Legislature(1993 - 1994)

01/18/1994 08:00 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
             HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                            
                        January 18, 1994                                       
                            8:00 a.m.                                          
                                                                               
                                                                               
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
  Representative Al Vezey, Chairman                                            
  Representative Pete Kott, Vice-Chairman                                      
  Representative Gary Davis                                                    
  Representative Harley Olberg                                                 
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
  Representative Bettye Davis                                                  
  Representative Jerry Sanders                                                 
  Representative Fran Ulmer                                                    
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
  *HB 277:  "An Act relating to public employers defending and                 
            indemnifying public employees with respect to                      
            claims arising out of conduct that is within the                   
            scope of employment."                                              
                                                                               
            HEARD AND HELD TO TIME UNCERTAIN                                   
                                                                               
  *HJR 40:  Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the                  
            State of Alaska relating to the individual right                   
            to keep and bear arms.                                             
                                                                               
            HEARD AND HELD TO TIME UNCERTAIN                                   
                                                                               
  (* First public hearing.)                                                    
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER                                                  
  Alaska State Legislature                                                     
  State Capitol, Room 122                                                      
  Juneau, AK  99811-1182                                                       
  Phone:  465-4930                                                             
  Position Statement:  Primary Sponsor of HB 277                               
                                                                               
  GORDON PARKER, Director                                                      
  Carrier Relations and Public Policy                                          
  Anchorage Telephone Utility                                                  
  600 Telephone Ave.                                                           
  Anchorage, AK  99504                                                         
  Phone:  561-3000                                                             
  Position Statement:  In favor of HB 277                                      
                                                                               
  STEVE TERRY, Director                                                        
  Human Resources                                                              
  Anchorage Telephone Utility                                                  
  600 Telephone Ave.                                                           
  Anchorage, AK  99504                                                         
  Phone:  561-3000                                                             
  Position Statement:  Testified in favor of HB 277                            
                       (via teleconference)                                    
                                                                               
  ROBERT KROGSENG, Legislative Aide                                            
  Representative Jerry Sanders                                                 
  Alaska State Legislature                                                     
  State Capitol, Room 115                                                      
  Juneau, AK  99811-1182                                                       
  Phone:  465-4522                                                             
  Position Statement:  Rep. Sanders Prime Sponsor of HJR 40                    
                                                                               
  DEAN GUANELI                                                                 
  Criminal Division                                                            
  Department of Law                                                            
  P.O. Box 100300                                                              
  Juneau, AK  99801                                                            
  Phone:  465-3428                                                             
  Position Statement:  Testified in opposition to HJR 40                       
                                                                               
  BUD WIESE                                                                    
  1426 Second Ave.                                                             
  Fairbanks, AK  99701                                                         
  Phone:  Not given.                                                           
  Position Statement:  Testified in favor of HJR 40                            
                       (via teleconference)                                    
                                                                               
  LYN LEVINGOOD                                                                
  Alaska Wildlife Conservation Assoc.                                          
  1008 16th Ave.                                                               
  Fairbanks, AK  99701                                                         
  Phone:  Not given.                                                           
  Position Statement:  Testified in favor of HJR 40                            
                       (via teleconference)                                    
                                                                               
  GREG MACHACEK                                                                
  P.O. Box 56245                                                               
  North Pole, AK  99705                                                        
  Phone:  Not given.                                                           
  Position Statement:  Testified in favor of HJR 40                            
                       (via teleconference)                                    
                                                                               
  TED LEONARD                                                                  
  Interior Alaska Air Boaters and                                              
  Interior Chapter of the Alaska Boating Association                           
  55 Mile Salcha River                                                         
  Salcha, AK  99714                                                            
  Phone:  Not given.                                                           
  Position Statement:  Testified in favor of HJR 40                            
                                                                               
  DAN PORTWINE                                                                 
  1500 Alaska Way                                                              
  Fairbanks, AK  99708                                                         
  Phone:  Not given.                                                           
  Position Statement:  Testified in favor of HJR 40                            
                       (via teleconference)                                    
                                                                               
  DAN SCARBOROUGH                                                              
  1776 Paroka Dr.                                                              
  Fairbanks, AK  99701                                                         
  Phone:  Not given.                                                           
  Position Statement:  Testified in favor of HJR 40                            
                       (via teleconference)                                    
                                                                               
  BILL HAGER                                                                   
  431 Gaffney Rd.                                                              
  Fairbanks, AK  99701                                                         
  Phone:  Not given.                                                           
  Position Statement:  Testified in favor of HJR 40                            
                       (via teleconference)                                    
                                                                               
  JIM ROLAND                                                                   
  557 Roberts Roost Dr.                                                        
  Fairbanks, AK  99712                                                         
  Phone:  Not given.                                                           
  Position Statement:  Testified in favor of HJR 40                            
                       (via teleconference)                                    
                                                                               
  C.E. SWACKHAMMER, Deputy Commissioner                                        
  Department of Public Safety                                                  
  450 Whittier                                                                 
  Juneau, AK  99801                                                            
  Phone:  465-4322                                                             
  Position Statement:  Testified in opposition to HJR 40                       
                                                                               
  ARNOLD BUCKMEYER                                                             
  1725 Cottonwood                                                              
  Fairbanks, AK  99701                                                         
  Phone:  Not given.                                                           
  Position Statement:  Testified in favor of HJR 40                            
                       (via teleconference)                                    
                                                                               
  BUZZ OTIS                                                                    
  P.O. Box 72441                                                               
  Fairbanks, AK  99701                                                         
  Phone:  Not given.                                                           
  Position Statement:  Testified in favor of HJR 40                            
                       (via teleconference)                                    
                                                                               
  LEROY WIEDEMAN                                                               
  1360 Little Fox Trail                                                        
  Fairbanks, AK  99701                                                         
  Phone:  Not given.                                                           
  Position Statement:  Testified in favor of HJR 40                            
                       (via teleconference)                                    
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS ACTION                                                              
                                                                               
  BILL:  HB 277                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: INDEMNIFICATION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES                             
  SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) PORTER                                         
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  04/07/93      1070    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  04/07/93      1070    (H)   STATE AFFAIRS,JUDICIARY,FINANCE                  
  01/18/94              (H)   STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
  BILL:  HJR 40                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS                                     
  SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) SANDERS,Olberg,Green,Kott                      
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  04/13/93      1178    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  04/13/93      1178    (H)   STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY                         
  04/20/93      1387    (H)   CORRECTION TO ORIGINAL SPONSORS:                 
  04/20/93      1387    (H)   SANDERS, OLBERG                                  
  04/22/93      1449    (H)   COSPONSOR(S): GREEN                              
  05/01/93      1641    (H)   COSPONSOR(S): KOTT                               
  01/18/94              (H)   STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-1, SIDE A                                                            
  Number 000                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN AL VEZEY called the meeting to order at 8:03 a.m.,                  
  announcing the meeting was being teleconferenced to                          
  Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Barrow.  Representatives G. Davis,                 
  Kott and Olberg were present.  Representatives B. DAvis,                     
  Sanders and Ulmer were absent.                                               
  HB 277 - INDEMNIFICATION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES                                 
                                                                               
  Number 029                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER, prime sponsor of HB 277, stated                 
  that HB 277 has the support of municipalities and the public                 
  and private sector.  He stated that HB 277 was necessary                     
  because of public employees being adversely affected by                      
  being named in suits; and without formal indemnification, it                 
  causes them personal problems.  He stated an example.                        
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE PORTER explained that HB 277 provides more                    
  than adequate protection for the public employer, state,                     
  municipalities and boroughs.  He said HB 277 would not                       
  indemnify an employee whose acts were beyond the scope of                    
  his/her employment; gross negligence; intentional acts; or                   
  punitive damages.                                                            
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE PORTER submitted suggestions from the                         
  Department of Law.  (Attachment on file.)  He noted that he                  
  disagreed with provision AS 39.90.160(b)(1) outlined on page                 
  2, paragraph 3.                                                              
                                                                               
  Number 185                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY inquired what was preventing employers from                   
  indemnifying their employees?                                                
                                                                               
  Number 211                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE PORTER responded there was nothing preventing                 
  the employer; however, it would require a legislative body                   
  to codify an effective law.                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 222                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY conveyed the equality of an effective law and                 
  a good employer policy, noting the private sector's common                   
  practice of indemnification of employees in almost all                       
  cases.                                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 237                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE PORTER expounded upon the idea of unstable                    
  work relations via employer/employee.                                        
                                                                               
  Number 249                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT questioned why, other than                          
  collective bargaining, the university employees are                          
  excluded.                                                                    
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE PORTER replied he did not know and he did not                 
  have a preference.                                                           
                                                                               
  Number 268                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY introduced GORDON PARKER, testifying via                      
  teleconference from Anchorage.                                               
                                                                               
  Number 273                                                                   
                                                                               
  GORDON PARKER, Director of Carrier Relations and Public                      
  Policy  for the Anchorage Telephone Utility (ATU),                           
  introduced STEVE TERRY, Director of Human Resources for ATU.                 
                                                                               
  Number 307                                                                   
                                                                               
  STEVE TERRY spoke in favor of HB 277, expressing the                         
  vulnerability of employers in such cases as wrongful                         
  termination and the expenses they incur.  Mr. Terry believed                 
  the passage of HB 277 would succeed in making cases harder                   
  to try for the plaintiff's attorney due to the closer                        
  relationship which would develop between the employer and                    
  the organization.                                                            
                                                                               
  Number 360                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY expressed his concern that the issue of                       
  punitive damages may be better addressed under the tort                      
  reform bill now circulating within the legislature.                          
                                                                               
  Number 372                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. TERRY deferred to the subject of future pay options.                     
                                                                               
  Number 389                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY questioned the matter of Anchorage not                        
  addressing this issue at the municipal level.                                
                                                                               
  Number 393                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. TERRY heeded Chairman Vezey's suggestion as an                           
  alternative.  However, he felt there were others in the                      
  state who could benefit from HB 277.                                         
                                                                               
  Number 398                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY did not believe HB 277 would indemnify those                  
  in violation of the Open Meetings Act which covers public                    
  employees/officials liabilities.  He asked Mr. Terry to                      
  clarify.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 411                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. TERRY believed the coverage would become inevitable.                     
                                                                               
  Number 440                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS requested additional time for the                  
  sponsor to gather support and documentation.                                 
                                                                               
  Number 450                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY agreed and stated HB 277 would be held in                     
  committee until a time uncertain.                                            
  HJR 40 - RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS                                         
                                                                               
  Number 470                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY opened the floor to testimony on HJR 40.                      
                                                                               
  Number 473                                                                   
                                                                               
  ROBERT KROGSENG, representing Representative Jerry Sanders,                  
  primary sponsor of HJR 40, stated that the resolution was a                  
  clarification of Article 1, Section 19, of the Constitution                  
  of the State of Alaska.  He said it is "prompted by                          
  nationwide attempts to subvert the true meaning of Article 2                 
  of the Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by removing the                   
  individuals' rights."  He then detailed the specific wording                 
  additions and stated that the passage of HJR 40 would result                 
  in the proposed amendment appearing on the public ballot at                  
  the next general election in conformity with Article 8,                      
  Section 1, Constitution of the State of Alaska, and the                      
  Election Laws of the State.                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 502                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY remarked that Justice Reinquist, U.S. Supreme                 
  Court, issued an opinion in a recent case whereby the right                  
  to bear arms was an individual right because of the use of                   
  the word "person."                                                           
                                                                               
  Number 514                                                                   
                                                                               
  ROBERT KROGSENG expressed his concerns with the changes of                   
  interpretation which have evolved over time in the                           
  constitution.  Mr. Krogseng felt clarification of terms was                  
  necessary.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 520                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY introduced DEAN GUANELI to offer testimony.                   
                                                                               
  Number 525                                                                   
                                                                               
  DEAN GUANELI, representing the Criminal Division of the                      
  Department of Law, testified in opposition to HJR 40.  Mr.                   
  Guaneli shared other sources of opposition, such as the                      
  Department of Law, Department of Public Safety, Alaska State                 
  Troopers, and the Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police.                    
  He said the Alaska State Constitution need not be amended                    
  because there was nothing wrong with the current laws.                       
  Alaska has one of the most liberal fire arms laws in the                     
  country, expressed Mr. Guaneli.  He indicated that guns can                  
  already be carried virtually anywhere in the state while in                  
  plain view, and concealed while near home or while hunting.                  
  Rather than clarification, HJR 40 merely shifts the power                    
  from the legislature to the courts to interpret the                          
  legislative history behind the right to bear arms provision                  
  of the constitution.                                                         
                                                                               
  MR. GUANELI warned of the court's tendency to have a                         
  difficult time judging constitutional grounds for individual                 
  rights such as the right to privacy.  He pointed out that                    
  HJR 40 may also lead the current fire arms laws, i.e.,                       
  concealed weapons, to be construed differently in the                        
  future.  Mr. Guaneli stated that SJR 1 and HJR 26 were                       
  satisfactory substitutes for HJR 40.                                         
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-1, SIDE B                                                            
  Number 000                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY again questioned Justice Reinquist's decision                 
  regarding the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and                    
  the interpretation of individual right as implied by the use                 
  of the word "person."                                                        
                                                                               
  MR. GUANELI said he was not familiar with the decision.                      
                                                                               
  Number 028                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY believed the increase of federal decisions on                 
  gun laws since 1955 has spurred the movement for revision of                 
  the constitution on the state level.                                         
                                                                               
  Number 053                                                                   
                                                                               
  In summation, MR. GUANELI believed we should not run the                     
  risk of eroding our laws by an unexpected interpretation of                  
  the Alaska constitution.                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 133                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT believed the Supreme Courts are more                     
  cautious about overriding laws than Mr. Guaneli expressed.                   
                                                                               
  Number 146                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. GUANELI clarified he was relating to acts by Congress.                   
                                                                               
  Number 190                                                                   
                                                                               
  BUD WIESE, testified from Fairbanks in favor of HJR 40.  He                  
  believed the people should make the decision based on what                   
  they want.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 205                                                                   
                                                                               
  LYN LEVINGOOD testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR 40                  
  and expressed his knowledge of the Reinquist decision which                  
  marked the right of the individual "person."  He noted the                   
  word "militia" in Alaska Statute Title 26, "which makes                      
  every man over the age of 17 a member of the militia," to                    
  endorse his belief that assault weapons are appropriate for                  
  individuals.                                                                 
                                                                               
  Number 289                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY asked if the State of Alaska has a                            
  constitutional problem with the right to bear arms.                          
                                                                               
  MR. LEVINGOOD believed it does, on both the federal and                      
  state level.                                                                 
                                                                               
  Number 363                                                                   
                                                                               
  GREG MACHACEK testified from Fairbanks in favor of HJR 40                    
  because of the breakdown he has noticed in wording and the                   
  interpretation of individual rights.                                         
                                                                               
  Number 384                                                                   
                                                                               
  TED LEONARD, representing the Interior Alaska Air Boaters                    
  and the Interior Chapter of the Alaska Boaters Association,                  
  testified in favor of HJR 40.  He urged a stronger guarantee                 
  of individual rights in fear of overpowering government.                     
                                                                               
  Number 408                                                                   
                                                                               
  DAN PORTWINE testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR 40.                  
                                                                               
  Number 417                                                                   
                                                                               
  TOM SCARBOROUGH testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR
  40, scrutinizing the compromises offered.                                    
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT questioned Mr. Scarborough on his                        
  perception of the overriding reason of the right to gun                      
  ownership.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 451                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. SCARBOROUGH cited the example of being called by the                     
  Governor to form a militia, and for this purpose an                          
  appropriate fire arm was necessary.                                          
                                                                               
  Number 468                                                                   
                                                                               
  BILL HAGER testified from Fairbanks in favor of HJR 40.  He                  
  believed we as a people have the power of the country vested                 
  in ourselves.  He also believed we need to reestablish the                   
  value of the state constitution.                                             
                                                                               
  Number 497                                                                   
                                                                               
  JIM ROLAND stated his support for HJR 40 via teleconference                  
  from Fairbanks.                                                              
                                                                               
  Number 504                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY deferred further committee action on HJR 40                   
  until prime sponsor Representative Sanders could be present.                 
                                                                               
  Number 513                                                                   
                                                                               
  C.E. SWACKHAMMER, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of                   
  Public Safety, testified that the department was against HJR
  40.  Offering SJR 1 as a substitute due to it's compromising                 
  language, MR. SWACKHAMMER explained that the Alaska                          
  Association of Chiefs of Police would drop their opposition                  
  to the change in current laws if they were assured this                      
  protection.                                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 531                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT questioned Mr. Swackhammer if he                         
  believed the courts would outlaw gun ownership in the                        
  future.                                                                      
                                                                               
  Number 536                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. SWACKHAMMER believed it would not.  He stated his main                   
  concern was expressed the misinterpretation of the written                   
  law if HJR 40 passed, and the competing weight of public                     
  policy versus individual rights.  He also noted the diverse                  
  size and location of communities within Alaska and the                       
  varying legal needs corresponding to these areas.                            
                                                                               
  Number 553                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked if Mr. Swackhammer thought it was                  
  reasonable for a person to own a gun.                                        
                                                                               
  Number 554                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. SWACKHAMMER replied yes.                                                 
                                                                               
  Number 555                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT asked what Mr. Swackhammer felt the                      
  citizens' main concerns were; i.e., self-protection.                         
  Number 564                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. SWACKHAMMER explained that federal level was more of a                   
  threat than the state level; i.e., the Brady Bill.                           
                                                                               
  Number 581                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT requested the percentage of gun                          
  ownership in Alaska.                                                         
                                                                               
  Number 584                                                                   
                                                                               
  Not knowing exact figures, MR. SWACKHAMMER responded that                    
  Alaska has a fairly high percentage due to lifestyle.                        
                                                                               
  Number 596                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE KOTT wondered if the number of police                         
  officers in Alaska, 1 per 100,000, could be a factor in the                  
  whole breakdown of the citizen trust in the current laws.                    
                                                                               
  Number 605                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. SWACKHAMMER reiterated it was Alaska's lifestyle, not a                  
  fear from crime.                                                             
                                                                               
  Number 614                                                                   
                                                                               
  ARNOLD BUCKMEYER testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR
  40.                                                                          
                                                                               
  Number 627                                                                   
                                                                               
  BUZZ OTIS testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR 40 and                  
  asked members to focus on the penal system as the cause for                  
  high crime rates, and not guns.                                              
                                                                               
  Number 644                                                                   
                                                                               
  LEROY WIEDEMAN testified from Fairbanks in support of HJR 40                 
  and stressed that citizens need self-protection and the                      
  ability to have a balance of power.                                          
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-2, SIDE A                                                            
  Number 000                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HARLEY OLBERG expressed his belief that                       
  courts are not the solution, they are the problem.  He said                  
  that with all the choices at hand, however, he would take                    
  his chances with HJR 40.                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 020                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY replied "no piece of paper, constitution or                   
  otherwise, can take the place of vigilance."                                 
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN VEZEY announced that HJR 40 would be held in                        
  committee until a time uncertain.                                            
                                                                               
  Seeing no further business before the committee, CHAIRMAN                    
  VEZEY adjourned the meeting at 9:32 a.m.                                     

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