Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

02/02/2010 08:00 AM House STATE AFFAIRS

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08:07:11 AM Start
08:07:45 AM HJR38
09:48:31 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        HJR 38-CONST. AM: INCREASE NUMBER OF LEGISLATORS                                                                    
8:07:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN  announced that the  only order of business  was HOUSE                                                               
JOINT   RESOLUTION   NO.   38,  Proposing   amendments   to   the                                                               
Constitution of  the State of  Alaska relating to  and increasing                                                               
the number of  members of the house of  representatives to forty-                                                               
eight and the number of members of the senate to twenty-four.                                                                   
8:08:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON presented HJR  38 as prime sponsor.  She                                                               
paraphrased  the   sponsor  statement,  which  read   as  follows                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     HJR 38  will put a constitutional  amendment before the                                                                    
     voters  in   the  2010  general  election   that  would                                                                    
     increase   the   size   of  the   legislature   to   48                                                                    
     representatives and 24 senators.   Upon voter approval,                                                                    
     the measure  would apply to  the 2012  determination of                                                                    
     new boundary's for the election district.                                                                                  
     In  the first  50 years  of statehood,  Alaska has  not                                                                    
     changed the  20 senator, 40 representative  size of its                                                                    
     legislative  body, the  smallest bicameral  legislature                                                                    
     in the  nation.  In  this time span, the  population of                                                                    
     the state  has more than tripled.   Most significantly,                                                                    
     the population  increase is  disproportionate, strongly                                                                    
     favoring  large  urban  areas   over  rural  and  small                                                                    
     community  areas.    The  task  then  of  applying  the                                                                    
     proscriptions    of    Article     VI,    above,    has                                                                    
     correspondingly become more  difficult and contentious.                                                                    
     Except  for the  1960  reapportionment, all  subsequent                                                                    
     reapportionments    have    faced   successful    legal                                                                    
     challenges,  requiring  boundary   adjustments  and  on                                                                    
     several occasions, a court constructed plan.                                                                               
     Federal  protections of  the U.S.  Voter Rights  Act of                                                                    
     1965   for   large  minority   concentrations   further                                                                    
     complicate Alaska's  reapportionment process.   Indeed,                                                                    
     they  can act  to counter  the Section  6 requirements.                                                                    
     Rural election district distortions  are evident in the                                                                    
     current  plan.   There is  a probability  that the  new                                                                    
     population  distribution  of  the  2010  census  cannot                                                                    
     reconcile Section  6 and the  Voter Rights  Act without                                                                    
     increasing the size of the legislature.                                                                                    
     Between 1960 and 2006, twenty  nine states have changed                                                                    
     the  size of  their  legislative body.    For the  nine                                                                    
     states  with   small  populations  similar   to  Alaska                                                                    
     (509,000  to  1,429,000),  the average  size  of  their                                                                    
     legislative bodies is 134 members.                                                                                         
     Another  measure of  the effect  of the  state's growth                                                                    
     and complexity  on the work  of the legislature  is its                                                                    
     budget responsibilities.   Legislative expenditures for                                                                    
     government  programs  and  projects has  risen  from  a                                                                    
     figure of  $104 million  in FY 61  to somewhere  in the                                                                    
     neighborhood  of  $7 billion  currently.    This is  an                                                                    
     increase from $2700 per capita  in 1961 nominal dollars                                                                    
     to $10,000 per capita today.                                                                                               
     For these  reasons, putting a proposal  to increase the                                                                    
     size  of the  legislature before  the voters  is timely                                                                    
     and merited.                                                                                                               
8:14:07 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN suggested that there may not be room in the present                                                                  
capitol to house additional legislators.                                                                                        
8:14:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  said Pamela  Varni  would  speak to  that                                                               
8:14:56 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  LYNN  observed that  having  more  legislators across  the                                                               
state  would mean  districts  would be  smaller,  which may  help                                                               
reduce the cost of campaigning.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  responded that  she does  not know  if                                                               
that would  decrease the cost  of campaigning, but  she confirmed                                                               
that each  legislator would have  fewer constituents  than he/she                                                               
has now.  She said  her district includes:  Wrangell, Petersburg,                                                               
Sitka,  Pelican,  Elfin  Cove,  Port  Alexander,  Kupreanof,  and                                                               
Baranof Warm Springs.   She said one place she  has only traveled                                                               
to once at a  cost of $1,000.  She stated  her belief that making                                                               
a  district  larger   is  not  fair  to   constituents  or  their                                                               
8:17:00 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG noted that  he has the smallest district                                                               
in the state.  He  asked how electronic communication has changed                                                               
Representative P. Wilson's campaigning style.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON  said she attempts to  telephone all her                                                               
constituents who send e-mails.   She remarked that the bigger the                                                               
district gets the harder  that is to do.  She  said she e-mails a                                                               
newsletter  and uses  radio and  newspaper to  impart information                                                               
through "Peggy's  Corner of the  House."   She said she  does not                                                               
use  the telephone  or letter  to contact  her constituents  very                                                               
8:18:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON,  in   response  to  a  question  from                                                               
Representative  Seaton, said  the hope  for  HJR 38  is that  the                                                               
areas  now represented  would not  lose  representation, but  the                                                               
areas that grow  would gain more representation.   In response to                                                               
a follow-up  question from Representative  Seaton, she  said some                                                               
areas vary  in their  population shifts.   It will  be up  to the                                                               
redistricting   committee  to   figure   out  [where   additional                                                               
legislators would be placed], not up to the legislature.                                                                        
8:21:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  said when he  began as a  legislator, there                                                               
were 16,000 constituents,  and now there are  24,000; however, he                                                               
said  he has  not been  compromised by  the growth.   He  said he                                                               
thinks  the  public  would  not  support  the  addition  of  more                                                               
legislators.    He  suggested  the reason  the  bill  sponsor  is                                                               
proposing  HJR 38  is "because  Southeast  is going  to ...  have                                                               
fewer Representatives."                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON  responded that her district  is not the                                                               
only  one that  is  "losing  members"; all  the  rural areas  and                                                               
villages   are  seeing   shifts   in  population.     She   asked                                                               
Representative Gatto  to imagine how his  constituents would feel                                                               
if, like  in rural Alaska, their  representation disappeared with                                                               
no replacement.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  said, "All we're  doing is taking  the same                                                               
acreage  and drawing  squigglier lines  in different  directions;                                                               
but ... every  Representative has essentially the  same number of                                                               
constituents,  whether we  go to  46  or 48  or what."   He  said                                                               
Alaska  is   a  small  state  with   60  Representatives  serving                                                               
approximately 700,000 people.  Another  state might have over 100                                                               
Representatives, but  those 100-plus  are serving  10-20 million.                                                               
In  comparison,  it   is  possible  that  Alaska   has  too  many                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON asked  Representative Gatto  again how  he                                                               
thinks rural Alaskans would feel to have less representation.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  replied that  he does  not know  how people                                                               
are feeling in other states  that are losing Representatives.  He                                                               
indicated that people adjust, and he  said he is not certain that                                                               
"adjusting up is a benefit."                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   P.  WILSON   noted   that  it   is  easier   for                                                               
Representative  Gatto  to  appear before  all  his  constituents,                                                               
because he  does not have to  travel as far  to do so.   She said                                                               
she cannot do that, and she  asked him to take into consideration                                                               
- as a  matter of fairness - the ability  of constituents to meet                                                               
face to face with their Representatives.                                                                                        
8:26:00 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  noted  that  of  the  states  that  have                                                               
changed [representation],  19 have  reduced their numbers  and 12                                                               
have increased their  numbers.  He asked the bill  sponsor if she                                                               
has done any research behind the changes other states have made.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   P.  WILSON   said  some   states  have   changed                                                               
representation  to match  the growth  of their  population.   She                                                               
said one consideration  is whether or not  the districting layout                                                               
facilitates   the   Representative's    visitation   of   his/her                                                               
constituents.   Alaska  is so  big, and  the Constitution  of the                                                               
State  of Alaska  requires  the state  to  have   "socio-economic                                                               
groups of  like mind and  manner."   She said if  the legislature                                                               
does not chose  to increase its membership, the  court system may                                                               
step in and mandate that that be done.                                                                                          
8:28:00 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said when he  served 20 years ago, urban                                                               
districts  each   had  two   Representatives,  while   the  rural                                                               
districts  had just  one.   From  a  constituent and  legislative                                                               
point  of  view, having  dual  Representatives  was a  tremendous                                                               
advantage.   In  the 1960s,  the top  16 people  were elected  at                                                               
large from Anchorage.  In the  1970s, the city was quartered, and                                                               
each  of the  four districts  had four  Representatives.   In the                                                               
1980s,  those  four districts  were  divided  in half,  and  each                                                               
district had two Representatives.   Representative Gruenberg said                                                               
the  constitution  was  amended  after  that  to  provide  for  a                                                               
redistricting board.   He directed  attention to page 1,  line 12                                                               
of the  bill, which he  said is  the relevant section  related to                                                               
single member  districts.  He  recollected that before  that, the                                                               
size of the district was established by law.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG suggested  that Representative P. Wilson                                                               
consider  either  going  back  to dual  member  districts  or  to                                                               
provide  "that it  shall be  established by  law."   He said  the                                                               
latter  would allow  dual-member or  four-member districts,  or a                                                               
combination thereof  throughout the state.   He related  that the                                                               
advantage of  a dual  member district is,  for example,  that one                                                               
Representative can concentrate on  budget issues, while the other                                                               
works on  other issues.  He  indicated that the change  from that                                                               
system may  have been because of  a desire to make  each district                                                               
smaller; however,  he stated that  he is  not sure that  it makes                                                               
much difference whether a  legislator represents 16,000-17,000 or                                                               
twice  that  number.    He  said people  might  like  having  two                                                               
Representatives and two Senators in larger community boundaries.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON deferred to Mr. Harrison.                                                                              
8:33:06 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked Representative  P. Wilson if she has                                                               
taken advantage  of the redistricting computer  programs that are                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON deferred again to Mr. Harrison.                                                                        
8:33:47 AM                                                                                                                    
GORDON  HARRISON  told  the  committee that  he  was  the  former                                                               
executive  director  of  the  Alaska  Redistricting  Board.    In                                                               
response to Representative Johnson's  prior question, he said the                                                               
software for the 2010 redistricting  cycle has not been purchased                                                               
by the  state; it will not  be ready for another  year.  However,                                                               
he  noted  that information  from  the  Department of  Labor  and                                                               
Workforce  Development shows  what  will happen  to  some of  the                                                               
rural districts.                                                                                                                
8:34:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  related  that the  National  Council  of                                                               
State  Legislatures  (NCSL)  has  come up  with  computer  models                                                               
related to redistricting that are perhaps not official.                                                                         
MR. GORDON confirmed that [NCSL] has "dummy" numbers.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  remarked that  it is simple  to determine                                                               
"what  will happen  to  a  legislative district  if  you plug  in                                                               
MR. GORDON interjected, "If you have all the numbers running."                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON said, "You're  making the same assessments                                                               
... now, so you have dummy numbers."                                                                                            
MR.  GORDON   responded  yes,  but  noted   that  the  previously                                                               
mentioned  software costs  approximately  $10,000, and  "nobody's                                                               
purchased it yet."                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON reiterated  that NCSL  would run  a model                                                               
for the state.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON said she would check into it.                                                                             
8:36:04 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  HARRISON  continued  with  his testimony.    He  stated  his                                                               
enthusiastic   support  of   HJR   38.     He   said  he   thinks                                                               
Representative  P.  Wilson's  assessment   of  the  situation  is                                                               
correct.   He stated  that redistricting  without [HJR  38] would                                                               
create  huge  rural  districts  -   even  larger  than  they  are                                                               
presently.  He mentioned "population  numbers" and indicated that                                                               
the Department of  Labor and Work Force  Development has reported                                                               
and estimated [state] population of  700,000, which he said would                                                               
produce a district  of approximately 17,500 people.   However, he                                                               
said the  rural districts are  "way off  of that."   Mr. Harrison                                                               
proceeded  to give  examples  of various  districts  and how  far                                                               
short of  that number  they fall,  including:   Ketchikan, 3,000-                                                               
4,000 short;  the North Slope,  about 3,000 short;  Kodiak, 4,000                                                               
short; and Bristol Bay, 3,000 short.                                                                                            
MR.  HARRISON  stated that  the  only  way  to  make up  for  the                                                               
shortage in  one district is  by "cannibalizing  your neighbors."                                                               
He  predicted  that  District  5 in  Southeast  Alaska  would  be                                                               
cannibalized to  the point of  its disappearance..   He predicted                                                               
other districts in the state that  would disappear as a result of                                                               
this cannibalization.   Mr. Harrison said he thinks  that, as the                                                               
bill  sponsor  has said,  the  public  policy  issue at  hand  is                                                               
effective representation  in districts.   Some districts  will be                                                               
so  big, he  predicted,  that its  constituents  will never  meet                                                               
their  Representative,   and  legislators  will   find  competing                                                               
interests within  one district,  he said.   Effective campaigning                                                               
will be  impossible, since  it will be  too expensive  to travel.                                                               
He  characterized   the  boundaries  of  Senate   District  C  as                                                               
"preposterous," noting that it reaches  from Metlakatla up to the                                                               
MR. HARRISON concluded that under  HJR 38, district size would be                                                               
reduced   from  17,500   to  approximately   14,500,  and   as  a                                                               
consequence,  most  of  the  rural districts  would  be  able  to                                                               
maintain  themselves.   He opined  that the  proposed legislation                                                               
would  not fundamentally  impact  the nature  of the  legislative                                                               
process nor  would it disturb  the distribution of  power between                                                               
urban and rural areas.                                                                                                          
MR. HARRISON told Representative  Gruenberg that the problem with                                                               
multiple-member districts is that the  districts would have to be                                                               
twice as big if they have  two members, which would only compound                                                               
the problem.                                                                                                                    
8:41:44 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  HARRISON, in  response to  Representative Petersen,  said he                                                               
supports the  sponsor's proposal  to have 48  Representatives and                                                               
24 Senators, but said he would support even higher numbers.                                                                     
8:42:28 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON added  that the proposed  numbers would                                                               
keep the rural areas from losing [any more representation].                                                                     
8:43:00 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  HARRISON, in  response  to  Representative Gatto,  explained                                                               
that when he  said some districts may not exist,  he did not mean                                                               
that people would be left without  a district.  Instead, he said,                                                               
since  the  Anchorage  area is  expanding  so  rapidly,  existing                                                               
representation would  be directed  there, which would  change the                                                               
boundaries of districts in other parts of the state.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  questioned why the proposed  legislation is                                                               
not requesting a larger increase  of Representatives and Senators                                                               
if  the  bill   sponsor  believes  that  an   increase  would  be                                                               
MR. HARRISON  answered that for  one thing, greater  numbers than                                                               
the  resolution proposes  would create  the need  to build  a new                                                               
capitol.    He   said  he  thinks  the   resolution  proposes  an                                                               
incremental change  that would improve  democratic representation                                                               
in the  state for  many of its  residents.  He  said he  does not                                                               
think  that anybody  wants to  make  any radical  changes in  the                                                               
legislative  process.   He said  the cost  of campaigning  in the                                                               
current  districts  is  prohibitive.    He  opined  that  keeping                                                               
districts to a manageable size is a legitimate public policy.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  said  he  does  not  think  references  to                                                               
campaigning  should  "have a  play  in  this."    He said  he  is                                                               
considering  only  how  the  proposed  change  would  affect  the                                                               
public.    He said  he  thinks  the  public would  question  what                                                               
happened in 2010 that suddenly  necessitated the need for HJR 38.                                                               
He stated,  "I'm not  sure this  is the kind  of thing  that they                                                               
would look at favorably."                                                                                                       
MR. HARRISON  answered that that  may depend on where  the person                                                               
lives.    For  example,  someone living  in  Bethel,  Barrow,  or                                                               
Dillingham  may see  the wisdom  of HJR  38, while  perhaps those                                                               
living in the valley would not.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  said  the increase  in  legislators  would                                                               
necessitate  the increase  in meeting  space and  modification of                                                               
the capitol, which would cost a considerable amount of money.                                                                   
MR.  HARRISON  suggested  one  solution may  be  to  "invite  the                                                               
governor into  some nice  spacious quarters  in the  State Office                                                               
Building"  and turn  the third  floor currently  occupied by  the                                                               
governor into legislative office space.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON reiterated that the  subject of finance                                                               
could be addressed by Pamela Varni.                                                                                             
8:49:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG said  he  thinks what  Mr. Harrison  is                                                               
saying relates to tying the  legislature's hands through imposing                                                               
a 90-day session.   He said if there were  a few more legislators                                                               
then there  would be more  people to do the  work in the  90 days                                                               
and the job would be done better.   He asked Mr. Harrison if that                                                               
is what he is saying.                                                                                                           
MR. HARRISON  responded that that is  not what he is  saying, but                                                               
he agrees  with it.  He  said he thinks the  Senate would benefit                                                               
from having at least four more members.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  noted that  Mr. Harrison had  written a                                                               
major treatise  on the Constitution of  the State of Alaska.   He                                                               
said  Alaska's population,  budget, and  problems are  bigger and                                                               
more complicated than  they were when the state  was young, which                                                               
demands  that  the  legislature  consider  ways  to  function  as                                                               
effectively as possible.  He asked if Mr. Harrison concurs.                                                                     
MR. HARRISON  answered that that is  part of his thinking  but is                                                               
not  the main  impetus for  HJR  38.   The main  impetus for  the                                                               
proposed legislation, he opined, is  the fact that some districts                                                               
are  so  large now  that  they  are  not fairly  and  effectively                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  said he  is  trying  to emphasize  the                                                               
other issues that would be benefitted  from HJR 38, even in urban                                                               
MR.  HARRISON  said  urban  districts   would  benefit  from  the                                                               
proposed  resolution,  as  well, because  "even  their  districts                                                               
would be more manageable."                                                                                                      
8:53:44 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   P.  WILSON,   in   response  to   Representative                                                               
Gruenberg, confirmed that one of  the reasons she is proposing 24                                                               
Senators  and 48  Representatives,  is that  the present  capitol                                                               
would accommodate  that many additional  legislators.   She noted                                                               
that HJR 38 is a companion bill to [SJR 21].                                                                                    
8:54:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON directed attention  to three sets of charts                                                               
in the  committee packet [showing population  trends for election                                                               
districts in 2010],  and he noted that the  average population of                                                               
40 districts is listed as 15,673.                                                                                               
MR. HARRISON interjected,  "That was the ideal  district 10 years                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  directed attention to  a column on  one of                                                               
the charts showing  a difference from the average of  15,735.  He                                                               
offered his understanding  that that number is "less  the 100 off                                                               
of the ideal 2010."                                                                                                             
MR. HARRISON responded, "I think  that the ideal population under                                                               
this legislation would be 14,424."                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON explained that there  are three charts.  He                                                               
continued as follows:                                                                                                           
     One is 22  Senators, 44 election districts.   The other                                                                    
     one is  ... 46 election  districts, where it  says, "46                                                                    
     Eds" over  at the far --  and then ... the  other one's                                                                    
     labeled "48  leg," which  would be  24 Senators  and 48                                                                    
     members.   So, I'm trying  to figure  out if we  had an                                                                    
     ideal population  of 15,673,  and with 22  Senators and                                                                    
     44  House election  districts,  we  would have  15,735,                                                                    
     which is  the closest  number to what  we had  in 2010.                                                                    
     Can ...  you explain to  me why we wouldn't  be looking                                                                    
     at  that number?   I  mean, are  we just  talking about                                                                    
     well maybe in the  future we'll have population changes                                                                    
     and we want to take care of more, or...?                                                                                   
MR.  HARRISON   said  he  has   not  seen  the  table   to  which                                                               
Representative  Seaton  referred -  the  one  that analyzes  four                                                               
additional House districts.  He continued:                                                                                      
     I think that  you have to compare that  number with the                                                                    
     population  that we  expect in  these  districts.   ...                                                                    
     Ketchikan  looks like  it's having  a population  right                                                                    
     now  around 13,500,  so it's  still  off 1,500  people.                                                                    
     ...  I've  only looked  at  analysis  that shows  eight                                                                    
     additional  House  members  and how  that  changes  the                                                                    
     anticipated  impact from  redistricting  with an  ideal                                                                    
     population of  15,700.   ... I  think that  it probably                                                                    
     wouldn't save  some of the  rural districts,  and there                                                                    
     would   be   still   substantial  increase   in   their                                                                    
     geography.   And I  think if you're  going to  do four,                                                                    
     you might as well do  eight, because I don't think it's                                                                    
     that big  a difference in  terms of the  functioning of                                                                    
     the legislature or the space  requirements, and I think                                                                    
     that  it helps  ... keep  the status  quo in  the rural                                                                    
     areas, in terms of the geography of the districts.                                                                         
8:58:33 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  said  he  is trying  to  understand  that                                                               
underlying structure of the bill.  He continued as follows:                                                                     
     So, the  numbers, at 48  House districts, is  taken not                                                                    
     to maintain the same  legislator to constituent [ratio]                                                                    
     that  we  had in  our  previous  redistricting, but  to                                                                    
     maintain  the smallest  ... House  districts that  they                                                                    
     could stay in place  without redrawing those districts.                                                                    
     But all of the other  districts that are above that ...                                                                    
     we'd be carving  something out of those  and they would                                                                    
MR. HARRISON  said more districts  would be  made.  He  said "the                                                               
excess" would "come into another district."                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON concluded  that there is no  way, under HJR
38, to maintain the current  structure of districts, the smallest                                                               
districts could  be maintained while  all the  others surrounding                                                               
them could  be redistricted.  He  asked if that is  the intent of                                                               
choosing the number 48.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  answered yes.   She  noted, "At  every                                                               
single [U.S.]  Census since  we started,  there's been  a shift."                                                               
Keeping  the  number  of  legislators  as  is  will  not  prevent                                                               
districts  from changing.   She  said her  efforts are  to ensure                                                               
fairness to constituents  first and foremost, but  also to ensure                                                               
the system  is fair to  legislators.   She noted that  during her                                                               
first two  years as  a legislator,  her constituents  ranged from                                                               
Wrangell, Petersburg,  and Sitka, which had  [populations in each                                                               
area] ranging  from 2,000-8,000.  When  redistricting took place,                                                               
that district was  expanded in order to keep the  right number of                                                               
constituents  in   it,  which  meant   a  greater   expanse,  and                                                               
[populations  in  each area]  ranging  from  89 people  to  8,500                                                               
people.   She indicated that  it is  "pushing it pretty  thin" to                                                               
call   this   district   an   integrated   socio-economic   area.                                                               
Representative  P.  Wilson  said  in the  year  before  last  she                                                               
traveled  as a  legislator  over 90  times,  mostly in  Southeast                                                               
Alaska to see  her constituents, and she said that  does not even                                                               
include  charter  flights  or  ferry trips.    She  said  Senator                                                               
Kookesh's district is  the biggest in the U.S.  and contains more                                                               
than  half  the  school  districts   in  Alaska.    Those  school                                                               
districts have tremendous economic difference.                                                                                  
9:04:28 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN  suggested that the legislature  would be                                                               
addressing  the same  predicament 10  years from  now if  current                                                               
trends continue with migration from rural to urban areas.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON responded  that in  the last  50 years,                                                               
Alaska's population  has tripled in size.   She said, "I  hope we                                                               
would have that problem; that would be wonderful."                                                                              
9:05:41 AM                                                                                                                    
PAMELA  VARNI, Executive  Director,  Legislative Affairs  Agency,                                                               
directed attention  to the fiscal  note in the  committee packet,                                                               
dated  1/29/2010.   She said  funding would  be requested  in the                                                               
year 2013  for a  total of $6,140,000.   Thereafter,  the funding                                                               
requested would be  $4,470,000.  That would  encompass the salary                                                               
and per  diem for 12  additional legislators and would  allow for                                                               
34 staff  to legislators, additional support  staff, an attorney,                                                               
two legislative  information officers, a "help  desk" technician,                                                               
and one custodian.   Funding would also include the  cost to move                                                               
11 legislators and their families  and to relocate the additional                                                               
34  staff.   Ms.  Varni said  there would  need  to be  allowance                                                               
accounts for  the Senators and Representatives,  hook-up fees for                                                               
computers,  telephones, and  facsimile  machines,  and either  an                                                               
increase  in current  office space  or the  establishment of  new                                                               
offices  in  legislators'  districts.    Furthermore,  computers,                                                               
printers,  and facsimile  machines  would need  to be  purchased.                                                               
She  said  she thinks  the  amount  estimated for  equipment  and                                                               
reconstruction of existing facilities  is conservative.  She said                                                               
if a  decision was made to  construct a new building  or build an                                                               
addition to the  capitol, the $1.5 million dollars  would have to                                                               
be increased through a capital  appropriation.  Ms. Varni offered                                                               
to answer questions from the committee.                                                                                         
9:09:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  said the  committee  needs  to have  a                                                               
fiscal note  from the Division  of Elections reflecting  the cost                                                               
of putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot.                                                                            
9:09:49 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. VARNI,  in response to question  from Representative Johnson,                                                               
said it would require some  creativity to fit an additional eight                                                               
offices into the existing space of  the capitol.  She agreed with                                                               
Mr. Harrison that it  would be nice to have the  use of the third                                                               
floor.  She  mentioned that Representative Munoz is  working on a                                                               
bill  to  allow  building  a  state  office  building  along  the                                                               
CHAIR LYNN commented that if his  office was made any smaller, he                                                               
would have to stand up.                                                                                                         
9:11:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  offered his recollection that  moving the                                                               
governor  from   the  third  floor   of  the  capitol   had  been                                                               
unsuccessfully attempted in the past.                                                                                           
9:11:36 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. VARNI  responded that it  is written in statute  the governor                                                               
has space in  the capitol; therefore, it would  be the governor's                                                               
choice whether  or not to  move.   She said that  former Governor                                                               
Frank Murkowski  had looked  at moving over  to the  State Office                                                               
9:12:30 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked Ms. Varni if  she is in favor of a new                                                               
capitol building.                                                                                                               
MS. VARNI replied that it is  the will of the legislature and the                                                               
people  to  pass  HJR  38,  and then,  if  it  was  decided  that                                                               
additional space  was necessary,  the people  might want  to have                                                               
something  built that  makes  them  proud.   She  noted that  the                                                               
current  capitol  is  the  only  one  in  the  nation  not  built                                                               
originally as a capitol building.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO stated that he  supports a new capitol being                                                               
built in the Matanuska/Susitna area  where a majority of Alaskans                                                               
could drive  by and  see it.   He said  building a  capitol there                                                               
would support the proposed resolution.                                                                                          
9:15:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON commented that  she has not  heard many                                                               
people suggest  moving the capital of  the U.S. to the  center of                                                               
the country,  which she opined  "is about  the same thing."   She                                                               
said she lived  in a state in  the past where the  capital was in                                                               
the hub  of the state,  and it was  more difficult to  access the                                                               
legislators.  She said all legislators  may not be happy being in                                                               
Juneau,  but  they  are  much   more  accessible  and  have  less                                                               
9:16:28 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. VARNI,  in response to  Representative Petersen,  offered her                                                               
understanding  that the  building  that  Representative Munoz  is                                                               
proposing would be in the area referred to as the "sub port."                                                                   
MS. VARNI,  in response  to Representative  Seaton, said  she has                                                               
not seen  the aforementioned spreadsheets.   She said  the fiscal                                                               
note was compiled based solely upon the legislation.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  said he would  like an  estimate regarding                                                               
space cost related to each of the aforementioned spreadsheets.                                                                  
MS. VARNI said she would compile that information.                                                                              
9:20:16 AM                                                                                                                    
JIM BALDWIN,  Attorney at  Law, stated that  he is  testifying on                                                               
behalf of  himself.  He  related that  like Mr. Harrison,  he was                                                               
involved with the last redistricting  of the state, employed with                                                               
the Office of  the Attorney General and serving  as co-counsel to                                                               
the plaintiffs in  defending the plan in the  state court system.                                                               
Mr.  Baldwin stated  that although  he heartily  agrees with  the                                                               
testimony  of Mr.  Harrison, he  supports  HJR 38  for reasons  a                                                               
little bit  different from  those that have  been expressed.   He                                                               
explained that he  does not see HJR  38 so much as  a matter that                                                               
would  favor rural  areas of  the state,  but rather  sees it  as                                                               
having a more balanced application.                                                                                             
MR.  BALDWIN  emphasized the  importance  of  the federal  Voting                                                               
Rights Act to the state's  redistricting process.  He opined that                                                               
the  state will  probably  never  "get out  from  under" the  Act                                                               
because  the opt-out  provisions will  not work  for Alaska.   He                                                               
explained, "It seems  like every time we have  a redistricting we                                                               
have an objection,  and when you have an objection  you're in the                                                               
midst and  you're not ...  getting out."   He said he  thinks the                                                               
proposed legislation  would give  the [redistricting]  board more                                                               
options for solving the problem with the Voting Rights Act.                                                                     
MR.  BALDWIN  related  that  he is  familiar  with  the  software                                                               
programs to which  Representative Johnson referred.   He said the                                                               
programs make  the job  easier, but  can be  problematic, because                                                               
"the numbers push you around the  map," and often there are areas                                                               
left out  of the equation that  must be addressed.   He described                                                               
the last redistricting  effort in Anchorage as being  like a tube                                                               
of toothpaste:  only so much  of the population fit in that tube,                                                               
and  when   squeezed,  some  of   the  population  ended   up  in                                                               
Representative Gatto's district,  while some ended up  as part of                                                               
the   Valdez   district.     Redistricting   can   result  in   a                                                               
Representative representing  people from  urban and  rural areas,                                                               
he said.                                                                                                                        
9:24:24 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.   BALDWIN  reiterated   his   previous  points.     He   then                                                               
acknowledged that the legislature  must consider money issues and                                                               
the cost of campaigning.  He  said his experience showed him that                                                               
related litigation  was not about  political parties,  but rather                                                               
was about geographic region.   He opined, "That's what the battle                                                               
is, and that's what this helps alleviate."                                                                                      
9:25:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO expressed  disagreement with the illustrated                                                               
result of  Mr. Baldwin's squeezed  tube example.  He  then stated                                                               
that the system  currently in place has not changed  in 50 years,                                                               
and he asked Mr. Baldwin  if the permitted deviation in districts                                                               
is 10 percent.                                                                                                                  
MR. BALDWIN  said there  is a  permitted deviation  that Alaska's                                                               
courts have allowed to be expanded in certain circumstances.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO said  rural districts  comprised mostly  of                                                               
Native  Alaskans  would  become  less  effective  under  HJR  38,                                                               
because they are allowed a  10 percent deviation, and he surmised                                                               
that  urban  districts  would  have to  absorb  that  10  percent                                                               
deviation.   He said  that does  not appear  to be  a significant                                                               
problem.  He  asked Mr. Baldwin if he would  still support HJR 38                                                               
if, in  addition to changing  the number of legislators,  it also                                                               
proposed  to move  the capital  to a  new location.   He  said he                                                               
wants to know if Mr. Baldwin is  here because he does not want to                                                               
lose a district in Southeast Alaska.                                                                                            
MR.  BALDWIN  replied, "I  don't  have  a  dog  in any  of  those                                                               
fights."  He noted that he does live in Juneau.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO said  he has not found one  person who lives                                                               
in Juneau who wants the capital  moved.  He opined that "the rest                                                               
of us" who  don't live in Juneau  do not share that  opinion.  He                                                               
clarified that he wants to know  if Mr. Baldwin is supporting HJR
38 because he  really believes the resolution  will help equalize                                                               
representation or  because he  is trying to  keep the  capital in                                                               
9:28:36 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BALDWIN responded that he is  testifying in support of HJR 38                                                               
because he is extremely interested  in the political process.  He                                                               
offered his background, which included  working for the state for                                                               
27 years, a part of that  time working with the legislative legal                                                               
department.  He said he also worked  for a number of years in the                                                               
governmental  affairs  section in  the  Department  of Law  as  a                                                               
supervising    attorney.        He   recollected    that    three                                                               
"redistrictings"  occurred during  his tenure  as an  employee of                                                               
the state.  He  said he has been concerned for  a number of years                                                               
regarding  the  affect  of  the Voting  Rights  Act  on  Alaska's                                                               
process.  He  said he has become resolved to  the notion that the                                                               
state must  learn to live  with the  Act, and he  reiterated that                                                               
HJR 38 is  a good tool.   He stated that the issue  of whether or                                                               
not to move the capital is "not a sub rosa thing here with me."                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  asked  Mr.  Baldwin if  he  would  support                                                               
having 50 [Senators] and 100 [Representatives].                                                                                 
MR.  BALDWIN  answered that  he  does  not  know what  the  right                                                               
numbers would be,  but thinks this approach is  an authorized way                                                               
for  solving   the  problem  of   increasing  the  size   of  the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  recalled a "doughnut hole"  approach in the                                                               
past,  to  which the  court  objected.    He surmised  that  that                                                               
approach was a "very political structure."                                                                                      
MR. BALDWIN said [the "donut hole"] took place in the 1990s.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO suggested  that it is always  the courts who                                                               
redistrict the state.                                                                                                           
MR. BALDWIN said  he does not agree with that.   For example, the                                                               
last time  redistricting was done,  the court sent the  plan back                                                               
to the board, and the board  redrew the lines with direction from                                                               
the court.  He said he thinks the  court would be loath to say it                                                               
drew  the  lines,  although  the   board  may  feel  the  court's                                                               
9:32:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON said she is  shocked that the issue of a                                                               
capital move  was broached  in conjunction  with HJR  38, because                                                               
the proposed legislation has nothing to  do with that issue.  She                                                               
stated  that if  the number  of legislators  is not  changed, the                                                               
issue  of  lack  of  representation   for  Native  Alaskans  will                                                               
surface.   She  asked  Mr. Baldwin  what his  opinion  is on  the                                                               
9:33:15 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BALDWIN  responded that the  Justice Department will  look to                                                               
see  if  the state  is  "sliding  backwards."   He  continued  as                                                               
     If  you've established  a  certain  number of  majority                                                                    
     districts and a certain  number of influence districts,                                                                    
     the  first line  that they  will  impose is:   Are  you                                                                    
     maintaining those kinds  of districts?  ...  So, if you                                                                    
     have  the pressure  of populations  going  down in  the                                                                    
     areas where our Native  populations reside, then you're                                                                    
     staring   right  in   the  eyes   of  a   retrogression                                                                    
     situation,  I think,  if the  idea is  to maintain  the                                                                    
     status quo.                                                                                                                
MR.  BALDWIN said  if majority  districts  cannot be  maintained,                                                               
then the next  best thing is to go to  influence districts, which                                                               
means enough block  voting within a district that  Natives may be                                                               
able to  put forward  a candidate  that will  be successful.   He                                                               
continued as follows:                                                                                                           
     So, then,  if that's  where you're  going to  have more                                                                    
     influence districts,  then the  reason I'm  saying that                                                                    
     it's not just a rural problem,  that it can be an urban                                                                    
     problem, is that:   where are you going  to bring those                                                                    
     additional   populations   in  with   those   influence                                                                    
     districts?    And that's  where  it  affects the  urban                                                                    
     districts,  I  think.   ...  Or  there could  be  other                                                                    
     discreet  populations  that  can be  brought  in,  like                                                                    
     military  bases.    You  know,  the  possibilities  are                                                                    
     endless,  and  like I  said,  you  march around  a  map                                                                    
     looking  for these  chunks of  population,  and if  you                                                                    
     have smaller district sizes, you  can, I think, not end                                                                    
     the problem  - maybe  forestall it for  another decade,                                                                    
     maybe two more decades, maybe  50 years.  I don't know,                                                                    
     but I  think that  when you look  at those  charts that                                                                    
     you were  referring to earlier,  ask yourself  how many                                                                    
     of those jurisdictions operate  under the Voting Rights                                                                    
     Act when you consider their relevance.                                                                                     
9:35:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  asked how many times  since statehood the                                                               
state has redistricted without the involvement of the court.                                                                    
MR. BALDWIN answered none since his involvement in 1980.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON  added that research has  shown that the                                                               
court  has been  involved  in the  state's redistricting  efforts                                                               
every time, accept for the first time in 1960.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  asked if  there is any  anticipation that                                                               
adding the  proposed number  of legislators  will keep  the state                                                               
out of court.                                                                                                                   
MR. BALDWIN answered no.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON concurred.                                                                                               
MR. BALDWIN said  he thinks that when the  legislature changed to                                                               
the council  approach for redistricting over  "the old approach,"                                                               
it  was possibly  taking a  step  toward satisfying  more of  the                                                               
regional interest.   However,  he said  that without  changing to                                                               
"something that's  a much greater  number," he does not  know how                                                               
the  state will  make all  the identifiable  socio-economic areas                                                               
"satisfied with having their own districts."                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON questioned  how many  districts following                                                               
the Voting  Rights Act would  be affected.   He surmised  that it                                                               
might be only three.                                                                                                            
MR. BALDWIN responded that he  does not know without looking into                                                               
an answer.                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  PETERSEN  told  Representative  Johnson  that  he                                                               
thinks  the  borders  of  all  the districts  would  have  to  be                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON clarified  that he wants to  know how many                                                               
districts that  actually fall under  the Voting Rights  Act would                                                               
be  affected.   He indicated  that Anchorage,  Fairbanks, Juneau,                                                               
and the Matanuska/Susitna  Valley do not fall under the  Act.  He                                                               
said he  wants to know  "how many under  48 will fall  under that                                                               
versus under 40?"                                                                                                               
9:40:35 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  BALDWIN  agreed  that  that  is  the  "starting  point"  for                                                               
judging:  "Where  are they left under the new  plan as opposed to                                                               
where they were under the old plan?"                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  asked  where   he  can  get  information                                                               
regarding which districts fall under the Voting Rights Act.                                                                     
MR. BALDWIN  responded that "the preclearance"  is available from                                                               
the  Department of  Law,  most likely  in the  board  files.   He                                                               
added, "Everybody  weighed in on  it, and the  justice department                                                               
pre-cleared  what happened  even in  the first  go-around of  the                                                               
plan, but changes had  to be made as a result of  the court."  In                                                               
response to a follow-up question,  he offered further information                                                               
regarding how to interpret the preclearance information.                                                                        
9:42:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked:                                                                                                    
     Under  that,  is it  the  number  of districts  on  the                                                                    
     retrograde?   In other words,  if we expand  the number                                                                    
     of districts,  is [it] the  proportion of  districts or                                                                    
     is it  just the fact  that you  had three or  five that                                                                    
     were minority  districts before - minority  or majority                                                                    
     districts - and  you still have three or  five, even if                                                                    
     you increase  the number of  districts?  How  does that                                                                    
     work:   is it  just strictly  the number  or is  it the                                                                    
MR. BALDWIN said he does  not know without researching an answer.                                                               
He  said he  would  imagine  there is  a  lot  of precedent  with                                                               
redistricting in municipalities that are  covered by the Act.  He                                                               
said he thinks  he could get an answer  for Representative Seaton                                                               
fairly quickly.                                                                                                                 
9:43:41 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN  said he is not  going to close public  testimony.  He                                                               
said  the  bottom   line  is  figuring  out  what   is  best  for                                                               
constituents.  Another concern is  how HJR 38 may affect economic                                                               
development.   He said he would  like to receive more  input from                                                               
more  constituents.   He  thanked  Representative  P. Wilson  for                                                               
bringing forth HJR 38.                                                                                                          
9:45:56 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  said he hopes HJR  38 is not treated  as a                                                               
capital  move  bill.   He  said  the  bill  is not  about  losing                                                               
representation  from Juneau.    He said  there  are some  smaller                                                               
districts that  have "passed  the test  for representation."   He                                                               
related  that  he thought  it  was  interesting to  consider  the                                                               
philosophy of  maintaining the integrity  of districts  that have                                                               
been   approved   by  the   courts   in   the  state's   previous                                                               
redistricting.   He said  he would like  to hear  more discussion                                                               
regarding the possible impact of the numbers proposed in HJR 38.                                                                
9:47:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  said  answers to  the questions  asked                                                               
today would be forthcoming.                                                                                                     
9:47:46 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN announced that HJR 38 was held over.                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 HJR038A.pdf HSTA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
02 HJR 38 Sponsor Statement.pdf HSTA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
03 HJR38-LEG-COU-1-29-10.pdf HSTA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
04 HJR038-OOG-DOE-2-1-10.pdf HSTA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
05 HJR 38 Backup.pdf HSTA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
06 house 44 reps.pdf HSTA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
07 house reps 46 pg 2.pdf HSTA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
07-A projections with 46 Reps.pdf HSTA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
08 house 48 reps.pdf HSTA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM