Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 120

03/15/2010 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved CSHB 71(JUD) Out of Committee
Failed To Move Out Of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 355(JUD) Out of Committee
               HB 115 - PERMANENT ABSENTEE VOTING                                                                           
2:25:06 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 115,  "An Act  establishing a  permanent absentee                                                               
voting  option  for  qualified   voters;  and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."  [Before the committee was CSHB 115(STA).]                                                                     
2:25:15 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE BOB BUCH, Alaska  State Legislature, recalled that                                                               
at the  last hearing there  was concern  that the proposal  in HB
115  could  lead to  potential  fraud  in terms  of  fraudulently                                                               
obtaining a  permanent fund  dividend (PFD) or  a ballot.   Those                                                               
concerns  have  been  directed to  the  appropriate  departments,                                                               
including  Tamara  Cook,  Director, Legislative  Legal  Services;                                                               
Deborah Bitney, Director, Permanent  Fund Division, Department of                                                               
Revenue;  and Gail  Fenumiai,  Director,  Division of  Elections,                                                               
Office  of the  Lieutenant  Governor.   With  the  help of  those                                                               
experts, Representative Buch said that  he determined that HB 115                                                               
won't create opportunities for fraud,  but rather will combat it.                                                               
With regard  to the  concern that the  legislation will  cause an                                                               
increase  in   the  fraudulently   obtaining  a   permanent  fund                                                               
dividend, he  explained that HB 115  will create a list  that the                                                               
Permanent Fund  Division can utilize  to verify residency.   With                                                               
regard  to  the  concern  that  there  will  be  an  increase  in                                                               
residents fraudulently obtaining ballots,  a voter may select one                                                               
address to receive  a ballot.  Since ballots  can't be forwarded,                                                               
a voter  who doesn't return the  ballot will be removed  from the                                                               
list.   Whatever degree a voter  is informed has no  bearing on a                                                               
voter's  ability to  obtain  a  ballot.   Mr.  Buch concluded  by                                                               
stating  that  under  this proposed  legislation,  there  are  no                                                               
changes  in the  current procedure  although passage  would allow                                                               
the current process to be streamlined.                                                                                          
CHAIR RAMRAS remarked that he doesn't like HB 115.                                                                              
2:27:33 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO noted  that there is no  certainty that mail                                                               
with  this return  address  will simply  be  returned because  an                                                               
individual could have his/her neighbor  picking up the mail while                                                               
the individual is away.   More importantly, he expressed the need                                                               
to  protect the  public  belief that  the  voting is  legitimate.                                                               
Representative Gatto  characterized this proposed  legislation as                                                               
an  assault on  the legitimacy  of the  vote because  so long  as                                                               
votes  are simply  forwarded, there  is less  assurance that  the                                                               
voting  is  legitimate.   He  indicated  that it's  difficult  to                                                               
corrupt  a vote  when  the vote  is given  at  the voting  booth.                                                               
Furthermore,  he  expressed concern  with  the  amount of  access                                                               
voters can  ignore on  election day by  voting prior  to election                                                               
day.   He said  that he  is satisfied with  existing law  in this                                                               
regard.   In  fact, HB  115 seems  to provide  an opportunity  to                                                               
unduly  influence/corrupt  the  voting with  undue  influence  of                                                               
special   interests,  particularly   when   their  name   doesn't                                                               
necessarily relate to the organization's purpose.                                                                               
2:31:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  RAMRAS   noted  that  he  shares   Representative  Gatto's                                                               
concern.   He then acknowledged  that the letter dated  March 12,                                                               
2010, from  the Permanent Fund  Division specifies, "HB  115 will                                                               
not adversely  impact PFD eligibility determinations."   However,                                                               
he  said  PFD  eligibility  determinations  aren't  his  concern,                                                               
rather  it's  the  fraud  he's concerned  about.    Chair  Ramras                                                               
remarked that he, too, is uncomfortable with HB 115.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG, referring  to the  letter dated  March                                                               
12,  2010, from  the  Permanent Fund  Division,  surmised that  a                                                               
permanent  absentee  ballot  might  raise  a  red  flag  for  PFD                                                               
purposes.    Furthermore,  it might  provide  the  division  with                                                               
additional  information to  prevent  fraud.   To address  concern                                                               
with  regard to  PFD  fraud,  Representative Gruenberg  suggested                                                               
that  the  legislation could  be  amended  to require  an  annual                                                               
updated list  of those individuals  with the status  of permanent                                                               
absentee voters to be sent to the Permanent Fund Division.                                                                      
2:35:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH  related that  he  would  entertain such  an                                                               
amendment  if such  a requirement  isn't  already in  place.   He                                                               
requested  verifying whether  such  a requirement  is already  in                                                               
2:35:46 PM                                                                                                                    
GAIL  FENUMIAI, Director,  Division of  Elections, Office  of the                                                               
Lieutenant  Governor,   explained  that  the  division   sends  a                                                               
statewide voter list to the Permanent Fund Division annually.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  clarified that his suggestion  would be                                                               
for  the Division  of Elections  to  provide a  list annually  of                                                               
those  who  request  permanent   absentee  voter  status  to  the                                                               
Permanent Fund Division.   He asked if the  Division of Elections                                                               
does anything like  the aforementioned.  If not, he  asked if Ms.                                                               
Fenumiai would support such an amendment.                                                                                       
2:37:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  FENUMIAI answered  that the  Division  of Elections  doesn't                                                               
specifically send any  absentee voter list to  the Permanent Fund                                                               
Division.  However, the division  could do so without hardship to                                                               
the Division of Elections.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  related his respect for  the Permanent Fund                                                               
Division  to   weed  out  "bad  applications."     Therefore,  he                                                               
questioned  whether it  would be  appropriate  for the  Permanent                                                               
Fund Corporation  to simply renew the  application annually until                                                               
it's known  that the applicant is  making fraudulent applications                                                               
by  being out-of-state.   He  opined that  no one  would think  a                                                               
permanent absentee permanent fund  dividend application is a good                                                               
idea,  although some  may believe  permanent  absentee voting  is                                                               
acceptable.   Representative  Gatto  further opined  that he  had                                                               
difficulty separating  the two because individuals  who apply for                                                               
the PFD  include everyone while  only half  the people vote.   He                                                               
reiterated concern  of increasing the  amount of voter  fraud and                                                               
special interest groups all at the same time.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE   BUCH   inquired   as  to   from   which   agency                                                               
Representative Gatto is requesting the list.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  clarified that  he isn't asking  any entity                                                               
to provide  a list,  rather he  suggesting a  permanent Permanent                                                               
Fund  Division  application  until the  individual  requests  the                                                               
application be forwarded.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  inquired  as  to  the  support  for  a                                                               
permanent  fund  dividend application  that  would  be "good  for                                                               
several years."                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO replied, "One year at a time."                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG asked  if  individuals  are allowed  to                                                               
apply one year at a time.                                                                                                       
MS.  FENUMIAI  informed  the committee  that  under  federal  law                                                               
enlisted military  personnel are  allowed to apply  [for absentee                                                               
voter status] and  their application is good  through two general                                                               
election cycles.   However, all  other individuals have  to apply                                                               
2:41:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  made  a  motion  to  adopt  Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 1  so that any individual  in the state can  [apply for                                                               
permanent absentee voter status] for two election cycles.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM objected.                                                                                              
2:42:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO indicated a  preference for not treating the                                                               
general population the same as military personnel.                                                                              
2:43:14 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  FENUMIAI, completing  her  earlier  remarks, clarified  that                                                               
military personnel  were allowed  to apply  once for  two general                                                               
election   cycles  until   the  Military   Overseas  and   Voters                                                               
Empowerment Act  was passed.   However, the federal  law recently                                                               
repealed the aforementioned, although it remains in state law.                                                                  
2:43:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   BUCH  remarked   that  he   doesn't  object   to                                                               
Conceptual Amendment 1.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG, in  response to  Representative Gatto,                                                               
clarified that Conceptual Amendment 1  would amend state law that                                                               
only  allows serviceman  to apply  [for permanent  absentee voter                                                               
status]  for   two  election  cycles   to  include   any  Alaskan                                                               
registered voter.                                                                                                               
2:45:11 PM                                                                                                                    
A  roll  call vote  was  taken.   Representatives  Gruenberg  and                                                               
Holmes voted in favor of  the adoption of Conceptual Amendment 1.                                                               
Representatives Dahlstrom, Gatto, Lynn,  and Ramras voted against                                                               
it.  Therefore,  Conceptual Amendment 1 failed to pass  by a vote                                                               
of 2-4.                                                                                                                         
2:45:36 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  made  a  motion  to  adopt  Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 2, which would have  the Division of Elections send the                                                               
Permanent Fund  Division a list  of those who apply  for absentee                                                               
2:46:02 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM objected for  the purpose of discussion.                                                               
Upon further clarification,  Representative Dahlstrom removed her                                                               
There  being no  further  objection, Conceptual  Amendment 2  was                                                               
2:46:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM  moved  to  report  CSHB  115(STA),  as                                                               
amended,  out of  committee with  individual recommendations  and                                                               
the accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                  
2:46:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS and REPRESENTATIVE GATTO objected.                                                                                 
2:47:03 PM                                                                                                                    
A roll  call vote  was taken.   Representatives  Lynn, Gruenberg,                                                               
and  Holmes  voted  in  favor  of  reporting  CSHB  115(STA),  as                                                               
amended,  out of  committee.   Representatives Gatto,  Dahlstrom,                                                               
and  Ramras  voted against  it.    Therefore, CSHB  115(STA),  as                                                               
amended, failed to be reported out of the House Judiciary                                                                       
Standing Committee by a vote of 3-3.                                                                                            
2:47:30 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG served notice of reconsideration.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM related her belief that it's not in                                                                    
order to serve notice of reconsideration in committee.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said that he would check with                                                                          
Legislative Legal Services.  If reconsideration doesn't apply,                                                                  
rescinding the committee's action would be applicable.                                                                          
[CSHB 115(STA), as amended, failed to be reported from                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
1 HB 381 Sponsor Statement HJUD.pdf HJUD 3/15/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 381
3 HB381 Sectional Analysis.pdf HJUD 3/15/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 381
4 HB381 AS 11 81 335.pdf HJUD 3/15/2010 1:00:00 PM
HB 381