Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

02/18/2010 08:00 AM House STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 115(STA) Out of Committee
Moved CSHJR 38(STA) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
        HJR 38-CONST. AM: INCREASE NUMBER OF LEGISLATORS                                                                    
[Not  on  the recording,  but  reconstructed  from the  committee                                                               
secretary's log notes, was the following:]                                                                                      
CHAIR LYNN  announced that the  next 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.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  reviewed  the resolution.   She  noted                                                               
that  Representative Seaton  had an  amendment prepared  to which                                                               
she does not object.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON moved  to adopt  Amendment 1,  labeled 26-                                                               
LS1323\A.1, Cook, 2/15/10, which read as follows:                                                                               
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REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG objected for discussion purposes.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON spoke to Amendment 1.                                                                                     
8:31:36 AM                                                                                                                    
[Recording begins again here.]                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON noted that  the original fiscal note, dated                                                               
1/29/10, shows  a 2016 total  of $4,470,000, while the  total for                                                               
2016 shown in  the new fiscal note, dated  2/16/10, is $2,342,000                                                               
- nearly half the amount of the original fiscal note.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  removed his  objection to  Amendment 1.                                                               
There being no further objection, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                      
8:32:26 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON explained that through  the adoption of                                                               
Amendment 1, the  proposed bill now calls  for fewer legislators,                                                               
which would  result in  a reduction  in the  total of  the fiscal                                                               
note,  because   it  would  not   be  necessary   to  reconstruct                                                               
legislative chambers  or hire as many  staff.  She said  not only                                                               
would the overall  cost of running the legislature  be lower, but                                                               
the districts would remain about  the same size as they currently                                                               
are.   In response  to Representative  Gatto, she  clarified that                                                               
she meant  square miles of  each district would remain  about the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO said  he does  not know  how that  could be                                                               
8:34:11 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN closed public testimony.                                                                                             
8:34:39 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  directed attention  to information  in the                                                               
committee  packet,  regarding   population  trends  for  election                                                               
districts  in 2010,  and noted  that the  average population  per                                                               
election  district,  from  2000  U.S. Census  data,  was  15,673.                                                               
Under the  proposed bill, as  amended, the number of  people each                                                               
House  district   would  represent   would  average   15,735,  or                                                               
approximately 50 more people in  each election district.  He said                                                               
some election  districts will  change in  size, and  new election                                                               
districts  will  be  added  to areas  where  the  population  has                                                               
expanded - predominately the Matanuska/Susitna  area.  He said it                                                               
is difficult  to predict  the changes  that will  be forthcoming.                                                               
He explained the reason he offered  Amendment 1 was that it would                                                               
be a way  to keep the election districts as  close as possible to                                                               
their current populations.                                                                                                      
8:37:07 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON said the areas  losing population would                                                               
remain about the same as  they are currently, while areas growing                                                               
in  population would  actually gain  another Representative.   In                                                               
response to a question from  Representative Gatto, she said it is                                                               
true  that   areas  gaining   population  would   get  additional                                                               
representation no  matter what the legislature  decides regarding                                                               
the proposed legislation.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked then what the impetus for HJR 38 was.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON said the  push for this  legislation is                                                               
an attempt  to be fair  to all constituents and  legislators, and                                                               
to make  it possible for  all the citizens  of the state  to make                                                               
contact with their legislators.                                                                                                 
8:40:06 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO questioned why  Representative Wilson is not                                                               
proposing a greater number of  legislators if she is striving for                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  responded  that she  is  trying to  be                                                               
8:40:44 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN  offered his understanding that  when the                                                               
committee discussed HJR 38 at  a previous hearing, it was brought                                                               
up that  one of the reasons  for the proposed legislation  was to                                                               
avoid the  possibility of the  State of Alaska finding  itself in                                                               
violation of  the Voting Rights  Act of  1965, [as it  relates to                                                               
the protection of large minority concentrations].                                                                               
8:41:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON cited  language in the  Constitution of                                                               
the State of Alaska, Article  6, Section 6, regarding legislative                                                               
apportionment, which read as follows:                                                                                           
     Each house district shall be formed of contiguous and                                                                      
     compact territory containing as nearly as practicable                                                                      
     a relatively integrated socio-economic area.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  stated that  as districts  get bigger,                                                               
the state is no longer keeping  them within the bounds of Article                                                               
6, Section 6.  She said if  the legislature does not pass HJR 38,                                                               
the courts may  take over, which she said they  already have done                                                               
"in all but one of the state's reapportionments."                                                                               
8:42:58 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked if  any studies  have been  done that                                                               
show "the  difficulties" addressed by  the bill sponsor,  as well                                                               
as model solutions from other states.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON responded, "We don't  have any studies,                                                               
but  there has  been  much  debate on  it,  and  the courts  have                                                               
already complained about it in the past."                                                                                       
8:45:19 AM                                                                                                                    
KARLA   SCHOFIELD,  Deputy   Director,  Accounting,   Legislative                                                               
Administrative Services, Legislative  Affairs Agency, in response                                                               
to Representative Gruenberg, said the  two-page fiscal note is as                                                               
complete as  it can  be; it's ultimate  accuracy would  depend on                                                               
how the redistricting lines were drawn.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  asked   where  additional  legislators                                                               
would be housed if HJR 38 is enacted.                                                                                           
MS. SCHOFIELD  responded that  that would  depend upon  the House                                                               
and   Senate   Rules    committees   and   Legislative   Council.                                                               
Notwithstanding  that,  she   suggested  the  following  options:                                                               
adding more  desks to the  chambers, reconfiguring the  Thomas B.                                                               
Stewart  Legislative  Office  Building, decreasing  the  size  of                                                               
existing  legislative   offices,  and  asking  the   governor  to                                                               
consider  moving  from the  capitol  to  another location.    The                                                               
latter  would  entail an  expense  for  the executive  branch  in                                                               
supplying  another   building.    In  response   to  a  follow-up                                                               
question,  she  said  if  the  offices were  to  fit  within  the                                                               
capitol, it  would be necessary  to hire  architectural services.                                                               
She said Accounting tried to  leave surplus money in the figuring                                                               
of the fiscal note "so that ...  any option that came up we could                                                               
at  least  move on."    In  response  to further  questions,  she                                                               
stated, "... If  we really did put an addition  on the capitol or                                                               
did something like that, it would  be a capital appropriation.  I                                                               
think the money  that's in there would be sufficient  to at least                                                               
make a good start on it, ...  it would just depend on what option                                                               
legislators chose."                                                                                                             
8:48:30 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. SCHOFIELD, in response to  Representative Gatto, said she has                                                               
worked for the Alaska State  Legislature since 1982.  In response                                                               
to a  follow-up question,  she said  she cannot  recollect having                                                               
ever heard a  legislator complain that he/she has  an office that                                                               
is  too large.   In  response to  a question  from Representative                                                               
Gatto as  to whether  she has  heard complaints  from legislators                                                               
that their  offices are  too small,  she stated,  "Actually, most                                                               
legislators seem to be very  accommodating, understanding how the                                                               
capitol building is constructed."                                                                                               
CHAIR LYNN  remarked that he  would like  to have an  intern, but                                                               
there is no room in his office for one.                                                                                         
8:49:17 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  SCHOFIELD, in  response to  a  question from  Representative                                                               
Petersen,  said currently  some staff  has assigned  parking, and                                                               
those parking assignments would have  to be relinquished in order                                                               
to  provide  enough  parking  for  additional  legislators.    In                                                               
response to  a question from Representative  Gatto, Ms. Schofield                                                               
said other  needs for  consideration, for  example, a  child care                                                               
facility,  would be  the purview  of the  Senate and  House Rules                                                               
Committees and Legislative Council.                                                                                             
8:51:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG moved to report  HJR 38, as amended, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying fiscal  notes.  [The  two out of three  fiscal notes                                                               
in  the  committee  packet  that  would  accompany  the  proposed                                                               
resolution are dated 2/9/10 and 2/16/10.]                                                                                       
8:51:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO objected.                                                                                                  
8:51:51 AM                                                                                                                    
A roll call  vote was taken.   Representatives Wilson, Gruenberg,                                                               
Petersen, Seaton,  and Lynn voted  in favor of reporting  HJR 38,                                                               
as  amended,  out  of  committee.    Representative  Gatto  voted                                                               
against it.   Therefore,  CSHJR 38(STA) was  reported out  of the                                                               
House State Affairs Standing Committee by a vote of 5-1.                                                                        

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
05 HB115-OOG-DOE-2-12-10.pdf HSTA 2/18/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 115