Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/13/1995 01:05 PM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 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.                                                               

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