This page is no longer used please use www.akleg.gov
28th Legislature(2013-2014)

Committee Minutes


HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS
Feb 06, 2014

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

	                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE
February 6, 2014
8:08 a.m.

MEMBERS PRESENT

Representative Bob Lynn, Chair
Representative Wes Keller, Vice Chair
Representative Lynn Gattis
Representative Shelley Hughes
Representative Doug Isaacson
Representative Charisse Millett
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins

MEMBERS ABSENT

All members present

COMMITTEE CALENDAR

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 22
Requesting the United States Congress to call a convention of
the states to propose amendments to the Constitution of the
United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal
government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal
government, and limit the terms of office of federal government
officials; and urging the legislatures of the other 49 states to
request the United States Congress to call a convention of the
states.

- MOVED HJR 22 OUT OF COMMITTEE

HOUSE BILL NO. 274
"An Act relating to public hearings on initiatives and referenda
scheduled to appear on the ballot; and providing for an
effective date."

- HEARD & HELD

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 17
Proposing amendments to the Constitution of the State of Alaska
relating to the Alaska permanent fund, establishing the earnings
reserve account, relating to the permanent fund dividend, and
requiring the permanent fund dividend be at least equal to the
amount that would be calculated under current law.

- HEARD & HELD

PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION

BILL: HJR 22
SHORT TITLE: FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) T.WILSON

01/21/14 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS
01/21/14 (H) STA, FIN
02/06/14 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106

BILL: HB 274
SHORT TITLE: HEARINGS ON REFERENDA
SPONSOR(s): RULES

01/24/14 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS
01/24/14 (H) STA, JUD
02/06/14 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106

BILL: HJR 17
SHORT TITLE: CONST AM: GUARANTEE PERM FUND DIVIDEND
SPONSOR(s): GARA

04/03/13 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS
04/03/13 (H) STA, JUD, FIN
02/06/14 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106

WITNESS REGISTER

REPRESENTATIVE TAMMIE WILSON
Alaska State Legislature
Juneau, Alaska
POSITION STATEMENT: As sponsor, introduced HJR 22.

MICHAEL P. FARRIS, Head
Convention of States (COS);
Chancellor
Patrick Henry College
Purcellville, Virginia
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified during the hearing on HJR 22.

TAYLOR HANCOCK, Student
Tri Valley High School
Healy, Alaska
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified during the hearing on HJR 22.

ZABRINA BYFUGLIEN, Student
Tri Valley High School
Healy, Alaska
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified during the hearing on HJR 22.

NICOLE MACMASTER, Student
Tri Valley High School
Healy, Alaska
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HJR 22.

ISABELLA SAXE, Student
Tri Valley High School
Healy, Alaska
POSITION STATEMENT: Covered opposing views of constitutional
conventions and responses to them during the hearing on HJR 22.

CHRISTINE HUTCHISON
Kenai, Alaska
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HJR 22.

DAVID EICHLER
North Pole, Alaska
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HJR 22.

SEYMOUR MILLS
Sterling, Alaska
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to HJR 22.

TOM BUZARD
Juneau, Alaska
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HJR 22.

DON BRAND, Alaska Legislative Liaison
Convention of States (COS)
Juneau, Alaska
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HJR 22.

MIKE COONS
Palmer, Alaska
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on behalf of Citizen's Initiative
during the hearing on HJR 22.

REPRESENTATIVE LES GARA
Alaska State Legislature
Juneau, Alaska
POSITION STATEMENT: As sponsor, introduced HJR 17.

RICK HALFORD
Chugiak, Alaska
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HJR 17.

ACTION NARRATIVE

8:08:02 AM

CHAIR BOB LYNN called the House State Affairs Standing Committee
meeting to order at 8:08 a.m. Representatives Keller, Isaacson,
Gattis, Hughes, Kreiss-Tomkins, and Lynn were present at the
call to order. Representative Millett arrived as the meeting
was in progress.

HJR 22-FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

8:08:52 AM

CHAIR LYNN announced that the first order of business was HOUSE
JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 22, Requesting the United States Congress
to call a convention of the states to propose amendments to the
Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints
on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of
the federal government, and limit the terms of office of federal
government officials; and urging the legislatures of the other
49 states to request the United States Congress to call a
convention of the states.

8:09:09 AM

REPRESENTATIVE TAMMIE WILSON, Alaska State Legislature, as
sponsor, introduced HJR 22. She presented the sponsor
statement, which read as follows [original punctuation
provided]:

It is the solemn duty of the states to protect the
liberty of its people, particularly for the
generations to come, to propose amendments to the
Constitution of the United States through a convention
of the states under article V to place clear
restraints on these and related abuses of powers.

Article V, U.S. Constitution states: "The Congress,
whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it
necessary, shall propose amendments to this
Constitution, or, on the application of the
legislatures of two thirds of the several states,
shall call a convention for proposing amendments,
which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents
and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when
ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the
several states, or by conventions in three fourths
thereof as the one or the other mode of ratification
may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no
amendment which may be made prior to the year one
thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner
affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth
section of the first article; and that no state,
without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal
suffrage in the Senate."

By calling a convention of states, we can stop the
federal spending and debt spree, the power grabs of
the federal courts, and other misuses of federal
power. The current situation is precisely what the
Founders feared, and they gave us a solution we have a
duty to use.

8:11:21 AM

REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON said it seems like the interference of
the federal government with state affairs is occurring with
increasing regularity, in matters ranging from resources to
businesses. She said the options are to continue to do nothing
or to send a message to the federal government that it has
overstepped its powers. She said 34 states would have to
[submit applications for the same issue] and 38 would need to
ratify an amendment. She said she has heard one concern is that
it would be a runaway convention with numerous amendments
passed, but she opined that that would not be a problem,
because, for example, of the time it takes 40 legislators to
agree on a single issue. She said it took years for
Representative Millett "to get something done that was clearly
the responsibility of the federal government." She stated that
it will take Alaska years to undue all the regulations imposed
by the federal government. She said the situation closest to
home for her had to do with miners dredging and "all of a sudden
people come like they're ... ready to shoot you down out of
nowhere for what?" She said her answer is to not let anything
like that happen again, but instead to protect Alaskans from
federal overreach. She opined that Alaska does not need
Washington, D.C., to dictate how the state takes care of its
environment and correctly runs its businesses.

8:14:47 AM

CHAIR LYNN offered his understanding that there is other similar
legislation; he asked the bill sponsor how HJR 22 differs.

8:15:13 AM

REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON offered her understanding that in the
past, when trying "to do resolutions like this and get people
together, ... other states ... have put together resolutions
that are very different from each other." She explained that
legislation calling a convention of states has to be written and
adhered to specifically. She related that about 14 others
states have already done so. She said, "There are other ways to
do this same thing, like the balanced budget amendment, but
that's a very specific amendment that there would be a
convention for. This one would be for anything that has to do
with federal overreach." She said the states would be able to
come together however they decide to put their delegates
together. She added, "It would not be the same subject as I
believe the other resolution is."

8:16:19 AM

REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON, in response to the chair, related that
the names of the other states, along with their resolutions, are
listed in the committee packet, and include Arizona, Florida,
Idaho, Kansas, and New Mexico.

8:16:56 AM

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER thanked the bill sponsor for bringing
forward HJR 22. He indicated that he would have similar
legislation before the committee. He talked about the history
and record related to changes to the Constitution. He opined
that the ability of the people to change the U.S. Constitution
is significant.

8:18:35 AM

CHAIR LYNN asked if there is any possibility of "combining the
two in some way."

REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON answered no. She explained that the
resolutions have to be "as close as possible" to show that the
states will meet for the same purpose. Combining the
resolutions would make the end result too different from the
resolutions of other states. In response to the chair, she
confirmed that HJR 22 currently matches the resolutions of the
other states. She said she thinks Georgia changed a couple
words, but without changing the meaning. She commented on the
foresight of the Founding Fathers in including the means for the
people of the United States to "put in check a bigger form of
government."

8:20:26 AM

REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES talked about the $17 trillion debt of the
federal government, and she indicated that that does not include
the approximately $50 trillion cost for "social security and
other things." She opined that the numbers are staggering and
the debt unfair to future generations. She said, "So, I
appreciate this." She said she has spoken with legislators from
others states and "there is momentum." She stated her
understanding that there was a Mt. Vernon Assembly bi-partisan
effort, where 33 states discuss this issue. She asked the bill
sponsor, "Can you speak to how this might be related to that?"

8:21:50 AM

REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON said she was unable to attend [the
assembly]. Nevertheless, she said she thinks it was a way to
initiate the conversation and to show that states have federal
overreach in common. She said federal overreach not only
affects states financially, but also stunts the growth of
states. For example, if a person who owns property on wetlands
wants to develop, he/she must go to the Corps of Engineers. She
asked, "When did we ever think that would happen?"

8:22:58 AM

REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON thanked the bill sponsor for bringing
HJR 22 forward. He related that there are "various movements
afoot." He indicated that he likes HJR 22, because it is
topical, thus many things can be discussed and an amendment can
come forward. Regarding other groups gaining momentum, he
asked, "If everyone's fractured, how will we ever get it all
together, combined?"

8:23:57 AM

REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON answered that there are no guarantees,
but [HJR 22] will stay on the books. She opined that it is the
onus of the legislature to explain why it chose this legislation
over another. She said there is no sunset date on HJR 22.
Congress will be looking at every reason "to throw out this
state or that state and make the process go longer." She
indicated that HJR 22 would not be necessary if the federal
government were willing to put itself "in check."

8:25:32 AM

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER clarified that [the process by which
states call for a constitutional convention] has been used
before, but it has never come to fruition. He offered examples.
He relayed that he attended the aforementioned Mt. Vernon
Assembly, and he said that entity is trying to bring everyone
together to determine how best to operate by the rules of the
convention.

8:27:32 AM

REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT thanked the sponsor for bringing HJR 22
forward. She said she has spent most of her legislative career
fighting the federal government. She talked about western
states being owned predominately by the federal government, and
said she thinks other western states are allies with Alaska.
She expressed hope that at some point "we" could take [HJR 22]
to some of the organizations to which Alaska belongs, such as
Council of State Governments-WEST (CSG-West), because she said
she thinks those organizations would be willing to "join in and
mimic our legislation." Representative Millett talked about
using HJR 24 as a vehicle to form a western coalition that would
be a united front in expressing discontent with the decisions
made by the federal government.

8:29:12 AM

REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS asked in which states similar
legislation has made it through the legislative process and been
ratified.

REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON answered none. She said Georgia is the
furthest along; its legislation has passed out of the Senate.
She expressed her desire to have Alaska be the first state to
pass its legislation.

8:30:01 AM

REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES asked Representative T. Wilson to confirm
that HJR 22, if passed, would remain in perpetuity, which makes
it alright if it takes a few years for the other 34 states to
pass their legislation.

REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON confirmed that is correct.

8:31:10 AM

MICHAEL P. FARRIS, Head, Convention of States (COS); Chancellor,
Patrick Henry College, stated that he teaches constitutional law
and is one of the people who helped draft the model legislation
upon which HJR 22 is based. He said, "This is the first year
that this particular Article V effort has been undertaken, and
... this is the fastest growing, the biggest version of an
Article V process." He said there are a lot of problems with
the federal government that go beyond "the balanced budget," the
issue on which all the other efforts with any momentum at all
are focused. He continued as follows:

Ours is the only resolution that's focused on federal
interference with states and federal jurisdictional
problems of a broader scope, where the President's
allowed to make law through executive order; where the
various agencies are just simply interfering in our
lives, both in the processes of the state government
and in private businesses, in ways that the founders
never intended. The fundamental problem is that
Washington, D.C., is never ... going to curtail its
own power, and so, the founders gave us this method
for this very purpose.

MR. FARRIS related that there have been over 400 applications
from the states in the history of the Republic, but the two-
thirds requirement has never been met. However, he stated,
"We're on a fast track to do this." The effort is brand new; it
is early in the legislative process. He said at this moment the
Virginia House is debating the issue; Georgia's House is
expected to take up the issue soon. He indicated that he has
been asked to testify in Louisiana and Missouri. He stated, "We
believe in two or three years we will get to 34 states." He
said, "The people want a solution that's as big as the problem."
He said Mark Levin's book, The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the
American Republic, parallels the Convention of States' approach.
He stated, "We're aimed at getting to 34 states rapidly, calling
a convention, and having a real opportunity to correct federal
overreach and protect the states and protect our citizens."

8:35:21 AM

REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES asked what assurance can be made that a
convention called for a subject rather than a single amendment
would not "be a runaway train."

MR. FARRIS answered that there has to be agreement on the
subject. He compared it to proposing the Bill of Rights, which
was one topic with twelve proposed amendments, each of which was
considered individually. Anything outside the topic would not
be germane. He said he thinks the following topics will be
considered: federal spending, federal debt, federal regulation,
and the power of the courts. It is unconstitutional to change
the process in mid-stream.

8:39:05 AM

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER asked what Mr. Farris' organization is
doing toward educating the public on this issue.

MR. FARRIS responded that [COS] is dedicated to building a grass
roots network. He said the organization's motto is "Show up,
stand up, speak up," and it is focused on ensuring that in 75
percent of the legislative districts in country, it has educated
enough people that they are willing to become active, so that
there are at least 100 people in the districts that will help
not only to get the 34 amendments at the state level, but also
to get the amendments approved and ratified by 38 states. He
said that as the founder of the Homeschool Legal Defense
Association, he has substantial grassroots educational
experience in the area of homeschooling. He said Mark Meckler,
president of Citizens for Self-Governance and the co-founder of
the Tea Party Patriots, is working with him on this educational
pursuit. He stated, "Ultimately, unless the citizens understand
this and get behind it, we will not be successful." He said
only 9 percent of the American public approves the job of
Congress. He mentioned others involved in bringing information
to the public, including Mark Levin and Glen Beck, and said Mike
Huckabee endorsed the COS application.

8:42:11 AM

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER emphasized that he thinks it is important
that this is not a partisan issue. He asked Mr. Farris to
comment.

MR. FARRIS responded that it should not be a partisan issue,
because "even in Berkley they will tell you they want the rules
made by Berkley." He said he grew up working on a farm part-
time, so he understands the impact of the federal government on
western farm lands and mining, for example. He said Washington
and Oregon are more democratically inclined, but he thinks those
states could be persuaded to participate, largely because of the
western land issue. He added, "Our application is the only one
that has the rule of germaneness that would allow that to be
addressed." At the moment, he said, there are more Republicans
on board than Democrats, but "we're trying our best."

8:44:24 AM

REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON commended Mr. Farris for "getting out
the message." He said he learned a lot by reading the material
provided by Mr. Farris. He said, "I'm glad to hear that it's
also partisan, and that is also part of what I wanted, because
in the western states we have so many liberal legislators." He
questioned how likely it would be to get the support of states,
such as Nevada, that have delegates in Washington, D.C., who are
opposed to it.

8:46:00 AM

MR. FARRIS said the project is counting on Nevada to join in as
one of the 34 states. He said Nevada is one of the more
conservative states in the country, despite its control by
Democrats. He offered his belief that there are "enough rurally
held Democratic seats" in the state of Washington to gain its
support. He explained that urban districts tend to believe that
the purpose of the government is to provide for their needs,
whereas rural and more suburban areas believe that the purpose
of government is to protect life, liberty, and property. He
said, "The western lands issue will be front and center in our
appeal to Washington."

REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON noted that the next step after calling a
convention - when the states would choose delegates - is not
outlined in the proposed joint resolution.

8:48:28 AM

MR. FARRIS confirmed that the next step would be for the states
to pass a resolution naming their delegates. Each state would
have one vote. Mr. Farris recommended appointing 9 or 11
delegates so that "if somebody gets a crazy idea, one person
isn't going to affect how Alaska votes." He recommended
appointing people with experience related to "the purposes of
government and ... share the values that led to the resolution."
He talked about counting on Alaska to send the some of the best
delegates because of the state's philosophy on federal
overreach. He said there have been 32 conventions in the
history of the country, and not once have delegates ever
violated the instructions given to them by their state
legislatures.

REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON asked Mr. Farris to confirm that he is
saying that of all the methods of choosing delegates, "the best
informed would be to come from the legislature."

MR. FARRIS answered yes, but added that it would also be
appropriate to have some nonlegislative citizen activists as
delegates.

REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON clarified that he meant the legislators
would pick the delegates.

8:51:21 AM

REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON suggested that the legislature in each
state could choose how to pick delegates. She echoed Mr.
Farris' previous remark that each state ultimately would have
one vote. She recommended focusing on getting HJR 22 passed and
saving the other issue to discuss at a later time.

8:51:49 AM

REPRESENTATIVE HUGHES echoed Representative Keller's previous
question as to how much public education of American citizens
was underway regarding this effort.

MR. FARRIS noted that he was on his way to take part in a public
debate on this issue in Florida, and debates are scheduled in
other states. He said he has been on Mike Huckabee's television
show. He relayed that Mr. Levin's aforementioned book was the
number one best seller on The New York Times' list for several
weeks. He said COS has hired a media consultant to get on more
television stations, generate radio programs, and utilize social
media. He said he is convinced of the importance of working at
the grass roots level. He offered his understanding that it
would take about 3 million people educated on this issue to make
it happen nationwide.

8:56:01 AM

TAYLOR HANCOCK, Student, Tri Valley High School, stated that he
is one of a group of students to testify on HJR 22. He stated
that an often claimed defect of the Articles of Confederation
was the lack of power granted to central government to "lay and
collect taxes," which resulted in Congress' reliance on
requisitions from its member states. Mr. Hancock said some
states were ignoring requests from Congress or only paying in
part. Congress proposed amendments to the Articles of
Confederation in an effort to supersede it; nothing came from
this effort until the Philadelphia convention. Mr. Hancock
said, "The power to tax is a concurrent power of the federal
government and the individual states." He added that the power
to tax has, on occasion, been curtailed by the courts. He cited
[the beginning of Article 1, Section 8, of] the Constitution of
the United States, which read:

The Congress shall have power To lay and collect
Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts
and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare
of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and
Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

MR. HANCOCK offered his understanding that Thomas Jefferson had
a very strong view of the general welfare [of U.S. citizens] and
believed that the Constitution of the United States should be
strongly enforced and that taxation was for the sole purpose
paying debts and "providing for the welfare of the Union." Mr.
Hancock stated his perception of those words is that "we should
reel in the government by going back to the Constitution" and
giving [the federal government] "the bare minimum" of its
constitutionally written powers. He said as a student he is
seeing how the government is spinning into "an uncontrollable
whirlpool of debt."

MR. HANCOCK stated that Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, of the
Constitution of the United States, gives Congress the power to
"regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several
states, and with the Indian Tribes." The Constitution
enumerates certain powers for the federal government. He stated
that the 10th Amendment provides that many powers not enumerated
in the Constitution are reserved for the state. He said
Congress has often used the commerce clause to justify excising
legislative power over the activities of the states and their
citizens, leading to significant ongoing controversy regarding
the balance of power between the federal government and the
states. In conclusion, Mr. Hancock opined that "we" should reel
in the [federal] government by giving it only those powers
defined in the Constitution.

8:59:33 AM

ZABRINA BYFUGLIEN, Student, Tri Valley High School, read her
testimony as follows:

Hi, my name is Zabrina Byfuglien, and I'm a junior at
Tri-Valley school. I'm here with a few students from
my government class, and we believe that there has
been too much power vested in the federal government
and not enough in the states. This is not how it
should be. An example of the government taking away
state sovereignty is in our education curriculum. Most
of the decisions about this are made by the national
government, when they should be being made by the
state government, such as you folks in Juneau. I
would like to address that this is what our founding
fathers truly planned for our country, and I have a
few quotes to show you.

From Federalist Paper Number 39: "Each state, in
ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a
sovereign body, independent of all others, and only to
be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation,
then, the new Constitution will, if established, be a
federal and not a national constitution." ... This
was cementing that the states will have ... rights,
after signing the constitution, and can stay
independent.

And I have another from Alexander Hamilton in
Federalist Paper Number 32: "But as the plan of the
convention aims only at a partial union or
consolidation, the state governments would clearly
retain all rights of sovereignty which they before
had, and which were not, [by] that act, exclusively
delegated to the United States." ... This shows that
Alexander Hamilton believed that the states should
always have sovereign power.

And from Thomas Jefferson: "When governments fear the
people there is liberty. When the people fear the
government there is tyranny." ... This is what I'm
afraid of, that our government will become too
powerful and we will all end up fearing them. There
should be more state sovereignty.

And lastly, from Thomas Jefferson: "When all
government, domestic and foreign, in little as in
great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the
center of all power, it will render powerless the
checks provided of one government on another, and will
become as venal and oppressive as the government from
which we separated." ... This is saying that the
federal government doesn't need to be brought into all
of Alaska's little business.

9:01:51 AM

NICOLE MACMASTER, Student, Tri Valley High School, announced she
would talk about regulatory spending and debt crisis. She
continued as follows:

The information about the regulatory crisis I got from
Joe Usibelli; he's the owner of the Usibelli Coal
Mine. He said the federal government passed a law
that lead regulations states can permit. Air permits
and water discharges originated at the federal level;
now, however, it's at the state.

Federal environmental, [Environmental Protection
Agency] EPA, maintains on the federal level working
over the shoulder of the states. And the federal
government needs to abide by the state, not the EPA.
Involved in the EPA standards, [particle matter] PM-
215, they threatened to take over. States have the
ability to take away programs through the EPA;
however, it's costly, time consuming, and they have to
keep up with all the regulations. Federal government
Department of Interior is putting more pressure on the
states to interpret their own regulations. The
government doesn't have the right to tell the state
what regulations to make. State regulators want to
maintain a relationship with the federal government,
but it's hard.

Harm that the EPA does to this company is it's
extremely expensive, and the legal expenses are also
really high. Recently, the government has put more
regulations on the state. So, I say the government
should keep their nose out of it, and it should be run
by the state.

Our country is $17 trillion in debt to other nations.
Most of the debt is a result of ... out of control
federal government spending. What most people don't
know is that in just the U.S., we are $60 trillion in
debt. That means that every single U.S. citizen is
about $200,000 in debt. I'm 16, and I already owe the
government more than going to an average college is
going to cost.

There's a lot about this country's debt that I don't
understand, but what I have found is that the U.S. is
still the stabilizer for other states, and unlike when
nations held their own, it's now like a world nation.
When other countries' market crashes, ours lowers, and
vice versa. If people are going bankrupt and cities
are going bankrupt, then won't states and eventually
our country? At our dinner table, if our budget is
zero, we ... can't do things we want. We don't have
the power to just print more money and raise the debt
ceiling. We need to start paying our debt, or
everyone is just going to go bankrupt if we don't.

The Federal Reserve purchases treasuries from its
member banks using credit it created out of thin air.
This is the same as affect as printing money; it keeps
... interest rates low, avoiding high interest rate
penalties the federal government would usually impose
for excessive debt. Our government is out of control
with its spending. The government is racking up so
much debt, it's going to become a huge financial mess
for my generation. It's like a pile of dog poop
[lying] on the beach; the government just keeps
pushing some sand over the top to cover it up, but
when someone new comes along, like my generation,
we're going to get a nasty foot full of dog poop. It
is my hope that you will be able to leave feeling like
you've left something behind my generation can be
proud of. So, I fully support Tammie Wilson's
resolution. Thank you for your time and allowing me
to testify.

9:05:35 AM

ISABELLA SAXE, Student, Tri Valley High School, countered
arguments against calling for a constitutional convention. She
said some opposition fears that a constitutional convention will
become a runaway convention. She said measures are in place to
prevent this from happening. She explained that the United
States was built on the principle that mankind is imperfect,
thus checks and balances are needed. When states call for a
convention, they do so with a limit on the topics and issues
that can be discussed. Congress, after receiving 34 similar
applications, will then specify the scope, ensuring that the
topic and ensuing amendment are on point. She indicated there
is a further check in place to address the remote likelihood of
an amendment unrelated to what was initially proposed. She
said, "It is Congress' mandatory duty to deny ratification."
She mentioned the 38 states needed to vote to ratify any
amendment to the constitution, and said ratification is "not an
easy idea to sell."

MS. SAXE continued as follows:

When the state of Alaska sends delegates to this
convention you can limit the amendments that our
delegates can discuss. If they happen to go beyond
their scope they can be recalled. If delegates going
past the scope is still a concern, you can do what
Indiana has done, and pass legislation that [puts]
controls on their delegates to an Article 5
convention.

These conventions cannot make up their own rules or
change existing ones to make ratification an easier
process. That's not the way the system is set up.
The Founding Fathers clearly laid out what to do in
times like these, and we are ignoring our duty as
Americans when we ignore Article 5, when we ignore the
very directions we have a responsibility to carry out.
When the government has plainly overstepped its
boundaries and burdened us with tremendous debt, we
have the obligation to act. ... Speaking for the
generation that will grow up in this country, we don't
want to grow up amongst piles and piles of debt. Once
again, we are students from a government class in
Healy, Alaska. Thank you.

9:08:14 AM

CHAIR LYNN commended the students for their testimony.

9:09:04 AM

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER acknowledged that he had previously stated
that the attempt to change term limits had been in the 1800s,
but it was actually 1940. He clarified that he had been
thinking about "the largest attempt," which was by the states to
stop the Civil War.

9:10:29 AM

CHRISTINE HUTCHISON testified that she had been following the
convention of states issue since November [2013] and volunteered
to be a district leader on the Kenai Peninsula, to get the word
out "among these people" and further to friends in other states
via social media. She opined that this is a critical issue for
the nation and for Alaska. She said there are many steps left
to go in the process, and she warned "it could fall off the
rails anywhere." Ms. Hutchison expressed her appreciation for
the efforts of people pushing this issue forward, and said she
would like to see the proposed joint resolution make it through
the House and Senate this year to show [Alaska] as "the largest
and most interested in this project."

9:13:04 AM

DAVID EICHLER testified that last summer, the legislature held
hearings on federal overreach, and he relayed that he heard Mark
Levin speak at the Reagan Library, in Simi, California, and
argue that [a constitutional convention] is the only effective
solution to the problem. He stated that all three branches of
government refuse to exercise self-restraint, an inevitability
foreseen by the writers of the Constitution who included Article
5 as a means for "reasserting the primacy of the people to their
state legislatures." He said his own research brought him to
the Convention of States project, which is a coordinated effort
to address the problem and approve the 34 applications required
from states to call a convention, all of which must be similar.
He said, "Because we know that Congress will not willingly
[cede] any of its power ..., we are being careful to make it
impossible to reject the necessary applications." He relayed
that he volunteered as state director of COS and has found
enthusiastic support from the offices of legislators from
Fairbanks and North Pole.

9:17:11 AM

MR. EICHLER said a network of volunteers throughout the state
for education and support has been built and speaks to various
groups. He said the groundswell of support is amazing,
especially considering it has all happened within the last four
or five months. He said there are many advocacy groups that
uphold certain amendments in the Bill of Rights, including the
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for the First Amendment
and the National Rifle Association for the Second Amendment, but
the only advocates for the Tenth Amendment are state
legislatures, and Article 5 is the means by which those
legislatures can maintain constitutional order. Mr. Eichler
asked the committee to support and approve HJR 22.

CHAIR LYNN asked about funding sources for the effort to have a
convention of the states.

REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON said she does not know of a funding
source for the grassroots effort. In response to a follow-up
question, she said she would find out about how funds are raised
in other states, but said the efforts in Alaska are all
volunteer-based.

9:19:30 AM

REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON asked Mr. Eichler if he has communicated
with other state directors and knows what their progress is.

MR. EICHLER answered that there are currently 40 states with
statewide volunteer leadership and 9 states with filed or
prefiled applications. He related his involvement with the
efforts that lead to Georgia's resolution getting passed through
its Senate. He indicated that he uses his own funds. He said
"the national organization" is an educational service and can
receive contributions; however, all the efforts in Alaska are
self-funded and do not receive outside money.

9:21:16 AM

REPRESENTATIVE ISAACSON thanked Mr. Eichler and asked if the
Alaska group may need "a capital lift."

MR. EICHLER responded that the goal of the Alaska group is to
have the legislature pass a resolution. He said he thinks the
group is building upon "the already existing dissatisfaction we
have in the state with the federal government." He said funding
might be an issue in states where there may be obstacles, such
as Washington and Oregon; however, he stated his intention to
continue in the current manner for as long as that is
successful.

9:23:01 AM

SEYMOUR MILLS testified that a convention of the states will
result in a constitutional convention and in the loss of the
current Constitution of the United States, which is "exactly
what the powers that be want." He opined that the only
necessary action is to reinforce the original Constitution,
which he said is not being done. He said the original
constitutional convention in 1887 proved that a convention
"cannot be limited or controlled." He urged, "Don't push this."

9:23:47 AM

REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON said Mr. Mills is not entirely
incorrect, because Congress is not doing as it should. She
opined that it is up to the states to take a stand when that
happens.

MR. MILLS said, "Well, this won't do that."

9:24:19 AM

TOM BUZARD testified in support of HJR 22. He said Americans -
particular Alaskans - are "living in fear of the federal
government." He offered his belief that "tyranny is here now"
and "we are the brave few that are willing to stand up and deal
with this." He encouraged forward momentum and said he is
excited by the possibility of Alaska being the first state to
pass such a resolution. He said Alaska gave marching orders to
the federal government last year over the issue of firearms.

MR. BUZARD posited that the amount of debt being left to future
generations is wrong. He urged passage of HJR 22 through both
bodies. He opined that the previous statement by Mr. Mills that
a convention of the states would cause a constitutional
convention is incorrect. He said a convention of the states is
convened for the specific purpose of the suggested item, which
under HJR 22 would be to reign in federal spending and an out-
of-control federal government.

9:27:37 AM

DON BRAND, Alaska Legislative Liaison, Convention of States
(COS), said he became aware of the possibility of doing
something about the growing list of federal abuses when he read
Mark Levin's aforementioned book. He relayed that he had
distributed copies of Mr. Levin's book to several people in the
capitol for the purpose of "getting the word out." He noted
that he had provided the committee with a handout [included in
the committee packet, entitled "Convention of States Project and
HJR 22"], the contents of which he said have mostly been covered
already. He said he feels strongly about this issue and is
worried about the U.S. He stated, "I see this as probably the
only legal and legitimate way to actually get the federal
government under control again." He said he is far more
concerned about a "runaway Congress" than a "runaway
convention."

MR. BRAND directed attention to the last page of the handout,
which highlights the COS grassroots organization, for which he
serves as legislative liaison. There is also a state director,
a coalition director, 57 other volunteers that have formally
signed up as volunteers for COS, and hundreds of others
identified as supporters.

9:30:54 AM

MR. BRAND offered his understanding that Senator Tom Coburn of
Oklahoma has implied that part of the reason he is resigning is
to try to fix Congress from the outside. He said Senator Coburn
announced that he would be a supporter of COS.

9:33:00 AM

MIKE COONS stated that he was testifying on behalf of Citizen's
Initiative and himself. He said COS, Compact for America, and
Citizen's Initiative, are all patriotic organizations that have
valid concern about a runaway Congress and [judicial branch];
therefore, these organizations are working toward the use of
Article 5 to produce amendment(s) that will strengthen the
Constitution of the United States and stop federal overreach.

MR. COONS pointed out a major difference between Citizen's
United and COS has to do with subject versus specific amendment.
He said Article 5 specifically outlines that two-thirds of
several states shall call a convention for proposing amendments.
He indicated that through conversations with Mr. Brand, he found
that COS's intent is to be able to "propose multiple amendments
off of each subject." He explained the concern of Citizen's
Initiative is that such a resolution would be disallowed for
being too general in nature. He related that he sent to
Representatives Wilson and Keller documentation and e-mails on
this matter, along with a white paper outlining the pros and
cons of COS' methodology. He said, "Sadly, I do not see that in
the resolution packet, but I hope that all committee members
will have a chance to review that."

MR. COONS, in closing, indicated his support aligns with that of
the Citizen's Initiative for using Article 5 in a safe and clear
manner to result in a convention aimed toward pulling the nation
back from falling to dictatorship. He said, "We have specific
calls for a specific amendment that we tried to put forward this
year," but ran out of time. He announced, "We will be putting
forward our states' sovereignty and states' rights amendment and
countermand amendment for the 2015 session."

9:35:19 AM

MR. COONS, in response to a previous question from
Representative Hughes, said Arizona's COS resolution failed, but
the state is working on "a specific delegate resolution." He
said there are indications that "the House side of Florida is
floundering." He said Citizen's Initiative is using social
media and has an Internet and frequency modulation (FM) station,
which shows every Tuesday - every other Tuesday being reserved
for a legislative round table.

9:36:02 AM

CHAIR LYNN, after ascertaining that there was no one else who
wished to testify, closed public testimony on HJR 22.

9:37:04 AM

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER, in response to Representative Hughes,
reviewed the process under Article V, highlighting the two ways
to ratify an amendment: a three-fourths vote by state
legislatures or three-fourth vote of the states in convention.
He said it is up to Congress to choose which method.

9:38:24 AM

REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS said he is not sure he will
recommend HJR 22 to the full body for passage. He said he has
two fundamental concerns, one ideological and the second
practical. He offered his understanding that HJR 22 is intended
as a nonpartisan measure; however, he said he thinks the four
provisions that the convention of the states outline have deep
ideological connotations, which are not necessarily nonpartisan.
He said if there was a convention of the states with the goal of
reforming the federal government, he feels that the areas for
reform could be outlined in a manner that would be more
inclusive and generate bipartisan support. He offered, as
example, the gerrymandering and redistricting process, where one
party manipulates and corrals the other party and vice versa,
and "nobody wins."

9:40:32 AM

REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS stated that the U.S., in recent
years, has faced "almost apocalyptic dysfunction on the federal
level," and nobody likes that. He expressed concern that a
convention of states may be "hijacked or crippled by that
atmosphere." He compared it to grocery shopping after fasting
for 48 hours. He said considering the people and groups behind
this, whose philosophy he respects but does not necessarily
share, he thinks a convention of states would lead to
essentially the kind of dysfunction that has been seen in
Congress, but "in a different and perhaps even more important
forum."

9:41:52 AM

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER clarified for the record that the four
points to which Representative Kreiss-Tomkins referred are: the
spending and debt crisis; the regulatory crisis; the
congressional tax on state sovereignty; and the federal takeover
of decision making. He expressed his hope that there could be a
bi-partisan understanding of "what those things mean."

9:42:32 AM

REPRESENTATIVE KELLER moved to report HJR 22 out of committee
with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal
notes. There being no objection, HJR 22 was reported out of the
House State Affairs Standing Committee.

HB 274-HEARINGS ON REFERENDA

[Contains discussion of SB 21.]

9:43:05 AM

CHAIR LYNN announced that the next order of business was HOUSE
BILL NO. 274, "An Act relating to public hearings on initiatives
and referenda scheduled to appear on the ballot; and providing
for an effective date."

9:43:42 AM

REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT introduced HB 274 on behalf of the House
Rules Standing Committee, sponsor. She said about four years
ago the legislature passed House Bill 36, also called "the Open
and Transparent Initiative Act," which made four changes to
Alaska's initiative laws, but did not include referendums. She
explained that referendums had not been used in several years,
but now there is one on the books; therefore, HB 274 would add
referendums, so that they have "the force of law" that
initiatives have.

REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT covered the portion of the Sectional
Summary of HB 274 [included in the committee packet], which read
as follows [original punctuation provided]:

Section 1. Requires the lieutenant governor, if a
referendum is scheduled to appear on the ballot, to
hold at least two public hearings concerning the
referendum in each judicial district of the state at
least 30 days before the election. Establishes notice
requirements and guidelines for the conduct of the
hearings.

Section 2. Requires a standing committee of the
legislature to hold at least one hearing on each
referendum that is scheduled to appear on the
statewide ballot.

Section 3. Specifies what must be included in a
hearing held under AS 24.05.186 on an initiative or a
referendum.

Section 4. Applies the new requirements in section 1
of the bill to initiatives and referenda appearing on
the ballot after the effective date of the Act.
Applies sections 2 and 3 to initiatives and referenda
on a ballot after the August 2014 primary.

Section 5. Makes the bill's provisions effective
immediately.

9:47:13 AM

REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT, in response to the chair, indicated that
the proposed legislation would apply to the primary election and
General Election.

REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT said there was an onslaught of
initiatives, addressing subjects including cruise ships and
coastal zone management. She said although there is a single
issue requirement for an initiative, the cruise ship initiative
became very broad; it contained six different subjects. She
said, "So, there were some changes made legislatively after two
years, because a referendum and initiative can't be changed for
two years." She said the proposed legislation would provide the
public with the opportunity to know the purpose, intended
effect, and cost to the state of a referendum. She offered her
understanding that when House Bill 36 passed four years ago, it
had the support of both bodies, with the exception of one
person.

REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT said HB 274 has a zero fiscal note; the
Office of the Lieutenant Governor, which will conduct the
hearings around the state, has relayed it can absorb the cost of
travel. She talked about an exception under law for those who
cannot make it to a meeting place to participate telephonically
and for a proxy to deliver testimony.

9:52:02 AM

REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT said as sponsor of the initiative bill,
she had attended three of the coastal zone management meetings
with the lieutenant governor and was impressed by the amount of
public involvement. She noted that there was a letter from the
Alaska Municipal League (AML), in support of HB 274, in the
committee packet. She suggested that [a representative of] AML
could speak about the organization's appreciation of the
opportunity to speak about initiatives that will affect
municipalities. She expressed her hope that the proposed
legislation would be moved through both bodies so that the
current lieutenant governor could "start on the road to the
current referendum that's out, which is SB 21."

9:53:31 AM

CHAIR LYNN announced that HB 274 was held over.

HJR 17-CONST AM: GUARANTEE PERM FUND DIVIDEND

9:53:55 AM

CHAIR LYNN announced that the final order of business was HOUSE
JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 17, Proposing amendments to the
Constitution of the State of Alaska relating to the Alaska
permanent fund, establishing the earnings reserve account,
relating to the permanent fund dividend, and requiring the
permanent fund dividend be at least equal to the amount that
would be calculated under current law.

9:53:58 AM

REPRESENTATIVE LES GARA, Alaska State Legislature, as sponsor,
introduced HJR 17. He said the proposed joint resolution asks
for the current dividend formula to be put in the Constitution
of the State of Alaska. He mentioned that he and Rick Halford
were friends with the late Governor Jay, who would say, "You get
a fair share for your oil first, and you touch the dividend
last." He said the Alaska permanent fund dividend (PFD) creates
roughly 10,000 jobs in Alaska and "levels out the highs and
lows." He explained that Alaska has had the least differential
growth between rich and poor than any other state in the country
because of the PFD. He opined that cutting the dividend is the
most regressive action that can be taken, because cutting it by
$500, while not significantly impacting someone who makes $1
million, would impact someone who makes $12 an hour; it would
affect the working class.

9:55:19 AM

REPRESENTATIVE GARA cited an article from The Juneau Empire that
quotes Governor Hammond as having said his dividend program
would allow Alaskans to share in their resource wealth, confine
the benefits to Alaskans only, have an equitable impact on both
rich and poor, and maximize the favorable impact upon the
state's economy by keeping a far larger portion of money to fund
the programs here in Alaska. Representative Gara said as fiscal
pressures mount in Alaska, there are some who will look first to
the PFD. He stated he would like to protect the current
dividend formula in the constitution so that the dividend does
not get decreased as people begin fighting over deficits.

REPRESENTATIVE GARA said the Department of Revenue has predicted
that even under "this new oil bill," Alaska will be down to
approximately 370,000 barrels of oil a year in ten years' time.
He said that is "about the same as they had predicted under a
former oil law." He said the state is probably going to be down
in revenue by about $12 billion over the next ten years,
depending upon oil prices. He reiterated that he does not want
the people's dividend to be harmed. He expressed his hope that
SB 21 would be reversed, but said regardless of how the state
proceeds, the dividend has been a way to stabilize the economy
in Alaska and to ensure those in rural Alaska have money for
essentials, such as fuel. He said the dividend money spent by
rural and urban Alaskans goes right back in to the economy. He
relayed there is a study by the Institute of Social and Economic
Research (ISER) in the committee packet, which shows what the
PFD does to stabilize the economy and prevent the wide gap
between rich and poor.

9:58:17 AM

RICK HALFORD thanked the committee for hearing HJR 17, which he
opined is an important issue. He continued as follows:

It is sad that the constituency for equality doesn't
have enough insiders in that it's not regressive
enough for some or progressive enough for others, but
the fact is that the permanent fund dividend is a part
of the economic base of the State of Alaska. And if
you did need $100 million, who would want to take half
of that from the poor, retired, and underemployed and
100 percent of it from Alaska residents, nothing from
nonresidents? It's the worst place to go for money,
even in a time of shortage.

[HJR 17 was held over.]

9:59:57 AM

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business before the committee, the House
State Affairs Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 10:00
a.m.