Legislature(2015 - 2016)CAPITOL 106

03/19/2015 08:00 AM House STATE AFFAIRS

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08:32:30 AM Start
08:32:52 AM HCR4|| HJR14
09:10:33 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
           HCR 4-US COUNTERMAND CONVENTION DELEGATES                                                                        
           HJR 14-CALL FOR US COUNTERMAND CONVENTION                                                                        
8:32:52 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR KELLER  announced that the only order  of business was                                                               
the combined hearing of:                                                                                                        
HOUSE  CONCURRENT RESOLUTION  NO. 4,  Relating to  the duties  of                                                               
delegates selected by  the legislature to attend  a convention of                                                               
the  states  called under  art.  V,  Constitution of  the  United                                                               
States, to  consider a countermand amendment  to the Constitution                                                               
of the  United States; establishing  as a joint committee  of the                                                               
legislature  the Delegate  Credential Committee  and relating  to                                                               
the duties of the committee;  providing for an oath for delegates                                                               
and alternates  to a countermand amendment  convention; providing                                                               
for  a  chair and  assistant  chair  of the  state's  countermand                                                               
amendment delegation; providing  for the duties of  the chair and                                                               
assistant chair;  providing instructions  for the selection  of a                                                               
convention  president; and  providing specific  language for  the                                                               
countermand amendment  on which the state's  convention delegates                                                               
are authorized by the legislature to vote to approve.                                                                           
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION  NO. 14, Making application  to the United                                                               
States Congress to  call a convention of the states  to propose a                                                               
countermand amendment  to the Constitution  of the  United States                                                               
as provided under art. V,  Constitution of the United States; and                                                               
urging the legislatures  of the other 49 states to  make the same                                                               
8:33:28 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ moved  to  adopt  the proposed  committee                                                               
substitute  (CS)  for HJR  14,  Version  29-LS0249\E, as  a  work                                                               
draft.   There  being  no  objection, Version  E  was before  the                                                               
8:34:12 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR KELLER stated that  the committee was working off [the                                                               
original  version]  of  HCR  4.    He  said  he  had  provided  a                                                               
compendium   entitled,   "State  Initiation   of   Constitutional                                                               
Amendments:   A Guide for  Lawyers and Legislative  Drafters," by                                                               
Robert G. Natelson, which he  opined was helpful in understanding                                                               
issues related  to Article  V of the  Constitution of  the United                                                               
8:34:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SHIRLEY  HUGHES,  Alaska  State  Legislature,  as                                                               
prime sponsor, introduce  HJR 14 and HCR 4.   She stated that the                                                               
proposed  legislation  would  address  federal  overreach.    She                                                               
talked about  a time in  history when  the states had  more power                                                               
than  the federal  government and  being a  state legislator  was                                                               
held in higher regard than being  a member of U.S. Congress.  She                                                               
indicated  that the  Articles of  Confederation had  given states                                                               
too  much power,  thus  the  U.S. Constitution  had  aimed for  a                                                               
balance    between   the    state   and    federal   governments.                                                               
Representative Hughes  questioned "who  among us"  would disagree                                                               
that the federal  government had grown too  powerful and intruded                                                               
into Alaska's affairs too often,  which resulted in Alaska facing                                                               
barriers to its  economic growth.  She opined that  "we" had come                                                               
together  across the  political  spectrum,  unified over  matters                                                               
such as a road  [from King Cove to Cold Bay via  a section of the                                                               
Izembek  National Wildlife  Refuge],  the opening  of the  Arctic                                                               
National  Wildlife Refuge  (ANWR), and  off-shore drilling.   She                                                               
said the effort to bring  about a convention was grassroots, with                                                               
no big names or money behind it.                                                                                                
8:38:16 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES   stated  that  Article  5   in  the  U.S.                                                               
Constitution  had never  been implemented  fully.   She indicated                                                               
that past  efforts to  bring about a  convention had  failed, but                                                               
each future effort learned from  the past; therefore, she thought                                                               
the  current  effort   might  be  successful.     She  said  "the                                                               
countermand piece" was  nonpartisan in nature; its  intent was to                                                               
balance the  powers between  state and  federal government.   She                                                               
stated  that  whenever  there  had  been  an  effort  to  call  a                                                               
convention in the past, attorneys  were involved, but none of the                                                               
past  efforts  got  far  enough  to be  tested  in  court.    She                                                               
indicated  that  the  attorney general  looked  at  the  proposed                                                               
legislation  and  nothing  was  found to  be  problematic.    She                                                               
further  indicated that  the convention  would  address a  single                                                               
issue.  She said there  had been opposition letters received from                                                               
people outside of Alaska concerned  about "the dismantling of the                                                               
U.S. Constitution if we were to  convene a convention."  She said                                                               
the proposed legislation would not allow that to happen.                                                                        
8:40:20 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES  stated that if the  U.S. Constitution were                                                               
amended, it  would give  states veto  power over  certain federal                                                               
decisions.   She said  it would be  a "high bar"  for that  to be                                                               
allowed  to happen:   three-fifths  of the  states would  have to                                                               
agree, within  an 18-month window,  that one item was  not within                                                               
their best  interest.   She said  that was  not likely  to happen                                                               
often.  Further, she noted that  it would be addressing issues of                                                               
broad appeal.   She said HJR  14 was the call  to Congress, while                                                               
HCR  4  contained  instructions  to  delegates  and  the  precise                                                               
structure  for the  convention to  occur, including  the language                                                               
for the amendment itself.                                                                                                       
8:42:01 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE  CHAIR  KELLER  noted   that  Michael  Schechter,  assistant                                                               
attorney  general with  the Department  of Law  was available  to                                                               
testify, and he spoke again of the aforementioned compendium.                                                                   
8:42:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES explained  that at  least 34  states would                                                               
need to  call for a  convention, which  was what Alaska  would be                                                               
doing through  passage of  the proposed  HJR 14,  in order  for a                                                               
convention  to convene;  a minimum  of  26 states  would need  to                                                               
attend  the  convention,  agree  on the  language,  and  send  it                                                               
forward for ratification;  and a minimum of 38  states would have                                                               
to  ratify the  language.   Once the  language was  ratified, the                                                               
mechanism  of veto  power  for the  states  would require  three-                                                               
fifths of  the states, which  was 30  states, to agree  within an                                                               
18-month window.   If the three-fifths quota was  met, that would                                                               
make  the decision  in  question coming  from  Congress null  and                                                               
8:45:09 AM                                                                                                                    
STUART  KRUEGER,  Staff,  Representative Shelley  Hughes,  Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature, on  behalf  of  Representative Hughes,  prime                                                               
sponsor, highlighted the  changes that were made in  Version E of                                                               
HJR 14.  He cited new language  on page 1, lines 9-11, which read                                                               
as follows:                                                                                                                     
     WHEREAS the state's  right and duty to  provide for the                                                                  
     utilization, development,  and conservation  of natural                                                                    
     resources  for the  maximum benefit  of the  people has                                                                    
     been  continually  infringed   on  by  various  federal                                                                    
     agencies; and                                                                                                              
MR. KRUEGER  explained that  the purpose of  the language  was to                                                               
include  a  wider scope  of  instances  of overreach  by  federal                                                               
agencies and  a reference to  the powers and  responsibilities of                                                               
the  state,  as  provided  in   Article  8,  Section  2,  of  the                                                               
Constitution of the State of Alaska.                                                                                            
MR. KRUEGER paraphrased  the "BE IT RESOLVED"  and two subsequent                                                             
"FURTHER RESOLVED" portions  of HJR 14, located on  page 2, lines                                                             
19-29, which read as follows:                                                                                                   
          BE IT RESOLVED that, under art. V, Constitution                                                                     
     of  the United  States,  the  Alaska State  Legislature                                                                    
     directs the  United States Congress  to call  a single-                                                                    
     issue convention  of the states, called  a "countermand                                                                    
     amendment   convention,"  for   the  sole   purpose  of                                                                    
     deciding  whether  the proposed  countermand  amendment                                                                    
     should  be  sent back  to  the  state legislatures  for                                                                    
     ratification; and be it                                                                                                    
          FURTHER   RESOLVED    that   the    Alaska   State                                                                  
     Legislature  directs  the  United  States  Congress  to                                                                    
     convene the countermand  amendment convention within 60                                                                    
     days after the date it  receives the 34th call for that                                                                    
     convention from state legislatures; and be it                                                                              
          FURTHER    RESOLVED    that    this    application                                                                  
     constitutes  a  continuing  application  in  accordance                                                                    
     with art.  V, Constitution of the  United States, until                                                                    
     at least two-thirds of the  legislatures of the several                                                                    
     states  have applied  for a  similar convention  of the                                                                    
     states; and be it                                                                                                          
8:47:15 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. KRUEGER  explained that HCR  4 would  serve as a  document to                                                               
bind  the  legislature and  its  delegates.    He said  it  would                                                               
provide  "sidebars" establishing  what  the  delegates could  do.                                                               
Further,  it would  establish a  credentialed joint  committee in                                                               
the legislature that would select the delegates.                                                                                
8:47:58 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ  stated  that  [the language  of  HCR  4,                                                               
beginning  on  page   1,  line  12,  through  page   2,  line  6]                                                               
encapsulated that  which would be  effected under HJR 14  and HCR
4.  In particular, she highlighted  the list of that which could,                                                               
under the  proposed legislation,  be nullified and  repealed, [as                                                               
seen on page 2, lines 2-5, of HCR 4], which read as follows:                                                                    
     a federal statute,  executive order, judicial decision,                                                                    
     regulatory decision by a  federal government agency, or                                                                    
     government mandate  imposed on  the states by  law that                                                                    
     adversely affects the interests of the states                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  VAZQUEZ  opined that  the  power  of the  federal                                                               
government had been  immense over the last several  decades.  She                                                               
said one  example of  federal power  had to  do with  the example                                                               
given  in  HJR   14,  on  page  1,  lines  7-8:     "the  federal                                                               
government's  recent denial  of and  refusal to  work with  state                                                               
officials  on the  construction of  a lifesaving  road from  King                                                               
Cove to Cold  Bay".  She said when weather  conditions were poor,                                                               
people living  in King Cove and  in need of emergency  care could                                                               
not get to  a hospital.  She  opined that the denial  of the road                                                               
was unconscionable and a prime example of federal overreach.                                                                    
8:51:20 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE  CHAIR  KELLER ventured  that  although  it seemed  like  an                                                               
insurmountable   hurdle   to   bring   about   a   constitutional                                                               
convention, examples  such as  that which  Representative Vazquez                                                               
stated, plus  "the bludgeoning  budget debt that  we have  in the                                                               
U.S.," may override partisanship and  drive 38 states to "jump on                                                               
board."    He  said  that  was  why  it  was  important  to  have                                                               
legislation in  place and  begin the  discussion.   He emphasized                                                               
that the issue was not partisan.                                                                                                
8:52:33 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES   indicated  that   [Article  V]   of  the                                                               
Constitution  was put  in place  for  the purpose  of checks  and                                                               
balances; however, it had never  really been utilized.  She said,                                                               
"This  mechanism  would  allow  us  to do  it."    She  said  the                                                               
accountability of Congress  that would be required  by the states                                                               
was something  that had  been missing.   She  gave an  example of                                                               
when the mechanism might have  been exercised, which was when the                                                               
No Child Left Behind  Act was put in place.   She noted that that                                                               
was  enacted by  a Republican  President, but  there was  not one                                                               
state happy with it  because the Act did not work.   She said she                                                               
thought  38 states  would have  agreed that  the Act  was not  in                                                               
their best  interest.  She  emphasized the nonpartisan  nature of                                                               
the  proposed legislation  which,  she opined,  was an  important                                                               
means by which to keep the federal government from overreaching.                                                                
VICE CHAIR KELLER opened public testimony on HJR 14 and HCR 4.                                                                  
8:54:48 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE   COONS,   National    Director/Alaska   Director,   Citizen                                                               
Initiatives (CI),  stated that CI  was a  nonpartisan, grassroots                                                               
effort.  He said the  executive director, Charles Kacprowicz, was                                                               
from North  Carolina, and coordinators  and other members  of the                                                               
board were  from Georgia  and Texas.   He  thanked Representative                                                               
Hughes for taking on the legislation.                                                                                           
MR. COONS  stated that  there are  38 energy-producing  states in                                                               
the  nation, and  those states  had been  impeded by  the federal                                                               
government for  too long.   He said  the President of  the United                                                               
States  vetoed Congress  to stop  Keystone and  had, through  The                                                               
Wildness  Act,  tried  "to  steal another  22  million  acres  of                                                               
Alaska."   He  said  some  of the  most  "blue"  states, such  as                                                               
Delaware, Maryland,  California, and  Oregon, have  been affected                                                               
by  the Environmental  Protection  Agency (EPA)  in  the form  of                                                               
federal  overreach, as  had  areas  of Alaska  from  the Gulf  of                                                               
Alaska  to Barrow.   He  talked about  the increasing  numbers of                                                               
states that were introducing  similar legislation, including nine                                                               
states that were filing.                                                                                                        
8:57:42 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  COONS  ventured this  tool  would  require a  huge  learning                                                               
curve,  and  indicated  that  items   to  address  would  be  the                                                               
Wilderness Act  and the Antiquities Act.   He said an  average of                                                               
50  percent  of  all  the  states west  of  the  Mississippi  was                                                               
federally  owned  land.    He  said, "We  can  get  west  of  the                                                               
Mississippi,  ...  maybe  except  for California  and  maybe  not                                                               
Oregon, but  we can also pick  up the southern states,  as well."                                                               
He opined that  "the anti-Second Amendment" had been  going on in                                                               
the country for  far too long.  He said  a simple amendment could                                                               
repeal the National Firearms Act of  1934, the Gun Control Act of                                                               
1968, and the [Child Gun Safety  and Gun Access Prevention Act of                                                               
2013], the latter  of which he opined "makes adults  over 18 into                                                               
children, because they can't own  a handgun until they're 21, and                                                               
yet  they can  join the  military."   He said  the No  Child Left                                                               
Behind Act  of 2001 and  the Patriot Act  would be other  Acts to                                                               
8:59:35 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  COONS  offered an  example  of  how  a resolution  read,  by                                                               
reading  from  [a  one-page handout  included  in  the  committee                                                               
packet for HJR 14, which  began:  "Whereas the Federal Government                                                               
passage of  the 1968 Gun Control  Act..."].  He talked  about the                                                               
ease  of  transmitting  information   and  ideas  between  states                                                               
without   violating  Article   I,   Section  10,   of  the   U.S.                                                               
VICE CHAIR KELLER  asked Mr. Coons to review how  many states had                                                               
"considered this."                                                                                                              
MR.   COONS  answered   currently  nine   states  had   submitted                                                               
applications.    He  added,  "New   Mexico  has  just  filed  the                                                               
application  process only,  but the  other ones  are also  filing                                                               
9:02:04 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  asked  for  clarification  as  to                                                               
which state was in the most advanced stage of consideration.                                                                    
MR.  COONS answered  North Dakota,  which had  passed legislation                                                               
out  of  its House  that  was  currently  being heard  in  Senate                                                               
committee(s).    He  indicated   his  expectation  was  that  the                                                               
legislation would pass out of  both bodies by the following week.                                                               
In response to a follow-up question,  he said CI began its effort                                                               
in 2014,  and increased  that effort in  2015, with  radio shows,                                                               
teleconferences, and traveling representation to many states.                                                                   
9:04:14 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR KELLER asked how many Article V initiatives existed.                                                                 
MR.  COONS  recommended articlevcaucus.com,  a  web  site run  by                                                               
Senator Lundberg of  Colorado.  Further, he  listed other groups,                                                               
including:   Balanced Budget Amendment Task  Force, Convention of                                                               
States,  Compact for  America, and  a political  action committee                                                               
(PAC) in  California related  to the  Citizens United  v. Federal                                                             
Election Commission court  decision and the First  Amendment.  He                                                             
said, "We  are the only one  that has a delegate  resolution that                                                               
defines   the  convention;   that   defines   the  delegates   as                                                               
ambassadors   to  the   state   legislatures;   that  defines   a                                                               
preapproved amendment from each state."                                                                                         
9:05:52 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR KELLER asked Michael  Schechter whether he thought the                                                               
Founding Fathers  intended Article  V to  be "very  difficult" or                                                               
intended it to be used.                                                                                                         
9:06:26 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL SCHECHTER, Assistant  Attorney General, Natural Resources                                                               
Section,  Civil Division  - Anchorage,  Department of  Law (DOL),                                                               
answered  that Article  V contained  both  the regular  amendment                                                               
process, which had been used 27  times, as well as the convention                                                               
process.   He said he  thought the Founding Fathers  intended the                                                               
Constitution  to  be an  "overarching  document  that is  amended                                                               
carefully and  rarely," and that  most law would be  derived from                                                               
Congress, as  the legislative branch  of government.  He  said he                                                               
did  not  know  that  the   Founding  Fathers  intended  for  the                                                               
convention process never to be used,  but said it seemed to be at                                                               
least  "coequal  with the  congressional  institution  of ...  an                                                               
amendment process."   Mr. Schechter said the  bigger question for                                                               
the Department of  Law was the issue of  whether a constitutional                                                               
convention could be limited to a  single subject.  He said he was                                                               
not a constitutional  scholar, and the issue was  one the country                                                               
had not  had to act upon;  therefore, he said the  department did                                                               
not know how that question would  be resolved.  He indicated that                                                               
Representative Hughes'  and Mr.  Coons' belief  regarding setting                                                               
up  sideboards  for  the  delegation   and  naming  the  specific                                                               
amendments  to  be considered  in  a  convention in  [concurrent]                                                               
legislation was  "an absolutely valid legal  theory"; however, he                                                               
stated his belief  that the theory that once  called a convention                                                               
may  consider whatever  amendments it  chose, was  equally valid.                                                               
He  suggested  that one  possible  perception  by some  regarding                                                               
lawyers  was  that  they  could   always  see  both  sides.    He                                                               
reiterated that  without past history  of such a  convention, the                                                               
country had  not "had reason to  make a determination one  way or                                                               
the other"; therefore, this was a realm of the unknown.                                                                         
9:10:12 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR  KELLER again spoke of  the aforementioned compendium.                                                               
He thanked Mr. Schechter.                                                                                                       
[HCR 4 and HJR 14 were held over.]                                                                                              

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01a HJR14 Draft Proposed Blank CS Ver E.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
HJR 14
01b HJR14 ver W.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
HJR 14
02 CS HJR14 Summary of Changes Proposed Draft Ver E.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
HJR 14
03 HJR14 Sponsor Statement.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
HJR 14
04 HJR14 Support Document Charles Kacprowicz Commentary.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
HJR 14
05 HJR14 Support Document, Louisiana.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
HJR 14
06 HJR14 Support Document, New Hampshire.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
HJR 14
07 HJR14 Support Document, New Mexico Rep. Herrell.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
HJR 14
08 HJR14 Support Document, New Mexico.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
HJR 14
09 HJR14 Support Document, North Dakota Rep. Fehr.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
HJR 14
10 HJR14, HCR4 Support Document - emails.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
HJR 14
11 HJR14 Support Document, Countermand Amendment Text.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
HJR 14
12 HJR14 and HCR4 OPPOSING emails.PDF HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
HJR 14
13 HJR14-LEG-SESS-03-18-15.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
HJR 14
01 HCR4 Ver H.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
02 HCR4 Sponsor Statement.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
03 HCR4 Sectional Analysis.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
04 HCR4 Support Document Charles Kacprowicz Commentary.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
05 HCR4 Support Document, Louisiana.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
06 HCR4 Support Document, New Mexico Rep. Herrell.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
07 HCR4, HJR14 Support Document - emails.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
08 HJR14 and HCR4 OPPOSING emails.PDF HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM
09 HCR4-LEG-SESS-03-18-15.pdf HSTA 3/19/2015 8:00:00 AM