Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

03/09/2021 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ SB 23 INITIATIVE SEVERABILITY TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ SB 71 COUNCIL ON ARTS: PLATES & MANAGE ART TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
*+ SB 76 ABANDONED VEHICLES; PRIVATE PROPERTY TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                 SB  23-INITIATIVE SEVERABILITY                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:55:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER announced  the consideration of SENATE  BILL NO. 23,                                                               
"An Act relating to proposing and enacting laws by initiative."                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
He noted the drafter was available to answer questions.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:55:54 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR REVAK, Alaska State  Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, sponsor                                                               
of SB  23, introduced the legislation  paraphrasing the following                                                               
sponsor statement:                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     SB 23  seeks to ensure ballot  initiative language that                                                                    
     appears before voters at the  ballot box is the same as                                                                    
     the language circulated  during the signature-gathering                                                                    
     phase and  to restore the legislature's  important role                                                                    
     in the initiative process.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska's  constitution details  a very  important right                                                                    
     of  our  residents -  the  right  to enact  legislation                                                                    
     through the voter initiative  process.  The legislature                                                                    
     also has  the right to enact  legislation substantially                                                                    
     the same  as the  proposed initiative thus  removing it                                                                    
     from the ballot.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     The  proposed   ballot  initiative  language   must  be                                                                    
     submitted  to  the  State of  Alaska  for  review.  The                                                                    
     Alaska Department of Law  reviews the proposed language                                                                    
     then provides the  Lieutenant Governor a recommendation                                                                    
     whether to certify or deny the language.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The Lieutenant  Governor's certification is a  key step                                                                    
     in  the  initiative  process. Only  once  certification                                                                    
     happens  will the  state  print  petition booklets  for                                                                    
     gathering   voter  signatures.   The  petitioner   then                                                                    
     circulates  the  booklets   to  gather  signatures  and                                                                    
     submits  those  to  the state  for  verification.  Once                                                                    
     signatures are verified, an  initiative can be prepared                                                                    
     for the ballot.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Per our  constitution, some  issues are  off-limits for                                                                    
     ballot initiatives  and initiatives can only  cover one                                                                    
     subject. But  while a cursory legal  review of language                                                                    
     occurs before the  Lieutenant Governor's certification,                                                                    
     it  has sometimes  been the  case  that further  review                                                                    
     finds constitutional  concerns with  proposed language.                                                                    
     In those  cases, a  party can file  a lawsuit  to force                                                                    
     the  issue through  the court  system. This  can happen                                                                    
     simultaneous to the circulation of signature booklets.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Under current law, if a  court determines that language                                                                    
     in  a proposed  initiative  is unconstitutional  and/or                                                                    
     severed, an amended version of  the language can appear                                                                    
     before  voters.    This  results  in  voters  seeing  a                                                                    
     different initiative  than the one they  supported with                                                                    
     their   signature.      Furthermore,  if   the   courts                                                                    
     revise/sever the language  after the legislative review                                                                    
     process, they deny the legislature  its right to review                                                                    
     the  initiative  as  revised.   The  net  effect  of  a                                                                    
     court's  severance  is  that  an  initiative  can  move                                                                    
     forward to  the voters that is  substantially different                                                                    
     than the initial version reviewed by the legislature.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     SB 23  would rectify  this situation. Under  this bill,                                                                    
     if  a  court determines  that  language  in a  proposed                                                                    
     initiative   is   unconstitutional  or   severed,   the                                                                    
     Lieutenant Governor  must reject the  entire initiative                                                                    
     petition and prohibit it from  appearing on the ballot.                                                                    
     Voters should  be assured that  language on  the ballot                                                                    
     has  not  changed from  the  language  in the  petition                                                                    
     booklets supported  with voter signatures  and further,                                                                    
     restores the  legislature's right  to review  and enact                                                                    
     substantially   similar   legislation    to   stop   an                                                                    
     initiative from moving forward.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
3:58:53 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  REINBOLD asked  if  he  would describe  the  bill as  an                                                               
improvement in transparency  and an increase in  integrity of the                                                               
initiative process.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR REVAK replied that is the intent of the legislation.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SHOWER  expressed appreciation  that the bill  includes the                                                               
concept of legislative supremacy.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:00:59 PM                                                                                                                    
DIRK CRAFT, Staff, Senator Josh  Revak, Alaska State Legislature,                                                               
Juneau,  Alaska, advised  that SB  23 has  just one  section that                                                               
amends  AS 15.45.240.  [The new  subsection (b)]  states that  an                                                               
initiative  is not  severable  after it  is  circulated under  AS                                                               
15.45.110, which is  the statute that governs  the circulation of                                                               
petitions. It  further provides that  an initiative  petition may                                                               
not contain a  severability clause. If a court  finds a provision                                                               
of   an  initiative   unconstitutional  during   a  review,   the                                                               
lieutenant governor must reject  the entire petition and prohibit                                                               
the placement of the initiative on the ballot.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:01:50 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER held SB 23 in committee for future consideration.                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 71 Arts Council Sponsor Statement.pdf SFIN 4/6/2021 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 3/9/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 71
SB 71 Bill V.i.pdf SSTA 3/9/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 71
SB 71 DMV License Plate Options.pdf SFIN 4/6/2021 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 3/9/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 71
SB 71 Sample Plates Plate Demand.pdf SFIN 4/6/2021 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 3/9/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 71
SB 71 Sectional Analysis.pdf SFIN 4/6/2021 9:00:00 AM
SSTA 3/9/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 71
SB 23 version A.pdf SSTA 3/9/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 23
SB 23 Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 3/9/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 23
SB 23 Fiscal Note 21.pdf SSTA 3/9/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 23
SB 23 Research - NCSL States that Allow Severability Clauses in Ballot Initiatives.pdf SSTA 3/9/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 23
SB 76 FIscal Note 2348.pdf SSTA 3/9/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 76
SB 76 Letters of Support.pdf SSTA 3/9/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 76
SB 76 Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 3/9/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 76
SB 76 Sectional Analysis ver. A.pdf SSTA 3/9/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 76