Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/13/1995 01:05 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJUD - 02/13/95 CSHJR 5 - LIMITING TERMS OF STATE LEGISLATORS Number 365 SARAH FISHER, Aide to Representative Gene Therriault, introduced the State Affairs Committee Substitute for HJR 5. The following sponsor statement was provided: "It proposes to limit terms by limiting the number of regular legislative sessions a person may serve. The resolution proposes that a person may not serve consecutively more than 12 full regular sessions in the legislature. The person may not again serve in the legislature as a result of an election or appointment to fill a vacancy until two consecutive sessions have elapsed. Also for the purposes of tabulating the number of sessions served, special sessions shall not be counted nor shall time served as a result of an appointment to fill a vacancy. "Term limits are a positive legislative reform, guaranteeing a flow of new legislators with new ideas. The popularity of term limits demonstrates that career politicians are not desirable. Term limits will also level the playing field for challengers facing long time incumbents, whose power is often times derived primarily from seniority. "Placing a constitutional amendment limiting the terms of state legislators on the ballot is a measure that is long overdue." MS. FISHER said she has been working with committee staff for a proposed committee substitute, dated 2/13/95, that makes just a few changes. There are three minor changes. On page 1, line 9 of the work draft, we took out the word "full" and changed the sentence to say, "A person may not serve consecutively during more than twelve regular sessions." The concern there was when you use the term "full", if someone for some reason after they are elected does not show up in Juneau at the start of the regular session on the first day, if they arrive on the second day, they are not serving a full legislative session. Periods served in the legislature as a result of appointment under this draft do not count towards the tabulation of a term limit. But what Representative Therriault wanted to make sure did count is if, in a situation which did happen in recent history, where a person resigned their position in the House, and then was appointed to fulfill a term in the Senate, those terms, because they are still serving consecutively, but because of the resignation, they are all of a sudden not under this. Under the first version, they would not be serving consecutively, so we wanted to make it a situation where, if you are fulfilling another appointment in another body, that did count towards your term limit. CHAIRMAN PORTER clarified if you had served half of your session in the House, and the other half in the Senate, that would be considered one session. MS. FISHER explained the second change proposed in the committee substitute. On page 2, line 5, paragraph (c), because of the concerns raised in the State Affairs Committee, we wanted to make sure a person who has served, or on their tenth year, is elected to the Senate, would not have to resign after 12 years. That would be an exception where they would be serving 13 or 14 years, possibly. Number 440 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY felt the wording was too detailed, in Sections 2, 3 an 4. He felt they were not really necessary to be included in legislation, but perhaps just part of the explanation of the amendment when placed before the voters. Would it be interpreted by the courts as having a reasonable intent of the legislature, and a reasonable understanding of the people that supported it? There is nothing wrong with filling the Constitution up with a lot of verbiage, but if we had this kind of explanation on every paragraph in our Constitution, it would be a rather unruly document. Number 460 ANNE CARPENETI, Aide, House Judiciary Committee, stated she had asked that very question of Tam Cook about writing such great detail in the Constitution. Tam said you need to have term limits in the Constitution if they are to be upheld, and if you want to ensure that those limits would not be changed from year to year. You could put term limits in the Constitution and leave it up to legislation to flush out the details; but then again, what you would be dealing with is something that would be easier to change year in and year out. Number 475 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY had no problem with the verbiage in Section 1. We have verbiage in Article 3 of the Constitution now, limiting the Governor to eight years. That constitutional amendment does not go into three paragraphs of verbiage explaining what two terms are. Number 490 MS. CARPENETI mentioned that leaving the language vague could result in running the risk of the legislative intent not being followed by a court. Number 505 CHAIRMAN PORTER said it comes down to the traditional debate on how detailed your Constitution should be made. He felt a constitutional amendment ought to be pretty straightforward and simple; but the difference between a Governor's 8 years, and 12 sessions for a legislator, is that you can get a lot more of a variation in those 12 sessions than you can in 8 years for a Governor. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE reminded the committee if this were left as a letter of legislative intent, any Governor could veto it, as governors do quite frequently. MS. CARPENETI mentioned that the wording limiting the terms of a Governor state that no person who has been elected Governor for two full successive terms shall be, again, eligible for that office until one full term has intervened. She suggested the committee could provide that the legislature would adopt statutes or regulations to interpret this, which would make it a matter of legislation. CHAIRMAN PORTER said the problem with that is then we do not really have it immortalized; we have it at the whim of the legislature. MS. CARPENETI noted it has to be in the Constitution for the fact of establishing term limits. Doing it by statute would not survive a challenge, based on the fact that term limits are not in the Constitution. CHAIRMAN PORTER stated that the things left for interpretation by statute could be changed. Leaving all of the language in here, leaves no more "what if" questions. Number 700 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN described his amendment. He felt eight years in one body was fair. That would lead to the best public policy, and he wanted to offer that as an alternative. CHAIRMAN PORTER felt 12 years was a compromise between what some felt was fair and what others thought was fair. If it were left at 16 years, that would be pretty close to a career. REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN then made the motion to amend his own amendment to say, "either body" rather than "one body" on page 1, line 10. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE wanted to clarify that now they were talking about a total of eight years. CHAIRMAN PORTER asked Representative Finkelstein if his intent was to take his original amendment of 16 years back to 8 years total. REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said that was correct. You would have to sit out a term after eight years, at which time you would be able to run again. After a little discussion, he decided to take out the word either, which could be misinterpreted to mean one or the other; but for the sake of clarity, he wanted to scratch the part of his amendment that changes page 1, line 10; leaving the change to page 1, line 9, deleting the word "twelve", and replacing it with the word "eight". CHAIRMAN PORTER asked Representative Finkelstein to hold his motion while he made a motion to first adopt the committee substitute as described. Seeing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 740 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN again offered his amendment to change page 1, line 9, as described above. REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked if they could hear the bill sponsor speak. Number 770 REPRESENTATIVE GENE THERRIAULT explained what went into selecting 12 as the number of years. It was just coming up with a number that was devisable by Senate and House terms, leaving 12. Over the past 2 years, some people had desired 8 years, and other desired 16 years. Knowing this was a constitutional amendment requiring 27 votes, he had to ask himself what he could get 27 votes for. Number 800 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN moved to adopt his amendment as described. There was objection, so a roll call vote was taken. Representatives Davis, Finkelstein and Bunde voted yes. Representatives Vezey, Green and Porter voted no. The amendment failed 3 to 3. TAPE 95-12, SIDE A Number 000 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN then made the motion to amend Section 3 of the bill to say the effective date applying to the next legislature, which would be the Twenty-first Alaska Legislature. This would ensure that the elections for the Twentieth Legislature would not be affected. CHAIRMAN PORTER said it could still result in a Senator losing two years of a four year term. REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN wanted to re-craft Section 3 to say that any person elected in the 1996 election would be allowed to serve out their term. It is very hard to write constitutional language off the cuff, and felt the bill drafters could interpret it better. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY objected to the amendment and a roll call vote was taken. Representatives Finkelstein and Davis voted yes. Representatives Bunde, Vezey, Green and Porter voted no. The amendment failed 4 to 2. Number 125 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN made a motion to move the draft committee substitute, version M, from committee, with individual recommendations and the zero fiscal note. Seeing no objection, the bill was moved.