Legislature(1997 - 1998)
02/06/1998 01:45 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 36 Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to redistricting of the legislature, and repealing as obsolete language in the article setting out the apportionment schedule used to elect the members of the first state legislature. Co-Chair Therriault distributed a new version of HJR 36 - 0-LS0939\F, CS HJR 36 (JUD). [Copy on file]. Co-Chair Therriault proposed a conceptual amendment to the version before the Committee. He noted the confusion in language used to describe election districts versus Senate districts. Election districts as described in the bill are actually House districts. Co-Chair Therriault proposed that the word "election" be replaced with "House" on Page 1, Lines 7 and 9, and Page 2, Lines 12 and 13. He MOVED that as Amendment #1. JEFF LOGAN, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN, commented that in the original constitution, Senate districts were not changed each time there was a census. Senate districts were set based on geography. Therefore, there was no need in changing those lines, although, House numbers did change with the census. The drafters placed "election" districts rather than "House" in those spots. He agreed that inserting "House" would diminish the confusion and that Representative Green would support the change. Legal Counsel will make the changes elsewhere in the bill to make it conform to the Alaska State Constitution. Representative J. Davies referenced Section 5, suggesting that section specify House and Senate districts. Co-Chair Therriault stated that he intended to offer an additional amendment changing that language. There being NO OBJECTION to Amendment #1, it was adopted. Co-Chair Therriault MOVED to adopt Amendment #2. [Copy on file]. He commented that Amendment #2 would modify Section 5 of the Resolution, leaving the proposed language. Representative J. Davies recommended deleting "and" in the first line. Representative Martin opposed using the word "contiguous". Co-Chair Therriault pointed out that "contiguous" is used instead of "compact". Representative Martin reiterated his concern with that language. Representative J. Davies noted that if "contiguous" was not used, two separate compact territories could result. Using "contiguous" guarantees that it remains one area. Representative J. Davies offered a friendly amendment to Amendment #2 adding "each" before House. Co-Chair Therriault agreed to that change. Representative Martin OBJECTED to Amendment #2. A roll call vote was taken on the Motion. IN FAVOR: J. Davies, G. Davis, Foster, Kelly, Kohring, Hanley, Therriault OPPOSED: Martin The MOTION PASSED (7-1). Representatives Foster, Moses and Mulder were not present for the vote. Representative J. Davies MOVED to adopt Amendment #3. [Copy on file]. Because of previous action taken, he noted that the second portion of the amendment would be deleted. Co-Chair Therriault OBJECTED to the new Amendment #3 for the purpose of discussion. Representative Martin requested to add language to the amendment on Page 2, Line 13, changing "contiguous" and adding the word "adjacent". Representative J. Davies OBJECTED. He noted that it was his intent to remove the word "contiguous" when addressing circumstances relative to Senate districts composed of contiguous House districts. He advised that dropping "contiguous" could alleviate the possibility of a lawsuit for the State. Co-Chair Hanley thought that removing "contiguous" could create a situation in which unconnected areas were grouped inappropriately together. Representative Martin WITHDREW his motion to amend Amendment #3. Representative J. Davies WITHDREW Amendment areas "shall" be adjacent unless impractical. There being NO OBJECTION, Amendment #3 was WITHDRAWN. Co-Chair Therriault recommended that the Committee wait to receive the new redraft before further changes were adopted. Representative J. Davies MOVED to adopt Amendment #4. [Copy on file]. Co-Chair Therriault OBJECTED for the purpose of discussion. Representative J. Davies commented that Amendment #4 would address who could be on the Advisory Board to the Governor. Currently, the proposed legislation specifies that the board will consist of five members, none of whom can be public employees or officials. He pointed out that such a broad statement disenfranchises over 50% of the State population. Co-Chair Therriault replied, when the Constitution was written, there were a smaller number of people who fell into that category, at that time it was acceptable. He did not see a compelling reason to change that. Representative J. Davies stressed that 50% of the population would not be eligible to serve on the board with that language. Mr. Logan noted that the sponsor of the legislation would oppose the amendment as written. He asked that a clearer definition of what a "public" employee is be determined. Mr. Logan said that the language would not exclude all public employees, pointing out that there have been military personnel on the board. Representative J. Davies WITHDREW Amendment #4. There being NO OBJECTION, it was withdrawn. Representative J. Davies requested that the sponsor consider adding language, which would address the concerns in Amendments #4 & #5. [Copy on file]. Co-Chair Therriault asked for further clarification regarding census taking of people in hotels. Mr. Logan noted that the Director of Census, Martin Turner, has advised that hotel guests are counted, but there is a procedure used called "key night" when at the census date, enumerators are sent to those locations. Persons who are staying at the hotels on the census date that are transient are asked if they have another permanent address and then crosschecked at the other address. If they are permanent residences of the hotel, they then are included in the census. Representative Martin pointed out that many hotels are for homeless. Co-Chair Therriault stated that a new draft of the proposed legislation will be distributed to Committee members at a later date. Representative J. Davies stated for the record that he does not propose to discriminate against military residents. Mr. Logan addressed a previous accusation from the Department of Law regarding the sponsor's intent for the legislation. In the House Judiciary Committee, the intent was to establish a clear record in order to maintain the status quo. There is a preference that two House districts touching create a Senate district, but in those cases where there is a geographical challenge due to water, the current configuration is acceptable. Mr. Logan quoted material indicating the U.S. Supreme Court preference toward single member districts. Representative J. Davies commented that the fact of the Court preference does not establish that it is an absolute requirement. He stated that it should not be concluded from those findings that some single member districts could violate representation. Mr. Logan summarized, there are seventeen (17) states that allow multi member districts. HJR 36 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.