Legislature(2009 - 2010)SENATE FINANCE 532

03/26/2010 01:30 PM Senate FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved Out of Committee 9 a.m. FIN Mtg.
Moved Out of Committee 9 a.m. FIN Mtg.
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
SENATE BILL NO. 92                                                                                                            
     "An Act  ratifying an interstate  compact to  elect the                                                                    
     President and  Vice-President of  the United  States by                                                                    
     national popular  vote; and  making related  changes to                                                                    
     statutes  applicable  to  the selection  by  voters  of                                                                    
     electors  for   candidates  for  President   and  Vice-                                                                    
     President of  the United  States and  to the  duties of                                                                    
     those electors."                                                                                                           
1:39:36 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Stedman introduced SB 92.                                                                                              
QUINN KENDALL, STAFF, SENATOR BETTYE DAVIS, discussed the                                                                       
     The  U.S.  Constitution   gives  each  state  exclusive                                                                    
     control  over  the  manner  of  awarding  each  state's                                                                    
     electoral  votes.  The   current  winner-take-all  rule                                                                    
     practiced by 48 states is  not in the constitution. The                                                                    
     fact that  Maine and Nebraska award  electoral votes by                                                                    
     Congressional district,  is a reminder that  electing a                                                                    
     president  is  a  state's right  issue,  and  does  not                                                                    
     require an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.                                                                             
     Under  the  National  Popular Vote  Interstate  Compact                                                                    
     bill, all the electoral  votes from the enacting states                                                                    
     would  be  awarded,  as a  bloc,  to  the  presidential                                                                    
     candidate who  receives the most  popular votes  in all                                                                    
     50 states  (and DC).  The bill  would take  effect only                                                                    
     when  enacted by  states possessing  a majority  of the                                                                    
     electoral votes - that is  270 of 538, enough electoral                                                                    
     votes to elect a President.                                                                                                
     During previous hearings the question has been raised                                                                      
     "Will a National Popular Vote be good for small                                                                            
    populated states like Alaska?"  The answer to this                                                                          
     question is emphatically 'yes,' it would be tremendous                                                                     
    for a state like Alaska.  And with your indulgence,                                                                         
     I'll briefly explain why.                                                                                                  
     Our relevance as a state in electing the President is                                                                      
     governed solely by whether we are "winnable" or "not"                                                                      
     to a candidate.  In other words, are we a                                                                                  
     "battleground" state, like Iowa, Florida, Ohio and New                                                                     
     Hampshire?  In those states, the vote for President,                                                                       
     are very close, and therefore candidates' allot                                                                            
    copious amounts of campaign resources to win those                                                                          
     states.  In Alaska there are no similar efforts taken                                                                      
     by candidates because we are not a closely contested                                                                       
     state.  In fact, Alaska has not been visited by a                                                                          
     presidential candidate since Kennedy and Nixon arrived                                                                     
     over 50 years ago.                                                                                                         
     Additional  evidence  supports  the  need  for  SB  92s                                                                    
     passage.   In  past elections  candidates have  won the                                                                    
     Presidency  without  winning  the  most  popular  votes                                                                    
     nationwide. This has  occurred in 4 of  the nation's 56                                                                    
     presidential  elections  (or,  1   in  7  of  the  non-                                                                    
     landslide elections).  In 2004,  a shift of  fewer than                                                                    
     60,000  votes in  Ohio  would  have defeated  President                                                                    
     Bush  despite his  substantial nationwide  lead of  3 ½                                                                    
     million votes.                                                                                                             
     In conclusion, SB 92s sole  purpose is to ensure that a                                                                    
     small populated state like ours  would have hundreds of                                                                    
     thousands of  votes that  are Winnable,  Important, and                                                                    
     Valuable to  a presidential candidate.  And ultimately,                                                                    
     whether its  campaign spending in Alaska,  or attention                                                                    
     being  paid   to  our  important  states   issues,  the                                                                    
     National Popular  Vote system is undeniably  better for                                                                    
1:43:44 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator Olson asked about the effect this legislation has                                                                       
on minority groups throughout the nation. Mr. Kendall                                                                           
responded that with this bill, each and every vote counts.                                                                      
Senator Huggins asked if the  function of the legislation is                                                                    
to  eliminate the  Electoral College.  Mr. Kendall  answered                                                                    
Senator  Huggins asked  what the  function of  the Electoral                                                                    
College  would  be  under   this  legislation.  Mr.  Kendall                                                                    
responded  that with  the Electoral  College, each  state is                                                                    
designated a  certain number of electoral  votes. Each state                                                                    
sends their electoral votes to  the winner of the most votes                                                                    
nationwide.  Senator Huggins  suggested  that  if the  total                                                                    
vote  count has  been  tallied, then  the Electoral  College                                                                    
would  exist as  a formality.  Mr. Kendall  agreed that  the                                                                    
Electoral College would be a formality.                                                                                         
1:46:18 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator Thomas  struggled with the distinction  this formula                                                                    
provides when compared to the current method.                                                                                   
Senator Olson understood that a  pool of states is joined by                                                                    
the compact. He concluded that  if Alaska joins the compact,                                                                    
then  electoral votes  are added  to the  pool of  compacted                                                                    
Co-Chair  Stedman asked  for an  explanation of  the compact                                                                    
along  with  a  list  of states  included.  He  asked  about                                                                    
marginalization for  Alaska. Mr. Kendall responded  that the                                                                    
compact  cannot be  enacted until  270  electoral votes  are                                                                    
met.  Currently  there  are  five  states  enacting  similar                                                                    
legislation: Hawaii,  Washington, Maryland, New  Jersey, and                                                                    
Illinois.  Many  people wonder  how  this  bill will  affect                                                                    
Alaska  as  electoral  votes  were  originally  designed  to                                                                    
represent  states  with  small populations.  He  noted  that                                                                    
Wyoming,  which is  also a  small state,  has three  and one                                                                    
half  times  more  power in  their  Electoral  College  vote                                                                    
compared  to their  population.  Florida  is inundated  with                                                                    
campaign visits  because they are  a battleground  state. He                                                                    
opined that the Electoral College  is not working for Alaska                                                                    
therefore   Presidential  Candidates   do  not   care  about                                                                    
campaigning here.                                                                                                               
1:50:46 PM                                                                                                                    
Senator Huggins  estimated that  the "best  guarantee Alaska                                                                    
has to  get a Presidential candidate  to visit is to  have a                                                                    
Presidential candidate."                                                                                                        
CAM   CARLSON,   SELF,   FAIRBANKS   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified in opposition to the  legislation. She opined that                                                                    
the  United States  does  not have  a  basic democracy,  but                                                                    
instead  a representative  republic. She  stressed that  the                                                                    
legislation eliminates  one of the country's  basic forms of                                                                    
RANDY   GRIFFIN,  SELF,   FAIRBANKS  (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified  in opposition  to  SB 92.  He  explained that  he                                                                    
likes the  Electoral College  system because  it accentuates                                                                    
state boundaries and rights. He  opined that state liberties                                                                    
were at risk  and the federal government has  taken too much                                                                    
power.  The  electoral  system  does  benefit  small  states                                                                    
because  we get  three electors  to match  the congressional                                                                    
delegation, which  he opined was  generous in  comparison to                                                                    
the population.                                                                                                                 
1:56:24 PM                                                                                                                    
RALPH  STEVENSON,  SELF,   ANCHORAGE  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
testified  in support  of SB  92. He  stressed the  need for                                                                    
legislation  that allows  each person's  vote to  count. The                                                                    
national popular  vote ensures that each  individual's voice                                                                    
is  heard in  a federal  Presidential election.  He believed                                                                    
that the bill  is right for Alaska and the  compact is right                                                                    
for our country.                                                                                                                
TRENT  ENGLAND,  SAVE  OUR STATE  PROJECT,  WASHINGTON  (via                                                                    
teleconference), testified  in favor of the  legislation. He                                                                    
noted that  the issue reaches  far beyond the  boundaries of                                                                    
each   state.   He   opined  that   presidential   elections                                                                    
recalibrate  politics every  four years.   He  discussed the                                                                    
interstate  compact,  which   he  deemed  extremely  fragile                                                                    
because it is not a change to the constitution.                                                                                 
TARA ROSS,  SELF, ANCHORAGE (via  teleconference), testified                                                                    
in  opposition  to  the  legislation.   She  stated  that  a                                                                    
nationwide  discussion  regarding  the  elimination  of  the                                                                    
Electoral College  is necessary.  Alaska could be  forced to                                                                    
award its  entire slate  of electors to  a candidate  who is                                                                    
not on  the ballot.  She cited further  inconsistencies that                                                                    
might skew election results.                                                                                                    
2:03:15 PM                                                                                                                    
JIM GILLEF, SELF,  ANCHORAGE (via teleconference), testified                                                                    
in support  of the  legislation. He  believed that  the bill                                                                    
allows the  majority to rule  and pulls the  states together                                                                    
increasing state's rights.                                                                                                      
STEPHAN  PETERSON,  SELF,  ANCHORAGE  (via  teleconference),                                                                    
testified  in  support   of  SB  92.  He   stated  that  the                                                                    
constitution  is   an  evolving  and  living   document.  He                                                                    
stressed that it is time for every citizen to be counted.                                                                       
2:05:29 PM                                                                                                                    
DEBBIE  JOSLIN,  EAGLE  FORUM ALASKA,  DELTA  JUNCTION  (via                                                                    
teleconference),    testified   in    opposition   to    the                                                                    
legislation. She  opined that SB  92 would  eliminate rights                                                                    
for Alaskans  to have a  meaningful part in the  election of                                                                    
the  President. Alaska's  electors are  pledged to  vote for                                                                    
the person who wins the national popular vote.                                                                                  
ROB   CARLSON,   SELF,   FAIRBANKS   (via   teleconference),                                                                    
testified in  opposition of the  legislation. He  noted that                                                                    
the bill would undermine Alaska's three electoral votes.                                                                        
2:09:17 PM     AT EASE                                                                                                        
2:09:37 PM     RECONVENE                                                                                                      
BARRY FADEM, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL  POPULAR VOTE, testified in                                                                    
support  of  the  legislation.  He  discussed  the  minority                                                                    
issue.  The  National  Association for  the  Advancement  of                                                                    
Colored People  (NAACP) supports  the national  popular vote                                                                    
proposal  because African  Americans in  battleground states                                                                    
represented 72  percent in  1976, which  fell to  34 percent                                                                    
for  the  last  election.  Hispanic  groups  face  the  same                                                                    
dilemma.  Issues for  states  without proper  representation                                                                    
due to  their size  are never discussed  during presidential                                                                    
campaigns. Six  of the states are  red and six are  blue. He                                                                    
believed that a  vote cast in Juneau should  be as important                                                                    
as a vote  cast in Miami, Florida. The size  of the state is                                                                    
irrelevant. Whether  or not  it is  a battleground  state is                                                                    
the determining  factor. He spoke  to the argument  that the                                                                    
legislation  eliminates  the  Electoral College.  He  stated                                                                    
that  the  allegations  were false.  He  believed  that  the                                                                    
Electoral College is  a rubberstamp for the vote  in each of                                                                    
the  fifty states.  The founding  fathers  decided in  their                                                                    
immanent  wisdom to  give state  legislatures  the power  to                                                                    
decide  how   to  award  the  electoral   votes.  Under  the                                                                    
legislation's proposal,  state action determines  the method                                                                    
of the  election process. All reform  regarding Presidential                                                                    
elections begins at the state level.                                                                                            
2:13:52 PM                                                                                                                    
REX GOOLSBY,  SELF, TOK  (via teleconference),  testified in                                                                    
opposition of  the legislation.  The compromise  of creating                                                                    
the  Electoral  College  was for  the  protection  of  small                                                                    
states. He  opined that  the passage  of the  proposal would                                                                    
benefit the states with large population centers.                                                                               
2:19:23 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Stedman mentioned one zero fiscal note.                                                                                
Mr.  Kendall thanked  the committee  for the  opportunity to                                                                    
testify on behalf  of SB 92. He stated that  the goal of the                                                                    
legislation was to benefit the entire country.                                                                                  
SB  92  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   Committee  for  further                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB92 Press[1].pdf SFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
SB 92
SB92 Sponsor Statement[1].pdf SFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
SB 92
SB 92 Sectional[1].pdf SFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
SB 92
SB 264 2010 HB 159 2003 backup.pdf SFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 159
SB 264
SB 264 2010 Payments for Examinations.pdf SFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
SB 264
SB 264 2010 Sectional.pdf SFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
SB 264
SB 264 2010 Sponsor Statement.pdf SFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
SB 264
SB92 Letters of Support.pdf SFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
SJUD 2/19/2010 1:30:00 PM
SB 92
SB 264 CFAB Mar 2003 Ltr HB 159.pdf SFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
HB 159
SB 264
SB 264 Support Letter Huppert 2010.pdf SFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
SB 264
SB 92 RNC letter of support.pdf SFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
SB 92
SB92 Letters of Support[1].pdf SFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
SB 92
SB 92 National Popular Vote 2010.pdf SFIN 3/26/2010 1:30:00 PM
SB 92