Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/22/1995 10:05 AM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE April 22, 1995 10:05 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Robin Taylor, Chairman Senator Lyda Green, Vice-Chairman Senator Mike Miller Senator Al Adams MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Johnny Ellis COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 1 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to repeal of regulations by the legislature. CS FOR HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 5(FIN) am Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to terms of legislators. SENATE BILL NO. 154 - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD "An Act relating to an aggravating factor at sentencing." SENATE BILL NO. 155 - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD "An Act to permit a court to order a defendant who receives a sentence of imprisonment for a misdemeanor to serve the sentence by electronic monitoring; and relating to the crime of unlawful evasion in the second degree." CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 42 (STA) am "An Act relating to absentee voting, to electronic transmission of absentee ballot applications, and to delivery of ballots to absentee ballot applicants by electronic transmission, and enacting a definition of the term 'state election' for purposes of absentee voting." PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION HJR 1 - No previous Senate action to report. HB 42 - See State Affairs minutes dated 3/28/95. HJR 5 - No previous Senate action to report. WITNESS REGISTER Kyle Parker Legislative Aide Alaska State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified for sponsor of HJR 1 Tom Anderson Legislative Aide Alaska State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified for sponsor of HB 42 Rep. Gene Therriault Alaska State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HJR 5 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 95-24, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN ROBIN TAYLOR called the Judiciary Committee meeting to order at 10:05 a.m. The first order of business was HJR 1. HJR 1 REPEAL OF REGULATIONS BY LEGISLATURE KYLE PARKER, legislative aide to Representative Gail Phillips, sponsor of HJR 1, gave the following testimony. HJR 1 is a proposal to place a constitutional amendment before the voters on the 1996 general election ballot. The amendment would permit the Legislature to repeal regulations promulgated by state agencies that do not properly implement state statutes. Although many regulations do conform to and accurately implement the laws passed by the Legislature, often legislative directives or regulations are promulgated that go far beyond the scope of the legislative intent, and once regulations go into effect, they have the full force of law. This is the one area that is beyond voter access, yet the regulations affect every aspect of the voters' lives. This proposal has been before the voters three different times, and has failed each time, however with clear presentation and ballot language, Alaskans now understand how regulations affect their daily lives, and will most likely support this ballot measure. Number 071 SENATOR GREEN asked if HJR 1 has received widespread support. MR. PARKER replied it has received support from a variety of groups across the state and most testimony has been favorable. He added it passed the House by a vote of 34 to 4. Number 085 SENATOR TAYLOR noted the Department of Law is opposed to HJR 1. MR. PARKER commented the Department of Law has sent the identical letter in opposition each time the proposal has been introduced. Number 100 SENATOR ADAMS noted his opposition to placing the measure before the voters, since it has failed repeatedly. SENATOR TAYLOR commented no past Governor has supported this proposal. MR. PARKER agreed but added the Lt. Governor voted in favor of the proposal last year. Number 116 SENATOR MILLER moved HJR 1 from committee with individual recommendations. SENATOR ADAMS objected. The motion carried with Senators Taylor, Green, and Miller voting "Yea," and Senator Adams voting "Nay." HB 42 ABSENTEE VOTING & USE OF FAX TOM ANDERSON, legislative aide to Representative Martin, sponsor of HB 42, testified before the committee. HB 42 is a reintroduction of HB 49, which was introduced in 1992. HB 42 has not changed significantly through the committee process. HB 42 attempts to open up the constrained and sometimes disenfranchising electronic absentee voting standards. Many absentee voters have been unable to vote due to problems with the mail system. HB 42 allows people to apply, receive and complete a ballot by electronic transmission, either by fax or modem. The fiscal costs are low, and include the purchase of several fax machines and the costs of an operator. ACCESS of Alaska supports the measure, as well as several senior citizens, out-of-state students, and business persons travelling abroad. Jack Chenoweth of the Division of Legal Services, and John Gaguine of the Department of Law have prepared legal opinions on the measure. Mr. Chenoweth's opinion compares other states' constitutional mandates and conflicts in states that currently allow electronic ballot transmission. Mr. Gaguine's opinion focussed on the right to privacy issue, and purports the minor infringement of ballot secrecy would be outweighed by the bill's affect in enfranchising voters. The bill would not replace mail-in ballots, it would add an alternative method. Number 194 SENATOR ADAMS questioned the constitutionality of the measure and asked for further clarification of Mr. Chenoweth's legal opinion. MR. ANDERSON explained Mr. Chenoweth's opinion was that if a voter fails to adhere to a deadline, the voluntary waiving of ballot secrecy is justified in light of the importance of voting. Number 214 SENATOR MILLER clarified the voter who uses a fax machine knows the ballot will be viewed by the operator receiving the fax, and is therefore voluntarily waiving the right to privacy. Number 223 SENATOR ADAMS asked if the voter waives the legal ability to sue the Division of Elections if a human error occurs, such as inaccurate reporting, or in the case of an electronic transmission failure or phone line failure. MR. ANDERSON believed that is unlikely to happen, but if it did he assumed the voter would waive that right. SENATOR ADAMS discussed the unreliability of fax and phone lines in villages such as Anatuvuk Pass. MR. ANDERSON believed most people would be able to vote in ample time to prevent such problems. Number 247 SENATOR GREEN asked about the participation level in states that use electronic ballot transmission. MR. GREEN replied participation is limited because most people mail their ballots in ahead of time. SENATOR GREEN asked if this is an additional alternative for unforeseen last minute problems. MR. ANDERSON replied affirmatively. SENATOR GREEN asked for a description of electronic transmission methods. MR. ANDERSON responded that would include the facsimile machine and computer modem. The Division of Elections would have to develop a program to use the modem, and he did not foresee that happening in time for the next election. Number 270 SENATOR TAYLOR asked who the Election Transition Team members are. SENATOR ADAMS believed they would be the same people appointed by Lt. Governor Ulmer. SENATOR TAYLOR noted they expressed concern about the constitutionality of the measure and technical implementation. SENATOR TAYLOR felt the committee should further review those concerns, and stated the bill would be rescheduled the following week. SENATOR ADAMS requested Mr. Gaguine reply to the committee's concerns about the constitutionality of the measure. HJR 5 LIMITING TERMS OF STATE LEGISLATORS The next item of business before the committee was CSHJR 5(FIN)am. REP. GENE THERRIAULT, sponsor of the measure, gave the following presentation. CSHJR 5 (FIN)am resticts a legislator from serving more than 12 regular sessions and would require that legislator to wait two consecutive sessions prior to running for election again. In previous attempts to address this issue, the time limit was determined by the number of years served and became complicated due to dates the Legislature convened. CSHJR 5 (FIN) am refers to sessions to simplify the intent of limiting legislative participation to 12 consecutive years. Section 2 exempts periods served during the interim, such as special sessions, and allows a person to complete a term of office after 11 years if they were appointed to a seat. Section 3 was added on the House floor, and enacts the term limit retroactively with the convening of the first legislative session in the year 2001. The ballot question will be issued in the next general election, therefore a person could be elected but find he/she is precluded from holding office if the bill becomes effective earlier. Section 4 places the question on the general election ballot. Number 339 SENATOR TAYLOR noted there is a proposed committee substitute that expands the restriction to judges and all other elected officers in the state, including school board and city council members. He stated if term limitation is valid and beneficial, then it should apply to all office holders. Number 349 SENATOR GREEN asked whether CSHJR 5(FIN) am would override shorter term limits that might currently exist in a city. SENATOR TAYLOR suggested that the measure be amended to allow cities to enact shorter limits. SENATOR ADAMS noted borough mayors are limited to two terms, or six years. Number 362 REP. THERRIAULT was unaware of what limits are currently in place in cities. SENATOR MILLER moved to adopt the Judiciary committee substitute (Cook, 4/22/95) in lieu of CSHJR 5(FIN)am, as a working document. There being no objection, the motion carried. SENATOR TAYLOR explained the District Court and Alaska Court of Appeals were created legislatively, not constitutionally. The courts that were created by the Constitution provide for the first retention election to occur three years after the first appointment. The Judiciary committee substitute restricts judges to serving 15 years, to synchronize the resolution with those requirements. Number 380 SENATOR MILLER asked how that would affect the tenure term of supreme court judges. SENATOR TAYLOR replied the terms would be modified to two six year terms. Currently, district court judges are elected every four years, and superior court judges are elected every six years. Number 391 REP. THERRIAULT questioned whether Section 6 in the committee substitute would make the effective date of the bill the year 2005. SENATOR MILLER stated the date was not changed from the House version. SENATOR ADAMS noted that change was added in the House Finance Committee, but was deleted in the Senate Judiciary committee substitute. SENATOR TAYLOR speculated the House Finance Committee's intent was to extend the date far enough into the future so that no person currently living would ever be affected by this measure. Number 410 SENATOR GREEN asked if the committee had received any comments on the measure from parties affected by its passage. SENATOR TAYLOR stated the latest version had just been received by the committee, therefore no one has had time to respond. He announced the bill would be held until the following week for further review and discussion. SENATOR ADAMS commented that term limits are unnecessary since people already have the right to remove a person from office in the voting process. He noted the turnover in the House was 60 percent, and in the Senate, 18 percent. SENATOR ADAMS asked about the retroactive clause. REP. THERRIAULT replied that although the bill does not take effect until the year 2001, all time served to that date would be counted. SENATOR TAYLOR asked if time served in both bodies of the Legislature was counted. REP. THERRIAULT replied affirmatively. Number 450 REP. THERRIAULT asked if the resolution would need a referral to the Senate Finance Committee since a small fiscal note accompanies the bill. SENATOR ADAMS responded that all constitutional amendments with a fiscal note have been reviewed by the Finance Committee in the past. SENATOR TAYLOR announced SCSCS HJR 5 (JUD) would be calendared on Monday (April 24) if possible and adjourned the meeting 10:38 a.m.