Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/20/1995 01:34 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 5                                                 
       Proposing amendments  to the Constitution  of the State                 
       of Alaska relating to terms of legislators.                             
  Representative Therriault, sponsor  of HJR  5, gave a  brief                 
  overview of the  legislation.  He noted that  the resolution                 
  is designed  to bring  term limits  to the  State of  Alaska                 
  Legislature.  He  observed that  the legislation treats  the                 
  House and  Senate the same.   Members of each body  would be                 
  limited  to twelve  regular sessions  of continuous  service                 
  before being required  to depart  for two regular  sessions.                 
  He noted  that discussions  had suggested  that term  limits                 
  from 8 to  16 years be adopted.   He observed  that "regular                 
  sessions"  served  will  be  used  to  calculate  "sessions"                 
  served.  A person  could not serve more than  12 consecutive                 
  regular legislative sessions.   They  could not hold  office                 
  again until two regular legislative sessions have elapsed.                   
  Representative Therriault observed that  section 2 clarifies                 
  that  special sessions  do not  count toward the  12 regular                 
  sessions.    He  added that  the  House  Judiciary Committee                 
  amended  the  legislation  to  allow  a Senate  term  to  be                 
  completed if the 12 years fell in the middle of a term.                      
  Representative  Therriault  noted  that a  member  could  be                 
  appointed to  serve before,  during  or after  they run  for                 
  elective office.  The legislation states that an appointment                 
  to fill  a vacancy shall  not be considered  when tabulating                 
  tenure,  unless  it is  the result  of resignation  from one                 
  House to fill the appointment in the other House.                            
  Representative  Navarre  expressed support  for  HJR 5.   He                 
  preferred an immediate  effective date.   He suggested  that                 
  House terms be staggered terms of four years.  He emphasized                 
  the high expense  and time required  to ensure a  successful                 
  In   response  to  a   question  by  Representative  Mulder,                 
  Representative Therriault clarified that any combination  of                 
  House and Senate  service that  equals 12 consecutive  years                 
  would trigger the cut off, unless the individual is half way                 
  through a Senate term,  in which case they would  finish the                 
  Representative Therriault stressed problems  associated with                 
  an immediate effective  date.  He noted  that the resolution                 
  would  not  be  voted  on  untill  the next  election.    He                 
  emphasized that members could be immediately cut off if they                 
  have served 12 years, even if they were just elected.                        
  Representative Kelly questioned  if a series of  plans could                 
  be put on the ballot.  Representative Therriault stated that                 
  a resolution could not  list different options.  He  did not                 
  feel that a member's  effectiveness would be limited by  the                 
  knowledge that they would  not be allowed to run  during the                 
  next election.   He stressed that  they could run after  the                 
  two year waiting period.   He emphasized that the  intent is                 
  to try and reduce the incumbent's advantage.                                 
  Representative  Brown  suggested  that  the  resolution   be                 
  effective two  years after  being adopted  during a  general                 
  election.    She  questioned the  necessity  of  creating an                 
  exception for members being appointed to another House.  She                 
  asked  how  appointments would  be counted.   Representative                 
  Therriault clarified  that appointments  would not be  count                 
  toward  the  12 years.    He  clarified that  the  intent in                 
  providing an exception for members who resign from one House                 
  to fill the  appointment in the  other House, is to  prevent                 
  the appointment from being interpreted as a break in service                 
  that would invalidate the prior time served.                                 
  Representative Navarre noted the high percentage of turnover                 
  among House members.                                                         
  Representative Martin  emphasized that  the resolution  will                 
  result  in   public  debate.     He   emphasized  that   the                 
  constitutional amendment  needs to  be clearly  stated.   He                 
  observed  that  the  National  State Legislative  Conference                 
  recommends term limits of 12 years.                                          
  Representative  Therriault  agreed  that  the  Alaska  State                 
  Legislature has a healthy turnover.  He emphasized  that the                 
  legislation is designed for the exception.  He argued that a                 
  member can effectively serve their district in 12 years.  He                 
  reiterated that a  member can run  again after the two  year                 
  In  response  to  a  question   by  Representative  Parnell,                 
  Representative  Therriault observed  that the  United States                 
  Supreme Court  has agreed  to take  under consideration  the                 
  State of Arkansa's Supreme Court ruling that the State could                 
  not restrict eligibility of federal candidates.                              
  Representative  Kelly stated his preference for the addition                 
  of "in one  body" after "consecutively"  on page 1, line  9;                 
  and the change from "12" to  "8".  The amendment would allow                 
  a person to serve 8  years in the House and then  8 years in                 
  the Senate without a break.                                                  
  Co-Chair Hanley  clarified that a  person would have  to sit                 
  out two  years  before  serving  again  in  the  same  body.                 
  Representative Brown asked if subsection (c) on page 2 would                 
  be affected.  Co-Chair Hanley pointed out that the amendment                 
  as suggested would  allow a  member to return  to the  House                 
  after serving  8 years  in the  Senate  and 8  years in  the                 
  House.  A  member could continue  to serve if they  switched                 
  bodies every 8  years.   Representative Kelly clarified  his                 
  intent that a member be allowed to  serve eight years in the                 
  House then  8 years in  the Senate, and then  be required to                 
  sit out  two years  before returning to  service.   Co-Chair                 
  Hanley  suggested  that  the  amendment  would need  further                 
  Representative   Martin   reiterated   that   constitutional                 
  amendments should be short and clear.                                        
  Representative Therriault  pointed out that members that did                 
  not move  to the Senate would  be limited to eight  years in                 
  the House.   He argued in favor  of the original bill.   Co-                 
  Chair   Hanley   expressed   support    for   Representative                 
  Therriault's original version.                                               
  Representative Kelly argued that the right of the people  to                 
  elect the  representative of choice should be protected.  He                 
  asserted that the needs of the district must be considered.                  
  Representative Therriault noted that  22 states have  passed                 
  initiatives  to  limit  the  terms  of  their  congressional                 
  members.  Of those  22 all but  2 (Alaska and North  Dakota)                 
  have   also   enacted   term   limits   for   their    state                 
  HJR 5 was HELD in Committee for further discussion.                          
  (Tape Change, HFC 95-24, Side 2)                                             

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