Legislature(1995 - 1996)

01/17/1996 01:15 PM House JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                              
                        January 17, 1996                                       
                           1:15 p.m.                                           
 MEMBERS PRESENT                                                               
 Representative Brian Porter, Chairman                                         
 Representative Joe Green, Vice Chairman                                       
 Representative Con Bunde                                                      
 Representative Bettye Davis                                                   
 Representative Al Vezey                                                       
 Representative David Finkelstein                                              
 MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                
 Representative Cynthia Toohey                                                 
 COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                            
 Confirmation hearing to reinstate Joseph Donahue and Edith                    
 Vorderstrasse to the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics.                  
 HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 2                                                      
 "Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska              
 relating to redistricting and to the length of a regular session,             
 and establishing a unicameral legislature; and providing for an               
 effective date for each amendment."                                           
  -  PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                   
 *HOUSE BILL 379                                                               
 "An Act authorizing establishment of alternative dispute resolution           
 centers to foster the resolution of disputes between juvenile                 
 offenders and their victims."                                                 
  -  HEARD AND HELD                                                            
 (* First public hearing)                                                      
 PREVIOUS ACTION                                                               
 BILL:  HJR  2                                                               
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) GREEN,Navarre                                   
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG             ACTION                                        
 01/06/95        16    (H)   PREFILE RELEASED                                  
 01/16/95        16    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 01/16/95        16    (H)   STA, JUD, FIN                                     
 04/27/95              (H)   STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102                       
 04/27/95              (H)   MINUTE(STA)                                       
 04/27/95              (H)   MINUTE(STA)                                       
 04/28/95      1611    (H)   STA RPT  1DP 4NR                                  
 04/28/95      1612    (H)   DP: GREEN                                         
 04/28/95      1612    (H)   NR: JAMES, ROBINSON, OGAN, WILLIS                 
 04/28/95      1612    (H)   3 FNS (2-GOV, LAA)                                
 04/28/95      1612    (H)   ZERO FISCAL NOTE (LAW)                            
 10/16/95              (H)   JUD AT 09:00 AM JUNEAU LIO                        
 01/17/96              (H)   JUD AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 120                       
 BILL:  HB 379                                                               
 SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) PORTER,Green,Kelly                              
 JRN-DATE     JRN-PG             ACTION                                        
 12/29/95      2365    (H)   PREFILE RELEASED                                  
 01/08/96      2365    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S)                 
 01/08/96      2365    (H)   JUDICIARY, FINANCE                                
 01/17/96              (H)   JUD AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 120                       
 WITNESS REGISTER                                                              
 DR. ROBERT SITTIG, Professor of Political Science                             
 University of Nebraska                                                        
 Lincoln, Nebraska  68588-0328                                                 
 Telephone:  (402) 472-2344                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on HJR 2                                       
 PATRICK O'DONNELL                                                             
 Clerk of the Legislature                                                      
 Nebraska State Legislature, Room 2018                                         
 Lincoln, Nebraska  68509                                                      
 Telephone:  (402) 471-2271                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on HJR 2                                       
 MIKE NIEMEYER, Executive Director                                             
 Victim/Offender Reconciliation in California                                  
 777 South Main Street, Suite 200                                              
 Orange, California  99628                                                     
 Telephone:  Not provided                                                      
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on HB 379                                      
 SUSAN DIPIETRO, Staff Attorney                                                
 Juvenile Law, Alaska Judicial Council                                         
 1029 West 3rd Avenue, Suite 201                                               
 Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                      
 Telephone:  (907) 279-2526                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 379                           
 GARY R. SCHWARTZ, Juvenile Intake Probation Officer                           
 Anchorage Corrections                                                         
 2600 Providence Drive                                                         
 Anchorage, Alaska  99508                                                      
 Telephone:  (907) 562-2285                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 379                           
 NIKISHKA STEWART, Project Coordinator                                         
 Community Dispute Resolution Center                                           
 505 West Northern Lights, Suite 210                                           
 Anchorage, Alaska  99501                                                      
 Telephone:  Not provided                                                      
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 379                           
 KATHY TIBBLES, Social Services Program Officer                                
 Division of Family & Youth Services                                           
 Department of Health and Social Services                                      
 350 Main Street, Room 404                                                     
 Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                         
 Telephone:  (907) 645-32191                                                   
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 379                           
 ARTHUR SNOWDEN II, Administrative Director                                    
 Alaska Court System                                                           
 303 "K" Street                                                                
 Anchorage, Alaska  99501-2084                                                 
 Telephone:  (907) 264-0547                                                    
 POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 379                           
 ACTION NARRATIVE                                                              
 TAPE 96-1, SIDE A                                                             
 Number 000                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN BRIAN PORTER called the House Judiciary committee meeting            
 to order at 1:15 P.M.  Members present at the call to order were              
 Representatives Joseph Green, Con Bunde, Bettye Davis and David               
 Finkelstein.  Members absent were Representatives Cynthia Toohey              
 and Al Vezey.                                                                 
 Number 099                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER opened the meeting by pointing out there were three           
 things of importance to address.  First, was the consideration of             
 two reappointments to the Legislative Ethics Committee of Mr.                 
 Joseph Donahue and Ms. Edith Vorderstrasse.  Chairman Porter                  
 pointed out that the Judiciary Committee members had a chance to              
 review these individual's resumes and having received no                      
 indications of concern, he asked that the Judiciary Committee                 
 consider the recommendation of reinstating Mr. Donahue on the                 
 Ethics Committee.                                                             
 Number 173                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN made a motion to approve the reappointment           
 of Joseph Donahue to serve on the Select Committee on Legislative             
 Number 216                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER said the intent of the motion is to send forward a            
 recommendation from the committee that the members believe he                 
 should be considered by the entire body for reappointment to the              
 Ethics Committee.  He asked if there is an objection to the motion.           
 Hearing none, the name would be advanced forward.                             
 Number 235                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVID FINKELSTEIN made a motion to forward the name            
 of Edith Vorderstrasse to the body.                                           
 Number 252                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked if there was an objection to the motion.                
 There being none, Ms. Vorderstrasse's was forwarded.                          
 HJR 2 - UNICAMERAL LEGISLATURE/SESSION LIMIT                                
 Number 368                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER announced the next order of business would be HJR
 2, Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska            
 relating to redistricting and to the length of a regular session,             
 and establishing a unicameral legislature; and providing for an               
 effective date for each amendment.  He added that the bill had been           
 discussed during the interim.                                                 
 Number 448                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE made a motion to adopt the proposed                  
 committee substitute (CS) for HJR 2.  Hearing no objection, it was            
 so ordered.                                                                   
 Number 485                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN, sponsor of the resolution, opened his remarks           
 by stating that the CS was a result of an interim hearing which               
 suggests some small suggestive changes.  He proposed outlining a              
 few points he felt were important for discussion.  Unicameral                 
 government is not a new concept.  This system consists of only one            
 house, therefore a bill does not have to move through an additional           
 house.  This eliminates the bill's movement through less committee            
 hearings as well.  This could also affect the period of time the              
 legislature meets.  Nebraska adopted the unicameral system during             
 the depression as a cost-cutting measure.  Because of it's success,           
 the State of Nebraska has kept this system in place ever since.               
 Most states mimic the federal government system in the spirit of              
 equal representation.                                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEEN added that the State of Alaska, in 1976,                
 proposed the unicameral system as an amendment to the constitution,           
 but the legislature turned it down even though it was the will of             
 the people.  He pointed out that it's a misconception to think that           
 this system eliminates jobs for legislators.  He quoted Dr. Robert            
 Sittig as background, "The legislature itself is the proscribed               
 starting place for constitutional amendments, however, legislators            
 are disinclined to approve proposals which would alter                        
 substantially the body in which they serve."                                  
 Number 825                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked for clarification concerning this                  
 reduction misconception.  It was his understanding that there would           
 be none.                                                                      
 Number 841                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN responded that Representative Bunde was                  
 absolutely right.  HJR 2 calls for the existing sixty legislators             
 and the state would be divided into sixty different units.  Within            
 these units each representative or senator would be responsible to            
 their electorate directly.                                                    
 Number 850                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked how many constituents would be comprised           
 in a district.                                                                
 Number 896                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN answered 9,000 generally as a number.  He                
 pointed out that this was far less than some of the larger states             
 and greater compared to places like Wyoming.  A poll taken within             
 the State of Nebraska reflected that it's citizens are very to                
 wildly supportive of the unicameral system.  The Nebraska members             
 of the legislature feel it's a more efficient, less contentious,              
 and a more responsive tool to the constituency.                               
 Number 1073                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked if there had been an informal polling of           
 the Alaska legislature undertaken.                                            
 Number 1099                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN responded that he hoped as the bill moved                
 through committee the concept would gain support.  He envisioned              
 that this concept would pass the house, but he didn't know if the             
 senate would go along with it.  Representative Green added that a             
 unicameral system is a cost saving measure.                                   
 Number 1148                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked about the impacts this system would have           
 on staff, the local economy effects, et cetera.                               
 Number 1161                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN answered yes, there would be various impacts.            
 The length of the legislative session would probably be shortened,            
 but the number of legislators would not change and they'd still               
 need staff.  Whether they would retain the same amount of staff or            
 a compromise amount, Representative Green supposed that there would           
 be some cost savings in this area.  If the legislative session was            
 shortened, Representative Green said staff might be increased since           
 legislation would be moving through one house at a greater speed.             
 A lot of frivolous legislation would fall by the way-side.                    
 Number 1228                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked if this change would mean some members             
 of the legislature would not be seated on a committee.                        
 Number 1250                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN stressed that because so many of the                     
 legislators are on so many committees now, they could cut back                
 their membership and do a better job of serving on one or two                 
 committees, rather than four or five committees at one time.  He              
 felt as though there was enough committee work to go around.                  
 Number 1326                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN outlined his suggested amendment to the            
 HJR 2 legislation.  He felt as though the unicameral system was a             
 great idea.  If the proposed legislation was to be introduced                 
 through a constitutional amendment, he felt as though they should             
 try to solve as many of the problems that currently exist with the            
 formation of the legislature as possible.  He proceeded to outline            
 what he saw as a problem with deciding legislator's salaries.                 
 Because legislators are required to set their own salaries, they              
 suffer severe criticism anytime an increase is suggested.  This has           
 become a major political football.  He generally outlined how these           
 legislative salaries have fluctuated over the years.                          
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said a committee now exists, which sets            
 salary policy and recommends proper compensation for legislators.             
 They assess the legislative work load and look at comparable                  
 salaries in order to make recommendations, but the legislature                
 doesn't usually act on these suggestions because of the perceived             
 conflict.  Representative Finkelstein suggested the formulation of            
 a constitutional amendment which allows for a citizen's committee             
 much like the one that exists now.  When recommendations are made             
 they would go into effect automatically, unless the legislature               
 overrides them.  This system would eliminate the issue of what and            
 how the assembly members get paid.  Although this amendment is not            
 integral to a unicameral legislature, Representative Finkelstein              
 feels as though it's an issue that will haunt future legislators              
 who are forced into the position of approving their own salaries.             
 With that, Representative Finkelstein asked to move the amendment.            
 Number 1541                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN objected for the purposes of discussion.                 
 Assuming that there isn't any legal problem with this amendment,              
 Representative Green submitted that at line seven, of paragraph b,            
 "it may prevent," he suggested changing the tenor of the sentence             
 to say, "a proposed change is considered disapproved unless acted             
 on by a resolution concurred in by at least a majority of the                 
 senate members within 45 days after it is presented."                         
 Number 1614                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN clarified that in the event a proposal             
 wasn't accepted, then the status quo would stay in effect.                    
 Representative Green said yes.  Representative Finkelstein                    
 reiterated that the concept of this amendment was that the                    
 legislature would turn over the decision of compensation to an                
 impartial committee.  If the legislature took no action and                   
 salaries were automatically generated, the committee's proposal to            
 stand goes to the heart of this proposal.                                     
 Number 1721                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN PORTER then welcomed Dr. Robert Sittig and Patrick                   
 O'Donnell from the State of Nebraska, who were both standing by on            
 teleconference, to testify about the unicameral concept.                      
 Number 1744                                                                   
 DR. ROBERT SITTIG, Professor of Political Science, University of              
 Nebraska, spoke first with a factual outline of how the Nebraska              
 Legislature is configured.  There are 49 seats, four year staggered           
 terms, all members are called senators, and are paid 12,000 dollars           
 per session.  The session lengths run 60 days one year, 90 the                
 other.  The state recently adopted a two year budget cycle.  The              
 members are non-partisan which means the members are nominated and            
 elected without an identification on the ballot.  The Lieutenant              
 Governor presides over the Legislature.  To accommodate outsiders,            
 there are mandatory public hearings on all bills by the committees.           
 Time constraints to enact a bill are enforced.  There are very few            
 related officer positions.  The opportunity for the media to attend           
 closed door proceedings of the standing committees during mark up             
 proceedings exists.                                                           
 Number 1820                                                                   
 DR. SITTIG then gave an overview of the advantages to the                     
 unicameral system.  The Nebraska legislature is a small body, which           
 adds to public accessibility.  This also adds to the legislature's            
 accountability.  The members appreciate this format because it's              
 unstructured and simple.  This maximizes the impact that each of              
 the members has in the legislative process.  In addition, the                 
 committees are more accommodating which aids to moving legislation            
 through the system.   The negatives to this system is that it's               
 becoming more centralized and more complicated.  This decreases               
 public input.  The non-partisan factor of the Nebraska Legislature            
 has caused more consternation than anything else.  It leads to less           
 candidate competition in the nominating and electing process.  This           
 also contributes to less public awareness and involvement than                
 there would be if the system was partisan.  The chief executive               
 officers seem less engaged and distant from the policy making                 
 process.  It's almost impossible for non-urban legislators to spend           
 a career in the legislature.  The average amount of service by a              
 legislator is between only five or six years.  Participation has              
 been flat over the decade.  Generally, service in the legislature             
 is not attractive.                                                            
 Number 1943                                                                   
 DR. SITTIG then outlined a program Nebraska has initiated which               
 allows for a rotation of leaders after serving longer than one                
 year.  This helps with stability.   Even though Nebraska has a non-           
 partisan system, the governor appoints members to committees who              
 are actually partisan.  Because there are a lot of vacancies on               
 committees, the governor appoints in many instances, four or five             
 individuals of choice.  Even though the system is non-partisan,               
 Republicans and Democrats will square off on the floor in house               
 debates or in campaigns.  Nebraska legislators are not rewarded for           
 their diligent service and that puts a damper on the process.                 
 Number 2026                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN pointed out that the negatives Dr. Sittig                
 outlined were more related to Nebraska's non-partisanship                     
 structure.  If a bi-partisanship was maintained, would that make a            
 Number 2048                                                                   
 DR. SITTIG thought that it would add to more recruitment of                   
 candidates.  He thought the public would identify more strongly               
 with party affiliation.                                                       
 Number 2087                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if Nebraska's legislature has term                 
 limits and Dr. Sittig responded no, but that this question was in             
 litigation now.  Representative Green then asked how non-                     
 partisanship affects the structuring of legislative committees.               
 Number 2127                                                                   
 DR. SITTIG responded that anyone can run for any leadership                   
 position, including committees.  A person can nominate themselves.            
 The votes are conducted secretly.  If anyone runs for a committee             
 they usually have some experience regarding that committee's                  
 subject matter jurisdiction.                                                  
 Number 2172                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked if the position of Lieutenant Governor             
 in Nebraska was non-partisan and if so, was there a presiding                 
 officer with a defacto influence over the legislature as well?                
 Number 2184                                                                   
 DR. SITTIG responded that the Lieutenant Governor is non-partisan             
 and doesn't always preside over the house.  Sometimes they will,              
 but the Speaker of the House or others will do so as well.                    
 Number 2225                                                                   
 PATRICK O'DONNELL, Clerk of the Legislature, Nebraska State                   
 Legislature, testified to a few points Dr. Sittig made.  He felt as           
 though the members of the legislature would resist change to a                
 partisan system.  The Nebraska Legislature does not caucus per se             
 and there are no partisan caucuses.  The legislature's leadership             
 is voted on by secret ballot on the opening day of session.                   
 Presently there are 26 non-partisan Republicans and 22 non-partisan           
 Democrats.  The speaker is a Democrat and half of the committee               
 chairs are Democrat.  The Lieutenant Governor's work is tolerated,            
 but they have very little influence.  Often times, if there's a               
 controversial bill before the house, the Lieutenant Governor is               
 encouraged not to attend.  In regards to how legislation moves                
 through the unicameral house, there are four readings of each bill.           
 The fourth reading is designed as a checks and balance.  It allows            
 the bill to be debated on two separate occasions.  The process is             
 fairly decentralized.  The speaker is somewhat limited in their               
 authority.  They have the ability to set the daily agenda, but any            
 member has the ability to offer amendments and there's no                     
 limitation on the length of debate.                                           
 Number 2461                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked Mr. O'Donnell what types of problems               
 Alaska could anticipate in their change to a unicameral system.               
 Number 2473                                                                   
 MR. O'DONNELL couldn't say specifically since he hadn't seen the              
 Alaskan proposal.  He thought there would be some reservations if             
 the plan called for a reduction of legislators.                               
 Mr. O'DONNELL added that if a special session of the Nebraska                 
 legislature was convened they're required to meet a minimum of                
 seven legislative days.  Other than mechanical, the change-over to            
 a unicameral system may not affect how legislation is enacted.                
 TAPE 96-1, SIDE B                                                             
 Number 077                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked if caucuses did grow out the non-                  
 partisan system regardless of like-minded people establishing                 
 Number 101                                                                    
 MR. O'DONNELL responded by saying that it does happen informally              
 and not as often as someone would think.  The ebbs and flows of               
 coalitions change rather quickly.  Usually when caucuses do form              
 they're issue related rather than agenda specific.                            
 Number 144                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked if there were any state statutes or                     
 legislative rules which limit the ability of caucuses having                  
 confidential conversations.                                                   
 Number 148                                                                    
 MR. O'DONNELL said no, but Nebraska does have an open meetings law.           
 People gathering in caucuses don't take action per se and these are           
 not considered meetings of the legislature in any meaning of the              
 term.   Dr. Sittig pointed out that Nebraska has regional caucuses            
 to accommodate and facilitate assignment of committees.  Committees           
 are formed along geographical lines.                                          
 Number 207                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER then asked if the "mark-up" process as mentioned              
 earlier, wasn't the process of putting the final touches on a bill            
 out of the full session before it's presented for the full body's             
 consideration.  Would this be the same as an Alaska caucus                    
 Number 216                                                                    
 MR. O'DONNELL responded by saying bills are referred out to their             
 standing committees based on subject matter jurisdiction.  The                
 committee then conducts their public hearing and has the ability to           
 modify proposals in any way deemed appropriate.  This is the                  
 process of mark-up.  Often times when a bill reaches the floor the            
 first thing considered are the amendments proposed by the                     
 committee.  Bills can also be amended on the floor.                           
 Number 252                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked who assigns the sequence of committee              
 referrals and whether there is a sequence a bill goes through                 
 before it gets to the house, rather than it being worked through              
 two committees at one time such as in Alaska.                                 
 Number 272                                                                    
 MR. O'DONNELL responded.  Nebraska has a management committee                 
 consisting of regional representatives, the speaker of the house,             
 and a chairman and vice-chairman who are elected on the floor by              
 secret ballot.  It is a nine member committee and they're                     
 responsible for assigning the different pieces of legislation to              
 the appropriate committee.                                                    
 Number 315                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN referred to the problem of Nebraska's high               
 rate of turnover and asked how this has affected the legislature's            
 Number 341                                                                    
 MR. O'DONNELL answered yes, this does affect the legislature.                 
 There are situations where they're forced to reinvent the wheel,              
 especially in their rules discussions revolving around process                
 orientation.  The floor is affected as well.  Members who have not            
 been exposed to particular issues have to be re-educated.  It takes           
 time to get people up to speed.  Dr. Sittig agreed.  Turn over is             
 very rapid in the lower ranks.                                                
 Number 415                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if this turn over might not improve if             
 a bi-partisan system was installed.                                           
 Number 427                                                                    
 MR. O'DONNELL said he did not honestly know.  Dr. Sittig didn't               
 think it would make that much of a difference, although he felt the           
 political party vehicle does provide a bit more opportunity for               
 Number 466                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN then continued his discussion regarding            
 the proposed amendment to HJR 2.  He reiterated what he said about            
 the legislature's requirement to approve their own compensation,              
 which is an untenable situation.  He pointed out that to require              
 the legislature to act on a salary committee's recommendation would           
 not the change the status quo.                                                
 Number 550                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said he understood what Representative                   
 Finkelstein was trying to achieve, but he also recalled a situation           
 in Congress where a pay raise was to take effect unless the                   
 Congress voted it down.  They were taken to task by the public.               
 Representative Bunde was concerned that the Alaska Legislature                
 might be damned if they did and damned if they didn't.  The concept           
 of a commission making a salary recommendation and the legislature            
 being required to endorses it, was a compromise he could live with.           
 Number 608                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN voiced his concern about this commission being           
 appointed by the governor.  He used a hypothetical situation where            
 there's a governor of one party and a legislature of another.  If             
 the governor suggested a percentage decrease and the legislature              
 didn't go along with that, the legislature would look bad.                    
 Number 661                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER spoke to the amendment and said that he agreed with           
 Representative Finkelstein's suggestion the legislature should not            
 vote on their salary increases, because that would put the issue              
 right back at square one.  Regardless of this, Chairman Porter said           
 he couldn't support the amendment because it would cloud the issue            
 of establishing a unicameral legislature.                                     
 Number 708                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BETTYE DAVIS appreciated what Chairman Porter said,            
 but felt that if this issue wasn't addressed now, it would be too             
 hard to form a commission such as this one at a later time.  She              
 said this commission concept works well in Anchorage.  A commission           
 such as the one suggested sets the salaries for the Anchorage                 
 assembly and if the assembly doesn't take any related action, the             
 suggested salaries automatically go into effect.  The public never            
 comes down on the commission for the amount of salary suggested.              
 Number 753                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER, moving onto a different subject, agreed that                 
 establishing a non-partisan system in Alaska would be ideal.  It              
 would be easier to be a legislator in this type of environment.               
 The Alaskan legislature would not necessarily become a non-partisan           
 system as a result of enacting unicameral legislation.  This would            
 become a constitutional issue.                                                
 Number 820                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN felt as though it would be very unlikely           
 that the governor would penalize the legislature in the way                   
 suggested by Representative Green.   This type of situation rarely            
 happens if ever because the legislature appropriates monies to the            
 governmental administration.  Once this type of feud is undertaken,           
 it would only get worse.                                                      
 Number 937                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE said he is generally supportive of the                   
 amendment, but is hesitant to designate a single person who in turn           
 appoints all the commission's members.  He added that he would be             
 interested in seeing an amendment which addresses this salary                 
 appropriations concern further through the legislative committee              
 Number 950                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked for an amendment roll call.  Voting for the             
 amendment were Representatives Davis and Finkelstein.  Voting                 
 against the amendment were Representatives Bunde, Green and Porter.           
 Representatives Toohey and Vezey were not present.  Chairman Porter           
 declared that the amendment had failed.                                       
 Number 990                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked the committee to then consider HJR 2.                   
 Number 996                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked a question of the sponsor, Joe Green               
 regarding HJR 2.  It was her understanding while listening to the             
 testimony from Nebraska that the reasons why the unicameral system            
 was so successful had more to do with the fact that their form of             
 government was non-partisan.                                                  
 Number 1045                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN added that this was not what he heard.  The              
 disadvantages of the unicameral legislature outlined had more to do           
 with the system being non-partisan.  Representative Green then re-            
 defined what these already discussed disadvantages were.                      
 Number 1006                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN PORTER understood from the non-partisan discussion that              
 the legislators appreciate this system as it is established.  Both            
 witnesses thought the system would be better served with more                 
 public involvement and more tenure for the legislators under a                
 partisan partnership.                                                         
 Number 1137                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS added that the witnesses said if the system              
 was partisan this might allow legislators to move to higher                   
 offices.  Her impression of the Alaska legislature is that their              
 members don't move up respectively in it's bi-partisan system                 
 Number 1166                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE stated that he couldn't imagine this                     
 unicameral system proposal could be implemented under a non-                  
 partisan banner.  He stated that change is hard for people.  He               
 also asked the sponsor if he envisioned that the Lieutenant                   
 Governor would preside over the Alaska legislature within this                
 unicameral framework.  Chairman Porter first recognized the                   
 presence of Representative Vezey.                                             
 Number 1240                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN thought that a presiding Lieutenant Governor             
 would not be part of the proposed legislation.  He felt this would            
 ensure the separation of power.                                               
 Number 1281                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE thought the advantages of establishing a                 
 unicameral system was the overall efficiency, including the                   
 establishment of smaller constituencies to serve.  He then made a             
 motion to move HJR 2 from the Judiciary Committee with individual             
 Number 1328                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked if there were any objections.  Hearing none,            
 HJR 2 was moved out of committee.                                             
 HB 379 - VICTIM/JUVENILE OFFENDER MEDIATION                                 
 Number 1348                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN PORTER then gave a short synopsis of a proposed CS to HB
 379.  Chairman Porter stated that CSHB 379 is legislation which he            
 firmly believes in.  The Municipality of Anchorage, as a model for            
 this legislature, on a city level is trying to deal with minor                
 offenses of juveniles through early intervention.  This should help           
 ward off these juveniles from becoming increasingly involved in               
 additional crimes.                                                            
 Number 1463                                                                   
 MIKE NIEMEYER, Executive Director, Victim/Offender Reconciliation,            
 Orange County, California, said his program is sponsored through              
 St. Vincent De Paul and that they also receive public money from a            
 surcharge on civil court filing fees.  Last year 1,200 cases were             
 processed using the victim offender mediation approach.  This                 
 program actually began in 1974 in Canada and in Elkhart Indiana in            
 1979.  The values of this program has been around for a while and             
 are well established.  The Orange County Program is seven and 1/2             
 years old and is based on the old concept that it is important for            
 the perpetrator to meet their victim.  This provides for more                 
 victim input rather than the standard criminal justice process                
 which tends to be a offender oriented system.  The Orange County              
 program has three areas of mission purposes: The victims should               
 have a chance to confront their perpetrators, the legislation                 
 provides for the victim being compensated by their perpetrators,              
 and it provides an opportunity for the victim to be involved with             
 their perpetrator's future.  This last element enhances the                   
 victim's sense of restitution.  Mr. Niemeyer added that this                  
 reconciliation concept has been endorsed by the American Bar                  
 Association and a resolution was adopted in August of 1994                    
 supporting the program.  The Orange County program finds that when            
 a victim is given an opportunity to meet with their offender, over            
 70 percent of the victims are willing to participate and will meet            
 with the offending party.  The agreements which come out of this              
 program are very durable.  Over 95 percent of their restitution               
 agreements have been completely fulfilled.                                    
 Number 1804                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked what percentage of the money to support            
 this program comes from the public?                                           
 Number 1822                                                                   
 MR. NIEMEYER answered that funded money is matched through                    
 volunteer contributions and the additional public money comes from            
 community development and local money revenues.  California has a             
 (indisc.) program tax which provides for a eight dollar surcharge             
 on their civil court filing fees.  Some of this money goes to the             
 Orange County program.                                                        
 Number 1889                                                                   
 SUSAN DIPIETRO, Staff Attorney, Juvenile Law, Alaska Judicial                 
 Council, testified to CSHB 379.  She also noted that she is Vice              
 President of the Board of Directors for CERC (Community (indisc.)             
 Resolution Center) and is also a volunteer mediator for the                   
 Juvenile Victim Offender Mediation program.  Much of what Ms.                 
 DiPietro does to evaluate programs is to see that they help to                
 improve the administration of justice.  From her three perspectives           
 as staff attorney, board member and volunteer, she is very much in            
 favor of this legislation.  It would strengthen the work of the               
 victim offender mediation program already in place.  Ms. DiPietro             
 mentioned in addition the benefits of this mediation concept to               
 it's volunteers.  The feeling that they can make a difference or              
 have an impact is very important.  This project has a ripple                  
 effect. It touches all levels of society.                                     
 Number 2062                                                                   
 GARY SCHWARTZ, Juvenile Intake Probation Officer, Anchorage                   
 Corrections, testified to the statistics of how many cases are                
 being processed through the corrections department per year, not              
 all of which are worked through the victim offender mediation                 
 program.  Mr. Schwartz's contact with this program in Anchorage               
 within the last year and 1/2 has been extremely positive.  Several            
 of the cases he dealt with have had outstanding results.  He used             
 an example of cases he deals with fairly regularly.                           
 Two 12 year old youths threw rocks and broke someone's windshield             
 and were charged with reckless endangerment.  These youths did not            
 fully understand the complications of their actions.  It gave the             
 victim a chance to voice their opinion and it gave the juveniles a            
 learning experience, not to mention the restitution which will be             
 Number 2200                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN PORTER asked Mr. Schwartz what kinds of serious offense              
 cases go through this mediation process?                                      
 Number 2214                                                                   
 MR. SCHWARTZ replied that petty theft burglary was probably the               
 most serious crime.  For example, a thirteen year old went through            
 an unopened door and took an older citizen's money from a jar under           
 her bed.  The offender was forced to give the victim an explanation           
 of his actions.  There were very good results in this case.                   
 Number 2273                                                                   
 NIKISHKA STEWART, Project Coordinator, Community Dispute Resolution           
 Center, attempted to tie together some of the information already             
 presented.  This mediation type of program maximizes the use of               
 limited resources and is also a community level response to crime.            
 It is a pro-active program.  She also stressed the importance of              
 restitution as a concept.  Ms. Stewart noted the flexibility of the           
 contracts instituted.  No two contracts have been alike and this              
 adds to the victim's satisfaction.  This uniqueness enhances the              
 victim's input.                                                               
 From February of 1994 to date the center has seen over 6,000                  
 dollars of restitution paid back to victims and over 100 hours of             
 work service by the perpetrators served.  Out of 66 referred cases            
 48 reached a contract.                                                        
 Number 2474                                                                   
 KATHY TIBBLES, Social Services Program Officer, Division of Family            
 and Youth Services, Department of Health and Social Services,                 
 testified that the division is in support of CSHB 397.                        
 TAPE 96-2, SIDE A                                                             
 Number 000                                                                    
 MS. TIBBLES said one concern the Division of Youth and Family                 
 Services had was in regard to language about the centers being                
 established by municipalities or non-profits and organized                    
 exclusively for resolution.  This might exclude people they might             
 otherwise work with.  The department was also confused with the               
 statements about obtaining referrals from public and private bodies           
 and the discussion about educating the community and encouraging              
 the use of the services.  It appeared that the centers and                    
 referrals were tied pretty closely to the jurisdictional statute              
 47.10 and Juveniles Alleged to have Committed Delinquent Acts.                
 They weren't sure where the private referrals would come from,                
 although this is not problematic for the department.                          
 Number 110                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER offered that it wasn't their intent to exclude                
 someone.  On those occasions if the court felt it were appropriate            
 under the District Court jurisdiction to refer a misdemeanor                  
 offense they would have the power to do so, as well as the                    
 Number 188                                                                    
 MS. TIBBLES pointed out their remaining concern dealt with what was           
 previously section (f) now (e) of CSHB 397, seemed to limit the               
 information allowed released under the confidentiality clause.                
 Under the circumstances where a referral might be made by the                 
 department through an informal disposition they might not receive             
 any information back.  They wouldn't know whether or not the                  
 offender satisfactorily completed the dispute resolution process in           
 order to close their case.  If the department felt the nature of              
 the offense required petitioning the court, it appears they would             
 not have access to that information or would not be able to take              
 further action if the offender did in fact derail the process.                
 Number 270                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER said that this language would be resolved before              
 moving the bill out of the Judiciary Committee.                               
 Number 300                                                                    
 ART SNOWDEN, Administrative Director, Alaska Court System, came to            
 the committee in full support of the concept of this legislation.             
 Mr. Snowden pointed out that this legislation dealt with a                    
 prosecutorial referral program, a process by which a problem is               
 taken care of before it comes to court (in the Department of Health           
 and Social Services normally.)  This legislation relieves a huge              
 problem that the courts presently deal with.  He noted that from              
 1992 to 1995 in Anchorage, children case filings have increased by            
 36 percent; Fairbanks, 34 percent; Juneau, 22 percent; Kenai, 36              
 percent; Palmer, 28 percent.  Children cases are increasing at an             
 unprecedented rate, over 30 percent on average, while funding has             
 not increased.  Any program which ensures restitution is a positive           
 version, while at the same time Mr. Snowden confirmed that the                
 juvenile offenders understand the severity and gravity of their               
 acts is something Snowden applauds.  The committee has the full               
 support of the court system on this legislation.                              
 Number 448                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY asked why this legislation is necessary to               
 accomplish the problem of juvenile offenses.  He interprets this              
 legislation as offering mediation services for a property claim.              
 This is not the type of crime where the state would automatically             
 take charge of the prosecution.  What is to prevent any party to              
 agree to mediation?                                                           
 Number 516                                                                    
 MR. SNOWDEN offered that Representative Vezey was correct.  At this           
 time any prosecuting agency can defer prosecution, however, this              
 legislation codifies these mediation centers and the concepts of              
 their inception to hear juvenile offenses.  He believes this will             
 gain them publicity in light of present prosecution.  The courts              
 have locked arms over the youth court prospects in Anchorage, as              
 citing an example.  While this is a deferral program, publicity has           
 brought a lot of credibility to the process.  Mr. Snowden's                   
 personal view of the juvenile court system is that it doesn't work.           
 If the juvenile is not made accountable for their actions, there              
 will be widespread problems in the existing prosecutorial system.             
 This legislation will institutionalize this mediation program and             
 sets forth standards to be followed.  To involve all levels of                
 society in this juvenile crime problem, including private                     
 mediators, the executive branch, and the courts is a positive step.           
 Some of these juvenile crimes may be deemed too insignificant with            
 the crush of business in the standard court system as it stands               
 Number 672                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY reiterated his first point about mediation and           
 asked if this legislation is about publicity.                                 
 Number 684                                                                    
 MR. SNOWDEN answered that yes it was a publicity issue so that kids           
 will know about it, victims will know about it, Health and Social             
 Services might use it more, etcetera.  Again he reiterated that               
 publicity was a plus and he saw no cost associated with this                  
 legislation.  He noted the rising juvenile crime statistics again.            
 Number 722                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY referred to the section of the legislation               
 which addressed disclosure.  He cautioned against codifying the               
 process of mediation which might make this process less flexible to           
 encompass other crimes.  He also noted the concept of mediation               
 disclosure and understood that participants in mediation are                  
 required to agree to the process.                                             
 Number 810                                                                    
 Mr. Snowden pointed out that you can require someone to participate           
 in mediation, but you can't force them to agree with the results.             
 Even though it does not presently exist, subject specific                     
 legislation could be passed that states, before a law suit is                 
 filed, the participants must first attend mediation.  People cannot           
 be forced into binding mediation.  It has to be voluntary.                    
 Number 853                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY stated that there are distinct differences               
 between mediation and arbitration.  He noted that arbitration is              
 binding on the parties once a decision is made.                               
 Number 883                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN PORTER clarified for the purposes of this legislation that           
 the mediation outlined was voluntary.  Either party can drop out of           
 the procedures at any time and both parties are required to agree             
 to the resulting contract of the settlement reached.  If either               
 party does not agree to the mediation results, the case is then               
 referred to the regular court system.                                         
 Number 952                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY again pointed out that his main concern was              
 that codifying this mediation process in legislation now could mean           
 limiting the options available to a claimant.                                 
 Number 976                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS asked to speak to the question of codifying              
 this mediation process.  She added that the reason is to allow                
 municipalities and non-profits the opportunity to establish the               
 mediation centers whenever they have the need to do so.                       
 Number 1004                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said once again that he was concerned the were           
 legislation was closing doors, which don't need to be closed.                 
 Number 1023                                                                   
 MR. SNOWDEN understood that this legislation strengthens a tool,              
 which already exists.  To write into law, a system that already               
 exists, does not preclude a person from pursing other forms of                
 resolution to a crime.                                                        
 Number 1106                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN PORTER spoke to Representative Vezey's concerns regarding            
 codification.  Chairman Porter felt that if the present system can            
 be enhanced and expanded in use with formal recognition through               
 legislation, he supports that.  If this legislation can be utilized           
 by more judges and persons in the Division of Youth and Family                
 Services because of this formal recognition, he is also supportive.           
 It is appropriate to set down minimal guidelines and standards in             
 the bill, which are provided for.  One of the only reasons he has             
 heard for not utilizing this type of service is concern on the part           
 of parents and their respective council that there are no                     
 guarantees of confidentiality.                                                
 Number 1222                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked if there would be more interest in this            
 issue if the juvenile code was rewritten to allow for a bigger                
 hammer to fall on those who choose not to use the mediation                   
 Number 1235                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN PORTER answered most definitely.  He especially foresees             
 the juvenile hearings becoming more public on the felony levels.              
 This kind of a juvenile mediation program is conducive to                     
 preventing further crimes by juveniles.  This legislation is not an           
 indictment of the system in place, but an indictment of the ability           
 to fund the standard system.   To wrap up the discussion related to           
 CSHB 379, Chairman Porter exclaimed that this legislation has five            
 zero fiscal notes.                                                            
 Number 1325                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE moved that CSHB 379(JUD) be adopted.                     
 Number 1362                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN PORTER pointed out that changes suggested by Ms. Tibbles             
 to the CS version will need to be completed before the committee is           
 able to move the bill out of their purview.                                   
 Number 1402                                                                   
 CHAIRMAN PORTER adjourned the meeting at 3:10 p.m.                            

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