Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/08/1993 02:30 PM Senate JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE March 8, 1993 2:30 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Robin Taylor, Chairman Senator Rick Halford, Vice-Chairman Senator George Jacko Senator Dave Donley Senator Suzanne Little OTHERS PRESENT Senator Bert Sharp Senator Loren Leman MEMBERS ABSENT NONE COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 67 "An Act amending provisions of ch. 66, SLA 1991, that relate to reconstitution of the corpus of the mental health trust, the management of trust assets, and to the manner of enforcement of the obligation to compensate the trust; and providing for an effective date." SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 2 Relating to certification of the Alaska State Legislature's opposition to requiring suspension of a driver's license for drug offenses. SENATE BILL NO. 133 "An Act relating to the revocation of a person's driver's license, privilege to drive, or privilege to obtain a license; and providing for an effective date." SENATE BILL NO. 69 "An Act prohibiting employers from discriminating against individuals who use legal products in a legal manner outside of work." SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 3 Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to terms of legislators. SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 4 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to the duration of a regular session. PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 67 - See Resources minutes dated 2/3/93 and 2/5/93. See Judiciary minutes dated 3/1/93. SCR 2 - See Transportation minutes dated 3/2/93. SB 133 - NONE. SB 69 - See Labor and Commerce minutes dated 2/2/93. See Judiciary minutes dated 2/17/93, and 3/5/93. SJR 3 - See State Affairs minutes dated 1/20/93 and 1/22/93. See Judiciary minutes dated 3/5/93. SJR 4 - See State Affairs minutes dated 1/22/93. See Judiciary minutes dated 3/5/93. WITNESS REGISTER Juanita Hensley, Chief Division of Motor Vehicles Department of Public Safety P.O. Box 20020 Juneau, Alaska 99802 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SCR 2 & SB 133. Joe Ambrose, Attorney Senator Robin Taylor State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SB 69. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 93-23, SIDE A Number 001 Chairman Robin Taylor called the Judiciary Committee meeting to order at 2:30 p.m. SENATOR TAYLOR announced that SB 67 (MENTAL HEALTH TRUST AMENDMENTS) had been cancelled at the request of all the participants, who were working on a consensus agreement. He explained there would be a hearing on the bill as soon as the agreement was ready. SB133 SENATOR TAYLOR introduced SCR 2 (FEDERAL-AID HIGHWAY FUNDING-DRUG ENFORCEMENT), SB 133 (REVOCATION OF DRIVER'S LICENSE), and invited SENATOR SHARP to testify on the bills. SENATOR SHARP emphasized the bills were sponsored by the Senate Transportation Committee by request. SENATOR SHARP said the two bills, SCR 2 and SB 133, were an either/or type of legislation dealing with the revocation of driver's licenses for a drug offense. SENATOR SHARP explained that PL 101-516, Department of Transportation and Related Appropriations Act, Sec. 333 mandated withholding federal-aid highway funds from states that fail to enact legislation requiring the suspension of an individual's driver's license upon conviction of a violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act - or any drug offense. SENATOR SHARP further explained the law that provided for revocation or suspension of drivers licenses required driver licensing action against violators of drug offenses not limited to moving violations - and not necessarily involving a motor vehicle. SENATOR SHARP said the state could avoid the withholding of funds, first, by enacting a law that provides for revocation or suspension of driver's licenses upon any conviction of the Controlled Substances Act - or any drug offense. SENATOR SHARP explained the second way would be for the State of Alaska to submit to the Secretary of Transportation, a certificate stating that the Governor is opposed to the enactment or enforcement of such a law, and the Legislature has adopted a resolution (SCR 2) expressing its opposition to such a law. He said the Hickel Administration had indicated a willingness to support either approach, which means the Governor would have to include a letter accompanying the resolution. SENATOR SHARP described what he called the blackmail part which states, "If a state does not meet the statutory requirements by October 1, 1993, then 5% of the federal highway apportionment for FY 94 shall be withheld; 5% will be withheld also in FY 95 if the requirement is not met by October 1, 1994, if neither action is taken by October 1, 1995, in FY 96 10% of federal funds will be withheld." Number 095 SENATOR SHARP explained if SB 133 is passed, Alaska will have to submit its certification by April 1, on an annual basis, that they are enforcing the law. Once the state has passed the resolution (SCR 2), and the resolution has been determined to be in compliance, the Governor is required to send a letter each year, but the Legislature is not required to pass a resolution each year. Certification takes place through the normal federal apportionment process in October, which is the beginning of their fiscal year. SENATOR SHARP said the Legislature must act on the resolution or bill by April 1, 1993 to allow time for certification, and he explained that many states had opted for the resolution, because they resent the federal government's intervention. He knew of 16 states that have the passed the bill, but only three have been certified as having proper statutes, which, he said, makes the odds rather slim for Alaska. SENATOR SHARP concluded with the statistics that 5% of $212 million of ISTEA money would be $10.6 million lost to the state the first two years. If it went up to 10% of $212 million for the third year, it would be $21.2 million lost, and he explained the funds can not be captured by any other method. He said other people would be speaking to the technicalities of the legislation. SENATOR TAYLOR opened the meeting to questions from the committee members. SENATOR LITTLE asked SENATOR SHARP if the Transportation Committee had a recommendation for proceeding with the issue, and SENATOR SHARP suggested it would be individual preference, but he thought it should be done expeditiously. SENATOR LITTLE clarified that both pieces of legislation would have the same effect and the State would continue to receive full highway funding. Number 159 SENATOR JACKO asked SENATOR SHARP if more states used the resolution rather than the bill method, but SENATOR SHARP was not sure. The bill was patterned after the once belonging to the three states that had successfully submitted resolutions. SENATOR TAYLOR noted that JUANITA HENSLEY and LORN CAMPBELL from Public Safety, and JEFF OTTESEN from DOT/PF were available to answer questions. He asked one of them to respond to SENATOR JACKO'S question. MS. HENSLEY explained that the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration is recommending the states opt out with the resolution, and she quoted the Governor's office as wishing to have the legislation passed, but he was not in opposition to the resolution. She expressed concerns that once the legislation is passed, it has to be sent to Washington D.C. and massaged through 16 different offices, before they will make their final approval. SENATOR JACKO asked her if she supported the resolution as being easier to get approved, and she agreed. They discussed the proposal by the NTHSA to opt out, because the legislation would have to go through the 16 agencies before April 1 of this year. SENATOR TAYLOR clarified she meant April 1 and not October 1, and she explained the provisions. MS. HENSLEY raised the specter of an additional problem affecting commercial drivers licenses being in compliance with the Motor Vehicle Safety Law from 1986. When SENATOR TAYLOR asked for the penalty, MS. HENSLEY said it was also 5% for two years and 10% for each year thereafter, but she wasn't sure if it was in addition to the penalty on the drug offenses. Number 225 SENATOR LITTLE ask for an opinion from the Department of Public Safety on the proposed legislation, and she quoted Public Safety as supporting anything that would help the safety of the public. MS. HENSLEY said the department supported the legislation as well as the resolution, but had reservations about revoking drivers licenses for non-driving offenses. She praised present Alaska laws as being sufficient to protect the public against those who drive under the influence of drugs. SENATOR LITTLE asked MS. HENSLEY if she thought the proposed legislation would be a deterrent on drug offenses. MS. HENSLEY didn't have the counseling knowledge to know whether the penalties would prevent a person from selling or using drugs, and she described the problems involved. SENATOR JACKO moved to pass SCR 2 (FEDERAL-AID HIGHWAY FUNDING/DRUG ENFORCEMENT) from committee with individual recommendations. Without objections, so ordered. SENATOR LITTLE moved to pass SB 133 (REVOCATION OF DRIVER'S LICENSE) from committee with individual recommendations. Without objections, so ordered. SENATOR TAYLOR returned SB 69 (RIGHT TO USE LAWFUL PRODUCTS) to committee. He noted there were some proposed amendments, and copies were distributed. Number 307 SENATOR TAYLOR moved to adopt Amendment #1, which would add a new entry in the definition section (d) on page 2, after line 17 to say, "(3) "premises of the employer" includes camps or other living accommodations provided or maintained by an employer." SENATOR TAYLOR led a discussion on the amendment, using the example of preventing religiously owned camps from prohibiting the use of lawful products in their camps. He said other camps have also decided they don't want alcoholic beverages in camp. SENATOR LITTLE clarified of the sponsor, SENATOR TAYLOR, that the bill would prevent ARCO from enforcing their "no alcohol" requirement on the slope. SENATOR TAYLOR said that would only apply if the amendment wasn't passed. SENATOR LITTLE then clarified the bill would allow ARCO to maintain their "no alcohol" prohibition, and SENATOR TAYLOR agreed. SENATOR JACKO moved Amendment #1. Without objections, so ordered. SENATOR TAYLOR produced another amendment, #2, from the Department of Administration, which was distributed. SENATOR LITTLE asked SENATOR TAYLOR for the basic intent of the legislation and under what circumstances, it would apply. SENATOR TAYLOR explained the basic intent was to provide protection for the lawful and appropriate use of legal substances on off-duty hours. SENATOR LITTLE asked if he meant alcohol and tobacco, and he said "primarily." SENATOR HALFORD thought there should be a definition of "legal product," and there ensued a discussion of the definition. Number 368 SENATOR TAYLOR did not express support for the proposed amendment from the Administration. While the committee contemplated the amendment, SENATOR TAYLOR called on his aide, JOE AMBROSE, to share some information on the Disabilities Act. MR. AMBROSE explained, in the course of doing some research on the legislation, there was a question from ARCO as to how the legislation would impact their program to aid people who were in recovery for alcohol or drug abuse. Basically, the bill wouldn't have any impact as far as their program was concerned, but it was also discovered that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, alcoholism is now defined as a disability, and comes under the scope of the act. MR. AMBROSE suggested that everyone needed to define their obligations under the federal legislation. SENATOR JACKO asked for an interpretation of Amendment #2 from the Administration. MR. AMBROSE said the amendment was vague which would nullify the purpose of the legislation, and he raised the question of "nexus" as explained by the Administration. Number 405 SENATOR TAYLOR was concerned the amendment did not address reasonable standards of conduct, and he described these concerns to get around the provisions of the act. He again said he did not officially offer the amendment, but wanted the committee to have the opportunity to discuss it. SENATOR LITTLE moved Amendment #3 from the Administration which would add a new paragraph after line 10 on page 2 to read, "(3) discharge an individual or otherwise disadvantage an individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment if the individual fails to comply with an employer's reasonable standards of conduct, even during nonworking hours, where the employer cam demonstrate a close relationship between the standards and the employer's business." SENATOR TAYLOR objected. SENATOR JACKO asked SENATOR LITTLE for her interpretation of the amendment. SENATOR LITTLE said she was not enthusiastic about the bill in its entirety, but she thought the amendment would make it more palatable, and she gave an example. There ensued a discuss of the amendment in relation to SATCH CARLSON, the Raven decision on marijuana, lawful product v. legal products, federal law, rural options, and required job performance standards. Number 468 SENATOR LITTLE re-introduced Amendment #2, and it passed on a 4-1 vote. SENATOR LITTLE asked if there was a real need for the legislation, and SENATOR TAYLOR indicated there was lots of support for the legislation - especially from smokers. SENATOR JACKO moved to pass CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 69(JUD) (RIGHT TO USE LAWFUL PRODUCTS) from committee with individual recommendations. Without objections, so ordered. SENATOR TAYLOR returned SJR 3 (LIMITING TERMS OF LEGISLATORS) and SJR 4 (90 DAY SESSION LIMIT) and asked the prime sponsor, SENATOR LOREN LEMAN, to begin by reviewing SJR 3. SENATOR LEMAN explained SJR 3 proposes a constitutional amendment to limit the length of legislative service to eight consecutive years, but allows a return to office after a minimum two-year break in service. He gave some historical perspective on the legislation as introduced in previous years. SENATOR LEMAN suggested reading the Sponsor Statement for his reasons in sponsoring the legislation, and he maintained the intent was supported by 75% of the public. He thought the voters should have the chance to vote on the bill, and thought this would make a better public perception of the Legislature. SENATOR LEMAN noted other versions of his legislation, but thought they were extreme in their approaches to limitations. SENATOR LEMAN also thought his bill represented a reasonable compromise among various pieces of legislation. Number 520 SENATOR TAYLOR asked what happened to the Legislator who served three terms in the House, and then is elected to a four year term in the Senate. SENATOR LEMAN reviewed previous testimony in committees that led to a revision to allow a legislator in mid-term to complete that term, and he said he wouldn't object to the reinstatement of the provision. He said the alternative would be a prohibition against running for a four year seat after 6 years, but he would support 10 years in office. SENATOR TAYLOR asked SENATOR LEMAN'S opinion on increasing the terms of representatives to 4 year terms, and SENATOR LEMAN thought it would make sense to include it in the package. He warned against making the bill a Christmas Tree for things that might bog down the legislation. SENATOR LITTLE saw the problem as a concern that incumbent legislators had a great deal of power in gaining funds for re-election, and she asked SENATOR LEMAN if he believed that some campaign finance reform would really address the problem. She thought financial reform might be preferable to limiting the term of an individual, whom the constituents deemed a terrific representative. SENATOR LEMAN agreed that people who support term limits also support their own legislators, but he thought his legislation would have a more profound effect on making legitimate changes than campaign finance reform. SENATOR DONLEY reviewed the debate from last year on the concept of term limits, and said he supported provisions that dealt with the U.S. Congress. He asked SENATOR LEMAN if he had a position on such a provision. SENATOR LEMAN said it wasn't included because he didn't want to doom his bill to a certain death and guarantee a campaign against his legislation. He thought SJR 3 had a good chance of passing without the provision, but might enhance the chance of passing a complete package. Number 577 SENATOR DONLEY shared some ideas he had on the subject of limiting congressional terms, but wouldn't be applicable retroactively, which would allow present members another 12 years. SENATOR LEMAN thought this could be achieved with an effective date ... TAPE 93-23, SIDE B Number 001 ... but he thought Alaska would be more at a disadvantage than other states - unless other states followed suit. SENATOR JACKO didn't think the legislation applied very well to Alaska and thought most of the support was from urban Alaska. He expressed his concerns about the legislation, since he though the long-term legislators from the rural areas in the 1980's helped balance the playing field, since most of the resources were in the rural areas and most of the voters were in the urban areas. He emphasized the legislation was perceived by the people in rural Alaska as an attack on them and said the legislation was a bad idea. SENATOR LEMAN didn't see SJR 3 as being a disadvantage to rural Alaska over urban, and he explained what he saw as a fair balance of legislators between urban and rural areas. SENATOR TAYLOR asked SENATOR DONLEY if he would be opposed to expanding the bill to be made applicable to all other elected and appointed bodies in the state, such as school boards and city and borough assemblies. SENATOR LEMAN said the Anchorage School Board and Assembly had limited terms of 9 years in a vote taken in the 1980's, and he thought the same principal should apply for all. SENATOR DONLEY said he supported term limits, but he said it should be done along with other limitations to balance the power between the legislative and executive branch, which he considers to be the most powerful executive branch in any state constitution. He outlined the limitations of the 180 day limit, which limits the power of the legislature without a corresponding limitation on the executive branch. SENATOR DONLEY contended the legislature kept curbing their own power without addressing the big picture to protect the relative power of the legislature - especially in the growth of the budget. He said the legislature needed to recognize the impact of reducing the effectiveness of the legislature, and there should be separate provisions brought before the voters to balance out the decrease in the legislature's power. Number 062 SENATOR JACKO concurred with the remarks from SENATOR DONLEY, and thought there should be corresponding curbs in the executive branch. SENATOR HALFORD said he would like to apply the remarks to the third branch - to the election of judges. He thought there should be more of a turn-over in judges, but the judges would probably rule it an unconstitutional amendment. SENATOR TAYLOR suggested the judicial retirement at 15 years would take care of the third branch. He thought appropriate levels of pay and retirement should be addressed in terms of the legislature. He also thought if legislators were going to continue to be full-time, they should be paid for it. SENATOR LEMAN said he concurred with many of the comments, but he said he was enough of a realist to know the chances for the resolution to pass the Senate and House in the current form would be difficult without some compromises. He thought his bill was a key element in making the rest of it happen. SENATOR TAYLOR suggested SENATOR LEMAN review the provisions in SJR 4 (90 DAY SESSION LIMIT). SENATOR LEMAN explained SJR 4 was another plank in his bid for legislative reform, and if the session is shortened, it would enhance the opportunities for more citizens rather than professional legislators to serve in government. He thought the legislators could get their work done within 90 days and return to their own jobs. He invited the committee members to read the Sponsor Statement for his bill. Number 117 SENATOR DONLEY said he never publicly supported this intent because it is such a complex issue, but he might be able to support the bill, if there was some repair work to the constitution. The first problem he observed was the inability of the legislature to address gubernatorial vetoes after the second year of a session, where there should be a system designed to balance the powers between the different branches. He described the problem and called it a pocket veto by a monarch after the second session. Anything vetoed after the legislators go home is dead, and short of a special session, he said there was no way to address the veto. In problem #2, SENATOR DONLEY linked it with the first problem by asking how the legislature could call a special session the second year, since the current provisions don't work. He said too much power resides with the presiding officers, where, if one disagrees, it won't happen. It wouldn't matter if all of the members wanted a special session, one presiding officer could prevent the special session. SENATOR DONLEY said a Judiciary bill was introduced last year on this subject that would allow for a call to be made through a certification to the clerk, where a certain number of members could ask for a special session and, it would occur. He thought this might be a way to address the loss of the veto over-ride authority through the 90 day limit. SENATOR LITTLE explained when she came to Juneau she thought in terms of limiting the session, but she could see now that so much is involved in being here, to hear the public input, public hearings, and participating in healthy debate on bills before the legislature. SENATOR JACKO concurred with the remarks on the length of the session and most of the remarks from SENATOR LITTLE on the committee process. He outlined the problems in the rural communities where communication with their legislators is difficult, and the constituents wonder why he isn't in Juneau taking care of their interests during the summer. Number 161 SENATOR HALFORD introduced another topic to compare the length of legislative sessions in all of the states, where they aren't all bound by the same terminology as Alaska, which has consecutive calendar days. This precludes being able to gather information from the constituents, and he described the slow beginning of session. SENATOR HALFORD suggested within the 90 day limit, it should begin with a 45 day session, have a 30 day break to deal with the constituents back home, and return to Juneau for another 45 days. He thought the legislators would receive a lot of intensive lobbying in their own home district by constituents after the issues were on the table. There ensued a general discussion on limiting the session, special sessions, options, weekend sessions, travel, and the lack of flexibility. SENATOR DONLEY discussed the extent to which he would support the bills and the modifications he thought were needed to balance out the impact. He suggested two modifications, the first being to change the session to more correspond to the revenue projections, and second, to introduce a mandatory special session to review the gubernatorial vetoes, or make it easier to call a special session. SENATOR TAYLOR opined there would be significant amendments to be offered by the committee members at the next hearing on the bills. He said he would hold them in committee to be heard in about 10 days - to give members time to complete their amendments. There being no further business to come before the committee, the meeting was adjourned at 3:30 p.m.