Legislature(1997 - 1998)

02/06/1998 01:45 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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.                        

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