Legislature(2003 - 2004)

2004-02-16 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2004-02-16                     House Journal                      Page 2610
HB 488                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 488 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                       
the Governor, entitled:                                                                             
     "An Act relating to actionable claims against state employees;                                 
     relating to the state's defense and indemnification of its employees                           
     and former employees with respect to claims arising out of                                     
     conduct that is within the scope of employment; amending the                                   
     Public Employment Relations Act regarding claims against the                                   
      state or state employees; and providing for an effective date."                              
was read the first time and referred to the Labor & Commerce and                                    
Judiciary Committees.                                                                               
The following fiscal note(s) apply:                                                                 
1.  Zero, Dept. of Law                                                                              

2004-02-16                     House Journal                      Page 2611
The Governor's transmittal letter dated February 13, 2004, follows:                                 
"Dear Speaker Kott:                                                                                 
Under the authority of article III, section 18, of the Alaska                                       
Constitution, I am transmitting a bill relating to: (1) indemnification of                          
tort claims against state employees; and (2) the attorney general's                                 
decision whether to indemnify an employee and arbitration of that                                   
Current Alaska law addresses lawsuits against the state in AS                                       
09.50.250.  However, the statutes fail to address a core concept of the                             
Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).  Under the FTCA, if a lawsuit is                                    
filed against a federal employee, and the attorney general of the United                            
States certifies the employee was acting in the scope of employment,                                
the United States is substituted as the defendant for the employee.  The                            
individual employee is no longer a defendant in the case.  This bill                                
adds this critical concept to Alaska law.                                                           
This bill would allow state employees to carry out their duties                                     
knowing that if there is a lawsuit filed against them for an act or                                 
omission within the scope of their employment, the lawsuit will not                                 
proceed against them as an individual.  They will not be subject to the                             
burdens court rules place on a "party" including being subject to an                                
award of costs and fees to a prevailing party.  The public would                                    
benefit as services would not be interrupted while state employees                                  
participate in lawsuits.                                                                            
The bill would further provide that the decision of the attorney general                            
whether to indemnify an employee is not subject to arbitration.  An                                 
employee who is denied indemnification can contest that decision in                                 
the courts.                                                                                         
I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.                                            
                                Sincerely yours,                                                    
                                Frank H. Murkowski