Legislature(2015 - 2016)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

02/03/2016 01:30 PM Senate JUDICIARY

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Audio Topic
01:36:34 PM Start
01:37:40 PM Confirmation Hearings
01:50:42 PM SB157
01:55:21 PM SJR15
02:24:05 PM SCR4
02:37:32 PM HB93
02:59:49 PM Confirmation Hearings
03:00:24 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
Public Members to the Select Committee on
Legislative Ethics
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Moved SB 157 Out of Committee
-- Testimony <Invited & Public> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
            SJR 15-CALL FOR US COUNTERMAND CONVENTION                                                                       
1:55:21 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MCGUIRE announced the consideration of SJR 15.                                                                            
1:55:47 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BILL  STOLTZE, Alaska  State Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska,                                                              
sponsor of SJR 15, introduced himself.                                                                                          
1:56:04 PM                                                                                                                    
DANIEL  GEORGE,   Staff,  Senator   Bill  Stoltze,  Alaska   State                                                              
Legislature,  Juneau, Alaska,  introduced  himself and  summarized                                                              
the  reason the  committee  was  hearing both  SJR  15  and SCR  4                                                              
today. He suggested starting with SJR 15.                                                                                       
SENATOR  STOLTZE explained  that SJR  15 is a  vehicle to  address                                                              
the  issue  of  federal overreach.  He  opined  that  it  empowers                                                              
states  with  the power  that  the  founders envisioned  when  the                                                              
Republic was established.                                                                                                       
CHAIR  MCGUIRE   asked  how  many   states  have   passed  similar                                                              
legislation  and how  many  are needed  [to  pursue a  countermand                                                              
constitutional convention.]                                                                                                     
SENATOR STOLTZE deferred to Mr. George.                                                                                         
1:58:56 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GEORGE  said he misplaced the  list but there are a  number of                                                              
supporting  letters in the  packets from  states that have  passed                                                              
or are  considering similar  legislation. Under  Article V  of the                                                              
Constitution  of  the  United States,  two-thirds  of  the  states                                                              
would  be   required  to   propose  a  single-issue,   countermand                                                              
amendment convention.  The specific  text is  within the  bills to                                                              
prevent  any   kind  of  runaway   convention.  Upon   receipt  of                                                              
applications from  34 state legislatures, Congress  would call the                                                              
convention  within  60  days.  Once   the  convention  is  called,                                                              
specific  initiatives  to countermand  specific  federal  actions,                                                              
statutes, or decisions  could be proposed. Those would  have to be                                                              
approved by three-fifths of the states.                                                                                         
SENATOR STOLTZE  described the concept as simple.  "It's providing                                                              
for the  Tenth Amendment  powers that the  states should  have and                                                              
that have  been eroded  through a  lot of  executive fiat  by both                                                              
democratic  and Republican presidents."  He added  that this  is a                                                              
tool for  states that  has a  high threshold  but, "I don't  think                                                              
it's  a weapon  that'll be  drawn  except in  self-defense by  the                                                              
CHAIR MCGUIRE commented  that most of the committee  has signed on                                                              
as co-sponsors.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR STOLTZE  stressed the importance have the  motivations for                                                              
the  legislation  a  matter  of  public  record.  Many  interested                                                              
Alaskans have  been involved but  it's difficult to get  people to                                                              
testify during the work day, he said.                                                                                           
CHAIR MCGUIRE noted  that Mike Coons signed up to  testify on both                                                              
pieces of legislation.                                                                                                          
2:03:03 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  clarified that  he is  not a co-sponsor  and                                                              
is  very  concerned  that  this  process  would  allow  states  to                                                              
overturn  decisions  of  the judicial  branch  of  government.  "I                                                              
think there  have been periods of  time where the majority  of the                                                              
people would  have willingly  kept very  - what  we can  look back                                                              
now,  controversial   decisions  by  the  Supreme   Court.  Racial                                                              
segregation  as an  example." The  courts  are supposed  to be  an                                                              
unbiased  arbiter of  the law  and this  gives state  legislatures                                                              
the  ability  to  overturn judicial  decisions.  "It  concerns  me                                                              
greatly  that you  have legislative  branches  interceding in  the                                                              
judicial branch," he said.                                                                                                      
SENATOR STOLTZE offered  his belief that many people  in the state                                                              
feel the  converse about a  trespass by  the courts on  many state                                                              
CHAIR  MCGUIRE  said  Senator  Wielechowski   brings  up  a  valid                                                              
argument and  it's the challenge  to the countermand  movement. On                                                              
the other  hand, the constitution is  supposed to be a  living and                                                              
breathing document  that reflects social and  political movements.                                                              
She said  she believes  that people  that live  in states  and the                                                              
people  that  represent  them  are   closest  to  how  people  are                                                              
feeling. "Some  of those notions  we may  not like," but,  "on the                                                              
other hand,  the issue  of states having  more control  over their                                                              
lands  is huge."  For example,  it would  be much  easier for  the                                                              
State of Alaska  to solve its budget  deficit if it owned  more of                                                              
the land  within the boundaries of  the state. She also  cited the                                                              
King  Cove  road  as  a  searing  example  of  how  out  of  touch                                                              
Washington, D.C. is with life in Alaska.                                                                                        
She said both sides  of this issue are valid, "but  this notion is                                                              
appealing to  me because I  think that there  is a point  that our                                                              
forefathers envisioned  that we would  all collectively  come back                                                              
together...and  reflect  on  some   of  these  things  and  decide                                                              
whether or not there is room for change."                                                                                       
2:08:38 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COSTELLO   asked  who  from   Alaska  would  go   to  the                                                              
countermand  amendment  convention,  and what  happens  until  the                                                              
threshold number of states sign on.                                                                                             
MR.  GEORGE explained  that the  procedures  for who  goes to  the                                                              
convention  from each state  is outlined  in SCR  4. It  creates a                                                              
delegate credential  committee, which would select  the delegates.                                                              
He noted that  under this bill, the delegate  credential committee                                                              
would expire on the 1st day of the 30th legislature.                                                                            
He clarified  that the purpose of  a countermand convention  is to                                                              
countermand an  action, not to create  new law. They  are specific                                                              
to an  issue or  decision that  can garner  the support  of three-                                                              
fifths of the  legislatures in the U.S. to ratify.  Following that                                                              
approval,  the measure  is  returned to  Congress.  "So there's  a                                                              
lengthy process here, with checks," he said.                                                                                    
SENATOR COSTELLO  asked how likely  it is that this  will actually                                                              
take place.                                                                                                                     
2:12:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STOLTZE replied  it will  be a long  journey. Even  after                                                              
the  first  step it  will  be  more difficult  than  getting  five                                                              
people on the Supreme  Court to change a law in  the Constitution,                                                              
he said.                                                                                                                        
MR.  GEORGE  added  that  this is  different  than  the  Electoral                                                              
College in  that these  delegates are  specifically bound  and can                                                              
be removed for cause.                                                                                                           
SENATOR  COSTELLO asked  if  he reviewed  the  discussions of  the                                                              
framers  of the  Constitution when  forming  this option,  because                                                              
the  process of  making laws  wasn't  intended to  be easy.  "What                                                              
were the values being talked about?"                                                                                            
2:14:25 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GEORGE replied  it's important to remember that  Article V was                                                              
part of  the U.S.  Constitution from  the start.  He said  the U.S                                                              
Constitution has been  amended 27 times so it's an  avenue for the                                                              
people   to  effect   the   working   of  their   government.   He                                                              
acknowledged  that  the  process  for  the  countermand  amendment                                                              
convention is somewhat  uncharted so some of it  is theoretical in                                                              
2:15:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MCGUIRE  asked, "Is there anyone  in the room  that wouldn't                                                              
want to  attend if you  knew there was  an opportunity  to reflect                                                              
on  issues  like   this?"  She  expressed  appreciation   for  the                                                              
questions  from  Senator  Wielechowski and  Senator  Costello  and                                                              
opined that this is a conversation worth considering.                                                                           
2:17:06 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL said  it's a very high hurdle to  get 34 states to                                                              
agree  on any  issue.  He disagreed  with  the  comparison to  the                                                              
Supreme  Court  and  "hair  on fire"  moment  for  the  people  to                                                              
coalesce around  a single  idea. However,  it's important  to have                                                              
the tool  in place  and this lays  out the  rules. "This  is using                                                              
Article V the way it was intended," he said.                                                                                    
CHAIR  MCGUIRE maintained  that it  was  the states  that led  the                                                              
home-grown idea  that slaves should  be emancipated; it  wasn't an                                                              
issue  of  the  federal government.  She  also  commented  on  the                                                              
initiative and  referendum process.  It was very  controversial in                                                              
1995 but the result  is that the fabric of society  has changed in                                                              
remarkable and progressive  ways. "It's not any  more radical than                                                              
this," she concluded.                                                                                                           
2:22:17 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  said he appreciates  the sentiments  and the                                                              
efforts of the  sponsor, but the history of nullification  in this                                                              
country is  long and  ugly. This  Republic was  set up  to protect                                                              
people  and the  Supreme  Court  often issues  unpopular  opinions                                                              
various  groups. While  some good  may  come out  of the  proposed                                                              
process,  it's  easy to  envision  a  different outcome  when  the                                                              
pendulum swings,  he said and cited  the Second Amendment  and Roe                                                              
v.  Wade.  He  closed  emphasizing  that  this  is  not  the  best                                                              
approach for  the state or  the country  to take; there  are other                                                              
established means.                                                                                                              
2:23:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MCGUIRE held SJR 15 in committee.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Resume-Gary J Turner 2016.pdf SJUD 2/3/2016 1:30:00 PM
Turner Bio Updated Nov 2015.pdf SJUD 2/3/2016 1:30:00 PM
CSHB 93.pdf SJUD 2/3/2016 1:30:00 PM
HB 93
fiscalNote DOA CSHB 93.pdf SJUD 2/3/2016 1:30:00 PM
HB 93
fiscalNote DOC CSHB 93.pdf SJUD 2/3/2016 1:30:00 PM
HB 93
Sectional Analysis CSHB 93.pdf SJUD 2/3/2016 1:30:00 PM
HB 93
Conner Thomas Resume.pdf SJUD 2/3/2016 1:30:00 PM
CS SCR 4.pdf SJUD 2/3/2016 1:30:00 PM
CS SJR 15.pdf SJUD 2/3/2016 1:30:00 PM
fiscalNote SCR 4.pdf SJUD 2/3/2016 1:30:00 PM
fiscalNote SJR 15.pdf SJUD 2/3/2016 1:30:00 PM