Legislature(1999 - 2000)
03/03/1999 01:40 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE March 3, 1999 1:40 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Robin Taylor, Chairman Senator Dave Donley Senator John Torgerson MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Rick Halford, Vice-Chairman Senator Johnny Ellis COMMITTEE CALENDAR SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR SENATE BILL NO. 5 "An Act relating to the crime of misprision of felony." -MOVED CSSB 5(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 9 Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to ways and means bills. -MOVED SJR 9 OUT OF COMMITTEE PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 5 - See Judiciary Committee minutes dated 2-3-99 and 2-24-99. SJR 9 - No previous action to report. WITNESS REGISTER Mr. Jim Baldwin Assistant Attorney General Department of Law PO Box 110300 Juneau, AK 99811-0300 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 9 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 99-15, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN ROBIN TAYLOR called the Judiciary Committee meeting to order at 1:40 and announced SB 5 would be the first order of business. SB 5 - MISPRISION OF FELONY SENATOR TORGERSON moved the adoption of the work draft (version N dated 2-24). Without objection, the work draft was adopted. SENATOR DONLEY said he had reviewed the work draft and it appears to be what the committee asked for. Number 015 SENATOR TORGERSON moved CSSB 5(JUD) out of committee with individual recommendations. Without objection, it was so ordered. SJR 9-CONST. AM: WAYS AND MEANS BILLS SENATOR DONLEY, introduced the bill. He said Alaska's Constitution has a single-subject rule which limits bills to one topic and applies to all legislation except a revisor's bill or an appropriations bill. SJR 9 would add another exception to the single-subject rule: ways and means bills necessary to implement appropriations. SENATOR DONLEY stated that budgetary changes require statutory changes and, at the end of the session, statutory changes need to be made quickly to complement budget changes. Under SJR 9, all the statutory changes needed to implement a budget act could be rolled into one bill. SENATOR DONLEY pointed out that SJR 9 limits the exemption to the single-subject rule to bills which are necessary to implement the budget. SENATOR DONLEY commented that SJR 9 will be an important tool as spending is reduced. Where individual proposals to reduce spending may meet with opposition, under SJR 9, the ways and means bill could be a majority decision, like the budget. According to SENATOR DONLEY, "Instead of everybody trading votes to protect their own constituency, you might have to trade votes to make sure that things got reduced and people would actually share the pain because you'd have to reach consensus on the thing before the thing could pass." Number 105 SENATOR TORGERSON asked if a ways and means bill is subject to a veto. SENATOR DONLEY replied it is and said "Only, it would only be a two-thirds [vote required to override a veto] because it's a bill." SENATOR TORGERSON asked why SJR 9 amends the special session section of the constitution. SENATOR DONLEY replied it allows a Legislature in special session dealing with a budget issue to deal with a ways and means bill also. Number 132 CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said SJR 9 provides a tool which will allow the Legislature to include some specific intent language along with an appropriations bill to ensure that the will of the Legislature is fulfilled. SENATOR TORGERSON asked if the language on page two "determined by the Legislature" is really necessary. SENATOR DONLEY explained this language guides a court's interpretation of "what is necessary to implement the budget" and will allow the court to defer to the intent of the Legislature. SENATOR TORGERSON asked if SJR 9 would stop the governor from introducing a ways and means bill. SENATOR DONLEY replied it would not. Number 172 MR. JIM BALDWIN, Assistant Attorney General, testified SJR 9 contains several vaguely defined terms, including "ways" and "means." MR. BALDWIN explained the Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. Congress deals primarily with taxation. He suggested the usage of "ways and means" in SJR 9 is appropriate if SJR 9 is intended to allow the Legislature enact different types of taxes. However, MR. BALDWIN inferred from the sponsor's statement, "what you really intend to do is to be able to avoid the effects of the single- subject rule." SENATOR DONLEY replied the bill could do both. MR. BALDWIN claimed the effect of SJR 9 would be to undercut the single-subject rule which was created to prevent "logrolling" - the inclusion of an unpopular measure with a popular measure to ensure passage. MR. BALDWIN said due to the breadth of appropriation bills, a ways and means bill could cover almost any topic. If the Legislature does not value the principle of the single-subject rule, the rule "would be no more," according to MR. BALDWIN. The single-subject rule preserves the separate jurisdiction of committees other than the finance committee. From the executive perspective, a ways and means bill should require the same number of votes for a veto override as the appropriations bill it implements. SENATOR DONLEY disagreed, saying the governor has the power to line item veto an appropriations bill. MR. BALDWIN suggested, "Aren't you really taking away powers of the governor - you're really upsetting that balance here with this." SENATOR DONLEY again disagreed, saying the governor can veto this bill as well and, if there are two-thirds of the Legislature who oppose that, the veto can be overridden. MR. BALDWIN said the governor can reduce or strike an item in an appropriations bill because it is a multi-subject bill. He argued in favor of including a requirement for the same number of votes to override a ways and means bill as required for an appropriations bill. "If you are going to extend this power to yourselves, why not also extend the like, a similar check, on that power to keep things in balance." MR. BALDWIN noted there is a Supreme Court case pending concerning veto overrides. He proposed this resolution would add to the subject matter that could be covered in a special session, and open the Legislature to pressure to address several subjects. "One of the beauties of having a special session is that the Legislature can focus on one particular area, one particular subject that has been left over." CHAIRMAN TAYLOR assured MR. BALDWIN, "The beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Number 286 MR. BALDWIN reminded CHAIRMAN TAYLOR the Legislature has called itself into special session and limited itself to one topic to protect from "be(ing) eaten alive by the various special interests out there who had an agenda." CHAIRMAN TAYLOR said he understood the point: "The Legislature could find itself in the shoes of a runaway grand jury, basically, calling themselves back into town and then having everybody show up with a different agenda item they want to take up." SENATOR TORGERSON said the Legislature may, at some point, need "to adopt something to change an appropriation to make it work." MR. BALDWIN said the Legislature also has the power to call itself into a special session with an unlimited agenda. Number 315 SENATOR DONLEY asked MR. BALDWIN to suggest any changes to the language on page 2 to improve the bill. He said the intent of SJR 9 is not to throw the door wide open to any subject, but limit it to those necessary to implement appropriations. MR. BALDWIN replied he would be glad to, but asked for time to work on this. SENATOR DONLEY said he would appreciate it. Number 337 SENATOR TORGERSON moved SJR 9 from committee with individual recommendations. Without objection, SJR 9 moved from committee with individual recommendations. With no further business to come before the committee, CHAIRMAN TAYLOR adjourned at 2:02 p.m.