Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/11/1996 03:32 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
               SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                                
                         April 11, 1996                                        
                           3:32 p.m.                                           
                                                                               
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
 Senator Bert Sharp, Chairman                                                  
 Senator Randy Phillips, Vice-Chairman                                         
 Senator Loren Leman                                                           
 Senator Dave Donley                                                           
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
 Senator Jim Duncan                                                            
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
 HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 32                                            
 Establishing YUKLA 27 Remembrance Day.                                        
                                                                               
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO.  192(FIN) am                                            
 "An Act relating to housing assistance provided by the Alaska                 
 Housing Finance Corporation and to its rural housing programs, to             
 the corporation's supplemental housing development grants to                  
 regional housing authorities, and to housing programs of regional             
 housing authorities; permitting regional housing authorities to               
 make, originate, and service loans for the purchase and development           
 of residential housing; and amending the definitions of `rural' and           
 `small community' as applied in various housing programs."                    
                                                                               
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 211(FIN)                                                
 "An Act relating to voter registration and to state election                  
 administration."                                                              
                                                                               
 SENATE BILL NO. 182                                                           
 "An Act relating to elections; relating to the division of                    
 elections; relating to voter registration procedures; and providing           
 for an effective date."                                                       
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
                                                                               
 HCR 32 - No previous Senate committee action.                                 
                                                                               
 HB 192 - No previous Senate committee action.                                 
                                                                               
 HB 211 - No previous Senate committee action.                                 
                                                                               
 SB 182 - No previous Senate committee action.                                 
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
 Bryce Edgmon, Aide                                                            
 Representative Richard Foster                                                 
 State Capitol, Juneau, AK 99801-1182¶(907)465-3789                            
   POSITION STATEMENT: prime sponsor of HB 192                                 
                                                                               
 Bruce Kavarok, Executive Director                                             
 Bering Straits Regional Housing Authority                                     
 P.O. Box 995, Nome, AK 99762¶(907)443-5256                                    
   POSITION STATEMENT: supports HB 192                                         
                                                                               
 John Bitney                                                                   
 Alaska Housing Finance Corporation                                            
 Department of Revenue                                                         
 P.O. Box 101020, Anchorage, AK 99510-1020¶(907)561-1900                       
   POSITION STATEMENT: supports HB 192                                         
                                                                               
 Patti Swensen, Aide                                                           
 Representative Con Bunde                                                      
 State Capitol, Juneau, AK 99801-1182¶(907)465-4843                            
   POSITION STATEMENT: prime sponsor of HB 211                                 
                                                                               
 Gaye J. Vaughan, Borough Clerk                                                
 Kenai Peninsula Borough                                                       
 144 N. Binkley, Soldotna, AK 99669-7599¶(907)262-4441                         
   POSITION STATEMENT: submitted written testimony opposing HB 211             
                                                                               
 Diane Shriner                                                                 
 Division of Elections                                                         
 P.O. Box 110017, Juneau, AK 99811-0017¶(907)465-4611                          
   POSITION STATEMENT: supports HB 211 except for 2 sections                   
   POSITION STATEMENT: representing governor-prime sponsor SB 182              
                                                                               
 Jed Whittaker                                                                 
 Anchorage, AK                                                                 
   POSITION STATEMENT: testified on HB 211 and SB 182                          
                                                                               
 Mike O'Callaghan                                                              
 1540 Medfra St., Anchorage, AK ¶(907)277-8889                                 
   POSITION STATEMENT: testified on HB 211                                     
                                                                               
 Kathleen Strasbaugh, Assistant Attorney General                               
 Civil Division (Juneau)                                                       
 Department of Law                                                             
 P.O. Box 110300, Juneau, AK 99811-0300¶(907)465-3600                          
   POSITION STATEMENT: testified on HB 211 and SB 182                          
                                                                               
 Bob Motznik                                                                   
 8301 Briarwood, Anchorage, AK 99516¶(907)344-6254                             
   POSITION STATEMENT: testified on HB 211                                     
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-28, SIDE A                                                            
                                                                               
               HCR 32 YUKLA 27 REMEMBRANCE DAY                               
                                                                               
 Number 001                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP called the Senate State Affairs Committee to order             
 at 3:32 p.m. and brought up HCR 32 as the first order of business             
 before the committee.                                                         
                                                                               
 Number 025                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN made a motion to discharge HCR 32 from the Senate               
 State Affairs Committee with individual recommendations.                      
                                                                               
 Number 035                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, stated HCR 32 was discharged            
 from the Senate State Affairs Committee.                                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
                  HB 192 AHFC HOUSING LOANS                                  
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP brought up HB 192 as the next order of business                
 before the Senate State Affairs Committee.  He called the sponsor's           
 representative to testify.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 050                                                                    
                                                                               
 BRYCE EDGMON, Aide to Representative Richard Foster, prime sponsor            
 of HB 192, stated the bill is directed towards helping meet home              
 financing needs in rural Alaska.  Mr. Edgmon read the sectional               
 analysis in members' bill packets, which was submitted by AHFC.               
                                                                               
 Section 1 would allow regional housing authorities to originate and           
 service mortgage loans.                                                       
                                                                               
 Section 2 would allow supplemental housing development grant funds            
 to be used for both on-site and off-site water and sewer                      
 facilities.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Section 3 attempts to clarify the existing statute.  It does not              
 make any substantive changes.                                                 
                                                                               
 Section 4 establishes a priority system for the allocation of                 
 supplemental housing development grant funds used to pay for off-             
 site water and sewer facilities.                                              
                                                                               
 Section 5 exempts projects constructed under the Building Material            
 Loan Program from energy standards provided under AS 18.56.096(c).            
 Section 6 exempts projects constructed under the Building Material            
 Loan Program from construction standards provided under AS                    
 18.56.300.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Section 7 amends the statute regarding the Rural Assistance Loan              
 Program to allow for the refinancing of rural mortgages in the same           
 manner as AHFC's mortgage programs allow for the refinancing of               
 urban loans.                                                                  
                                                                               
 Section 8 would allow AHFC to make loans for rural non-owner                  
 occupied housing, to the extent feasible, to someone who already              
 has an AHFC loan for an existing owner-occupied residence.                    
                                                                               
 Section 9 expands the existing Building Materials Loan Program to             
 allow for small ($20,000.00 or less), unsecured loans for borrowers           
 who have either restrictive deed lands or have no title to their              
 HUD Mutual Help home.  [Mr. Edgmon informed the committee that                
 federal law prohibits people who own homes on native allotments               
 from using the land as collateral in securing a loan.]                        
                                                                               
 Section 10 is a conforming change to coordinate this statute with             
 the change made in the first part of Section 12.                              
                                                                               
 Section 11 is a conforming change to coordinate this statute with             
 with the change made in the first part of Section 12.                         
                                                                               
 Section 12 clarifies the definition of non-owner occupied housing             
 as rental housing.  In addition, the definition of multi-family               
 rental house is changed from an 8 to a 16 unit dwelling.                      
                                                                               
 Section 13 would bring the term "housing" into compliance with                
 industry standards that view the term as owner-occupied housing of            
 up to 4 units.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 185                                                                    
                                                                               
 BRUCE KAVAROK, Executive Director, Bering Straits Regional Housing            
 Authority, testifying from Nome, stated the authority serves Nome             
 and sixteen other communities in the Nome area.  Mr. Kavarok stated           
 the Bering Straits Regional Housing Authority and the Association             
 of Alaska Housing Authorities, which represents Alaska's fourteen             
 regional housing authorities and AHFC, support HB 192.  The bill              
 has significant importance for Alaska's regional housing                      
 authorities in their mission to provide decent, safe, sanitary, and           
 affordable housing to families throughout Alaska.  Several of the             
 housing programs now available from AHFC and other sources like the           
 Farmers' Home Administration and the Veterans' Administration are             
 severely under-utilized in rural Alaska.  Part of the reason is               
 village economics, but another part is the lack of rural access to            
 information and the basic mechanics of loan programs.  There are              
 low and moderate-income families in his region and throughout the             
 state who could benefit from one or more of these programs and                
 achieve their goals of home ownership.                                        
                                                                               
 MR. KAVAROK stated that there is virtually no tradition for                   
 conventional mortgage lending in housing development in rural                 
 Alaska.  Expanding access to AHFC loans, as HB 192 would do,                  
 coordinating with lending institutions, and the recent willingness            
 of the secondary mortgage market (FHA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, for           
 example) to participate in rural housing programs appear as a few             
 bright spots on the horizon.  Mr. Kavarok also gave a run-down of             
 the sections of HB 192.                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 245                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked Mr. Kavarok if he could explain the              
 language on page 6, lines 4-7 regarding the restricted deed issued            
 by the Secretary of the Interior.                                             
                                                                               
 MR. KAVAROK replied there are two types of deeds that he runs into.           
 The Native Allotment act of 1909 specified that native allotments             
 above 260 acres could be selected.  The deed is held in trust by              
 the Secretary of the Interior on behalf of the allottee.                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked if it is held in trust forever.                  
                                                                               
 MR. KAVAROK responded, yes.  A development that HB 192 doesn't                
 address is the Federal Housing Development Act of 1992.  That act             
 established a home-loan guarantee program which provides for a                
 federal subsidized loan guarantee for financial institutions,                 
 including AHFC, to protect them when they make mortgage loans on              
 these types of restricted deeds.  The drive behind that legislation           
 was Indian reservations in the lower forty-eight, where                       
 reservations are all trust land held by the federal government.  He           
 believes AHFC has either participated or is looking at                        
 participating in one of the first loans of this kind in Alaska that           
 would take advantage of that federal home loan guarantee.                     
                                                                               
 Number 290                                                                    
                                                                               
 JOHN BITNEY, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, stated AHFC                  
 supports HB 192.                                                              
                                                                               
 Number 295                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked if refinancing is not allowed right              
 now.                                                                          
                                                                               
 MR. BITNEY responded that currently, refinancing is not an option             
 under state statutes relating to AHFC.  If a person were to                   
 refinance their mortgage right now, they would have to do                     
 substantial improvements to their home in order to get a new loan.            
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked if that is an oversight in the laws              
 dealing with AHFC.                                                            
                                                                               
 MR. BITNEY stated he is not familiar with the history, but he would           
 say it's definitely an oversight, since it's a very common mortgage           
 option nation-wide.                                                           
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asked Mr. Bitney if he's received copies of the                
 amendments, and if so, how does AHFC feel about the amendments?               
                                                                               
 MR. BITNEY responded he has seen 3 1/2 amendments.  He stated he              
 would like to address the amendment applying to Section 1.  That              
 amendment would attempt to limit regional housing authorities to              
 making loans only in rural areas of the state.  Apparently there              
 was some concern expressed that, by bringing regional housing                 
 authorities into urban Alaska, they might compete with traditional            
 mortgage lenders.  AHFC worked with the Mortgage Bankers                      
 Association to come up with compromise language.  Committee members           
 have that amendment, which is labeled amendment #2.  Amendment #2             
 would limit the regional housing authorities to making loans in               
 rural areas.  There would be an exception for making loans in urban           
 areas to under-served borrowers.                                              
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked what the mortgage bankers think about            
 amendment #2.                                                                 
                                                                               
 MR. BITNEY replied he did not speak to them directly, but it is his           
 understanding that the "under-served borrowers" term was their                
 suggestion for a compromise.                                                  
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP stated that is his understanding also.                         
                                                                               
 Number 335                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. BITNEY stated that AHFC does not have a position on the other             
 amendments.                                                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR DONLEY made a motion to adopt amendment #1 for purposes of            
 discussion.                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP stated that amendment #1 would allow regional                  
 housing authorities to originate and service loans in rural areas,            
 as defined in HB 192.  It would also allow them to originate and              
 service loans to "under-served urban borrowers".  This amendment              
 seemed to be satisfactory to all concerned parties.                           
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asked if amendment #1 would be a new Section 1.                 
                                                                               
 MR. BITNEY responded amendment #1 would be a revision to Section 1.         
                                                                               
 Number 355                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked if this would prohibit a mortgage                
 lending institution from serving a small community.                           
                                                                               
 MR. BITNEY replied it would not.  Section 1 only applies to the               
 ability of a regional housing authority to get into the loans                 
 business.                                                                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked if this would be in competition with             
 mortgage lending institutions.                                                
                                                                               
 MR. BITNEY responded that was a concern that the banks had.  This             
 language was compromise language worked up with the Mortgage                  
 Bankers Association.  They were concerned with regional housing               
 authorities getting into making loans in urban areas, in                      
 competition with them.  This would limit urban activities to just             
 serving under-served borrowers.                                               
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asked if there were objections to amendment #1.                
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS objected.  He stated he wanted to check it             
 out.  How many bankers have looked at this?                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN stated the amendment would limit the agency a little            
 bit more.                                                                     
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asked that the roll be called on amendment #1.                 
                                                                               
 Amendment #1 passed by a vote of 3 yeas, 1 nay, and 1 absent.                 
 Voting for the amendment were Senators Sharp, Leman, and Donley.              
 Voting against the amendment was Senator Phillips.  Senator Duncan            
 was absent.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 385                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN made a motion to adopt amendment #2.                            
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP stated the purpose of amendment #2, of which                   
 language was contained in the original bill but was removed on the            
 House floor, is to establish age 55.                                          
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN stated that "age 55" is the definition under federal            
 law.                                                                          
                                                                               
 SENATOR DONLEY asked who took the language out.                               
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP responded it was Representative Martin.                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN thought that Representative Martin thought "age 55"             
 was broadening it.  But it was actually hurting seniors that the              
 state definition didn't match the federal definition.  "Age 55" was           
 taken out on the floor of the House, and he probably didn't realize           
 the ramifications.                                                            
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asked if there was any objection to amendment #2.              
 Hearing no objection, he stated the amendment was adopted.                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR DONLEY made a motion to adopt amendment #3 for purposes of            
 discussion.                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP stated that amendment #3 would assure that any funds           
 coming from AHFC to the regional corporations would be used in                
 accordance with the Equal Housing Opportunity laws.                           
                                                                               
 Number 405                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asked if there was objection to amendment #3.                  
 Hearing no objection, he stated the amendment was adopted.                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR DONLEY made a motion to discharge HB 192 from the Senate              
 State Affairs Committee with individual recommendations.                      
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, stated HB 192 was discharged            
 from the Senate State Affairs Committee.                                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked who in the Mortgage Bankers                      
 Association approved the language in amendment #1.                            
                                                                               
 MR. BITNEY responded it was the president of the Mortgage Bankers             
 Association.                                                                  
                                                                               
                                                                               
            HB 211 VOTER REGISTRATION & ELECTIONS                            
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP brought up HB 211 as the next order of business                
 before the Senate State Affairs Committee.  He called the sponsor's           
 representative to testify.                                                    
                                                                               
 PATTI SWENSEN, Aide to Representative Con Bunde, prime sponsor of             
 HB 211, stated HB 211 would do five things:                                   
                                                                               
 1) Require the names of inactive voters to be maintained on the               
 official voter registration list;                                             
                                                                               
 2) Authorizes the preparation and distribution of the voter                   
 registration list;                                                            
                                                                               
 3) Requires the Division of Elections to purge deceased voters                
 monthly, and convicted felons promptly;                                       
                                                                               
 4) Increase communications from the Division of Elections to                  
 absentee voters and to questioned ballot voters after the primary             
 regarding the status of their vote;                                           
 5) Prohibits the appointment of any state employees to the data               
 processing review board.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 445                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asked what type of information people who purchase              
 voter lists will receive.                                                     
                                                                               
 MS. SWENSEN responded they can receive active and inactive under HB
 211.                                                                          
                                                                               
 SENATOR DONLEY thinks one of the biggest problems relating to                 
 elections right now is allowing ballots that come in after the                
 election date to be counted.  He does not think that other states             
 allow ballots that arrive after the date of an election to be                 
 counted.                                                                      
                                                                               
 MS. SWENSEN stated she hasn't heard of a problem with that.                   
                                                                               
 Number 480                                                                    
                                                                               
 DIANE SHRINER, Division of Elections, stated the division supports            
 HB 211, with the exception of two sections.  She stated a letter              
 was submitted to the committee outlining the concerns of the                  
 Division of Elections.  The division has no problem with expanding            
 the voter registration lists available to candidates.  But in some            
 precincts, adding inactive voters to the official register                    
 available at the precincts could add as many as 2,000 voters.                 
 Until we bring the state law into compliance with the National                
 Voter Registration Act, we are not presently purging or clearing              
 any voters from the roles, and haven't done so in several years.              
 It's been approximately four years since any voters have been                 
 removed from the roles.  The division thinks it would be confusing            
 to never remove voters from the roles.  The Division of Elections             
 has just processed over 26,000 registrations through the permanent            
 fund dividend applications.  Approximately 13,000 of those did                
 contain address changes.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 515                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER stated the other section the division is concerned with           
 is Section 9.  If we were to send a written summary of the reason             
 for the challenge of all partially counted ballots, which occurs              
 when someone votes outside their precinct or district, that could             
 be very discouraging.  The division does take Representative                  
 Bunde's concerns seriously.                                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN thinks that at any given time, the information on the           
 voter list for his district has a 20% inaccuracy rate.                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR DONLEY suggested limiting sending permanent fund dividends            
 to addresses where people were registered to vote; you would                  
 probably get really accurate information.                                     
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER noted the Division of Elections thinks that it probably           
 has attracted a lot of people who think they aren't going to get              
 their permanent fund dividend if they don't update voter                      
 registration information.                                                     
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP stated one of the most frustrating things for people           
 is having to vote a challenged ballot because they're not on the              
 voter registration lists.  He thinks it would be beneficial to have           
 an inactive list to accommodate a voter in that situation.                    
                                                                               
 Number 562                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR DONLEY asked if the division has a position on modifying              
 the absentee voting process, as far as a cutoff date for counting             
 ballots.                                                                      
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER responded the history of that is that Alaska is remote            
 and we have a great number of overseas voters and the mail is not             
 very reliable.  Part of the reason for extending the deadline for             
 receiving absentee ballots is to ensure that ballots mailed by the            
 deadline are actually received.  Ballots must be mailed by the date           
 of the election, but are counted if they are received within                  
 fifteen days after the election.                                              
                                                                               
 SENATOR DONLEY asked if the division has a position on whether they           
 like those rules or not.                                                      
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER replied that has not been addressed this year.                    
                                                                               
 Number 585                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asked if voters would be purged after two election              
 cycles or two years.                                                          
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER responded that SB 182 and HB 349 would change that from           
 two years.  But two years is not in compliance with federal law,              
 and we are moving to comply by making it four calendar years, or              
 two general election cycles.                                                  
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-28, SIDE B                                                            
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER stated people's names are not purged from voter                   
 registration lists after four years if they simply haven't voted,             
 but only if the division has had no contact at all with them in               
 four years.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 580                                                                    
                                                                               
 JED WHITTAKER stated he has a problem with Section 1 of HB 211.  He           
 thinks that most citizens like to complain about politicians, but             
 they don't accept responsibility for informing themselves.  He                
 doesn't think it's too much to ask that a citizen register to vote            
 and occasionally vote.  He thinks having inactivated voters on the            
 list could create the potential for fraud.  Mr. Whittaker also has            
 a problem with Section 10.  He thinks the language is broad.  The             
 Data Processing Review Board should have a representative from                
 every political party, not just two political parties.  He                    
 commended Representative Bunde for addressing the inadequacies in             
 Title 15.  He also suggested conducting elections by mail.  Mr.               
 Whittaker thinks ballots should be counted at the precinct and at             
 the computer tabulation level.                                                
                                                                               
 Number 530                                                                    
                                                                               
 MIKE O'CALLAGHAN stated there is a fundamental problem with                   
 elections in the State of Alaska.  The court recently declared that           
 the 1992 and 1994 primaries and subsequent elections were conducted           
 illegally.  According to information from Bob Motznik, Joe Swanson            
 allowed 1,543 people to vote illegally in the last election.  Those           
 names were purged from the voters roles as inactive.  State law               
 specifies that the Division of Elections purge inactive voters                
 after two years, and the division has no authority to do anything             
 other than what the law dictates.  The law also specifies that if             
 a person's name has been purged, they must re-register 30 days                
 prior to the next election in order to be eligible.  The director             
 allowed these votes to be cast as contested ballots, and they were            
 counted.  As we all know, Knowles won by 500 votes.  He has a                 
 problem with that.                                                            
                                                                               
 MR. O'CALLAGHAN stated it is important that with the National Voter           
 Registration Act there is no purging.  Under that law, no names can           
 be purged from any voter list.  He thinks that is a fundamental               
 violation of state's rights in conducting elections.  He encouraged           
 a more restrictive application, which is allowable under law.  He             
 thinks names should be purged from voter registration lists.                  
 Certainly they could be kept on a separate list.  Regarding Section           
 10, there were significant problems with the Data Processing Review           
 Board during the last election.  Three days prior to the election,            
 the top three people on the state-wide board were Division of                 
 Elections employees.  He sees a conflict of interest in having                
 division employees overseeing the data processing.  So he is glad             
 to see that a state employee may not serve on the board.  But he              
 was discouraged to see that none of the Data Processing Review                
 Boards across the state were constructed according to law.  The               
 boards don't have any information; the test decks that they run               
 through the systems are designed by the contractor.  He stated                
 there were significant problems with voter elections in the valley            
 [Matsu Valley].  When the test deck was run through the system                
 seven days before the election, they found an error: that error               
 would have allowed votes cast for one candidate to be counted for             
 another candidate.  Another problem in the valley was the computer            
 program was checked 24 hours before the election, and they said               
 there wasn't a problem.  However, during the counting of votes, a             
 problem was found.  He stated he knows of other problems, but they            
 pertain mostly to SB 182, so he will hold that testimony.  He                 
 thinks it's extremely important that the purging law be followed.             
                                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 465                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR DONLEY asked if there is a court case or some other basis             
 for counting the votes of people who aren't properly registered to            
 vote.                                                                         
                                                                               
 KATHLEEN STRASBAUGH, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division               
 (Juneau), Department of Law, replied she doesn't know to which                
 incident Mr. O'Callaghan is referring.  She assumes he was                    
 referring to challenged ballots that were counted with which he               
 disagreed.  The doctrine is that the voter receives the benefit of            
 the doubt, and the law is interpreted to allow a voter to cast                
 their ballot.                                                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR DONLEY asked what the current policy of the division is               
 regarding purging.                                                            
                                                                               
 MS. STRASBAUGH responded there is a difference between "inactive"             
 and "purged".  If they're on the inactive list, they would be                 
 permitted to vote.  The inactive list is growing increasingly                 
 larger because of a problem with enforcing the current purge law.             
 It is not true that you cannot purge at all.  The federal act is              
 euphemistic in its' reference to purging, but there is a purging              
 process, it's just much more involved.                                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR DONLEY asked if a person is purged, then their vote isn't             
 counted, but if they're on the inactive list, then their vote is              
 counted.                                                                      
                                                                               
 MS. STRASBAUGH stated if they are in the right place and can show             
 their residency; it isn't just carte blanche.                                 
                                                                               
 Number 430                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked how people registered to vote in his             
 district could have residence addresses in Palmer, Wasilla, Nome,             
 and other areas outside his district.  He stated that about 10% of            
 the people registered to vote in his district actually reside                 
 outside the district.                                                         
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER replied that the division is not even inactivating                
 anyone anymore.  They are not doing anything until they get some              
 clarification on the federal law.  The division supports having the           
 voter lists as clean and true as possible.                                    
                                                                               
 Number 390                                                                    
 BOB MOTZNIK, testifying from Anchorage, stated that the election in           
 1994 turned into a royal mess.  He repeated some of the problems              
 related to the committee in writing.  The Division of Elections               
 failed to change the voter registration of many voters who filed              
 changes long before the deadline for doing so.  The Data Processing           
 Review Board is an oversight board; it's purpose is to determine              
 whether the Division of Elections did their job correctly.  There             
 should not be any elections staff on that board.  It is his                   
 understanding that the test decks that were run were made by the              
 vendor.  In his experience, it is the Data Processing Review                  
 Board's job to test the program, which would mean they would make             
 the test decks to verify the accuracy, not the vendor.  A lot of              
 these problems were brought out in the court case against the                 
 governor's race.  The Attorney General just said, "Oh, everything's           
 okay."  Of course, he was defending the state, so he has to say               
 that everything is okay.  Mr. Motznik thinks that people who took             
 the time to vote should know if their ballots aren't counted.                 
                                                                               
 Number 330                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS made a motion to discharge HB 211 from the             
 Senate State Affairs Committee with individual recommendations.               
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, stated HB 211 was discharged            
 from the Senate State Affairs Committee.                                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
        SB 182 ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATION & VOTER REG'N                        
                                                                               
 Number 325                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP brought up SB 182 as the next order of business                
 before the Senate State Affairs Committee.                                    
                                                                               
 DIANE SHRINER, Division of Elections, representing the governor,              
 prime sponsor of SB 182, stated that the primary sections if this             
 bill are housekeeping sections.  Those sections would bring the               
 Division of Elections into compliance with the National Voter                 
 Registration Act.  Two substantive sections are Sections 21 and 41.           
 The division would entertain removing Section 41, which is a pilot            
 program for voting by mail.  The division feels that it is getting            
 too late in the election cycle.  The house thinks we should move in           
 the direction of by-mail voting, but that the subject needs more              
 study.  We would like to see a bill that addresses just the by-mail           
 voting subject, but after it's had more study.                                
                                                                               
 Number 260                                                                    
                                                                               
 KATHLEEN STRASBAUGH, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division               
 (Juneau), Department of Law, stated the Justice Department had                
 concerns with HB 303 (from several years ago), which would have               
 adapted Alaska's laws to the National Voter Registration Act.  The            
 concerns were well-taken, so we withdrew our request for pre-                 
 clearance to avoid the interposing of objections.  We are now back            
 before you to ask for some changes.  It really isn't the Justice              
 Department's job to enforce the voter registration act.  However,             
 they are entitled to address things which, in their view, deter               
 voters in protected classes.  For that reason, we have removed some           
 remaining references to oaths, and changed that to an attestation             
 procedure.  Section 7 is directed at having two election cycles,              
 instead of two years.  In the house, that was changed to four                 
 years, instead of two election cycles.  On page 5, line 5, she                
 thinks it should say absentee and mail ballots, instead of just               
 absentee, because there are some elections that occur by mail, such           
 as REAA elections.                                                            
                                                                               
 MS. STRASBAUGH stated it's true that their inactivation process is            
 not really a purging.  The National Voter Registration Act doesn't            
 use the word purge.  It does have a process for finding out if                
 someone can still vote or not.  There is a way to clean up the list           
 even under this law.                                                          
                                                                               
 Number 185                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS made a motion to adopt the State Affairs               
 Committee substitute for SB 182.                                              
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, stated the committee                    
 substitute was adopted.                                                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS made a motion to adopt an amendment to page            
 5, line 5: add "or a ballot by mail" after "absentee ballot".                 
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, stated the amendment was                
 adopted.                                                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS offered an amendment to page 14, line 24:              
 delete Section 41.                                                            
                                                                               
 Number 160                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asked if there was any objection.  Hearing none, he            
 stated the amendment was adopted.                                             
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP is concerned that not purging names from the voter             
 registration lists will increase the opportunity for fraud.                   
                                                                               
 Number 110                                                                    
                                                                               
 JED WHITTAKER stated there should be a bonified signature on a                
 voter registration form.  He doesn't think it's sufficient to                 
 register to vote by fax machine.                                              
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked what kind of safeguard there is on               
 that.                                                                         
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER stated she will look for an answer to that question.              
                                                                               
 MR. WHITTAKER stated that a lot of people don't vote anymore, and             
 there's something wrong with that.  Democracy is falling down.  He            
 thinks Section 30 would make it more expensive for candidates to              
 share information with citizens.  He thinks that should be free to            
 candidates, because they are performing a public service and trying           
 to uplift this flailing democracy that we have now.  Section 30               
 would raise the price for putting your position in the official               
 election pamphlet.                                                            
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked why the price is being raised.                   
                                                                               
 MS. SHRINER responded that the cost of that pamphlet is several               
 times the amount in the bill.  There hasn't been an increase to               
 that since the mid-1980's.                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. WHITTAKER thinks that infringes on the freedom of speech.                 
 Given the role that money plays in today's campaigns, he thinks               
 raising the price might be prohibitive to some candidates.                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP announced that the meeting needed to come to a                 
 close.  He asked the pleasure of the committee regarding SB 182.              
                                                                               
 Number 025                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS made a motion to discharge SB 182 from the             
 Senate State Affairs Committee with individual recommendations.               
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, stated SB 182 was discharged            
 from the Senate State Affairs Committee.                                      
                                                                               
 Number 006                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP adjourned the Senate State Affairs Committee meeting           
 at 5:05 p.m.                                                                  
                                                                               

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