Legislature(2021 - 2022)GRUENBERG 120

03/09/2021 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 18 TEACHERS: NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFICATION TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 18 Out of Committee
+= HB 62 MARRIAGE WITNESSES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
             HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                         March 9, 2021                                                                                          
                           3:01 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                             DRAFT                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, Chair                                                                                   
Representative Geran Tarr                                                                                                       
Representative Andi Story                                                                                                       
Representative Matt Claman                                                                                                      
Representative Sarah Vance                                                                                                      
Representative James Kaufman                                                                                                    
Representative David Eastman                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 18                                                                                                               
"An Act relating to national board certification for public                                                                     
school teachers."                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 18 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 62                                                                                                               
"An Act relating to solemnization of marriage."                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB  18                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: TEACHERS: NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFICATION                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) KREISS-TOMKINS                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
02/18/21       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/8/21                                                                                
02/18/21       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/18/21       (H)       STA, EDC                                                                                               
02/25/21       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
02/25/21       (H)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
03/02/21       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/02/21       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/02/21       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/04/21       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/04/21       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/04/21       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/09/21       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB  62                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: MARRIAGE WITNESSES                                                                                                 
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) CLAMAN                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
02/18/21       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/15/21                                                                               
02/18/21       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/18/21       (H)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
02/25/21       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
02/25/21       (H)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
03/04/21       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/04/21       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/04/21       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/09/21       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
NANCY MEADE, General Counsel                                                                                                    
Alaska Court System                                                                                                             
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions pertaining to HB 62.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:01:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  JONATHAN KREISS-TOMKINS  called  the  House State  Affairs                                                             
Standing   Committee    meeting   to    order   at    3:01   p.m.                                                               
Representatives Claman, Tarr,  Kaufman, Story, and Kreiss-Tomkins                                                               
were present at  the call to order.   Representatives Eastman and                                                               
Vance arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
         HB  18-TEACHERS: NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFICATION                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:02:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that the first order of business                                                                 
would be HOUSE BILL NO. 18, "An Act relating to national board                                                                  
certification for public school teachers."                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:03:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 3:03 p.m. to 3:05 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:05:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS  said  the  committee  would  take  up  the                                                               
consideration of amendments for HB 18.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:05:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  moved to adopt Amendment  1, [labeled 32-                                                               
LS0168\A.1, Klein, 3/6/21], which read:                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 5:                                                                                                            
          Following "certification":                                                                                            
          Insert "In this subsection, "prominent location"                                                                      
     includes a school-managed Internet website."                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS objected.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN stated  that  Amendment  1 would  clarify                                                               
that the school's prominent location would include a school-                                                                    
managed website.   He added  that the school would  be encouraged                                                               
to use  that website  to promote  the information  encompassed by                                                               
the bill, should it pass.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:05:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS   spoke  in  opposition  to   the  proposed                                                               
amendment.  He  conveyed that one of the central  purposes of the                                                               
bill is to uplift and  highlight national board certification and                                                               
the excellent  educators who attain it.   He said one  of the key                                                               
ideas,  although  subtle, is  to  display  that physical,  visual                                                               
recognition.   He noted  that the idea  was in  consultation with                                                               
superintendents, school boards, and teachers  and wasn't meant to                                                               
be an  onerous, "from-the-top"  requirement.   He added  that the                                                               
bill has the  support of all those stakeholders.   He pointed out                                                               
that  it's  similar  to  the   concept  of  license  plates  that                                                               
recognize  veterans,  created  by the  legislature,  for  visual,                                                               
physical recognition rather than an online registry.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:07:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   STORY  offered   to   discuss   the  idea   with                                                               
stakeholders  when   the  bill   goes  to  the   House  Education                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:07:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR said she doesn't  disagree with the sentiment                                                               
[of  the proposed  amendment]; however,  after speaking  with the                                                               
bill sponsor,  she resolved to  stick with his intent  to display                                                               
physical recognition.   For that  reason, she said she  would not                                                               
be  supporting   the  proposed   amendment.     Nonetheless,  she                                                               
suggested  that  in addition  to  being  prominently placed,  the                                                               
website  could  also  include   the  information  [pertaining  to                                                               
national board certification].                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:08:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE pointed  out  that  the proposed  amendment                                                               
includes a  school-managed website,  which would not  exclude the                                                               
information from being  displayed at the physical  location.  She                                                               
asked if that is an accurate assessment.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN  confirmed  [that the  physical  location                                                               
would not be excluded].                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  VANCE  said,  as  a parent  who  homeschools  her                                                               
children, she  is often  referred to the  school's website.   She                                                               
stated her  belief that the  proposed amendment would  expand the                                                               
prominence of  [national board  certification] recognition.   She                                                               
stated her  belief that as  the internet has become  an immediate                                                               
point of entry  to the school system, this could  be an asset for                                                               
teachers who don't have direct one-on-one contact with students.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:10:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   KAUFMAN   echoed   the  sentiments   shared   by                                                               
Representative Vance.   He stated  that [the  proposed amendment]                                                               
would clarify that  the "burden" could be made easier.   He added                                                               
that it would help with communication.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:10:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  surmised that  requiring a  physical name                                                               
and  space   may  have  several  unintended   consequences.    He                                                               
considered a future scenario in  which a public school might have                                                               
an  exclusively virtual  presence,  which  would make  satisfying                                                               
this  requirement   problematic.    He  considered   a  different                                                               
scenario in which a teacher  did not want his/her name displayed.                                                               
He questioned  why [physical recognition] is  being "[forced]" if                                                               
it's a  good idea.   He suggested  allowing the school  to choose                                                               
whether to display the physical  recognition instead of making it                                                               
a requirement  and, effectively,  an unfunded  mandate.   He said                                                               
Amendment  1  would  lower  that   threshold  and  expressed  his                                                               
maintained support for the proposal.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:12:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was  taken.  Representatives Vance, Kaufman, and                                                               
Eastman  voted  in   favor  of  the  adoption   of  Amendment  1.                                                               
Representatives  Tarr, Story,  Claman,  and Kreiss-Tomkins  voted                                                               
against it.  Therefore, Amendment 1 failed by a vote of 3-4.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:13:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  moved to adopt Amendment  2, [labeled 32-                                                               
LS0168\A.4, Klein, 3/6/21], which read:                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 9, following "Standards":                                                                                     
          Insert "or another organization offering national                                                                     
     board certification"                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN objected.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:13:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN explained  that Amendment  2 would  allow                                                               
another  organization offering  national board  certification, in                                                               
addition  to   the  National  Board  for   Professional  Teaching                                                               
Standards (NBPTS),  to satisfy  the requirement.   He  noted that                                                               
[the  proposed  amendment]  was   drafted  without  a  particular                                                               
organization in mind.  Additionally,  he posited that it would be                                                               
prudent to  ensure that the  legislature would not have  to amend                                                               
the statute for a future organization.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS expressed  his opposition  to the  proposed                                                               
amendment.     He   said  it   would  have   no  effect   on  the                                                               
implementation of the bill because  there is no other entity that                                                               
provides national board  certification at this time.   He further                                                               
noted that the organization presently  named in the bill has been                                                               
providing   certification  for   decades  without   any  emerging                                                               
"competitors."  For  that reason, he said it makes  sense to keep                                                               
the  bill "tight  and clean,"  later adding  that there  is ample                                                               
precedent of naming different nonprofit entities in statute.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:15:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR  said she felt  assured by  the stakeholders'                                                               
involvement  and deep  familiarity with  the [NBPTS]  program and                                                               
its associated requirements.  She  expressed her concern that the                                                               
proposed amendment  could allow and encourage  certification from                                                               
an organization with unknown merit.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:17:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAUFMAN  shared  his  belief  that  the  proposed                                                               
amendment would  allow for more  local control if a  school board                                                               
were to  choose another certifying  board, should one exist.   He                                                               
stated that times are changing  faster than ever, and Amendment 2                                                               
could be a concession for the future.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:17:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN  opined  that  inserting the  name  of  a                                                               
private  organization  into  statute  is  not  ideal  because  it                                                               
designates a particular entity.   Nonetheless, he said he offered                                                               
the amendment  as a concession to  avoid inadvertently precluding                                                               
other  private  organizations  that might  benefit  teachers  and                                                               
schools.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN maintained his objection.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:18:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was  taken.  Representatives Eastman, Vance, and                                                               
Kaufman  voted  in   favor  of  the  adoption   of  Amendment  2.                                                               
Representatives  Tarr, Story,  Claman,  and Kreiss-Tomkins  voted                                                               
against it.  Therefore, Amendment 2 failed a vote of 3-4.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:19:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAUFMAN [moved  to adopt]  Amendment 3,  [labeled                                                               
32-LS0168\A.5, Klein, 3/8/21], which read:                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 4:                                                                                                            
          Delete "public school shall"                                                                                          
          Insert "local school board may require a public                                                                       
     school to"                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN objected.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:20:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAUFMAN  noted that  local control is  the concept                                                               
behind Amendment  3, such that  a school  board could opt  for an                                                               
emerging opportunity that better fits  its purposes as opposed to                                                               
the state setting requirement.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  spoke in opposition to  Amendment 3 despite                                                               
being sympathetic  to the  spirit in  which it  was written.   He                                                               
acknowledged  that  he  is cautious  of  state  requirements  and                                                               
mandates, noting that he had  dialogued with AASB [Association of                                                               
Alaska School Boards] and  the Alaska Superintendents Association                                                               
about repealing a variety of  state requirements that were passed                                                               
decades ago and had outlived  their useful purpose.  Nonetheless,                                                               
he maintained  his support  for the  "shall" in  this legislation                                                               
due to  close coordination with stakeholders  and their expressed                                                               
support.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:22:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN   expressed  his  appreciation   for  the                                                               
proposed  amendment  because it  would  give  authority to  local                                                               
school boards.   He  stated his  belief that  it offers  a better                                                               
long-term  solution than  a  state mandate.    He emphasized  the                                                               
importance of  local control,  adding "the  school board  that is                                                               
supportive today  may not be,  either with someone on  that board                                                               
changing [his/her] mind or ...  after an election."  He expressed                                                               
his  support  for  Amendment  3   out  of  deference  for  future                                                               
solutions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:23:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE VANCE  conveyed her "heartburn"  towards requiring                                                               
schools,  by  law,  to display  something  that  [schools]  would                                                               
naturally  be  proud  of.     She  said  the  proposed  amendment                                                               
recognizes school  boards as  the governing  body of  schools and                                                               
encourages   them   to   prominently  display   [national   board                                                               
certification].  She  stated her support for  Amendment 3 because                                                               
it  encourages local  school  boards to  choose  what's best  for                                                               
their communities.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:24:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR noted  that  the  bill sponsor's  uneasiness                                                               
with  the proposed  amendment was  influential  in her  thinking.                                                               
Additionally,  she questioned  whether the  benefit would  be the                                                               
same without recognition.   She pointed out  that [national board                                                               
certification]  is  a big  investment  in  both time  and  money,                                                               
adding that teachers might see it  as a better investment if they                                                               
knew their investment would be  recognized anywhere in the state.                                                               
She  speculated   that  recognition  could   encourage  teachers,                                                               
further  noting  that  the  goal  is  to  double  the  number  of                                                               
[national  board certified]  teachers.   For  those reasons,  she                                                               
said she would not be supporting Amendment 3.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:26:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STORY said she is glad  the bill would be heard by                                                               
the House Education  Committee and expressed her  support for the                                                               
[bill sponsor's] intent.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:27:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN maintained his objection.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:27:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A roll  call vote was  taken.  Representatives  Kaufman, Eastman,                                                               
and  Vance  voted  in  favor  of the  adoption  of  Amendment  3.                                                               
Representatives  Tarr, Story,  Claman,  and Kreiss-Tomkins  voted                                                               
against it.  Therefore, Amendment 3 failed by a vote of 3-4.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:28:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS directed the discussion back to HB 18.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TARR proposed  the idea of the  state covering the                                                               
cost of  [national board certification] to  avoid excluding those                                                               
who are  not financially able but  otherwise interested; however,                                                               
given  the state's  current [budget]  situation  and because  the                                                               
bill  does not  have a  fiscal  note, she  expressed interest  in                                                               
reconsidering  her proposal  if  Alaska's circumstances  improve.                                                               
She  further  noted her  gratitude  to  teachers who  make  these                                                               
investments in their profession.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:29:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN thanked  the  sponsor  for bringing  this                                                               
legislation forward.   He  stated that he  would be  opposing the                                                               
bill as it's  currently written.  He  cautioned against inserting                                                               
the name of a private  organization into statute because it could                                                               
open the state up to liabilities in the future.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:31:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  thanked the sponsor and  shared his belief                                                               
that the bill  is about teachers and giving  them the opportunity                                                               
to  obtain  a  certification  that that  would  send  a  positive                                                               
message to  students and parents  about the quality  of education                                                               
they receive in [Alaska's] schools.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:31:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS   said  he  shared   Representative  Tarr's                                                               
perspective that  if there is  a future opportunity  to reimburse                                                               
teachers, at  minimum for the  fees of this credential,  it would                                                               
be  a  great step  for  the  state  and  a tremendous  return  on                                                               
investment.   He further noted  that it would be  consistent with                                                               
many  states   across  the   country.     He  opined   that  it's                                                               
extraordinary that two-plus percent  of Alaska teachers sacrifice                                                               
their  nights,  weekends,   and  thousands-of-dollars  to  become                                                               
certified as  a matter of  professional pride, later  adding that                                                               
it's worth celebrating  and recognizing, which is,  in part, what                                                               
this bill aims  to do.  He  acknowledged Representative Eastman's                                                               
point from  a philosophical perspective; however,  he highlighted                                                               
state  precedent in  which private  nonprofits  are written  into                                                               
law,  such   as  TVEP  [Alaska  Technical   Vocational  Education                                                               
Program]  and  VPSO  [Village   Public  Safety  Officer]  service                                                               
provided by the  Central Council of the Tlingit  and Haida Indian                                                               
Tribes of Alaska,  further noting that all of  the concerns cited                                                               
by Representative Eastman  would apply there too,  but it doesn't                                                               
impede them  from administering the services  they provide across                                                               
the state.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:33:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN moved  to report  HB 18  out of  committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  [zero]                                                               
fiscal notes.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN objected.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:33:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A  roll  call  vote  was taken.    Representatives  Tarr,  Story,                                                               
Claman, and Kreiss-Tomkins voted in  favor of reporting HB 18 out                                                               
of committee.  Representatives Vance,  Kaufman, and Eastman voted                                                               
against  it.   Therefore, HB  18 was  reported out  of the  House                                                               
State Affairs Standing Committee by a vote of 4-3.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:34:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                   HB  62-MARRIAGE WITNESSES                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:35:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that the final  order of business                                                               
would be HOUSE BILL NO. 62,  "An Act relating to solemnization of                                                               
marriage."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:36:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  opened public  testimony on  HB 62.   After                                                               
ascertaining  that no  one wished  to testify,  he closed  public                                                               
testimony.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:36:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN,  prime sponsor  of HB 62,  said he  had no                                                               
additional  comments  other than  noting  that  the bill  follows                                                               
House  Bill 20,  which  expanded  the list  of  people who  could                                                               
solemnize  marriage  to include  elected  public  officials.   He                                                               
noted that  House Bill 20  passed 29-6 in  the House and  17-2 in                                                               
the Senate in 2018.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:37:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  moved to  adopt Amendment 1  [labeled 32-                                                               
LS0272\A.2, Dunmire, 3/8/21], which read:                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, following line 2:                                                                                                  
     Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                         
        "* Section 1. AS 25.05.261(c) is amended to read:                                                                   
          (c)  Nothing in this section creates or implies a                                                                     
     duty or obligation on a person authorized to solemnize                                                                     
       a marriage under (a) [(a)(1), (3), OR (4)] of this                                                                   
     section to solemnize any marriage."                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 3:                                                                                                            
          Delete "Section 1"                                                                                                  
          Insert "Sec. 2"                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN objected.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:38:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  explained that Amendment 1  would clarify                                                               
that  [the  legislature] is  not  trying  to compel,  coerce,  or                                                               
legally force  anyone to preside  over a  wedding in Alaska.   He                                                               
pointed out  that Alaska's  only requirement  is that  the person                                                               
presiding  over a  wedding be  [at-least]  18 years  old and  the                                                               
proposed amendment would  clarify that he/she is  not required to                                                               
solemnize the marriage.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:40:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN stated  his opposition to Amendment  1.  He                                                               
noted that Representative Eastman  proposed the same Amendment to                                                               
House Bill  20 in  2018, which failed  by a vote  of 6-29  on the                                                               
House  floor.    He  explained  that  the  real  impact  of  this                                                               
amendment would  implicate judges,  who are  statutorily required                                                               
to set  their political, religious,  and personal  opinions aside                                                               
and  perform certain  ceremonial  functions, which  the court  is                                                               
required  to  do.    He   recalled  Nancy  Meade  explaining  why                                                               
including subparagraph  (a)(2) would be problematic,  as it would                                                               
allow  a  judge's  personal opinion  to  interfere  with  his/her                                                               
official  duty.     He   deferred  to   Ms.  Meade   for  further                                                               
explanation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:42:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NANCY MEADE,  General Counsel, Alaska  Court System,  stated that                                                               
the proposed  amendment was previously discussed  with respect to                                                               
House Bill 20.   She reiterated that it presents  a problem and a                                                               
conflict for judges who have  an ethical obligation to handle any                                                               
case that comes  before them.  She added that  judges do not have                                                               
the ability to turn something down or  not do a duty because of a                                                               
personal  belief.   Given  that  Amendment  1 would  create  that                                                               
conflict for judges, she said it would be problematic.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:43:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAUFMAN  questioned  whether  anyone  other  than                                                               
judges could be statutorily required to perform a marriage.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. MEADE said  she could not think of a  circumstance in which a                                                               
marriage  commissioner would  be forced  to [perform  a marriage]                                                               
because he/she  would have said  no to  the couple and  would not                                                               
show  up  at  the  court,  nor  pay  $25  to  become  a  marriage                                                               
commissioner in the first place.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAUFMAN   inquired  about  individuals   who  are                                                               
"standing" marriage commissioners.   He asked whether that exists                                                               
or if it's a "one-time thing over and over."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. MEADE  replied it's almost always  a one-time thing, as  in a                                                               
couple asks  somebody to marry them  and that person gets  a one-                                                               
time  commission  for  that  couple.   She  noted  that  in  some                                                               
districts,   a   person   could  get   a   longer-term   marriage                                                               
commissioner appointment;  however, AS 25.05.081 states  that the                                                               
marriage  commissioner  must  solemnize  marriages  in  the  same                                                               
manner as  a district judge or  magistrate, so the idea  that the                                                               
marriage commissioner  could be forced  to perform a  marriage is                                                               
theoretical.   She stated her  belief that it would  be extremely                                                               
rare  for  a marriage  commissioner  to  be, somehow,  forced  to                                                               
perform a marriage after expressing disinterest.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:46:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   CLAMAN  shared   his   understanding  that   the                                                               
practical  reality of  marriage  commissioners is  that they  get                                                               
requested to  perform a  ceremony and have  already agreed  to it                                                               
before obtaining the certificate.   He shared a personal anecdote                                                               
regarding House Bill 20.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:48:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN maintained that  Amendment 1 would provide                                                               
a  solution  for  a  problem  created  in  a  previous  piece  of                                                               
legislation.  He  indicated that some are  equating marriage with                                                               
the idea that it's "just a  rubber stamp and anyone should sign a                                                               
marriage certificate for  no other reason than  someone is asking                                                               
them to,"  which he saw  as a departure  from the way  Alaska has                                                               
historically  viewed  marriage.   He  considered  a situation  in                                                               
which a judge or marriage  commissioner expresses a desire not to                                                               
marry a couple  and said [the legislature] ought  to give him/her                                                               
the  same  right  that  legislators   have  been  provided  under                                                               
statute.    He  suggested  that Amendment  1  would  correct  the                                                               
disparity in the law created by the passage of House Bill 20.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN maintained his objection.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:50:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was  taken.  Representatives Vance, Kaufman, and                                                               
Eastman  voted  in   favor  of  the  adoption   of  Amendment  1.                                                               
Representatives  Claman, Tarr,  Story,  and Kreiss-Tomkins  voted                                                               
against it.  Therefore, Amendment 1 failed by a vote of 3-4.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced HB 62 was held over.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:51:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS made a motion to appoint Representative                                                                    
Claman as the Vice Chair of the House State Affairs Standing                                                                    
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:52:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
State Affairs Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 3:52                                                                  
p.m.                                                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 18 Amendment Packet 3.9.21.pdf HSTA 3/9/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 18