Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/22/1995 08:05 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 2 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 adopted. 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 counted. 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 differently. 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 2. IN FAVOR: Brown, Grussendorf, Kelly, Mulder OPPOSED: Kohring, Martin, Navarre, Parnell, Therriault, Hanley, Foster 3 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 3. 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 4 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 election. 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. 5 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.