Legislature(1999 - 2000)

02/08/2000 08:11 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
             HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        February 8, 2000                                                                                        
                            8:11 a.m.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative Jeannette James, Chair                                                                                           
Representative Jim Whitaker                                                                                                     
Representative Bill Hudson                                                                                                      
Representative Beth Kerttula                                                                                                    
Representative Hal Smalley                                                                                                      
Representative Scott Ogan                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Joe Green                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
OTHER HOUSE MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Con Bunde                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 236                                                                                                              
"An Act relating  to credited service in the  teachers' retirement                                                              
system for part-time employment."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 236 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 291                                                                                                              
"An  Act relating  to the  use of  electronic  format for  certain                                                              
state agency notices."                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHB 291(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 163                                                                                                              
"An  Act relating  to qualifications  of voters;  relating to  the                                                              
registration  of  voters;  relating   to  election  districts  and                                                              
officials; relating  to election procedures and  ballots; relating                                                              
to special  procedures  for elections; relating  to nomination  of                                                              
candidates; relating  to national  elections; relating  to special                                                              
elections   and    appointments;   relating    to   constitutional                                                              
amendments; relating  to election offenses and  corrupt practices;                                                              
relating to election  pamphlets; relating to the  deferral of jury                                                              
service for certain  election officials; relating  to an exemption                                                              
from  the  State  Procurement  Code  regarding  election  ballots;                                                              
relating  to  the  provision  and  use  of  mailing  addresses  on                                                              
permanent  fund  dividend  applications   for  election  purposes;                                                              
relating  to  the  inclusion  of  voter  registration  forms  with                                                              
permanent   fund   dividend   applications;    making   conforming                                                              
amendments in  references to  'election district' and  'chairman';                                                              
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHB 163(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 236                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: CREDITED PART-TIME SERVICE TRS                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                                                                           
 5/14/99      1409     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                                                                   
 5/14/99      1409     (H)  STA, HES, FIN                                                                                       
 1/21/00      1976     (H)  COSPONSOR(S): KERTTULA                                                                              
 2/08/00               (H)  STA AT  8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 291                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE NOTICES                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                                                                           
 1/18/00      1937     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                     
 1/18/00      1937     (H)  STA, FIN                                                                                            
 1/18/00      1937     (H)  REFERRED TO STATE AFFAIRS                                                                           
 2/08/00               (H)  STA AT  8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 163                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: DIVISION OF ELECTIONS                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date    Jrn-Page           Action                                                                                           
 3/26/99       583     (H)  READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                                                                   
 3/26/99       584     (H)  STA, JUD, FIN                                                                                       
 2/08/00               (H)  STA AT  8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
PATRICIA SWENSON, Legislative Assistant to                                                                                      
 Representative Bunde                                                                                                           
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Capitol Building, Room 501                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented sponsor statement for HB 236.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GUY BELL, Director                                                                                                              
Division of Retirement & Benefits                                                                                               
Department of Administration                                                                                                    
PO Box 110203                                                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska 99811-0203                                                                                                       
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions regarding HB 236.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
JOHN CYR, President                                                                                                             
NEA-Alaska                                                                                                                      
114 Second Street                                                                                                               
Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                                                                            
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in favor of HB 236.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
RICHARD SCHMITZ, Legislative Secretary                                                                                          
 to Representative James                                                                                                        
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Capitol Building, Room 102                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented sponsor statement for HB 163.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GAIL FENUMIAI, Election Program Specialist                                                                                      
Division of Elections                                                                                                           
Office of the Lieutenant Governor                                                                                               
PO Box 110015                                                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska 99811-0015                                                                                                       
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Provided division's  position and  answered                                                              
questions regarding HB 163.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 00-5, SIDE A                                                                                                               
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  JEANNETTE JAMES  called the  House  State Affairs  Standing                                                              
Committee meeting  to order at 8:11  a.m.  Members present  at the                                                              
call  to order  were  Representatives James,  Whitaker,  Kerttula,                                                              
Smalley and  Ogan.  Representative  Hudson arrived as  the meeting                                                              
was in progress.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HB 236-CREDITED PART-TIME SERVICE TRS                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 0082                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES  announced the first  order of business is  HOUSE BILL                                                              
NO. 236,  "An Act relating  to credited  service in the  teachers'                                                              
retirement system for part-time employment."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0098                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PATRICIA SWENSON,  Legislative Assistant to  Representative Bunde,                                                              
Alaska State Legislature, read the following sponsor statement:                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     The purpose of  HB 236 is to correct an  inequity in the                                                                   
     teachers  retirement system  (TRS).   Under the  current                                                                   
     system  teachers working  more  than 50  percent of  the                                                                   
     time,  but less than  full time,  receive only  one-half                                                                   
     service  credit  for  time  worked.    In  other  words,                                                                   
     teachers  in  this  group  contribute   more  retirement                                                                   
     dollars, but do not get a retirement  benefit consistent                                                                   
     with their contribution.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     House Bill 236  will correct the inequity in  the TRS by                                                                   
     giving teachers,  who work more  than 50 percent  of the                                                                   
     time,  but  less  than  full  time,  retirement  service                                                                   
     credit  based on time worked.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. SWENSON said 250 teachers are affected by HB 236.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 0214                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SMALLEY  said he  understood  that the  retirement                                                              
benefit had already been paid by the part-time teachers.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. SWENSON affirmed that, adding that the fiscal note is zero.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0269                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES voiced her understanding  that part-time teachers have                                                              
already contributed  to the TRS fund.   She explained that  HB 236                                                              
is  a fairness  issue that  will  allow part-time  teachers to  be                                                              
credited with the amount they have paid to TRS.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0385                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GUY BELL, Director, Division of Retirement  & Benefits, Department                                                              
of Administration,  said he agrees with Representative  Bunde that                                                              
HB  236 is  an equity  issue.   House  Bill  236 gives  equivalent                                                              
credit to  part-time teachers for  the time they teach  each year.                                                              
Each teacher  is paying  at his/her  own rate into  the TRS.   The                                                              
fiscal  note  shows a  .01  percent  increase in  employer  rates,                                                              
recognizing that there  is a negligible cost to HB  236.  He noted                                                              
that TRS has  a 12 percent employer rate, which  can easily absorb                                                              
the minimal increase caused by HB  236.  He further stated that HB
236 will not have an impact on future employer rates for TRS.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0548                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  CYR, President,  NEA-Alaska  [Affiliated  with the  National                                                              
Education Association], testified  in favor of HB 236.  He said HB
236 is  a matter of  equity and will  allow about 250  teachers to                                                              
receive what they already had paid into TRS.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0624                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HUDSON  made  a  motion  to move  HB  236  out  of                                                              
committee with  individual recommendations  and the  attached zero                                                              
fiscal note.   There  being no  objection, HB  236 moved  from the                                                              
House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HB 291-ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE NOTICES                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0733                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES announced  the second order of business  is HOUSE BILL                                                              
NO. 291,  "An Act  relating to  the use  of electronic format  for                                                              
certain state agency notices."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0755                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON  made a motion to adopt the  proposed CS for                                                              
HB 291,  version 1-LS1244\H, Bannister,  2/7/00, as a  work draft.                                                              
There  being  no objection,  proposed  CSHB  291, Version  H,  was                                                              
before the committee.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 0769                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  explained that  HB 291 was a  very modest                                                              
effort to  move the  legislature toward the  electronic age.   She                                                              
acknowledged that there is a constant  stream of regulatory action                                                              
that flows  into committee  offices.  Therefore,  in an  effort to                                                              
trim legislative costs, she had proposed  that the legislature try                                                              
to use electronic format to receive regulatory paperwork.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA directed  attention to  page 1,  line 14,                                                              
where it  read "furnished."   She explained  that the use  of this                                                              
word is to make the proposed CS technically  sound, thereby making                                                              
it legal  to deliver [electronic]  notices to legislative  offices                                                              
instead of  using the  current mandatory  mailing procedure.   The                                                              
proposed  CS  would  consistently  change  the  word  "mailed"  to                                                              
"furnished" so that  agencies could provide an  electronic copy of                                                              
regulatory notices to legislators.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA indicated  a second change in the proposed                                                              
CS is  on page 2,  lines 11-16, number  6.  She acknowledged  that                                                              
some small  agencies or  boards might  not have the  technological                                                              
capability to send e-mails.  In that  case, the proposed CS allows                                                              
that agency to provide regulatory  notices to legislators by other                                                              
means.  However,  if an agency does have  technological capability                                                              
to send e-mails, then e-mail notice  is required.  She said that a                                                              
legislator  can request regulatory  notices be  mailed if  that is                                                              
the preferred method of notice for a particular legislator.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0989                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  OGAN  commented that  he  had noticed  that  "cost                                                              
saving  measures" always  seemed  to be  accompanied  with a  zero                                                              
fiscal note rather  than a negative fiscal note.   He wondered why                                                              
the committee  does not  start showing some  real cost  savings in                                                              
the fiscal notes.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1023                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA  said  the   proposed  amendment  to  the                                                              
proposed CS might actually show a real cost saving.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  OGAN commented  that  maybe there  is no  negative                                                              
fiscal note because the agency does not want their budget cut.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA said  she did  not know  if that was  the                                                              
reason.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1078                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  JAMES  announced  that  there  was  an  amendment  for  the                                                              
proposed  CS before  the committee.    Amendment 1,  1-LS1244\H.1,                                                              
Bannister, 2/7/00, read:                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 3:                                                                                                            
          Delete "AS 44.62.190(a) is amended to read:"                                                                          
          Insert "AS 44.62.190 is amended to read:                                                                              
          Sec. 44.62.190.  Notice of proposed action."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, lines 16 - 25:                                                                                                     
          Delete ";                                                                                                         
               (7)  furnished to the standing committee of each                                                                 
     house  of  the legislature  having  legislative  jurisdiction                                                              
     over the subject  matter treated by the regulation  under the                                                              
     Uniform Rules of the Alaska  State Legislature, together with                                                              
     a copy  of the  proposed regulation,  amendment, or  order of                                                              
     repeal  for  the committee's  use  in conducting  the  review                                                              
     authorized by AS 24.05.182;                                                                                                
               (8)  furnished to the staff of the Administrative                                                                
     Regulation  Review Committee,  together  with a  copy of  the                                                              
     proposed regulation,  amendment, or  order of repeal  and, if                                                              
     preparation   of  an  appropriation   increase  estimate   is                                                              
     required by AS 44.62.195, a copy of the estimate"                                                                          
               Insert                                                                                                           
               "[(7)  FURNISHED TO THE STANDING COMMITTEE OF EACH                                                               
     HOUSE  OF  THE LEGISLATURE  HAVING  LEGISLATIVE  JURISDICTION                                                              
     OVER THE SUBJECT  MATTER TREATED BY THE REGULATION  UNDER THE                                                              
     UNIFORM RULES OF THE ALASKA  STATE LEGISLATURE, TOGETHER WITH                                                              
     A COPY  OF THE  PROPOSED REGULATION,  AMENDMENT, OR  ORDER OF                                                              
     REPEAL  FOR  THE COMMITTEE'S  USE  IN CONDUCTING  THE  REVIEW                                                              
     AUTHORIZED BY AS 24.05.182;                                                                                                
                (8)  FURNISHED TO THE STAFF OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE                                                               
     REGULATION  REVIEW COMMITTEE,  TOGETHER  WITH A  COPY OF  THE                                                              
     PROPOSED REGULATION,  AMENDMENT, OR  ORDER OF REPEAL  AND, IF                                                              
     PREPARATION   OF  AN  APPROPRIATION   INCREASE  ESTIMATE   IS                                                              
     REQUIRED BY AS 44.62.195, A COPY OF THE ESTIMATE]"                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, line 26:                                                                                                           
          Delete all material.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Page 3, line 1:                                                                                                            
          Delete all material.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Page 3, following line 4:                                                                                                  
          Insert a new subsection to read:                                                                                      
               "(d)  Along with a notice furnished under (a)(2),                                                                
     (4)(A), or  (6) [,  (7), OR (8)]  of this section,  the state                                                              
     agency shall include the reason  for the proposed action, the                                                              
     initial  cost  to the  state  agency of  implementation,  the                                                              
     estimated   annual    costs   to   the   state    agency   of                                                              
     implementation, the name of  the contact person for the state                                                              
     agency, and the origin of the proposed action."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Page 3, line 5:                                                                                                            
          Delete "Sec. 4."                                                                                                      
          Insert "Sec. 2."                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
[End of Amendment 1]                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1096                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  explained that  she had left  Amendment 1                                                              
in  amendment form  because working  with  two proposed  committee                                                              
substitutes is too  confusing.  Amendment 1 takes  the legislature                                                              
another step forward in receiving  electronic notices by relieving                                                              
an  agency  of   notifying  each  standing  committee   member  or                                                              
administrative  regulation  review committee  staff  member.   Her                                                              
inclination is  to move all the  way forward in  electronic notice                                                              
capability.  However,  she recognizes that it is  a policy call to                                                              
be decided upon by the committee.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES  agreed  that Amendment  1 is a  step forward  because                                                              
regulatory notices are available on electronic media.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1178                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN  asked if agency regulatory  notices are going                                                              
to be e-mailed or just be available.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1199                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA answered  that if the committee adopts the                                                              
proposed  CS, legislators  will receive  an  electronic notice  in                                                              
their  offices.   She emphasized  that only  the legislator  would                                                              
receive the electronic notice, not  committee members just because                                                              
they are  assigned to a committee.   As to whether  the electronic                                                              
notice would be an e-mail, she said yes.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1265                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES  pointed  out that every  committee  member is  also a                                                              
legislator, so the regulatory notices  will be available to all of                                                              
them.   She envisioned that much  paperwork will be  eliminated if                                                              
the  legislature  moves  forward with  the  electronic  technology                                                              
available.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1340                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA  agreed   with  Chair  James  that  ever-                                                              
changing technology  advances make for an exciting  perspective of                                                              
paperless offices in the future.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES emphasized that there  will be postage cost savings if                                                              
the  legislature  moves  into the  use  of  electronic  technology                                                              
possibilities.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1370                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  OGAN expressed  his belief  that there  will be  a                                                              
problem  if  standing   committee  members  are   not  advised  of                                                              
regulatory notices  because some legislators are not  full time or                                                              
in  their  offices  every  day  checking   e-mail  messages.    He                                                              
suggested that maybe some legislators  did not want their staff to                                                              
check the legislators' e-mail messages.   He suggested it would be                                                              
appropriate  to at least  e-mail the  legislator's committee  aide                                                              
regarding issues relevant to that committee.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1451                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES  said she  cannot imagine  why a part-time  legislator                                                              
would not want  a legislative aide  to read the e-mails.   Her own                                                              
aides sort through e-mails, eliminate  those that are not relevant                                                              
to the  business at hand,  and forward  the important ones  to her                                                              
home.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1520                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA mentioned  that all a legislator has to do                                                              
is notify an  agency that information is to be  mailed directly to                                                              
that legislator's staff person.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES  emphasized that the  computer age has arrived,  so it                                                              
would  behoove  legislators to  become  technologically  literate.                                                              
She  would even  like to  have computers  placed at  desks in  the                                                              
House chambers so that legislators  can see amendments immediately                                                              
as they  are being  discussed.   She suggested  that being  in the                                                              
forefront  of  using  computer  technology  is  an  advantage  for                                                              
legislators.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1659                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HUDSON reminded members  that every  newspaper has                                                              
pages full  of legal  notices that  cost thousands  of dollars  to                                                              
publish,  and yet hardly  anyone  reads them.   Those notices  are                                                              
there  because   they  were  mandated  by   antiquated  government                                                              
regulation.   He  said he  wishes HB  291 went  further than  just                                                              
addressing  government  action  notices.    He said  it  would  be                                                              
convenient  to  get all  public  notices published  in  electronic                                                              
format  in order  to allow  easier access  for the  public and  to                                                              
reduce publishing costs.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  JAMES said  she  is pleased  with  Amendment  1 because  it                                                              
repeals  legislation, and  repealing  unnecessary legislation  was                                                              
one of her purposes for filing for a legislative seat.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1762                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  OGAN asked  how Amendment  1  affects the  average                                                              
citizen.   Could people without  computers in their  homes request                                                              
to be included on a mailing list?                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA   said  Amendment  1  is   just  for  the                                                              
legislature  and does not  affect any  public notice  requirements                                                              
that  are already  in effect.   As  it stands  now, public  notice                                                              
requirements,  including expensive  newspaper  notices, are  quite                                                              
complicated and detailed.  She believes  there has to be an easier                                                              
way  to get  regulatory notices  published.   Amendment  1 to  the                                                              
proposed CS is just the first step toward a simpler process.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1860                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  OGAN made a  motion to adopt  Amendment 1.   There                                                              
being  no  objection,  it  was so  ordered  and  Amendment  1  was                                                              
adopted.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1889                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  OGAN made a  motion to move  CSHB 291,  version 1-                                                              
LS1244\H,  Bannister, 2/7/00,  as amended,  out of committee  with                                                              
individual recommendations and attached  fiscal note.  There being                                                              
no objection,  CSHB 291(STA)  moved from  the House State  Affairs                                                              
Standing Committee.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HB 163-DIVISION OF ELECTIONS                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1919                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES  announced the  next order of  business is  HOUSE BILL                                                              
NO. 163,  "An Act relating  to qualifications of  voters; relating                                                              
to the registration of voters; relating  to election districts and                                                              
officials; relating  to election procedures and  ballots; relating                                                              
to special  procedures  for elections; relating  to nomination  of                                                              
candidates; relating  to national  elections; relating  to special                                                              
elections   and    appointments;   relating    to   constitutional                                                              
amendments; relating  to election offenses and  corrupt practices;                                                              
relating to election  pamphlets; relating to the  deferral of jury                                                              
service for certain  election officials; relating  to an exemption                                                              
from  the  State  Procurement  Code  regarding  election  ballots;                                                              
relating  to  the  provision  and  use  of  mailing  addresses  on                                                              
permanent  fund  dividend  applications   for  election  purposes;                                                              
relating  to  the  inclusion  of  voter  registration  forms  with                                                              
permanent   fund   dividend   applications;    making   conforming                                                              
amendments in  references to  'election district' and  'chairman';                                                              
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1960                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON  made a motion to adopt the  proposed CS for                                                              
HB  163, version  1-LS0769\D,  Kurtz,  2/2/00,  as a  work  draft.                                                              
There  being  no objection,  proposed  CSHB  163, Version  D,  was                                                              
before the committee.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1970                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
RICHARD SCHMITZ, Staff Legislative Secretary to Representative                                                                  
James, read the sponsor statement for HB 163 as follows:                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     House  Bill 163 is  primarily a  housekeeping bill  that                                                                   
     will  update current  election law  to conform with  the                                                                   
     optical scanning ballot tabulation system.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     The  goal of HB  163 is  to make  the electoral  process                                                                   
     more   efficient  while  continuing   to  maintain   the                                                                   
     integrity of the process.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     In addition to housekeeping  measures which are outlines                                                                   
     in an accompanying  sectional analysis, HB  163 contains                                                                   
     three policy  changes which will help make  the election                                                                   
     process more  efficient for both the electorate  and the                                                                   
     Division of Elections.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Write-in Candidates                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     It  became   apparent  after   the  1998   gubernatorial                                                                   
     election that  the state needs clear procedures  for the                                                                   
     qualification  of   write-in  candidates  and   for  the                                                                   
     counting  of votes.   HB 163  will prohibit  the use  of                                                                   
     stickers  by  write-in candidates.    Write-in  stickers                                                                   
     cannot  be used  with the  state's  optical scan  ballot                                                                   
     tabulation  system.   The Division  has been advised  by                                                                   
     the   manufacturer,  Global   Elections  Systems,   that                                                                   
     stickers could damage the Accu-Vote machines.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Revision of Absentee by Personal  Representative Process                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The current statutory process  is too cumbersome and the                                                                   
     resulting mistakes by people  attempting to assist other                                                                   
     voters  have resulted  in the  disqualification of  many                                                                   
     ballots.      Current   law    requires   the   personal                                                                   
     representative to  deliver an application to  the voter,                                                                   
     return the application to an  election official, pick up                                                                   
     the ballot and voting material,  deliver the material to                                                                   
     the voter and then return the  voted ballot and material                                                                   
     to an  election official, and  multiple signatures  on a                                                                   
     complex form.  The new process  would allow the personal                                                                   
     representative  to  deliver  an application  and  voting                                                                   
     material at  one time and  then return the  voted ballot                                                                   
     and material  to an election official.  The  same checks                                                                   
     and balances remain in lace  to protect the integrity of                                                                   
     the electoral process.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Change to the Absentee In-Person Voting Process                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Early  voting  would apply  to  absentee voting  in  the                                                                   
     regional  election  office   absentee  voting  stations.                                                                   
     Voters  registered  in a  house  district in  which  the                                                                   
     regional  election  office  has  jurisdiction  would  no                                                                   
     longer  be required  to complete  an  absentee oath  and                                                                   
     affidavit envelope.  This will  significantly reduce the                                                                   
     number  of  absentee  ballots requiring  review  by  the                                                                   
     division of  elections.  If a voter's  residence address                                                                   
     information is different from  that which appears on the                                                                   
     division's  records at  the  time of  voting, the  voter                                                                   
     will  be required  to  complete  an oath  and  affidavit                                                                   
     envelope.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. SCHMITZ explained  that the proposed CS is a  fix-it bill as a                                                              
result of the  November 1998 gubernatorial election,  which seemed                                                              
to  have caused  some  confusion.   The  proposed  CS attempts  to                                                              
mitigate confusion regarding write-in  candidates and the absentee                                                              
voting process.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2070                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GAIL   FENUMIAI,   Election  Program   Specialist,   Division   of                                                              
Elections,  Office  of  the  Lieutenant   Governor,  provided  the                                                              
division's position and answered  questions regarding the proposed                                                              
CS for  HB 163.   She started by  explaining three major  areas of                                                              
change.    First,  the  state's  new  computerized  voting  system                                                              
becomes  jammed if voters  use stickers  for write-in  candidates;                                                              
therefore,  Section 40  on page  15  repeals the  use of  stickers                                                              
under AS 15.15.361.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  FENUMIAI  discussed  the  second   issue  regarding  write-in                                                              
candidates and directed committee  members to follow along on page                                                              
23,  Section 58.   This  is a  new  section that  the Division  of                                                              
Elections is  proposing in an  effort to establish  guidelines for                                                              
write-in candidates.   Apparently  the 1998 election  for governor                                                              
had caused  confusion as to how  a person could have  his/her name                                                              
written  in  on the  ballot.    A question  had  arisen  regarding                                                              
whether  a write-in  candidate for  governor  who did  not have  a                                                              
running mate  could even be elected.   Therefore, the  Division of                                                              
Elections  desired  to  establish  some  guidelines.    Under  the                                                              
proposed  CS, a  write-in  candidate must  file  a declaration  of                                                              
candidacy five  days prior  to the  general election, which  would                                                              
give the  Division of  Elections time to  advise the  public about                                                              
the write-in candidate.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI referred tp page 15,  lines 8-19.  She explained that                                                              
this section  shows voters how to  write in the candidate  and how                                                              
to fill in the ovals on the voting form.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2291                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked if the machine counts the votes.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES  answered that the machine  counts the ovals  that are                                                              
filled in correctly.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  FENUMIAI mentioned  that  every candidate  who  does run  for                                                              
office  must  file a  declaration  of  candidacy with  the  Alaska                                                              
Public Offices Commission  (APOC).  She drew attention  to Section                                                              
48, page  18, lines  10-24, which  deals with  early voting.   She                                                              
said this section  is being proposed as a matter  of efficiency to                                                              
speed the process of counting absentee  ballots.  The early-voting                                                              
section discussed here only applies  to the four regional absentee                                                              
voting stations  of Juneau, Anchorage,  Fairbanks and Nome.   Each                                                              
of  those four  voting stations  is  online with  the Division  of                                                              
Elections' voter registration  system.  Instead of  filling out an                                                              
"oath  and  affidavit  envelope"  as  is  currently  required,  an                                                              
absentee  voter could  simply vote  and  put the  ballot into  the                                                              
ballot  tabulator.   This would  decrease the  number of  absentee                                                              
voter  envelopes that  each voting  station  had to  review.   Ms.                                                              
Fenumiai noted that there were over  13,000 absentee votes cast in                                                              
the 1998  general election.  She  envisions under the  proposed CS                                                              
that  staff  time   spent  opening  envelopes  would   be  reduced                                                              
considerably.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2445                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES  asked what  happens if  proof regarding the  absentee                                                              
voter's  place  of residence  does  not match  voter  registration                                                              
information.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI answered  that then the absentee voter  must fill out                                                              
an "oath and affidavit envelope."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  OGAN  noted  that Section  49,  regarding  special                                                              
needs  voting, does  not  appear  to address  people  who are  not                                                              
mentally  cognizant, such  as those  who  suffer from  Alzheimer's                                                              
disease.   He  is  concerned  about unscrupulous  manipulation  to                                                              
obtain votes  from people  suffering some  degree of dementia,  he                                                              
explained.   He objects to the fact  that there do not  seem to be                                                              
safeguards to prevent abuse of the absentee voter system.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2527                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  FENUMIAI answered  that a  law  which precluded  a person  of                                                              
unsound mind  from voting  was repealed in  the 1990s.   She noted                                                              
that when a special needs ballot  envelope is received by a voting                                                              
station, it is  reviewed by a regional absentee review  board.  If                                                              
the information on the disabled person's  ballot envelope does not                                                              
match the  voter registration,  then the  ballot is  disqualified.                                                              
Personally,   she  has   not  observed   any  voter  fraud   under                                                              
circumstances described by Representative Ogan.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE OGAN  emphasized his  belief that just  because the                                                              
Division of  Elections is  not aware of  a fraud problem  does not                                                              
mean that such a  problem does not exist.  He  said there seems to                                                              
be room for  possible exploitation on  the part of people  who may                                                              
have access to confidential personal  information about people who                                                              
suffer from dementia.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 2652                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI  noted that there  are election misconduct  statutes.                                                              
If a person  coerced another person  about voting or  pretended to                                                              
be  the  other   person,  the  perpetrator  would   face  election                                                              
misconduct charges.   Regional election supervisors  act as guards                                                              
for  the  integrity  of  the absentee  voting  system  by  finding                                                              
volunteer groups -  such as the League of Women Voters  - who will                                                              
serve   as   personal  representatives   for   disabled   persons.                                                              
Generally,  it  is  family  members   who  request  special  needs                                                              
ballots.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR JAMES  said as far as  she understands, the  disabled person                                                              
actually votes;  it is  not someone else  voting for  the disabled                                                              
person.   The personal  representative  picks up  the ballot  at a                                                              
voting station and delivers it to the disabled person.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2725                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI  affirmed that.  She  explained that the  Division of                                                              
Elections  also maintains  a log of  personal representatives  who                                                              
pick up  ballots for disabled persons.   Anything of  a suspicious                                                              
nature is investigated by the Division of Elections.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON  asked committee members to  review page 18,                                                              
beginning at  line 26, all the way  through to the bottom  of page                                                              
19.  He noted  that this section thoroughly describes  the subject                                                              
of absentee voting  for someone else.  He mentioned  that page 19,                                                              
line 26, addresses  "unlawful interference with  voting," which he                                                              
felt  should put  Representative  Ogan's fears  to rest  regarding                                                              
fraud.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2777                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SMALLEY  agreed with  Representative  Hudson  that                                                              
page  19,  lines  23-27,  seemed  to  cover  the  fraud  question.                                                              
However, there  might be  a problem  for visually impaired  people                                                              
since they cannot see where to mark the ballot.                                                                                 
MS.  FENUMIAI   answered  that  the  personal   representative  is                                                              
authorized  to  direct  the  disabled  person where  to  mark  the                                                              
ballot.    Presently,  a  visually   impaired  person  requests  a                                                              
personal  representative to  accompany the  voter into the  voting                                                              
booth to  assist in voting.   Ms. Fenumiai reminded  the committee                                                              
that the personal  representative has taken an oath  to follow the                                                              
voter's  direction and  not divulge  the  vote.   The Division  of                                                              
Elections' goal  in presenting  the proposed CS  is to  reduce the                                                              
number of  trips that  a personal  representative makes  under the                                                              
current   statute.     Under  the   proposed   CS,  the   personal                                                              
representative could  take the absentee voter application  and the                                                              
voting packet  at the same time to  the special needs voter.   She                                                              
explained  that the  Division of  Elections is  trying to make  it                                                              
easier for the voter to participate in the election process.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI informed the committee  that other changes to statute                                                              
outlined in the proposed CS are simply  to bring existing language                                                              
into compliance with the new election-related  scanning equipment.                                                              
Number 2915                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER said he is  concerned with the notion that                                                              
a  running  mate is  now  required  for a  write-in  gubernatorial                                                              
candidate.  That has not been a requirement in the past.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  JAMES  answered that  the  present  political system  in  a                                                              
primary  election  requires  a  lieutenant  governor  position  to                                                              
accompany  the   governor  position.    Accordingly,   a  write-in                                                              
candidate for governor should also have a running mate.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 00-4, SIDE B                                                                                                               
Number 2990                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENUMIAI  expanded by  saying that  the Division of  Elections                                                              
wanted to  level the  playing field by  requiring that  a write-in                                                              
candidate name a running mate.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WHITAKER  said  he  had brought  up  the  question                                                              
because    there  are  people in  Alaska  who  object  to  further                                                              
regulations and rules being placed on current regulations.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2951                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON  made a motion to move CSHB  163, version 1-                                                              
LS0769\D,   Kurtz,   2/2/00,  from   committee   with   individual                                                              
recommendations  and the  attached fiscal  note.   There being  no                                                              
objection,  CSHB  163(STA)  moved  from the  House  State  Affairs                                                              
Standing Committee.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
There being  no further business  before the committee,  the House                                                              
State Affairs  Standing  Committee meeting  was adjourned  at 9:00                                                              
a.m.                                                                                                                            

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