Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/13/1993 08:00 AM House STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HB 256:  PLACEMENT OF LEGISLATIVE INTERNS                                    
  Number 500                                                                   
  PHILLIPS, PRIME SPONSOR OF HB 256, explained how the                         
  University of Alaska had joined with the legislature to                      
  create the internship program and that since its inception                   
  in 1987, several students have benefitted from the                           
  experience, as staff gained needed help.  However, she said,                 
  the assignment of interns has not been done fairly, citing                   
  statistics showing of the 56 interns selected in the first                   
  five years of the program, only 12 went to Republican                        
  members.  House Bill 256 would modify AS 26.060 to mandate                   
  an equity in the division of interns.                                        
  Number 526                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS asked the inception date of the                      
  program and whether all 10 slots were filled each year.                      
  MS. JORDAN noted the inception date at 1987 and stated that                  
  several slots remained open in past years.                                   
  Number 540                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY stated his interpretation of AS 26.060                        
  indicated interns would be assigned to standing committees,                  
  and felt this was not being followed.  He interpreted HB 256                 
  to provide assignments to offices and committees, and that                   
  it would allow proportional assignment by party.                             
  Number 567                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS asked why HB 256 was necessary.                      
  MS. JORDAN reiterated the statistics showing only 12 interns                 
  being assigned to Republicans.                                               
  Number 572                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS stated that in past years,                           
  Representatives have been given a choice whether or not they                 
  wanted an intern, while at the same time, interns have been                  
  given a choice as to who they wanted to work for.  She                       
  stated it is not right to force an intern to work for                        
  someone they did not want to work for, and felt certain the                  
  students and the university felt the same way.                               
  MS. JORDAN stated those interns who wanted to work for a                     
  certain party could apply early each year to make certain                    
  they would get their choice, and that as the equally divided                 
  slots filled up, they would eliminate the choice.  She                       
  thought it was beneficial to work for the other side, as she                 
  had in a previous legislature.  She noted that in the job                    
  market, workers often had very little choice where they                      
  might end up.                                                                
  Number 618                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY deemed freshmen legislators would be at a                     
  disadvantage because of a lack of knowledge in the system,                   
  and that it might be better for an intern to work for a                      
  veteran anyway.                                                              
  Number 625                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS felt there was a need to educate                     
  incoming legislators.                                                        
  Number 630                                                                   
  MS. JORDAN stated there were several reasons for legislators                 
  of any experience level not to choose an intern, including                   
  the simple loss of office space.                                             
  Number 635                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked how many legislators applied for                   
  an intern in 1993.                                                           
  MS. JORDAN replied she did not know.                                         
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT wondered if the change in the                            
  legislative makeup would have an impact on the distribution                  
  of interns, and stated he would be interested in seeing the                  
  1993 breakdown.                                                              
  Number 652                                                                   
  MS. JORDAN said there had never been a legislator placed on                  
  the intern selection committees, and noted the intent of the                 
  legislation is not to force interns into working for an                      
  office they did not want to be part of.                                      
  Number 685                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked how HB 256 would address the                       
  possibility of three, four, or five independent or small                     
  party representatives joining the House.                                     
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY noted the Uniform Rules stated any party with                 
  five members in the house were to be treated as a minority                   
  TAPE 93-39, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
  MS. JORDAN said it would be impossible to allocate partial                   
  internship positions to the smaller parties.                                 
  Number 012                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS wondered if it would be                         
  possible to find any Republican college students.  He then                   
  noted even if it was possible, that one of his own staffers                  
  was a Democrat when he served as a House intern, and that                    
  the staff member in particular had learned a lot, including                  
  that he was, in reality, a Republican.                                       
  Number 038                                                                   
  MS. JORDAN noted it was a chance for interns from other                      
  parties to cross over and learn a new point of view.                         
  Number 045                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE HARLEY OLBERG stated it seemed to him to be a                 
  chance for Young Democrats to "see the light."                               
  Number 058                                                                   
  MS. JORDAN felt it was not staff's position to become                        
  partisan anyway, that it was staff's position to reflect the                 
  views and desires of the legislator.                                         
  Number 070                                                                   
  in opposition to HB 256, because it eliminated the option of                 
  choosing who an intern could work for.  She pointed out the                  
  requirement that an intern be a junior in college, a time in                 
  which many choices are made.  She told the committee she                     
  chose Senator Duncan's office based on what she could learn                  
  most, based on advice from friends and former staffers, and                  
  added that partisanship was the lowest on her list of                        
  Number 209                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS asked if the independence of the                     
  choice was the attractiveness of the internship program.                     
  Number 221                                                                   
  MS. PAGE stated it was, that if she had been forced to go to                 
  a particular office or party, she probably wouldn't have                     
  entered the program.                                                         
  Number 241                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked what Ms. Page's priorities were in                 
  making her choice.                                                           
  Number 264                                                                   
  MS. PAGE stated the likelihood the Democrats would form the                  
  majority was the biggest factor, and pointed out her                         
  decision was made prior to the organization's existence.                     
  She felt most interns would go to the majority since that                    
  would be where power would be concentrated.                                  
  Number 285                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if the majority/minority decision                  
  was more of a factor as opposed to partisanship.                             
  Number 292                                                                   
  MS. PAGE replied in the affirmative.                                         
  Number 307                                                                   
  SOUTHEAST, outlined the background of the program from its                   
  inception in 1987.  He stated the program was designed to be                 
  non partisan, and that intern candidates were chosen on the                  
  basis of academics.  He stated when the program was                          
  designed, it was decided to send information packets to all                  
  legislators, general election candidates and students, and                   
  then allow them to contact each other.  As for the                           
  distribution, he noted during the entire five year program,                  
  109 Democrats and 59 Republicans applied for interns, and                    
  that for 1993, the distribution was closer.  He noted 18                     
  Democrats, and 14 Republicans expressed an interest in                       
  having an intern.  He stated there was a leaning toward                      
  placing students with a standing committee at first, which                   
  also may account for the bias toward the Democrats, who were                 
  in the majority four of the program's first five years.                      
  Number 401                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY saw three options for the legislature:  To                    
  either keep the practice as is, amend the practice, or amend                 
  the law to conform with what's now being done.  He asked Mr.                 
  Pugh for a recommendation.                                                   
  Number 410                                                                   
  MR. PUGH stated it was best for students to make the choice                  
  of where to work, because it was an educational process in                   
  itself.  He also said the law should be amended to allow                     
  students to work for legislators other than those on                         
  standing committees.                                                         
  Number 434                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked for more details on the selection                  
  Number 451                                                                   
  MR. PUGH stated there were handouts given to students, and                   
  fliers tacked up on bulletin boards, as well as ads placed                   
  in student newspapers, and active recruiting in political                    
  science and journalism classes.  He stated the program                       
  allowed for ten interns, four from Fairbanks, four from                      
  Anchorage, and two from Juneau.                                              
  Number 490                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked for a detailing of the costs and whose                  
  budget the funding was taken from.                                           
  MR. PUGH stated when the program started, funding was taken                  
  from the Legislative Council.  Then after two years, the                     
  money was put into the university budget, which now pays for                 
  a $3,000 stipend to students, transportation costs, and                      
  $10,000 for supervision of the program.                                      
  Number 511                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY noted in the statute, students were supposed                  
  to be paid $30 a day, and that it seemed to him the figures                  
  did not add up.                                                              
  MR. PUGH stated in the beginning, students were given                        
  $2,500, but that was not enough to cover living costs, so it                 
  was raised.  He stated the apparent discrepancy was there                    
  because students were being paid for an average four day                     
  week, even though they usually worked far more than that.                    
  Number 541                                                                   
  MARY BOGARD, STUDENT INTERN, testified in opposition to HB
  256.  She stated the reason she chose the internship was                     
  because of its educational value, and that the selection                     
  process was part of that process.  Her priorities included                   
  looking at who would be in the majority or minority in the                   
  House and Senate, and if they were sympathetic to single                     
  mothers.  Even though she was an independent, she was                        
  eventually able to make a choice to work for a Republican.                   
  She urged the committee to retain the non partisan aspects                   
  of the program.                                                              
  Number 586                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked how she would evaluate the internship,                  
  as a valuable addition to her work experience or as a                        
  learning experience.                                                         
  Number 597                                                                   
  MS. BOGARD felt the internship was some of both, but seeing                  
  how the body worked was far more of an educational process.                  
  She noted even though she is an older student, until she was                 
  part of the legislative process, her perspective was much                    
  the same of other people younger than her, that the                          
  legislature does not work hard.  She stated since joining                    
  the internship program, that has changed.                                    
  Number 622                                                                   
  testified in opposition to HB 256.  She stated no changes                    
  were needed to the program.  She noted she had been making                   
  choices since high school, including the choice of where to                  
  go to college, what to major in, even what instructors to                    
  take.  She stated she chose Senator Lincoln's office for a                   
  reason and she wouldn't take the stipend nor join the                        
  program had she been forced into another office.                             
  Number 652                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked how the Juneau experience compared to                   
  classroom teaching.                                                          
  Number 660                                                                   
  MS. KING stated the book version of the process was far                      
  different from reality, and that the intent of the program                   
  was to teach those differences.  She stated the intensity of                 
  the learning in Juneau was far tougher than in the classroom                 
  in Fairbanks.                                                                
  TAPE 93-40, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
  DAVIS, testified in opposition to HB 256.  She placed a                      
  premium on finding someone who agreed with her on the                        
  issues, as well as finding someone who was aligned with the                  
  Children's Caucus.  She stated the selection process should                  
  not be changed, because it was a learning experience in                      
  Number 094                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY noted it was unlikely HB 256 would pass in                    
  1993, but asked the committee's pleasure.                                    
  Number 111                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT stated as a point of information that                    
  the process would begin again next year, and if HB 256 did                   
  not pass, the Legislature would be in violation of the law.                  
  He suggested AMENDING HB 256 to DELETE line 20 from page                     
  two, which required assignment to "standing committees."                     
  Number 153                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS agreed a change was needed, but                      
  stated students must be given a choice in what standing                      
  committee they might want to work for, and suggested                         
  SUBSTITUTING the word "or" instead of "and", as stated in HB
  256 and the existing statute.                                                
  Number 224                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY noted the controversy seemed to center around                 
  provisions for making assignments proportional to parties in                 
  the House.                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE B. DAVIS stated she was OPPOSED to those                      
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT stated likewise.                                         
  Number 235                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS urged committee members to also take                 
  into account geographic preferences of students.                             
  Number 259                                                                   
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY noted the House was less than ten minutes                     
  from being called into session, and adjourned the meeting at                 
  9:56 a.m.                                                                    

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