Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106

03/03/2005 08:00 AM House STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Recessed to a call of the Chair --
Moved Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Moved Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
HB  48-EXPENDITURE FOR CAPITOL CONSTRUCTION                                                                                   
8:06:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON announced that the  next order of business was HOUSE                                                               
BILL  NO.  48, "An  Act  relating  to  a determination  of  costs                                                               
attributable to  relocating the legislature or  the state capital                                                               
or of constructing a new  capitol building in the present capital                                                               
city,  and to  a  determination  of all  costs  of retaining  the                                                               
existing  capitol  building and  keeping  the  state capital  and                                                               
legislature  in  the  present capital  city;  relating  to  voter                                                               
approval  of  certain  bondable   costs;  and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
8:06:46 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BILL STOLTZE,  Alaska State  Legislature, as  co-                                                               
sponsor of HB  48, indicated that, since the last  hearing on the                                                               
bill, many  questions arose.   He deferred further  discussion of                                                               
the bill to his staff.                                                                                                          
8:08:16 AM                                                                                                                    
BEN MULLIGAN, Staff to Representative  Bill Stoltze, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, testifying on behalf of Representative Stoltze, co-                                                                
sponsor of HB 48, addressed  the questions that had arisen during                                                               
the  last hearing  on the  bill.   First,  regarding whether  the                                                               
state  would  have  any  jurisdiction over  a  Juneau  bond,  for                                                               
example, he said,  "The city is free  to apply for a  bond to pay                                                               
for a  capitol building."   Second,  he provided  definitions for                                                               
"capitol" - the building and "capital"  - the city serving as the                                                               
seat of  government.  Third,  regarding the meaning of  "new," he                                                               
said there  had been questions  as to whether that  would include                                                               
additions and renovations.  He said  that may be a matter for the                                                               
committee to adopt an amendment to defined the term.                                                                            
8:09:40 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON asked  who has the authority to  negotiate terms for                                                               
lease  agreements  for  buildings   in  the  state,  including  a                                                               
8:10:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  STOLTZE indicated  that  it would  depend on  the                                                               
cost of  the building.   He  noted that some  leases in  the past                                                               
have been controversial.                                                                                                        
8:10:50 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. MULLIGAN said he would look  into an answer regarding at what                                                               
amount the legislature would become involved.                                                                                   
8:11:41 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   STOLTZE,   in   response   to   questions   from                                                               
Representative Gardner,  said he believes the  bill, as currently                                                               
written,  would require  that any  kind of  restructuring of  the                                                               
current use  of the existing  capitol that would  involve partial                                                               
use  of another  existing building  would have  to go  before the                                                               
voters, which  is why his  staff had suggested the  committee may                                                               
want to amend the bill.                                                                                                         
8:12:39 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON reopened public testimony.                                                                                         
8:12:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  STOLTZE  clarified  that  [HB 48]  is  not  about                                                               
moving the  capital, but is  the public's  say about the  cost of                                                               
building a capitol.                                                                                                             
8:13:59 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON asked if Representative  Stoltze has any suggestions                                                               
for amendment language.                                                                                                         
8:14:41 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE  responded that he respects  the committee                                                               
process in  perfecting a bill.   He  said, "This is  certainly my                                                               
best stab at protecting the public's voice."                                                                                    
8:15:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  said he  thinks the committee  would agree  that it                                                               
doesn't  want  to  "have  something   that  would  constrain  the                                                               
legislature from  improving the capitol building."   Furthermore,                                                               
he  encouraged Representative  Stoltze to  provide the  committee                                                               
with any "discrete language."                                                                                                   
8:15:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   STOLTZE   said,   "I   want   flexibility,   not                                                               
8:16:03 AM                                                                                                                    
LEONARD  DEAL, testifying  on behalf  of himself,  stated concern                                                               
about the way the bill is  written.  He offered his understanding                                                               
that the  bill strongly  weighs the costs  - of  either building,                                                               
relocating, or improving - "on the  Juneau side."  He opined that                                                               
the bill  doesn't take into  account what the majority  of people                                                               
in Alaska really want.                                                                                                          
MR. DEAL  directed attention to  [the bill title], which  read as                                                               
     "An   Act  relating   to  a   determination  of   costs                                                                  
     attributable  to  relocating  the  legislature  or  the                                                                  
     state  capital   or  of  constructing  a   new  capitol                                                                  
     building  in  the  present  capital   city,  and  to  a                                                                  
     determination of  all costs  of retaining  the existing                                                                  
     capitol  building and  keeping  the  state capital  and                                                                  
     legislature in  the present  capital city;  relating to                                                                  
     voter   approval  of   certain   bondable  costs;   and                                                                  
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                        
MR. DEAL said  his interpretation of "determination  of all costs                                                             
of  retaining the  existing capitol  building" is  that it  would                                                             
include the  costs of  remodeling.   He noted  that a  capitol is                                                               
anywhere the legislature meets.                                                                                                 
8:18:46 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. DEAL made some comments related to a capital move.                                                                          
8:20:01 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  STOLTZE  proffered  that Mr.  Deal  is  partially                                                               
speaking  to  another  bill sponsored  by  Representative  Norman                                                               
Rokeberg regarding "a competitive process" of capital location.                                                                 
8:20:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON told Mr. Deal that  that bill should be heard by the                                                               
committee in  about a  week, at  which point,  Mr. Deal  would be                                                               
welcome to come back and testify on that issue.                                                                                 
8:20:47 AM                                                                                                                    
WIN GRUENING,  Chair, Alaska Committee, noted  that his committee                                                               
is an  all-volunteer group dedicated  to improving  and enhancing                                                               
Alaska's  capital  city.   He  emphasized  that  the  committee's                                                               
current mission  is to be  proactive, whereas many years  ago, it                                                               
was more  of a reactive  mission -  waiting for the  next capital                                                               
move effort  to surface.  He  stated that the citizens  of Alaska                                                               
have  repeatedly voted  down efforts  to move  the capital.   Mr.                                                               
Gruening offered  a brief history  of results of  the committee's                                                               
proactivity.  He  said the impact of losing the  capital would be                                                               
devastating to  Juneau.   He expressed the  need to  advocate for                                                               
the best and most technologically advanced facilities.                                                                          
8:24:44 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. GRUENING said  whether it's the proposed  legislation or some                                                               
other  proposal,  some  form  of  legislative  approval  will  be                                                               
required and  the cost  would be  known in  advance.   He stated,                                                               
"There is  no need  to amend the  Frank Initiative  to accomplish                                                               
this."  He stated his belief  that the legislature is required to                                                               
approve all leases  in excess of $1 million.   He predicted that,                                                               
unfortunately,  HB  48  may hinder  genuine  efforts  to  improve                                                               
Alaska's capital city.                                                                                                          
8:26:24 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  GRUENING, in  response to  a  request from  Chair Seaton  to                                                               
conclude his testimony  in the interest of time,  stated that the                                                               
FRANK Initiative  was never  designed to be  "used in  this way";                                                               
rather,  it's intent  was  to  prevent the  wholesale  move of  a                                                               
capital city without the electorate  knowing the cost in advance.                                                               
He reminded  the committee members  that the legislature  can, in                                                               
fact, evaluate  and consider future  proposals that  will improve                                                               
the   facilities,   without  unnecessary,   time-consuming,   and                                                               
expensive statewide votes.                                                                                                      
8:27:18 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON closed public testimony.                                                                                           
8:27:28 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER said,  when she  was campaigning,  one of                                                               
the themes brought  to her attention was that  people didn't want                                                               
to go  to a vote over  every little thing that  is controversial.                                                               
She  said constituents  come to  their legislators  with feedback                                                               
and depend on  them to address problems.   Representative Gardner                                                               
stated that she doesn't think HB  48 is necessary.  She indicated                                                               
that her constituents do not support a new capitol building.                                                                    
8:30:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   GATTO  suggested   that  changing   a  room   is                                                               
renovation, while  moving a  building is  beyond renovation.   He                                                               
illustrated several  examples ranging between those  two actions.                                                               
Representative Gatto said  the key question is:   "Does the Frank                                                               
Initiative  indicate  that  whenever   we're  going  to  spend  a                                                               
significant amount of  money involving the only  capital that the                                                               
people  of  the state  have,  shouldn't  they  be entitled  to  a                                                               
voice?"  He said he thinks the answer to that question is yes.                                                                  
8:31:27 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS revealed  that his  constituents, although                                                               
they  would   enjoy  having  better  access   to  their  capital,                                                               
specifically told  him, "Don't  build a new  one and  don't spend                                                               
the money to  move the one that  we have."  He said  he likes his                                                               
office and  the capitol  building just  as it  is.   He suggested                                                               
that there  are more important  concerns before  the legislature,                                                               
such  as  the state's  finances  and  the  burden of  the  Public                                                               
Employees' Retirement System (PERS)  and the Teachers' Retirement                                                               
System (TRS).                                                                                                                   
8:32:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  STOLTZE  said  he and  co-sponsor  Representative                                                               
Carl Gatto will "run the language  proposals by members so we can                                                               
come before  a committee  at your convenience."   He  stated that                                                               
his  primary  goal  is  to  "maintain the  spirit  of  the  Frank                                                               
Initiative."  He indicated that  he thinks most constituents want                                                               
to have a  voice regarding the capitol building.   He added, "The                                                               
way this Frank  Initiative is marketed, I think  folks think they                                                               
have the right to vote."                                                                                                        
8:33:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON,  regarding  the  concerns  expressed  relating  to                                                               
limiting  the scope  of  the bill  so that  it  does not  include                                                               
renovation or  additions to the existing  capitol building, asked                                                               
Representative  Stoltze to  provide the  committee with  language                                                               
addressing that concern.                                                                                                        
8:34:28 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG reminded the  committee that Avrum Gross                                                               
had testified  at a previous  hearing on  HB 48 [on  2/22/05], at                                                               
which time  he had  promised to provide  the committee  with some                                                               
written  legal comments.   He  said he  would like  to get  those                                                               
comments as soon as possible.                                                                                                   
8:35:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  asked all committee  members to get those  types of                                                               
comments to his office as soon as possible.                                                                                     
8:35:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  stated that  [HB  48]  "is a  bill  to                                                               
require a vote."  He noted  that there is a retroactivity clause,                                                               
and  he  questioned  how  a   bill  requiring  a  vote  could  be                                                               
8:36:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON announced that HB 48 was heard and held.                                                                           

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