Legislature(1999 - 2000)
04/23/1999 01:45 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SJR 8 - FAIR AND ACCURATE CENSUS CHAIRMAN KOTT announced the first order of business is SJR 8, Relating to the 2000 decennial United States census and to the development of redistricting data for use by the state in legislative redistricting. Number 0060 MARK HODGINS, Legislative Assistant to Senator Jerry Ward, Alaska State Legislature, came before the committee to present the sponsor statement. This resolution urges Congress and the Bureau of the Census to conduct the 2000 decennial census consistent with the ruling of Department of Commerce v. United States House and the Constitution of the United States. The bureau plans on using random sampling techniques, or other statistical methods, instead of an actual enumeration. A random sampling technique or other statistical method could raise serious issues of vote dilution and violate "one-person, one-vote" legal protections. An analogy is flying over an area to count moose then extrapolating that number to the entire state. An even better analogy is counting a few fish then deciding that the Kenai River is over or under escapement and curtailing the various industries. He noted that a random sampling technique or other statistical method could create problems with the way the state House and Senate lines are drawn. Therefore, it is very important that there is an accurate count. Number 0197 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked Mr. Hodgins whether there is any legislation pending before Congress for this resolution to be used for testimony and/or backup. MR. HODGINS replied Congress has some sway with the Bureau of the Census. The resolution simply asks that P.L. 94-171 data be used only if it is done with an actual nose count. He doesn't believe that there is any legislation going through Congress that would impact this resolution. Number 0273 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked Mr. Hodgins whether there is any indication that the Bureau of the Census plans on not being consistent with the ruling. MR. HODGINS replied the Bureau of the Census depends largely on the administration of each state in the formulation of what is called a "book" - the vehicle to decide how each state is to be counted. Senator Ward feels that the best count is an actual nose count. There is always a small amount of statistical count within the census because everybody can't be counted, and every state, borough or municipality has the ability to challenge the count for their area. In researching this issue, the problem is that the military is counted in their home state, and the homeless and other itinerants are assigned a place. This causes quite a bit of problem and litigation throughout the state. Number 0406 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said, according to his understanding, that currently the number the state gets from the Bureau of the Census in determining representation to the U.S. House of Representatives will be an enumeration. He asked Mr. Hodgins whether he has heard of anything indicating that will not be the case. MR. HODGINS replied the emphasis of the resolution is to make sure that the Bureau of the Census uses the enumeration count rather than a statistical sampling. He reiterated there are times when the bureau uses both because it cannot count everybody. Senator Ward wants to make sure that is held to a minimum. Number 0496 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked Mr. Hodgins whether he has heard of anything indicating that the bureau is going to deviate and give a statistical count instead of an actual head count. According to his understanding, in determining the number of representatives for each state, the actual count will be used, and what the states use is up to each state. MR. HODGINS replied no. He has not heard otherwise. Number 0569 REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA asked Mr. Hodgins to explain the intent of the following "whereas" clause: "WHEREAS the Alaska State Legislature believes that a person, once enumerated, should never be omitted from census figures provided to states for purposes of redistricting; and" REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA wondered about a person who dies or moves. Number 0597 MR. HODGINS replied he's not sure whether the definition of a person is "alive" in that "whereas" clause. He is assuming that once a person passes on that person would no longer be a person. The idea for this clause is that once a person is counted that person cannot be used for a statistical count for drawing up a district line within the state. Number 0642 REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA stated, maybe, it should be worded, "should never be part of a sample..." It looks like a person could never move to another state. Number 0657 MR. HODGINS said the census is a snapshot of where people are at a given time. If a person is counted in one place, that person cannot be counted in another place, which is what the "whereas" clause is referring to. Number 0673 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES said her experience is that, if a person dies or moves when the count is made, the count stays part of the enumeration process. Number 0714 REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI said she agrees that the language is less than clear and suggested looking at it. She thinks the language, "once enumerated we don't go the statistical route," says what everybody is in agreement on. Number 0751 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES said she is not sure that the "whereas" clause is needed at all. Number 0765 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN suggested the following language: "once enumerated, should not be submitted to statistical variation" Number 0776 MR. HODGINS stated the purpose of the "whereas" clause is, drawing on an analogy, that once an application is submitted for a permanent fund dividend and the person applying dies, it still goes toward that person's estate. However, this is an actual count on a given day of the population of the United States, which is how the lines are drawn. If somebody dies or is born the next day, that somebody is not counted and cannot be removed from the count. The idea is to get a static figure to be used for district lines and federal funding. He thinks it should stay within the body of the resolution. Number 0879 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES said she understands the argument, but it doesn't say what it's intended to say. In accordance with her understanding of the census process, it doesn't mean if a person dies or moves away. It means that once a person is counted in an enumeration that person shouldn't be counted in any other calculation, which is being said in several other ways in the resolution. She's not sure whether it needs to be said again. Number 0935 MR. HODGINS said the gist of the "whereas" clause is saying, once the count has been made, the figures should not be changed. Number 0950 CHAIRMAN KOTT questioned Mr. Hodgins as to whether that is not how it is done currently. MR. HODGINS replied it is a long and involved process. He noted that municipalities and communities can protest the count to adjust their numbers. It is to a city's advantage, in general, to have as many of its citizens counted as accurately as possible because of funding. Number 0987 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN offered [as an amendment] to strike the language - "never be omitted from census figures provided to states" - and insert the language - "not be involved in a statistical sampling procedure" - on page 2, line 20 [Amendment 1]. REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA wondered whether it would be better to say "sampling or other statistical methodologies" in order to be consistent with other language in the resolution. In addition, once the word "never" is used... REPRESENTATIVE GREEN interjected and stated that his amendment would take the word "never" out. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN further stated that Representative Kerttula brings up an interesting point and suggested the following language: "should not be involved in sampling or other statistical methodologies" REPRESENTATIVE JAMES questioned whether it should say "involved" or "counted." UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER replied it should say counted. CHAIRMAN KOTT noted that Representative James' question is a friendly amendment to Representative Green's suggestion. CHAIRMAN KOTT asked whether there is any objection to the amendment, as amended. There being none, it was so adopted. Number 1138 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked Mr. Hodgins whether there was any indication from the Senate of including a copy of the resolution to the head of the Bureau of the Census [a conceptual amendment]. MR. HODGINS replied he thinks that would be an appropriate amendment. CHAIRMAN KOTT noted that since this resolution directs attention to the bureau, they ought to have it firsthand. He further noted that the correct title will be obtained. CHAIRMAN KOTT asked whether there is any objection to the conceptual amendment. There being none, it was so adopted. Number 1236 CHAIRMAN KOTT closed the meeting to public testimony. Number 1240 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES made a motion to move SJR 8, as amended, from the committee with individual recommendations and the attached fiscal note(s). There being no objection, HCS SJR 8(JUD) was so moved from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.