Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120
02/18/2017 11:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS
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HB 13-NO ST. FUNDS FOR FEDERAL REGISTRY 11:51:37 AM CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that the final order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 13, "An Act prohibiting the expenditure of state or municipal assets to create a registry based on race or religion." 11:52:16 AM REPRESENTATIVE TUCK moved to adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS) for HB 13, Version 30-LS0147\J, as a work draft. There being no objection, Version J was before the committee. 11:52:46 AM REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON presented HB 13, as prime sponsor. He relayed that he visited the local synagogue eight days ago, partly because of his faith and partly because it was the yahrzeit for the late Representative Max Gruenberg, for whom the committee room is named. He explained that a yahrzeit is an annual commemoration of a person's death. He said that at that service, a visiting rabbinical student read the well-known poem by Pastor Martin Niem?ller, written in response to witnessing the holocaust. Representative Josephson read the poem, as follows: First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me. REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON went on to say that this poem has been updated by Rabbi Michael Adam, whose poem was also read during the yahrzeit. Representative Josephson read Mr. Adam's poem, as follows: First they came for the African Americans, and I spoke up because I am my sister's and brother's keeper. And then they came for the women, and I spoke up because women hold a path to sky. And then they came for the Immigrants, and I spoke up because I remember the ideals of our democracy. And then they came for the Muslims, and I spoke up because they are my cousins, and we are one family. And then they came for the Native Americans and Mother Earth, and I spoke up because the blood-soaked land cries and the mountains weep. They keep coming, we keep rising up. REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON commented that this poem was a remarkably fitting commentary on why he introduced HB 13. 11:55:41 AM REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON referred to the 1944 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Toyosaburo Korematsu v. U.S., included in the committee packet. He mentioned that this decision was still the "law of the land," albeit very strongly disfavored. He read from the dissenting opinion by Justice William Francis "Frank" Murphy, which read as follows [original punctuation provided]: I dissent, therefore, from this legalization of racism. Racial discrimination in any form and in any degree has no justifiable part whatever in our democratic way of life. It is unattractive in any setting but it is utterly revolting among a free people who have embraced the principles set forth in the Constitution. All residents of this nation are kin in some way by blood or culture to a foreign land. Yet they are primarily and necessarily a part of the new and distinct civilization of the United States. They must accordingly be treated at all times as the heirs of the American experiment and as entitled to all the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON went on to say there were three comparable dissenting opinions in the Toyosaburo Korematsu v. U.S. decision, written by the three former justices, Murphy, Roberts, and Jackson. He stated that in this 1944 decision, the Supreme Court, by what Representative Josephson considered a remarkable vote of 6-3, gave permission for the U.S. government to randomly and arbitrarily gather up every Japanese American and put him/her into concentration camps. Representative Josephson confirmed that the camps were called concentration camps, and they were also known as internment camps. 11:57:14 AM REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON said that according to what U.S. President Donald Trump has indicated to the press, both before his election and after his election, and what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said just last month, the federal government is considering a registry of certain people based on religion. He asserted that this statement is not a discussion of the immigration order which has been enjoined by at least one appellate court, although the two issues overlap. He asserted that this issue concerns a registry of people who are presently naturalized or born Americans. He went on to say that these people are not travelling Americans, nor are they travelling tourists; they are just Americans, and the administration has indicated a desire to register them. He said that his reason for reading aloud from the Toyosaburo Korematsu v. U.S. decision was to assert his belief that in critical moments, such as now, it is important to document for future and present generations that the Alaska State Legislature "saw this happening" and took a stand. REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON said that HB 13 is similar to the Senate Committee Substitute for Committee Substitute for House Joint Resolution 22(JUD) ("House Joint Resolution 22"), which passed both houses in the Twenty-Third Alaska State Legislature, 2003-2004. He asserted that House Joint Resolution 22 is a statement by the legislature about the USA Patriot Act and was co-sponsored by members of the legislature who are widely regarded as among the most conservative in the last 20 years - Senator Dyson, Senator Seekins, Senator Taylor, Senator Therriault, Senator Ogan, Senator Cowdery and (then) Representative John Coghill. 11:59:43 AM REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON paraphrased House Joint Resolution 22 to say that the state and its instrumentalities, or local governments, is not going to be involved in using state resources or institutions for the enforcement of federal immigration matters. He asserted that House Joint Resolution 22, just 18 months after [the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001], is a statement about Alaskans' belief in liberty. He opined that even though the country was traumatized then, more than it is now, the legislature "did the right thing" in stating that it intended to protect individual liberties. He relayed that under HB 13, the state and its local governments would not use personnel and financial assets to support a federal "overreach" effort to create a registry based on race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin. He attested that the drafters of HB 13 properly placed the proposed language into the "family of prohibitions and preclusions" [in AS. 44.99.040], which specifies those activities in which the state government has decided it will not participate. Among them are prohibitions on enforcing federal laws on our Second Amendment privileges or on anything that generally would violate the due process of Alaska citizens. REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON asserted that the reason he referenced the poems from religious scholars is that if there is a registry, he wants future generations, who are writing dissertations 100 years from now, to have a statement of fact that says the Thirtieth Alaska State Legislature "caught that moment" before Alaskans participated in something they would regret. He cited the treatment of American Indians, Japanese Americans, and African Americans as examples of that in history. He emphasized that this statement of fact would demonstrate that we caught ourselves, not at a moment of great stress as right after [the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001], but 15-16 years later, when the legislature could calmly say that this is government overreach. He offered that if there is any belief that there is no need for the proposed legislation, he would be happy to cite the media reports of what the President and the secretary of state have said - that indeed they would consider a registry of minority religion members. 12:03:45 PM REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH said that he appreciates the hysteria that has prompted HB 13, but asked if House Joint Resolution 22 doesn't already reasonably and appropriately reflect the legislature's position, and HB 13 would be redundant. He offered that he agreed conceptually with HB 13. He suggested, however, that the federal government collects information from everyone in the country for the census every ten years. REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON expressed his belief that HB 13 would not be redundant. He said that House Joint Resolution 22 reflects the Twenty-Third Alaska State Legislature, 2003-2004, and not the current legislature. He stated that this is the first time in his lifetime where an executive officer at the highest level of government and his secretary of state have stated that they are considering registering people. He opined that it is worthwhile for the State of Alaska to say, as a matter of law, it won't participate in such a registry. He added that if the federal government chooses to create a registry, then that is up to the federal government, but under HB 13, Alaska would not be committing any "muscle" to that effort. REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked if Representative Josephson has received any indication that Governor Bill Walker, a state agency, or any governing body within the state is contemplating participating in a registry. REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON replied no, but offered that legislation was passed stipulating that Alaska would not participate in the enforcement of federal gun laws, when there was no evidence that the state was going to enforce federal gun laws and no gun laws were imposed by the federal government for the state to enforce. He opined that there is nothing wrong with acting prophylactically. He stated that he didn't know the capacity of the federal government to compel deputizing. 12:07:09 PM PAUL KELLY, Staff, Representative Andy Josephson, Alaska State Legislature, on behalf of Representative Josephson, prime sponsor of HB 13, relayed that the Toyosaburo Korematsu v. U.S. decision was included in the bill packet to demonstrate that Toyosaburo Korematsu had to go to the U.S. Supreme Court; the case lasted 2 1/2 years; and in the end, he lost. He said, "If we cut this off before it starts, then there's no need for judicial remedy and for somebody to have to wait 2 1/2 years for justice." REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP offered that since federal overreach comes with federal dollars, HB 13 wouldn't prevent a registry, but would just prevent the state from participating in a registry using state assets. He suggested that the federal government could themselves set up an office and create a registry within the state. He asked if federal funds, funneled to the state for such an effort, would be considered state assets. He stated that the intent of HB 13 is to prevent a registry, but HB 13 specifically would prevent the state from participating in a registry. REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON responded that is correct. He added that HB 13 refers plainly to state or municipal agencies and the use of their power and treasure. He relayed a comment by Chief Justice Antonin Scalia stating that Toyosaburo Korematsu v. U.S. was clearly a wrong decision, but Mr. Scalia was not convinced that the courts would ultimately stop it. Representative Josephson relayed that the President's power is at its greatest in regard to the country's borders. He added that the U.S. Supreme Court usually defers very extensively to the executive branch on defensive security measures. He went on to say that what was offensive about what was proposed by the current administration before the election, after the election, and after the inauguration does not involve just the borders, but people presently living in the United States and carrying passports. He expressed his belief that the legislature would do well by just saying "we caught you, and we Alaskans believe in our liberty, and we're not going to participate in this." He cited AS 44.99.040(b), which states that "asset" means funds, facilities, equipment, services, or other resources of a state or municipal agency. He asserted that under HB 13, neither the state nor the municipalities will be able to access these assets for a registry. He added that if the federal government wants to set up an office and do a "Korematsu," it will not be through [the State of] Alaska's assistance. REPRESENTATIVE TUCK commented that the proposed legislation is similar to House Continuing Resolution 8, passed in the Twenty- Seventh Alaska State Legislature, 2011-2012. He relayed that the 2011 resolution opposed the procedures and invasive actions of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), but nothing could be done to stop TSA from "setting up shop" in Alaska's airports. He reiterated that the legislature can prevent the federal government from using the state's facilities. 12:12:13 PM REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH suggested that there may be unintended consequences, and he gave as an example a person using "blood quantum" to determine that he/she is a Native American artist. He asked if there are any registries currently maintained by the state or an instrumentality of the state relating to someone being Native American or qualifying for a benefit based on a status that relates to race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin. REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON responded that he would research that question. He asserted that HB 13 would establish intent and would be placed in a statute considered to be a "quintessential push-back" on federal overreach. He said that the statute addresses the right to keep and bear arms, the right to due process, and possibly even the [federal REAL ID Act of 2005]. 12:14:17 PM REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH mentioned the REAL ID deadline of June 6, 2017, as the date that a driver's license would not be enough [to access military bases and federal facilities]. He reiterated that he appreciates the intent of HB 13 and the offer for additional research to ensure there are no unintended consequences. REPRESENTATIVE TUCK referred to Representative Birch's question as to whether anyone was contemplating doing what HB 13 would prevent and asserted that HB 13 would prevent anyone from contemplating it. He opined that one of Alaska's problems with the federal government is that Alaska is always reacting to it rather than taking a proactive approach. He cited the reactions of the legislature to the federal REAL ID Act of 2005 as a good example of trying to protect the residents of Alaska from the invasiveness of federal overreach provisions. 12:15:48 PM CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS opened public testimony on HB 13. 12:16:16 PM VALERIE BROOKS identified herself as a public-school educator and testified that she supports HB 13. She said that she would support even further measures allowing for sanctuary cities and campuses to protect Alaska's most vulnerable families and students, as they come under attack merely due to where they are from or how they worship. She went on to say that she has witnessed very real fear in her students and in her co-workers, who are impacted by the proposed executive order, the current deportations under way, and the proposed registry that has been discussed for months by persons now in positions of authority at the federal level. She asserted that HB 13 would not be redundant, because it deals with current proposals and activities. She added that she appreciates that Representative Josephson has spoken about the duty that Alaskans have to each other. She said that we are all humans and deserving of respect and safety, whether documented or undocumented. She urged the committee to support HB 13 and to resist any attempts to create or support a registry based on race, religion, ethnicity, or nationality. CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS closed public testimony on HB 13. CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that HB 13 would be held over.