Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/13/1993 08:00 AM House STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 256: PLACEMENT OF LEGISLATIVE INTERNS Number 500 JUDY JORDAN, LEGISLATIVE AIDE TO REPRESENTATIVE GAIL 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 group. 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 TINA PAGE, STUDENT INTERN FOR SENATOR JIM DUNCAN, testified 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 priorities. 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 JOHN PUGH, DEAN OF ARTS AND SCIENCES, UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA 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 process. 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 MARTHA KING, STUDENT INTERN TO SENATOR GEORGIANNA LINCOLN, 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 DEBBIE BANASYAK, STUDENT INTERN TO REPRESENTATIVE BETTYE 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 itself. 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 provisions. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT stated likewise. Number 235 REPRESENTATIVE G. DAVIS urged committee members to also take into account geographic preferences of students. ADJOURNMENT 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.