Legislature(1999 - 2000)

02/16/1999 03:28 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
            SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                                                                                      
                  February 16, 1999                                                                                             
                     3:28 p.m.                                                                                                  
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                                 
Senator Jerry Ward, Chairman                                                                                                    
Senator Lyda Green                                                                                                              
Senator Gary Wilken                                                                                                             
Senator Randy Phillips                                                                                                          
Senator Kim Elton                                                                                                               
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                  
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                              
SENATE BILL NO. 10                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to an optional exemption from municipal property                                                               
taxes for recreational facilities."                                                                                             
     -SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                   
SENATE BILL NO. 42                                                                                                              
"An Act making corrective amendments to the Alaska Statutes as                                                                  
recommended by the revisor of statutes; and providing for an                                                                    
effective date."                                                                                                                
     -MOVED CSSB 42(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                       
SENATE BILL NO. 69                                                                                                              
"An Act authorizing an advisory vote by the qualified voters of the                                                             
state on the question of the election of the attorney general; and                                                              
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
     -MOVED SB 69 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                              
SENATE BILL NO. 55                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to the Joint Armed Services Committee, a permanent                                                             
interim committee of the Alaska State Legislature; and providing                                                                
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
     -MOVED SB 55 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                              
PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                
SB 42 - No previous Senate action.                                                                                              
SB 55 - No previous Senate action.                                                                                              
SB 69 - No previous Senate action.                                                                                              
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                                
James Crawford                                                                                                                  
Division of Legal Services                                                                                                      
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Explained provisions of SB 42                                                                              
Mark Hodgins                                                                                                                    
Legislative Aide to Senator Ward                                                                                                
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented SB 69 for co-sponsor                                                                             
Senator Tim Kelly                                                                                                               
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented SB 55                                                                                            
Chris Nelson, Staff Director                                                                                                    
Joint Committee on Military Affairs                                                                                             
Alaska State Capitol                                                                                                            
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions related to SB 55                                                                        
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                                
TAPE 99-3, SIDE A                                                                                                               
Number 001                                                                                                                      
CHAIRMAN WARD called the Senate State Affairs Committee to order at                                                             
3:28 p.m.  Present were Senators Wilken, Green, Phillips, and Chair                                                             
Ward.  The first order of business to come before the committee was                                                             
SB 42.                                                                                                                          
                    SB  42-1999 REVISOR'S BILL                                                                                  
JAMES CRAWFORD, Assistant Revisor of Statutes, Division of Legal                                                                
Services, gave the following description of SB 42.  Section 20                                                                  
repeals certain sections of statute that add a tract of land known                                                              
as "Cape Suckling" to the Yakataga State Game Refuge.  The sections                                                             
of statute were placed in Section 20 because, based on initial                                                                  
information from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), it                                                                  
appeared a litigation settlement agreement had made the sections                                                                
obsolete.  However, since SB 42 was introduced, updated information                                                             
about the settlement agreement has revealed that those sections are                                                             
dormant, not obsolete.  The Division of Legal Services no longer                                                                
recommends that those sections be repealed, but rather that Section                                                             
20 be removed from the bill.                                                                                                    
MR. CRAWFORD stated the following corrections are not substantive.                                                              
Section 6 amends the definitional sections of Alaska's probate code                                                             
to correct an omission.  During the 1996 revision of the probate                                                                
code, the Uniform Probate Code (UPC) definition of "person" was                                                                 
omitted from the bill because it was assumed the Alaska Title 1                                                                 
definition of "person" was identical.  The UPC version specifically                                                             
mentions government and governmental subunits and agencies.                                                                     
Uniform Law Commissioner Art Peterson asked that Title 1 be updated                                                             
to include that phrase.                                                                                                         
Number 080                                                                                                                      
SENATOR WARD asked Mr. Crawford if he agrees with Mr. Peterson's                                                                
MR. CRAWFORD replied he thinks the existing definition in Title 1                                                               
is broad enough to include government and governmental subunits and                                                             
agencies, but he recommends the change to allow the Alaska                                                                      
definition to track the UPC definition.                                                                                         
MR. CRAWFORD discussed Section 12, which amends AS 24.60.050,                                                                   
related to state programs and loans.  The amendment will reflect                                                                
the 1998 enactment of AS 24.60.105, which pertains to deadlines for                                                             
filing disclosures.  AS 24.60.050 relates to certain state programs                                                             
and loans that a legislator or legislative employee may participate                                                             
in without disclosure to the Select Committee on Legislative                                                                    
Ethics.  Subsection (d), the section proposed for amendment,                                                                    
relates to disclosure deadlines for programs and loans that do not                                                              
meet the standard today.  Last year, when the new section, AS                                                                   
24.60.105, was enacted, the bill contained a subsection (c) which                                                               
is identical to the amendment suggested today.  Both subsections                                                                
(c) and (d) had the same date reference.  The fact that subsection                                                              
(d) was not amended was an oversight.                                                                                           
Number 127                                                                                                                      
SENATOR GREEN asked if SB 42 has a Judiciary referral.                                                                          
CHAIRMAN WARD said it does not, but the committee can request one.                                                              
MR. CRAWFORD added when the overall revisor's bill was initially                                                                
presented to the Legislative Council, the Council decided to split                                                              
it into two bills.  The second bill was referred to the Judiciary                                                               
SENATOR GREEN moved to delete Section 20 from SB 42.  There being                                                               
no objection, the motion carried.                                                                                               
SENATOR PHILLIPS moved CSSB 42(STA) out of committee with                                                                       
individual recommendations.  There being no objection, the motion                                                               
CHAIRMAN WARD noted CSSB 42(STA) will move from committee with an                                                               
accompanying request for a Senate Judiciary Committee referral.                                                                 
               SB  69-ADVISORY VOTE ON ELECTED AG                                                                               
MARK HODGINS, legislative aide to Senator Ward, co-sponsor of SB
69, gave the following presentation.  SB 69 authorizes an advisory                                                              
vote by the people on whether to elect the attorney general.  Many                                                              
states elect their attorneys general, as opposed to having that                                                                 
important position be determined by a political appointment.  The                                                               
states of Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Wyoming                                                                
have attorneys general appointed by their governors; Maine has an                                                               
attorney general elected by its Legislature; and the attorney                                                                   
general of Tennessee is appointed by the judges of its Supreme                                                                  
Court.  Many believe an elected attorney general is likely to be                                                                
more loyal to the state's residents and its Constitution.  Tam                                                                  
Cook, Director of the Division of Legal Services, prepared a memo                                                               
which lists the arguments for and against the election of the                                                                   
attorney general, included in committee packets.  One argument for                                                              
election is that if the attorney general acts as the legal advisor                                                              
to the Governor and other state officials, he/she is compromised as                                                             
far as working for issues for the people of the State of Alaska.                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS questioned how the judges of the Tennessee Supreme                                                             
Court are selected.                                                                                                             
MR. HODGINS did not know.                                                                                                       
SENATOR ELTON asked about the fiscal note for SB 69.                                                                            
MR. HODGINS replied the fiscal note was just delivered and contains                                                             
a cost of $1,500 to place the question on the ballot, except that                                                               
the cost will increase slightly if the ballot contains more than                                                                
six questions.                                                                                                                  
Number 239                                                                                                                      
JIM BALDWIN, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law, stated                                                              
he has had the pleasure of serving under governors of three                                                                     
parties, so his perspective is from the institution of the office                                                               
of the attorney general.  The function of the Alaska attorney                                                                   
general's office has been viewed as one of legal advisor to the                                                                 
governor; not as legal advisor to the people. Alaska government was                                                             
constructed so that the Governor was to be the statewide officer                                                                
elected by the people and served by his appointees.  One of the                                                                 
reasons the state government was not designed to have a lot of                                                                  
other elected officials was to ensure accountability.  If the                                                                   
government is not efficient, the people can hold one person                                                                     
responsible.  If a multitude of elected officers existed, one could                                                             
blame the other for the inefficiencies.  During the Constitutional                                                              
Convention, the common practice electing people to official                                                                     
positions to diffuse federal power was changed because Alaska would                                                             
no longer need to shield itself from federal power.  A legal issue                                                              
that merits consideration is that under Article 12 of the Alaska                                                                
Constitution, a constitutional amendment is meant to be a specific                                                              
legislative proposal put before the people; an advisory vote asks                                                               
voters to vote on a concept.                                                                                                    
Number 308                                                                                                                      
SENATOR PHILLIPS noted two advisory votes were voted on by Alaskans                                                             
in the past 20 years that were never acted upon by the Legislature:                                                             
the unicameral legislature and the annuity for the Longevity Bonus                                                              
Program.  He stated an advisory vote is merely a check on the pulse                                                             
of the people at that moment in time and should not be feared.                                                                  
MR. BALDWIN said in his view, the best way for the peoples' voice                                                               
to be heard is through the legislators they elected.  He added the                                                              
problem with advisory votes is that they are difficult to put into                                                              
SENATOR PHILLIPS replied an advisory vote is another tool for                                                                   
legislators to use to determine how the public wants it to respond                                                              
to certain issues.                                                                                                              
Number 348                                                                                                                      
SENATOR GREEN questioned what type of vote was considered in the                                                                
Governor's proposal to ask voters to determine the best way to                                                                  
capture resources through various state accounts to cover the                                                                   
budget shortfall.                                                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN said that proposal called for an advisory vote, but it                                                              
had a very substantive effect because the Legislature would be                                                                  
making appropriations that would take effect when a certain vote                                                                
was certified from that election.  The reason it was called an                                                                  
advisory vote was because of the lurking legal issue concerning                                                                 
delegation of legislative functions.  The theory is that the                                                                    
Legislature is sent to Juneau to enact laws, and a legal question                                                               
arises when that function is transferred to someone else, such as                                                               
the people.  In the Governor's bill, the people would not be                                                                    
determining the law, they would be determining when it would take                                                               
There being no further testimony on SB 69, SENATOR GREEN moved SB
69 from committee with individual recommendations.                                                                              
SENATOR ELTON objected and stated he believes Alaskans have been                                                                
well served by the attorneys general of the past and because the                                                                
same kind of information can be obtained by conducting a poll.                                                                  
The motion carried with Senators Green, Phillips, Wilken, and Ward                                                              
voting "Yea," and Senator Elton voting "Nay."                                                                                   
             SB  55-JOINT ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE                                                                              
SENATOR TIM KELLY, sponsor of SB 55, explained SB 55 establishes,                                                               
for the first time, a standing joint committee of the Legislature                                                               
to deal with all of the issues confronting the armed forces in                                                                  
Alaska.  This new committee is structured to include public members                                                             
from outside of the Legislature and will serve as the Legislature's                                                             
focal point for the coordination of all issues, discussions, and                                                                
policies that impact the military in our state.  It creates the                                                                 
opportunity to speak with a single voice on military issues and to                                                              
provide a unified liaison to Alaska's congressional delegation on                                                               
matters of national defense.  Until now, the Legislature has had a                                                              
fragmented and short range approach to military issues.  In 1994 a                                                              
Joint Task Force on Military Bases was formed under the Legislative                                                             
Council to coordinate the state's efforts in the 1995 base                                                                      
realignment and closure commission cycle.  The task force was                                                                   
disbanded at the end of that year.  Last year, in anticipation of                                                               
a new round of base closures beginning in 2001, the Joint Committee                                                             
on Military Bases was established with a single focus on base                                                                   
closure issues and a two year duration.  A permanent committee with                                                             
a longer range vision to include missile defense and other issues                                                               
is overdue.  Other states are aggressively pursuing opportunities                                                               
to increase military operations and military spending in their                                                                  
states.  Alaska is well positioned now to form an organization                                                                  
which can successfully compete with these states. Alaska's number                                                               
one line of defense of the military in Alaska is Senator Ted                                                                    
Stevens who will not always be chair of the Senate Appropriations                                                               
Committee.  Other states view the presence of the military in their                                                             
states as an economic commodity.  The military spends over $1.7                                                                 
billion annually in Alaska therefore Alaskans must stop taking the                                                              
military presence here for granted.                                                                                             
CHRIS NELSON, Staff Director for the Joint Committee on Military                                                                
Bases, added other states are working very aggressively to keep                                                                 
their military assets.  The Texas Strategic Military Planning                                                                   
Commission developed a master plan and recommended to the                                                                       
Legislature that a committee be formed to deal with military                                                                    
issues.  The Legislative Council will fund the committee formed by                                                              
SB 55 in its initial year of operation.  If the committee finds it                                                              
needs to do further activities, an appropriation will be necessary.                                                             
The five public members would incur per diem costs while attending                                                              
SENATOR KELLY confirmed the committee would operate on whatever                                                                 
amount the Legislative Council is willing to provide.                                                                           
Number 455                                                                                                                      
SENATOR WILKEN commended the Rules Committee for bringing this                                                                  
legislation forward.                                                                                                            
SENATOR GREEN asked why it is appropriate for this legislation to                                                               
be a Legislative Council proposal.                                                                                              
SENATOR KELLY explained that is the way it was set up previously,                                                               
and having Legislative Council oversight worked well in the past.                                                               
He noted the existing committee was expanded to include                                                                         
representation by the Coast Guard contingent in Alaska.  One of the                                                             
public members will be recommended by the 17th Coast Guard District                                                             
Auxiliary.  In the event of mobilization, the Coast Guard will come                                                             
under the command of the United States Navy so Coast Guard                                                                      
representation is important.                                                                                                    
Number 476                                                                                                                      
SENATOR ELTON appreciated the inclusion of the Coast Guard, and                                                                 
asked what the committee's purview will be on Coast Guard affairs,                                                              
recognizing only part of its mission is defense-related.                                                                        
SENATOR KELLY replied the powers and duties section, on page 4, is                                                              
broad enough to allow the committee to review and encourage state                                                               
policies to ensure the continued well being and education of the                                                                
armed forces, both active and reserve components, including the                                                                 
Coast Guard.                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON commended the sponsors of the legislation but asked                                                               
that more than one member of the committee be from the Minority                                                                 
since this issue is bipartisan.                                                                                                 
SENATOR WILKEN moved SB 55 out of committee with individual                                                                     
recommendations.  There being no objection, the motion carried.                                                                 
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
CHAIRMAN WARD adjourned the meeting at 4:15 p.m.                                                                                

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