Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/12/2010 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved SB 92 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
           SB  92-U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION COMPACT                                                                        
1:37:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR FRENCH announced  the consideration of SB 92.  The bill was                                                               
heard previously.                                                                                                               
1:38:15 PM                                                                                                                    
GRANT W.  HUNTER, representing himself,  stated opposition  to SB
92 because  he can think  of no reason  that persons who  are not                                                               
entitled to vote in Alaska  elections should be allowed to decide                                                               
how Alaska  casts its electoral votes  in presidential elections.                                                               
Furthermore,  he said  it  isn't proper  for  one legislature  to                                                               
decide how electoral votes shall  be used in future elections. In                                                               
each  election this  decision should  be made  by a  vote of  the                                                               
people entitled  to vote in  Alaska elections and subject  to the                                                               
electoral procedures provided by law in this state.                                                                             
MR.  HUNTER  said he  is  familiar  with  the argument  that  the                                                               
majority of  the people should  elect the President,  but Article                                                               
II  and Amendment  12 of  the U.S.  Constitution provide  for the                                                               
electoral votes  to make  that choice. Since  1860 it's  been the                                                               
practice in all  but two states that the popular  vote in a given                                                               
state  determines how  the electors  shall be  chosen. Those  two                                                               
states  divide their  electoral votes  by Congressional  district                                                               
and  in  practice  they  wouldn't  have  made  a  difference,  he                                                               
MR.  HUNTER  cited  and  disputed  different  arguments  for  the                                                               
national   popular  vote   including  better   representation  of                                                               
minority  views  and  the 2000  presidential  election  when  the                                                               
national popular  vote was  not the same  as the  electoral vote.                                                               
What it  really comes down to,  he said, is that  the legislature                                                               
has  no business  giving away  the  votes of  Alaskans in  future                                                               
elections. It  may even violate  the Voting Rights Act.  He noted                                                               
that he submitted an email supporting his views.                                                                                
1:45:27 PM                                                                                                                    
PAT  STIDMAN, representing  himself,  stated support  for SB  92.                                                               
Ours is a transforming democracy  that is becoming more available                                                               
to each  and every citizen,  and to protect this  each individual                                                               
vote must  be counted, he  said. There  have been times  when the                                                               
will of the  people has been overridden because  of the Electoral                                                               
College system, he  warned. I urge you to pass  this bill and get                                                               
on with democracy, he concluded.                                                                                                
1:47:39 PM                                                                                                                    
RALPH STEVENSON, representing himself,  stated support for SB 92.                                                               
The national  popular vote issue is  simple and goes to  the core                                                               
of this nation's foundation. It is  one vote for one person. When                                                               
the country was  young, rural areas needed  assistance to achieve                                                               
voting parity with  the population centers, but  that's no longer                                                               
the case. The  national popular vote will ensure  just one thing,                                                               
and that  is that every  voter will  be important and  every vote                                                               
will be  equal. Never would a  president be elected who  does not                                                               
reflect the  most votes cast  by the populous. Finally,  he said,                                                               
in  this  time  of  hyper-partisanship, this  proposal  enjoys  a                                                               
strong  spectrum of  bipartisan  support. "It's  only right  that                                                               
Alaska take up this measure," he concluded.                                                                                     
1:49:37 PM                                                                                                                    
JEFF WORTHY, representing  himself, stated support for  SB 92 and                                                               
the national popular vote. He  opined that the electoral vote and                                                               
that of  the Electoral  College should  mirror the  national vote                                                               
for president.  He thanked the  committee for taking the  time to                                                               
look at this issue.                                                                                                             
CHAIR FRENCH noted  that Barry Fadem testified  previously but he                                                               
was available if the committee had questions for him.                                                                           
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked  Mr. Fadem his opinion  of the concern                                                               
that some people  have that this wouldn't help  small states like                                                               
MR.  FADEM,  President,  National Popular  Vote,  replied  Alaska                                                               
receives  no  attention in  a  presidential  election because  it                                                               
isn't closely  divided; it has nothing  to do with the  fact that                                                               
it has  just three  electoral votes. It's  that Alaska  and other                                                               
small  electoral states  are not  closely divided.  They are  not                                                               
battleground  states. The  purpose of  the national  popular vote                                                               
proposal is to make  a vote in Alaska just as  valuable as a vote                                                               
in a closely divided, battleground  state, like New Hampshire and                                                               
Ohio. He  pointed out that  the 12 non-battleground  small states                                                               
have a  combined voter  population of 11.5  million and  Ohio has                                                               
about that same  number of voters. These 12 small  states have 40                                                               
electoral votes among them, whereas  Ohio has 20 electoral votes.                                                               
In  the 2008  election Ohio  received 62  of 300  election visits                                                               
while  the 12  small states,  including Alaska,  received just  2                                                               
visits. He reiterated that if  the national popular vote proposal                                                               
passes, a  vote in  Alaska would  become just  as important  as a                                                               
vote cast in Ohio.                                                                                                              
CHAIR FRENCH closed public testimony.                                                                                           
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  moved to report  SB 92 from  committee with                                                               
individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s).                                                                         
1:53:33 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  objected. He said  he's tried to stay  open, but                                                               
after a lot  of thought he's concluded that this  isn't the right                                                               
thing go do.  We should stay focused  on the fact that  this is a                                                               
republic and  that this  proposal would change  Alaska to  a more                                                               
populist democratic  structure. I  prefer to maintain  a republic                                                               
democratic focus, he said.                                                                                                      
SENATOR COGHILL said  he's also looked at  the statistical issues                                                               
and has come to the  conclusion that this would diminish Alaska's                                                               
vote capacity  almost by half. "I  don't see where we  gain and I                                                               
see where  we probably  lose more of  the Tenth  Amendment issues                                                               
that protect us as a nation  of states." He acknowledged that the                                                               
winner  take all  issue caused  him  pause, but  even under  this                                                               
compact it  would still be  the winner  take all. It's  just that                                                               
Alaskans would  surrender their vote  to somebody else.  In fact,                                                               
the Alaska popular vote may be overruled under this proposal.                                                                   
SENATOR  COGHILL pointed  out that  Alaska  assign its  electoral                                                               
votes by  a popular vote to  Alaskans who assign the  winner take                                                               
all. The  winner take all on  this compact would be  no different                                                               
so we don't gain anything. "I'm  going to stick with what I think                                                               
is probably the best federalist approach  and that is a nation of                                                               
states.  We're certainly  a nation  of  people, but  even in  the                                                               
Preamble to  the Constitution it's  'We the people of  the United                                                               
States'" and  I want  to keep it  that way so  I'm going  to vote                                                               
'No' on this bill," he concluded.                                                                                               
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said  he isn't sure how he'd vote  if he had                                                               
to push  the up  or down  button today but  there have  been good                                                               
arguments on both  sides, which is healthy for  the democracy. He                                                               
clarified that  his motion  is to  move the bill  on to  the next                                                               
committee for further  debate. He said he'll give the  bill a "No                                                               
Recommendation"  as  it  leaves  the  committee,  but  he  firmly                                                               
believes that moving it on is the best course of action.                                                                        
1:57:08 PM                                                                                                                    
A  roll call  vote was  taken. The  motion to  report SB  92 from                                                               
committee  passed  on  a  3:1  vote  with  Senator  Wielechowski,                                                               
Senator  McGuire  and  Senator  French  voting  yea  and  Senator                                                               
Coghill voting nay.                                                                                                             
CHAIR FRENCH  announced that on a  vote of 3:1, SB  92 moves from                                                               
the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                        

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