Legislature(2001 - 2002)
05/01/2002 03:52 PM Senate JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 296-MUNICIPAL MERGER AND CONSOLIDATION CHAIRMAN TAYLOR informed members that a committee substitute (CS) had been prepared. SENATOR COWDERY moved to adopt the Senate Judiciary committee substitute (labeled Cook 5/1/02) in lieu of the original bill. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR announced that without objection, the CS was adopted. He then took teleconference testimony. MR. STEVE SCHWEPPE, testifying from Ketchikan, said he submitted a written statement to the committee. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR acknowledged receipt and distribution of that testimony and thanked Mr. Schweppe for his efforts. Mr. Schweppe had no further comments to add and committee members had no questions, so Chairman Taylor continued taking public testimony. MR. KEVIN WARING, Local Boundary Commission (LBC), informed members he submitted written testimony. He then went on to say the LBC supports Section 1 of HB 296, which fixes an omission in existing law. However, the LBC is opposed to Sections 2 and 3, which would change the manner in which votes are counted in consolidation elections for boroughs and cities. The current law provides that consolidation proposals be approved by a simple majority of the voters in the area that would be consolidated. The proposed change would require separate approvals by a majority of voters in each city to be consolidated and by a majority of the voters in the borough area outside affected cities. In the LBC's view, the present procedure basically provides for one person, one vote, and majority rule, which fits with the Alaska Constitution and legislative policy for the last 30 years. The proposed language would allow a minority of residents to veto a consolidation proposal as installing a weighted vote. He repeated the LBC is opposed to Sections 2 and 3. MR. WARING said he would like to clarify what might be a drafting error in the bill. Section 2 adds a new section to AS 29.06.100. That section in law now deals with the content of consolidation petitions. The proposed new section requires the petition to include guidelines in the petition for how the outcome of consolidation elections is decided. The LBC suggests that this amendment to election procedures might be more appropriately placed in AS 29.06.140, the section of statute that deals with consolidation elections and election procedures. He noted the LBC has statutory powers to amend petitions. If the committee decides to include the changes in Sections 2 and 3 of HB 296, the LBC believes a relocation of Section 2 would clarify legislative intent and prevent any possible confusion. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR thanked Mr. Waring and called Mr. Bourcy to testify. MAYOR TIM BOURCY, City of Skagway, informed members the City of Skagway has a borough petition before the LBC at this time. The City of Skagway is in support of HB 296 but is concerned that the bill does not address annexation issues. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR informed Mayor Bourcy that a sentence was added in the Senate Judiciary CS that provides for the same application on annexation. MR. BOURCY thanked the committee and said he would support that. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR read that sentence on page 2, line 26, as follows, "This subsection is to be consistent with the voting requirements for annexation specified in AS 29.06.040," and asked Representative Whitaker to address the CS. REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER, sponsor of HB 296, said he is in support of the CS and hopes the committee does what it thinks is best. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR asked Mr. Blasco if the CS needs to have a (1) placed at the end of line 27, page 2. MR. ROBERT BLASCO, attorney, replied, "Yes, Senator Taylor, if that's possible. There are different sections to that portion of Title 29 and the one that references the concerns that we've raised as to annexation is actually Section 1." CHAIRMAN TAYLOR moved Amendment 1, to add a parenthetical 1 after ".040" on page 2, line 27. There being no objection, the motion carried. SENATOR THERRIAULT noted Amendment 1 should have read (c)(1). CHAIRMAN TAYLOR agreed and moved Amendment 2, to insert (c) after ".040" and prior to (1). There being no objection, Amendment 2 was adopted. SENATOR COWDERY moved SCS CSHB 296(JUD) as amended from committee with individual recommendations. CHAIRMAN TAYLOR noted that without objection, SCS CSHB 296(JUD) and its accompanying fiscal note moved from committee. The committee then took up HB 52.