Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 120

04/09/2010 01:00 PM House JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
<Bill Hearing Canceled>
Moved HCS SB 43(JUD) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
          SB 43 - SECOND VERSE OF ALASKA'S STATE SONG                                                                       
1:41:56 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the first order of business would be                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 43, "An Act adding a second verse to the                                                                        
official Alaska state song."                                                                                                    
1:42:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON   moved  to   adopt  the   proposed  House                                                               
Committee Substitute (HCS) for  SB 43(JUD), 26-LS0259\P, Bullard,                                                               
4/6/10,  as the  working  document.   There  being no  objection,                                                               
Version P was before the committee.                                                                                             
CHAIR RAMRAS explained  that Version P contains  the second verse                                                               
of  the Alaska  state  song  as it  was  originally authored  and                                                               
copyrighted.   He declared his  respect for both the  culture and                                                               
the author.                                                                                                                     
1:44:54 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR LINDA MENARD, Alaska State  Legislature, cited a previous                                                               
bill to add  this second verse to the state  song, Alaska's Flag.                                                               
She  declared  that  SB  43   gives  recognition  to  the  Native                                                               
community  by adding  a second  verse.   She  proposed that  this                                                               
second verse does  not change the song  but, instead, complements                                                               
it.  She  compared the second verse to the  Honor and Remembrance                                                               
flag, as  both serve  to complement the  history.   She recounted                                                               
that  the 12  lines  of  the second  verse  were  written in  one                                                               
evening by  Carol Beery Davis.   She  cautioned that the  lack of                                                               
punctuation and  capitalization should not be  second guessed, as                                                               
the author was 95 years old  and could have written this verse on                                                               
an  old  typewriter.   She  pointed  out  that the  second  verse                                                               
celebrates not  only the  Native people,  but also  Benny Benson,                                                               
the young  Native who designed  Alaska's state flag.   She shared                                                               
that Fran  Ulmer, UAA Chancellor,  supported SB 43, and  that Ms.                                                               
Ulmer  had  introduced  a  similar  bill while  she  was  in  the                                                               
SENATOR MENARD  emphasized that the  content of the  second verse                                                               
recognized  the  contributions of  Alaska  Natives.   She  quoted                                                               
Senator Albert Kookesh:                                                                                                         
     This  is a  little  step, but  it  recognizes a  Native                                                                    
     person who  designed the Alaska  flag, it  recognizes a                                                                    
     song that  says there's  no bars  in our  culture, that                                                                    
     culture will be elevated.                                                                                                  
SENATOR MENARD  offered her belief  that the bill  doesn't change                                                               
history, "it simply adds to it  or complements it."  She stressed                                                               
the importance of the bill to many people.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO   voiced  his  strong  opposition   to  the                                                               
addition of a second verse to the Alaska state song.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  HERRON  asked  Senator   Menard  her  reason  for                                                               
introducing this bill.                                                                                                          
SENATOR MENARD replied  that she had been asked  to introduce it.                                                               
She  specified that  she felt  strongly  about it,  and that  the                                                               
second  verse  is  a  tribute  to  the  Native  community.    She                                                               
emphasized that it is a good bill.                                                                                              
SENATOR  MENARD, in  response, said  that there  had been  a flag                                                               
design contest.                                                                                                                 
1:54:09 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  ROVITO,  Staff,  Senator   Linda  Menard,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, offered  his belief that Benny  Benson submitted the                                                               
winning entry in the design contest for the Alaska state flag.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON asked  whether a contest was  held to write                                                               
the first verse of the Alaska state song.                                                                                       
MR. ROVITO replied that he did not know.                                                                                        
CHAIR  RAMRAS, referring  to the  letter from  the University  of                                                               
Alaska  Foundation, dated  April 7,  2010, [Included  in members'                                                               
packets] read  the final paragraph  regarding copyright  and use.                                                               
He  directed attention  to Version  P,  page 2,  lines 6-17,  and                                                               
identified this  as "the second  verse as  it was written  by the                                                               
author."  He  surmised that it was "perfect  in its construction,                                                               
perhaps imperfect in the intent  of the author to express certain                                                               
wishes  that  are  held  by   some  folks..."    He  pointed  out                                                               
Section 2, which  is also  an addition  to Version  P.   He asked                                                               
Mr. Woodley to  authenticate the  second verse  as it  appears in                                                               
Version P.                                                                                                                      
1:58:39 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  WOODLEY,  Executive   Director  of  Advancement  Services,                                                               
University of Alaska Foundation,  declared that the University of                                                               
Alaska  Foundation has  held the  copyright to  the second  verse                                                               
since  1986, and  he  verified that  the verse  in  Version P  is                                                               
identical.  He  observed that over the years a  number of changes                                                               
were proposed that weren't  objectionable, such as capitalization                                                               
and commas,  but that, as time  wore on, there were  more serious                                                               
alterations.   He  shared  a legal  opinion  from the  University                                                               
which stated that  it would not materially  affect the copyright.                                                               
He  expressed the  desire to  preserve  the second  verse in  its                                                               
originally  submitted  form.    In response  to  a  question,  he                                                               
relayed that his  duties include "all forms  of records available                                                               
to  the foundation,  be they  electronic  or printed  copy."   He                                                               
relayed that the  prior archivist is not available,  but that the                                                               
University of Alaska and the  Foundation's history with the state                                                               
song were being reconstructed.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  offered his understanding that  any changes                                                               
to the song can violate the copyright.                                                                                          
MR.  WOODLEY   replied  that  the   Foundation  did   not  pursue                                                               
violations against  changes made by  song users.   He established                                                               
that  they wanted  to  "preserve  the intent  of  the  work as  a                                                               
whole."    He relayed  that  the  Foundation  had only  taken  an                                                               
aggressive stance  in cases of  use for purposes that  the author                                                               
did not intend.  He declared  an obligation to protect the second                                                               
verse, as copyrighted, to the fullest possible extent.                                                                          
CHAIR RAMRAS asked  to clarify that Version P  includes the exact                                                               
copy of the archived version for the second verse.                                                                              
MR. WOODLEY concurred.                                                                                                          
2:06:26 PM                                                                                                                    
DARREN FRIDAY offered to sing  the second verse for the committee                                                               
in order  to clarify that the  second verse was both  flowing and                                                               
2:09:09 PM                                                                                                                    
[Mr.  Friday  then led  the  group  in  singing the  state  song,                                                               
Alaska's Flag.]                                                                                                                 
2:12:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CONNIE  DAVIS shared  that she  was the  daughter of  Carol Beery                                                               
Davis,  the author  of the  proposed  second verse  of the  state                                                               
song.   She noted  that Marie  Drake [author  of the  state song,                                                               
Alaska's  Flag] and  her mother  arrived in  Juneau at  about the                                                               
same time  and became  lifelong friends.   She recalled  that her                                                               
father  was part  of the  final  awards committee  to choose  the                                                               
design  for the  Alaska flag.    She commented  that Marie  Drake                                                               
wrote  the first  verse so  that school  children could  read and                                                               
understand it.  She surmised that  Ms. Drake would be in favor of                                                               
the  second verse.    She offered  that the  second  verse is  in                                                               
context with  those times.   She noted  that the  American Legion                                                               
posts  throughout Alaska  managed  the flag  design contest,  and                                                               
that this  was arranged by  the Commissioner of  Education, whose                                                               
secretary was Marie Drake.                                                                                                      
2:15:40 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  RAMRAS, referring  to  a letter  from  Myron Naneng,  Sr.,                                                               
President  of  the  Association  of  Village  Council  Presidents                                                               
(AVCP), which  read:   [original punctuation  provided] [Included                                                               
in members' packets]:                                                                                                           
     Dear Representative Herron;                                                                                                
     Please pass  on to  the House Judiciary  Committee that                                                                    
     the Association of Village  Council Presidents does not                                                                    
     support the  passing of SB  43 as it stands.   Instead,                                                                    
     we  would  rather support  a  competition  open to  the                                                                    
     youth of Alaska for any  new verses to the Alaska State                                                                    
     Song.   A competition open  to youth would  inspire all                                                                    
     those to  participate in creating  an wonderful  way to                                                                    
     celebrate and honor the State of Alaska through song.                                                                      
     We support the goal of  including Alaska Natives in the                                                                    
     proposed  new verse,  but feel  that the  words in  the                                                                    
     verse itself  may be constructed in  a more appropriate                                                                    
     manner.  Therefore,  please consider our recommendation                                                                    
     for a competition.                                                                                                         
MS.  DAVIS  questioned whether  a  current  contest would  be  in                                                               
context  with  the  1927  flag contest,  and  speculated  that  a                                                               
current song version might contain rap lyrics.                                                                                  
2:18:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CONNIE  MUNRO  reflected  on  the history  of  the  second  verse                                                               
discussions  during the  early 1970s.   She  remembered that  the                                                               
Native community had  not wanted a second  verse writing contest,                                                               
and  had expressed  the possibility  that someone  would write  a                                                               
second verse that recognized all the  cultures, and offer it as a                                                               
gift.   She  recalled  her conversation  with  Carol Beery  Davis                                                               
about writing a  second verse.  When Ms. Davis  finally wrote the                                                               
second  verse at  the  age  of 95,  Ms.  Munro  added, Ms.  Davis                                                               
offered it as a gift.                                                                                                           
MS. MUNRO pointed out that there  was not a contest for the first                                                               
verse.   She suggested  there was  no reason  not to  accept this                                                               
gift.  She stated that  the second verse recognized all cultures,                                                               
especially  the  first Alaskans.    She  emphasized that  Alaskan                                                               
Natives needed to be recognized in the state song.                                                                              
2:21:10 PM                                                                                                                    
LORRAINE  HOUSEMAN  reflected  on the  second  verse  legislation                                                               
presented  by  Fran  Ulmer  to  the legislature  in  1987.    She                                                               
indicated that there was overwhelming  resistance for any changes                                                               
to the state  song, especially from the Pioneers of  Alaska.  She                                                               
offered  her belief  that the  "Alaskans dear"  mentioned in  the                                                               
original song  version includes  all Alaskans.   She  opined that                                                               
the state song  describes the flag and the  intent and excitement                                                               
of Benny Benson.                                                                                                                
MS. HOUSEMAN cited reasons for not  changing the state song.  She                                                               
related  that Benny  Benson was  born in  1913 in  Chignik.   She                                                               
shared that his mother, a Russian  Aleut, died when he was three.                                                               
His father, a  Swede, was a fisherman, and was  unable to support                                                               
three children,  so he took  Bennie to an orphanage  in Unalaska.                                                               
She  read  from transcripts  written  by  Benny Benson,  recorded                                                               
between 1967- 72:                                                                                                               
     I had a  hard time holding back tears as  I was leaving                                                                    
     my brother,  Carly, my other buddies,  and missionaries                                                                    
     to go help my dad at  his fox farm near Chignik, and to                                                                    
     meet  my  step-mother,  Annie,   for  the  first  time.                                                                    
     Thinking back, I  must say that the  sixteen years that                                                                    
     I spent at the Jesse Lee  Home was some of the happiest                                                                    
     years  of  my life,  which  may  be  hard for  some  to                                                                    
     believe, especially  with some of the  tales told about                                                                    
     storms at Unalaska.  The  mission taught me to love God                                                                    
     and my  neighbors, to  respect my  elders, and  to care                                                                    
     for others in need.                                                                                                        
MS.  HOUSEMAN shared  that he  was a  humble, giving  person that                                                               
everyone loved, and then read on:                                                                                               
     I could  never express  in words  the gratitude  I feel                                                                    
     for  the loving  care  given to  my  brother Carly  and                                                                    
     myself   by  those   devoted  Methodist   missionaries.                                                                    
     Whenever I  hear the Alaska  flag song, with  the words                                                                    
     of the poem, written by  Marie Drake in 1927, and which                                                                    
     were put to music by Elinor  Dusenbury in 1940, I get a                                                                    
     tingle  down my  spine  as memories  of  the Jesse  Lee                                                                    
     Mission  come to  mind, especially  of  those times  we                                                                    
     sang together at the old  piano, or organ, at Unalaska.                                                                    
     It was in  1955 when I met Marie Drake  in Seattle, and                                                                    
     we  were  photographed  together.   She  was  a  lovely                                                                    
     person and I carried that photo  of us with me for many                                                                    
MS.  HOUSEMAN  relayed  that  Benny went  to  the  Alaska  Native                                                               
Hospital in Anchorage,  in 1967, for circulation  problems in his                                                               
legs.   She  read from  an interview  with him  by the  Anchorage                                                               
Daily Times:                                                                                                                    
     He tried  art on for  size via the adult  evening class                                                                    
     route in Kodiak, but  lost interest almost immediately.                                                                    
     "It wasn't  for me,"  he said.   However,  Benson works                                                                    
     well  with his  hands and  considers himself  no slouch                                                                    
     when it comes to  designing small water crafts, skiffs,                                                                    
     and things of that sort.   Benson is proud of his flag,                                                                    
     but reserves his out and  out enthusiasm for the Alaska                                                                    
     flag song.   As a matter of fact, he  thinks it can sit                                                                    
     right  up   there  comfortably  next  to   America  the                                                                    
     Beautiful and the National Anthem.   "Like the flag, it                                                                    
     fits the state," he said.                                                                                                  
MS. HOUSEMAN  opined that as he  was so proud of  the song, there                                                               
was  nothing  more  that  could  be added  to  honor  him.    She                                                               
recounted that he was a  member of the Kodiak Native Association,                                                               
the Kodiak  Elk Lodge,  and the American  Legion.   She expressed                                                               
her disagreement with  adding a second verse to  the Alaska state                                                               
2:33:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  RAMRAS, referring  to an  article in  the Fairbanks  Daily                                                               
Miner by Dermot Cole, read:                                                                                                     
     This is what the 13 year  old Benson said of his simple                                                                    
     design, chosen  as a  winner out  of 142  entries. "The                                                                    
     blue field  is for  the Alaska  sky and  the forget-me-                                                                    
     not,  an Alaska  flower.   The  North Star  is for  the                                                                    
     future  state  of Alaska,  the  most  northerly in  the                                                                    
     Union.  The  Dipper is for the  Great Bear, symbolizing                                                                    
     strength."  Davis applied  her own interpretation about                                                                    
     Benson's  design which  differs from  his.   She opened                                                                    
     her  verse with  the  words, "A  native  lad chose  the                                                                    
     Dipper's stars for Alaska's flag  that there be no bars                                                                    
     among  our  cultures."   In  a  legislative hearing  on                                                                    
     Tuesday, our  colleague Senator Albert  Kookesh claimed                                                                    
     that not  adopting Davis' words  would be a  refusal to                                                                    
     honor Benny  Benson.   "If we  don't want  to recognize                                                                    
        Benny Benson through the second verse, then the                                                                         
      individuals who are going to be hurt are not the non-                                                                     
     Native people of the state, it's the Native people of                                                                      
     the state."                                                                                                                
2:34:42 PM                                                                                                                    
SIIKAURAQ WHITING, Mayor, Northwest  Arctic Borough, reflected on                                                               
the  amazing  diversity within  Alaska.    She pointed  out  that                                                               
visitors came  to see the  diversity of enriching cultures.   She                                                               
supported the original song to  celebrate the cultures within the                                                               
2:36:43 PM                                                                                                                    
CYRIL GEORGE  shared that he feels  that the words run  deep with                                                               
the people who  wrote them, as they tell others  why they fell in                                                               
love with the land.   He said he was taught to  take good care of                                                               
the land,  and that  it will  always feed you,  and you  learn to                                                               
love the  land.  He  reflected on  growing up at  Sheldon Jackson                                                               
School, and  reading about great  athletes who were natives  of a                                                               
place,  but not  Indian.   He  noted that  Juneau  had seen  many                                                               
MR.  GEORGE reminisced  about the  "whites-only"  signs, and  his                                                               
father's  difficulty  in  explaining  them.    He  expressed  his                                                               
support for  the words of the  Alaska flag song, and  his awe for                                                               
songwriters.    He stated  the  need  to  "keep working  in  that                                                               
direction" for making Alaska the best state in the Union.                                                                       
2:44:25 PM                                                                                                                    
KAYIST DOUN (ph)  explained that although the  Tlingit society is                                                               
matrilineal,  when she  introduces herself,  she also  honors her                                                               
father.   This reflects  an honor  and a  balance created  by her                                                               
parents.  She  shared that her mother knew Carol  Beery Davis and                                                               
appreciated her respect for the  Native culture.  She offered her                                                               
opinion  that  both  Trevor  Davis and  Carol  Beery  Davis  were                                                               
"giants in their  respect for the Native culture."   She surmised                                                               
that the proposed second verse  recognizes not only Benny Benson,                                                               
but also Carol Beery Davis.                                                                                                     
2:47:05 PM                                                                                                                    
WALTER  SAMPSON, President,  Northwest  Arctic Borough  Assembly,                                                               
pointed out that  Alaska is home to  all of us, and  is a diverse                                                               
culture.   He expressed  an appreciation  for the  opportunity of                                                               
communities to offer input on  issues discussed on a state level.                                                               
He said he supports the addition of  a second verse in SB 43.  He                                                               
directed attention to  the first line of the  second verse, which                                                               
"talks about  natives, we are  all native Alaskans."   He pointed                                                               
to  the  third line  and  the  tenth  line which  both  reference                                                               
cultures, and  he said, as the  word is plural, it  means diverse                                                               
cultures.    He noted  that  line  four  refers to  natives,  not                                                               
native, and  he opined we  are all  native Alaskans.   He offered                                                               
his belief  that the second verse  of the Alaska flag  song in SB
43 represents all Alaskans.                                                                                                     
2:51:17 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  RAMRAS, after  ascertaining  that no  one  else wished  to                                                               
testify, closed  public testimony  on SB 43.   He  reflected that                                                               
the testimonies had served to "re-center us."                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN offered his belief  that the Alaska flag song                                                               
is an anthem, and is shown special respect.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  again expressed his disfavor  with adding a                                                               
second  verse to  the Alaska  state song,  opining that  the song                                                               
should  be retained  as is  for historical  purposes.   He stated                                                               
that he wanted "to protect the history."                                                                                        
CHAIR  RAMRAS offered  a  reminder that  Version  P contains  the                                                               
original language of  the second verse as written  by Carol Beery                                                               
2:58:54 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  BRYCE EDGMON,  Alaska State  Legislature, relayed                                                               
that he  is a singer,  a song writer, and  an Alaska Native.   He                                                               
shared that  he knows both  the songwriting craft and  the Alaska                                                               
Native  issues  quite  well.     He  acknowledged  the  heartfelt                                                               
testimonies and agreed  that adding a second verse  was more than                                                               
the  mere  act of  extending  the  song.   He  cautioned  members                                                               
against proposing that  the words are for or  against any issues.                                                               
He  stated that  he  has never  heard the  second  verse sung  in                                                               
Southwest Alaska.   He opined  that if  a second verse  is added,                                                               
the words should exemplify the  prominence of Alaska Natives.  He                                                               
expressed  his comfort  with the  first verse,  and he  suggested                                                               
that the addition  of a second verse should include  the input of                                                               
all Alaskans, on a statewide level.                                                                                             
3:04:10 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CHARISSE   MILLETT,  Alaska   State  Legislature,                                                               
shared  that the  Alaska  state  song is  very  important to  all                                                               
Alaskans.  She  opined that the second verse was  not meant to be                                                               
divisive, but  has become  so.   She wondered  what would  be the                                                               
reaction of  the author,  Marie Drake.   She  agreed that  it was                                                               
necessary to  honor each other,  and to understand and  honor the                                                               
many cultures that  are in Alaska.  She said  that she thinks the                                                               
song is perfect [as is].                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES  acknowledged  that this  is  a  heartfelt                                                               
issue for  both sides, and expressed  her desire for the  bill to                                                               
move  forward to  the House  floor to  allow all  the members  an                                                               
opportunity to debate the bill.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  reflected  on the  necessity  to  move                                                               
forward together  as Alaskans.   He stated  that all  things that                                                               
can bring  us together can  also be  used to drive  people apart.                                                               
He expressed hope that the  bill will help bring people together.                                                               
He offered his support of the bill.                                                                                             
3:10:28 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG moved  to  report HCS  SB 43(JUD),  26-                                                               
LS0259\P,  Bullard,  4/6/10  out  of  committee  with  individual                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO objected.                                                                                                  
A roll  call vote  was taken.   Representatives  Lynn, Gruenberg,                                                               
Holmes, Herron, and Ramras voted in favor of HCS SB 43(JUD), 26-                                                                
LS0259\P, Bullard,  4/6/10.   Representative Gatto  voted against                                                               
it.   Therefore, HCS  SB 43(JUD)  was reported  out of  the House                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee by a vote of 5-1.                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 Proposed HJUD CS version P.pdf HJUD 4/9/2010 1:00:00 PM
02 SB43 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 4/9/2010 1:00:00 PM
SB 43
03 SB43 HSTA version E.pdf HJUD 4/9/2010 1:00:00 PM
SB 43
04 SB43 GOV Fiscal Note.pdf HJUD 4/9/2010 1:00:00 PM
SB 43
05 SB43 Support.pdf HJUD 4/9/2010 1:00:00 PM
SB 43