Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/04/2003 01:10 PM House JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 31 - INITIATIVE/REFERENDUM PETITIONS                                                                                       
HJR 5 - CONST AM: INITIATIVE/REFERENDUM PETITIONS                                                                             
Number 1583                                                                                                                     
CHAIR McGUIRE  indicated that the  following bills were  the last                                                               
order  of business:    HOUSE BILL  NO. 31,  "An  Act relating  to                                                               
initiative  and  referendum  petitions;   and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date"; and  HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO.  5, Proposing an                                                               
amendment to the Constitution of  the State of Alaska relating to                                                               
initiative and referendum petitions.                                                                                            
Number 1617                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE BILL WILLIAMS, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor,                                                                
offered the following opening remarks.                                                                                          
     Good afternoon,  committee members and  Madam Chairman.                                                                    
     I am  here today to urge  the passage of House  Bill 31                                                                    
     and its  accompanying ...  House Joint  Resolution [5].                                                                    
     It's the  right of  the people  to put  [an] initiative                                                                    
     ... on the  ballot and to vote on an  important part of                                                                    
     Alaskan democracy.   Why  is [the  legislation] needed?                                                                    
     To  make the  initiative process  truly democratic  and                                                                    
     representative of  [the] state.   As  you can  see from                                                                    
     statistical  data in  your  committee packets,  current                                                                    
     law allows  initiative sponsors to get  [an] initiative                                                                    
     on [the] statewide  ballot with only a  token number of                                                                    
     signatures. ...                                                                                                            
     The  NCSL [National  Conference on  State Legislatures]                                                                    
     has  taken   a  strong  stand   recommending  statewide                                                                    
     support for initiatives before they  get on the ballot.                                                                    
     Government  in other  states has  been bogged  down and                                                                    
     hamstrung by numerous attempts  to govern by initiative                                                                    
     - ...  California and  Washington.   House Bill  31 and                                                                    
     HJR   5  would   require  petition   sponsors  to   get                                                                    
     signatures equaling  at least  7 percent of  the number                                                                    
     of voters  in the  most recent  general election  in at                                                                    
     least  three-quarters  of  the  House  districts  -  30                                                                    
     districts.   This change supports  the letter  of [the]                                                                    
     spirit of  the constitution,  and brings  more Alaskans                                                                    
     from  more  parts  of the  state  into  the  initiative                                                                    
     process.  The proposal exports and expands democracy.                                                                      
     ...  The framers  of  the  [Alaska State]  Constitution                                                                    
     crafted  an  article  [in]  our  constitution  allowing                                                                    
     citizens  to get  initiatives on  the  ballot, a  right                                                                    
     that  does not  exist in  26  other U.S.  states.   The                                                                    
     framers    of   the    [Alaska   State]    Constitution                                                                    
     specifically  included   [a]  geographical-distribution                                                                    
     requirement in  order to prevent  any one of  the areas                                                                    
     of the state  from dominating the process.   House Bill                                                                    
     31/HJR  5  exports  democracy into  all  areas  of  the                                                                    
     state.    [House  Bill  31/House  Joint  Resolution  5]                                                                    
     changes  the signature-gathering  requirements to  more                                                                    
     [accurately] account  for changes in  communication and                                                                    
     population (indisc. - voice faded away).                                                                                   
Number 1752                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS concluded:                                                                                              
     Of the  24 states that  have an initiative  process, 13                                                                    
     have some sort  of geographic-distribution requirements                                                                    
     for  signatures.     It  is  important   that  Alaska's                                                                    
     initiative  process be  fair and  represent the  entire                                                                    
     state,  to  avoid  the  kind  of  undue  influence,  by                                                                    
     interest groups  and local areas,  that the  framers of                                                                    
     the [Alaska  State] Constitution  sought to  avoid. ...                                                                    
     The bill and the  accompanying resolution, if passed by                                                                    
     the  legislature,  will not  change  Alaska  law.   The                                                                    
     decision will be  made by the people of  Alaska, in [a]                                                                    
     vote on  a constitutional  amendment in  November 2004.                                                                    
     I urge the passage of these two bills.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  WILLIAMS  added  that  he would  like  the  House                                                               
Judiciary  Standing  Committee  to  look into  whether  there  is                                                               
actually a need for the  resolution changing the constitution, or                                                               
whether  his goals  could be  accomplished  just by  a change  to                                                               
CHAIR  McGUIRE  asked  Representative  Williams  whether  he  has                                                               
obtained  a legal  opinion from  Legislative  Legal and  Research                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS said he had,  but indicated that he would                                                               
trust the findings of the committee with regard to legal issues.                                                                
Number 1857                                                                                                                     
JAMES PRICE  said he opposes HB  31 and any attempts  to make the                                                               
initiative process more difficult  or cumbersome for the citizens                                                               
of Alaska.   He opined that the increase  in signature collection                                                               
to 7  percent in three-quarters  of the House districts  will not                                                               
foster  democratic  participation,  and   will  simply  make  the                                                               
initiative process  more expensive  and difficult for  the common                                                               
citizens who, he surmised, are  the ones that participate in that                                                               
process.   He suggested  that the  legislation will  give special                                                               
interest groups  and people with an  axe to grind who  have money                                                               
more  influence  over  the  process.    He  mentioned  that  he'd                                                               
participated  in  an  initiative  on  the  Kenai  Peninsula,  and                                                               
relayed  that had  his group  had  to abide  by the  requirements                                                               
proposed  in  [HB  31/HJR  5],  they would  have  had  to  gather                                                               
signatures  across  the  inlet  in  Tyonek,  across  the  bay  in                                                               
Seldovia,  and  on  the  other  side of  the  borough  in  Cooper                                                               
Landing;  he added  that such  requirements might  have "actually                                                               
sunk our boat" because his group didn't have "deep pockets."                                                                    
MR.  PRICE observed  that  it is  very  difficult, currently,  to                                                               
gather 15 percent  of the signatures from  all the jurisdictions.                                                               
He  noted that  at  their local  election  regarding the  private                                                               
prison, voter participation was about  39 percent - almost double                                                               
that area's past  average.  He opined that  Cornell Companies and                                                               
VECO  Corporation  spent millions  of  dollars  to influence  the                                                               
legislature  and  promote a  private  prison  funded with  public                                                               
money.  He  said that had there not been  the initiative process,                                                               
his  area would  have "had  a  prison that  no one  wanted."   He                                                               
added, "Our borough  people told everyone, 'Oh, this  is what the                                                               
people  want; (indisc.)  overwhelming support  for it,'  yet when                                                               
the vote came in, we smoked them  by a level of three to one, and                                                               
they found out that, no, they didn't have the support."                                                                         
MR. PRICE  suggested that  an effective  alternative would  be to                                                               
prohibit  cities  from spending  public  funds  to advance  their                                                               
interests with  regard to  local ballot issues.   In  essence, he                                                               
remarked, "they're using taxpayer money  to get the citizens that                                                               
are at  the ballot box."   In closing, he said  that he adamantly                                                               
opposes any changes  to the initiative process that  make it more                                                               
difficult,  and  he  encouraged  the  committee  to  respect  the                                                               
democratic process by voting against this "bad legislation."                                                                    
Number 2022                                                                                                                     
RICHARD H. BISHOP, Chair, Trustee  Advisory Board, Alaska Outdoor                                                               
Council (AOC), said that the AOC  strongly supports HB 31 and HJR
5.  He went on to say:                                                                                                          
     I'm  a game  biologist  by training.    I retired  from                                                                    
     ADF&G [Alaska Department  of Fish & Game]  in 1989 ...,                                                                    
     after   over  20   years'   work   on  game   research,                                                                    
     management,  and  department   administration.    Since                                                                    
     retirement,  I  have   worked  in  various  capacities,                                                                    
     mostly  with the  Alaska Outdoor  Council  on fish  and                                                                    
     wildlife    resource    issues,    including    several                                                                    
     initiatives.   The initiatives aren't  a bad  tool when                                                                    
     they're    used    to    protect    peoples'    rights.                                                                    
     Unfortunately,  most initiatives  are used  to restrict                                                                    
     peoples' rights.   In my  review of the  information, I                                                                    
     found  ...  that  even the  Founding  Fathers  of  this                                                                    
     country  were   quite  wary  of   the  impact   of  the                                                                    
     initiative  system  -  or  initiatives  -  on  minority                                                                    
     In  general,  hunters,  fishers,  and  trappers  are  a                                                                    
     numerical  minority  in  Alaska.     And,  in  general,                                                                    
     wildlife  initiatives in  this  state, and  nationwide,                                                                    
     have  promoted  restriction  of  scientifically  sound,                                                                    
     lawful  hunting,  trapping,  and sound  state  wildlife                                                                    
     management.    In  other  words,  in  addition  to  the                                                                    
     management,  ... many  of these  initiatives have  been                                                                    
     aimed  at  the  minority   of  hunters,  trappers,  and                                                                    
     fishers.      Representative    Williams's   bill   and                                                                    
     resolution  would help  defend against  the tyranny  of                                                                    
     the  majority by  requiring  broader representation  of                                                                    
     Alaskan minorities  of all kinds, not  just hunters and                                                                    
     trappers, in order to put an initiative on the ballot.                                                                     
     So,  instead  of  a  bad   idea  being  sold  by  slick                                                                    
     advertising to  a gullible majority  who have  no stake                                                                    
     in the issue,  the idea would have to  pass muster with                                                                    
     those whose  interests are most  affected.   House Bill                                                                    
     31  does not  ban the  use of  the initiative  process.                                                                    
     What it really says is, if  you want to use this method                                                                    
     of making  law, you'd  better have  an idea  that helps                                                                    
     people,  and not  hurts  them, or  it  just won't  fly.                                                                    
     Initiatives  on  wildlife  issues,   and  this  is  the                                                                    
     principal  issue of  the  Alaska  Outdoor Council,  are                                                                    
     widely  condemned  by  professional fish  and  wildlife                                                                    
     biologists  in  Alaska  and across  the  United  States                                                                    
     because they've proven a poor  substitute for the legal                                                                    
     framework  developed  over  the   last  100  years  for                                                                    
     managing fish and game.                                                                                                    
Number 2149                                                                                                                     
MR. BISHOP continued:                                                                                                           
     With  wildlife, it's  easy to  sell a  bad a  idea with                                                                    
     great -  and, often, misleading -  advertising.  People                                                                    
     mostly like  wildlife, and mostly don't  like to bother                                                                    
     checking  out  the  facts.     So  they  react  to  the                                                                    
     emotional appeal of  a ballot campaign.   Alaska has an                                                                    
     outstanding  legal framework  and system  for fish  and                                                                    
     game  management  consisting   of  the  local  advisory                                                                    
     committees, the Board of Fisheries,  the Board of Game,                                                                    
     and  the legislature,  all  working  together with  the                                                                    
     [Alaska] Department of Fish &  Game professionals to do                                                                    
     a  good   job  on  management.     It's  part   of  our                                                                    
     representational  democracy,  and   it's  important  to                                                                    
     remember, of course, that that's  how our system is set                                                                    
     up,   not   as   a   total    democracy,   but   as   a                                                                    
     representational democracy.                                                                                                
     The initiative  process [is]  used by  anti-hunters and                                                                    
     anti-management interests  [as] an end run  around this                                                                    
     representational-democracy system.   House Bill  31 and                                                                    
     HJR  5  would  improve  the  working  climate  of  this                                                                    
     commendable system.   It would  be harder  to undermine                                                                    
     the system  through initiatives that  are not  based on                                                                    
     sound,   scientific  management   -  initiatives   that                                                                    
     penalize rather than promote  the interests of Alaska's                                                                    
     fishers, hunters,  and trappers  - through  the tyranny                                                                    
     of the  majority.  Thank  you for taking  my testimony;                                                                    
     I'd  be  happy  to  try to  answer  any  questions  the                                                                    
     committee may have.                                                                                                        
Number 2245                                                                                                                     
KAREN   BRETZ,   Secretary/Treasurer,  Alaskans   for   Efficient                                                               
Government, after mentioning that she  is also an attorney, noted                                                               
that   her   organization   has   sponsored   several   statewide                                                               
initiatives.  She said:                                                                                                         
     I have  been involved  in the  initiative process  as a                                                                    
     proponent   of  ballot   initiatives  and   counsel  to                                                                    
     litigants  involved in  the  initiative  process.   One                                                                    
     reason  proffered   [in]  support  of  this   bill  and                                                                    
     resolution in the past, and  currently, is that it will                                                                    
     ensure that  there is statewide  support of  a proposed                                                                    
     initiative.     I  am  not   aware  of   anything  ever                                                                    
     introduced to a legislative  committee showing that the                                                                    
     current  initiative  process  is  failing  us  in  that                                                                    
     persons living  in rural areas are  disenfranchised and                                                                    
     that   increasing   signature   requirements   is   the                                                                    
     solution.   In fact,  the opposite is  true, and  HB 31                                                                    
     and HJR  5 will  guarantee that  people living  off the                                                                    
     road  system  will   become  disenfranchised  from  the                                                                    
     initiative process.                                                                                                        
     The requirement  that signatures be collected  equal to                                                                    
     10 percent  of the voters  that voted in  the preceding                                                                    
     general election  ensures that the  proposed initiative                                                                    
     has minimal support.   If basic, fairly straightforward                                                                    
     requirements  are met,  the lieutenant  governor places                                                                    
     the initiative on the ballot,  and all [Alaskan] voters                                                                    
     have  the  opportunity  to  vote  on  the  proposition.                                                                    
     There has  been no attempt  by proponents of HB  31 and                                                                    
     HJR  5 to  show that  people  in rural  Alaska are  not                                                                    
     given the  opportunity to make their  voices heard when                                                                    
     it counts - in the actual election.                                                                                        
     I  was involved  in Proposition  2 [Ballot  Measure 2],                                                                    
     the initiative  proposing to move the  meeting place of                                                                    
     the  Alaska  [State]  Legislature from  Juneau  to  the                                                                    
     Matanuska-Susitna Valley.   This proposition  was voted                                                                    
     on  in  the  2002  general  election  and  was  soundly                                                                    
     defeated  -  in districts  both  on  and off  the  road                                                                    
     system.   According to the  statistics on  the Division                                                                    
     of Elections'  web site, Proposition 2  was defeated 10                                                                    
     to 1 in District  1, which is Representative Williams's                                                                    
     district; it was defeated 17  to 1 in District 2, which                                                                    
     includes Sitka, Petersburg, and  Wrangell; [and] it was                                                                    
     defeated 2 to  1 in District 37, the  Bristol Bay area.                                                                    
     In fact, Proposition 2 only  passed in four districts -                                                                    
     not surprisingly, all in [the] Palmer-Wasilla area.                                                                        
Number 2330                                                                                                                     
MS. BRETZ went on to say:                                                                                                       
     There has been  no indication that people  in the rural                                                                    
     areas  did not  have the  opportunity to  make informed                                                                    
     choices  at  the  ballot  box   based  on  the  limited                                                                    
     information  that  was  made  available  to  them.    I                                                                    
     personally collected thousands  of signatures for "Prop                                                                    
     2"; I  [collected] signatures at the  Alaska State Fair                                                                    
     in  Palmer,  in front  of  [Fred  Meyer] and  Kmart  in                                                                    
     Anchorage,    at    the   [Ted    Stevens]    Anchorage                                                                    
     International Airport, and at  the Fifth Avenue Mall in                                                                    
     downtown Anchorage.  These are  some of the best places                                                                    
     in  the state  to  reach out  to  Alaskans because  one                                                                    
     meets voters from  across the state.   Anchorage is the                                                                    
     state's economic hub, and the  state fair, the "big box                                                                    
     stores," the  malls, and the  airport are  places where                                                                    
     people   from   rural    areas   come   for   shopping,                                                                    
     entertainment, and to take care of business.                                                                               
     Although  I  cannot  tell   you  whether  we  collected                                                                    
     signatures of 7 percent  of the voters in three-fourths                                                                    
     of  the house  districts,  as  HB 31  and  HJR 5  would                                                                    
     require, I can  tell you that we talked  to persons and                                                                    
     collected signatures from Angoon  to Barrow to Unalaska                                                                    
     and all  in between.   [House Bill  31 and  House Joint                                                                    
     Resolution  5]  will  disenfranchise people  living  in                                                                    
     rural  Alaska  from  the initiative  process.    It  is                                                                    
     undeniable  that most  signatures  needed  to place  an                                                                    
     issue on the  ballot can be collected  in Anchorage and                                                                    
     its environs  by reaching out  to places  frequented by                                                                    
     people from  across the state.   It is  also undeniable                                                                    
     that a  person living in Dillingham  cannot collect all                                                                    
     the signatures that  he needs to place an  issue on the                                                                    
     statewide ballot by staying in Dillingham.                                                                                 
TAPE 03-30, SIDE B                                                                                                            
Number 2380                                                                                                                     
MS. BRETZ continued:                                                                                                            
     [House  Bill  31 and  House  Joint  Resolution 5]  will                                                                    
     require [people  in Bush  Alaska to  not] only  pay for                                                                    
     plane  tickets, lodging,  transportation, and  meals in                                                                    
     Anchorage, but  also [pay for] plane  tickets, lodging,                                                                    
     transportation,   and  meals   in  Juneau,   Fairbanks,                                                                    
     Barrow,  Bethel,  et  cetera,  in  order  to  meet  the                                                                    
     onerous  proposed requirements.   Most  common citizens                                                                    
     do not  have the  funds to do  this.   These additional                                                                    
     requirements will preclude most  people in rural Alaska                                                                    
     from getting involved in the initiative process.                                                                           
     Now, when we  have increased cause to  reflect upon the                                                                    
     individual  freedoms, prosperity,  and wealth  that our                                                                    
     form of government allows us  to enjoy - in contrast to                                                                    
     those  regimes  of  Iraq  and  Afghanistan  -  ...  the                                                                    
     legislature   should   encourage   more   Alaskans   to                                                                    
     participate in  the initiative  process.   Although the                                                                    
     initiative  process has  never been  instituted on  the                                                                    
     federal  level, the  United  States  Supreme Court  has                                                                    
     commented on it  in the case of United  Mine Workers of                                                                  
     America  v. Illinois  State Bar  Association, 389  U.S.                                                                  
     427 (1967) ....                                                                                                            
MS. BRETZ read from the aforementioned case, which says:                                                                        
     We start with the premise  that the rights to peaceably                                                                    
     assemble and  to petition for  a redress  of grievances                                                                    
     are   among  the   most  precious   of  the   liberties                                                                    
     safeguarded  by  the Bill  of  Rights.   These  rights,                                                                    
     moreover, are intimately connected,  both in origin and                                                                    
     in purpose,  with other First Amendment  rights of free                                                                    
     speech  and  free  press.     "All  these,  though  not                                                                    
     identical, are inseparable."   (Citations omitted)  The                                                                    
     First Amendment would, however,  be a hollow promise if                                                                    
     [it] ever left government free  to destroy or erode its                                                                    
     guarantees by indirect restraints so  long as no law is                                                                    
     passed that prohibits free  speech, press, petition, or                                                                    
     assembly as such.                                                                                                          
Number 2324                                                                                                                     
MS. BRETZ, in conclusion, said:                                                                                                 
     Restraining the  rights of the  people of the  state of                                                                    
     Alaska  from  the  right  to  petition  the  government                                                                    
     through  the   initiative  process  is   certainly  not                                                                    
     Alaskan and, I  may also add, is not patriotic.   I ask                                                                    
     that  the committee  vote  to not  pass  this bill  and                                                                    
     resolution.  Thank you.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA,  referring  to Ms.  Bretz's  experience  in                                                               
putting an  initiative on  the ballot,  asked how  much volunteer                                                               
time it  took to get  the required  number of signatures  and how                                                               
much money had to be raised to achieve that goal.                                                                               
MS. BRETZ said that for  Proposition 2, volunteers did 90 percent                                                               
of the work and the fundraising,  adding that she and Uwe Kalenka                                                               
collected approximately 75 percent of the necessary signatures.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked Ms. Bretz  to comment on the issue                                                               
of "how  the initiative process  relates to the balance  of power                                                               
in the [Alaska] State Constitution."                                                                                            
MS. BRETZ replied:                                                                                                              
     I  believe that  the  initiative process  is there  for                                                                    
     people  who  are   dissatisfied  with  the  legislative                                                                    
     process, to make  their wishes and desires  known.  Our                                                                    
     group   has   approached  several   legislators   about                                                                    
     introducing bills that we thought  would be in the best                                                                    
     interest  of   the  state;  sometimes   things  happen,                                                                    
     sometimes  not.   But we  believe  that the  initiative                                                                    
     process is vital for our  democracy, so that the people                                                                    
     - citizens  - can make laws  on their own.   It's often                                                                    
     been  called,   as  I'm  sure  you're   aware,  "direct                                                                    
     democracy" -  bypassing the  legislative process  to go                                                                    
     directly to the people.                                                                                                    
Number 2186                                                                                                                     
LINDA RONAN, Alaska HEMP (Help  End Marijuana Prohibition), noted                                                               
that  her group  has  been trying  to put  an  initiative on  the                                                               
ballot for years.  She remarked  that "this is a subject" that is                                                               
difficult  for legislators  to bring  up; thus  it is  easier for                                                               
"the people"  to bring  the issue  forward.   She noted  that the                                                               
constitution uses the phrase, "We  the People," adding that it is                                                               
"the people" who have the right  to put initiatives on the ballot                                                               
when  political  leaders are  not  interested  in making  changes                                                               
regarding certain issues.  She  posited that the people who don't                                                               
have  the  money  to  go  out  to  all  the  villages  to  gather                                                               
signatures  still  have access  to  those  who live  in  villages                                                               
because those  folks do come  to the  urban centers at  some time                                                               
during the year.  She opined that  it would be better to keep the                                                               
initiative  process  as  is,  and  that  [the  legislation  under                                                               
discussion]  will make  the process  more  difficult because  the                                                               
proposed  signature requirements  will  be  almost impossible  to                                                               
meet,  particularly  for controversial  issues.    She urged  the                                                               
committee to not pass [HB 31 and HJR 5].                                                                                        
Number 2084                                                                                                                     
STEVE   CLEARY,  Executive   Director,  Alaska   Public  Interest                                                               
Research  Group (AkPIRG),  indicated that  AkPIRG opposes  [HB 31                                                               
and  HJR 5].   He  said,  "I believe,  as has  been stated,  that                                                               
elections  are the  true  form of  our  democracy, and  citizens'                                                               
initiatives  on those  elections are  a valuable  tool ...."   He                                                               
opined that [HB 31 and HJR  5] are unnecessary and would unfairly                                                               
restrict access to the initiative  process.  He remarked that the                                                               
Alaska Public  Offices Commission (APOC)  has always done  a very                                                               
good job in helping citizens keep  track of who is spending money                                                               
on ballot propositions and elections.                                                                                           
Number 1977                                                                                                                     
VIRGINIA BREEZE,  Election Projects Coordinator,  Central Office,                                                               
Division of Elections, Office of  the Lieutenant Governor, simply                                                               
mentioned that the  division has "an impartial  statement" on the                                                               
[legislation under discussion].                                                                                                 
Number 1953                                                                                                                     
ALVIN  ANDERS,  Chairman,  Alaska Libertarian  Party  of  Juneau,                                                               
noted  that he  is  a  veteran of  many  initiative campaigns  in                                                               
Alaska.  He went on to say:                                                                                                     
      I'm here to urge the committee to reject the changes                                                                      
      to the initiative process.  It is already extremely                                                                       
     difficult to put  initiatives on the ballot.   Very few                                                                    
     businesses will  allow anyone  to circulate  a petition                                                                    
     in  front  of  their   businesses,  especially  if  the                                                                    
     initiative  is  at  all controversial.    The  proposed                                                                    
     changes  to  the  initiative  process  will  mean  that                                                                    
     circulators will need to not  only get signatures equal                                                                    
     to 10  percent of the  vote cast in the  last election,                                                                    
     but  will  also  have  to get  signatures  equal  to  7                                                                    
     percent of the vote cast  in three-fourths of the House                                                                    
     This  will  have  the  effect   of  requiring  not  one                                                                    
     petition drive, but thirty  petition drives, because to                                                                    
     fail  to qualify  in just  one of  the required  three-                                                                    
     fourths districts  will invalidate all  the signatures.                                                                    
     So even  if 100 percent  of the voters in  29 districts                                                                    
     sign  a petition,  but  supporters  fall one  signature                                                                    
     short in the 30th  district, then the initiative fails,                                                                    
     and all voters who would like  to vote on the issue are                                                                    
     disenfranchised.   Nor is  this reform  even necessary.                                                                    
     Supporters  of  making   the  initiative  process  more                                                                    
     onerous claim they are proposing  these changes so that                                                                    
     all the  state is  included in the  initiative process,                                                                    
     yet they offer  no evidence that this  is not currently                                                                    
     the case.  I argue that,  in fact, just the opposite is                                                                    
     true.   When  an initiative  is  on the  ballot, it  is                                                                    
     widely debated statewide.                                                                                                  
     When legislators  pass bills - and,  unfortunately, you                                                                    
     pass   lots  of   them  -   voters  rarely,   if  ever,                                                                    
     participate in  the debate  on these  bills.   In fact,                                                                    
     legislators have even claimed  that they themselves did                                                                    
     not have time  to read every bill before  voting on it.                                                                    
     Alaska statewide  ballots are  not crowded.   Moreover,                                                                    
     initiative  backers know  they need  a majority  of the                                                                    
     voters to  pass the  initiative, so  they work  hard to                                                                    
     win  hearts and  minds statewide.   These  changes will                                                                    
     mean  the death  of citizen  initiatives and  mean that                                                                    
     only initiatives  supported by deep pockets  can afford                                                                    
     to  make   the  ballot.    This   will  hardly  support                                                                    
     democracy, much less civic participation.                                                                                  
Number 1866                                                                                                                     
MR. ANDERS continued:                                                                                                           
     Also,  initiatives increase  voter  turnout.   They  do                                                                    
     this in two  ways.  First, they do  this by registering                                                                    
     new  voters.   On New  Year's Day,  just eight  minutes                                                                    
     into the new  millennium, I registered a  voter who had                                                                    
     not voted since  1972 and who had no  intention of ever                                                                    
     again voting.   He  changed his mind  because marijuana                                                                    
     reform  would be  on the  ballot,  and his  21-year-old                                                                    
     daughter followed  her father's example  and registered                                                                    
     for  the first  time in  her life,  after having  vowed                                                                    
     never  to do  so.   Second, initiatives  increase voter                                                                    
     turnout by  putting issues on  the ballot that  are too                                                                    
     hot  to  handle  for  the  legislature.    Tax  reform,                                                                    
     defending   the  Alaska   permanent  [fund   dividend],                                                                    
     medical marijuana, term  limits, wildlife issues, [and]                                                                    
     sign  restrictions are  just some  of  the issues  that                                                                    
     would only  have been in  the public debate  ... thanks                                                                    
     to  the  initiative process.    These  changes are  not                                                                    
     Moreover, there is a better  way to accomplish the same                                                                    
     goal and save taxpayers money  at the same time.  Plus,                                                                    
     the  change  can  be  done   without  the  need  for  a                                                                    
     constitutional amendment.   By changing  the initiative                                                                    
     from a petition booklet of  many pages - and printed at                                                                    
     great  expense to  the taxpayers  ... -  to a  one-page                                                                    
     form that  can be posted  on a web site  and downloaded                                                                    
     by  citizens   wishing  to   sign  and   circulate  the                                                                    
     petition.  If  we do this, we will  make the initiative                                                                    
     easier to  sign by even  voters living in  the remotest                                                                    
     parts  of  Alaska.    The added  benefit  is  that  the                                                                    
     initiative backers  can pay the cost  of printing these                                                                    
Number 1811                                                                                                                     
MR. ANDERS elaborated:                                                                                                          
     To do this  change, we will need to either  give up the                                                                    
     circulator  affidavit  on  the last  page  of  petition                                                                    
     booklets, or make  it a separate form that  needs to be                                                                    
     signed and  turned in.   I would  argue for  the former                                                                    
     reform.     The  circulator  affidavit  is   no  longer                                                                    
     necessary  because the  U.S.  Supreme  Court no  longer                                                                    
     allows  petition  circulation  to be  limited  to  only                                                                    
     registered  voters.   Since this  [U.S.] Supreme  Court                                                                    
     ruling,  circulator  affidavits  have only  served  the                                                                    
     purpose of  having circulators swear  that to  the best                                                                    
     of  their knowledge,  the person  signing the  petition                                                                    
     was a registered voter.   However, no one is taking our                                                                    
     word for it;  instead, the state goes  to great expense                                                                    
     to  verify that  the  signers  are, indeed,  registered                                                                    
     The initiative has a rich  history in Alaska.  It plays                                                                    
     a very  important role in self-government.   It fosters                                                                    
     civic  responsibility.   It invigorates  public debate.                                                                    
     Instead   of  making   the   initiative  process   more                                                                    
     difficult,  we should  make it  easier.   Ideally,  all                                                                    
     bills  should  go  before  the  citizens  for  a  vote.                                                                    
     Moreover, Alaska should also  allow citizens to use the                                                                    
     initiative   process  to   amend  the   Alaska  [State]                                                                    
     I propose  that the  legislature reject  these proposed                                                                    
     changes.  Instead, turn this  bill into the requirement                                                                    
     necessary  to put  a  constitutional  amendment on  the                                                                    
     ballot, add  an additional  safeguard by  requiring the                                                                    
     proposed constitutional  amendment to pass twice  or to                                                                    
     pass with  a super  majority.  At  the very  least, the                                                                    
     legislature   should   embrace    democracy   and   the                                                                    
     democratic process by rejecting  this effort to make an                                                                    
     already  very  difficult  initiative process  far  more                                                                    
     difficult.    Then  the legislature  could  go  a  step                                                                    
     further  and   take  mercy   on  taxpayers   by  making                                                                    
     initiatives  one  page, the  cost  of  the printing  of                                                                    
     which is  paid by initiative proponents  instead of the                                                                    
     taxpayers.    As stated  earlier,  this  will make  the                                                                    
     initiative process far more  accessible to all Alaskans                                                                    
     by  facilitating the  placement of  initiatives on  the                                                                    
     Internet where they can easily be downloaded.                                                                              
Number 1729                                                                                                                     
MR. ANDERS concluded:                                                                                                           
     I  would like  to  make  two final  points.   One,  the                                                                    
     Alaska  Outdoor Counsel,  their objection  is that  the                                                                    
     initiative process  will -- that these  changes make it                                                                    
     harder  for  wildlife  [issues]  to  make  the  ballot.                                                                    
     Well,   no  one   is  better   funded   than  ...   the                                                                    
     environmental movement,  and this  is exactly  the type                                                                    
     of change that's  going to mean that ...  [this is] the                                                                    
     only type of initiative  - those by well-funded special                                                                    
     interests - that will make the ballot. ...                                                                                 
     The last comment here is that  I have copies of the ...                                                                    
     type of  petition we're talking  about, I have  lots of                                                                    
     extra  copies because  the state  spends  a great  deal                                                                    
     money  printing these  petitions  booklets  up for  us.                                                                    
     Instead of printing these petitions  for us, this is an                                                                    
     example of the petition  that's done in municipalities,                                                                    
     like this  is an  Anchorage petition.   It's  one page.                                                                    
     In  Michigan,  proponents   of  putting  ...  marijuana                                                                    
     reform  on the  ballot  got a  100,000 signatures,  all                                                                    
     volunteer, twice  - [though] they needed  300,000 - and                                                                    
     they  did it  because  the form  could  be very  easily                                                                    
     downloaded.   And  with that  I'll conclude  my remarks                                                                    
     and stand by for any questions.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  surmised  that when  gathering  signatures,                                                               
circulators can  assume that a  certain percentage  of signatures                                                               
will be invalidated because peoples'  signatures can't be read or                                                               
because  persons signing  petitions won't  be registered  voters.                                                               
He asked  Mr. Anders how  many extra signatures must  be gathered                                                               
in  order that  enough  are gathered  to place  an  issue on  the                                                               
MR. ANDERS  said that generally,  he tries  to get twice  as many                                                               
signatures  as   are  required,   since  many   signatures  will,                                                               
ultimately,  be  invalidated.     He  added  that   most  of  the                                                               
initiatives he  has been  involved with "run  a validity  rate of                                                               
better than 70  percent."  He remarked that  although a 7-percent                                                               
signature requirement  - as is  proposed by [HB  31 and HJR  5] -                                                               
may  not seem  like much,  circulators would  have to  strive for                                                               
double  the number  of signatures  required in  order to  be sure                                                               
that  enough valid  signatures  were gathered.    In response  to                                                               
further  remarks, he  explained that  in a  district for  which 7                                                               
percent of voters voting in the  prior election totaled 220, as a                                                               
petition  circulator,   he  would   attempt  to   gather  400-500                                                               
Number 1564                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  McGUIRE  remarked  that   the  initiative  and  referendum                                                               
process is very important, and  perhaps unique to western states.                                                               
She agreed that sometimes the initiative  process can be a way of                                                               
discharging ideas  that, for political  reasons, get  bogged down                                                               
in [other  arenas].  She  noted, however, that the  basic premise                                                               
of a representative democracy is  that the majority of the people                                                               
are represented.  She elaborated:                                                                                               
     When you  look at  a state like  Alaska, it  isn't just                                                                    
     the majority of people  from Anchorage, or the majority                                                                    
     of people from  Juneau, or the majority  of people from                                                                    
     Fairbanks  -  urban areas;  it's  the  majority of  the                                                                    
     state.   And  we've  struggled long  and  hard in  this                                                                    
     legislature  to  talk  about  that  -  the  urban/rural                                                                    
     divide,  some  people  call  it -  to  make  sure  that                                                                    
     villages  and other  rural  communities  in this  state                                                                    
     have access  to water  and sewer  and power,  access to                                                                    
     transportation, and opportunities  to education, and so                                                                    
CHAIR McGUIRE asked how enacting the requirements proposed in HB
31 and HJR 5 could be construed as infringing on democracy.                                                                     
MR.  ANDERS  remarked  that  democracy   is  furthered  when  all                                                               
Alaskans are given  the opportunity to vote directly  on an issue                                                               
at the  polls.  In contrast,  democracy is not furthered  when an                                                               
issue  is vetoed  simply because  people didn't  get a  chance to                                                               
sign  a petition.    He  added, "Democracy  is  voting on  issues                                                               
directly; it's not signing a petition directly."  He continued:                                                                 
     What we  want to do  is make it  as easy for  people to                                                                    
     put issues on  the ballot as possible, but  as hard for                                                                    
     people  to violate  the rights  of individuals  through                                                                    
     the initiative process.   That's why we have  a bill of                                                                    
     rights,  that's why  it needs  to vigorously  enforced.                                                                    
     The initiative  process should be viewed  as an adjunct                                                                    
     of the legislative branch of  government.  When we were                                                                    
     writing  the   constitution,  communication   was  very                                                                    
     difficult; [thus]  the idea of having  citizens vote on                                                                    
     issues, each  and every issue individually,  would have                                                                    
     just been  extremely difficult, if for  no other reason                                                                    
     than   the  high   cost  of   getting  information   to                                                                    
Number 1329                                                                                                                     
MR. ANDERS went on to say:                                                                                                      
     But in  smaller communities,  like Massachusetts  - the                                                                    
     birthplace   of  our   [U.S.]   Constitution  and   the                                                                    
     independence  movement  -  citizens did  organize  into                                                                    
     town councils  where they  voted on  every issue.   And                                                                    
     now  we've  evolved.   With  the  Internet, we  can  be                                                                    
     talking    with   people    all    over   the    state,                                                                    
     instantaneously.  And so, again,  if we want to include                                                                    
     more people  in the  initiative process,  we can  do so                                                                    
     very easily by  making it one page  that the proponents                                                                    
     pay for  the printing of themselves  [and allowing] the                                                                    
     proponents  to put  it on  the  Internet so  it can  be                                                                    
     downloaded; then  the folks in Ketchikan  [for example]                                                                    
     could not only sign the  petition very easily, but they                                                                    
     can circulate it very easily.                                                                                              
     If  you want  to preserve  the sponsor  affidavit, it's                                                                    
     just a  separate page that  the person has  to download                                                                    
     and send in as well.   Currently, what happens -- these                                                                    
     booklets  make it  very difficult  for ...  [volunteer-                                                                    
     initiative]  efforts  to  succeed.   Mailing  these  to                                                                    
     people is  very expensive.   When a volunteer  gets it,                                                                    
     they feel they have to fill  it out before they turn it                                                                    
     back in;  then mailing  it back  in is  very expensive.                                                                    
     [If] it's one page, if I  only want to sign it, I stick                                                                    
     it in  an envelope with  37 cents,  and it's done.   If                                                                    
     [I] want to involve my friends ...                                                                                         
CHAIR McGUIRE  interjected to say she  [understands] Mr. Anders's                                                               
point.  She  noted that according to Article [XI],  Section 3, of                                                               
the Alaska  State Constitution, a constitutional  amendment would                                                               
be required  to enact Representative William's  proposed changes.                                                               
In  contrast  to statements  made  by  Mr. Anders  regarding  the                                                               
difference between  voting on  an issue  and signing  a petition,                                                               
she  opined that  because  of  the aforementioned  constitutional                                                               
language, voting  on an issue  is not separate and  distinct from                                                               
signing a petition.  Rather, "it is  all one big part of it," she                                                               
added.   She remarked that  although it is inevitable  that there                                                               
will  be some  bad  ideas brought  forth  through the  initiative                                                               
process, signature requirements will  ensure that fewer bad ideas                                                               
make  it to  the ballot,  so  that it  can be  said that  there's                                                               
enough  support for  an idea  from the  start.   She then  voiced                                                               
support  for  Mr.  Anders's   idea  regarding  [making  petitions                                                               
available on]  the Internet, and  suggested that funds  should be                                                               
spent to ensure  that the technology currently  available is used                                                               
to  increase  to  the  entire  state's  access  to  the  petition                                                               
Number 1091                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS said he agreed  with Chair McGuire on that                                                               
last  point.    He  opined   that  with  regard  to  initiatives,                                                               
"Anchorage has got  to be completely driving the bus;  we have to                                                               
be cramming  things down  peoples' throat, so  there ought  to be                                                               
five of  us up  here that  love them because  our people  are the                                                               
ones that  -- we're it."   He offered  the thought that  those in                                                               
Anchorage have more of a voice  in the initiative process than do                                                               
those  from  Barrow  or  Nome or  Ketchikan,  for  example,  even                                                               
though, oftentimes, initiatives have an  affect on rural areas of                                                               
the state.   He indicated  that he is leaning  towards supporting                                                               
Representative Williams's proposal.                                                                                             
MR. ANDERS replied:                                                                                                             
     Anchorage may drive the bus  in as much as that's where                                                                    
     the bulk of the population  is, so that's where you get                                                                    
     the bulk  of your signatures.   What drives the  bus is                                                                    
     the 10  percent requirement you need,  the [20,000-some                                                                    
     or  30,000-some] gross  signatures, so  you go  to your                                                                    
     largest  population center.    Democracy  is voting  on                                                                    
     issues  directly, and  what we  want to  do is  make it                                                                    
     possible for  folks in Ketchikan,  Unalaska -  all over                                                                    
     the state  - [to] have what  they think is a  good idea                                                                    
     put  on  the  ballot.    This  requirement  would  mean                                                                    
     they'll have to  travel all around the state  to do it.                                                                    
     Currently, they can come to  Anchorage and get the bulk                                                                    
     of their signatures  there and at the  Palmer fair, put                                                                    
     their initiative  on the ballot,  and then,  of course,                                                                    
     that doesn't  mean it's going to  pass.  A lot  of what                                                                    
     look like really good ideas,  just because they made it                                                                    
     on the ballot, didn't pass.                                                                                                
     If  you  look  at the  [material]  that  Representative                                                                    
     Williams submitted, you'll see  a number of initiatives                                                                    
     that  were placed  on  the  ballot that  had  a lot  of                                                                    
     support and  had a  lot of  signatures from  around the                                                                    
     state  -  for  example,  the  tax  cap  -  got  soundly                                                                    
     defeated.  The medical  marijuana initiative didn't get                                                                    
     many  signatures around  the state  but it  [did] quite                                                                    
     well.   I'd also add  that it's extremely  difficult to                                                                    
     find places  [that] allow you to  circulate a petition.                                                                    
     In the  case of making  marijuana illegal in  1990, ...                                                                    
     Carrs  allowed you  to set  up inside  the Eagle  River                                                                    
     Carrs to  circulate the petition.   Well, in  trying to                                                                    
     put medical  marijuana on the ballot  and marijuana ...                                                                    
     decriminalization  on the  ballot,  we were  threatened                                                                    
     with arrest in front of federal post offices.                                                                              
Number 0897                                                                                                                     
MR. ANDERS continued:                                                                                                           
     Now, if  the right to petition  your government doesn't                                                                    
     apply to  the federal government, where  does it apply?                                                                    
     So,  thank God  we  do have  public  property like  the                                                                    
     Sullivan Arena,  the Palmer  fair, Tanana  Valley fair,                                                                    
     the DMV [Division of Motor  Vehicles], the library that                                                                    
     you can  get signatures.   But imagine, when you  go to                                                                    
     these   smaller  communities,   you   don't  have   the                                                                    
     population centers to get those  signatures, so you may                                                                    
     have  to  stay there  for  weeks  to bump  into  enough                                                                    
     folks.  Combine that, and  now you have a controversial                                                                    
     initiative  that the  local authorities  don't want  to                                                                    
     see  on the  ballot.   And then  they put  somebody out                                                                    
     there  beside   you  saying,  "Hey,  don't   sign  that                                                                    
     marijuana  petition"  -  you're  fried.    And  it  can                                                                    
     happen.  [When] we were  doing the wolf snare petition,                                                                    
     we  had  a circulator  in  Fairbanks  who was  stalked.                                                                    
     And, as a  result of her being stalked,  we removed the                                                                    
     requirement that  circulators had to put  their name on                                                                    
     each [indisc. - coughing].                                                                                                 
CHAIR  McGUIRE  remarked,  "And  we  need  to  continue  to  make                                                               
improvements to that."                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS, on  Mr. Anders's  comments, said,  "That                                                               
doesn't  change   the  fact  that  Anchorage   has  a  completely                                                               
disproportionate  part of  the  power  now."   He  noted that  if                                                               
Representative Williams  wanted to do  a petition, even  he would                                                               
have to go to Anchorage.                                                                                                        
MR.  ANDERS  pointed out  that  under  the proposed  legislation,                                                               
Representative  Williams would  then  also have  to  go to  Nome,                                                               
Dillingham, and other districts.                                                                                                
Number 0756                                                                                                                     
CHERYL JEBE, President,  League of Women Voters  (LWV) of Alaska,                                                               
relayed that  in 2001,  the LWV  adopted a  resolution supporting                                                               
the initiative process, after a  study recommended "a formula for                                                               
at least 50  signatures in each of two-thirds  of the legislative                                                               
districts in order  to reflect statewide interest  in a measure."                                                               
She remarked,  however, that she  is not  sure that 7  percent is                                                               
the number that should be used.   In the discussions ensuing from                                                               
the study,  the LWV  chose 50 signatures  because it  was decided                                                               
that it  was important that  rural Alaska have  more of a  say in                                                               
the  initiatives being  put  on the  ballot.   In  response to  a                                                               
question, she  noted that  another recommendation  resulting from                                                               
the   aforementioned  study   was   to   support  the   [current]                                                               
requirement for  "a number of  valid signatures not less  than 10                                                               
percent  of the  total  number  of votes  cast  in the  preceding                                                               
general election."                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE ANDERSON remarked that he  could see both sides of                                                               
the argument.  He mentioned,  however, that he supports expanding                                                               
the number  of districts  from which  signatures are  gathered in                                                               
order to achieve a greater representation.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM  remarked, "We  do not  have a  democracy; we                                                               
have  a representative  republic."    He opined  that  lack of  a                                                               
democracy  ensures  that there  will  not  be  a tyranny  of  the                                                               
majority.  He  suggested that changing the  initiative process as                                                               
proposed  by  Representative  Williams will  better  protect  the                                                               
people.    Representative  Holm  then  read  from  a  portion  of                                                               
Delegate Warren A. Taylor's comments  from the December 16, 1955,                                                               
transcripts of the Alaska Constitutional Convention, which says:                                                                
     Of course, now  we know in some states  the exercise of                                                                    
     the initiative and referendum  was perhaps warranted by                                                                    
     one act maybe that it be  put through.  One of them was                                                                    
     in  California.    The  Civil  Service  Act  for  state                                                                    
     employees was  put through by  means of  the initiative                                                                    
     measure.  The legislature  had been importuned for year                                                                    
     after year  for civil service status  of the employees,                                                                    
     and it was  only in that way that they  finally got it.                                                                    
     Of course, if the proper  safeguards are not put around                                                                    
     the type  of legislation that  can be initiated  by the                                                                    
     people. [sic]   As I said before, they can  do a lot of                                                                    
     harm.  There  was one in California that  within a year                                                                    
     they found out  that it was bankrupting  the state, and                                                                    
     they  had to  get out  another initiative  and do  away                                                                    
     with the first one.                                                                                                        
Number 0308                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM   said  that  it  is   imperative  for  [the                                                               
legislature] to oversee what happens  to the state of Alaska, and                                                               
imperative for the people of the  state to have some control over                                                               
the  initiative   process.    He  indicated   that  he  supported                                                               
Representative Williams's proposal.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE GARA posited that the  framers of the Alaska State                                                               
Constitution wanted  to give  the people  of the  state a  way to                                                               
exercise the right of direct  democracy, and this resulted in the                                                               
current  initiative  process.     He  opined  that  this  current                                                               
process,  as  developed  by  the  framers  of  the  Alaska  State                                                               
Constitution, is  a good  one.  After  positing that  the framers                                                               
considered an  unfettered right to  initiatives to be  a problem,                                                               
Representative Gara  pointed out that the  restrictions discussed                                                               
in the aforementioned transcript pertained  to "whether or not to                                                               
let people vote to spend money,"  and the decision arrived at was                                                               
to not  let the initiative  process extend to the  expenditure of                                                               
money.  He opined  that this is a good limitation.   On the issue                                                               
of whether to  require more signatures from  throughout the state                                                               
before  allowing  an  initiative  on   the  ballot,  he  said  he                                                               
disagrees  that  such  a  requirement  would  be  better  from  a                                                               
democratic standpoint.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA,  likening  the initiative  process  to  the                                                               
legislative  process, noted  that  legislation does  not need  to                                                               
have  the   written  support  of  three-quarters   of  the  body;                                                               
legislation merely needs to have the  support of half of the body                                                               
plus one.   He opined that the current initiative  process is set                                                               
up properly.   "I don't think you  have to prove that  you have a                                                               
majority  before you  get your  majority," he  added.   He noted,                                                               
however, that he does sympathize  with the point raised regarding                                                               
the fact that  currently, initiative circulators only  have to go                                                               
to  the same  larger population  centers.   But  this problem  is                                                               
cured,  he opined,  by the  fact  that an  initiative won't  pass                                                               
unless it is  approved by a majority of the  voters at the polls.                                                               
He warned  that making it  more burdensome to get  signatures, as                                                               
proposed by  HB 31 and  HJR 5,  will prevent people  from getting                                                               
initiatives  on  the  ballot.   He  suggested  that  the  changes                                                               
proposed will  increase the  cost of  getting initiatives  on the                                                               
ballot; as  a result,  wealthy people  and groups  with a  lot of                                                               
financial resources will still be  able to get initiatives on the                                                               
ballot, but  not average  citizens.  He  indicated that  he sides                                                               
with the people who oppose [HB  31 and HJR 5] and support keeping                                                               
the initiative process as is.                                                                                                   
TAPE 03-31, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0010                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG remarked that  the initiative process is                                                               
part  of the  checks  and balances  to  the legislative  process.                                                               
Using the  legislative process  as an  analogy to  the initiative                                                               
process, he noted that  only one person has to have  an idea - in                                                               
the form of  a piece of legislation  - for it to  come before the                                                               
whole body.   He surmised that the same is  true for Congress and                                                               
other  states'  legislatures.    He offered  his  view  that  the                                                               
initiative  is  merely  the  first   step  in  the  process,  and                                                               
suggested that the  question before the committee is  how many it                                                               
takes to  prevent a measure.   He suggested that under  HB 31 and                                                               
HJR 5, "people from one-quarter  of the districts could oppose [a                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  remarked that the proposal  is not very                                                               
representative because it  merely says persons have to  live in a                                                               
district, adding,  "those of us  who live in districts  know that                                                               
it's very fortuitous  whether you live on one side  of the street                                                               
or the other."  He asked, "Why  does it make me more qualified to                                                               
oppose a bill  just because I live across the  street or I happen                                                               
to live  in a different village?"   It's not where  one lives, he                                                               
added, "we're all Alaskans."   If [the committee] really wants to                                                               
stop  what has  been called  "the  tyranny of  the majority,"  he                                                               
suggested,  it   should  not  be  focusing   on  the  "nominating                                                               
portion," as proposed  by HB 31 and HJR 5;  rather, the committee                                                               
should be  looking at  "enactment," whereby, in  order to  pass a                                                               
measure,  people   from  two-thirds  or  three-quarters   of  the                                                               
districts would  be required  to vote for  the measure.   Another                                                               
option for stopping  "the tyranny of the  majority," he remarked,                                                               
would be to require a super  majority [of the voters] to vote for                                                               
passage of a measure.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE   GRUENBERG  relayed   that   "in  talking   about                                                               
candidates,"  Stalin   said,  "Let  me  control   the  nominating                                                               
process, and you can have the  election."  "And he did it, didn't                                                               
he?"  added  Representative  Gruenberg,  because  Stalin  totally                                                               
controlled  the  nominating  process.   By  the  same  token,  if                                                               
talking about democracy, then the  people have a right to propose                                                               
things,  and let  "the  rest  of us  vote  on  it," he  remarked,                                                               
adding,  "let's just  get  it  on the  ballot,  that's all  we're                                                               
talking  about here,  is putting  it on  the ballot."   And  if a                                                               
measure  has no  merit, then  the people  will defeat  it at  the                                                               
ballot.  He indicated that he  is merely asking that all Alaskans                                                               
be allowed to vote on initiatives.                                                                                              
Number 0384                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  McGUIRE remarked  that the  first step  in the  initiative                                                               
process  is   not  the  petition   stage;  it  is   actually  the                                                               
application  stage, which  only requires  100 signatures,  which,                                                               
she opined, is a fairly minimal standard and easy to achieve.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE OGG mentioned  that the people of  Greece - which,                                                               
at the time  of the war between  Athens and Sparta, was  run as a                                                               
true  democracy  - voted  to  kill  all  the admirals  when  they                                                               
returned  after having  suffered a  great defeat  to Sparta.   He                                                               
suggested that  "we've moved  past that,"  and that  the Founding                                                               
Fathers,  in establishing  the current  form of  government, were                                                               
striving  to  avoid  just  such  failures  of  earlier  forms  of                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE OGG  observed that  at the  time the  framers were                                                               
developing  the  Alaska State  Constitution,  Alaska  was a  very                                                               
different state.   He  opined that  it would  only be  healthy to                                                               
have petition  circulators visit  those parts  of the  state that                                                               
have less populations and talk to  the people in those areas.  He                                                               
suggested  that  HB  31  and  HJR 5  will  help  the  legislature                                                               
recognize  that  Alaska  is  a   very  large  state  with  people                                                               
throughout, and will counterbalance  any tendency to provide less                                                               
representation to the  people who live outside  of Alaska's major                                                               
metropolitan  areas.   He  indicated  that  he is  considering  a                                                               
positive vote to move the legislation forward.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  remarked that  if the  initiative process                                                               
were held at  the national level, he would not  like having other                                                               
states, along  with just  one Alaskan, decide  whether to  put an                                                               
issue affecting Alaska on the ballot.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE WILLIAMS  agreed that Alaska has  a representative                                                               
form  of government.   He  indicated that  the people  of Saxman,                                                               
Gustavus,  Angoon, and  Savoonga should  have a  chance to  voice                                                               
their  opinion on  whether to  put an  initiative on  the ballot.                                                               
With  regard to  the issue  of  cost, he  mentioned Mr.  Anders's                                                               
comments  regarding  a  petition  that could  be  downloaded  and                                                               
faxed.   He noted  that the current  signature requirement  is 10                                                               
percent of  the people that  voted in the prior  general election                                                               
and at  least one  person from  each of 27  House districts.   He                                                               
opined that  it would help  if more  people were involved  in the                                                               
initiative process.   He  again asked  the committee  to research                                                               
whether a constitutional  amendment is really needed  in order to                                                               
change the signature requirement.                                                                                               
CHAIR   McGUIRE   indicated   that  because   of   Representative                                                               
Williams's compelling  testimony, she  is in favor  of supporting                                                               
the legislation.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG,  in an  effort to  allay Representative                                                               
Samuels's  concern  that  a  tyranny could  be  imposed  via  the                                                               
initiative  process, read  from  Article XI,  Section  7, of  the                                                               
Alaska State  Constitution, which  says in part:   "Restrictions.                                                               
The initiative  shall not be used  to ... enact local  or special                                                               
CHAIR  McGUIRE announced  that [HB  31 and  HJR 5  would be  held                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects