Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

02/09/2005 08:30 AM JUDICIARY


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
= SB 36 ABSENTEE BALLOTS
Moved CSSB 36(JUD) Out of Committee
= SJR 1 CONST. AM: APPROPRIATION LIMIT
Heard & Held
= SJR 4 CONST AM: BUDGET RESERVE FUND
Moved SJR 4 Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                        February 9, 2005                                                                                        
                           9:19 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                                                               
amendments.                                                                                                                     
          MOVED SJR 4 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 36                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to applications requesting the delivery of                                                                     
absentee ballots by mail."                                                                                                      
          MOVED CSSB 36(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                                                                           
02/08/05       (S)       CONST AM: BUDGET RESERVE FUND                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
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                                                                           
02/08/05       (S)       ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATIONS                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
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                                                                           
02/08/05       (S)       Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Laura Glaiser                                                                                                               
Division of Elections                                                                                                           
Office of the Lt. Governor                                                                                                      
PO Box 110015                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK 99811-0015                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 36                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator Fred Dyson                                                                                                              
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of SJR 1 and SJR 4                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Lucky Schultz                                                                                                               
Staff to Senator Dyson                                                                                                          
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SJR 1 and SJR 4                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RALPH   SEEKINS  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting   to  order  at  9:19:19   AM.  Senators  Gene                                                             
Therriault,  Hollis  French,  Charlie  Huggins  and  Chair  Ralph                                                               
Seekins were present.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
               SB 36-ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATIONS                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:20:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS announced SB 36 to be up for discussion.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT proposed a committee  substitute for SB 36. He                                                               
moved to use version \I as the working document.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS announced the motion carried with no objection.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT explained the changes in version \I.                                                                         
     Page 1, line 4 inserts the words "in person".                                                                              
     Page 1, line 5 clarifies "under this section".                                                                             
     Page 3, lines 7-9                                                                                                          
          (4)  encourages  or  assists   in  a  violation  of  AS                                                               
          15.20.081  and   has  been  previously   convicted  for                                                               
          unlawful interference with voting  in the second degree                                                               
          under AS 15.56.035 (a) (5).                                                                                           
     Page 3, line 25                                                                                                            
          (5) encourages or assists in a violation of AS                                                                        
          15.20.081.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS asked for comments from the Division of Elections.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  LAURA GLAISER,  director, Division  of Elections,  supported                                                               
version \I.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS announced the committee adopted version \I.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HOLLIS  FRENCH asked  if removing  subsection (j)  is the                                                               
intent of the  committee - making it a crime  to violate any part                                                               
of the entire statute.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT answered yes.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH said he wanted  to make sure any initial violation                                                               
of AS 15.20.081 was a class  A misdemeanor and a second violation                                                               
would be a felony.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS answered if it  is knowingly and willfully done, it                                                               
would be a violation.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH  voiced  concern  with how  a  judge  would  view                                                               
Section 3, subsection (j), paragraph  (2), and indicated there is                                                               
still  a  question  as  to  who can  be  penalized  for  carrying                                                               
absentee ballots.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS.  GLAISER  replied that  the  Division  of Elections  receives                                                               
applications  through FedEx  Express  and DHL,  which is  another                                                               
form  of service.  The  sponsor's  intent was  to  make sure  the                                                               
information in the application was concealed.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH  asked  if   the  information  was  appropriately                                                               
concealed,  what  difference  does   it  make  who  delivers  the                                                               
application.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT commented  that  no party  has  any right  to                                                               
handle ballots. The  intent is to restrict  political groups from                                                               
ballot delivery.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS agreed.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  moved  CSSB  36 (JUD)  out  with  individual                                                               
recommendations and a zero fiscal note.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS heard no objection  and CSSB 36(JUD) was passed out                                                               
of committee.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
             SJR 1-CONST. AM:  APPROPRIATION LIMIT                                                                          
9:30:48 AM                                                                                                                  
CHAIR SEEKINS announced SJR 1 was up for consideration.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRED  DYSON and  Lucky Schultz,  staff to  Senator Dyson,                                                               
introduced themselves as sponsors of SJR 1.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DYSON  asked  the committee  to  accept  the  conceptual                                                               
amendment to SJR 1.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS  announced  to  the   committee  that  they  would                                                               
consider the amendment.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DYSON  informed Chair Seekins that  the Finance committee                                                               
would deal with the numbers portion of SJR 1.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:33:36 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS announced  that  his intent  was  to consider  the                                                               
judiciary portion of SJR 1 and  to allow the Finance committee to                                                               
look at the numbers.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DYSON advised  Chair Seekins  that the  base number  has                                                               
been adjusted to cover the out years.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS  referred to  a  conceptual  amendment before  the                                                               
committee  and  the  committee members  discussed  the  amendment                                                               
language.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS moved  to adopt Amendment 2.  Hearing no objection,                                                               
the committee adopted Amendment 2.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS  referred  back  to  Amendment  1  and  asked  the                                                               
committee "what  if the Legislature  itself deems that  there are                                                               
extraordinary circumstances  that needs  to be  addressed outside                                                               
of the Governor's request?"                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. LUCKY SCHULTZ  answered that a clause was added  last year to                                                               
accomplish that  scenario and if  the committee prefers  it could                                                               
be added to SJR 1.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:38:34 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS advised  that he is attempting to  be proactive. He                                                               
said a  political body (such  as the Governor), which  has fiscal                                                               
responsibility  should  never  be  allowed  to  consider  special                                                               
circumstances.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR FRENCH referred to separation of powers.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS answered  that  he  was not  willing  to give  the                                                               
Governor too much power.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:39:32 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT said he wants to see a balance of power.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS  agreed saying  he  would  like  to see  that  the                                                               
Legislature  also   has  authority   to  determine  what   is  an                                                               
extraordinary circumstance, by a two-thirds vote.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT  said the Governor  can call a  committee back                                                               
into  special   session  but   can't  force   them  to   make  an                                                               
appropriation. The  committee can  pass an appropriation  but the                                                               
Governor can veto it.  It is a check and balance.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DYSON advised that language  from last year's bill covers                                                               
the issue. He read the language:                                                                                                
     If  the Legislature  by law  declares an  extraordinary                                                                    
     circumstance  exists  upon  affirmative  vote  of  two-                                                                    
     thirds of  the members  of each house,  Legislature may                                                                    
     pass  an appropriation  that exceeds  the appropriation                                                                    
     limit under  this section to address  the extraordinary                                                                    
     circumstances.  Notwithstanding Section  17 of  Article                                                                    
     2,  a  bill  declaring  an  extraordinary  circumstance                                                                    
     passed  by the  Legislature may  not become  law unless                                                                    
     signed by the Governor.                                                                                                    
Discussion last year was, "what  if the Governor vetoes it? Would                                                               
there have to be a three-quarter vote to overrule the Governor?"                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:41:34 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  said when  the Governor  is faced  with a  veto or                                                               
with declaring  extraordinary circumstances;  the cat  is already                                                               
out of the bag.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DYSON  offered  to  add   a  conceptual  amendment  with                                                               
language from last year's bill.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS said he would be more comfortable with that.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:42:21 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT asked Senator Dyson  to work with the drafters                                                               
and  come  back  to  committee  with  the  appropriate  committee                                                               
substitute.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. SCHULTZ said  if the Legislature passes  an appropriation for                                                               
a special circumstance, it cannot  become law until signed by the                                                               
Governor, but SJR1 says both parties must agree.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS said  he feels more comfortable that  it be subject                                                               
to the same procedure that any other bill would be.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:43:24 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS agreed.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DYSON said  there is some reason to move  SJR 1 with some                                                               
dispatch since  budget decisions  must be  made soon.  A spending                                                               
limit has  populace appeal.  The committee  could ask  the Senate                                                               
President  to  give additional  referral  back  to the  Judiciary                                                               
Committee once the Finance Committee has done its work.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS  said the  committee could  pass SJR  1 out  in the                                                               
next meeting.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:46:07 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON  said he  would support any  extra time  and effort                                                               
spent  on constitutional  issues  when  considering amending  the                                                               
constitution.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS referred  to a point made by  Senator French, which                                                               
was  what if  a big  argument negatively  affected the  education                                                               
budget? The Legislature needs the  override ability of the normal                                                               
course.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DYSON  agreed  to  finish   the  amendment  before  next                                                               
committee meeting.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SJR 1 was held in committee.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
              SJR 4-CONST AM: BUDGET RESERVE FUND                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:48:59 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS announced SJR 4 was up for consideration.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DYSON asked  if the Legislature should  make repaying the                                                               
constitutional budget  reserve (CBR) a  priority in years  with a                                                               
surplus, and  getting it  up to  $5 billion  dollars as  a buffer                                                               
fund.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS said maybe there  should be an escalator built into                                                               
the amendment so that the  Legislature doesn't have to re-address                                                               
the dollar amount in the future.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT said he does  not like escalators. Setting the                                                               
buffer at $5 billion should cover  things for the near future and                                                               
then it wouldn't be difficult to step it up when needed.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:51:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS agreed  and offered  to  consider a  5 or  10-year                                                               
review.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT  said SJR 4  should probably have gone  to the                                                               
Finance Committee before the Judiciary Committee.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS announced  the committee  might  request a  second                                                               
referral after Finance has finished with SJR 4.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DYSON  agreed  with Senator  Therriault  being  wary  of                                                               
escalators on  the spending side.  SJR 4 is different  because it                                                               
is  the financial  back  up that  bonding  ratings are  dependent                                                               
upon.  SJR  4 will  bring  voters  because  of  the appeal  of  a                                                               
disciplined spending.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:54:18 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS said  the  CBR  fulfills two  functions,  it is  a                                                               
buffer for  bad years and it  is a cash flow  account. There must                                                               
be an amount in the CBR to handle cash flow variations.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:54:55 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SCHULTZ said  last year  the Governor  suggested $1  billion                                                               
dollars  as the  minimum. SJR  4  does not  limit the  CBR to  $5                                                               
billion dollars it limits the payments.  The CBR can grow past $5                                                               
billion from other sources.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:55:49 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  advised Senator  Dyson and  the committee  that he                                                               
would  watch SJR  4 and  ask for  a second  referral back  to the                                                               
Judiciary Committee.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS  made a  motion to  move SJR  4 out  of committee                                                               
with individual recommendations and zero fiscal notes.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS heard no objections and so the motion passed.                                                                     
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Seekins adjourned the meeting at 9:57:19 AM.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                

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