HB 295: "An Act relating to a citizens' utility board; and amending Alaska Rule of Civil Procedure 24."
00HOUSE BILL NO. 295 01 "An Act relating to a citizens' utility board; and amending Alaska Rule of Civil 02 Procedure 24." 03 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA: 04 * Section 1. AS 42.50 is amended by adding a new chapter to read: 05 CHAPTER 50. CITIZENS' UTILITY BOARD. 06 Sec. 42.50.010. CITIZENS' UTILITY BOARD, INC. (a) Notwithstanding 07 the procedures for incorporation under AS 10.20, the Citizens' Utility Board, Inc., is 08 established as a private nonprofit corporation of the state. 09 (b) Membership of the corporation consists of the residential utility consumers 10 16 years of age or older who have contributed to the corporation an annual 11 membership fee as required by the bylaws of the corporation. 12 Sec. 42.50.020. POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE CORPORATION. (a) The 13 corporation shall 14 (1) represent and promote the interests of the residential utility
01 consumers of the state; the actions of the corporation shall be directed to this duty; 02 (2) inform, to the extent possible, all residential utility consumers about 03 the corporation, including the procedure for obtaining membership in the corporation; 04 (3) establish an annual membership fee that is set at a level that 05 provides sufficient funding for the corporation to perform its powers and duties 06 effectively and is affordable for as many utility consumers as is possible; the annual 07 membership fee may not be less than $5; 08 (4) have all rights and powers accorded generally to, and be subject to 09 all duties imposed generally upon, nonprofit membership corporations in this state. 10 (b) The corporation may 11 (1) solicit and accept gifts, loans, grants, or other aid, including 12 intervenor compensation, in order to support activities concerning the interests of 13 residential utility consumers; however, the corporation may not accept gifts, loans, or 14 other aid from a public utility or from a director, employee, or agent, or from a 15 member of the immediate family of a director, employee, or agent, of a public utility; 16 (2) seek tax-exempt status under state and federal law; 17 (3) conduct, support, and assist research, surveys, investigations, 18 planning activities, conferences, demonstration projects, and public information 19 activities concerning the interests of residential utility consumers; the corporation shall 20 make the reports, studies, and other information compiled under this paragraph 21 available for public inspection during regular business hours; 22 (4) contract for services that cannot reasonably be performed by its 23 employees; 24 (5) represent the interests of residential utility consumers before 25 regulatory agencies, legislative bodies, and other public bodies; 26 (6) initiate, intervene as a party, maintain, or otherwise participate on 27 behalf of residential utility consumers in any proceeding that affects the interests of 28 residential utility consumers; 29 (7) support or oppose ballot propositions concerning matters that it 30 determines may affect the interests of residential utility consumers. 31 (c) The corporation shall have other rights and powers that are reasonably
01 necessary for the effective representation and protection of the interests of residential 02 utility consumers. 03 (d) The corporation may not sponsor, endorse, or otherwise support and may 04 not oppose a political party or the candidacy of a person for public office. 05 (e) Notwithstanding AS 37.05.321, in order to carry out its powers and duties 06 under this chapter, the corporation may use a grant or earnings from a grant received 07 under AS 37.05.316 to influence legislative action and to travel in connection with 08 influencing legislative action. 09 Sec. 42.50.030. JUDICIAL REVIEW OF REGULATORY AGENCY 10 DECISIONS. If the corporation participated at the regulatory agency decision level, 11 the corporation shall be considered to have an interest sufficient to maintain, intervene 12 as of right in, or otherwise participate in a civil action, proceeding, or appeal for the 13 review or enforcement of a regulatory agency decision or action, or refusal to act, that 14 the corporation determines may substantially affect the interests of residential utility 15 consumers. If the corporation did not participate in the regulatory agency decision or 16 action at the agency level, the court may grant the corporation the right to participate 17 in a civil action, proceeding, or appeal if the interest of the residential utility 18 consumers is significantly affected. 19 Sec. 42.50.040. ASSISTED MAILING. (a) The corporation may prepare and 20 furnish to the Department of Revenue an enclosure that the department shall include 21 with each application for a permanent fund dividend. The corporation shall provide 22 the department with the enclosure at a time reasonably in advance of the mailing. 23 (b) An enclosure furnished by the corporation under this section shall be 24 limited to soliciting information and money from consumers and explaining 25 (1) the purpose, history, nature, activities, and achievements of the 26 corporation; 27 (2) that the corporation is open to membership by residential utility 28 consumers; 29 (3) that the corporation is not connected to a public utility or 30 governmental agency; 31 (4) that the corporation is a nonprofit corporation directed by its
01 consumer members; 02 (5) the procedure for contributing to or becoming a member of the 03 corporation; and 04 (6) the yearly membership fee. 05 (c) The corporation shall reimburse the department for reasonable incremental 06 costs, above the normal mailing and handling costs, incurred by the department in 07 complying with this section. The department shall furnish the corporation with an 08 itemized accounting of the additional costs. The corporation is not required to 09 reimburse the department for postage costs if the weight of the corporation's enclosure 10 does not increase the postage cost of the mailing. 11 (d) In this section, "enclosure" means a card, leaflet, envelope, or a 12 combination of them furnished by the corporation under this section. 13 Sec. 42.50.050. PROHIBITED ACTS. (a) A public utility or an officer, 14 employee, or agent of a public utility may not, in retribution for the contribution or 15 participation, interfere or threaten to interfere with or cause an interference with the 16 utility service of, or penalize or threaten to penalize or cause to be penalized, a person 17 who contributes to the corporation or participates in an activity of the corporation. 18 (b) A person may not act with intent to prevent, interfere with, or hinder the 19 activities permitted under this chapter. 20 (c) A person may not use a list, or part of a list, of contributors to the 21 corporation for purposes other than the conduct of the business of the corporation. A 22 person may not disclose the list unless the person has substantial reason to believe that 23 the list is intended to be used for the lawful purposes described in this chapter. 24 Sec. 42.50.060. BOARD OF DIRECTORS. (a) The affairs of the corporation 25 shall be managed by an elected board of directors consisting of 11 members. Seats 26 for the board of directors shall be approximately apportioned among judicial districts, 27 based on the number of members in the corporation from each judicial district. 28 (b) The directors serve without compensation but each member is entitled to 29 reimbursement for actual and necessary expenses. The board shall establish standard 30 allowances for mileage, room, and meals, and the purposes for which the allowances 31 may be made, and shall determine the reasonableness and necessity for
01 reimbursements. 02 (c) Directors serve for staggered terms of three years. A director may not 03 serve more than two consecutive full terms. 04 (d) A director or a member of the immediate family of a director may not 05 directly or indirectly be employed for compensation as a staff member or consultant 06 of the corporation. 07 (e) A director who handles, disburses, or receives money on behalf of the 08 corporation must be bonded. The corporation shall pay for the bond. 09 Sec. 42.50.070. DUTIES OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS. The board of 10 directors shall 11 (1) establish the policies of the corporation regarding appearances 12 before regulatory agencies, the courts, and other public bodies and regarding other 13 activities that the corporation has the authority to perform; 14 (2) maintain membership rolls and keep them in confidence to the 15 extent required by AS 42.50.050; 16 (3) keep minutes, books, and records, including financial records, that 17 reflect the acts and transactions of the board; these are open to examination by a 18 member of the corporation during regular business hours; 19 (4) make all information concerning the finances of the corporation 20 available for public inspection during regular business hours; 21 (5) cause the corporation's books to be audited by a certified public 22 accountant at least once each fiscal year and make the audit available to the public; 23 (6) prepare an annual report of the corporation's financial and 24 substantive operations to be made available for public inspection; 25 (7) report to the membership at an annual meeting on the past and 26 projected activities and policies of the corporation; 27 (8) employ and supervise an executive director. 28 Sec. 42.50.080. BOARD MEETINGS AND OFFICERS. (a) The board shall 29 hold regular meetings, including meetings by teleconference, at least once every three 30 months. A special meeting may be called by the president of the board or by at least 31 one-quarter of the directors upon at least five days' notice.
01 (b) A meeting of the board of directors or of a committee or subcommittee of 02 the board is open to the public. However, if the board intends to discuss a subject that 03 would be considered an excepted subject under AS 44.62.310, the board may meet in 04 executive session for that portion of the meeting. 05 (c) The board shall elect, by majority vote of the members present and voting, 06 from among the directors a president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer to serve 07 terms of one year. 08 Sec. 42.50.090. QUALIFICATION OF CANDIDATES FOR THE BOARD OF 09 DIRECTORS. (a) The following persons are ineligible to serve as directors of the 10 corporation: 11 (1) an employee, director, consultant, attorney, accountant, real estate 12 agent, shareholder, or bondholder of a public utility doing business in this state; 13 (2) an employee of the Alaska Public Utilities Commission; 14 (3) a person who holds elective public office or is a candidate for 15 elective public office; 16 (4) a public official whose position is subject to confirmation by the 17 legislature; 18 (5) a member of the immediate family of a person identified in (1) - 19 (4) of this subsection. 20 (b) To be eligible for election to the board of directors, a candidate must 21 (1) be a member of the corporation and a resident of the district that 22 the candidate seeks to represent; and 23 (2) submit a petition for nomination, a statement of financial interest, 24 and a statement of personal background and positions as required by the bylaws of the 25 corporation. 26 Sec. 42.50.100. CORPORATION BYLAWS CONCERNING ELECTIONS. 27 The board of directors shall adopt bylaws for the corporation that set out requirements 28 for nomination and election to the board of directors, limit the campaign contributions 29 and expenditures for elections, and establish election procedures. 30 Sec. 42.50.110. RECALL OF DIRECTORS. When the president of the board 31 of directors receives a petition to recall a director, containing the valid signatures of
01 at least 40 percent of the members of the judicial district that the director represents, 02 the board shall call a special election to elect a director to serve out the term of the 03 recalled director. However, a director may not be recalled within six months after the 04 director's election to office. A director may become a candidate in an election 05 following the director's own recall. A recall election shall be held not fewer than four 06 months and not more than six months after receipt of the recall petition. A recalled 07 director continues to serve on the board of directors until the installation in office of 08 the recalled director's successor. 09 Sec. 42.50.120. VACANCIES. (a) When a director dies, resigns, is 10 disqualified, or otherwise vacates the office, the board of directors shall select a 11 successor from the same judicial district as the director leaving office. The selection 12 shall be made within three months after the office becomes vacant. 13 (b) A director may nominate a qualified person as a successor director. The 14 board of directors shall select the successor director by a two-thirds majority of the 15 remaining directors present and voting. 16 (c) This section does not apply to an office made vacant by recall under 17 AS 42.50.110. 18 Sec. 42.50.130. EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. (a) The board of directors shall 19 employ an executive director who must meet the qualifications, financial disclosure 20 requirements, and conflict of interest limitations of members of the board of directors. 21 (b) The executive director shall 22 (1) implement the policies established by the board of directors; 23 (2) employ, supervise, and discharge employees of the corporation; 24 (3) have custody of and maintain the books, records, and membership 25 rolls of the corporation; 26 (4) prepare and submit to the board of directors annual and quarterly 27 statements of the financial and substantive operations of the corporation and financial 28 estimates for the operations of the corporation; the membership may inspect the 29 quarterly statements during regular business hours; 30 (5) attend and participate in meetings of the board of directors as a 31 nonvoting director;
01 (6) exercise other powers and perform other duties as the board of 02 directors delegates. 03 Sec. 42.50.140. ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING. An annual meeting 04 of the membership shall be held on a date and at a place within the state to be 05 determined by the board of directors. All members are eligible to attend, participate 06 in, and vote at the annual membership meeting. The meeting is open to the public. 07 Sec. 42.50.150. CONFLICT OF INTEREST. (a) A person may not offer or 08 give anything of monetary value to a director, employee, or agent of the corporation 09 if the offer or gift influences, or is intended to influence, the action or judgment of the 10 recipient in the recipient's capacity as a director, employee, or agent of the 11 corporation. 12 (b) A director, employee, or agent of the corporation may not solicit or accept 13 anything of monetary value from a person if the solicitation or acceptance influences, 14 or is intended to influence, the official action or judgment of the recipient in the 15 recipient's capacity as a director, employee, or agent of the corporation. 16 (c) A person who knowingly violates this section is subject to a civil penalty 17 of not more than $10,000. 18 (d) The board of directors shall remove from office a director, employee, or 19 agent who violates the provisions of this section. 20 Sec. 42.50.160. PENALTIES. A person who violates a provision of this 21 chapter is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each violation. 22 Sec. 42.50.990. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter, 23 (1) "corporation" means the Citizens' Utility Board, Inc.; 24 (2) "director" means a member of the corporation elected or appointed 25 to the board of directors of the corporation; 26 (3) "immediate family" includes the spouse and dependents of the 27 person and of the person's spouse; 28 (4) "member" means a person who meets the requirements for 29 membership in the corporation; 30 (5) "public utility" means a corporation or other entity engaged in the 31 business of supplying utility services to persons in the state if rates or charges for the
01 utility services have been established or are subject to approval by a local, state, or 02 federal governmental entity; 03 (6) "regulatory agency" or "agency" means a local, state, or federal 04 department, commission, office authority, or other public body with authority to 05 (A) establish or alter rates or charges for the provision 06 or sale of utility services within this state; 07 (B) plan or approve, reject, or modify plans for 08 the construction of facilities for the production or 09 provision of utility services within the state; 10 (C) formulate or review energy policies affecting the 11 state; 12 (D) otherwise regulate the activities of utility companies 13 doing business in the state; however, local, state, and federal courts and 14 legislative bodies are not considered to be "regulatory agencies" for the 15 purposes of this paragraph; 16 (7) "residential utility consumer" means a person in this state whose 17 residence is furnished with a utility service by a public utility; 18 (8) "utility services" means electricity, water, natural gas, steam, and 19 telephone services supplied by a public utility. 20 * Sec. 2. COURT RULE CHANGE. AS 42.50.030, enacted by sec. 1 of this Act, has the 21 effect of amending Alaska Rule of Civil Procedure 24 by granting the Citizens' Utility Board, 22 Inc., the right to intervene in an appeal from an administrative hearing in which it participated. 23 * Sec. 3. INITIAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS. (a) Notwithstanding AS 42.50.060(a), 24 enacted by sec. 1 of this Act, an initial board of directors of the Citizen's Utility Board, each 25 to serve for a term of one year, shall be appointed by the governor as follows: 26 (1) three members shall be appointed by the governor; 27 (2) three members shall be appointed from a list of five submitted by the 28 president of the senate; 29 (3) three members shall be appointed from a list of five submitted by the 30 speaker of the house of representatives; 31 (4) one member shall be appointed from a list of five submitted by the
01 minority leader of the senate; and 02 (5) one member shall be appointed from a list of five submitted by the 03 minority leader of the house of representatives. 04 (b) Notwithstanding AS 42.50.060(a), enacted by sec. 1 of this Act, the board of 05 directors of the Citizen's Utility Board chosen in the first election shall be composed of two 06 members elected from the corporation's membership in the first judicial district; two members 07 elected from the membership in the second judicial district; four members elected from the 08 membership in the third judicial district; and three members elected from the membership in 09 the fourth judicial district.