Legislature(1993 - 1994)

01/25/1993 09:06 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                 SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                                
                        January 25, 1993                                       
                            9:06 a.m.                                          
                                                                               
                                                                               
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
  Senator Loren Leman, Chairman                                                
  Senator Mike Miller, Vice Chairman                                           
  Senator Robin Taylor                                                         
  Senator Jim Duncan                                                           
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
  Senator Johnny Ellis                                                         
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
  SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 6                                                
  Proposing amendments  to the  Constitution of  the State  of                 
  Alaska  authorizing the use  of the initiative  to amend the                 
  Constitution  of  the   State  of  Alaska  by   approval  of                 
  two-thirds of the votes cast on the proposed amendment.                      
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
                                                                               
  SJR 6 - No previous action to record.                                        
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
  Senator Rick Halford                                                         
  State Capitol                                                                
  Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182                                                    
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of SJR 6.                                       
                                                                               
  Chip Thoma                                                                   
  Juneau, Alaska 99801                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SJR 6.                          
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
  TAPE 93-4, SIDE A                                                            
  Number 001                                                                   
                                                                               
  Chairman  Leman called  the  Senate State  Affairs Committee                 
  meeting to order at 9:06 a.m.                                                
                                                                               
  Number 016                                                                   
  The only order of business to come before the committee                      
  was SJR 6 (USE OF INITIATIVE TO AMEND CONSTITUTION).                         
                                                                               
  SENATOR  HALFORD,  sponsor  of  SJR  6, explained  that  the                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  resolution allows  some access  to the  constitution by  the                 
  people.  He said that  Alaska's constitution is inaccessible                 
  to the people, except for every  ten years.  Senator Halford                 
  indicated that he doesn't think that the constitution should                 
  be amendable as  easily as  a statute.   He doesn't  believe                 
  there  should  be constitutional  debate  on every  divisive                 
  issue that people want  to argue about and get  enough votes                 
  to place it  on the ballot.  SJR 6 requires a super majority                 
  and it tries to  be consistent in a different  way with what                 
  the intent of the original  constitutional convention was in                 
  requiring two-thirds of the legislature to put a question on                 
  the ballot.  Senator Halford explained that if an issue goes                 
  to the ballot  by the initiative  process, it then  requires                 
  two-thirds of  those voting  on the  question.   He said  it                 
  builds  a  safety   valve  without   taking  away  all   the                 
  protections for minorities.                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 063                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR TAYLOR asked  Senator Halford if he  has applied the                 
  two-thirds vote  question to  other states  that can  change                 
  their constitution by initiative.  Senator Halford explained                 
  that California is probably the worst  example of the use of                 
  an initiative process  and most  of their initiatives  don't                 
  pass.  He said  it takes a certain amount of  dollars to pay                 
  people to collect the  signatures.  The result is  the group                 
  that opposes the initiative gets a counter initiative on the                 
  ballot.  He  noted most of  the time both initiatives  fail.                 
  Senator  Halford  continued  to   discuss  the  process   in                 
  California.                                                                  
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN LEMAN  indicated that  he is  a  co-sponsor of  the                 
  legislation and he believes that the  bill is a good step in                 
  the right direction.   He asked if research is  available as                 
  to how many of the initiatives have passed that have been on                 
  the ballot,  in Alaska,  since statehood.   Senator  Halford                 
  continued  to  read  information  which  would  have  passed                 
  including changes to the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the                 
  veteran's  housing, resident  hiring  preference, change  of                 
  name to  Lieutenant Governor,  right to  privacy, voting  on                 
  constitutional  amendments  in  general  elections,  limited                 
  entry fisheries, etc.  He noted that there is one state that                 
  allows initiative  access to  the constitution  only in  the                 
  area   of  limitations  on   government.    Senator  Halford                 
  concluded that  there is  a need  for public  access to  the                 
  constitution.                                                                
                                                                               
  Chairman Leman explained  that in  Alaska, it is  relatively                 
  easy to get  issues on the  ballot and to  have a number  of                 
  issues on the  ballot may clutter the ballot.   They may not                 
  get the two-thirds vote, but  they would be there.  He  said                 
  it might  be just that much more  for people to wade through                 
  when they  are voting.   He asked if  it would be  better to                 
  make it more  difficult to get the  issue on the  ballot and                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  for it to pass once it reached  the ballot.  SENATOR HALFORD                 
  said he believes  that making  it more difficult  to get  an                 
  issue on the ballot  probably has more merit than  making it                 
  easier to pass once it is on the ballot.                                     
                                                                               
  Number 175                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR DUNCAN asked if there is  information as to how many                 
  states allow amending their constitution through initiative.                 
  He  also asked  if a  lot of  states are leaning  toward the                 
  initiative direction.   Senator Halford  indicated he  would                 
  get the information.                                                         
                                                                               
  CHIP THOMA, representing  himself, testified  in support  of                 
  SJR 6.   He said it allows valid  access, by the people, for                 
  the purposes of recall.  He  discussed his dealings with the                 
  recall of the governor and lieutenant governor over the last                 
  year and  a  half.   He  explained in  the research  of  the                 
  constitutional records  and the  subsequent statutes,  which                 
  have  been  implemented  by  the  legislature  dealing  with                 
  recall,  it is very  obvious that the  elected officials and                 
  those   who   wanted  to   be   elected  officials   at  the                 
  constitutional convention,  threw up  impediments to  recall                 
  elected officials.   Mr. Thoma  explained that it  now takes                 
  thirty-five  percent  of  those who  voted  in  the previous                 
  election  to  sign petitions  for  a  recall to  get  on the                 
  ballot.  However, for  Ross Perot to get  on the ballot,  it                 
  took only one  percent.   He discussed eliminating  judicial                 
  review of the  grounds for recall and  lowering the petition                 
  gathering to  five  percent.   Mr. Thoma  continued to  give                 
  testimony in favor of the resolution.                                        
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN  LEMAN indicated  that he  would like  to hold  the                 
  legislation until the next meeting.                                          
  Number 275                                                                   
                                                                               
  There  being  no   further  business  to  come   before  the                 
  committee, Chairman Leman adjourned the meeting at 9:24 a.m.                 

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