Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/17/1999 01:45 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR announced SB 99 would be the next order of                                                                      
business.                                                                                                                       
           SB  99-REDISTRICTING BOARD/CENSUS FIGURES                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. TOM MOFFATT, staff to Senator Tim Kelly, presented SB 99. MR.                                                               
MOFFATT stated SB 99 will mandate the use of "actual count" census                                                              
figures for reapportionment rather than numbers derived from                                                                    
statistical models in an effort to stop discrimination against                                                                  
members of the military.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. MOFFATT testified that prior reapportionment boards have either                                                             
assigned a percentage figure to military members or ignored them                                                                
completely. SB 99 will abolish this type of "occupational                                                                       
discrimination" and establish a statutory bar that will assure                                                                  
members of the service are "no longer treated as second-class                                                                   
citizens."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. MOFFATT explained SB 99 will clarify that only numbers derived                                                              
from an actual headcount will be used for redistricting. Figures                                                                
resulting from sampling or estimates will be prohibited by statute.                                                             
This will facilitate the work of the Reapportionment Board and                                                                  
avoid litigation, according to MR. MOFFATT.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. MOFFATT informed the committee the sponsor had received a                                                                   
"rather amusing" fiscal note from the Department of Law. He  said,                                                              
"The fiscal note should be, we would hope would be, disregarded."                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 463                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELLIS said he appreciated MR. MOFFATT clarifying his remark                                                             
"to make it clear that Al Vezey and Tuckerman Babcock didn't really                                                             
undercount the military folks in the State of Alaska - some people                                                              
got the impression they counted them several times."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELLIS asked if the issue isn't residency, rather than job                                                               
class. MR. MOFFATT replied,                                                                                                     
      "We would contend that every human being in Alaska,                                                                       
     whether this is a homeless person on 4th Ave . . .                                                                         
     whatever their race or color, whatever their status, they                                                                  
     deserve equal representation; they deserve to be actually                                                                  
     counted; . . . not to be counted twice or thrice, not to                                                                   
     be discounted, but if they are counted, they should be                                                                     
     counted as a human being regardless of their status and                                                                    
     represented equally with every other person."                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. MOFFATT insisted that the traditional U.S. census has counted                                                               
all people including the homeless and transients. SENATOR ELLIS                                                                 
asked if MR. MOFFATT sees a state interest in knowing who is an                                                                 
actual resident of Alaska. MR. MOFFATT said once you start down                                                                 
that "slippery slope" it is difficult to stop.  He prefers to treat                                                             
all people equally, especially for the purposes of representation.                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR noted the bill's sponsor, Senator Tim Kelly, had                                                                
arrived and asked if he cared to make any comments on the bill.                                                                 
SENATOR KELLY remarked, "I have no trust in Bill Clinton or his                                                                 
administration and I don't want to be counting any Clinton ghosts                                                               
. . ."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 505                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. JIM BALDWIN, representing the Attorney General's Office, raised                                                             
two issues in regard to SB 99. First, MR. BALDWIN proposed that                                                                 
"unless we get another million and a half people here", Alaska has                                                              
no stake in the apportionment of the U.S. Congress. In 2000, the                                                                
census bureau may come out with two numbers: one based on                                                                       
enumeration and another based on statistical sampling. Statistical                                                              
sampling numbers are intended to remedy an undercount, such as the                                                              
huge undercount of the "worst census ever in the history of this                                                                
country" in 1990. MR. BALDWIN suggested children, renters and the                                                               
homeless are undercounted due to the enumeration technique. MR.                                                                 
BALDWIN concluded that the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on                                                                
this question is still unclear and the issue may be decided on a                                                                
national level before the 2000 census.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. BALDWIN explained the fiscal note is due to a survey the                                                                    
Department of Law will have to conduct if they wish this bill to                                                                
receive pre-clearance from the U.S. Justice Department, under the                                                               
Voting Rights Act. The survey will serve to show the Justice                                                                    
Department that the legislation does not discriminate against                                                                   
minority voters. MR. BALDWIN said the only other option is to seek                                                              
pre-clearance from a three-judge panel in the District of Colombia.                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. BALDWIN said military reductions have changed Alaska since                                                                  
1990, and it is likely retrogression has occurred. Under the Voting                                                             
Rights Act, the State has to justify that no discriminatory effect                                                              
was the cause of this retrogression. MR. BALDWIN stated, "These                                                                 
kinds of bills just don't come cheaply . . . when you change these                                                              
kind of laws that affect voting . . . we need to have the financing                                                             
and the tools to be able to deal with that." MR. BALDWIN said the                                                               
fiscal note reflects the cost of the legislation, not any desire to                                                             
obstruct the legislation.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 580                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked if some cases brought under the Voting Rights                                                             
Act had been removed by judicial decision. MR. BALDWIN said there                                                               
have been cases in which the Justice Department has been                                                                        
criticized, but, he said the Justice Department appears to be                                                                   
uncowed.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked if the 2000 census will still be required to                                                              
consider cohesive tribal and linguistic groupings to be sure they                                                               
have an advantage over other people in the same district. MR.                                                                   
BALDWIN said he might phrase it differently, but the interests of                                                               
minority voters would have to be considered in the reapportionment                                                              
plan.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 99-19, Side B                                                                                                              
Number 593                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR KELLY commented SB 99 mandates the enumeration count be                                                                 
used for apportionment, it does not mandate its use for other                                                                   
purposes.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 586                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR TORGERSON moved SB 99 from committee with individual                                                                    
recommendations. SENATOR ELLIS objected. Roll was called: voting                                                                
yea were SENATOR DONLEY, SENATOR TORGERSON and CHAIRMAN TAYLOR.                                                                 
SENATOR ELLIS voted nay. So SB 99 moved from committee with                                                                     
individual recommendations.                                                                                                     

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