Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved SB 109 Out of Committee
           SJR  1-LIMITING TERMS OF STATE LEGISLATORS                                                                       
3:33:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON announced the first  order of business to come before                                                               
the committee was SJR 1.                                                                                                        
SENATOR MENARD,  sponsor of SJR  1, said the resolution  seeks to                                                               
put  the question  of term  limits  for legislators  on the  next                                                               
general  election ballot.  She said  she  strongly believes  this                                                               
issue should be put to a vote  of the people. According to SJR 1,                                                               
representatives would  be limited to  four terms and  senators to                                                               
two  terms, resulting  in the  ability for  legislators to  serve                                                               
eight years in  their respective body. He or she  must wait until                                                               
one  complete term  intervenes before  running for  office again.                                                               
She  stated  that  Alaska's  legislature  was  created  with  the                                                               
citizen  legislator  in  mind  and  the  state's  founders  never                                                               
intended for  citizens to become career  politicians. By limiting                                                               
the terms  of law  makers, other qualified  persons in  the state                                                               
would  have  a  better  chance   to  use  their  skills  for  the                                                               
betterment  of Alaska.  Typically,  an incumbent  in  a House  or                                                               
Senate race has  the upper hand and legislators  should not think                                                               
they are the only ones who can do the job.                                                                                      
She said term  limits would end the perpetual  election cycle and                                                               
allow legislators to  concentrate on decisions that  are best for                                                               
the state as opposed to  their reelection chances. If term limits                                                               
were enacted by  voters in the next general  election, law makers                                                               
elected before  the 2010 election  would be grandfathered  in and                                                               
their previous terms would not be counted against them.                                                                         
3:36:16 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THOMAS  said Senator Menard  would get more  support from                                                               
the Senate if the term limit for senators was also four terms.                                                                  
SENATOR MENARD said she understood that.                                                                                        
CHAIR OLSON asked  how Senator Menard came up with  two terms for                                                               
the Senate and four terms for the House.                                                                                        
SENATOR  MENARD said  she  considered what  would  be fair.  Term                                                               
limits in  place in 15 states  and under consideration in  6 more                                                               
states are  "all over the board."  A typical career is  20 years,                                                               
or 10 years  for younger people; in 2050, young  people will have                                                               
had four different careers.                                                                                                     
She said she  had heard a lot of pushback,  including the feeling                                                               
that term  limits are enforced by  the polls already. She  felt a                                                               
career politician has  become connected and networked  and has an                                                               
advantage  over anyone  trying to  break  through. She  explained                                                               
that corruption  in a state triggers  legislation, resolutions to                                                               
reach voters and examination of  career politicians. She said she                                                               
serves with the  best legislators she could hope for  but she ran                                                               
on the issue of term limits and is serious about it.                                                                            
3:39:07 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH read  from  the resolution:  "No  person who  has                                                               
served as senator for two  full or partial successive terms shall                                                               
again  be  eligible  to  hold  that office  until  one  term  has                                                               
intervened." He said  he assumed a full term is  four years and a                                                               
partial term  is anything  less.   He said he  ran right  after a                                                               
redistricting effort  and was given  a two-year term.   Under the                                                               
terms of SJR  1, he would have  been limited to six  years in the                                                               
Senate. He asked Senator Menard if that was her understanding.                                                                  
SENATOR MENARD  replied that was  her understanding and  said the                                                               
appointment  of  a position  like  Senator  Coghill's is  another                                                               
similar situation.                                                                                                              
SENATOR FRENCH asked if Senator  Coghill would be limited to five                                                               
years:  his current  one-year term  and then  the next  four-year                                                               
SENATOR MENARD replied  that was correct. She noted  that she had                                                               
gone back and forth on that issue  and it could be changed in the                                                               
Judiciary Committee.                                                                                                            
CHAIR OLSON asked  if a person could  serve a term or  two in the                                                               
House and subsequently run for the Senate.                                                                                      
CHAIR MENARD answered  yes. She said a person could  start in the                                                               
House for six years and then move to the Senate for eight years.                                                                
CHAIR  OLSON  noted  that  a   learning  curve  exists  for  many                                                               
legislators, including  him, who had  never been involved  in any                                                               
other office,  such as a city  council or school board.  He asked                                                               
if Senator  Menard expected legislators  to be  productive during                                                               
the first year or two while they get their feet on the ground.                                                                  
3:41:53 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MENARD  replied  that  helpful  staff,  with  a  lot  of                                                               
longevity,  work  with  the  legislators.   She  noted  that  the                                                               
lobbyists  are helpful  as  well. After  one  year, a  legislator                                                               
should be  catching on. She  said getting up  to speed is  not as                                                               
difficult as the public had been told.                                                                                          
SENATOR FRENCH encouraged  Senator Menard to look  at states with                                                               
term  limits  to  see  if   the  public  is  happier  with  their                                                               
legislators  and  if the  term  limits  alleviate concerns  about                                                               
career politicians.  He said a 2004  paper on term limits  by the                                                               
National Council of State Legislatures  (NCSL) was referred to in                                                               
the committee packet and he would like to look at it.                                                                           
SENATOR MENARD  said she  met Mr. Patrick  Taylor's wife,  of the                                                               
Taylor Foundation  in Louisiana,  a state  with term  limits. She                                                               
learned that some of the  students that the Taylor Foundation had                                                               
put through college are now  legislators. She said those students                                                               
would not have had that opportunity without term limits.                                                                        
She recognized that legislators are  protective of their jobs and                                                               
love  what they  do.  She  reiterated, however,  that  SJR 1  was                                                               
spurred on by the recent corruption in the Legislature.                                                                         
3:44:45 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THOMAS asked  how long term limits have been  in place in                                                               
other  states, about  the history  of term  limits and  about the                                                               
MICHAEL  ROVITO,  staff  to Senator  Menard,  replied  that  many                                                               
states adopted  term limits  in the  early 1990's,  with Nebraska                                                               
being the  most recent to do  so in 2000. All  states enacted the                                                               
term limits  several years after  adopting them. Voters  in these                                                               
states approved term limits overwhelmingly.                                                                                     
SENATOR THOMAS  said he was  relatively new himself and  thinks a                                                               
learning curve exists;  one feels better after the  first year of                                                               
dealing with the issues. He  pointed out that the Legislature has                                                               
huge issues  to deal with  and it  is important that  people have                                                               
the  ability to  look back.  He pointed  out that  getting up  to                                                               
speed on something  like ACES would take a great  deal of effort.                                                               
He felt that  even with helpful staff, if he  had not sat through                                                               
the 2007  ACES hearings himself,  he would have little  idea what                                                               
is going on now and  perhaps less interest. Long time legislators                                                               
have built up historical knowledge.                                                                                             
3:47:12 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON opened public testimony.                                                                                            
DON  BENSON, representing  himself, Matanuska  Valley, said  term                                                               
limits come into  play after major cases of  corruption and often                                                               
would  have curtailed  some of  the long-term  relationships that                                                               
possibly led to  some corruption. He said  the Constitution never                                                               
intended for career politicians and  we need new people and fresh                                                               
ideas. He  felt term limits  do not keep citizens  from returning                                                               
to office, and  after sitting out one term they  can go back into                                                               
office again.  He pointed  out that many  offices only  get eight                                                               
years or  less. Because the  state is supposed  to be run  by and                                                               
for the people, he urged the  committee to let the people vote on                                                               
term limits.                                                                                                                    
3:50:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON closed public testimony and held SJR 1 in committee.                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Sponsor Statement SJR1.pdf SCRA 2/16/2010 3:30:00 PM
SJR1 Back up information.pdf SCRA 2/16/2010 3:30:00 PM
SJR 1 Frequently Asked Questions.pdf SCRA 2/16/2010 3:30:00 PM
SB 109 Memo re Moore vs State.pdf SCRA 2/16/2010 3:30:00 PM
SB 109