       
 Consequently, the community did not have any faith in the system              
 now.  Furthermore, the division made the determination of the final           
 results.  The community, however, did not trust the results and               
 asked for a second election.  The division said that was not                  
 possible because everything was done according to the books.  He              
 explained the community was used to a central voting location.  He            
 reiterated the by-mail ballot was confusing to the members of the             
 community.  He said the English language was also a problem for               
 many.  He was not a fan of a by-mail ballot system.  He was opposed           
 to HB 349.  He suggested deleting Sec. 40 altogether.  He asked Ms.           
 Shriner to further explain the secrecy process.                               
                                                                               
 Number 0989                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER apologized to Representative Ivan for the confusion in            
 the Akiak election.  A very serious error was made and it was not             
 defensible.  Moreover,  she explained the secrecy process whereby             
 a person would vote and place the ballot in an envelope.  There               
 were no marks of any kind on that envelope.  That envelope was                
 placed inside a larger envelope containing the voter's signature              
 and one form of identification, such as, the voter registration               
 number.  The division, however, was looking at a way to ensure the            
 privacy of the name on the outer-envelope.  It was possible, now,             
 for a person to place that envelope inside another envelope to                
 ensure more privacy, however.  When the envelope was received the             
 voter identification was checked to make sure that person was an              
 active registered voter.  The ballot was then removed and placed              
 with the rest of the ballots for counting.  Furthermore, she                  
 reiterated the division did not want to force the pilot project               
 onto any community that did not want to participate.                          
                                                                               
 Number 1145                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN asked if the definition of the term "rural" for           
 the Division of Elections was 200 registered voters or less?                  
                                                                               
 Number 1153                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER replied that was just a further qualifier for the pilot           
 program.  It was not a definition per say of the division.  She               
 reiterated the division felt that qualifying line should be                   
 eliminated.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 1174                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN wondered about the cost incurred for the pilot            
 project.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 1193                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER stated the Division of Elections submitted a $0 fiscal            
 note.  A by-mail election was considered more efficient because               
 poll workers would not need to be hired, for example.  She called             
 it a negligible expense.  However, she did believe a poll worker's            
 income deserved some attention.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 1227                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN said the rural communities were more                      
 comfortable with a central voting location where somebody could               
 answer any questions and concerns of the voter.                               
                                                                               
 Number 1291                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER said she respected the position of Representative                 
 Ivan's community.  She added, however, that even in a by-mail                 
 election, an official was designated and available for three weeks            
 prior to the election.  The division wanted to provide as much on-            
 site assistance as possible.                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 1330                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER was concerned about the substantive               
 provisions in the bill.  It was laudable to involve as many people            
 in an election as possible.  However, he felt most would find a way           
 to corrupt the system.  He said there were all sorts of                       
 opportunities in a by-mail election for corruption.  He had a                 
 problem with the division mailing unsolicited ballots.  The                   
 division would not even know if a voter was home, for example.                
 Furthermore, the division would not have a way to verify those                
 signatures.  He said it was easy to access signatures in a family,            
 and in the small communities in Alaska, elections were won or lost            
 by a handful of votes.                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 1448                                                                   
 MS. SHRINER thanked Representative Porter for his concerns.  The              
 division would look into them further.                                        
                                                                               
 Number 1463                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ED WILLIS asked Ms. Shriner the reactions from the             
 state of Oregon regarding their by-mail election?                             
                                                                               
 Number 1486                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER replied the response had been positive, but it was by             
 the people that wanted the process to work.  She was not sure if              
 the criticisms were as quick to surface, however.  She wanted to              
 research the pros and cons of the election further before providing           
 the results to the committee members.  She explained the urban                
 communities liked the election more because it cut down on parking            
 problems, for example.  She wanted to look at the concerns and                
 provide an analysis to further ensure the Alaska by-mail election             
 was even more safe and efficient.                                             
                                                                               
 Number 1543                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON wondered about municipal elections.             
                                                                               
 Number 1554                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER replied the Municipal Code was in a different section             
 than state election law.  The division did not mandate the                    
 Municipal Code, however, a municipality frequently followed the               
 lead of the division.                                                         
                                                                               
 Number 1589                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON stated, for clarification, the pilot                  
 program would not be imposed on any community, it would have to be            
 requested.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 1597                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER replied, "yes, absolutely."  The division would solicit           
 interested communities followed by an education process.  The                 
 division did not want to repeat the confusion in the Akiak                    
 community.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 1637                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked Ms. Shriner what would be the                   
 deciding body in a community?                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 1650                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER replied, "I think that's an excellent question."  She             
 was not sure of the answer.                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON wondered if the deciding body would be the            
 municipality, a native corporation, or borough assembly, for                  
 example.  There would need to be some level of authority to decide            
 to participate in the pilot program.                                          
                                                                               
 Number 1679                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN thanked Ms. Shriner for her candor and              
 honesty today.  He found it refreshing.  He announced he agreed               
 with Representative Porter regarding the potential fraudulent                 
 opportunities that a by-mail election presented.  He wondered if              
 the ballots would be mailed to all the registered voters.                     
                                                                               
 Number 1706                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER replied currently the division mailed the ballots to              
 all of the registered voters.  Moreover, the division notified the            
 community that the election was coming and encouraged registration            
 before mailing the ballots.                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 1730                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said he had serious problems with that system             
 because of the large volume of returned mail from constituents in             
 his district.  The system provided plenty of opportunity for fraud.           
 He quoted the saying, "vote early and vote often" applied to this             
 issue.                                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 1759                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER said she would ask the other states how they handled              
 the issues raised today and report back to the House State Affairs            
 Committee.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 1770                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER announced he was about to move to delete Sec.           
 20 and Sec. 40 from the bill.  He cited the fraudulent behaviors in           
 the Chicago election of Mayor Daley.  "If an opportunity for fraud            
 is provided, it will be taken," he said.  The bill needed to be               
 looked at further.                                                            
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on Kathleen Strasbaugh, Department of Law.                 
                                                                               
 Number 1857                                                                   
                                                                               
 KATHLEEN STRASBAUGH, Assistant Attorney General, Governmental                 
 Affairs Section, Civil Division, Department of Law, explained a few           
 years ago the legislature adopted the Motor Voter Act.  She                   
 suggested eliminating the perception that the division purged the             
 voter list too early.  She explained voters were not purged but put           
 on an inactive list.  The period was perceived to be too short,               
 however, because the ballot was questioned causing an impediment or           
 discouragement from voting.  She recommended expanding the time to            
 two full election cycles of four years.  Furthermore, the phrase              
 "appear to vote" was vague, according to Jack Chenoweth, Attorney,            
 Legislative Legal Counsel.  It was further defined as "come to the            
 polls, come to an absentee voting station, apply for a mailed                 
 ballot, or participate in a mailed election," but the vote must be            
 counted to avoid being purged from the rolls.  Moreover, the oath             
 was removed and included a notification that if a voter lied he               
 would be in violation of the criminal statutes.  She reiterated the           
 two issues that the division would need to work closely with the              
 Justice Department for clarification were the maintenance of an               
 inactive register list, and the crimes of moral turpitude                     
 provisions.  She thought the department could persuade the Justice            
 Department that those had never been employed or a problem in this            
 state.  She explained the changes in the bill would help the                  
 department proceed to the next step.                                          
                                                                               
 Number 2102                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES announced she was interested in the amendments                    
 Representative Porter mentioned earlier.  She said pilot projects             
 needed a parallel system to compare the old way with the new way.             
 Furthermore, she was very excited about any opportunity to ensure             
 a better voter turn out.  She cited a mailing in her district last            
 year whereby she sent 2,834 letters to those who did not vote.  Of            
 the 2,834, 1,422 were returned not received by the addressee.                 
 Therefore, according to the pilot project, 1,422 ballots would have           
 been sent to no one.  Moreover, 45 replied they were absent from              
 town, 19 replied they had problems with absentee ballots, 13                  
 replied they did not register on time, and 11 replied they had                
 transportation problems.  The responses both supported and                    
 questioned the effectiveness of a by-mail election.  She was                  
 interested in a by-mail election process, but she was not ready to            
 support it yet because of the diversified problems Alaska                     
 presented.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 2255                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he was still concerned about the language           
 "appear to vote."  He explained his experience as a member of the             
 Board of Directors for Chugach Electric in Anchorage when it went             
 to a mail-in ballot system.  The number of ballots returned almost            
 doubled.  He called in a significant increase.  The problem,                  
 however, was that no one followed up on the authenticity of the               
 ballots.  He reiterated his concern in the rural communities where            
 there would be far greater access to multiple ballots.  He would              
 support the amendment to delete that section, not because it was              
 bad, but because it was not yet controllable.                                 
                                                                               
 Number 2317                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES suggested a motion for an amendment or the formation of           
 a subcommittee to work on a committee substitute.                             
                                                                               
 Number 2325                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER stated the house cleaning provisions in the             
 bill were necessary.  Therefore, he suggested deleting the                    
 provisions in questions to move the bill forward.                             
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied, "that's fine with me."                                   
                                                                               
 Number 2337                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS asked if there were any witnesses via                   
 teleconference to testify?                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied, "no."                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 2344                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved to delete Sec. 20 and Sec. 40 from HB
 349 (9-GH0051/C).  Hearing no objection, they were so deleted.                
                                                                               
 Number 2356                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she supported the motion but hoped               
 that the concept would move forward after further analysis.  She              
 handed out an explanation of a by-mail election in Oregon.                    
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said it was important to look at other states but it              
 was important to ensure that the design fit the geographic and                
 demographic concerns of Alaska.  She agreed with the direction of             
 Sec. 40, but further work was needed.                                         
                                                                               
 Number 2433                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN wondered if the first amendment should be                 
 rescinded because the committee forgot to adopt the committee                 
 substitute.                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied, "I think we can deal with that."  She called             
 for a motion to adopt it.                                                     
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN moved to adopt CSHB 349(STA) (9-GH0051/C) for             
 consideration.  Hearing no objection, it was so adopted.                      
                                                                               
 Number 2464                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER thanked the committee members.  She said the division             
 would look into the concerns of the members further.                          
 Number 2470                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that CSHB 349(STA) (9-GH0051/C) move              
 from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal            
 notes, as amended.  Hearing no objection, it was so moved from the            
 House State Affairs Committee.                                                
 HB 198 - PFD ALLOWABLE ABSENCES                                             
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-42, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 0035                                                                   
                                                                               
 The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs             
 Committee was HB 198.                                                         
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on Representative Kim Elton, sponsor of HB 198.            
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KIM ELTON said HB 198 provided for the exception of            
 the 180 days of accumulative time limit for the purpose of caring             
 for a terminally ill family member, and for the purpose of settling           
 the estate of a deceased family member.  "Family members" were                
 defined as parent, spouse, sibling, child and stepchild.  He called           
 it a tight definition.  He explained he introduced this bill after            
 a constituent came to him who experienced a series of personal                
 illnesses that required care outside of Alaska combined with a                
 couple of situations where he and his wife provided hospice care              
 for other family members outside of Alaska.  As a result, he was              
 denied the permanent fund dividend.  Representative Elton stated              
 that was unreasonable.  Moreover, at the request of Representative            
 James, the title was tightened and the effective date changed                 
 resulting in the committee substitute (9-LS0745/C).  He said he               
 would be available to answer any questions.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 0133                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES stated an excuse for being outside of the state beyond            
 the 180 days currently allowed should be one that was beyond a                
 person's control.  The two reasons proposed in CSHB 198(STA) (9-              
 LS0745/C) met that criteria.                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 0147                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked Representative Elton what was the                  
 attitude of the Permanent Fund Division regarding the bill?                   
                                                                               
 Number 0153                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON replied he did talk to the division to                   
 determine the associated problems ("heartburn") and the cost                  
 incurred.  The division believed it would have a limited cost                 
 effect, a $0 fiscal note was attached.  The division also believed            
 it would not cause any problems or heartburn.  Moreover, he                   
 explained the bill did not cover all the situations that it should.           
 It would not cover, for example, a child that needed medical                  
 attention outside the state, unless he died.  A definition of the             
 term "illness" was needed before more exemptions were applied.  The           
 term "terminally ill" was already defined.  He said he tried to               
 broaden the bill to include other important family situations, and            
 suggested the committee might want to consider that.                          
                                                                               
 Number 0225                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said he would error on the side of being more           
 loose.  It appeared the seriousness was primafacie if someone spent           
 that much time outside of Alaska in a hospital.  He did not have a            
 problem including a serious illness as an exemption.                          
                                                                               
 Number 0245                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said she agreed with Representative Porter.                       
 Furthermore, she called this an Alaskan issue.  It was not the                
 amount of the permanent fund dividend that was at issue here, it              
 was the idea of not being considered an "Alaskan," if one spent               
 more than 180 days outside of the state.  She agreed the door                 
 should be opened a little to allow protected exemptions in statute.           
 She further believed, it was more proper to put the exemptions into           
 law rather than regulations.                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 0332                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON moved to adopt CSHB 198(STA) (9-LS0745/C)             
 for consideration.  Hearing no objection, it was so adopted.                  
                                                                               
 Number 0351                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON explained she was a cosponsor of the bill.            
 Therefore, she believed in the direction of the bill.  She                    
 announced she would be willing to work with Representative Elton              
 and others to include serious illnesses as well as terminal                   
 illnesses.  It many cases Alaskans needed to leave the state for              
 medical treatment to stay alive.  She wondered if the bill could be           
 amended to take those situations into consideration.                          
                                                                               
 Number 0414                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said she wanted to hear from the committee members                
 further before establishing a subcommittee.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 0440                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON suggested language that addressed acceptable             
 allowances for medical treatment outside of Alaska that were not              
 available in the state, for example.                                          
 Number 0457                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES explained she asked Representative Elton to tighten to            
 title of CSHB 198(STA) (9-LS0745/C) to prevent the "christmas tree"           
 effect as it progressed through the system.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 0480                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN stated he appreciated the intent of CSHB
 198(STA) (9-LS0745/C).  He wondered about a terminally ill patient            
 that had to leave the state for several years.  Many times doctors            
 could not determine the length of time necessary for treatment.               
                                                                               
 Number 0506                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied that concern needed to be answered.                       
                                                                               
 Number 0517                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said most would make an exception for the                
 terminally ill.  He explained there was a distinction between an              
 individual that needed to leave the state for medical reasons and             
 an airline pilot, for example, that needed to leave the state                 
 because of his job due to downsizing.                                         
                                                                               
 Number 0570                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES reiterated it was not just the money.  It was the fact            
 that a resident felt he was being "slapped in the face" for not               
 being an Alaskan.                                                             
                                                                               
 Number 0598                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN suggested adding to the language Representative           
 Elton proposed to include "the intention to return to the state."             
 He cited an example of a friend that was diagnosed with a brain               
 tumor and moved to California to take advantage of the medicaid               
 program there.  He wondered where the line should be drawn.  He               
 reiterated there should be an intention to return to Alaska.                  
                                                                               
 Number 0669                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said there were apparently two categories               
 involved - an Alaskan resident that had to go outside accompanied             
 by a resident for medical treatment, and an Alaskan resident that             
 had to go outside to attend to an out-of-state resident.  It was              
 obvious the first category should apply as an exemption, but he was           
 not so sure about the second category.                                        
                                                                               
 Number 0718                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES further added to the categories Representative Porter             
 mentioned to include a child accompanied by an adult who turned 18            
 while out of the state.  She suggested forming a subcommittee to              
 work on the language further.  She called on Representatives Porter           
 and Robinson to participate.                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 0748                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS said he would assume that the subcommittee              
 would run the committee substitute by the division and the legal              
 department.                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied, "of course."  That was part of the process.              
                                                                               
 Number 0757                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON said this discussion showed why he had decided           
 to open the door just a little.                                               
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES announced this was a good piece of legislation.  She              
 would sign on as a cosponsor.                                                 
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ELTON replied, "thank you Madame Chair."                       
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the first witness in Juneau, Nanci A. Jones,            
 Department of Revenue.                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 0796                                                                   
                                                                               
 NANCI A. JONES, Director, Central Office, Permanent Fund Dividend             
 Division, Department of Revenue, said it was always interesting to            
 see how knowledgeable every one was with the program.  She                    
 appreciated the discussion today.  She explained, currently, a                
 person could be allowably absent from the state if he was receiving           
 continuous medical treatment.  "Continuous" was defined as a                  
 minimum of a weekly visit to the doctor to avoid a person leaving             
 the state for a "medical vacation," in Arizona for example.                   
 Furthermore, a person could accompany that person for medical                 
 treatment as well.  In the regulations, however, that person had to           
 be defined as disabled.  The division was undergoing a regulation             
 re-write to define the term "disabled."  Therefore, currently, a              
 person could accompany another person out of the state for more               
 than the 180 days.  She called CSHB 198(STA) a noble idea.                    
 However, the division was concerned about the christmas tree effect           
 that Chair James mentioned as it proceeded through the system.  She           
 announced she was in the process of compiling statistics to show              
 how many people were paid that were actually outside of Alaska.               
 She passed to the committee members a handout titled, "1995                   
 Dividend Payments to Eligible Applicants with Absences."  A                   
 disparity existed between the categories.  She cited a person that            
 won a bid outside to work could not receive the dividend.  The                
 division recognized the Peace Corp, but did not recognize any other           
 volunteer organizations.  She said she could go on and on about the           
 disparities that existed and cautioned the committee it would face            
 that issue once it opened the door.  She said she would like to               
 work with the subcommittee to produce an equitable and easily                 
 administered piece of legislation.  She voiced her concern                    
 regarding the two year return provision and the five year                     
 presumption provision.  Those provisions backed-up the appeal                 
 process because it was hard to determine a person's intent.  She              
 was concerned this might occur with the two new provisions as well.           
 She explained HB 4 was in the House Finance Committee.  The bill              
 separated the issue of state resident and allowable absences.  She            
 reiterated it was hard to work with the disparities present in the            
 program.  She reiterated CSHB 198(STA) was noble, but suggested               
 taking more time and looking further at the disparities in general.           
                                                                               
 Number 1159                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES asked Ms. Jones how many of the allowable absences were           
 in statute and how many were in regulations?                                  
                                                                               
 Number 1179                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. JONES replied AS 01.10.055 defined the allowable absences and             
 AS 43.23.095(8) defined "state resident."  She suggested two                  
 statutes to define a state resident and guidelines for allowable              
 absences.                                                                     
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES asked Ms. Jones if HB 4 addressed the state resident              
 issue.                                                                        
                                                                               
 MS. JONES replied, "yes."  The bill addressed the separation of               
 those two definitions.  The regulations further defined the                   
 allowable absences according to the statutes.                                 
                                                                               
 Number 1247                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked Ms. Jones if more categories were                 
 established under AS 01.10.055 (F), "other reasons which the                  
 commissioner may establish by regulation; (OR)?"                              
                                                                               
 MS. JONES replied, "no."  The division, however, had expanded the             
 allowances for the two year return rule and the five year                     
 presumption rule.  She called subsection (F) a misnomer.                      
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER replied he understood her concerns about                
 subsection (F), but the division did have the statutory authority             
 to do that.                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. JONES stated the subsection was included for room to grow.                
 However, the division was very cautious about how it grew because             
 it could not allow for every exemption.                                       
                                                                               
 Number 1296                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES shared a personal experience regarding the two year and           
 the five year presumption provisions of a family returning to                 
 Alaska for only a few days to qualify for the dividend.  It was a             
 lot of money for a large family.                                              
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES thanked Ms. Jones for her testimony today.                        
                                                                               
 MS. JONES thanked the Chair and the committee members.                        
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES announced she expected the subcommittee to report back            
 shortly to move the bill forward.                                             
 HJR 34 - LIMIT LEGISLATIVE SESSION TO 90 DAYS                               
                                                                               
 The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs             
 Committee was HJR 34.                                                         
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on Representative Jerry Sander, sponsor of HJR
 34.                                                                           
                                                                               
 Number 1487                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS said he would not read the sponsor               
 statement because everyone here could read.  He announced his wife,           
 children and grandchildren really liked the resolution.  He also              
 believed the Governor would like it too.  He explained the 120 day            
 session had been in existence now for 10 years in Alaska.  It had             
 worked well.  However, it was time to look at the issue again and             
 consider reducing the session length to 90 days.  He said it would            
 not present a problem due to the advancement of computers, for                
 example.  It presented a significant savings of $1.5 million.  He             
 called it a conservative amount, and felt it would be a                       
 considerable amount more when the number of administrative                    
 operations that were moving to Anchorage were considered.  Those              
 members had to fly to Juneau for business of which the state paid             
 for the trip.  He said HJR 34 would be popular in his district.  He           
 also believed it would pass other districts as well.  He said the             
 public perceived that the oil companies paid for this government.             
 He did not believe that, however, and the people would discover               
 that soon.  He predicted that in one year after passing a state               
 income tax, the session would be reduced to 90 days anyway due to             
 the change in the public's perception.  The resolution asked for              
 the people to vote on the issue.  He asked the committee members to           
 take an honest look at the resolution.                                        
                                                                               
 Number 1729                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he supported the concept of HJR 34.  The            
 resolution would send a clear message.  He said if other states               
 could do it, Alaska could.  He reiterated he strongly supported HJR
 34.                                                                           
 Number 1782                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said he felt the legislature could accomplish             
 what it did in 120 days in 90 days.  The side effects would be less           
 bills and forced priorities.  It would also create a tendency to              
 "hit the ground running."  He said it would create better                     
 government and better legislation.  He supported the resolution.              
                                                                               
 Number 1856                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she initially voted against the 120              
 day session, and was glad others did not agree with her because she           
 now believed it was good to have a time limit.  She asked                     
 Representative Sanders if he looked at other options available,               
 such as, one session being longer than another, for example?                  
                                                                               
 Number 1910                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS replied, "yes."  He would have written it              
 for 90 days one year and 60 days the other year.  However, he also            
 believed in a one-step-at-a time approach.  He suggested trying a             
 90 day session for a while before cutting one year to 60 days.                
                                                                               
 Number 1937                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked Representative Sanders where the 90             
 days came from?                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 1955                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS replied the House of Representatives passed            
 a budget in 90 days which had always been a budget that the public            
 supported.  However, after that 90 day period, there were an                  
 additional 30 days "to go back and put all that money back in."               
 Therefore, the state would be in better shape if it were limited to           
 90 days.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 2004                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she was tired of all the bills being             
 pushed through the legislature.  Furthermore, each bill and fiscal            
 note had to be evaluated by a department.  She also supported a two           
 year budget cycle because the departments had to cater to the                 
 legislature for 120 days out of each year rather than conducting              
 state business.  She asked Representative Sanders what the                    
 extension provision was in the resolution?                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE SANDERS replied it was the same.  There was no                 
 change to the extension provision.                                            
                                                                               
 Number 2135                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN explained the state of Texas only allowed                
 legislation to be introduced on the alternative years, allowing one           
 session to be dedicated to the budget.  It was not fair to compare            
 other states to Alaska due to its short statehood.  A step in that            
 direction was worthwhile, however.                                            
                                                                               
 Number 2226                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked Representative Green if Texas did an              
 annual budget?                                                                
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN replied, "yes."  There were states, however,             
 that did biannual budgets.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 2243                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said she supported HJR 34.  She was concerned about               
 comparing Alaska to other states, however, because Alaska did not             
 have a steady revenue source.  Moreover, she was also concerned               
 about the number of bills introduced.  She explained she was                  
 criticized for not hearing some bills this session, but there was             
 only so much that the House State Affairs Committee could do, and             
 do it right.   Furthermore, the rules would have to change.  She              
 suggested that a bill could not pass unless it had been presented             
 in the previous session to prevent unintended consequences of the             
 political bickering.  By presenting a piece of legislation one                
 year, the interim period could be used for discussion with the                
 public before action was taken.  She said the legislators did not             
 hear from the public while in Juneau.  "We hear from a few                    
 dissenters and a few passionate supporters," a very small part of             
 the public.                                                                   
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-43, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 0000                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES reiterated the rules could be determined given a length           
 of time.  The arguments against were just excuses.                            
                                                                               
 Number 0044                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN stated most of the states that had restricted            
 time entertained public hearings throughout the session.                      
 Furthermore, although those states had a shorter session, they had            
 a longer interim period.  Moreover, most states were far more                 
 austere towards their compensation of their legislators.                      
                                                                               
 Number 0104                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said the legislature had made giant strides over the              
 past four years reducing the amount of money spent on the                     
 legislature as-well-as the carry over amount.  She announced Pam              
 Varni, Executive Director, Legislative Affairs Agency, was here to            
 answer any questions regarding the legislature.                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN stated the legislature at the same time                  
 increased its per diem.                                                       
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES responded everybody focused on the increased per diem             
 even though the legislature cut its staff and unrolled the carry              
 over amount.                                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 0182                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS said he was not sure how he would vote on HJR
 34.  He was concerned about how this would affect the balance of              
 power between he executive and legislative branches.  The Alaskan             
 Governor was the strongest executive in the United States, and the            
 counter balance to the executive branch in the state was the                  
 legislature.  He felt the 120 day session was an excellent idea               
 when it was changed years ago.  He cautioned the committee members            
 when considering shortening it even further to 90 days, however,              
 for fear of a tip in the balance of powers.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 0316                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES explained regulations distressed the public.  Based on            
 her analysis of the problem, the legislature was not willing to               
 take the time to include specifics in the bills creating more                 
 regulations on the part of the Administration.  Therefore, she                
 agreed with Representative Willis that the balance of powers needed           
 to be looked at further.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 0367                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER explained four years ago the legislature cut            
 79 positions.  He felt the legislature never did receive full                 
 credit for that so every time he had to opportunity to state that             
 he would.  Furthermore, most of the business in other states was              
 done at the municipal and county levels compared to Alaska.  There            
 was more money spent and issues addressed between King County and             
 the City of Seattle in the state of Washington than Olympia, for              
 example.  Therefore, the Alaska State Legislature was in effect a             
 borough assembly county seat of government for a large percentage             
 of the area of Alaska addressing issues that other states would               
 not.                                                                          
                                                                               
 Number 0479                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES announced HB 485 and HB 490 would not be heard today              
 due to time constraints.  They would be rescheduled for Saturday,             
 March 30, 1996.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 0496                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN said if the session was moved to Akiak, the               
 expenses would be reduced as much as possible.  He cited the                  
 diversity, the limited access, and the cultures of Alaska affected            
 the government and how a state was governed compared to any other             
 state.  He was afraid to make a radical change right now.                     
                                                                               
 Number 0575                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES explained due to redistricting every 10 years, a                  
 freshman legislature was almost inevitable.  She said it was a                
 steep learning curve for her as a freshman four years ago and that            
 needed to also be considered when changing the system.  She cited             
 it was hard to even find the bathrooms for that freshman class.               
 She complimented Representative Scott Ogan for his efforts as one             
 of only a few freshmen legislators last year.                                 
                                                                               
 Number 0642                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she sympathized with other                       
 Representatives that had businesses outside of their work as a                
 legislator.  She believed in more interim types of work.  She                 
 stated the issue needed to be looked at further.  The entire way of           
 doing business needed to be reconsidered.  She did not think the              
 legislature could get through in 90 days as it currently operated.            
 She reiterated a more serious look was needed and provisions                  
 included to incorporate those changes.                                        
                                                                               
 Number 717                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said, for the record, he found the bathroom               
 pretty fast when he arrived in Juneau as a freshman.                          
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN moved that HJR 34 move from the committee with            
 individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes.  Chair James            
 objected.  A roll call vote was not called for, however.                      
 CHAIR JAMES announced HJR 34 would be scheduled again for Saturday,           
 March 30, 1996.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 0786                                                                   
                                                                               
 ADJOURNMENT                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES adjourned the House State Affairs Committee meeting at            
 10:04 a.m.                                                                    
                                                                               
                                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects