Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/22/1995 08:05 AM 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 provided members with Amendment 1,                 
  9-LS0226\M.3 (Attachment 2).  He observed that the amendment                 
  deletes language regarding terms served through appointment.                 
  He  maintained  that the  language is  redundant in  lieu of                 
  language added by  the House State  Affairs Committee.   The                 
  amendment by  the  House State  Affairs Committee  clarifies                 
  that members who  reach the  end of their  term limit  while                 
  partially through an elected term will be allowed to  finish                 
  the  term.    Co-Chair Hanley  observed  that  the amendment                 
  eliminates all  references to appointment.   If a  member is                 
  appointed  to  a  regular  legislative session  the  session                 
  served would be counted as if the member were elected.                       
  Representative  Therriault  MOVED  to   adopt  Amendment  1.                 
  Representative  Kelly OBJECTED  for  purpose of  discussion.                 
  Representative  Kelly indicated  his  intention  to offer  a                 
  conflicting amendment.   Representative  Kelly WITHDREW  his                 
  objection.    There  being  NO  OBJECTION, Amendment  1  was                 
  Representative  Kelly  provided  members  with  Amendment  2                 
  (Attachment 3).  He explained that Amendment 2 would place a                 
  16 year term limit on the legislature and allow that no more                 
  than 8  years be served  in a single  body without taking  a                 
  break during two regular sessions.                                           
  Representative Therriault argued against the adoption of                     
  Amendment 2                                                                  
  In response to a question by Representative Grussendorf, Co-                 
  Chair Hanley clarified  that "session"  refers to a  regular                 
  121 day legislative  session.  Special sessions would not be                 
  Co-Chair Hanley expressed  concern that 16 year  term limits                 
  are too  long.   He stressed  that an  inequity would  exist                 
  between  House   districts  since  half   of  the   district                 
  representatives would not have a Senate seat open at the end                 
  of their eight year terms.  Half  of the House members would                 
  not  be able to extend their  service past 8 years by moving                 
  to the Senate.                                                               
  Representative Kelly emphasized that consideration be  given                 
  to what is  fair to  the district.   Co-Chair Hanley  argued                 
  that the amendment is inequitable to half the districts.  He                 
  summarized that Amendment 2 would treat the House and Senate                 
  Representative  Therriault  echoed  concerns  regarding  the                 
  inequity between bodies as provided in Amendment 2.                          
  A roll call vote was taken on the MOTION to adopt  Amendment                 
  IN FAVOR: Brown, Grussendorf, Kelly, Mulder                                  
  OPPOSED:  Kohring,  Martin,  Navarre,  Parnell,  Therriault,                 
  Hanley,        Foster                                                        
  The MOTION FAILED (4-7).                                                     
  Representative  Brown  provided  members  with  Amendment  3                 
  (Attachment  4).   She  explained  that the  amendment would                 
  trigger  term  limits beginning  in  the  year 2000  if  the                 
  constitutional amendment is ratified in 1996.  She explained                 
  that the effective dated  is delayed to allow a  Senate term                 
  beginning in 1996 to be finished.                                            
  Representative   Brown   MOVED   to   adopt   Amendment   3.                 
  Representative  Martin  spoke  in support  of  Amendment  3.                 
  Representative  Brown  clarified that  all  previous service                 
  would be counted beginning in the year 2000.                                 
  Representative Therriault stated that he considered adopting                 
  the  approach taken by the amendment.   He expressed concern                 
  that  the   amendment  may   affect  the   passage  of   the                 
  legislation.  Co-Chair Hanley felt  that the amendment would                 
  prevent the  legislation's passage.   Representative  Martin                 
  asserted  that the amendment  is a  good compromise  from an                 
  immediate effective date.                                                    
  Representative Grussendorf  noted that  he would  oppose the                 
  amendment.  He stated that he would support the amendment if                 
  it is introduced as a House floor amendment.                                 
  A roll call vote was taken  on the MOTION to adopt Amendment                 
  IN FAVOR: Martin, Navarre, Parnell, Brown                                    
  OPPOSED:  Grussendorf, Kelly,  Kohring, Mulder,  Therriault,                 
  Foster,        Hanley                                                        
  The MOTION FAILED (4-7).                                                     
  Co-Chair Foster spoke  in opposition to  HJR 5.  He  pointed                 
  out  that  the  political strength  of  the  Municipality of                 
  Anchorage  can  only  be countered  by  rural  areas through                 
  seniority of rural members.                                                  
  Representative  Therriault  pointed  out  that  members  can                 
  return to service after the two year break.                                  
  Representative Kelly spoke against term limits.  He observed                 
  that national term  limits are disadvantageous to  the State                 
  of Alaska.  He noted  the position the Alaskan Congressional                 
  Delegation  has  recently  gained  through  seniority.    He                 
  maintained  that  citizens'  constitutional  right to  elect                 
  whoever they choose must be considered.                                      
  Representative  Grussendorf  observed   the  high  rate   of                 
  turnover in the Alaska State Legislature.  He noted that his                 
  district encourages long service by their representatives.                   
  Representative Martin pointed out that the Constitution is a                 
  contract with  the people  they elect  to govern  them.   He                 
  observed that the contract can be changed by the people.  He                 
  maintained  that  the framers  of the  Constitution intended                 
  that the Constitution  remain flexible.  He  emphasized that                 
  the  constitutional  amendment  would  be  voted on  by  the                 
  citizens of the state.                                                       
  (Tape Change, HFC 95-27, Side 2)                                             
  Representative Mulder questioned who and what is driving the                 
  push and urgency of the concept of term limits.  He stressed                 
  that the framers included limits  in other governing bodies.                 
  He  supposed  that the  framers did  not  want to  limit the                 
  voters' range  of choices.   He maintained  that voters  are                 
  frustrated by a lack of contact  with their legislators.  He                 
  noted  the  large  turnover  of   members  in  the  previous                 
  Representative Brown asserted that term limits are a "double                 
  edged  sword".   She emphasized  that the  balance of  power                 
  would  be  changed  between  the  legislative  and executive                 
  branch of government  by the adoption  of term limits.   She                 
  acknowledged that term limits would be an improvement to the                 
  accumulation of power that long  time members have acquired.                 
  She  stressed  the  weight  of  incumbent  financing.    She                 
  maintained that due  to incumbent  financing members may  be                 
  returned   to   the   legislature    regardless   of   their                 
  representation.  She summarized  that she would like to  see                 
  more  turnover  and  greater  representation  by  women  and                 
  minorities.    She surmised  that  term limits  will benefit                 
  under-represented groups.  She stated that she would support                 
  HJR 5.                                                                       
  Representative Navarre  stated his intention to  support HJR                 
  5.    He expressed  his  doubt  that term  limits  would fix                 
  legislative  problems.   He hypothesized  that voter  apathy                 
  would be increased  by term  limits.  He  observed that  the                 
  public  does  not   have  access  to  the   same  amount  of                 
  information as their elected representatives.  He emphasized                 
  that members must try to digest the information available to                 
  them  and make the  best decision in  the public's interest.                 
  He stated  that term  limits in  Alaska are not  necessarily                 
  needed.  He  maintained that  if term limits  serve to  take                 
  away a negative perception  by the public in regards  to the                 
  legislative process than term limits would be useful.                        
  Representative  Therriault reminded members  that HJR 5 will                 
  place the question before the voters.                                        
  Representative Kohring MOVED to report  CSHJR 5 (FIN) out of                 
  Committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  with  the                 
  accompanying fiscal note.  There being NO OBJECTION, it  was                 
  so ordered.                                                                  
  CSHJR 5 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with a "do pass"                 
  recommendation and with a zero fiscal  note by the Office of                 
  the Governor, dated 2/3/95.                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects