Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

02/08/2005 08:30 AM JUDICIARY

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Moved CSSB 65(JUD) Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        February 8, 2005                                                                                        
                           8:38 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Ralph Seekins, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Senator Gene Therriault                                                                                                         
Senator Hollis French                                                                                                           
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Gretchen Guess                                                                                                          
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 1                                                                                                   
Proposing amendments to  the Constitution of the  State of Alaska                                                               
relating to an appropriation limit.                                                                                             
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 4                                                                                                   
Proposing amendments to  the Constitution of the  State of Alaska                                                               
relating to the  budget reserve fund and to uses  of money in the                                                               
general  fund available  for  appropriation at  the  end of  each                                                               
fiscal  year;  and  providing  for  an  effective  date  for  the                                                               
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 36                                                                                                              
"An  Act  relating to  applications  requesting  the delivery  of                                                               
absentee ballots by mail."                                                                                                      
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 65                                                                                                              
"An Act  relating to certain  weapons offenses  involving minors;                                                               
to  aggravating  factors  in   sentencing  for  certain  offenses                                                               
committed  against  a  school  employee;  and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     MOVED CSSB 65(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                        
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SJR 1                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: CONST. AM:  APPROPRIATION LIMIT                                                                                    
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) DYSON                                                                                                    
01/11/05       (S)       PREFILE RELEASED 12/30/04                                                                              
01/11/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/11/05       (S)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
02/08/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: SJR 4                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: CONST AM: BUDGET RESERVE FUND                                                                                      
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) DYSON                                                                                                    
01/26/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/26/05       (S)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
02/08/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: SB 36                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATIONS                                                                                       
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) THERRIAULT                                                                                               
01/11/05       (S)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/07/05                                                                               
01/11/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/11/05       (S)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
01/20/05       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
01/20/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
01/20/05       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/01/05       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
02/01/05       (S)       Moved CSSB  36(STA) Out of Committee                                                                   
02/01/05       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/02/05       (S)       STA RPT CS 3DP 1NR NEW TITLE                                                                           
02/02/05       (S)       DP: THERRIAULT, WAGONER, HUGGINS                                                                       
02/02/05       (S)       NR: ELTON                                                                                              
02/08/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: SB 65                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: OFFENSES BY MINORS/AGAINST TEACHERS                                                                                
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
01/19/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/19/05       (S)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
01/26/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
01/26/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
01/26/05       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
Senator Fred Dyson                                                                                                              
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of SJR 1 and SJR 4.                                                                              
Lucky Shultz                                                                                                                    
Staff to Senator Dyson                                                                                                          
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SJR 1 and SJR 4.                                                                             
Bruce Hansen                                                                                                                    
Legislative Finance                                                                                                             
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SJR 4.                                                                                       
Dave Stancliff                                                                                                                  
Staff to Senator Therriault                                                                                                     
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 36 for sponsor.                                                                           
Annette Kreitzer, Chief of Staff                                                                                                
Office of the Lieutenant Governor                                                                                               
PO Box 110015                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99811-0015                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 36.                                                                                          
Laura Glaiser, Director                                                                                                         
Division of Elections                                                                                                           
Office of the Lieutenant Governor                                                                                               
PO Box 110015                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99811-0015                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on SB 36.                                                                                       
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS called the Senate Judiciary Standing                                                                      
Committee meeting to order at 8:38:38 AM. Senators French,                                                                    
Huggins, Therriault and Chair Seekins were present.                                                                             
             SJR 1-CONST. AM:  APPROPRIATION LIMIT                                                                          
CHAIR SEEKINS announced SJR 1 to be up for discussion.                                                                          
SENATOR FRED DYSON, sponsor, said that SJR 1 and SJR 4 are a                                                                    
"matched pair and need to go forward together." SJR 1 is a                                                                      
significant  improvement  over  the  resolution  introduced  last                                                               
year, but it raises some  profound public policy issues that need                                                               
to  be discussed  at length.  He explained  the state  has had  a                                                               
constitutional  spending cap  since 1981  that has  proved to  be                                                               
ineffective.  It  was  not  based  on  appropriations  or  actual                                                               
spending. The  limit could go  up as high  as $6 billion  at this                                                               
SJR  1  multiplies  the two  escalators,  population  growth  and                                                               
consumer  price index  (CPI), instead  of  adding them.  Although                                                               
this method  makes a  very small difference,  experts say  it's a                                                               
wiser and  more economically  sound way  to go.   It  also limits                                                               
debt  service to  6%  of  GF funding,  an  idea  copied from  the                                                               
California  Legislature. Debt  service in  Alaska now  approaches                                                               
10%  and limiting  the state's  ability to  increase indebtedness                                                               
and  the resulting  debt service  at a  key time  in the  state's                                                               
development is a judgment call  for the Legislature. He explained                                                               
that  the California  Legislature was  concerned about  incurring                                                               
future debt and  the resulting debt service  payments that become                                                               
a huge  component in  a budget.  He left  the 6%  number in  as a                                                               
starting point, but was not convinced it is the best for Alaska.                                                                
8:44:01 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DYSON  said  SJR  1  contains  a  better  definition  of                                                               
"emergency." Also,  he realized the legislature  wanted to define                                                               
what  happened to  excess revenues  and repay  the constitutional                                                               
budget  reserve (CBR).  Legislative Legal  and Research  Services                                                               
says leaving  those provisions  in a  spending limit  bill leaves                                                               
the state  open to the  challenge of it not  being single-purpose                                                               
legislation. To remedy  that, he has proposed  Amendment 1, which                                                               
strips the CBR deposit provision out of SJR 1.                                                                                  
SJR 4 covers what happens with  the CBR and excess money. It sets                                                               
a prudent cap  on the CBR at  $5 billion, which experts  say is a                                                               
good number  to have in  the fund  to take care  of extraordinary                                                               
events  or  shortfalls. Experts  say  having  funds available  to                                                               
cover  the  financial peaks  and  valleys  is  very wise.  SJR  4                                                               
provides  that excess  revenues will  go into  the CBR  until the                                                               
amount  reaches  $5  billion.  After  that,  50%  goes  into  the                                                               
Permanent Fund  principal, 25%  goes to citizens  in the  form of                                                               
dividends and  25% goes  to deferred  maintenance. In  two years,                                                               
escalators will  end up being in  the $70 million to  $80 million                                                               
category with present assumptions of CPI and population growth.                                                                 
8:48:19 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DYSON   said  Amendment   1  to   SJR  1   provides  for                                                               
emergencies, but also for extraordinary  events, i.e., more money                                                               
if the gas pipeline goes forward.                                                                                               
8:49:12 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON reviewed the sectional analysis as follows.                                                                       
Lines 4-5  on page  1 repeal  the existing  limit and  replace it                                                               
with the new appropriations limit.                                                                                              
Lines 6-8  define what  the base  is and bases  it on  the actual                                                               
amount appropriated in the preceding  fiscal year as opposed to a                                                               
cumulative escalation.                                                                                                          
Lines 10-11 keep the limit for  the annual percent change in line                                                               
with the  population and the CPI,  but the CPI limit  can't go up                                                               
more than personal income.                                                                                                      
8:51:33 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DYSON  explained  that  the  requirement  for  providing                                                               
public services  is ongoing and this  formula multiplies, instead                                                               
of adds,  the two escalators.  Deflation seldom impacts  the cost                                                               
of providing  state services for  a long time and  the population                                                               
is increasing. SJR  1 is not in  lock step with the  CPI and that                                                               
is another policy call.                                                                                                         
8:53:08 AM                                                                                                                    
Language on page 2, lines  11-29, is from last year's resolution.                                                               
It takes enterprise-type state activities  out from under the cap                                                               
and doesn't  force a reduction in  state spending if there  is an                                                               
increase in revenue in another area.                                                                                            
Line 12 on page 3 requires  the commissioner of the Department of                                                               
Revenue  to   provide  quarterly  reports  on   expenditures  and                                                               
If Amendment 1 is adopted, line 20  on page 4 will be removed and                                                               
covered  in  SJR 4.  Line  14  addresses  a special  session.  If                                                               
spending exceeds  the cap or  if a significant change  in revenue                                                               
occurs, a special session would  be required. If the governor and                                                               
the legislature can't  resolve the spending issues,  both of them                                                               
lose  their salaries  after 10  days,  which was  taken from  the                                                               
California law.                                                                                                                 
Page 5, lines 8-20, contain  the 6% debt service provision. Lines                                                               
23-30 create a smooth transition to the new spending limit.                                                                     
Amendment 1  deletes language  relating to  constitutional budget                                                               
reserve (CBR).                                                                                                                  
8:56:36 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT referred to the  language on page 3, lines 30-                                                               
31,  and asked  if a  shortfall occurs  and the  Legislature must                                                               
expend money  out of  CBR, why  that wouldn't  count in  the next                                                               
year's base if it just makes the funding level.                                                                                 
MR. SHULTZ explained  that is part of the CBR  language that will                                                               
be deleted with Amendment 1.                                                                                                    
8:57:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked how percentage  shifts with  federal funding                                                               
could affect the spending limit.                                                                                                
MR. SHULTZ  directed him to  the exemptions  on page 2,  line 21,                                                               
that exempt federal funds from the cap.                                                                                         
CHAIR  SEEKINS  asked if  the  state  has  to  pick up  a  larger                                                               
percentage if there  is a reduction in federal  funds and whether                                                               
SJR 1  makes it clear  that would be  an increase that  would not                                                               
otherwise have to be approved.                                                                                                  
MR. SHULTZ indicated yes.                                                                                                       
8:58:46 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  THERRIAULT disagreed  and was  concerned if  the federal                                                               
government is  going to give  the state millions less,  the state                                                               
would have to "eat that."                                                                                                       
CHAIR SEEKINS said that is what he is trying to figure out.                                                                     
SENATOR THERRIAULT  said he thought  if federal funding  goes up,                                                               
the state could spend those funds.                                                                                              
CHAIR SEEKINS  countered, "But  if they go  down, the  state eats                                                               
MR. SHULTZ said that Senator Therriault is correct.                                                                             
8:59:31 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH said  one  of  his concerns  is  that Alaska  has                                                               
enjoyed  federal largesse  due  to Senator  Ted  Stevens who  has                                                               
defended  the  state  against Washington,  D.C.  attacks  because                                                               
Alaska's infrastructure  is behind  other states.  And now  SJR 1                                                               
freezes state  funding in place  and a  time may come  when there                                                               
are still great needs, but not as many federal dollars.                                                                         
CHAIR SEEKINS responded that needs to be clarified.                                                                             
9:01:15 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON said  SJR 1 does not limit the  amount of money the                                                               
state can spend  when other revenue sources are coming  in and it                                                               
does  not mandate  that the  state  continue a  certain level  of                                                               
effort. But it does provide  a significant incentive to find out-                                                               
of-the-box ways  to provide  for Alaskans.  This could  limit the                                                               
amount  of services  because it  limits  the amount  that can  be                                                               
spent  from   the  general  fund   to  meet  those   needs.  Most                                                               
jurisdictions find that  a tax cap forces government  to look for                                                               
alternative ways to meet public needs.                                                                                          
9:02:55 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS mused that they come  to the state to ask for money                                                               
and then that forces the state to go to the federal government.                                                                 
SENATOR DYSON said he asked  Arliss Sturgulewski last spring what                                                               
the thinking  was behind the Permanent  Fund and was it  a return                                                               
on  investment to  the people  of Alaska  for expenditure  of its                                                               
resource or as a way to  fund an endowment that would support the                                                               
cost of government when the  oil fields decline. Ms. Sturgulewski                                                               
answered that it  was a mechanism to get the  money off the table                                                               
so that one  generation of Alaskans couldn't spend all  of it. It                                                               
was a way to preserve money for future generations.                                                                             
SENATOR DYSON  said he believed  oil prices  would be $30  in the                                                               
foreseeable  future,  with  gas  at  over  $5,  providing  steady                                                               
revenues to the  state. This is an attempt to  be disciplined and                                                               
wise and not waste this significant revenue stream.                                                                             
9:05:18 AM                                                                                                                    
His  understanding of  the  Statehood Act  is  that the  founding                                                               
fathers  anticipated  that  frontier areas  would  trade  natural                                                               
resources for  infrastructure for  a long  time. The  U.S. Senate                                                               
was afraid Alaska  could not support itself and would  be a drain                                                               
on federal coffers.  Alaska is in the process  of trading natural                                                               
resources  for  infrastructure  and services.  Eventually  Alaska                                                               
will have a  large enough tax base that it  won't be so dependent                                                               
on the expenditure  of its natural resources. This  is an attempt                                                               
to  smooth out  spending and  investment  for the  long haul  and                                                               
create long-term economic stability.                                                                                            
9:07:29 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS said the many  variables that can affect the amount                                                               
of money that  comes in from natural resources  and other sources                                                               
like the  federal government  need to  be clear. If  a cap  is in                                                               
place, an unavoidable consequence might  be to shift funding from                                                               
one  place   to  another   or  change   the  threshold   for  the                                                               
qualification limit.                                                                                                            
9:09:29 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON  said 80% of the  State of Idaho's budget  is spent                                                               
on education and health and human  services. Soon it will have to                                                               
make  a choice  between  the  two. Those  two  areas  tend to  be                                                               
formula-driven in  both Idaho and  Alaska. A spending  limit will                                                               
force  the  Legislature to  make  tough  decisions in  those  two                                                               
9:10:43 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS said a legislator  from Colorado told him that this                                                               
year  the  state would  have  the  shortest  school year  in  its                                                               
history  and  the  university  is  going  without  state  funding                                                               
because that battle is already taking place there.                                                                              
SENATOR FRENCH  said the Colorado  spending limit was  enacted in                                                               
1992;  the Bell  Policy Center  researched that  issue and  found                                                               
that Colorado  had fallen to 50   in K-12 spending  per $1,000 of                                                               
personal income.                                                                                                                
     Even  during the  '90s, the  state fell  behind in  per                                                                    
     capita spending in higher  education and public health.                                                                    
     By  2000,  Colorado spent  less  than  other states  on                                                                    
     public health care  services, was at the  bottom on on-                                                                    
     time immunization rates, was  at the bottom in prenatal                                                                    
     care,  had the  highest  rate  of uninsured  low-income                                                                    
     children in  the nation, was  almost last  among states                                                                    
     in high school graduation  rates, ranked almost last in                                                                    
     higher education and the arts, and had a growing list                                                                      
     of unfunded highway projects.                                                                                              
One Republican senator said he wouldn't vote for it again.                                                                      
9:12:22 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH expressed  concern about locking in  a system that                                                               
proves inadequate for future needs.  The Legislature talked about                                                               
a spending cap in statute, because  it would be easier to change;                                                               
it also talked about exempting education.                                                                                       
9:13:15 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS  said SJR  1  has  some safeguards  that  Colorado                                                               
doesn't have. It has a  no-ratchet-down provision and the ability                                                               
for the Legislature  to meet emergency circumstances  with a two-                                                               
thirds vote.                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DYSON  said  another   significant  difference  is  that                                                               
Colorado's  Taxpayers'  Bill  of Rights  (TABOR)  requires  voter                                                               
approval for any tax increases, but  SJR 4 doesn't do that; it is                                                               
only a spending  cap. Colorado is limited as much  by its revenue                                                               
stream as by its cap.                                                                                                           
9:14:27 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SHULTZ  said he had  information from the January  2005 issue                                                               
of State Legislatures that talked  about how Colorado's Amendment                                                               
23  excluded  schools from  the  spending  cap and  provides  for                                                               
annual  spending   increases  in   both  primary   and  secondary                                                               
education. This is causing a  problem because the increases occur                                                               
regardless  of  the cap.  The  cap,  therefore, is  not  reducing                                                               
Colorado's  troubles  have  been   manageable  compared  to  what                                                               
California faced  recently when  it continued  to spend  money to                                                               
take care  of its programs. Part  of the language in  SJR 1 comes                                                               
from the California citizens' initiative to get out of debt.                                                                    
The  question   is  how  Alaska   would  cover   federal  funding                                                               
shortfalls  now and  two or  three years  into the  future. Also,                                                               
Legislative Finance  indicates the  need to  look at  that impact                                                               
two to five  years out. Federal funds are expected  to dwindle as                                                               
9:16:57 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS  said  the  spending cap  sounds  good  to  many                                                               
people, but when  you look at other states, you  wonder if it's a                                                               
good idea.  He expressed concern that  trying to put it  into the                                                               
Constitution  is  trying  to  save  us from  our  lack  of  self-                                                               
discipline.  He  asked  if  there  were  any  corners  they  were                                                               
painting themselves into.                                                                                                       
SENATOR  DYSON replied  that he  thought it  was constitutionally                                                               
appropriate  for a  republic to  bind itself  with constitutional                                                               
law. Critics  point out that  Alaska spends more per  person than                                                               
any  other state  in  the nation.  Solving  people's problems  by                                                               
spending more  money doesn't get  to the  heart of the  issue. He                                                               
didn't agree with  the implied principle of  the state supporting                                                               
an activity the  federal government quit supporting.  He hoped to                                                               
empower people to  do more for themselves and  rely on government                                                               
9:21:37 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SHULTZ  commented  that  President   Bush  is  proposing  to                                                               
eliminate 160 programs because the  federal government is looking                                                               
at  duplicative services.  Forty  different  agencies within  the                                                               
federal government  deal with teenage  pregnancy. The  concern is                                                               
that  as Alaska  prospers,  people will  want  more services.  He                                                               
pointed out that the Permanent Fund  would be a lot larger now if                                                               
there had been a spending limit.                                                                                                
9:23:58 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  said he applied for  a river permit years  ago and                                                               
found that  three different agencies  were looking over  the same                                                               
fish. "Why  can't one agency take  care of that same  fish rather                                                               
than three?"  Eliminating the competition for  funding creates an                                                               
economy in itself and the  probability that any legislature would                                                               
short-fund education is unlikely.                                                                                               
9:27:16 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DYSON   commented  that   Legislative  Legal   told  the                                                               
legislature  last year  that  a statutory  spending  limit is  of                                                               
little value  because if  a sitting  legislature exceeds  it, the                                                               
courts will  hold that  it was  done deliberately  and supersedes                                                               
what was in statute. You  can't bind future legislatures. He also                                                               
understands that  of the  states with  spending caps,  almost all                                                               
have seen  significant investment activity. Industries  that want                                                               
to invest in an area are worried about being subjected to deep-                                                                 
pocket taxes so they are comforted by a spending cap.                                                                           
9:29:41 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS moved Amendment 1.                                                                                                
A M E N D M E N T 1                                                                                                         
OFFERED IN THE SENATE                          BY SENATOR DYSON                                                                 
     TO:  SJR 1                                                                                                                 
Page 2, line 29:                                                                                                                
     Delete ", (g), or (k)"                                                                                                     
Page 3, line 7:                                                                                                                 
     Delete "persons an"                                                                                                        
     Insert "persons or"                                                                                                        
Page 3, line 20, through page 4, line 13:                                                                                       
     Delete all material.                                                                                                       
     Reletter the following subsections accordingly.                                                                            
Page 4, line 29:                                                                                                                
     Delete "(h)"                                                                                                               
     Insert "(g)"                                                                                                               
Page 5, line 6:                                                                                                                 
     Delete "(h)"                                                                                                               
     Insert "(g)"                                                                                                               
Page 5, line 14:                                                                                                                
     Delete "many"                                                                                                              
     Insert "may"                                                                                                               
     Delete "not-self-liquidating"                                                                                              
     Insert "non-self-liquidating"                                                                                              
Page 5, line 15:                                                                                                                
     Delete "general - fund-supporting"                                                                                         
     Insert "general-fund-supported"                                                                                            
Page 5, line 16:                                                                                                                
     Delete "(k)"                                                                                                               
     Insert "(j)"                                                                                                               
Page 5, following line 20:                                                                                                      
     Insert a new subsection to read:                                                                                           
          "(l)  The legislature may, upon the affirmative vote                                                                  
     of at least  two-thirds of the members of  each house, adopt                                                               
     an appropriation  that exceeds the  limit under (a)  of this                                                               
     section  if  the  governor  requests  the  appropriation  in                                                               
     response  to extraordinary  circumstances.   The  governor's                                                               
     request  must include  at least  the following  information:                                                               
     (1)   identification    of   the    specific   extraordinary                                                               
     circumstances; (2)  the amount requested  for appropriation;                                                               
     (3)  the period  of  time over  which  the appropriation  is                                                               
     intended  to be  used; and  (4)  a plan  for recovering  the                                                               
     amount  of money  appropriated under  this  subsection.   An                                                               
     appropriation  made under  this subsection  may not  be used                                                               
     for  the payment  of  bonds, notes,  or  other evidences  of                                                               
     indebtedness.      For    purposes   of   this   subsection,                                                               
     "extraordinary  circumstances"  shall   be  defined  by  law                                                               
     adopted  by  at least  two-thirds  of  the members  of  each                                                               
MR.  SHULTZ explained  that most  of the  changes are  typos, but                                                               
lines 20-21 on  page 2 introduce a new  section for extraordinary                                                               
circumstances that allows the limit  to be exceeded under certain                                                               
circumstances. The gasline indebtedness is an example of one.                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS asked if there  were any objections to Amendment 1.                                                               
There were  none and it was  adopted. He announced that  the bill                                                               
would be held for further discussion.                                                                                           
9:43:15 AM - Recess                                                                                                           
              SJR 4-CONST AM: BUDGET RESERVE FUND                                                                           
CHAIR SEEKINS announced SJR 4 to be up for consideration.                                                                       
SENATOR DYSON,  sponsor of  SJR 4, explained  that it  amends the                                                               
Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) Fund,  which has been used to                                                               
date as  a buffer in  lean times, but there  is a poor  record of                                                               
funds being  restored in  fat years. SJR  4 requires  that excess                                                               
revenues in one  year go into repaying  the CBR up to  a limit of                                                               
$5 billion. Consultants have said that  is a good buffer fund for                                                               
a  state with  a  revenue  picture like  Alaska's.  After the  $5                                                               
billion is exceeded,  excess revenues can be divided  in a couple                                                               
of ways:  50% goes to  the Permanent Fund,  25% goes to  a second                                                               
dividend back  to the people  and the  other 25% goes  to working                                                               
off  the  deferred  maintenance  list.  This  is  a  way  to  get                                                               
financial  stability.  He  is  impressed  with  Senator  Wilken's                                                               
arguments about compounding interest.                                                                                           
9:46:02 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH asked how much is left in the CBR.                                                                               
MR. SHULTZ replied about $2.2 billion.                                                                                          
SENATOR FRENCH asked if any money has ever been repaid.                                                                         
MR.  BRUCE  HANSEN,  Legislative Finance,  indicated  that  small                                                               
surpluses have  been swept back into  the CBR, but then  they are                                                               
usually reversed back out.                                                                                                      
9:47:07 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS said  the  debt  to the  CBR  is approximately  $4                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH  wondered what would  make the legislature  pay it                                                               
back in the future if it hadn't paid it back up to now.                                                                         
9:47:32 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT said, "We're going to build a gas pipeline."                                                                 
CHAIR SEEKINS  remarked that  last week  he saw a  32 TCF  of gas                                                               
hydrate possibility for the state.                                                                                              
9:47:53 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DYSON said  he believes  that Alaska  is on  the leading                                                               
edge  of  unprecedented  prosperity  and  this  is  the  time  to                                                               
institute  discipline.  The  world   needs  what  Alaska  has  in                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS said he would hold SJR 4 for a future hearing.                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON asked  members to provide questions  and issues for                                                               
discussion  so that  they  could be  researched  for an  improved                                                               
               SB 36-ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATIONS                                                                           
9:49:54 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS  announced  SB  36,   version  G,  to  be  up  for                                                               
SENATOR  THERRIAULT, sponsor,  said SB  36 addresses  an absentee                                                               
ballot  problem  that  surfaced in  the  2004  general  election.                                                               
Sensitive  personal  data  was  made  available  when  individual                                                               
absentee ballot requests were mailed  back to the political party                                                               
office instead  of to the  Division of Elections. He  assured the                                                               
committee  that there  was no  wrongdoing, but  individual voters                                                               
should not feel  that their privacy is under  attack just because                                                               
they wish  to participate in  a regularly scheduled  election. SB                                                               
36 requires  all absentee ballot  requests to be  mailed directly                                                               
to  the Division  of Elections  for  confidential processing.  It                                                               
also  includes  individuals  in  the  section  that  prohibits  a                                                               
political  group  or  party  from   assisting  or  encouraging  a                                                               
violation of the act.                                                                                                           
9:51:44 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT  pointed out that  he had CSSB 36,  version F,                                                               
and asked his staff, Dave Stancliff, to describe the changes.                                                                   
DAVE STANCLIFF,  staff to Senator Therriault,  explained that the                                                               
CS is  in response to  a question  raised by Senator  Elton about                                                               
whether  this bill  and  the  definition in  it  prevents a  non-                                                               
political group, like Trustees For  Alaska, or an individual from                                                               
conducting the  type of  activities this  bill seeks  to prevent.                                                               
Legislative  Legal  agreed that  it  could  be construed  to  not                                                               
protect against a  non-political group or person. The  CS is all-                                                               
inclusive in  that no  person or  group, political  or otherwise,                                                               
should be a third-party intercept in the election process.                                                                      
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  if the  term "person"  is all-inclusive  in                                                               
Alaska law.                                                                                                                     
MR. STANCLIFF replied yes, from a legal standpoint.                                                                             
9:53:59 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT explained  that the language on  page 1, lines                                                               
11-13, encourages  Alaskan voters  to participate in  an election                                                               
using the  absentee ballot, but  the ballot has  to be in  a form                                                               
that is  approved by the  director of the Division  of Elections.                                                               
The form can be sent out or hand-delivered as wished.                                                                           
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  moved to  adopt  version  F as  the  working                                                               
document. There were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                       
MR.  STANCLIFF noted  that on  page 2,  lines 22-23,  the drafter                                                               
specified  that language  that says  the form  is to  be returned                                                               
directly and  not by  another person  or group  should be  on the                                                               
form itself.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  if he  would be  in violation  if his  wife                                                               
delivered a ballot for him.                                                                                                     
MR. STANCLIFF replied no.                                                                                                       
SENATOR FRENCH  asked if he  registered someone to vote  and gave                                                               
him a ballot,  a crime would be committed if  the voter filled it                                                               
out and Senator French mailed it to the division for him.                                                                       
MR.  STANCLIFF replied  if the  person is  a legal  registrar and                                                               
approved  by the  division  to conduct  those  activities, he  is                                                               
considered the same as the division so that would be legal.                                                                     
SENATOR FRENCH asked if anyone could become a registrar.                                                                        
SENATOR THERRIAULT  replied that  anyone can become  a registrar,                                                               
but there are rules on how to handle the information.                                                                           
9:58:34 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SHULTZ  said  it  does not  include  postal  service  worker                                                               
SENATOR THERRIAULT  said language  on page 1,  lines 4-5,  says a                                                               
qualified voter may apply by  mail or by electronic transmission,                                                               
but it was  pointed out that a person might  physically walk into                                                               
the office  to get an  application and the Division  of Elections                                                               
felt most comfortable adding "or in person".                                                                                    
ANNETTE  KREITZER,  Chief  of Staff,  Office  of  the  Lieutenant                                                               
Governor,  said  she spoke  to  Laura  Glaiser, director  of  the                                                               
Division of Elections, who expressed  concern about deleting that                                                               
language  and preferred  adding "in  person"  to "by  mail or  by                                                               
electronic  transmission" to  identify  the ways  a person  could                                                               
apply for an absentee ballot.                                                                                                   
SENATOR THERRIAULT moved  to insert "in person"  after "apply" on                                                               
page 1, line 4. There were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                 
10:01:39 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. KREITZER offered to find out  if a registrar is considered to                                                               
be  a  representative  of  the  division  and  get  back  to  the                                                               
committee with an answer.                                                                                                       
10:02:34 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS set the bill aside to await her answer.                                                                           
10:02:57 AM                                                                                                                   
           SB 65-OFFENSES BY MINORS/AGAINST TEACHERS                                                                        
CHAIR  SEEKINS  announced  SB  65,   version  G,  to  be  up  for                                                               
consideration.  He reminded  members that  the superintendent  of                                                               
schools of the Fairbanks North  Star Borough suggested adding "or                                                               
in  the administrative  offices  of a  school  district in  which                                                               
students  are also  educated." Some  schools have  their district                                                               
offices on  school property and  some are off the  property; some                                                               
are  located  hundreds of  miles  away  from the  closest  school                                                               
He  noted   that  the  committee  is   also  considering  Senator                                                               
Therriault's amendment to delete  the administrative offices in a                                                               
school district.                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT withdrew  his  original  amendment and  moved                                                               
Amendment 2 to add "in which  students are also educated" on page                                                               
1, line  9, after "district". He  felt the location of  an office                                                               
hundreds of  miles away from  its students doesn't deserve  to be                                                               
swept into  the bill.  There were no  objections and  Amendment 2                                                               
was adopted.                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  moved CSSB  65(JUD)  out  of committee  with                                                               
individual recommendations and attached  zero fiscal notes. There                                                               
were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                       
10:10:04 AM - Recess                                                                                                          
                     SB 36-ABSENTEE BALLOTS                                                                                 
CHAIR SEEKINS announced SB 35 to be back before the committee.                                                                  
LAURA GLAISER,  director, Division  of Elections, said  she would                                                               
answer questions.                                                                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH said  his question had to do with  the handling of                                                               
absentee ballot  application forms and  how they get  as directly                                                               
as possible from  the applicant to the division. He  asked her to                                                               
describe  how the  form makes  certain that  intermediaries don't                                                               
collect and take personal information from the applications.                                                                    
10:11:26 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. GLAISER  replied that AS  15.070.81 pertains  to registration                                                               
officials and says:                                                                                                             
     The  director shall  appoint one  or more  registration                                                                    
     officials to  serve in each precinct  polling places in                                                                    
     election during  the hours...and the  election official                                                                    
     appointed   under  this   section  also   serve  as   a                                                                    
     registration official.                                                                                                     
10:12:09 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  if giving his application to  a registrar is                                                               
the same as giving it to the division.                                                                                          
MS. GLAISER  replied that is  her interpretation, but she  is not                                                               
an   attorney.  She   accepts   applications  from   registration                                                               
officials if they  have been brought in a timely  manner. The law                                                               
says  it should  be turned  in within  five days,  but often  she                                                               
receives applications that  have been signed more  than five days                                                               
10:13:21 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  said the intent of  the bill is that  a person can                                                               
be considered  to have returned  his application to  the Division                                                               
of Elections by giving it to an election official.                                                                              
10:13:54 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. GLAISER responded that AS  15.07.100 says that a registration                                                               
official shall be:                                                                                                              
     A  qualified state  voter  and shall  take  an oath  to                                                                    
     honestly,  faithfully and  promptly perform  the duties                                                                    
     of  the  office.  The  training  for  the  registration                                                                    
     official  shall be  provided by  the director  and does                                                                    
     occur through  the regional offices. On  the completion                                                                    
     of training,  the director  may require  that officials                                                                    
     demonstrate  their  competence  by   a  test  or  other                                                                    
     method....  The  registration  official serves  at  the                                                                    
     pleasure  of the  director. Each  registration official                                                                    
     shall be  periodically evaluated by the  director based                                                                    
     on  completeness of  registration forms,  timely filing                                                                    
     of   the  forms   and   actively   attributed  to   the                                                                    
     registration official.                                                                                                     
She  said  that  daily  tallies   are  made  in  a  database  for                                                               
registration officials. She read further:                                                                                       
     A registration official  shall transmit completed voter                                                                    
     registration  forms to  the election  supervisor within                                                                    
     five days following the completion by the voter.                                                                           
SENATOR   THERRIAULT   asked   if  standard   training   includes                                                               
clarification  of how  sensitive information  should be  handled,                                                               
such as photocopying.                                                                                                           
MS. GLAISER replied yes, but  some groups have told the Fairbanks                                                               
supervisor that  copies are  made even though  they are  told not                                                               
to. Other  than the confidentiality  prohibition, she has  no way                                                               
to stop that unless she finds  out that the oath is violated, she                                                               
removes that person as a registrar.                                                                                             
10:16:01 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  FRENCH said  he didn't  want to  see normal  law-abiding                                                               
people  get sideways  with the  law and  thought the  form should                                                               
state that the registrar represents the division.                                                                               
MS.  GLAISER  showed   the  committee  a  copy   of  last  year's                                                               
application  and  said  she  would  be happy  to  work  with  the                                                               
committee on language  and change the regulations  to reflect the                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS agreed with Senator French's concern.                                                                             
10:18:52 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGGINS  said his concern is  that there are only  one or                                                               
two registrars per precinct.                                                                                                    
MS. GLAISER  clarified that she  is required to appoint  at least                                                               
one,  not just  one, and  that there  are registration  officials                                                               
throughout the state.                                                                                                           
10:20:28 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  asked  why  language in  sections  4  and  5                                                               
applies only  to a form  that hasn't been approved,  which leaves                                                               
off the  part about  collecting the forms  and caging  voters. He                                                               
thought the  committee might consider  adding that  language back                                                               
MS.  GLAISER explained  that the  State Affairs  version targeted                                                               
unlawful  interference  and deletes  the  part  about whether  an                                                               
application  was  changed, whether  a  voter  didn't sign  it  or                                                               
whether confidential  information was  gathered prior  to turning                                                               
the application into the division.                                                                                              
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  moved  a   conceptual  amendment  to  insert                                                               
Sections 4  and 5 from the  G version into the  F version, except                                                               
instead of applying to a political  group or party it would apply                                                               
to a person, which is language that makes it all-inclusive.                                                                     
10:24:25 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  added that under  Alaska law, "person" is  an all-                                                               
inclusive term  that includes  political parties,  corporations -                                                               
any entity whatsoever.                                                                                                          
10:24:38 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. KREITZER said she had concerns about combining the language.                                                                
MS. GLAISER  said she  would like to  see language  included from                                                               
[version  F] subparagraph  5, lines  26 and  27, stating  a voter                                                               
with an absentee  application form that does not  comply with the                                                               
CHAIR  SEEKINS held  SB 36  for  further work  and adjourned  the                                                               
meeting at 10:26:29 AM.                                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects