Legislature(2005 - 2006)HOUSE FINANCE 519
01/18/2006 01:30 PM House FINANCE
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2:16:39 PM HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 7 Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska to correct obsolete references to the office of secretary of state by substituting references to the office of lieutenant governor. Representative Hawker MOVED to ADOPT bill 24-LS0340\A as the version of the bill before the Committee. Representative Weyhrauch OBJECTED, to ask what happened to the House Judiciary version. HEATH HILYARD, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE TOM ANDERSON, SPONSOR, advised that the sponsor requested that the Committee revert back to the original document, HJR 7, version \A. Representative Weyhrauch WITHDREW his OBJECTION. There being NO further OBJECTIONS, the "A" version was before the Committee. 2:17:54 PM Mr. Hilyard explained that in 1970, the Legislature proposed and the voters approved a series of amendments to the State Constitution that changed the name from the office of "Secretary of State" to the office of "Lieutenant Governor". At that time, the drafting attorneys did not catch all the references to "Secretary of State". 2:18:42 PM Representative Weyhrauch asked why the House Judiciary Committee version was not being considered. Mr. Hilyard explained that in discussions with the Legislative Legal drafter, Jack Chenoweth, it was determined that the gender- neutral language did not fit with the subject of the title. In addition, there was concern, it might require a second constitutional amendment to make all language gender-neutral throughout the Constitution. It became a concern that the amendment made in the House Judiciary Committee would not be appropriate. 2:19:34 PM Representative Weyhrauch asked if the mistake was just discovered. Mr. Hilyard understood it resulted when the reviser, Jack Chenoweth, discussed what could result. He commented that folks were aware of it for sometime, but had never addressed it. 2:20:20 PM Representative Kerttula did not understand how it could be considered outside the title with the obsolete references. 2:20:47 PM ANNETTE KREITZER, CHIEF OF STAFF, OFFICE OF THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, noted that she could "not shed light" on which version should be used. She offered to answer Committee questions regarding the fiscal note. 2:21:08 PM Representative Kerttula reiterated concerns why changing the language to gender-neutral would create problems. 2:21:22 PM Mr. Hilyard understood that those gender-neutral references were not referring properly to the Lt. Governor, but rather the legislator or the principal head of the department, as opposed to references of the Office of the Secretary of State. He thought the language might require a second constitutional amendment to correct all gender references. 2:22:08 PM Representative Hawker stressed that constitutional amendments are a "big deal". The original reference was overlooked. He offered that placing a constitutional amendment before the people to correct a typographical error might not rise to the proper degree of importance. He asked the consequences of not doing it. Mr. Hilyard pointed out it is a constitutional concern and of significant importance. The legislators will have come to that conclusion and thought the determination could be reflected in each legislators vote. 2:23:49 PM Representative Hawker asked if the Lt. Governor's office had a position on correcting a typographical error and making it rise to sufficient import to put on the election ballot. 2:24:11 PM Ms. Kreitzer responded that would be a policy question; to date, their office had not been consulted regarding that issue. She did not know which version, noting that during printing, there have been minor changes made to specific words and punctuation. That list of corrections was made available to the Legislative Affairs Agency and had been corrected on line. The State Constitution has been around for over 30 years. She did not think it would cause harm, but could cause confusion to those outside Alaska. 2:26:08 PM Representative Hawker pointed out that the 2001 version before the Committee was not an accurate copy of the State's Constitution. Ms. Kreitzer acknowledged that was correct. Representative Hawker was appalled. 2:26:45 PM Representative Hawker questioned if it was legally correct as amended. Ms. Kreitzer replied that it was and that the version before the Committee contained references to the Secretary of State rather than the Lt. Governor. 2:27:30 PM Representative Weyhrauch questioned if the issue should be "nit picked". He thought it was an organic and important document and worried about amending it. Co-Chair Chenault interjected his thoughts that the only time that document should be changed is when the people of the State indicate it should be. 2:28:30 PM JACK CHENOWETH, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), ASSISTANT REVISOR, LEGISLATIVE LEGAL COUNSEL, LEGISLATIVE LEGAL & RESEARCH SERVICES, JUNEAU, agreed with what Ms. Kreitzer had said and offered to answer any further questions of the Committee. 2:28:48 PM Representative Kerttula reiterated concerns with the lack of the gender-neutral language. She pointed out that "legislator" was in the title and that the title could be changed. She noted that it does refer to the Lt. Governor as a "he". Representative Kerttula asked what it would take to make the Alaska Constitution gender-neutral. Mr. Chenoweth thought that it would be a much broader bill to make the language gender neutral. Legislators proposing a change and then the people voting on that change make the process of amending the Constitution. It would be a long exercise and constitutional amendment to make the change. 2:30:20 PM Representative Hawker agreed that "fixes" should be made. He noted that he always believed that "Secretary of State" was the appropriate designation as opposed to Lt. Governor. 2:31:50 PM Mr. Hilyard explained that the sponsor had not considered that. He thought could be a debate that the legislature should have at a later date. Mr. Hilyard suggested that the concern is a broad policy issue. 2:32:31 PM Ms. Kreitzer thought that the Lt. Governor would enjoy and appreciate such a discussion. 2:33:06 PM Representative Weyhrauch inquired who was the Lt. Governor's designee. 2:33:15 PM Mr. Chenoweth informed members that Bill Corbus, Commissioner, Department of Revenue, was the Lt. Governor's designee. 2:33:41 PM Representative Hawker referenced the updated fiscal note and moved to adopt it. There being no objection, it was adopted. WHITNEY BREWSTER, (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF ELECTIONS, offered to answer any questions regarding the fiscal note. 2:35:03 PM Co-Chair Chenault asked if $1500 dollars would cover the costs. Ms. Brewster noted that if there was a need to increase the ballot size, costs could increase up to $22,000 dollars. Co-Chair Chenault asked when the real number would be known. Ms. Brewster responded that it would be clearer by the end of the legislative session as to how many constitutional amendments would be shown on the general election ballot. Currently, there are two possible initiatives on that ballot. 2:36:08 PM Ms. Brewster added that it was unlikely that the State would need to move to a larger sized note based on previous years experience. 2:36:26 PM Representative Foster MOVED to REPORT HJR 7 out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the accompanying new fiscal note. Representative Kerttula clarified that she did not object but noted for the record that the legislature should consider an insertion of gender-neutral language throughout the Alaska Constitution. There being NO OBJECTION to the original motion, it was so ordered. HJR 7 was reported out Committee with "individual recommendations" and with a fiscal note by the Office of the Lieutenant (LT) Governor.