Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/21/2004 08:05 AM House STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
             HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                         April 21, 2004                                                                                         
                           8:05 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Bruce Weyhrauch, Chair                                                                                           
Representative Jim Holm, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Representative John Coghill                                                                                                     
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Paul Seaton                                                                                                      
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Ethan Berkowitz                                                                                                  
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 523                                                                                                              
"An   Act   relating   to   qualifications   of   voters,   voter                                                               
registration,  voter residence,  precinct boundary  modification,                                                               
recognized political parties,  voters unaffiliated with political                                                               
parties, early  voting, absentee voting, ballot  counting, voting                                                               
by  mail, initiative,  referendum, recall,  and definitions;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
HOUSE BILL NO. 525                                                                                                              
"An Act  relating to complaints  filed with,  and investigations,                                                               
hearings, and orders  of, the State Commission  for Human Rights;                                                               
making  conforming amendments;  and  providing  for an  effective                                                               
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
HOUSE BILL NO. 541                                                                                                              
"An  Act relating  to  consideration by  the  legislature of  the                                                               
executive budget  and other  bills affecting  appropriations; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 523                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE:VOTERS/VOTING/POLITICAL PARTIES/ELECTIONS                                                                           
SPONSOR(S): RLS BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                      
Jrn-Date   Jrn-Page                     Action                                                                                  
02/26/04     2748       (H)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
02/26/04     2748       (H)        STA, JUD, FIN                                                                                
02/26/04     2748       (H)        FN1: ZERO(LAW)                                                                               
02/26/04     2748       (H)        FN2: (GOV)                                                                                   
02/26/04     2748       (H)        GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                                                                
04/08/04                (H)        STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                   
04/08/04                (H)        Heard & Held                                                                                 
04/13/04                (H)        STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                   
04/13/04                (H)        Heard & Held                                                                                 
04/21/04                (H)        STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                   
BILL: HB 525                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE:HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION PROCEDURES                                                                                  
SPONSOR(S): RLS BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                      
Jrn-Date   Jrn-Page                     Action                                                                                  
02/26/04     2757       (H)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
02/26/04     2757       (H)        STA, JUD                                                                                     
02/26/04     2757       (H)        FN1: ZERO(GOV)                                                                               
02/26/04     2757       (H)        GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                                                                
02/26/04     2757       (H)        REFERRED TO STATE AFFAIRS                                                                    
04/21/04                (H)        STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                   
BILL: HB 541                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE:INCREASED APPROPRIATIONS REQUIRE OFFSET                                                                             
SPONSOR(S): RLS BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                      
Jrn-Date   Jrn-Page                     Action                                                                                  
03/24/04     3058       (H)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
03/24/04     3058       (H)        STA, W&M, FIN                                                                                
03/24/04     3058       (H)        FN1: INDETERMINATE(GOV/ALL                                                                   
03/24/04     3058       (H)        GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                                                                
03/24/04     3058       (H)        REFERRED TO STATE AFFAIRS                                                                    
04/21/04                (H)        STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                   
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
LAURA GLAISER, Director                                                                                                         
Division of Elections                                                                                                           
Office of the Lieutenant Governor                                                                                               
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Answered questions  regarding Version  U of                                                               
HB 523, on behalf of the division.                                                                                              
JIM SYKES, Election Specialist                                                                                                  
Green Party of Alaska                                                                                                           
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION  STATEMENT:     Offered  testimony   regarding  proposed                                                               
amendments to Version U of HB 523.                                                                                              
JOE SONNEMAN                                                                                                                    
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified  on his  own  behalf during  the                                                               
hearing on HB 523.                                                                                                              
DAVID W. MARQUEZ, Chief Assistant Attorney General                                                                              
Legislation & Regulations Section                                                                                               
Office of the Attorney General                                                                                                  
Department of Law                                                                                                               
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Presented HB  525 on  behalf of  the House                                                               
Rules Committee, sponsor by request of the governor.                                                                            
LISA FITZPATRICK, Chair                                                                                                         
Alaska Human Rights Commission                                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing on HB 525.                                                                    
CHERYL FRASCA, Director                                                                                                         
Office of the Director                                                                                                          
Office of Management & Budget (OMB)                                                                                             
Office of the Governor                                                                                                          
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Presented a summary of HB 541  on behalf of                                                               
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
TAPE 04-65, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  BRUCE WEYHRAUCH  called the  House State  Affairs Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at  8:05 a.m.   Representatives Holm,                                                               
Seaton,  Gruenberg, and  Weyhrauch were  present at  the call  to                                                               
order.  Representatives  Coghill and Lynn arrived  as the meeting                                                               
was in progress.                                                                                                                
HB 523-VOTERS/VOTING/POLITICAL PARTIES/ELECTIONS                                                                              
Number 0088                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that the  first order of  business was                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO.  523,  "An Act  relating  to  qualifications  of                                                               
voters,  voter registration,  voter residence,  precinct boundary                                                               
modification, recognized  political parties,  voters unaffiliated                                                               
with  political parties,  early voting,  absentee voting,  ballot                                                               
counting,  voting by  mail, initiative,  referendum, recall,  and                                                               
definitions; and providing for an effective date."                                                                              
Number 0102                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH moved to adopt  the committee substitute (CS) for                                                               
HB 523, Version 23-GH2021\U, Kurtz, 4/19/04, as a work draft.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM objected for discussion purposes.                                                                           
Number 0148                                                                                                                     
LAURA  GLAISER, Director,  Division of  Elections, Office  of the                                                               
Lieutenant  Governor, informed  the committee  that when  talking                                                               
with  the division's  regional  supervisors,  they suggested  the                                                               
best way to notify  a voter is in writing.  She  noted that it is                                                               
possible that  some papers in  general circulation may  not reach                                                               
certain people; therefore,  perhaps the best way  to reach people                                                               
would be to require the division do so in writing.                                                                              
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  turned attention to  Section 4 of Version  U, on                                                               
page4, [lines 15-16], which read as follows:                                                                                    
      (1) whenever possible, sending written notice of the                                                                      
        change to each affected registered voter in the                                                                         
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked  if it wouldn't always be  possible to send                                                               
written notice.                                                                                                                 
MS. GLAISER answered yes.  She  said a voter gets written notice,                                                               
because the  division sends that voter  a new voter card  when it                                                               
changes the precinct boundary or polling place location.                                                                        
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH asked  if  it  is necessary  to  use the  phrase                                                               
"whenever possible".  He asked, "Isn't it always possible?"                                                                     
MS. GLAISER answered yes.                                                                                                       
Number 0340                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  suggested  there may  not  be  sufficient                                                               
length of  time in which to  get out a notice  regarding moving a                                                               
polling place.                                                                                                                  
MS. GLAISER explained that a  lasting change means written notice                                                               
to the voter, whereas as much  notice as possible is given in the                                                               
case of emergency polling place changes, for example.                                                                           
Number 0381                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  explained that the  "whenever possible"                                                               
language was added for the  reason that Representative Seaton had                                                               
just suggested.  In response  to remarks from Chair Weyhrauch, he                                                               
emphasized  that the  only  changes  in Version  U  are from  the                                                               
adopted amendments that were incorporated into it.                                                                              
Number 0458                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON moved  to adopt  Amendment 1,  labeled 23-                                                               
GH2021\U.11, Kurtz, 4/20/04, which read as follows:                                                                             
     Page 18, lines 21 - 27:                                                                                                    
          Delete all material and insert:                                                                                       
               "(3)  meets the definition of a political                                                                        
     party in AS 15.60.010."                                                                                                    
     Page 18, line 29, following the second use of "party":                                                                     
          Insert "meets the definition of a political party                                                                     
     in AS 15.60.010."                                                                                                          
     Page 18, line 30, through page 19, line 4:                                                                                 
          Delete all material.                                                                                                  
     Page 19, line 7:                                                                                                           
          Delete "(b)(2)"                                                                                                       
          Insert "(b)"                                                                                                          
     Page 19, lines 11 - 26:                                                                                                    
          Delete all material and insert:                                                                                       
          "(d)  Within 10 days after a verification under                                                                       
     (c) of  this section, the  director shall provide  to a                                                                    
     political  group  seeking  recognized  political  party                                                                    
     status under  (a) of this section  written notification                                                                    
     when  the  political   group  has  obtained  recognized                                                                    
     political party status.                                                                                                    
     (e)     The  director   may  not   withdraw  recognized                                                                    
     political party  status from a political  group that no                                                                    
     longer meets  the definition of political  party except                                                                    
     following the verification  immediately after a general                                                                    
     election  at  which  a  governor   was  elected.    The                                                                    
     director  shall  provide  written notification  to  the                                                                    
     political  party   of  the  withdrawal   of  recognized                                                                    
     political party status."                                                                                                   
Number 0462                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH objected for discussion purposes.                                                                               
Number 0500                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON explained  that  Sections 41  and 42  were                                                               
incongruous.  [Amendment  1] would ensure those  two sections are                                                               
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  noted that the  first three changes  proposed in                                                               
Amendment 1 address  the political party issue.   The next change                                                               
proposed by  Amendment 1,  on page  19, line  7, is  a conforming                                                               
part of the  amendment.  He asked if the  proposed change to page                                                               
19, lines 11-26, was suggested  by Legislative Legal and Research                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  answered yes  and pointed to  a memorandum                                                               
from Kathryn  Kurtz, Legislative  Counsel, Legislative  Legal and                                                               
Research  Services, [included  in  the  committee packet],  which                                                               
describes the differences between Sections 41 and 42.                                                                           
MS. GLAISER  directed attention to  page 1, line 21  of Amendment                                                               
1, [as numbered  on the amendment], and  suggested that political                                                               
party status cannot be withdrawn  from a political group, because                                                               
a  group was  never a  political party;  therefore, it  should be                                                               
changed to "political  party that no longer  meets the definition                                                               
of political party".                                                                                                            
Number 0745                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  suggested  a conceptual  amendment  to                                                               
Amendment  1,   to  authorize  Legislative  Legal   and  Research                                                               
Services to  do what's necessary  to make a  technical correction                                                               
in subsection (e).                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  indicated  that he  thinks  if  political                                                               
party status  is withdrawn,  what is left  is a  political group.                                                               
He said  he doesn't know if  there is a definition  for political                                                               
MS. GLAISER explained  that the party status is  withdrawn from a                                                               
group.    She   reminded  the  committee  that  she   is  not  an                                                               
Number 0832                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  recommended turning over the  drafting to                                                               
Legislative  Legal  and Research  Services,  but  not before  the                                                               
committee hammers out the meaning.                                                                                              
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH said the current  language of subsection (e) does                                                               
seem convoluted.                                                                                                                
MS. GLAISER explained:                                                                                                          
     We were trying  to say that if you're a  party - if you                                                                    
     qualified to  be a party  by this  date - you  remain a                                                                    
     party until after the verification  of the votes at the                                                                    
     end of  the election.   So, that's  why I'm  talking in                                                                    
     terms of party and not group ....                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL offered his  understanding that the status                                                               
could not  be changed  until "the verification  of numbers."   He                                                               
asked   Ms.  Glaiser   to  give   a   hypothetical  example   for                                                               
MS. GLAISER offered the following:                                                                                              
     Say, for  instance, ... the Republican  party qualified                                                                    
     as a  party, I think, by  June 1 of an  election year -                                                                    
     they  ... hadn't  nominated a  candidate  who gained  3                                                                    
     percent, but they had 3  percent of the voters.  That's                                                                    
     the  verification numbers  we're  talking  about.   ...                                                                    
     All this section says is, "You are a party."                                                                               
     We ... look at the party  numbers monthly.  If, say, in                                                                    
     July, the Republican  party went under 3  percent - you                                                                    
     know,  the   voters  became   undeclared,  nonpartisan,                                                                    
     changed  their  voter  registration,  and  the  numbers                                                                    
     dropped below 3  percent - this is saying  ... they are                                                                    
     still  a recognized  political  party  until after  the                                                                    
     elections  are certified,  after  the November  general                                                                    
     election.  ...   Because in the current  law right now,                                                                    
     there's no  provision for that, but  we have candidates                                                                    
     filing, and they expect to be  part of a party.  If the                                                                    
     party lost status, what does  that do to the candidate,                                                                    
     to the  voter?  So,  that was  what our attempt  was in                                                                    
     putting this language into law.                                                                                            
Number 1211                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON observed that  political party status would                                                               
not be  withdrawn, except following the  verification immediately                                                               
following  the  general  election   at  which  the  governor  was                                                               
elected, thus the  political party would have  status through the                                                               
next  gubernatorial   election.    He  gave   some  examples  and                                                               
explained  that the  intent of  this language  is to  get rid  of                                                               
skullduggery to get  rid of the worry that people  will play with                                                               
party status.   He explained that Ms. Kurtz noted  that there was                                                               
a conflict  between "what we were  saying before and what  we ...                                                               
had in Section 42."                                                                                                             
Number 1115                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   COGHILL  stated   his  understanding   that  the                                                               
verification  would really  be after  the general  election, even                                                               
[the division]  is still required  to verify monthly.   He asked,                                                               
"If the  real verification is  after the general election,  do we                                                               
need to have that other mechanism?"                                                                                             
MS.  GLAISER  responded  that  the  new  language  added  by  the                                                               
committee  may  provide  that  "you   get  locked  in  with  your                                                               
gubernatorial  candidate."   She said  that if  that's the  case,                                                               
then what  Representative Coghill  says is  true.   She mentioned                                                               
the way the  law is written and said [the  division] was going to                                                               
follow the normal  policy, which was that "you had  the 3 percent                                                               
with your candidate or you had  the numbers."  She explained that                                                               
the verification isn't a timely  process; it's an ongoing process                                                               
of looking at numbers.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  explained  that  there are  two  ways  to                                                               
qualify as  a political  party.  One  is to get  3 percent  at an                                                               
election,  and the  other is  in regard  to how  many people  are                                                               
registered in  the party.   He  added, "And  this isn't  meant to                                                               
knock out  one way of  qualifying or  another."  He  explained as                                                               
     The part  about the gubernatorial election  is based on                                                                    
     if  you got  3  percent  of the  vote  at the  previous                                                                    
     gubernatorial  election, then  you're  a party  through                                                                    
     the next  gubernatorial election.  The  verification of                                                                    
     the number  of voters is  for a party that  didn't have                                                                    
     somebody  get  3  percent but  ...  has  the  requisite                                                                    
     number  of  voters  that  ...  have  registered.    So,                                                                    
     there's two different  ways, and what this  is doing is                                                                    
     saying that  if you got  3 percent  of the vote  in the                                                                    
     gubernatorial  election, you're  qualified through  the                                                                    
     next gubernatorial election.   The other process is the                                                                    
     number of  voters who have  actually signed up  a voter                                                                    
     card and have specified whatever political party.                                                                          
Number 1283                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL explained  that  his  confusion had  been                                                               
that he didn't  want two standards that would  be working against                                                               
each  other,   but  he  said  he   thinks  Representative  Seaton                                                               
clarified that issue.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON replied  that  that had  been his  problem                                                               
with the last  amendment that the committee had made  (in a prior                                                               
hearing), because  the committee  had not seen  that there  was a                                                               
conflict between Section 41 and Section 42.                                                                                     
Number 1325                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG read subsection (e)  in Amendment 1.  He                                                               
remarked  that Ms.  Kurtz was  suggesting that  the language  [on                                                               
line 22  as numbered on Amendment  1] be changed from  "group" to                                                               
"party", then it  ought to also be changed [on  page 2, line1, as                                                               
numbered in Amendment 1], in order to be consistent.                                                                            
MS. GLAISER  responded that  that is  what had  thrown her.   She                                                               
stated,  "You can  only withdraw  political party  status from  a                                                               
political party."  She deferred  to legal counsel [of Legislative                                                               
Legal and Research Services] for  further comment.  She added, "I                                                               
know  how to  administer  it and  I know  who  we're supposed  to                                                               
verify."  In  response to a request for  clarification from Chair                                                               
Weyhrauch,  she  said she  knows  who  [the division]  sends  the                                                               
letters to; it's  to the party.  She said,  "It's legally correct                                                               
to refer to them as a group because they've lost the status."                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  said, "We  know  if  they've lost  their                                                               
status, they're technically a group,  but they've applied to be a                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked if  [Ms. Glaiser] wants the entity                                                               
to be  a party until  notified, or  to be a  group as soon  as it                                                               
doesn't meet its criteria, whether it has been notified or not.                                                                 
MS. GLAISER said she thinks the  parties want to be a party until                                                               
they are  told they are not.   She indicated that  there has been                                                               
some confusion  as to how  to administer situations in  which the                                                               
party  has lost  status  "by  straight numbers."    She said  she                                                               
thinks it's  fair that a party  remains a party until  it is told                                                               
it's not.                                                                                                                       
Number 1500                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  moved to  adopt a  conceptual amendment                                                               
to Amendment 1, to change the  word "group" to "party" on page 1,                                                               
line  22  [as   numbered  on  Amendment  1].     He  offered  his                                                               
understanding  that  "they won't  be  a  party until  you  notify                                                               
MS. GLAISER clarified,  "They will be a party  until they're told                                                               
they're not a  party."  She said [the division]  wants to protect                                                               
the party status through the election cycle.                                                                                    
Number 1578                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH   said  he  thinks  the   committee  will  adopt                                                               
Amendment  1, "with  the caveat  that we  need to  talk with  Ms.                                                               
Kurtz and  the director, and then  look at this language  when it                                                               
comes back for the next committee meeting."                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH said, "I had  an objection to that amendment; I'm                                                               
going to withdraw the objection."                                                                                               
[The committee treated Amendment 1 as adopted.]                                                                                 
Number 1590                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  brought   attention  to  Amendment  2,                                                               
labeled 23-GH2021\U.9, Kurtz, 4/20/04, which read as follows:                                                                   
     Page 18, line 26:                                                                                                          
          Delete "three"                                                                                                        
          Insert "one"                                                                                                          
     Page 19, line 2:                                                                                                           
          Delete "three"                                                                                                        
          Insert "one"                                                                                                          
     Page 20, line 11:                                                                                                          
          Delete "three"                                                                                                        
          Insert "one [THREE]"                                                                                              
Number 1607                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked Representative  Gruenberg to move Amendment                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said, "I will."                                                                                        
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH said, "And I object."                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG indicated that,  because of Amendment 1,                                                               
the part  of Amendment 2  addressing page  18, line 26,  and page                                                               
19, line 2, is no longer  necessary; therefore, he said that part                                                               
of Amendment 2 should be deleted.                                                                                               
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH announced  that the amendment to  Amendment 2 was                                                               
adopted without objection.                                                                                                      
Number 1700                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG explained  that the  remaining part  of                                                               
Amendment  2  would  eliminate   the  3-percent  requirement  and                                                               
changes it  to 1 percent,  which would  allow a group  to achieve                                                               
party status  if they have  registered voters in the  state equal                                                               
in  number to  at least  1 percent  of the  total votes  cast per                                                               
governor  at  the  proceeding  general   election  at  which  the                                                               
governor was  elected.   He directed attention  to a  letter from                                                               
Mr.  Sykes, which  lists several  states, none  of which  have as                                                               
high  as  a  3-percent  requirement.    He  mentioned  they  have                                                               
alternative  methods of  reaching ballot  status.   He concluded,                                                               
"This is just  a very, very difficult hurdle for  the Green party                                                               
to overcome."                                                                                                                   
Number 1778                                                                                                                     
JIM SYKES, Election  Specialist, Green Party of  Alaska, told the                                                               
committee that  he has  been dealing  with these  election issues                                                               
for  approximately  15 years.    In  regard  to Amendment  2  [as                                                               
amended], he  stated that it is  well recognized that it  is many                                                               
times  more difficult  to register  people to  a political  party                                                               
than it  is to attract  people to a candidate  at the polls.   He                                                               
offered  his belief  that there  are presently  only five  states                                                               
that have requirements that speak to  both a ballot test, where a                                                               
certain number  of votes are  required, and a  registration test,                                                               
where there has to be a  certain number of people registered to a                                                               
particular  political  party.    He  said, "In  no  case  is  the                                                               
registration test  anywhere near  the level  of the  ballot test,                                                               
except  in Alaska."    He offered  examples  from the  previously                                                               
mentioned handout.                                                                                                              
MR. SYKES  said it's not just  the Green party that  is concerned                                                               
with  this issue;  the Libertarian  party actually  gained ballot                                                               
status  in  1982  and  retained that  status  for  three  general                                                               
elections.    He   added  that  he  doesn't   think  anybody  was                                                               
particularly hurt  by the  fact that  Libertarians had  access to                                                               
the ballot during that time.  He continued as follows:                                                                          
     In this  particular election,  they lost  ballot status                                                                    
     temporarily; they  had to register  a few  more voters,                                                                    
     because  they were  right on  that percentage.   And  I                                                                    
     think  that if  you take  a  look at  what is  required                                                                    
     statistically  to show  that you're  registering people                                                                    
     through a  given political party,  1 percent is  a much                                                                    
     more reasonable standard.                                                                                                  
     The other  thing that  I would add  is that  the Greens                                                                    
     had as high  as 12.5-percent vote in  a statewide race,                                                                    
     even though we've never had  more than 1 percent of the                                                                    
     voters in the party.  And  I think that we can point to                                                                    
     past elections and  show that, as a  small party, we're                                                                    
     perhaps one  of the most  active in the past  15 years.                                                                    
     So, I  would encourage  you to consider  this amendment                                                                    
     and to support it.                                                                                                         
     ...   The  other thing  I would  mention, since  you've                                                                    
     just been  discussing it, is  that on pages 19  and 20,                                                                    
     Section  43, I  think that  the intent  of what  you're                                                                    
     doing here  is to  provide political  party recognition                                                                    
     for 4 years, if somebody  gets 3 percent in a statewide                                                                    
     race.   And it does  occur to me that  ... historically                                                                    
     we've done  this for four  years, and I think  it's due                                                                    
     to our  litigation this past year  that recognizes that                                                                    
     a  statewide race  is a  statewide  race.   I think  it                                                                    
     would be simpler for the  Division of Elections and for                                                                    
     political parties to be able  to have ballot status for                                                                    
     four years, regardless  of when they obtain it.   I can                                                                    
     see  somebody saying  ...,  "We had  a  candidate at  3                                                                    
     percent in  a U.S. House  race in a  non-governor year.                                                                    
     Why is  that less  valuable than  getting 3  percent in                                                                    
     the  same  U.S.  House  of Representatives  race  in  a                                                                    
     governor's  year?"   And  so, I  think  that, both  for                                                                    
     consistency and  treating everything equally,  ... just                                                                    
     saying, "To get 3 percent,  you got four years from the                                                                    
     time  that the  election is  certified that  you get  3                                                                    
     percent,  until  two  general elections  hence."    And                                                                    
     that's  the  change that  I  would  recommend that  you                                                                    
     make,  in  terms of  what  you  were talking  about  on                                                                    
     political parties.                                                                                                         
     In terms of political groups:   If somebody loses their                                                                    
     ballot status, I  think it's reasonable to  give them a                                                                    
     fairly lengthy period of time  to meet the requirements                                                                    
     again.   If  you've  got several  thousand people  that                                                                    
     have taken the  time to register as  a political party,                                                                    
     no matter  what it is,  I don't think that  they should                                                                    
     have  to  reregister  ...   after  they've  lost  their                                                                    
     status, if it's a temporary  thing - even if it's, say,                                                                    
     four years.   So, they  might be a political  group for                                                                    
     four years before they  regain full ballot recognition,                                                                    
     but  I  don't  think  that hurts  anybody  to  let  the                                                                    
     Division of  Elections continue to track  them, so long                                                                    
     as they apply, as is now the law.                                                                                          
MR.  SYKES  noted that  the  trend  across  the nation,  both  in                                                               
legislation and in legal interpretation  in the court, is to make                                                               
ballot access  more accessible, not  less accessible.   He stated                                                               
that he thinks HB 523 "takes a good step in that direction."                                                                    
Number 1993                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG revealed  that during  his own  race he                                                               
almost  lost the  election to  a  candidate in  the Green  party;                                                               
therefore, he said  he has somewhat of a conflict  on this issue.                                                               
Notwithstanding  that, he  said he  would not  ask to  be excused                                                               
from voting,  because, "If  it's good policy,  it should  be good                                                               
policy, even if it's not good for me personally."                                                                               
[Chair Weyhrauch turned over the gavel to Vice-Chair Holm.]                                                                     
Number 2045                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL said  he wants to know  the history behind                                                               
the 3-percent requirement.  He  offered his understanding that it                                                               
used to be 10 percent.                                                                                                          
Number 2071                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SYKES  confirmed that  the requirement used  to be                                                               
10 percent, but  was challenged by the  Alaska Independent party.                                                               
He said,  "There was  no way to  reach party  registration tests.                                                               
If  I  recall   correctly,  I  believe  it  was   1996  that  the                                                               
legislature brought that  rule into effect."  He  said he doesn't                                                               
know why  the 3-percent level  was chosen, but [the  Green party]                                                               
did not  support it.   He surmised that  there was an  impetus to                                                               
provide  another  avenue to  ballot  access,  but there  probably                                                               
wasn't a lot of discussion about what a number should be."                                                                      
Number 2120                                                                                                                     
VICE-CHAIR HOLM  mentioned the [most  recent] governor's  race in                                                               
California.   He said,  "I don't  think any of  us know  what the                                                               
right  percentage ought  to  be  to make  it  reasonable for  the                                                               
choices at the ballot box for the electorate."                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE SYKES  said he thinks  the legal standard  that is                                                               
found  in most  elections  cases  of this  nature  is called,  "a                                                               
modicum  of support."   Many  legislatures have  defined this  in                                                               
different ways.   He said he thinks a reasonable  ballot test and                                                               
registration test can be established.   He noted that, currently,                                                               
there is a fairly large wave  across the country where people are                                                               
registering away from political  parties rather than to political                                                               
parties.   He said,  "All we're  asking is  that this  reality be                                                               
recognized."    He  concluded,  "It's clear  that  a  modicum  of                                                               
support at  the registration should  be much lower than  a ballot                                                               
test, and that's what I was trying to get across."                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  suggested  that  the  committee  table                                                               
Amendment 2  [as amended], so  that Representative  Coghill could                                                               
research the issue.                                                                                                             
Number 2199                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  said one of  the things that he  will try                                                               
to reconcile  is in regard  to petition requirements  against the                                                               
modicum of support issue.                                                                                                       
Number 2233                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG offered  to  withdraw  Amendment 2  [as                                                               
VICE-CHAIR HOLM  suggested Amendment 2  [as amended] just  be set                                                               
Number 2273                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG indicated that  Joe Sonneman would speak                                                               
to  Amendment  3, which  read  as  follows [original  punctuation                                                               
     Page 1, line 5, following "absentee voting,":                                                                            
               Insert "ballot design,"                                                                                        
     Page 4, following line 29:                                                                                                 
               Insert new bill section to read:                                                                                 
          *Sec. AS 15.15.030(6) is repealed and reenacted                                                                     
     to read:                                                                                                                   
               (6) The order in which candidates for each                                                                       
     office are placed on the  general election ballot shall                                                                    
     be randomly determined by the  director for the lowest-                                                                    
     numbered  precinct  in  which candidates  are  running.                                                                    
     The  order  of  placement  shall be  rotated  for  each                                                                    
     successively  numbered precinct.   Absentee  ballots in                                                                    
     each house  shall be  printed as  though they  were the                                                                    
     highest-numbered precinct in the house district.                                                                           
     Renumber the following paragraphs accordingly.                                                                             
     Page 21, line 13:                                                                                                          
          Delete "secs. 18-40"                                                                                                  
          Insert "secs. 19-41"                                                                                                  
Number 2297                                                                                                                     
JOE SONNEMAN,  testifying on his  own behalf, told  the committee                                                               
that  he is  a long-time  Juneau resident  and studied  political                                                               
science in college and earned a  Ph.D. in government.  He said he                                                               
is aware  of some of the  history of what is  called, "name order                                                               
effect."   Mr.  Sonneman summarized  his written  testimony.   He                                                               
offered a  glimpse of  political science history  and the  use of                                                               
statistics,  and  explained   that,  [before  rotating  ballots],                                                               
candidates  would change  their  names to  be at  the  top of  an                                                               
alphabetical listing.                                                                                                           
MR. SONNEMAN                                                                                                                    
TAPE 04-65, SIDE B                                                                                                            
Number 2347                                                                                                                     
MR.  SONNEMAN described  a  new random  system  developed by  the                                                               
Division  of  Elections  in  about  1995  [as  described  in  Mr.                                                               
Sonneman's letter].   He related  that there was  some confusion,                                                               
because voters would  show up at the voting place  with a copy of                                                               
the voting  order as published  in the newspaper, and  they would                                                               
find a different  order at the polling place.   Mr. Sonneman said                                                               
that at that time he tried to  get the division to stick with the                                                               
ballot  rotation system,  even though  it may  cost a  little bit                                                               
more, because  "it had served Alaska  so well for so  long."  The                                                               
division declined, and Mr. Sonneman  brought the case to superior                                                               
court, where  the court ruled  in summary judgment for  the State                                                               
[of Alaska].  On an appeal,  the Alaska Supreme Court upheld that                                                               
ruling  by  a  3-2  vote.    Mr.  Sonneman  indicated  that  "the                                                               
dissenters" agreed that  the cost savings [of  the random system]                                                               
was not that  much, the importance of  elections was substantial,                                                               
and there  was a material  factual issue regarding  whether there                                                               
really was  a name order effect  that the state had  not provided                                                               
any evidence to contradict.                                                                                                     
MR.  SONNEMAN  stated that  many  studies  show that  name  order                                                               
effect  is as  high as  6 percent  and his  concern is  that many                                                               
elections in  Alaska are decided  by narrower votes.   He stated,                                                               
"When the  ballot order  is decided  by means  of a  lottery, you                                                               
could potentially  have candidates ... achieving  office by means                                                               
of a lottery, rather than by means of an election."                                                                             
Number 2192                                                                                                                     
MR.  SONNEMAN  offered   his  understanding  that  Representative                                                               
Gruenberg's  [Amendment  3] would  adopt  a  middle road  between                                                               
full-blown ballot  rotation, where each letter  [of the alphabet]                                                               
gets a different  ballot, and the lottery method.   [Amendment 3]                                                               
proposes a  lottery by  precinct, instead  of by  House district.                                                               
He said  this method would  result in  a more random  effect than                                                               
the current  method and would  probably prevent  manipulation and                                                               
limit  or eliminate  most  of  the "lottery  effect."   It  would                                                               
probably  cost a  little  more,  but not  as  much as  full-blown                                                               
ballot rotation.   In  terms of cost,  Mr. Sonneman  queried, "If                                                               
this  was  something that  Alaska  could  afford when  the  state                                                               
budget was  $150 million or less  ... why can't we  afford it now                                                               
when it's $2 billion or so?"                                                                                                    
MR. SONNEMAN concluded as follows:                                                                                              
     So,  I think  the  principle is  you  really want  fair                                                                    
     elections.  What is fair  is to have an election rather                                                                    
     than   a   lottery,  and   Representative   Gruenberg's                                                                    
     [amendment]  is a  middle road  that will  probably get                                                                    
     you most  of the  way there.   I personally  still have                                                                    
     the preference  for the ballot rotation  system we used                                                                    
     for 70 years.                                                                                                              
Number 2107                                                                                                                     
MR.  SONNEMAN,  in response  to  a  question from  Representative                                                               
Lynn, he  indicated that the  results of the study  regarding the                                                               
6-percent  name order  effect were  found in  Ohio.   He said  he                                                               
thinks Alaska may have a higher  name order effect.  He explained                                                               
that the name  order effect is less where  parties are important,                                                               
and in Alaska, parties are not as important.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN said  described  the randomness  of where  a                                                               
person will  be on the  ballot as  a form of  legalized gambling.                                                               
He  asked  for  clarification  regarding  "rotating  between  the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG suggested  that Amendment  3 should  be                                                               
offered.   He noted that there  is a typographical error  that he                                                               
wanted  to correct  before offering  Amendment  3.   In the  last                                                               
sentence of  Amendment 3, the  word "district" needs to  be added                                                               
after the word "house".                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG highlighted  three  types  of races  in                                                               
Alaska: statewide,  Senate - which  involve two  house districts,                                                               
and house  district races.   Currently, the  ballots are  set for                                                               
each  house  district;  therefore,  for a  statewide  race,  they                                                               
rotate through  the 40 house  districts.  He described  the order                                                               
in the  Senate race.   Representative  Gruenberg stated  that the                                                               
place that it's really unfair is  in the house races, because the                                                               
ballots are  set for  the entire house  district.   He explained,                                                               
"If you're on top,  you're on top for the whole  thing."  He said                                                               
Amendment 3  would rotate  by precinct.   He offered  an example.                                                               
Representative  Gruenberg said  the  absentees shall  be given  a                                                               
ballot  as though  the  absentees  were the  last  precinct.   He                                                               
offered an  example wherein if  there were five  precincts, there                                                               
would be six sets of  ballots to accommodate the absentee ballot.                                                               
The candidates would rotate all the way through.                                                                                
Number 1858                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  said  he  sees  a  precinct  as  a  smaller                                                               
district.   He said  it's probably true  for all  candidates that                                                               
they [have  stronger support] in  some precincts than  in others.                                                               
He  stated,  "And so,  [Amendment  3]  really doesn't  solve  the                                                               
problem,  ... because  if  I  get in  the  wrong  position in  my                                                               
weakest precinct,  I could have  a problem."   He asked  if there                                                               
would be any way to fix that.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  suggested  that  the  committee  could                                                               
decide to  go back to the  "rolling" ballot.  He  noted that part                                                               
of Mr.  Sonneman's written  testimony shows  the language  of the                                                               
previous  rolling ballot  statute.    He said  he  would have  no                                                               
problem with  using that language, but  he said it seems  that it                                                               
would result in a higher fiscal note.                                                                                           
Number 1772                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN asked  how much higher the  fiscal note would                                                               
be.   He  stated that  he  thinks money  spent on  the most  fair                                                               
election possible is money well invested.                                                                                       
Number 1745                                                                                                                     
MR. SONNEMAN responded  that in 1995, the amount  "was thought to                                                               
be about" $65,000 per election cycle.                                                                                           
Number 1713                                                                                                                     
MS. GLAISER  said the division  could look into that  and prepare                                                               
those numbers  for the committee.   She noted that when  SB 5 was                                                               
heard, the  full rolling [ballot]  was [estimated to  be] between                                                               
$100,000  and $200,000;  however,  the fiscal  notes prepared  at                                                               
that time  didn't include  an analysis and  showed a  zero fiscal                                                               
note.   She said, "It  depends on  how fiscal notes  are prepared                                                               
and what's  requested.  So, we  couldn't get any history  on that                                                               
savings or  that total.   I can't believe  it would be  more than                                                               
MS. GLAISER  expressed that from  the division's  standpoint, the                                                               
issue  of  voter confusion  is  important.   She  indicated  that                                                               
voters are  often looking for  their candidate on the  ballot and                                                               
they  often do  take a  sample  ballot or  the official  election                                                               
pamphlet with  them, which she  said can  only be printed  in one                                                               
order.  She continued as follows:                                                                                               
     And they do  mark it, and they do go  hand in hand with                                                                    
     a marked ballot.   And when those names  aren't in that                                                                    
     order,  then  they've cast  the  ballot  for the  wrong                                                                    
     person.   ... That's a  policy discussion for  you all,                                                                    
     but from  our point,  I don't  know which  one has  - I                                                                    
     don't  know whether  the right  word is  - more  value.                                                                    
     But, ... that confusion, is  that a voter that intended                                                                    
     to vote for you voted  the wrong [ballot], because they                                                                    
     took  this piece  of paper  with them  and went  in and                                                                    
     went  "third on  down," and  colored  it in?   I'm  not                                                                    
Number 1636                                                                                                                     
VICE-CHAIR HOLM  responded, "You know,  sometimes I think  we try                                                               
to legislate  against people  not paying  attention, and  I don't                                                               
think it's  possible for us  to do that."   He illustrated  how a                                                               
different  ballot  order  may  have  affected  his  own  election                                                               
outcome.   He  asked  how difficult  it is  for  the division  to                                                               
implement changes to the ballot.                                                                                                
MS.  GLAISER  indicated that  it  would  just mean  more  ballots                                                               
programmed into  the system  and more printing  done.   She noted                                                               
that an  even distribution of  ballots would  need to be  sent to                                                               
absentee ballot stations.  She  explained, "Because if we send an                                                               
absentee ballot  station just the  one where  'F' was on  top and                                                               
'Z' was on  the bottom, 'Z' would probably sue  the division that                                                               
we  didn't   equitably  distribute   the  ballots."     She  said                                                               
[Amendment 3] is  a concern because it would still  be a lottery.                                                               
The division  would choose  letters of the  alphabet for  top and                                                               
bottom  placement and  a candidate  could say  that the  division                                                               
gave  him/her the  worst precinct  [related to  how much  support                                                               
that candidate has  in the precinct], even though  that would not                                                               
be the intent of the division.                                                                                                  
Number 1578                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG responded as follows:                                                                                  
     For  statewide  races,  the only  decision  that's  the                                                                    
     random choice that the [division]  would make would be,                                                                    
     in  district 1,  precinct 1  - whatever  Bill William's                                                                    
     lowest  numbered precinct  [is]  - they  would set  it.                                                                    
     And then it would  rotate strictly throughout the whole                                                                    
     state.    And it  would  be  the  same for  the  senate                                                                    
     district; the order would be  set in the lower numbered                                                                    
     house  district and  it would  go  through that  entire                                                                    
     senate  district, and  then  it would  be  set in  each                                                                    
     house district for the house  race.  But you're right -                                                                    
     it is random at some point.                                                                                                
Number 1400                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL said  huge amounts of money  are spent for                                                               
name recognition.   He  said, "I think  that would  overrule name                                                               
placement.  I would have a  hard time believing that even that 2-                                                               
percent number  would be  higher or  even as high  as that."   He                                                               
said he  would like to  see a  challenge to that  before throwing                                                               
the ballot into  a rotating style that could  create the problems                                                               
that  Ms. Glaiser  mentioned regarding  possible litigation.   He                                                               
said, "To  me, I just  can't, in my  mind, believe that  it would                                                               
trump  name  recognition."   He  said  he is  not  a  big fan  of                                                               
[Amendment 3], and  he revealed that without any study  he is not                                                               
willing  to go  to  the rotating  ballot.   He  stated, "I  think                                                               
consistency  in  elections  brings  us  to  a  higher  degree  of                                                               
integrity,  and  I  think  we  need  to  stay  as  consistent  as                                                               
possible."   He said if a  candidate whose last name  begins with                                                               
an  "A" is  running against  a candidate  whose last  name begins                                                               
with a "Z,"  he just doesn't know that "the  people in Alaska are                                                               
going to fall - at a 2-percent  rate - into just taking the first                                                               
name on the ballot."                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  asked  if  the division  has  any  numbers,                                                               
statistics, or guesses on what the name order effects might be.                                                                 
MS. GLAISER  answered no.   She added  that she doesn't  think it                                                               
would  be  desirable  to  have  the  division  maintaining  [that                                                               
information].    She  said  that is  a  candidate  and  political                                                               
consultant  awareness; the  division just  keeps the  vote total.                                                               
She said she thinks the court  case studies are in the files, but                                                               
the division doesn't study them.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN   said  he  thinks  this   is  an  important                                                               
consideration  that  needs  further examination  and  appropriate                                                               
VICE-CHAIR  HOLM  discussed  whether  the  committee  should  set                                                               
Amendment 3 aside until the matter is studied further.                                                                          
MS. GLAISER asked the committee if  it wants the division to do a                                                               
cost analysis of  [the Amendment 3 plan] versus  the full rolling                                                               
Number 1155                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL said  he  thinks the  committee needs  to                                                               
address  policy considerations  first and  not just  decide based                                                               
upon the cost.                                                                                                                  
VICE-CHAIR HOLM concurred.                                                                                                      
Number 1116                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN offered  his understanding  that, currently,                                                               
letters are  randomly pulled out and  the first letter is  put on                                                               
top.  He asked if that is correct.                                                                                              
MS. GLAISER answered yes.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked if there is  interest in pursuing                                                               
[Amendment 3] with the full committee.                                                                                          
VICE-CHAIR HOLM indicated  that he would like  to give [Amendment                                                               
3] a fair hearing when more committee members are present.                                                                      
Number 1083                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG withdrew Amendment  3 and indicated that                                                               
he would  offer it  later with  another amendment  addressing the                                                               
issue of a rolling ballot.                                                                                                      
Number 0931                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  turned  to Amendment  4,  labeled  23-                                                               
GH2021\U.6, Kurtz, 4/20/04, which read as follows:                                                                              
     Page 11, line 21, following "display":                                                                                     
          Insert "at least"                                                                                                 
     Page 14, line 18, following "display":                                                                                     
          Insert "at least"                                                                                                 
     Page 17, line 28, following "post":                                                                                        
          Insert "at least"                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG explained  that the  parts of  the bill                                                               
that  Amendment 4  would affect  address initiative,  referendum,                                                               
and recall, and  where notices are displayed.   He indicated that                                                               
Amendment  4 is  a conforming  amendment.   He said  some of  the                                                               
polling  places are  fairly large  and could  have more  than one                                                               
notice displayed.                                                                                                               
VICE-CHAIR HOLM asked  if there were any comments.   He announced                                                               
that Amendment 4, without objection, [was adopted].                                                                             
Number 0820                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  turned  to Amendment  5,  labeled  23-                                                               
GH2021\U.5, Kurtz, 4/20/04, which read as follows:                                                                              
     Page 10, line 6, following "address":                                                                                      
          Insert "of each person signing the petition"                                                                      
     Page 12, lines 20 - 21:                                                                                                    
          Delete "names, dates of birth, signatures, and                                                                
          Insert "name, date of birth, signature, and                                                                       
     address of each person signing the petition"                                                                           
     Page 12, line 22:                                                                                                          
          Delete "[,]"                                                                                                          
          Insert "[SIGNATURES AND ADDRESSES,]"                                                                                  
     Page 15, line 27:                                                                                                          
          Delete "signatures, and addresses; ["                                                                         
          Insert "signature, and address of each person                                                                     
     signing the petition; [SIGNATURES AND ADDRESSES"                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG said  Amendment 5  makes it  clear that                                                               
the information  required on the  petition is that of  the person                                                               
signing the petition.                                                                                                           
VICE-CHAIR HOLM questioned whether Amendment 5 was necessary.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said  he thinks it makes  the language a                                                               
little clearer.   In response  to comments from  Vice-Chair Holm,                                                               
he  indicated  that  the  rest   of  Amendment  5  is  conforming                                                               
VICE-CHAIR HOLM asked if there  was any objection to Amendment 5.                                                               
[No  objection  was  stated  and   Amendment  5  was  treated  as                                                               
Number 0730                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  turned  to Amendment  6,  labeled  23-                                                               
GH2021\U.8, Kurtz, 4/20/04, which read as follows:                                                                              
     Page 20, line 23, following "voter":                                                                                       
     Insert ", as that term is defined in AS 15.60.010,"                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG explained  that  the part  of the  bill                                                               
that Amendment  6 addresses deals with  an incorporation election                                                               
in a  municipality.   It's a  technical amendment  that addresses                                                               
who is  able to vote in  the incorporation election.   He said it                                                               
was Ms. Kurtz's  suggestion to define "voter".  In  response to a                                                               
question   from  Vice-Chair   Holm,  he   explained  that   [that                                                               
definition from]  AS 15.60.010 is not  in Title 29, which  is the                                                               
reason why the reference was necessary.                                                                                         
Number 0605                                                                                                                     
MS.  GLAISER  directed  attention  to  page  21,  line  4,  where                                                               
"qualified voter" is defined.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  observed that that meant  [Amendment 6]                                                               
is no longer necessary.                                                                                                         
Number 0557                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG withdrew Amendment 6.                                                                                  
[Vice-Chair Holm turned the gavel back over to Chair Weyhrauch.]                                                                
Number 0531                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG requested that  the amendments that were                                                               
adopted today be incorporated into  a new committee substitute by                                                               
the next hearing on HB 523.                                                                                                     
[HB 523 was heard and held.]                                                                                                    
HB 525-HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION PROCEDURES                                                                                     
Number 0495                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that  the next  order of  business was                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 525, "An  Act relating to complaints  filed with,                                                               
and   investigations,  hearings,   and  orders   of,  the   State                                                               
Commission for  Human Rights;  making conforming  amendments; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that before  the committee, as  a work                                                               
draft, was Version 23-GH2024\D, Bullock, 4/19/04.                                                                               
Number 0472                                                                                                                     
DAVID W.  MARQUEZ, Chief Assistant Attorney  General, Legislation                                                               
&   Regulations  Section,   Office  of   the  Attorney   General,                                                               
Department of Law, presented HB 525  on behalf of the House Rules                                                               
Committee, sponsor by request of  the governor.  He read portions                                                               
from his written testimony [included  in the committee packet] as                                                               
     We believe  that ... HB 525  enhances the effectiveness                                                                    
     of  the Alaska  State  Commission for  Human Rights  by                                                                    
     allowing  the  commission  to  evaluate  complaints  of                                                                    
     unlawful discrimination  and to allocate  its resources                                                                    
     to prosecuting  those complaints  that will  best serve                                                                    
     the   commission's   goal   of   eliminating   unlawful                                                                    
MR. MARQUEZ  stated that  other benefits  of HB  525 would  be to                                                               
improve  commission  procedures,  enhance  the  fairness  of  the                                                               
commission's   procedures,   clarify   the  remedies   that   the                                                               
commission may award to remedy  unlawful discrimination, and make                                                               
certain housekeeping changes.                                                                                                   
MR.  MARQUEZ  noted  that, presently,  the  commission  has  been                                                               
bogged down  because of a ruling  by the Alaska Supreme  Court in                                                               
the  Department of  Fish  & Game  v.  Meyer.   He  said the  case                                                             
requires  the  commission  to  take   to  hearing  any  complaint                                                               
supported  by substantial  evidence  of unlawful  discrimination,                                                               
without regard  to such  factors as weakness  of the  evidence or                                                               
the strength of  an employer's permanent defenses.   He explained                                                               
that, to overcome that burden, "you  would have to show that it's                                                               
completely  lacking in  merit."   The  result has  been that  the                                                               
commission  takes  every  complaint  and doesn't  have  any  real                                                               
discretion in deciding which cases to take forward.                                                                             
MR.  MARQUEZ  stated  that  HB  525  would  allow  the  executive                                                               
director  [of  the  commission]   to  choose  the  complaints  of                                                               
unlawful  discrimination that  merit  pursuit,  based on  factors                                                               
such  as strength  of evidence,  severity  of alleged  violation,                                                               
employer's  history before  the  commission,  or the  complaint's                                                               
value in establishing precedent.   The proposed legislation would                                                               
allow  the commission  to better  marshal  its resources  towards                                                               
cases it  feels are more  important.  Mr. Marquez  indicated that                                                               
the commission is in favor of this aspect of the bill.                                                                          
MR.  MARQUEZ  listed the  ways  in  which  HB 525  would  improve                                                               
commission  procedures.    He  said   the  bill  would:    permit                                                               
agreements   during   the   prehearing  conciliation   phase   to                                                               
compromise damage  claims; require that agreements  be reduced to                                                               
writing,  and   provide  that   agreements  are   enforceable  as                                                               
commission orders;  require the  commission to  follow procedures                                                               
in  Administrative Procedure  Act;  and allow  the commission  to                                                               
issue  a summary  decision,  which  is similar  to  a motion  for                                                               
summary judgment in  the courts.  He added that  if the facts are                                                               
not disputed, the commission can  make a ruling without providing                                                               
a full hearing.                                                                                                                 
MR.  MARQUEZ  listed the  ways  in  which  HB 525  would  enhance                                                               
commission  procedures.   He said  the bill  would:   require the                                                               
charges  in the  accusation  that the  executive director  issues                                                               
after deciding to  pursue a complaint to hearing be  based on the                                                               
investigator's  determination  of substantial  evidence;  require                                                               
that  substantial evidence  support any  new charges  of unlawful                                                               
discrimination  that are  added when  the accusation  is amended;                                                               
require  that  respondent  have an  opportunity  to  address  all                                                               
charges  informally before  being required  to defend  them in  a                                                               
formal  hearing;  and  tie  the   rate  of  interest  awarded  by                                                               
commission   to  legal   rate  in   AS 09.30.070,  bringing   the                                                               
commission  into conformity  with  other administrative  agencies                                                               
and the courts, in terms of rate of interest.                                                                                   
MR. MARQUEZ,  in regard to  the remedies that the  commission may                                                               
award to remedy unlawful discrimination, stated the following:                                                                  
     I think  that it's important  to note that this  is not                                                                    
     the  sole avenue  for relief  that a  complainant would                                                                    
     have.   The  complainant, of  course, can,  as long  as                                                                    
     they're  within the  statute of  limitations, pursue  a                                                                    
     remedy in court, and a  court can fashion many remedies                                                                    
     that  are not  available  under court  decision to  the                                                                    
     Alaska State Commission for Human Rights.                                                                                  
     This is a system that  has been instituted where people                                                                    
     can  go  to the  commission  for  human rights  and  an                                                                    
     advocate can  be assigned to  them and take  their case                                                                    
     forward.   But, certainly  at any time  they can  go to                                                                    
     the  court.   And  legally, because  of this  procedure                                                                    
     that's set  up, ... it's  also reasonable to  limit the                                                                    
     remedies that  may be available  to someone  [who] goes                                                                    
     before the  [commission], and delineating  the remedies                                                                    
     will  help assure  certainty for  the  parties so  that                                                                    
     they'll know  what's ahead of  them.  ...  The remedies                                                                    
     that are available are very clear.                                                                                         
     What we  have done in  drafting this legislation  is to                                                                    
     go through  the court  decisions and to  set forthright                                                                    
     in the  statute what  the courts  have decided  for the                                                                    
     commission ....                                                                                                            
MR.  MARQUEZ read  from his  written  testimony the  ways HB  525                                                               
would clarify  the remedies  that the commission  may award.   He                                                               
said it would:  prohibit  non-economic or punitive damages; limit                                                               
remedies ...  to restoration of  actual benefits lost;  allow the                                                               
award of front  pay [for a period  of up to one year  if a return                                                               
to work is  impossible because no vacancy  exists, the employer's                                                               
unlawful discrimination  made the employee incapable  of work, or                                                               
the working environment deteriorated intolerable.]                                                                              
[The  above  bracketed  testimony  was   not  on  tape,  but  was                                                               
reconstructed from Mr. Marquez's written testimony.]                                                                            
TAPE 04-66, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
MR. MARQUEZ concluded with the  reasons that HB 525 would clarify                                                               
the remedies  that the commission  may award.   He said  it would                                                               
require any  order to pay wages  to be reduced by  the amount the                                                               
employee  should be  able to  earn with  a "reasonably  diligent"                                                               
effort.   In regard  to the housekeeping  changes effected  by HB
520,  he  noted  that  the bill  would  incorporate  the  current                                                               
regulation's 180-day limitation period for filing a complaint.                                                                  
Number 00057                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM stated he is  concerned that someone can make                                                               
an  accusation and  is instantaneously  put  into an  adversarial                                                               
position where he/she has to  provide for an attorney for defense                                                               
against accusation,  without any kind  of Rule 82  compensation -                                                               
any kind of  ability that if the commission is  wrong and brought                                                               
a frivolous  case to the person,  he/she would still have  to pay                                                               
the expense  of the defense.   He said he is  talking about small                                                               
business.  Because of the  standard that provides that [the case]                                                               
must be completely lacking in standard,  all cases are taken.  He                                                               
said it  is only  reasonable that the  commission should  have to                                                               
pay out of its  own budget for cases it loses,  to help bring the                                                               
small business back into a modicum of "where they started from."                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM  explained that he  is trying to  ensure that                                                               
the commission has "a thumb on top  of it that keeps it from just                                                               
taking  on any  frivolous  case and  putting  the small  business                                                               
people in  the state  under a  great amount of  undue cost."   He                                                               
indicated that this is what has been going on, to date.                                                                         
Number 0257                                                                                                                     
MR. MARQUEZ responded  that he thinks adopting [HB  525] would go                                                               
a  long  way  toward  solving   the  problem,  because  it  would                                                               
eliminate  the  need  for  the  commission  to  take  every  case                                                               
forward.   It would have the  discretion to drop some  cases that                                                               
it  felt lacked  merit  or  would not  provide  the state's  best                                                               
interest in pursuing the claim forward.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM said he appreciates  that, but he would "like                                                               
to have another side board."   He asked Mr. Marquez to comment on                                                               
whether  or  not  he  thinks an  additional  sideboard  would  be                                                               
MR. MARQUEZ noted that, currently,  the commission has the power,                                                               
under  AS  18.80.130 (e),  to  order  the payment  of  reasonable                                                               
expenses,  including reasonable  attorney's  fees,  to a  private                                                               
party  before  the  commission,   when  the  commission,  in  its                                                               
discretion, determines the allowance  is appropriate.  He offered                                                               
his understanding that currently the  commission does not use its                                                               
discretion to award  attorneys' fees to the  private parties that                                                               
come as  defendants before  the commission.   He revealed  that a                                                               
regulation exists, 6 AAC 30.492 (b), which read:                                                                                
     An  award of  attorney's fees  and costs  will be  made                                                                    
     against a  complainant upon  a showing  that he  or she                                                                    
     pursued  an  action  not authorized  by  the  executive                                                                    
     director   that   was   frivolous,   unreasonable,   or                                                                    
     groundless,  or  that  an   action  authorized  by  the                                                                    
     executive   director   was   based   upon   information                                                                    
     furnished in bad faith by complainant.                                                                                     
Number 0453                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM stated  that he  wants the  pressure on  the                                                               
commission to do its footwork  first so there's no undue pressure                                                               
on small  businesses to defend  themselves.  Furthermore,  if the                                                               
commission  pursues  a  case   and  looses,  Representative  Holm                                                               
stated, the cost of the case  should come out of the commission's                                                               
MR.  MARQUEZ   offered  his  belief   that  the   mechanism  that                                                               
Representative  Holm  is  describing would  require  a  statutory                                                               
change;  the current  statute and  regulations  would not  ensure                                                               
that the  commission would award  attorney's fees in the  kind of                                                               
situations that Representative Holm is describing.                                                                              
Number 0649                                                                                                                     
LISA  FITZPATRICK, Chair,  Alaska Human  Rights Commission,  told                                                               
the  committee members  that the  commission has  a "geographical                                                               
representation,"  with  7  members.     She  indicated  that  the                                                               
commission has grave concerns  regarding the provisions regarding                                                               
the remedies, of which Mr.  Marquez previously spoke.  She stated                                                               
her  concern that  the remedies  would  take away  the tools  the                                                               
commission presently has that make it an effective commission.                                                                  
MS.  FITZPATRICK offered  her understanding  that the  commission                                                               
operates on a  budget of approximately $1.4  million.  Presently,                                                               
the staff  is comprised  of 15  individuals:   ten investigators,                                                               
one  director, two  supervisors, and  two support  staff members.                                                               
She noted that, while there  are thousands of inquiries that come                                                               
to the  door, the  actual number  of cases that  get into  a file                                                               
status "where they begin to be  worked upon" is between 300-500 a                                                               
year.  She continued as follows:                                                                                                
     Of those cases,  the way that they are  handled is that                                                                    
     when a complaint that, at  least on its face, has merit                                                                    
     -  and  that  is  it would  have  to  allege  (indisc.)                                                                    
     inventory process  (indisc.) hit the parameters  of the                                                                    
     statute  - it's  assigned to  an investigator,  and the                                                                    
     investigator  (indisc.) an  investigation to  determine                                                                    
     whether or  not there is initial  preferences referring                                                                    
     to the  standard of  substantial evidence  to determine                                                                    
     whether  or not  the commission  will proceed  with the                                                                    
     matter further   Now, at every step along  the way, the                                                                    
     (indisc.) commission and  the individual that (indisc.)                                                                    
     at this  point have the  ability to either  mediate the                                                                    
     case or,  at some  form of  (indisc.) settle  the case.                                                                    
     Frankly, that  happens with great  frequency.   I would                                                                    
     think  that   probably  the  (indisc.)  of   cases  are                                                                    
     resolved through ...                                                                                                       
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  asked  Ms.  Fitzgerald to  try  to  speak  more                                                               
MS.  FITZGERALD   said  she  was   using  a  speakerphone   at  a                                                               
Legislative Information Office (LIO),  but she couldn't tell what                                                               
the trouble with the sound was.                                                                                                 
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH asked  Ms. Fitzgerald  if she  would submit  her                                                               
testimony in writing.                                                                                                           
[HB 525 was heard and held.]                                                                                                    
HB 541-INCREASED APPROPRIATIONS REQUIRE OFFSET                                                                                
Number 0912                                                                                                                     
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  announced that  the last  order of  business was                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  541, "An  Act relating  to consideration  by the                                                               
legislature  of the  executive budget  and other  bills affecting                                                               
appropriations; and providing for an effective date."                                                                           
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  mentioned  that   a  committee  substitute  was                                                               
expected soon from Legislative Legal and Research Services.                                                                     
Number 0923                                                                                                                     
CHERYL  FRASCA,  Director,  Office  of the  Director,  Office  of                                                               
Management &  Budget (OMB), Office  of the Governor,  presented a                                                               
summary  of HB  541 on  behalf of  OMB.   She explained  that the                                                               
proposed legislation would require  a legislator or [legislative]                                                               
committee proposing additional spending  to identify either where                                                               
the  revenues will  come  from to  pay for  it  or an  offsetting                                                               
budget reduction.   She revealed that  it is an concept  to model                                                               
after  the  federal  Gramm-Rudman-Hollings  Act  of  1990.    She                                                               
explained that  [OMB] envisions  that the  process would  be done                                                               
through a fiscal note.                                                                                                          
Number 0963                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG indicated  Section [1],  which he  said                                                               
begins, "It is not in order".   He stated that he thinks that may                                                               
require a concurrent resolution to amend the Uniform Rules.                                                                     
MS.   FRASCA  offered   her  understanding   that  Tamara   Cook,                                                               
Legislative  Legal   and  Research  Services  and   Jim  Baldwin,                                                               
Department of Law  have held several discussion  regarding HB 541                                                               
and she said  she's "just getting up to speed  on what those have                                                               
Number 1010                                                                                                                     
MS. FRASCA, in response t  a question from Chair Weyhrauch, noted                                                               
that the  Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act was originally  intended as a                                                               
budget  deficit   reduction  proposal;   it  required   that  the                                                               
comptroller general have the authority  to make reductions if the                                                               
budget   exceeded  revenues.     However,   that  was   ruled  as                                                               
unconstitutional.   As a result,  [the Act] has changed  in scope                                                               
and nature.   She indicated that "we" could check  on what is the                                                               
current practice and  how effective it is.  She  said [OMB] knows                                                               
that  "this  has  got some  difficult  dilemmas,"  especially  in                                                               
regard to checks and balances of the appropriation process.                                                                     
MS.  FRASCA   reiterated  that  the  idea   behind  the  proposed                                                               
legislation is  to look  at how increased  spending will  be paid                                                               
for.  She  stated that when [OMB] proposes  the governor's budget                                                               
in December, it  has an obligation to outline  its spending plan,                                                               
as well as to identify the revenues proposed to cover that plan.                                                                
Number 1089                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH  said  it's  an   interesting  policy  issue  to                                                               
question who is  ultimately responsible to have  an "income equal                                                               
out  go."    He  stated   noted  that  the  executive  branch  of                                                               
government  has line-item  veto and  the obligation  to submit  a                                                               
budget,   while  the   legislature   makes   "the  other   policy                                                               
MS. FRASCA  added, "Then we  veto [and] you have  the opportunity                                                               
to override."                                                                                                                   
Number 1119                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  suggested that  [HB 541] may  be within                                                               
the  jurisdiction of  the  House Special  Committee  on Ways  and                                                               
Means.  He  also indicated that he has held  discussions with the                                                               
people  involved with  the Alaska  Municipal  League to  consider                                                               
whether there  should be  a municipal  fiscal note  regarding the                                                               
impact of  legislation on municipalities.   He indicated  that he                                                               
would  like to  discuss  whether [HB  541] may  be  a vehicle  to                                                               
include  that issue.   Representative  Gruenberg stated  that [HB
541]  is a  "great  subject  to take  up"  and  he commended  the                                                               
administration for his work.                                                                                                    
[HB 541 was heard and held.]                                                                                                    
Number 1150                                                                                                                     
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
State Affairs Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 10:00                                                                 

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