Legislature(1993 - 1994)

01/20/1993 09:04 AM Senate STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  SENATOR   LEMAN   introduced  SJR   3  (LIMITING   TERMS  OF                 
  LEGISLATORS), as  the only order  of business.   Because the                 
  bill is sponsored  by the  Chair, SENATOR  LEMAN turned  the                 
  gavel over to MIKE MILLER, Vice Chairman.                                    
  Number 019                                                                   
  SENATOR  LEMAN  explained   that  SJR  3  limits   terms  of                 
  legislators to eight  consecutive years  and provides for  a                 
  two-year hiatus after which time a legislator would again be                 
  eligible to run for office.                                                  
  SENATOR LEMAN pointed out that it takes a two-thirds vote in                 
  each body to  amend the  Alaska Constitution, or  it can  be                 
  taken  up  by a  constitutional  convention.   So  to effect                 
  somewhat of a compromise,  he said he looked at  an approach                 
  that  could  garner   enough  votes   in  support  of   term                 
  SENATOR LEMAN said he thinks the concept of term limitations                 
  has been fueled  to a large  extent by  a Congress that  has                 
  become,  to a  large  degree, a  lifetime  Congress.   Also,                 
  legislatures across the country have  been dominated in many                 
  respects by people that have served in office several terms.                 
  The public feels disenfranchised because  they don't have as                 
  much  of an opportunity  to become involved  in the process.                 
  He said he believes by limiting terms it will bring back the                 
  concept of a citizen legislature.                                            
  In terms of public support, SENATOR LEMAN related that polls                 
  indicate  75  to  80  percent  of  the  public support  term                 
  Number 075                                                                   
  SENATOR LEMAN noted that SJR3  doesn't target any particular                 
  person in the legislature, and, in  fact, it would not apply                 
  until after the 1994 election when  the years would begin to                 
  accrue, so it would apply fairly to everybody.                               
  SENATOR  LEMAN  outlined   what  he  considers  to   be  key                 
  advantages to term  limits:  (1)  it would give more  people                 
  the opportunity to get involved,  thus enhancing the concept                 
  of  a  citizen  legislature;  (2)   it  would  diminish  the                 
  advantages of incumbency  and seniority;  (3) it would  help                 
  equalize influence of  districts and  the citizens in  those                 
  districts whose  legislators are  senior  members and  could                 
  have more influence; (4) it would  make the legislature more                 
  responsible and accountable  for its  actions; (5) it  would                 
  help insure  that  on  a  systematic  basis  there  is  some                 
  turnover in the  legislative body; and  (6) it would help  a                 
  public  perception   that  many  people   have  towards  the                 
  legislature as being an entrenched  body of people who  care                 
  more  about  themselves  than  they  care  about  doing  the                 
  people's business.   SENATOR LEMAN  sees the legislation  as                 
  being a step in the right  direction for making reforms that                 
  would be beneficial and  will make the legislature  a better                 
  Concluding his  comments, SENATOR  LEMAN said  he recognizes                 
  that  there  are  those  who   think  that  the  term  limit                 
  restrictions  are too lenient  and that they  should be more                 
  restrictive, as well as those who  think they should be less                 
  restrictive.   However,  he believes  his proposal  achieves                 
  somewhat of a  compromise that is reasonable  and consistent                 
  with what many other states have done.                                       
  SENATOR TAYLOR asked why the legislation was not directed at                 
  the  congressional  delegation  as  well.     SENATOR  LEMAN                 
  responded that there is merit to tieing it all together, but                 
  the problem, as he sees it, is that it complexes  the issue.                 
  However, he would not have a problem with putting together a                 
  package that would include Congress as well.                                 
  SENATOR TAYLOR commented  that it  has been a  big point  of                 
  debate  in  the  state  whether  or  not  the  congressional                 
  delegation should also  be included.   He said if, in  fact,                 
  there is a  place where  seniority has an  impact and  where                 
  longevity  in office  seems  to be  occurring,  it's in  the                 
  United  State  Congress.    He added  that  during  the last                 
  election, Congress had one of the largest turnovers that has                 
  occurred historically in a long time.                                        
  SENATOR LEMAN suggested  that if  term limits were  included                 
  for   the  congressional  delegation,   it  should  be  made                 
  effective when other  states do the  same so  as not to  put                 
  Alaska at a disadvantage.                                                    
  Number 202                                                                   
  SENATOR MILLER turned the gavel back over to SENATOR LEMAN.                  
  Number 220                                                                   
  Resa  Jerrel,  representing  the    National  Federation  of                 
  Independent Business, related that in 1991 one of the issues                 
  they polled their  members on was term  limitations.  Eighty                 
  percent of their members responded  that they were in  favor                 
  of term limitations.  A vast majority of their members favor                 
  an eight-year  term limitation.   She  urged that  SJR 3  be                 
  passed out of  committee, and that  the voters be given  the                 
  opportunity to vote it up or down.                                           
  SENATOR  LEMAN thanked Ms. Jerrel for her testimony and then                 
  stated the committee would stand in recess for approximately                 
  10 minutes to prepare for teleconference testimony.                          
  SENATOR LEMAN called  the committee  back to order,  stating                 
  the  committee  would   begin  taking  testimony  from   the                 
  Anchorage LIO.                                                               
  Number 270                                                                   
  BONNIE  JACK  testified  in  support   of  term  limits  for                 
  legislators.   She added  that she  would support  up to  12                 
  years total service in either or both bodies combined with a                 
  two-year hiatus as a private citizen.                                        
  MS  JACK  quoted  statistics  prepared  by  the  Legislative                 
  Research  Agency  relating to  the  turnover in  each Alaska                 
  Legislature since statehood.                                                 
  Number 325                                                                   
  BOB  BELL, Chairman, Alaskans  for Legislative Reform, urged                 
  support for SJR 3.   He explained that in  the last election                 
  fourteen  states had  term limits  on their ballots  and all                 
  fourteen passed.                                                             
  SENATOR LEMAN, commenting on term  limits for Congress, said                 
  SJR  3  could  be  revised  as  a  package  or  a  companion                 
  resolution to  also limit  terms for  Congress, but that  it                 
  should not  take effect until  the other states  had adopted                 
  term limits.                                                                 
  BOB BELL  said most  of his  committee would  agree that  it                 
  would be catastrophic for Alaska to  vote on term limits for                 
  Congress at this time.  He  said he thought they would  like                 
  to see  two separate bills.   SENATOR LEMAN said it  was his                 
  intention to keep the two issues separate.                                   
  SENATOR  TAYLOR asked  if it  would also  be appropriate  to                 
  limit term  of  all sub-units  of government,  such as  city                 
  councils, borough assemblies, school boards,  etc.  BOB BELL                 
  agreed  wholeheartedly,  and  he  said  that  the  Anchorage                 
  Assembly and the Anchorage School Board are now subject to a                 
  three term limit (total of nine years). term limits.                         
  Number 420                                                                   
  ROBERT GARDNER,  a  19-year Alaska  resident,  testified  in                 
  support of SJR  3.  He urged the  members of the legislature                 
  to  put term limits to a vote of the people.                                 
  MYRNA MAYNARD  testified against SJR  3.  She  believes that                 
  with the election process there is  already a means to limit                 
  terms of office.   MS MAYNARD suggested that if  changes are                 
  necessary, to start  with campaign financing by  limiting to                 
  $1,000 the amount of money a  candidate may receive from any                 
  individual or organization.                                                  
  Number 475                                                                   
  BILL COLLINS testified  in favor of   SJR 3.  He  said there                 
  are many people  serving in public  office that should  have                 
  been replaced many years ago because that is not the will of                 
  the people.  It's a will of financial support base.                          
  Due to the loss of a quorum, the Chairman announced the bill                 
  would be held over until the next meeting.                                   
  There  being  no   further  business  to  come   before  the                 
  committee, the meeting was adjourned at 9:55 a.m.                            

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