Friday, February 19, 2010

Constitutional Amendment to Enlarge Legislature Passes State Affairs With Changes

Rep. Seaton had an amendment, which was accepted by the Resolution sponsor Rep. Peggy Wilson, to cut back the additional seats from eight new Representatives to four new representatives and from four new Senators to two new Senators. The size (in terms of population) of each district would remain nearly the same, increasing from 15,673 to 15,735.

This basically cuts the fiscal note in half. The estimated costs of the original resolution was about $4,470,000 million plus for each year and with the cut, it reduces the annual extra cost to $2,342,000. Also, wouldn't have to do any reconstruction changes.

I discussed the issues in a previous post. The impetus for the bill is to prevent the rural districts from losing representatives as the population grows in the more urban areas. As it is now, Rep. Wilson pointed out, urban legislators can walk across their districts and only have one school district. But rural legislators serve broad geographic areas that are expensive to travel around. The largest rural district is half the state with half the school districts. There would be new districts in the urban areas, but this change would not increase the geographic size of the rural areas.

One issue is that the Alaska Constitution (Article 6 - 6) requires:
Each house district shall be formed of contiguous and compact territory containing as nearly as practicable a relatively integrated socio-economic area. Each shall contain a population as near as practicable to the quotient obtained by dividing the population of the state by forty.

Also the 1964 Voting Rights Act has requirements that redistricting not reduce representation of minority voters and Alaska must have all redistricting reviewed by the feds because of past problems.

The resolution passed 5 - 1 with Rep. Gatto voting nay.

You can listen to the discussion of this bill below as well as the rest of Thursday's State Affairs meeting:

00 - 19 - HB 292 - Increasing the cap on State Emergency Aid from $5000 to half the federal cap (about $30,000, so Alaska's would be about $15,000)

22:18 - 47:05 HJR 38 - Constitutional Amendment to increase the size of the legislature.

51:00 to end - HB 115 - Allow permanent absentee registration.

1 comment:

  1. We DO need to increase the number of Reps and Senators, but by many more than we have now, so that constituents can once again know their legislators, and legislators their constituents.

    Adding two to each house won't help, and we really need to have an odd number in each chamber, so that there will be no deadlock in electing a presiding officer, and no evenly divided chambers (both situations have happened since statehood).

    I think that we should have 99 House districts and 33 Senate districts. Each Senate district would include 3 House districts that way, and the numbers in each chamber would be odd.

    As for Scott Kawasaki's idea of a unicameral legislature --- having only one chamber really simplifies the jobs of lobbyists, since they only have to stop a bill in one chamber.


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