Legislature(2009 - 2010)

04/15/2009 05:17 PM JUD


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SSHB 36 - INITIATIVES: CONTRIBUTIONS/PROCEDURES                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
5:17:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE  FOR HOUSE  BILL NO. 36,  "An Act  relating to                                                               
ballot   initiative   proposal   applications   and   to   ballot                                                               
initiatives."    [SSHB  36  had been  amended  on  4/13/09;  left                                                               
pending from 4/13/09  were the motions to adopt  Amendment 3, and                                                               
to amend Amendment 3.]                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   COGHILL  withdrew   Amendment  3,   labeled  26-                                                               
LS0197\E.5, Bullard, 4/10/09, which read:                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Page 7, lines 9 - 10:                                                                                                      
          Delete "the sponsors shall hold public hearings                                                                       
     concerning  the  proposed bill  in  at  least 30  house                                                                    
     districts"                                                                                                                 
          Insert "the lieutenant governor or a designee of                                                                      
     the lieutenant governor shall hold  at least two public                                                                    
     hearings concerning the proposed  bill in each judicial                                                                    
     district  of the  state.   Public  hearings under  this                                                                    
     section shall be conducted in  a manner that allows the                                                                    
     initiative's  sponsors, other  affected and  interested                                                                    
     parties  supporting  or  opposing the  initiative,  and                                                                    
     citizens an opportunity to be heard"                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Page 7, line 11:                                                                                                           
          Delete "sponsors"                                                                                                     
          Insert "lieutenant governor or a designee of the                                                                      
     lieutenant governor"                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Page 7, line 13:                                                                                                           
          Delete "sponsors"                                                                                                     
          Insert "lieutenant governor or a designee of the                                                                      
     lieutenant governor"                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Page 7, line 15, through page 8, line 12:                                                                                  
          Delete all material.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
5:18:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL made a motion to adopt Amendment 4,                                                                      
labeled 26-LS0197\E.8, Bullard, 4/14/09, which read:                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Page 7, lines 7 - 10:                                                                                                      
          Delete all material and insert:                                                                                       
          "Sec. 15.45.195. Public hearings. (a) At least 30                                                                   
     days before the  election at which an  initiative is to                                                                    
     appear  on the  ballot,  the lieutenant  governor or  a                                                                    
     designee of  the lieutenant governor shall  hold two or                                                                    
     more public hearings concerning  the initiative in each                                                                    
     judicial district  of the state.   Each  public hearing                                                                    
     under this  section shall include the  testimony of one                                                                    
     supporter and one opponent of the initiative."                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Page 7, line 11:                                                                                                           
          Delete "sponsors"                                                                                                     
          Insert "lieutenant governor"                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Page 7, line 13:                                                                                                           
          Delete "sponsors"                                                                                                     
          Insert "lieutenant governor"                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Page 7, line 15, through page 8, line 12:                                                                                  
          Delete all material.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG objected for  the purpose of discussion.                                                               
He questioned  what language  would be  best to  use in  order to                                                               
address  members' concerns  [regarding when  the public  hearings                                                               
would be held].                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
5:19:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JASON HOOLEY,  Deputy Chief  of Staff,  Juneau Office,  Office of                                                               
the Lieutenant Governor,  said that if the desire is  to have the                                                               
public  hearings after  the signature-gathering  phase, then  the                                                               
proper language  would be "after  the petition has  been properly                                                               
filed".                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  indicated  a preference  for  amending                                                               
Amendment 4 to that effect.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  offered  his belief  that  the  language                                                               
currently  in  Amendment  4  -  "At  least  30  days  before  the                                                               
election" -  allows discretion  with regard  to when  the public-                                                               
hearing phase could begin.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:21:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KYLE JOHANSEN,  Alaska State Legislature, speaking                                                               
as  one of  the  joint prime  sponsors of  SSHB  36, offered  his                                                               
understanding that the  lieutenant governor would like  to have a                                                               
specific  timeframe in  which to  hold the  public hearings,  and                                                               
that  the  language  currently   in  Amendment  4  provides  that                                                               
timeframe.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  suggested  amending Amendment  4  such                                                               
that  it  would say  in  part,  "No  earlier  than the  date  the                                                               
petition has been properly filed and  at least 30 days before the                                                               
election  at which  an initiative  is  to appear  on the  ballot,                                                               
...".                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHANSEN  surmised  that everyone  has  the  same                                                               
intention.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  HOOLEY  offered  his  understanding  that  the  language  in                                                               
Amendment  4  that says,  "an  initiative  is  to appear  on  the                                                               
ballot" implies  that the lieutenant governor's  office has found                                                               
that petition to be properly filed,  since if it had not been, it                                                               
would not be  appearing on the ballot, but  acknowledged that the                                                               
suggested change to Amendment 4 would make it more explicit.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said he is merely  attempting to insert                                                               
a  start date,  that  being the  date that  a  petition has  been                                                               
properly  filed, with  the  end  date being  30  days before  the                                                               
election.    He  indicated  that that  would  be  his  conceptual                                                               
amendment to Amendment 4.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS surmised that this  would leave some latitude to the                                                               
lieutenant governor.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. HOOLEY concurred.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
5:26:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHANSEN  concurred  with  Mr.  Hooley  that  the                                                               
current  language of  Amendment 4  is clear  that the  start date                                                               
would  be   after  the  lieutenant  governor   has  certified  an                                                               
initiative for placement  on the ballot, with the  end date being                                                               
30  days prior  to  the election,  and opined  that  it would  be                                                               
proper for the  lieutenant governor to be  provided some latitude                                                               
so that his/her resources and time could be properly managed.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG surmised,  then, that  no amendment  to                                                               
Amendment 4 is necessary to address that point.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. HOOLEY,  in response to  a question, opined that  the current                                                               
language is clear  enough for all future  lieutenant governors to                                                               
understand  that the  public  hearings need  to  occur after  the                                                               
signature-gathering  phase  but  at  least   30  days  before  an                                                               
election.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG removed his objection.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES noted that Amendment  4 says in part, "Each                                                               
public hearing under this section  shall include the testimony of                                                               
one  supporter  and  one  opponent   of  the  initiative".    She                                                               
questioned whether this language  would require people other than                                                               
those in  the lieutenant governor's  office to get  themselves to                                                               
each one of the eight meetings.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN  said the  intent is  to give  the public                                                               
the  opportunity to  discuss, from  both  sides, what  is in  the                                                               
ballot initiative, regardless of  how they participate, either in                                                               
person  or via  teleconference.   "You  could  probably find  one                                                               
person in  each meeting, for  each of the judicial  districts, to                                                               
present the idea to the public," he added.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  expressed concern  that the  word, "shall"                                                               
might invalidate  the whole meeting  if all  who come to  it only                                                               
speak to one side of the issue.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHANSEN   said  that's   not  the   intent,  and                                                               
indicated that he  might be amenable to having  the word, "shall"                                                               
changed to the word, "may".                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
5:31:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS offered  his belief  that  written testimony  could                                                               
suffice to meet the proposed requirement.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. HOOLEY  relayed that  for every initiative  that goes  on the                                                               
ballot, the  Division of Elections gathers  statements in support                                                               
and  statements in  opposition  for the  purpose  of including  a                                                               
support  statement and  an opposition  statement in  the election                                                               
pamphlet, and  surmised that that  existing process  would simply                                                               
be used as a starting point for the proposed public hearings.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES pondered  whether it  might be  better for                                                               
the language to  instead say something along the  lines of, "Each                                                               
public  hearing under  this section  shall allow  opportunity for                                                               
the testimony of  at least one supporter and one  opponent of the                                                               
initiative" - something  to make it clear that  the meeting won't                                                               
be  invalidated simply  because only  those  on one  side of  the                                                               
issue came to the meeting.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHANSEN said  he doesn't  have any  problem with                                                               
having the language  be passive, adding, "If they  don't show up,                                                               
that's ... really their own problem."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL said  he would have a problem  with such a                                                               
change  because he  believes  that they  should  provide as  much                                                               
direction  [to the  lieutenant governor]  as possible.   In  this                                                               
case, making  the lieutenant governor  work to find  someone with                                                               
an  opposing  view  would  be more  beneficial  than  giving  the                                                               
lieutenant governor  so much latitude  that a court  case results                                                               
due to  a perception  that he/she  favored one  side of  an issue                                                               
over the other.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES expressed a  preference, then, for changing                                                               
the language to read in part,  "shall include the testimony of at                                                               
least  one  supporter and  one  opponent  ...".   She  questioned                                                               
whether such a change would be acceptable to the sponsor.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHANSEN  said  it   is  his  understanding  that                                                               
supporting and  opposing views are  compiled into  one supporting                                                               
statement and  one opposing statement  for purposes  of including                                                               
in the  election pamphlet.  He  said his preference would  be for                                                               
the  information about  the initiative  to flow  impartially from                                                               
the lieutenant  governor's office,  rather than having  an eight-                                                               
hour meeting,  for example, at  which 500 people talk  about what                                                               
they think  is included in the  initiative.  He then  expressed a                                                               
preference for the language currently in Amendment 4.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS  expressed concern  that Amendment  4 says  that two                                                               
"or more" public hearings would  be held, questioning what result                                                               
including the words  "or more" would have should  someone wish to                                                               
contest the process, and whether  including those words meets the                                                               
intent.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. HOOLEY said  it would be the  lieutenant governor's intention                                                               
to hold  two meetings per judicial  district so as to  absorb the                                                               
costs of those meetings in his/her current budget.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN  indicated that  he would be  amenable to                                                               
having the language specify just two meetings.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS indicated that he  would be offering an amendment to                                                               
delete the words, "or more".                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  pointed out,  though, that in  the Fourth                                                               
Judicial  District,   because  of   its  tremendous   size,  [the                                                               
committee] may want to allow for more than just two meetings.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS questioned,  however, whether  including the  words                                                               
"or  more" but  then not  holding  more than  two meetings  could                                                               
invite  the  argument  that  the   lieutenant  governor  had  not                                                               
fulfilled his/her obligation.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHANSEN  characterized   the  comment  regarding                                                               
judicial  district  size  as  a  valid  point,  and  expressed  a                                                               
preference  for  giving  the  lieutenant  governor's  office  the                                                               
latitude to have more than two meetings.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:41:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL BARNHILL,  Senior Assistant  Attorney General,  Labor and                                                               
State  Affairs Section,  Civil Division  (Juneau), Department  of                                                               
Law (DOL),  in response  to a question,  offered his  belief that                                                               
the  phrase, "two  or more"  is synonymous  with the  phrase, "at                                                               
least two", and that holding  only two meetings would satisfy the                                                               
proposed requirement.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS indicated  that they would therefore  be leaving the                                                               
words, "or more" in Amendment 4.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  again expressed  concern that  the phrase,                                                               
"shall include the  testimony of one supporter  and one opponent"                                                               
might invalidate the  whole meeting if only those on  one side of                                                               
the  issue come  to the  meeting.   She asked  what would  be the                                                               
consequences   of  not   complying  with   the  requirements   of                                                               
Amendment 4.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHANSEN  indicated  that  he  didn't  think  the                                                               
language regarding  testimony would create a  problem, and opined                                                               
that it would be an  unwise political decision for the lieutenant                                                               
governor  to  choose  not  to comply  with  the  proposed  public                                                               
hearing requirements.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES,   to  clarify,  questioned   what  effect                                                               
noncompliance  with Amendment  4  would have  on the  initiative,                                                               
adding  that she  doesn't want  an  initiative to  be thrown  out                                                               
simply because of a loophole that someone takes advantage of.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   JOHANSEN  said   is   not   his  intention   for                                                               
[noncompliance  with  Amendment  4]  to have  any  effect  on  an                                                               
initiative.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS questioned  whether they ought to  insert the words,                                                               
"written  or   public"  into  Amendment   4,  before   the  word,                                                               
"testimony".                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:45:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BARNHILL,  characterizing that  as a fine  concept, indicated                                                               
that  such a  change would  clarify  the type  of testimony  that                                                               
would  be acceptable.   In  response to  an earlier  question, he                                                               
explained  that  the  court  system has  a  default  position  of                                                               
providing as  much access to the  ballot as possible, and  so any                                                               
technical defects in  the public hearing process  would likely be                                                               
overlooked  by  the  court  in  order to  secure  access  by  the                                                               
initiative sponsors to the ballot.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG pointed out  that any such change should                                                               
instead say "written or oral" instead of "written or public".                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS  made a motion to  amend Amendment 4 to  include the                                                               
words  "written or  oral"  before the  word  "testimony".   There                                                               
being no objection, the amendment to Amendment 4 was adopted.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  sought clarification  that in  order to                                                               
comply  with the  phrase,  "testimony of  one  supporter and  one                                                               
opponent"  the  lieutenant governor  would  seek  input from  the                                                               
initiative's  sponsors and  those  opposed to  the initiative  so                                                               
that they could  have a hand in who's selected  to [present their                                                               
viewpoint].                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  HOOLEY  said  that  would  be  the  case,  adding  that  the                                                               
lieutenant  governor  generally   starts  with  the  initiative's                                                               
sponsors.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS,  after ascertaining  that  there  were no  further                                                               
objections, announced that Amendment 4 [as amended] was adopted.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:48:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS made  a motion  to adopt  Amendment 5,  labeled 26-                                                               
LS0197\E.9, Bullard, 4/15/09, which read:                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Page 5, following line 7:                                                                                                  
     Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                         
        "* Sec. 9. AS 15.45.080 is amended to read:                                                                         
          Sec. 15.45.080. Bases of denial of certification.                                                                   
     The lieutenant governor shall deny certification upon                                                                      
     determining in writing that                                                                                                
               (1)  the proposed bill to be initiated is                                                                        
     not confined to one subject or is otherwise not in the                                                                 
     required form;                                                                                                             
               (2)  the application is not substantially in                                                                     
     the required form; or                                                                                                      
               (3)  there is an insufficient number of                                                                          
     qualified sponsors."                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES objected.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS  explained  that  Amendment  5  would  preclude  an                                                               
initiative  that  addresses  more  than one  subject  from  being                                                               
placed on the  ballot, and cited the  ballot initiative regarding                                                               
cruise ship  taxation, regulation,  and disclosure as  an example                                                               
of an initiative that was not confined to a single subject.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN said  he does not object  to Amendment 5,                                                               
but offered his  belief that its concept is  already addressed in                                                               
Article II, Section 13, of the Alaska State Constitution.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS acknowledged  that  point, but  offered his  belief                                                               
that Amendment  5 would give  the lieutenant governor a  bit more                                                               
latitude.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES removed her objection.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that Amendment 5 was adopted.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
5:51:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG made  a  motion to  adopt Amendment  6,                                                               
labeled 26-LS0197\E.6, Bullard, 4/11/09, which read:                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Page 9, lines 4 - 6:                                                                                                       
          Delete all material and insert:                                                                                       
          "APPLICABILITY. This Act applies only to an                                                                           
      initiative, the application for which is filed with                                                                       
     the lieutenant governor under AS 15.45.020 on or after                                                                     
     the effective date of this Act."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM objected.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG   explained  that  Amendment   6  would                                                               
clarify the applicability section.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN said he has no objection to Amendment 6.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM removed her objection.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that Amendment 6 was adopted.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES  said  she  is still  nescient  about  the                                                               
provisions of SSHB 36 that  address contributions and disclosure,                                                               
and would therefore  probably be voting against  [moving the bill                                                               
from committee at this time].                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN said  that  although he  likes  some of  the                                                               
bill's disclosure  provisions and  he thinks the  amendments have                                                               
improved the  bill, he has  some serious problems  with tinkering                                                               
with the initiative process because  he thinks doing so will have                                                               
a  chilling  effect  on  the   ability  of  folks  to  put  forth                                                               
initiatives.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  RAMRAS said  that although  he is  amenable to  moving the                                                               
bill from  committee, he  does not like  the bill,  and questions                                                               
whether Section  1 is constitutional.   He relayed that he  is in                                                               
favor   of  limiting   contributions  once   a  proposed   ballot                                                               
initiative has been certified, though  that is contrary to a U.S.                                                               
Supreme Court ruling,  because he is troubled  that a corporation                                                               
could influence an election simply by writing a large check.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:59:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG, remarking that  he would like the title                                                               
narrowed,  made a  motion  to adopt  Conceptual  Amendment 7,  to                                                               
narrow the title of the bill to the subjects currently in it.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  objected, and  suggested that  a specific                                                               
amendment to that effect be drafted instead.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  relayed, then,  that if he  still feels                                                               
it's necessary,  he would  be offering such  an amendment  on the                                                               
House  floor, though  he doesn't  see a  problem with  adopting a                                                               
conceptual amendment  now and allowing  the drafter come  up with                                                               
the appropriate language.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN relayed that he  would be willing to work                                                               
on [the  bill title] further  before the  bill gets to  the House                                                               
floor.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG withdrew Conceptual Amendment 7.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
6:02:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM moved  to report  SSHB 36,  as amended,                                                               
out  of   committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  the                                                               
accompanying zero fiscal note.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES objected.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was  taken.  Representatives Dahlstrom, Coghill,                                                               
Lynn,  and  Ramras  voted  in  favor of  reporting  SSHB  36,  as                                                               
amended, from  committee.   Representatives Gruenberg  and Holmes                                                               
voted against  it.  Therefore,  CSSSHB 36(JUD) was  reported from                                                               
the House Judiciary Standing Committee by a vote of 4-2.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects