Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/22/1999 10:34 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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SENATE BILL NO. 99                                                                                                              
"An Act to clarify the meaning of 'decennial census of                                                                          
the United States' in Article VI, Constitution of the                                                                           
State of Alaska, and to prevent discrimination in the                                                                           
redistricting of the house of representatives and the                                                                           
senate."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR TIM KELLY, sponsor of the bill testified before the                                                                     
committee.  He said that the bill simply sought to avoid                                                                        
any partisan tampering with the Year 2000 census figures by                                                                     
retaining two principles used in the 1990 Legislative                                                                           
Reapportionment. First, an actual headcount as conducted by                                                                     
the United States Census Bureau of each Alaskan would be                                                                        
used.  Second, the military would continue to be counted as                                                                     
full Alaskans. He reminded the committee that these two                                                                         
principles along with forty House districts and twenty                                                                          
Senate districts, had already passed the United States                                                                          
Justice Department approval as required by the Voting                                                                           
Rights Act. This bill was simply status quo.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Al Adams argued that this bill as it related to the                                                                     
count of military personnel went beyond the current                                                                             
provisions by allowing the count of nonresident personnel.                                                                      
This would affect rural representation.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator Tim Kelly cited a report done by the 1990                                                                               
Reapportionment Board that indicated only about 1.1 percent                                                                     
of the state's population could be considered nonresident                                                                       
military Alaskans. The Board felt it would be insignificant                                                                     
to try to statistically determine that.  He also reminded                                                                       
the committee that this bill was broader than just military                                                                     
representation. It would prohibit discrimination by                                                                             
occupation, which included fish processing, timber camps,                                                                       
mining camps, oil workers and others. It simply said that                                                                       
the census would not discriminate based on occupation. The                                                                      
US Census Bureau would count people who are present in                                                                          
Alaska during the census and that would be the figure used.                                                                     
He speculated there would be several figures circulating.                                                                       
This was a big issue on the national level he stressed.                                                                         
The US Supreme Court already ruled that Congress would be                                                                       
reapportioned according to the actual head count in the                                                                         
year 2000.  The census borough wanted to do a statistical                                                                       
analysis sampling and indicated to states that they could                                                                       
use this type of guesswork for reapportionment of state                                                                         
legislatures.  So while Congress would be required to use                                                                       
the actual head count, the US Census Bureau planned to use                                                                      
a less precise or traditional method, in Senator Tim                                                                            
Kelly's judgement, to apply to state districting. He felt                                                                       
this was less accurate.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator Al Adams looked at the bill title and wondered                                                                          
about the addition of lines 4 and 5 ".and to prohibit                                                                           
expenditures of public funds for population surveys or                                                                          
sampling for certain purposes relating to legislative                                                                           
redistricting without an appropriation." He asked why it                                                                        
should be put into the constitution.  Senator Tim Kelly                                                                         
responded that Assistant Attorney General who would be                                                                          
acting as the lead legal council for the census group in                                                                        
Alaska indicated that the group wanted to spend $100,000                                                                        
for some type of statistical sampling of the military.                                                                          
Senator Tim Kelly said he had heard through an                                                                                  
organizational meeting of the census group that they                                                                            
planned to "handle the military in a special effort." He                                                                        
worried about government agencies making "special efforts."                                                                     
The point was that it was not necessary to use statistical                                                                      
samples, and a head count should be used instead, according                                                                     
to the sponsor. He wished to avoid potential partisan                                                                           
tinkering.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator Al Adams asked if the nonresident military would be                                                                     
counted in two places, in Alaska and again in their                                                                             
hometown.  TIM MOFFETT, staff to Senator Tim Kelly,                                                                             
responded that would not happen and, under this                                                                                 
legislation, there would be no chance of that. The Census                                                                       
Bureau would send out a mailing to every postal address and                                                                     
attempt to contact each address where no response was                                                                           
received. This bill would try to prevent discrimination                                                                         
based on race, color, creed, national origin or occupation.                                                                     
That included the military.  There would also be no                                                                             
discrimination against the homeless. Senator Tim Kelly                                                                          
added that the census borough went to great effort to                                                                           
accurately count those in rural Alaska. He noted that most                                                                      
of the sampling mistakes made were at the expense of rural                                                                      
areas.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator Al Adams commented that the Legislature must be                                                                         
ready for a constitutional amendment relating to                                                                                
subsistence since it was working on this constitutional                                                                         
amendment.  Senator Tim Kelly responded that this bill just                                                                     
affected statute.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair John Torgerson announced that the Senate Floor                                                                         
Session had been delayed until 11:30 to allow the committee                                                                     
to finish its business.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator Randy Phillips moved for adoption of CS SB 99                                                                           
Version "K". Senator Al Adams asked if the only change was                                                                      
to the title and the population. Co-Chair John Torgerson                                                                        
affirmed the title change and the change to page 3 lines                                                                        
10-13.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator Tim Kelly added that the new reapportionment board                                                                      
would not be appointed until January of the next year and                                                                       
if any changes needed to be made regarding statistical                                                                          
sampling, the Legislature could address the matter next                                                                         
session.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
JIM BALDWIN, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law,                                                                     
testified. He assumed that the new CS was in response to                                                                        
issues raised at the bill's last committee of referral                                                                          
regarding the fiscal notes.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
He speculated that this bill addressed what may be a non-                                                                       
problem in Alaska. The litigation on the national level was                                                                     
directed toward using actual enumeration techniques for                                                                         
deciding the apportionment of Congress. Because of the size                                                                     
of the population in Alaska, the state would not be                                                                             
affected. The population of the state was still too small                                                                       
to qualify for another congressional district.  However,                                                                        
some had argued that under the US Supreme Court decision,                                                                       
there was a possibility that there would by an ability to                                                                       
use these numbers for state redistricting purposes.  He                                                                         
believed that what was more likely to happen further                                                                            
litigation on the national level by Congress or private                                                                         
groups was more likely to happen.  Therefore, he felt this                                                                      
legislation was premature.  The problems would be cleared                                                                       
up through litigation over the next year.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
He also stressed that not everyone understood what the                                                                          
sampling meant. He explained that it was similar to                                                                             
statistical analysis done to determine the opinions of                                                                          
constituents, but much more scientific and complicated. The                                                                     
idea was to remedy an undercount. It had been noted that                                                                        
there were consistently undercounts of certain groups of                                                                        
people.  It was uncertain how that would affect the count                                                                       
in Alaska. He thought that was another reason this                                                                              
legislation was premature. He advised the approach should                                                                       
be cautious as it could be used for the state's benefit.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
The other issue was whether or not a military survey could                                                                      
be done when it came time to do redistricting in the state.                                                                     
He thought the issue would have been resolved with the                                                                          
adoption and voter ratification of HJR 44. However, the                                                                         
current bill was evidence of some uncertainty about how to                                                                      
interpret the constitutional amendment. He looked at the                                                                        
legislative hearings held on HJR 44 and found it was                                                                            
difficult to ascertain the sponsor's intent on that point.                                                                      
Perhaps this bill was an attempt to clear that up.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
He explained what the military survey was all about.  It                                                                        
was an attempt to adjust out of the numbers, non-voting,                                                                        
non-resident military personnel from the totals used to                                                                         
establish ideal district size. The reason the Department of                                                                     
Law submitted the fiscal note was due to concern that when                                                                      
the redistricting plan was submitted to the US Justice                                                                          
Department, there would be a need to prove the affect of                                                                        
not the military survey. It would need to be shown that                                                                         
there was no discriminatory affect of not doing the survey.                                                                     
Therefore, the department's fiscal note requested adequate                                                                      
resources to build a case concerning the exclusion of the                                                                       
military survey.  He anticipated that the US Justice                                                                            
Department would require a military survey to prove that                                                                        
there was no discrimination in the way the districts were                                                                       
drawn. Demographics would make the next plan difficult for                                                                      
the rural areas of the state because of the possibility of                                                                      
"retrogression" in minority representation. It was possible                                                                     
there would be fewer majority/minority districts in Alaska                                                                      
because of the population shifts. The reason no military                                                                        
survey was done in 1990 was because there was a balancing-                                                                      
out between rural and urban districts regarding military                                                                        
personnel. There was a net zero and no benefit or detriment                                                                     
to doing a military survey.  However, time had changed with                                                                     
base downsizing and closures and that balance may have                                                                          
shifted to the extent that urban districts could be over-                                                                       
weighted with non-voting military personnel. The state may                                                                      
have to prove to the US Justice Department that did not                                                                         
occur.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Therefore, the department was requesting funds to argue the                                                                     
military survey exclusion. There was another issue of                                                                           
timing, according to Jim Baldwin.  If a military survey was                                                                     
done, in order for it to have validity, it needed to be                                                                         
done before next January and the beginning of the actual                                                                        
census count. He noted that the state might not even be                                                                         
able to do a military survey if the military commanders did                                                                     
not allow access to the base.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator Al Adams' main concern was the effect on rural                                                                          
representation.  He asked if this was the normal procedure                                                                      
other states used to deal with census counting. Jim Baldwin                                                                     
replied that most other states did not adjust for military                                                                      
population.  Hawaii and a couple other states did.                                                                              
However, for most other states it was not a major factor                                                                        
since the military population did not make up a significant                                                                     
percentage of the overall population.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair John Torgerson offered Senator Tim Kelly an                                                                            
opportunity to rebut.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator Tim Kelly countered that with the exception of                                                                          
Hawaii, all other states did count military personnel. He                                                                       
addressed the issue of minority counts and knew of no group                                                                     
more cognitive of minority rights than the military. He                                                                         
supposed one particular minority might be able to make a                                                                        
case, but the argument would be weaker when applied to all                                                                      
minorities. He was not concerned how the numbers came out,                                                                      
noting that none would be particularly accurate. Therefore                                                                      
to attempt to avoid litigation, he just wanted the census                                                                       
for the State Of Alaska to be done by head count.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Without objection, CS SB 99 Version "K" was adopted.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair John Torgerson asked if there was objection to                                                                         
adopting a Senate Finance Committee zero fiscal note. He                                                                        
explained that this would be applicable since the CS                                                                            
eliminated the ability to spend money on the surveys.                                                                           
Senator Al Adams objected asking how would the state                                                                            
perform the survey as needed to make the legislation work.                                                                      
Who would perform that function?  Co-Chair John Torgerson                                                                       
said that the expenditure of public funds for the                                                                               
population surveys was prohibited in the bill without a                                                                         
separate appropriation from the Legislature.  Senator Sean                                                                      
Parnell said the numbers would be obtained from the US                                                                          
Census Bureau. Senator Al Adams removed his objection.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Without objection the zero fiscal note was adopted.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Senator Sean Parnell offered a motion for CS SB 99 (FIN) to                                                                     
move from committee with the zero fiscal note.  There was                                                                       
no objection and it was so ordered.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                

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