Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/22/1995 10:05 AM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                   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.            
                                                                               

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