Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/05/2004 08:05 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
             HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                        February 5, 2004                                                                                        
                           8:05 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bruce Weyhrauch, Chair                                                                                           
Representative Jim Holm, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Representative John Coghill                                                                                                     
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Paul Seaton                                                                                                      
Representative Ethan Berkowitz                                                                                                  
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
HOUSE BILL NO. 241                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to optional exemptions from municipal property                                                                 
taxes on residential property."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHB 241(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 414                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to filling the vacancy in the office of United                                                                 
States senator, and to the definition of 'political party.'"                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHB 414(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 366                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to rat racing charitable gaming; and providing                                                                 
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 366 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 297                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to wildfires and other natural disasters."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 322                                                                                                              
"An Act requiring a municipal initiative or municipal referendum                                                                
to be submitted to the voters at the next regular election                                                                      
occurring not sooner than 60 days after certification of the                                                                    
initiative or referendum petition."                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 322 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                              
BILL: HB 241                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: MUNICIPAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION                                                                                   
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) CHENAULT                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
04/04/03       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/04/03       (H)       CRA, STA                                                                                               
05/06/03       (H)       CRA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
05/06/03       (H)       -- Meeting Canceled --                                                                                 
05/08/03       (H)       CRA AT 9:00 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
05/08/03       (H)       Moved Out of Committee                                                                                 
05/08/03       (H)       MINUTE(CRA)                                                                                            
05/12/03       (H)       CRA RPT 3DP 1NR                                                                                        
05/12/03       (H)       DP: KOTT, WOLF, MORGAN; NR: CISSNA                                                                     
01/13/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
01/13/04       (H)       <Bill Hearing Postponed>                                                                               
01/20/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
01/20/04       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
01/20/04       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
01/27/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
01/27/04       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
01/27/04       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/03/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
02/03/04       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/03/04       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/05/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 414                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: U.S.SENATE VACANCY/DEF OF POLITICAL PARTY                                                                          
SPONSOR(S): JUDICIARY                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
01/28/04       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/28/04       (H)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
02/03/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
02/03/04       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/03/04       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/04/04       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
02/04/04       (H)       -- Meeting Canceled --                                                                                 
02/05/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 366                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: RAT RACING CHARITABLE GAMING                                                                                       
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) STOLTZE                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
01/12/04       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/9/04                                                                                
01/12/04       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/12/04       (H)       STA, FIN                                                                                               
01/29/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
01/29/04       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
01/29/04       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/05/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 297                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: WILDFIRES AND NATURAL DISASTERS                                                                                    
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) STOLTZE                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
05/05/03       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
05/05/03       (H)       STA, RES                                                                                               
01/13/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
01/13/04       (H)       <Bill Hearing Postponed>                                                                               
02/03/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
02/03/04       (H)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
02/05/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 322                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: MUNI INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM ELECTIONS                                                                           
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) SEATON                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
05/15/03       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
05/15/03       (H)       CRA, STA                                                                                               
01/28/04       (H)       REFERRALS REVERSED                                                                                     
01/28/04       (H)       STA, CRA                                                                                               
02/05/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
LAURA GLAISER, Director                                                                                                         
Division of Elections                                                                                                           
Office of the Lieutenant Governor                                                                                               
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Explained the definition of "political                                                                     
party" as it applied to HB 414.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BILL STOLTZE                                                                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified as the sponsor of HB 366, and HB                                                                 
297.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
GAIL VOIGTLANDER                                                                                                                
Chief Assistant  Attorney General - Statewide  Section Supervisor                                                               
Torts and Worker's Compensation Section                                                                                         
Civil Division (Anchorage)                                                                                                      
Department of Law                                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified on HB 297 and answered questions.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
LINDA MURPHY                                                                                                                    
Borough Clerk                                                                                                                   
Kenai Peninsula Borough                                                                                                         
Soldotna, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 322                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MONA LISA DREXLER, CMC                                                                                                          
Borough Municipal Clerk                                                                                                         
Fairbanks North Star Borough                                                                                                    
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 322                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 04-13, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  BRUCE WEYHRAUCH  called the  House State  Affairs Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to order at  8:05 a.m.  Representatives Seaton,                                                               
Lynn,  Berkowitz,  and Weyhrauch  were  present  at the  call  to                                                               
order.   Representatives Holm, Coghill, and  Gruenberg arrived as                                                               
the meeting was in progress.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HB 241-MUNICIPAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that the  first order of  business was                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 241, "An  Act relating to optional exemptions from                                                               
municipal property taxes on residential property."                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
[Before the  committee, adopted  as a work  draft on  January 27,                                                               
2004, was the  committee substitute (CS) for HB  241, Version 23-                                                               
LS0851\D, Cook, 1/22/04.]                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0200                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON,  at the request of  Chair Weyhrauch, moved                                                               
to  withdraw  Version D  and  place  Version  A back  before  the                                                               
committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0214                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  asked if there  was any objection.   There being                                                               
none,  he clarified  that HB  241, Version  A [the  original bill                                                               
version] was before the committee.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0235                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  [moved to  adopt] Amendment 1,  which read                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1 Line 7                                                                                                              
     After the word "subsection," add the words "may or"                                                                    
     Page 1 Line 11                                                                                                             
     Delete Sec. 2                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON explained that  the new wording would allow                                                               
the municipality  or borough  to have the  option of  applying or                                                               
not  applying for  the  exemption  to the  tax  base for  special                                                               
taxing areas.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0322                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH   objected  [to  the  motion],   for  discussion                                                               
purposes.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0340                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  suggested the wording,  "subsection may                                                               
be implied", implies  that it "may or  may not."  He  said it was                                                               
implicit in "may" that it "may or may not."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0389                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   SEATON   accepted   Representative   Berkowitz's                                                               
suggestion as a friendly amendment.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0483                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH stated that Amendment  1, as amended, would read,                                                               
"In [page 1], line 7, delete the word 'not'."                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH withdrew  his  objection and  asked for  further                                                               
objections.   There  being  none, Amendment  1  [as amended]  was                                                               
adopted.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 0533                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  turned  to Amendment  2,  labeled  23-                                                               
LS0851\A.1, Cook, 2/4/04, which read:                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, following line 4:                                                                                                  
          Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                    
      "* Sec. 3.  AS 29.45.050 is amended by adding a new                                                                   
     subsection to read:                                                                                                        
          (s)  A municipality may by ordinance designate an                                                                     
     area within  its boundaries  as a  high crime  area and                                                                    
     exempt from  taxation an amount  not to  exceed $10,000                                                                    
     of the assessed value of  real property within the area                                                                    
     that  is owned  and occupied  as a  permanent place  of                                                                    
     abode by a peace officer."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG explained  Amendment  2  would allow  a                                                               
municipality  to pass  an ordinance  that  designates high  crime                                                               
areas and  allows a  tax exemption for  police officers  who move                                                               
into such  areas.   He said it  would be only  a small  amount of                                                               
money; therefore, it would be more of a symbolic gesture.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0635                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  asked for  the definition  of a  "high crime                                                               
area."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  replied that  it would  be left  to the                                                               
municipality - if  it wishes - to define the  high crime area and                                                               
allow the tax exemption.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 0739                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ,  in response  to a suggestion  by Chair                                                               
Weyhrauch  to  add  a  hold   harmless  provision  by  which  any                                                               
municipality  that adopts  this ordinance  would not  seek offset                                                               
from the State of Alaska for  any decline in local revenues, said                                                               
he doesn't  believe municipalities receive any  [revenue] at this                                                               
point.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH explained  that such  a provision  would prevent                                                               
future legislatures  from being  assaulted by  municipalities for                                                               
this exemption.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 8:14 a.m. to 8:18 a.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  moved  to   adopt  Amendment  2  [text                                                               
provided previously].                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH objected  for discussion purposes.   He offered a                                                               
first amendment to Amendment 2, as follows:                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     A municipality adopting such an ordinance may not seek                                                                     
       funding from the state to cover a municipal budget                                                                       
     shortfall caused by the adoption of the ordinance.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he had  no objection.   [The first                                                               
amendment to Amendment 2 was treated as adopted.]                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   BERKOWITZ  asked   about   the   cost  [of   the                                                               
ordinance].  He inquired if the  amount would be $200 a year [per                                                               
officer].                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  reiterated that  it  would  be a  very                                                               
small amount - more "symbolic than anything else."                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0916                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  asked if  the peace  officer needed  to be                                                               
employed by the municipality [to  qualify for the exemption].  He                                                               
asked for the definition of peace officer.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  specified that  peace officer  would be                                                               
defined by the ordinance.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON explained  he  was trying  to clarify  who                                                               
qualified for the exemption.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG clarified that  the ordinance, not state                                                               
law, would define peace officer.   The local municipalities could                                                               
limit [the  exemption] to local  peace officers, if  they wished,                                                               
or to  local and state peace  officers.  He explained  the intent                                                               
is to give local municipalities the authority to decide.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ pointed out  that AS 01.10.060 specifies                                                               
the definition of peace officer.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  said  he  still  wants  to  leave  the                                                               
decision to the municipalities.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1199                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG moved a  second amendment to Amendment 2                                                               
that read, "by a peace officer, as defined in the ordinance."                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ pointed  out additional  definitions of                                                               
peace officer in Titles 11, 16, and 18.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1230                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  asked if there  was any objection to  the second                                                               
amendment  to Amendment  2,  which he  clarified  would add,  "as                                                               
defined  in the  ordinance" after  "peace officer"  on line  7 of                                                               
Amendment 2.   There being no objection, the  second amendment to                                                               
Amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1280                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH asked  if there  was any  further discussion  of                                                               
Amendment  2.   He maintained  his objection  to Amendment  2 [as                                                               
amended] and asked for a roll call.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
A  roll  call vote  was  taken.   Representatives  Seaton,  Lynn,                                                               
Berkowitz,  and  Gruenberg voted  in  favor  of Amendment  2  [as                                                               
amended].      Representative   Weyhrauch   voted   against   it.                                                               
Therefore, Amendment 2,  as amended, was adopted by a  vote of 4-                                                               
1.                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1315                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON moved to report CSHB 241, Version 23-                                                                     
LS0851\A,   as  amended,   out  of   committee  with   individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no objection,  CSHB 241(STA)  was reported  from the  House State                                                               
Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HB 414-U.S.SENATE VACANCY/DEF OF POLITICAL PARTY                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1330                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that  the next  order of  business was                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 414, "An Act  relating to filling the  vacancy in                                                               
the office  of United  States senator, and  to the  definition of                                                               
'political party.'"                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1380                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  moved to  adopt [Conceptual]  Amendment 1,                                                               
which  read,  [original  punctuation  provided,  some  formatting                                                               
changed]:                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     (Delete existing Section 7 starting  at page 3, line 15                                                                    
     and insert new Sec. 7.)                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
      *Sec.7. AS 15.60.010921) is amended to read:                                                                              
          (21)  "political party"  means an  organized group                                                                    
     of voters that represents  a political program and that                                                                    
     either nominated a candidate  for governor who received                                                                    
     at  least three  percent of  the total  votes cast  for                                                                    
     governor at  the preceding general election;  or if the                                                                
     office  of United  States senator  was  on the  ballot,                                                                
     that nominated  a candidate  for United  States senator                                                                
     who received at least three  percent of the total votes                                                                
     cast  for   United  [sic]   senator  at   that  general                                                            
     election,  or that  nominated  a  candidate for  United                                                                
     States  representative  who  received  at  least  three                                                                
     percent  of  the total  votes  cast  for United  States                                                                
     representative   at  that   general  election   or  has                                                                
     registered voters  in the state  equal in number  to at                                                                    
     least  three  percent  of  the  total  votes  cast  for                                                                    
     governor at the preceding general election;                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1385                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON explained that  the purpose of [Conceptual]                                                               
Amendment 1 is to allow  greater flexibility for third parties to                                                               
qualify [a  candidate for governor].   He maintained that  HB 414                                                               
made it more difficult [for the  parties].  He explained that the                                                               
wording in the old  version of the bill says that,  if there is a                                                               
gubernatorial  election, there  has  to be  a  candidate in  that                                                               
election, and the candidate has  to have [received] 3 percent [of                                                               
the  total  votes cast  for  governor  at the  preceding  general                                                               
election or  has registered voters  in the state equal  in number                                                               
to  at  least three  percent  of  the  total  votes cast  in  the                                                               
preceding  election].   He said  that was  true for  a Senatorial                                                               
election, as well,  and it didn't matter if  [the party] receives                                                               
"20 percent  in the  U.S. House  race that  was conducted  at the                                                               
same time."   He stated that  when there was not  a gubernatorial                                                               
or  Senatorial  election,  [the  party]  would  have  to  have  a                                                               
candidate for the  U.S. House and would have to  garner 3 percent                                                               
to maintain [its] qualifications.  He  said he did not think that                                                               
was the spirit in  which [the bill] was offered.   He said he had                                                               
talked to  the sponsor  of HB 414  [House Judiciary  Chair, Lesil                                                               
McGuire], who supports proposed [Conceptual] Amendment 1.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON explained  that  [Conceptual] Amendment  1                                                               
makes it  so that at a  gubernatorial election, a [party]  with 3                                                               
percent, either in  the governor's race, the  Senatorial race, or                                                               
the House of  Representatives race, would qualify  as a political                                                               
party.  He said he believes that  is the spirit of [the bill], as                                                               
offered in the current legal opinion.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1512                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG   referred  to  the  memo   from  Laura                                                               
Glaiser,   [Director,   Division   of   Elections],   and   asked                                                               
Representative Seaton if it provided clarification.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON replied that he did not have the memo.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1563                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LAURA  GLAISER, Director,  Division of  Elections, Office  of the                                                               
Lieutenant  Governor,  asked  for clarification  on  [Conceptual]                                                               
Amendment  1.   She  wondered  who  chooses  which of  the  three                                                               
[races]  to  use.   She  asked  if  only  one  of the  3  percent                                                               
[numbers] was  allowed.  As  the Director, she felt  the language                                                               
was vague and would be hard to administer.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1607                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON replied:                                                                                                  
     The  intent of  having the  "ors" in  [Amendment 1]  is                                                                    
     that  it is  3 percent  of  the governor's  race, or  3                                                                    
     percent  of the  U.S. Senator  race, if  that's on  the                                                                    
     ballot  at the  same time,  or  3 percent  of the  U.S.                                                                    
     Representative  race, if  that's  on the  ballot.   You                                                                    
     wouldn't have to  have all three; those  are "ors," not                                                                    
     "ands."                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1647                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. GLAISER said that was fine as  long as it was clear enough to                                                               
administer and did not hurt the  intent, which is to help a party                                                               
seeking to gain status.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1668                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  said he thought  Representative McGuire                                                               
indicated  that  the  "Trust  the  People"  initiative  had  been                                                               
certified.  He wondered if Ms. Glaiser knew if that was true.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  GLAISER replied  that the  Division of  Elections has  begun                                                               
verifying  signatures, but  the  process has  not been  completed                                                               
and, therefore, cannot be certified by the lieutenant governor.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  stated that Representative  Berkowitz's question                                                               
was not related to [Conceptual] Amendment 1.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ asked if  [Conceptual] Amendment 1 would                                                               
have any impact on when parties get certified.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. GLAISER replied  that it could.  She gave  an example of when                                                               
the Green Party lost its status.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1760                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH withdrew his  objection to [Conceptual] Amendment                                                               
1.  He  asked if there were any further  objections.  There being                                                               
none, [Conceptual] Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1784                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG moved to  adopt Amendment 2, labeled 23-                                                               
LS1514\H.1, Kurtz, 2/4/04, which read:                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, following line 3:                                                                                                  
          Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                    
       "* Section 1.  The uncodified law of the State of                                                                    
     Alaska is amended by adding a new section to read:                                                                         
          LEGISLATIVE INTENT.  It is the desire of this                                                                         
     legislature that  the provisions of this  Act, which is                                                                    
     substantially   similar   to   that  proposed   in   an                                                                    
     initiative petition,  not be repealed for  at least two                                                                    
     years after the Act's effective date."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 4:                                                                                                            
          Delete "Section 1"                                                                                                  
          Insert "Sec. 2"                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH objected for discussion purposes.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  explained he had discussed  Amendment 2                                                               
with  Representative  McGuire,  who  had  no  objections  to  the                                                               
amendment.   He  said  it provides  legislative  intent that  the                                                               
provisions of  the Act,  which are  substantially similar  to the                                                               
initiative,  not be  repealed for  at least  two years  after the                                                               
Act's  effective date.   He  stated that  he knows,  technically,                                                               
[the bill]  could not bind  future legislatures, but he  wants to                                                               
state the intent.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1860                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH stated  his reluctance  to  include a  provision                                                               
that might be  illegal.  He said he feels  the public maintains a                                                               
distrust for legislators who take such actions.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1898                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ maintained  there  was nothing  illegal                                                               
about including a statement of intent.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR   WEYHRAUCH  said   he  understands   where  Representative                                                               
Berkowitz is coming from, but he disagrees.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1934                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said  he would object if  the amendment was                                                               
incorporated  [within]   the  law,  but  emphasized   he  is  not                                                               
concerned about  sending this bill  to the floor with  the intent                                                               
included.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1982                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  said he objects to  the amendment because                                                               
he does not want to put  anything into statute without the intent                                                               
for it to be followed.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  further  explained  his  objection  to  binding                                                               
future legislators  by adding intent  language to a  bill instead                                                               
of binding statutory language.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 2103                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  further   explained  that  his  intent                                                               
language was  written to provide  comfort to the  general public,                                                               
in an effort to show [the  current] legislature's good faith.  He                                                               
said it  is an important  piece of legislation, whether  it comes                                                               
through the initiative  or as a bill.  The  purpose was to assure                                                               
the  public that  [this legislature]  does not  intend to  repeal                                                               
[this  law] for  at least  two  years after  the Act's  effective                                                               
date.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  asked for further  discussion of  [Amendment 2].                                                               
He maintained his objection and asked for a roll call.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
A  roll  call vote  was  taken.   Representatives  Seaton,  Lynn,                                                               
Berkowitz,  and   Gruenberg  voted  in  favor   of  Amendment  2.                                                               
Representatives Coghill,  Holm, and  Weyhrauch voted  against it.                                                               
Therefore, Amendment 2 passed by a vote of 4-3.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2200                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH referred  to the memo from Ms.  Glaiser and asked                                                               
if there  were further questions  for her.   There were  none, so                                                               
Chair Weyhrauch thanked her for her participation.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 2248                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  asked if  there was any  objection to  moving HB                                                               
414,   as    amended,   out   of   committee    with   individual                                                               
recommendations [and the accompanying fiscal notes].                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  objected, stating that the  bill usurps                                                               
the initiative that 50,000 Alaskans  signed.  He said he believes                                                               
[the bill]  is based on  political motivation, and he  hopes that                                                               
this legislature  will show some  integrity and  consistency, and                                                               
not pass  legislation that  many of  the members  have repeatedly                                                               
voted against  in the past.   He emphasized that the  matter "has                                                               
been taken from our hands and now belongs to the people."                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH renewed  the offer  [he made  previously at  the                                                               
January  27,  2004  meeting to  hear  Representative  Berkowitz's                                                               
bill, which is also on this issue].                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ said  he appreciates  Chair Weyhrauch's                                                               
offer but doesn't care whether his  bill moves or not.  He stated                                                               
for the  record that, in the  past, he has asked  for hearings on                                                               
this  particular issue  many  times, only  to  have the  requests                                                               
denied.  He repeated again that  the issue "belongs to the 50,000                                                               
people."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2411                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON objected  to [Representative  Berkowitz's]                                                               
characterization, saying that  this is a new  legislature and the                                                               
majority of the  members of the committee are new.   He said that                                                               
past   actions  do   not  bind   [the  current   committee  from]                                                               
considering  good public  policy.   He  stated that  the bill  is                                                               
perfectly in alignment with the  statutes and the Constitution of                                                               
the State  of Alaska, and that  it is within the  purview [of the                                                               
committee] to pursue  good public policy.  He  stated he believes                                                               
this bill  is good  public policy,  and he  supports it  for that                                                               
reason.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2444                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL reiterated  that it  is well  within [the                                                               
committee's] right.   He said, "To characterize it  as losing our                                                               
right,  I  think, is  a  mischaracterization."   He  stated  that                                                               
public policy could  be "hammered out here," and  said he thought                                                               
that that was what was going on.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2475                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
A  roll call  vote  was taken.    Representatives Coghill,  Lynn,                                                               
Holm,  Seaton,  and  Weyhrauch  voted  in favor  of  HB  414,  as                                                               
amended.   Representatives Berkowitz and Gruenberg  voted against                                                               
it.   Therefore,  CSHB 414(STA)  was  reported out  of the  House                                                               
State Affairs Standing Committee by a vote of 5-2.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
HB 366-RAT RACING CHARITABLE GAMING                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 2532                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that  the next  order of  business was                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 366,  "An Act relating  to rat  racing charitable                                                               
gaming; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2537                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 8:48 a.m. to 8:49 a.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2590                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BILL STOLTZE,  Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor                                                               
of HB  366, said [HB  366] is an  important issue to  Palmer, the                                                               
community he  represents.  He said,  from the time he  was a kid,                                                               
he  remembers the  rat  race  at the  [Alaska]  State  Fair.   He                                                               
mentioned,  as member  of the  Elks,  he has  learned that  "good                                                               
things can come  from gambling, if done the right  way."  He said                                                               
the bill legitimizes historical gambling.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2704                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG moved to report  HB 366 out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
note.   There being  no objection,  HB 366 was  moved out  of the                                                               
House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
HB 297-WILDFIRES AND NATURAL DISASTERS                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2735                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that  the next  order of  business was                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  297, "An  Act  relating to  wildfires and  other                                                               
natural disasters."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 2746                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  moved to  adopt  HB  297, for  discussion                                                               
purposes.  There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2750                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BILL STOLTZE,  Alaska State Legislature, testified                                                               
as the  sponsor of HB  297.  He said  the issue of  wildfires and                                                               
other natural disasters was brought  about because of occurrences                                                               
in the  Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Valley:   Miller's Reach Fire,                                                               
Lazy Mountain [wildfire],  and other natural disasters.   He said                                                               
people were  put in  the position  of not  being able  to protect                                                               
their  homes.   He  said  his  goal is  to  try  to provide  some                                                               
mechanism  to allow  people to  protect  their property,  knowing                                                               
that they accept  risks and responsibilities while doing  so.  He                                                               
mentioned many areas that need protection.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2862                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that  he does not  intend to  move the                                                               
bill today.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 2888                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM questioned  why  there  is an  indeterminate                                                               
fiscal note from the Office of Public Advocacy.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STOLTZE   said  he  doesn't  understand   why  it                                                               
happened.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2941                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  voiced a  concern that the  bill be  referred to                                                               
[the House  Judiciary Standing Committee] because  it does create                                                               
a crime.  He explained that  often when a crime is committed, the                                                               
Office of  Public Advocacy is  brought in to defend  the accused.                                                               
He asked for testimony from the Department of Law on this issue.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 04-13, SIDE B                                                                                                            
Number 2948                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GAIL VOIGTLANDER,  Chief Assistant  Attorney General  - Statewide                                                               
Section  Supervisor,  Torts  and Worker's  Compensation  Section,                                                               
Civil  Division   (Anchorage),  Department  of   Law,  introduced                                                               
herself.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2932                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG asked  Ms. Voigtlander  to speak  about                                                               
the  wording in  the  fiscal  note from  the  Department of  Law,                                                               
referring to the  sentence, "The bill also does not  speak to any                                                               
risk  transferring  to the  resident  in  the event  of  property                                                               
damage  rather  than   injury  or  death  to   other  persons  or                                                               
responders endangered  by a resident's  entry or reentry  into an                                                               
area threatened by wildfire or  natural disaster."  He asked that                                                               
the language be considered for an amendment to the bill.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2910                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  VOIGTLANDER said  she would  speak  about Section  2 of  the                                                               
bill,  and  not  Section  1, because  she  represents  the  Civil                                                               
Division of the  Department of Law.  She  addressed the liability                                                               
issues of the bill.   The first issue was about  the way the bill                                                               
sets out  a test for the  emergency provider to use  to determine                                                               
whether the  person seeking to  remain in a area  being evacuated                                                               
or  wanting to  reenter an  area  being evacuated  is capable  of                                                               
making  a  reasonable  and  informed decision.    The  bill  also                                                               
requires that the  person reentering or evacuating  be advised of                                                               
certain  risks, she  said.    She noted  that,  from a  liability                                                               
standpoint, a problem could arise if  there were to be a question                                                               
later  on about  whether someone  had  been capable  of making  a                                                               
reasonable  or informed  decision,  or had  been  advised of  the                                                               
statute  requirements.   She said  paperwork would  be needed  to                                                               
provide this information  in the form of a written  report by the                                                               
emergency provider.  The emergency  provider would need something                                                               
to refresh  his/her recollection, if  there was a lawsuit  two or                                                               
three  years  down  the  road.   She  mentioned  the  statute  of                                                               
limitations for such a lawsuit would probably be two years.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 2787                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. VOIGTLANDER  stated that "the  test that is applied  here" is                                                               
not unlike  what law enforcement  [officers] face when  there's a                                                               
challenge  to Miranda  Rights  with a  criminal  defendant.   The                                                               
question  is  whether the  person  was  capable  at the  time  of                                                               
waiving his/her Miranda  Rights and whether they  were advised of                                                               
their  rights.     The  police  use  a  written   form  for  this                                                               
information.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2750                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. VOIGTLANDER stated that the  breadth of immunity in Section 2                                                               
(b) needs  to be broader.   She  said this section  only includes                                                               
bodily injury  or death,  but omits property  damage.   There are                                                               
concerns about  claims from a  neighbor property owner  who might                                                               
claim, at a  later date, that a  person who was let  back into an                                                               
evacuated  area  did damage  to  the  neighbor's property.    She                                                               
recommended  the  breadth  of immunity  be  expanded  to  include                                                               
property damage.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. VOIGTLANDER said the expansion  [of immunities] would be more                                                               
compatible with  language in AS  41.15.045, AS 41.17.081,  and AS                                                               
26.20.140,  which have  to do  with  firefighting immunities  and                                                               
civil defense immunities.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2653                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  wondered if Ms. Voigtlander  could provide                                                               
written comments to the committee.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. VOIGTLANDER replied that she would.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG said  these  ideas bring  up some  very                                                               
important implications for the legislature  to consider.  He said                                                               
the general  issue in this  bill is  about what to  do concerning                                                               
residents in  the areas of  natural disasters.   He said  that in                                                               
addition  to  [the  House  Judiciary  Standing  Committee]  being                                                               
interested in this bill, the  [Department of Military & Veterans'                                                               
Affairs  (DMVA)]  would be  interested,  because  the offices  of                                                               
emergency preparedness  are coordinated through DMVA,  as well as                                                               
civil defense issues.  He  added that the House Special Committee                                                               
on Military and Veterans' Affairs  would also have an interest in                                                               
the bill.   He  gave an  example of  relatives who  believed that                                                               
children  were  trapped in  a  rubble  and  didn't have  time  to                                                               
explain -  they just  wanted to  rescue the kids.   He  said he'd                                                               
hate to see  someone without malicious intent  criminalized for a                                                               
rescue.  He repeated that it is an important issue.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 2541                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked  if this bill is connected to  the Big Lake                                                               
Fire.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 2530                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STOLTZE  said  there were  probably  implications                                                               
[from  Big  Lake],  but  probably more  from  the  Lazy  Mountain                                                               
incident.  He noted that he  had waited to propose the bill until                                                               
litigation  from  the  Big Lake-Miller's  Reach  Fire  was  over,                                                               
because  he   was  sensitive  to   the  issues   surrounding  the                                                               
litigations.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2460                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH asked  if  Section 2  (b)  would give  statutory                                                               
immunity to  [emergency providers] if  they are negligent,  or if                                                               
the discretionary  function immunity doctrine would  still apply.                                                               
He cited an example of a  policeman allowing a teenager into [the                                                               
evacuated area] and the teenager ending up getting injured.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 2410                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. VOIGTLANDER replied  that Representative Weyhrauch's question                                                               
raises  another issue.   She  explained  that the  bill does  not                                                               
address the  age of  the person wanting  to enter  the evacuation                                                               
area.  She asked how children would be dealt with.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  VOIGTLANDER,  in   response  to  Representative  Weyhrauch's                                                               
question regarding Section  (2) (b), said if there  is a statute,                                                               
such as this  one, which "gives you a cookbook"  of the officers'                                                               
duties and obligations, then it  may no longer be a discretionary                                                               
issue.  She said it is  difficult to anticipate whether or not an                                                               
individual  officer  may  have discretionary  function  immunity.                                                               
The  test  is whether  or  not  the  officer was  acting  without                                                               
malice, had no set protocol he/she  was supposed to file, and was                                                               
exercising personal judgment, deliberation,  and discretion.  The                                                               
broader test of discretionary function  immunity is whether there                                                               
was a policy  decision versus an operational decision.   She said                                                               
the language  addresses the local  and state government,  as well                                                               
as individuals who would  be on the line.  She  said [as it reads                                                               
now] it is  limited to death or personal injury.   She added that                                                               
people may argue that derivative  suits may be independent suits,                                                               
and a  spouse may be able  to make a claim  if something happened                                                               
to a  family member who  was allowed  to return [to  an evacuated                                                               
area].                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2270                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  questioned if,  in Section 1  (a) (2),  "makes a                                                               
false statement"  means a "false  written or  recorded statement"                                                               
like it appears in Section 1 (a) (1).                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 2246                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  VOIGTLANDER  reminded Chair  Weyhrauch  that  she could  not                                                               
address  issues in  Section  1  because she  was  from the  Civil                                                               
Division.    She  deferred  to the  Criminal  Division  for  that                                                               
answer.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  stated  his belief  that  the  House  Judiciary                                                               
Standing Committee  would be  a better  committee to  review this                                                               
bill.  He  said he is trying to imagine  this bill affecting real                                                               
life situations and examples where  people would need to get into                                                               
or out of evacuation areas.  He  said he does not want to subject                                                               
public officials, who are "trying to do good," to liability.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STOLTZE  agreed  that  it  is  an  imprecise  and                                                               
awkward process trying to protect people from themselves.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2087                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG   mentioned  the  title  of   the  bill                                                               
includes many  natural disasters, but asked  for consideration of                                                               
other disasters that  might occur in a high crime  area.  He gave                                                               
an example of an evacuation of  a building because of a shootout.                                                               
He  recommended  considering these  kinds  of  situations in  the                                                               
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 2027                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  gave  an  example  of  a  terrorist  attack                                                               
evacuation  as another  kind of  unnatural disaster  and said  it                                                               
would not be  covered under this bill.  He  added, "This wouldn't                                                               
cover a World Trade Center-type situation."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE  stated the  reference to  children [being                                                               
allowed  into an  evacuation area]  needs to  be considered.   He                                                               
related feeling a  sense of pride as a child  when he was allowed                                                               
to [be available to help] his  parents save their house during [a                                                               
flood].                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG gave an example  of when a school needed                                                               
to be evacuated, and urged consideration of all disasters.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1908                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH announced that HB 297 was heard and held.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HB 322-MUNI INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM ELECTIONS                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH announced that the  final order of business would                                                               
be HOUSE BILL  NO. 322, "An Act requiring  a municipal initiative                                                               
or  municipal referendum  to be  submitted to  the voters  at the                                                               
next regular  election occurring  not sooner  than 60  days after                                                               
certification  of the  initiative  or referendum  petition."   He                                                               
stated that Version D was before the committee.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1876                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON, co-sponsor of the  bill, moved to adopt HB                                                               
322, for discussion  purposes.  There being no  objection, it was                                                               
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON explained  the  purpose of  HB  322 is  to                                                               
clarify and  streamline the  [initiative referendum]  process for                                                               
local  governments  so  that  they   don't  have  to  incur  huge                                                               
expenses.    The  bill  would   allow  them  to  hold  initiative                                                               
referendums and  elections on  the following  municipal election.                                                               
He  added that  expenses  can be  extraordinary  on Second  Class                                                               
cities and boroughs.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  explained  that  recently  the  Fairbanks                                                               
North Star Borough held a  special election to eliminate emission                                                               
that cost $52,000.  He said  the election could have been held at                                                               
the  next general  election without  the expense.   He  said that                                                               
first  class and  home  rule  cities and  boroughs  would not  be                                                               
affected  by this  bill.    He added  that  the  bill also  would                                                               
provide for an  extra 15 days for the city  clerks to prepare for                                                               
the election.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1725                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM, co-sponsor  of HB  322, said  the issue  is                                                               
much greater than  the cost [of $52,000] and that  there are many                                                               
more  factors which  [Fairbanks  North Star  Borough Clerk],  Ms.                                                               
Drexler, will speak to.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1680                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LINDA MURPHY, Borough Clerk,  Kenai Peninsula Borough, encouraged                                                               
support  of  HB 322  as  written,  removing  the mandate  that  a                                                               
municipality  conduct  a  special  election  in  response  to  an                                                               
initiative   or   referendum   petition.      She   agreed   with                                                               
Representatives  Seaton  and  Holm  that  special  elections  are                                                               
expensive  for municipalities,  many  of  which are  experiencing                                                               
financial difficulties.  In addition,  she added that it is often                                                               
difficult  to  recruit  election workers  for  special  elections                                                               
during certain times  of the year.  Many workers  are retired and                                                               
spend time outside  of Alaska, making it  especially difficult to                                                               
find workers during  January and February.  She  also pointed out                                                               
that  special   elections  attract  fewer  voters   than  regular                                                               
elections, which  increases the  possibility that the  results do                                                               
not reflect the true will of the community.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1575                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said the bill  sounds non-controversial                                                               
and he is prepared to support it.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1536                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MONA L.  DREXLER, CMC, Borough  Municipal Clerk,  Fairbanks North                                                               
Star Borough,  spoke strongly in favor  of HB 322.   She spoke in                                                               
support of the right of  citizens to petition their government to                                                               
add,  change, amend,  or  repeal  any law.    With  HB 322,  this                                                               
[right] would still  occur, it just would not occur  in a special                                                               
election  at various  times of  the year,  she said.   She  spoke                                                               
about the  recent North  Star Borough  election where  the people                                                               
were not  able to get their  petition signatures in time  to make                                                               
the October  ballot.   They had  90 days  to get  the signatures,                                                               
which they did, and then they went  to ballot on January 27.  She                                                               
explained  that in  order to  conduct  that election  she had  to                                                               
dedicate one staff member full time  for 25 days to seek election                                                               
workers because  of the problem  of finding workers  at off-times                                                               
of the  year.  She  said she also  had to relocate  two precincts                                                               
and  notify all  of  the registered  voters  in those  precincts.                                                               
This caused a lot of confusion for the voters, she said.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1381                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  DREXLER reported  that,  traditionally,  voter turnouts  are                                                               
lower in special elections.   She emphasized how angry the voters                                                               
were about the  special election in January.  She  stated that HB                                                               
322 is  a simple fix  for second  class boroughs and  general law                                                               
municipalities.    Ms.  Drexler  concluded by  saying  that  [Jim                                                               
Whitaker], the mayor  of Fairbanks North Star  Borough (FNSB) and                                                               
Presiding Officer  Bartos have  sent a letter  in support  of the                                                               
bill  [included in  the committee  packet].   She noted  that the                                                               
FNSB and  the Alaska Association  of Municipal Clerks  would both                                                               
be  addressing resolutions  in  support  of HB  322  in the  near                                                               
future.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1265                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  asked  whether   this  bill  would  thwart  the                                                               
initiative  process by  delaying  the opportunity  for voters  to                                                               
vote on  an issue.   He  wondered if, by  the election  date, the                                                               
public would forget the issue.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. DREXLER replied that October  elections [focus on] candidates                                                               
and other  ballot issues,  and there is  more information  all in                                                               
one place  pertaining to  the issue.   She said it  is up  to the                                                               
people who  initiate the petition  to continue to get  their word                                                               
out.  She reiterated how few  people actually vote in the special                                                               
elections.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he is comfortable  with this bill.                                                               
He opined that  the initiative process must be  balanced with the                                                               
cost of government.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1078                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON noted  that  the  Alaska Municipal  League                                                               
supports HB 322, as seen by the letter in the committee packet.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1064                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM moved to report  HB 322 out of committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There  being no  objection, HB  322 was  reported 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 9:33                                                                  
a.m.                                                                                                                            

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