Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/05/1993 08:00 AM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HJR 20:  AMEND N. AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT                              
  Number 183                                                                   
  offered to explain how the International Trade and Tourism                   
  (ITT) Committee substitute differed from the original                        
  version of HJR 20.  He read from the resolution, which                       
  called for the federal government and partners in the North                  
  American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to give consideration                  
  to the potential impact on Alaska's economy, labor force and                 
  MR. AUSTIN explained that the CSHJR 20 (ITT) adds language                   
  on line 6 regarding NAFTA's ability to challenge states'                     
  rights.  Lines 10 and 11, he said, delete language regarding                 
  banned chemicals and agricultural controls.  Line 11 adds                    
  "state standards," he added.  Page 2 of CSHJR 20 (ITT), he                   
  explained, adds a new "whereas" clause regarding jobs lost,                  
  and line 3 added language regarding dispute resolution.                      
  MR. AUSTIN continued his explanation of CSHJR 20 (ITT),                      
  noting a new "resolve" clause on line 5, requiring a vote                    
  within 90 days.  Line 11 on page 2, he said, adds another                    
  resolve clause calling for the full partnership of the                       
  Number 290                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KAY BROWN, PRIME SPONSOR OF HJR 20, told the                  
  committee that it was important to let the U.S. Congress                     
  know the state's concerns relating to NAFTA, to avoid having                 
  the state's powers usurped.                                                  
  REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN referred to a recent energy                         
  conference in Washington, D.C. and noted the overwhelming                    
  support voiced for NAFTA there.  He commented that HJR 20                    
  appears to say that Alaska does not like NAFTA.                              
  Number 321                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE BROWN responded that HJR 20 does not                          
  necessarily say that the state does not like NAFTA.  Rather,                 
  she explained, it sends a message that energy-producing                      
  states will lose jobs as a result of NAFTA.  She added that                  
  Mexico is a competitor as an oil producer, and pointed out                   
  that there are areas of NAFTA that need to be addressed to                   
  keep the agreement from having a negative impact on the                      
  state.  Environmental standards, she added, were also in                     
  jeopardy of being compromised.  She cited as an example the                  
  biodegradable plastic rings on soda and beer six-packs.                      
  REPRESENTATIVE BROWN said that as a result of NAFTA's policy                 
  of adopting the "lowest common denominator" in environmental                 
  standards, that environmental safeguard could be                             
  compromised, she said.                                                       
  Number 350                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DAVIES referred to deleted language in                   
  CSHJR 20 (ITT) regarding the use of banned chemicals, and                    
  noted that it was his impression that the U.S. Department of                 
  Agriculture was not doing a good job of enforcing and                        
  implementing environmental safeguards.                                       
  MR. AUSTIN replied that this was an area where negotiation                   
  was on-going.  He explained that the Department of                           
  Agriculture had been instructed to keep strict restrictions,                 
  and that the real question was one of enforcement and                        
  inspection.  He confirmed for Representative Davies that                     
  standards would be maintained.                                               
  Number 380                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE referred to the resolve clause that                     
  said the state legislature was a partner in dispute                          
  resolution, and raised the question of problems this might                   
  create with U.S. sovereignty, as well as potential confusion                 
  with a number of individual states involved in any one                       
  dispute.  He suggested it might never get resolved with too                  
  many parties involved.                                                       
  REPRESENTATIVE BROWN explained that state involvement in                     
  dispute resolution would only occur when one state's laws                    
  are affected by activities associated with NAFTA.  She                       
  agreed it would be cumbersome if all states were involved in                 
  resolving a dispute.                                                         
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES suggested clarifying that section to                   
  specify that the state would be involved and not the state                   
  Number 410                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS announced the committee would now take                     
  testimony from the teleconference sites.                                     
  JOHN C. BHEND, REPRESENTING HIMSELF, believed NAFTA was ill-                 
  conceived, and would result in jobs from Alaska and the rest                 
  of the U.S. being lost to Mexico.  He suggested that the                     
  agreement won't help the conditions of workers in Mexico,                    
  and that it hurts the rights of working people.  In                          
  addition, he cautioned that NAFTA undermines environmental                   
  standards and does not provide a means for enforcing                         
  standards.  Other problems he saw with NAFTA included                        
  conflicts with states's sovereignty and the hampering of                     
  efforts to lower health care costs.                                          
  Number 467                                                                   
  MR. BHEND cautioned that NAFTA would be an economic and                      
  social disaster as increasing numbers of jobs will be lost                   
  to Mexico.  He noted that Canada's economy had suffered                      
  already, and he estimated that approximately 500,000 jobs                    
  will be lost from the United States.  A ripple effect was                    
  likely to reach into the entire economy, he added.  He                       
  stated his support of HJR 20, to ensure that Alaska benefits                 
  from and is not harmed by increased international trade.                     
  testified via teleconference from Kenai.  He directed                        
  members' attention to his written testimony contained in                     
  their bill packets.  (A copy of Mr. Dekerlegand's testimony                  
  may be found in the House Resources Committee Room, Capitol                  
  Room 124, and after the adjournment of the second session of                 
  the 18th Alaska State Legislature, in the Legislative                        
  Reference Library.)                                                          
  Number 532                                                                   
  via teleconference from Kenai.  She asked Representative                     
  Brown whether the various agencies and departments of the                    
  state had prepared reports to show the anticipated impact                    
  that NAFTA would have on Alaska.                                             
  REPRESENTATIVE BROWN answered that she was not aware of any.                 
  She said she had worked with the Office of International                     
  Trade in preparing HJR 20, but added that the administration                 
  had not taken a position.                                                    
  MS. BENNETT-SCHRAEDER told the committee that the impact of                  
  NAFTA on the state is too important for agencies to remain                   
  CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS asked if any one else wished to testify on                 
  HJR 20. There was no response.                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES made a MOTION to move CSHJR 20 (ITT)                   
  with individual recommendations.                                             
  CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS noted before taking a vote on the motion                   
  that the comments of Mr. Dekerlegand of Kenai would be                       
  included with the bill files as part of the record on                        
  HJR 20.                                                                      
  Number 560                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES recommended that the                          
  legislative research office be requested to provide more                     
   information on the impact NAFTA would have on Alaska.  She                  
  also suggested the administration provide the legislature                    
  with a position on HJR 20 and on NAFTA.                                      
  REPRESENTATIVE BROWN agreed that this work would be on-going                 
  during the legislative interim.  She mentioned that Alaska                   
  had responded to a survey circulated among states regarding                  
  potential effects of NAFTA, but added that the survey dealt                  
  only with banking and securities' issues.  She noted that it                 
  is difficult to determine the effects of something like                      
  NAFTA until the effects actually take place.  There was no                   
  data base on which to gauge the effects, she said, although                  
  she was convinced NAFTA would affect a number of areas of                    
  the state's economy.                                                         
  Number 601                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE JAMES agreed that we would not know what                      
  NAFTA would do until it was done, but added that everyone                    
  needed to be aware of the potential effects.                                 
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES underscored that there had been                        
  frustrations in attempts to establish local hire provisions,                 
  and that it was important to work now to avoid similar                       
  potential problems associated with NAFTA.                                    
  Number 612                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS referred to the motion before the                          
  committee to move CSHJR 20 (ITT) from the Resources                          
  committee with individual recommendations.  He asked if                      
  there were any objections, and hearing none, the MOTION                      

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