Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/08/1993 02:30 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  SENATOR   TAYLOR  returned   SJR   3  (LIMITING   TERMS   OF                 
  LEGISLATORS)                                                                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  and  SJR  4  (90 DAY  SESSION  LIMIT)  and  asked the  prime                 
  sponsor, SENATOR LOREN LEMAN, to begin by reviewing SJR 3.                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR  LEMAN explained  SJR  3 proposes  a  constitutional                 
  amendment  to  limit the  length  of legislative  service to                 
  eight consecutive years, but allows a return to office after                 
  a  minimum  two-year  break  in  service.     He  gave  some                 
  historical perspective on the  legislation as introduced  in                 
  previous years.                                                              
                                                                               
  SENATOR LEMAN  suggested reading the  Sponsor Statement  for                 
  his reasons in sponsoring the legislation, and he maintained                 
  the  intent was supported by 75%  of the public.  He thought                 
  the voters should  have the chance to vote  on the bill, and                 
  thought this  would make a  better public perception  of the                 
  Legislature.                                                                 
                                                                               
  SENATOR LEMAN noted  other versions of his  legislation, but                 
  thought   they  were   extreme   in   their  approaches   to                 
  limitations.     SENATOR  LEMAN   also   thought  his   bill                 
  represented a reasonable compromise among  various pieces of                 
  legislation.                                                                 
                                                                               
  Number 520                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR TAYLOR  asked what  happened to  the Legislator  who                 
  served three terms in  the House, and then  is elected to  a                 
  four year term in the Senate.                                                
                                                                               
  SENATOR LEMAN reviewed previous testimony in committees that                 
  led  to  a revision  to allow  a  legislator in  mid-term to                 
  complete that term,  and he said  he wouldn't object to  the                 
  reinstatement of  the provision.   He  said the  alternative                 
  would be a prohibition against running  for a four year seat                 
  after 6 years, but he would support 10 years in office.                      
                                                                               
  SENATOR  TAYLOR asked SENATOR  LEMAN'S opinion on increasing                 
  the terms  of representatives to  4 year terms,  and SENATOR                 
  LEMAN  thought  it would  make sense  to  include it  in the                 
  package.  He warned against making the bill a Christmas Tree                 
  for things that might bog down the legislation.                              
                                                                               
  SENATOR LITTLE saw the  problem as a concern  that incumbent                 
  legislators had a great  deal of power in gaining  funds for                 
  re-election, and she asked SENATOR LEMAN if he believed that                 
  some  campaign  finance  reform  would  really  address  the                 
  problem.  She  thought financial reform might  be preferable                 
  to limiting the term of an individual, whom the constituents                 
  deemed a terrific representative.                                            
                                                                               
  SENATOR LEMAN  agreed that  people who  support term  limits                 
  also  support  their  own legislators,  but  he  thought his                 
  legislation  would  have a  more  profound effect  on making                 
  legitimate changes than campaign finance reform.                             
                                                                               
                                                                               
  SENATOR DONLEY  reviewed the  debate from  last year  on the                 
  concept of  term limits,  and said  he supported  provisions                 
  that dealt with the  U.S. Congress.  He asked  SENATOR LEMAN                 
  if he had a position on such a provision.                                    
                                                                               
  SENATOR LEMAN said it wasn't included because he didn't want                 
  to doom his bill to a certain death and guarantee a campaign                 
  against his legislation.  He thought SJR 3 had a good chance                 
  of  passing  without the  provision,  but might  enhance the                 
  chance of passing a complete package.                                        
                                                                               
  Number 577                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR DONLEY shared  some ideas he  had on the subject  of                 
  limiting  congressional  terms, but  wouldn't  be applicable                 
  retroactively, which would allow  present members another 12                 
  years.                                                                       
                                                                               
  SENATOR  LEMAN  thought  this  could  be  achieved  with  an                 
  effective date ...                                                           
                                                                               
  TAPE 93-23, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 001                                                                   
                                                                               
  ... but he  thought Alaska would  be more at a  disadvantage                 
  than other states - unless other states followed suit.                       
                                                                               
  SENATOR JACKO didn't think the legislation applied very well                 
  to Alaska and  thought most  of the support  was from  urban                 
  Alaska.  He  expressed his  concerns about the  legislation,                 
  since he  though the  long-term legislators  from the  rural                 
  areas in the 1980's helped  balance the playing field, since                 
  most of the  resources were in the  rural areas and most  of                 
  the  voters  were in  the urban  areas.   He  emphasized the                 
  legislation was perceived  by the people in rural  Alaska as                 
  an attack on them and said the legislation was a bad idea.                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR LEMAN didn't  see SJR 3  as being a disadvantage  to                 
  rural Alaska over urban, and  he explained what he saw as  a                 
  fair balance of legislators between urban and rural areas.                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR TAYLOR asked SENATOR  DONLEY if he would  be opposed                 
  to expanding the  bill to  be made applicable  to all  other                 
  elected  and appointed bodies  in the state,  such as school                 
  boards and city and borough assemblies.                                      
                                                                               
  SENATOR LEMAN said  the Anchorage School Board  and Assembly                 
  had limited terms of 9 years in  a vote taken in the 1980's,                 
  and he thought the same principal should apply for all.                      
                                                                               
  SENATOR DONLEY said he supported term limits, but he said it                 
  should  be done along with other  limitations to balance the                 
  power between the legislative and executive branch, which he                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  considers to be  the most powerful  executive branch in  any                 
  state constitution.  He outlined  the limitations of the 180                 
  day limit, which limits the power of the legislature without                 
  a corresponding limitation on the executive branch.                          
                                                                               
  SENATOR DONLEY  contended the legislature kept curbing their                 
  own power without addressing the big  picture to protect the                 
  relative power of the legislature - especially in the growth                 
  of the budget.  He said  the legislature needed to recognize                 
  the impact of reducing the effectiveness of the legislature,                 
  and there should  be separate provisions brought  before the                 
  voters  to  balance out  the  decrease in  the legislature's                 
  power.                                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 062                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR  JACKO  concurred  with  the  remarks  from  SENATOR                 
  DONLEY, and thought  there should be corresponding  curbs in                 
  the executive branch.                                                        
                                                                               
  SENATOR HALFORD said he  would like to apply the  remarks to                 
  the third  branch - to the  election of judges.   He thought                 
  there  should  be more  of a  turn-over  in judges,  but the                 
  judges would probably rule it an unconstitutional amendment.                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  SENATOR TAYLOR suggested the judicial retirement at 15 years                 
  would take care of the third branch.  He thought appropriate                 
  levels of pay and retirement should be addressed in terms of                 
  the legislature.  He also thought if  legislators were going                 
  to continue to be full-time, they should be paid for it.                     
                                                                               
  SENATOR LEMAN said  he concurred with many  of the comments,                 
  but he said he  was enough of a realist to  know the chances                 
  for  the  resolution to  pass the  Senate  and House  in the                 
  current form  would be  difficult without some  compromises.                 
  He thought his bill was a key  element in making the rest of                 
  it happen.                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR TAYLOR suggested SENATOR LEMAN review the provisions                 
  in SJR 4 (90 DAY SESSION LIMIT).                                             
                                                                               
  SENATOR LEMAN explained SJR  4 was another plank in  his bid                 
  for legislative reform, and if the session is  shortened, it                 
  would  enhance the  opportunities for  more citizens  rather                 
  than professional legislators  to serve  in government.   He                 
  thought the legislators could get  their work done within 90                 
  days and return to their own jobs.  He invited the committee                 
  members to read the Sponsor Statement for his bill.                          
                                                                               
  Number 117                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR DONLEY said he never  publicly supported this intent                 
  because it is such a complex issue, but he might be  able to                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  support  the  bill, if  there was  some  repair work  to the                 
  constitution.    The  first  problem  he  observed  was  the                 
  inability of the legislature to address gubernatorial vetoes                 
  after the  second year of a session, where there should be a                 
  system designed to balance the  powers between the different                 
  branches.  He described  the problem and called it  a pocket                 
  veto by a monarch after the second session.  Anything vetoed                 
  after  the  legislators go  home  is  dead, and  short  of a                 
  special session, he  said there  was no way  to address  the                 
  veto.                                                                        
                                                                               
  In problem  #2,  SENATOR DONLEY  linked  it with  the  first                 
  problem by  asking how the legislature could  call a special                 
  session the second year, since  the current provisions don't                 
  work.  He  said too  much power resides  with the  presiding                 
  officers,  where,  if one  disagrees, it  won't happen.   It                 
  wouldn't  matter if  all  of the  members  wanted a  special                 
  session,  one presiding  officer  could prevent  the special                 
  session.                                                                     
                                                                               
  SENATOR DONLEY  said a  Judiciary bill  was introduced  last                 
  year on this subject that would allow  for a call to be made                 
  through a certification to the clerk, where a certain number                 
  of members could  ask for  a special session  and, it  would                 
  occur.  He thought  this might be a way to  address the loss                 
  of the veto over-ride authority through the 90 day limit.                    
                                                                               
  SENATOR LITTLE explained when she came to Juneau she thought                 
  in terms of limiting the session, but she could see now that                 
  so much is involved in being here, to hear the public input,                 
  public  hearings, and  participating  in  healthy debate  on                 
  bills before the legislature.                                                
                                                                               
  SENATOR JACKO concurred  with the remarks  on the length  of                 
  the session and most  of the remarks from SENATOR  LITTLE on                 
  the  committee process.   He  outlined  the problems  in the                 
  rural communities where communication with their legislators                 
  is difficult,  and the constituents  wonder why he  isn't in                 
  Juneau taking care of their interests during the summer.                     
                                                                               
  Number 161                                                                   
                                                                               
  SENATOR  HALFORD  introduced  another topic  to  compare the                 
  length  of legislative sessions in all  of the states, where                 
  they aren't  all bound  by the same  terminology as  Alaska,                 
  which has consecutive  calendar days.  This  precludes being                 
  able to  gather information  from the  constituents, and  he                 
  described the slow beginning of session.                                     
                                                                               
  SENATOR HALFORD suggested within the 90 day limit, it should                 
  begin  with a 45  day session, have  a 30 day  break to deal                 
  with the constituents  back home, and  return to Juneau  for                 
  another 45 days.  He thought the legislators would receive a                 
  lot  of intensive  lobbying in  their  own home  district by                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  constituents after the issues were on the table.                             
                                                                               
  There ensued a  general discussion on limiting  the session,                 
  special sessions, options, weekend sessions, travel, and the                 
  lack of flexibility.                                                         
                                                                               
  SENATOR  DONLEY  discussed  the  extent  to which  he  would                 
  support  the  bills and  the  modifications he  thought were                 
  needed  to  balance  out  the  impact.    He  suggested  two                 
  modifications, the first being to change the session to more                 
  correspond  to  the  revenue  projections,  and  second,  to                 
  introduce  a   mandatory  special  session  to   review  the                 
  gubernatorial vetoes, or  make it easier  to call a  special                 
  session.                                                                     
                                                                               
  SENATOR TAYLOR opined there would be  significant amendments                 
  to be offered by  the committee members at the  next hearing                 
  on the bills.  He said he would hold them in committee to be                 
  heard in about  10 days -  to give members time  to complete                 
  their amendments.                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects