Legislature(2007 - 2008)BARNES 124


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09:08:06 AM Start
09:08:31 AM HB387
10:03:25 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Time Change from 8:00am--
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HB 387-DISTRIBUTION OF TELEPHONE BOOKS                                                                                        
9:08:31 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX announced  that the only order  of business would                                                               
be SPONSOR  SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE  BILL NO. 387, "An  Act limiting                                                               
the  number  of  published  telephone  directories  that  may  be                                                               
distributed to a household."                                                                                                    
9:08:59 AM                                                                                                                    
JIM ISTURIS,  Intern, Representative Berta Gardner,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, explained  that SSHB  387 would  limit distributors,                                                               
publishers, and utilities  to leave only one telephone  book on a                                                               
door step, unless  a member of the  household requests otherwise.                                                               
The goals of SSHB 387 are  to reduce consumers' need to deal with                                                               
these excess  telephone books  and waste and  to also  reduce the                                                               
stress that is  being placed on recycling  centers and landfills.                                                               
Currently,   telephone  utilities   and  directory   distributors                                                               
distribute one  telephone book per telephone  line, and therefore                                                               
homes with  multiple telephone lines  will receive more  than one                                                               
copy  of the  exact same  book.   There  is no  intent to  hinder                                                               
utilities  and distributors  from advertising  and utilities  and                                                               
distributors will  still be  able to  deliver their  directory to                                                               
each home,  he pointed out.   Mr.  Isturis related that  prior to                                                               
introduction of  SSHB 387, Representative Gardner  received an e-                                                               
mail from  an Alaskan  describing how she  received 17  books, in                                                               
some cases  3 of the  exact same book.   He opined that  SSHB 387                                                               
will  reduce  the burden  on  consumers,  recycling centers,  and                                                               
landfills.    He  related that  the  Anchorage  recycling  center                                                               
received about  252 tons of telephone  books in one year.   Since                                                               
telephone books are  more difficult to recycle  compared to other                                                               
paper products,  passage of  this bill would  help to  reduce the                                                               
amount of  books that need  to be processed [at  recycle centers]                                                               
every year.   Furthermore, because telephone books are  of a more                                                               
compact type of  paper, they don't degrade as  easily because all                                                               
paper needs to  be mulched if it's even going  to biodegrade.  In                                                               
fact, in  landfills telephone books  are often stacked on  top of                                                               
each other, and generally don't decompose at all.                                                                               
MR. ISTURIS  opined that  while the  hope is  that SSHB  387 will                                                               
change  the   behavior  of  telephone  utilities   and  directory                                                               
distributors, it doesn't  attach any penalty in order  to avoid a                                                               
situation  in which  people gather  up multiple  books and  claim                                                               
that a company left  all of them on their door  step.  He related                                                               
that  the  sponsor has  been  in  touch with  Assistant  Attorney                                                               
General  Ed Sniffen  to develop  a penalty  that would  work well                                                               
with  SSHB   387.    However,   due  to  time   constraints,  the                                                               
legislation lacks this aspect.   Still, Representative Gardner is                                                               
open to  suggestions from  the committee  regarding a  penalty of                                                               
some sort, he noted.   If SSHB 387 passes without  a penalty or a                                                               
fine, the sponsor  hopes that the utilities  will consider taking                                                               
on  what SSHB  387 asks.    He then  related that  Representative                                                               
Gardner has  received many e-mails  in support  of SSHB 387.   In                                                               
conclusion, Mr. Isturis encouraged  the committee to support SSHB                                                               
387, as many Alaskans have.                                                                                                     
9:13:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX inquired as to  the constitutionality of SSHB 387                                                               
as a limit of free speech.                                                                                                      
MR.  ISTURIS said  that he  hasn't spoken  specifically with  Mr.                                                               
Sniffen on that matter as he  has been mostly in contact with the                                                               
drafter  of the  legislation.   The drafter  has determined  that                                                               
there is  no conflict  [with free  speech] because  the telephone                                                               
books are still being distributed  to each home.  Furthermore, in                                                               
other  states,  the problem  has  been  with opt-in  and  opt-out                                                               
directory services  and serious constitutionality  questions have                                                               
arisen.   The  sponsor believes  that  SSHB 387  is a  simplified                                                               
version that doesn't  hinder free speech or the free  market.  In                                                               
further response  to Co-Chair  LeDoux, Mr.  Isturis said  that no                                                               
one is  present to testify  with regard to  the constitutionality                                                               
of  the legislation,  but he  offered  to have  the drafter  come                                                               
before  the  committee  if  it   has  serious  doubts  about  the                                                               
9:15:36 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX asked if the  utilities have refused to only give                                                               
individuals  one  telephone  book   when  they  have  called  and                                                               
requested only receiving one.                                                                                                   
MR.  ISTURIS said  he hasn't  asked  the utilities  about such  a                                                               
practice.    However,  he  related  his  understanding  that  GCI                                                               
already  attempts to  provide one  telephone book  per household.                                                               
With  regard   to  telephone  directories,  the   sponsor  hasn't                                                               
received many  complaints.  Furthermore,  he said he  wasn't sure                                                               
whether the  advertising books not affiliated  with any telephone                                                               
utility have an opt-in or opt-out program.                                                                                      
9:16:46 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM related her  understanding that there is                                                               
an added expense to the  landfills due to the different recycling                                                               
process for telephone books.                                                                                                    
MR. ISTURIS  explained that because  the paper used  in telephone                                                               
books and  directories is  of a  lower grade  and because  of the                                                               
bulk  in   which  many  are  delivered,   prewrapped  pallets  of                                                               
telephone books and directories,  it's more difficult to recycle.                                                               
However, he said he wasn't aware of the cost.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM asked  if  the  sponsor has  considered                                                               
having   conversations   with   the   landfills   regarding   the                                                               
possibility  of the  companies having  a repository  for unwanted                                                               
books, and thus the companies would face the expense.                                                                           
MR.  ISTURIS related  his understanding  that the  landfills have                                                               
some recycling bins.  Furthermore,  many of the companies already                                                               
gather [unwanted] books and send them to recycling centers.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM expressed  concern with  regard to  the                                                               
[fiscal   note]  analysis   that  pertains   to  the   Regulatory                                                               
Commission   of  Alaska   (RCA).     She   recalled  her   recent                                                               
participation in  a RCA meeting  at which it was  brought forward                                                               
that  the  RCA  is  having difficulty  retaining  and  recruiting                                                               
folks.    Furthermore,  it's  been  stated  on  record  that  the                                                               
existing resources of the RCA  don't allow them to perform what's                                                               
mandated  by  law.    Although  the  sponsor's  intent  is  good,                                                               
Representative  Dahlstrom questioned  whether  this is  something                                                               
state government should regulate.                                                                                               
9:21:42 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA related  that  she  has heard  frustration                                                               
from her  constituents regarding  what's left on  their doorstep,                                                               
particularly  when a  homeowner is  gone  for the  weekend or  an                                                               
extended period.   Therefore, Representative Cissna  said she saw                                                               
enormous value  in trying  to cut down  on what  homeowners don't                                                               
request.  Although Anchorage's landfill  is state of the art, she                                                               
related  that  she  has  heard  that  it's  filling  faster  than                                                               
anticipated.   She then expressed  interest in hearing  from more                                                               
people.   In terms  of free  speech, she  opined that  since [the                                                               
companies]  have   the  opportunity  to  provide   one  telephone                                                               
directory, it doesn't limit speech.                                                                                             
9:26:24 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   NEUMAN,  referring   to   the  likelihood   that                                                               
companies preorder  and thus have  an expenditure, asked  if SSHB                                                               
387 has an effective date.                                                                                                      
MR. ISTURIS  said that the  sponsor would be willing  to consider                                                               
an effective date.   He related his  understanding that generally                                                               
each region has  a certain time during which  the telephone books                                                               
are  distributed and  the sponsor  is willing  to take  that into                                                               
consideration and perhaps work toward whenever the cycle begins.                                                                
9:27:42 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN inquired as  to the discussions the sponsor                                                               
and her staff  have had with the utility companies.   He informed                                                               
the  committee  that his  staff  called  the Matanuska  Telephone                                                               
Association  (MTA) and  other companies  [in the  Mat-Su Valley],                                                               
which  say  they  only  send one  telephone  book  per  household                                                               
because  it costs  a considerable  amount of  money to  publish a                                                               
telephone book.                                                                                                                 
MR. ISTURIS  answered that he  is aware that there  are companies                                                               
that  have been  trying to  provide only  one telephone  book per                                                               
household.  This legislation isn't  aimed at those companies.  In                                                               
further response  to Representative  Neuman, Mr.  Isturis related                                                               
that  the sponsor  has been  in  contact with  ACS and  GCI.   He                                                               
related his  further understanding  that GCI  has taken  steps to                                                               
only provide one telephone book per household.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN  surmised then  that some of  the companies                                                               
are trying to mitigate the issue.                                                                                               
MR. ISTURIS replied  yes.  However, he said he  wasn't sure which                                                               
companies are  still in the  process or haven't taken  the matter                                                               
up completely.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  commented that  he  has  found that  once                                                               
people  or organizations  are contacted,  they  are often  fairly                                                               
receptive to helping as much as possible.                                                                                       
MR.  ISTURIS  said  that  he  isn't  sure  which  companies  have                                                               
undertaken [placing only  one telephone book per  household].  He                                                               
then reiterated that the sponsor has contacted ACS and GCI.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN posed the  suggestion of requiring that the                                                               
telephone books be shredded prior  to the depository.  He further                                                               
suggested that the shredded telephone  books could be utilized as                                                               
packing  materials.   The  aforementioned  would  seem to  be  an                                                               
economic  development opportunity.   He,  too, expressed  concern                                                               
with regard  to free speech  and questioned at what  point should                                                               
the state inject itself into the discussion.                                                                                    
MR.  ISTURIS noted  that the  sponsor  has reviewed  some of  the                                                               
alternatives  to   using  telephone   books.    He   related  his                                                               
understanding that  of the telephone books  produced are actually                                                               
90 percent  telephone books.   With regard to  state involvement,                                                               
Mr. Isturis  noted that Mr. Sniffen,  assistant attorney general,                                                               
suggested  discussing   with  the  Department   of  Environmental                                                               
Conservation (DEC) or U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)                                                               
whether it would be able to  enforce an attached penalty.  States                                                               
with  opt-in  or  opt-out   approaches  passed  legislation  that                                                               
require  companies to  maintain lists  of those  who do  or don't                                                               
want to receive a telephone book.   The opt-out approach has been                                                               
viewed as  a little  less restrictive  than the  opt-in approach,                                                               
which  requires   individuals  to  call  in   and  specify  which                                                               
telephone books  they want.   He  related his  understanding that                                                               
SSHB 387 is a unique piece of legislation.                                                                                      
9:37:04 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN said  that he supports the  concept of SSHB                                                               
387.   However, he questioned  the most practical way  to achieve                                                               
the  goal  and  thus  he requested  hearing  from  the  telephone                                                               
companies regarding the options that they offer.                                                                                
MR.  ISTURIS  clarified that  earlier  he  was referring  to  the                                                               
legislation in other  states that doesn't seem to work  well.  If                                                               
companies can institute [the opt-in  or opt-out approaches] well,                                                               
he  said he  assumes  the  process would  go  well.   In  further                                                               
response to Representative Neuman,  Mr. Isturis confirmed that [a                                                               
penalty] would  likely fit better within  DEC than RCA.   He said                                                               
it would be partly regulation and partly statute.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN remarked  that  perhaps [telephone  books]                                                               
could be compressed into pellets for heating.                                                                                   
9:39:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  LEDOUX related  that  she has  five  telephones in  her                                                               
house  and would  like  to have  a telephone  book  next to  each                                                               
telephone.  She further related  that in Kodiak she's experienced                                                               
not receiving enough  telephone books and having  to obtain more,                                                               
which isn't a big  deal in Kodiak.  However, it  seems to be more                                                               
difficult  to obtain  extra telephone  books in  Anchorage.   Co-                                                               
Chair LeDoux  expressed concerned that  with the passage  of SSHB                                                               
387, the onus  would be on the consumer to  obtain more telephone                                                               
MR. ISTURIS  indicated that the  language [in Section  4(h)] that                                                               
reads "Unless otherwise  requested by a member  of the household"                                                               
should address Co-Chair LeDoux's  concern regarding consumers who                                                               
want  more than  one telephone  book.   The individual  companies                                                               
could   determine  the   best  manner   in  which   to  implement                                                               
[distributing  the  extra telephone  books].    He indicated  the                                                               
possibility  of a  mail  out that  requested  the consumer  check                                                               
whether he/she  wanted more telephone  books or a  telephone call                                                               
requesting the delivery of more telephone books.                                                                                
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX remarked that under  either scenario, the onus is                                                               
placed on someone,  whether that be the telephone  company or the                                                               
consumer.    She  then  expressed  concern  with  regard  to  how                                                               
consumers would know how many telephone books to expect.                                                                        
MR. ISTURIS  suggested that perhaps  informing the public  of the                                                               
legislation could be tied into the effective date of SSHB 387.                                                                  
9:42:18 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA offered that  the telephone bill could have                                                               
a spot  that allows  the consumer to  specify how  many telephone                                                               
books  are desired  beyond what  will automatically  be provided.                                                               
She noted that her constituents  have complained about the amount                                                               
of telephone books they received.   Representative Cissna pointed                                                               
out that there  hasn't been any decent  legislation that provided                                                               
an incentive  to small businesses  to utilize materials,  such as                                                               
telephone books,  that are being  discarded.  She inquired  as to                                                               
the legal issues regarding the opt-in and opt-out directories.                                                                  
MR. ISTURIS said that the  opt-in opt-out directories become more                                                               
of a question  of businesses advertising.   Generally, people are                                                               
against the opt-in  opt-out directory because of  the belief that                                                               
it's  a   disservice  to  small  businesses   that  advertise  in                                                               
telephone books.   The message with SSHB 387 is  that the message                                                               
and advertising  is available, the  question is in regard  to how                                                               
many are required to get the message out.                                                                                       
9:47:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM,  regarding leaving the  telephone books                                                               
on  a doorstep,  questioned whether  this legislation  could also                                                               
regulate whether  UPS can  leave a  package on  a doorstep.   She                                                               
related that  it would likely  create a huge problem  to regulate                                                               
such.   She then referred  to an  e-mail in the  committee packet                                                               
that refers to  an individual who received  five telephone books.                                                               
She pointed out that there's no  law with regard to the amount of                                                               
companies  that can  be created  to provide  telephone books  and                                                               
that would continue  even with passage of this  legislation.  She                                                               
questioned the cost  savings to the landfills versus  the cost to                                                               
the  state to  regulate and  determine a  telephone utility  that                                                               
doesn't   gross   $50,000    annually   or   $500,000   annually.                                                               
Representative  Neuman's suggestions  were good  and timely,  she                                                               
opined.   In  fact, she  encouraged  the sponsor  to rewrite  the                                                               
legislation  and address  ways  in which  to  create an  economic                                                               
opportunity with discarded telephone  books.  Although the intent                                                               
of SSHB  387 is good,  it's unconstitutional and not  the state's                                                               
business to regulate it, she opined.                                                                                            
9:50:46 AM                                                                                                                    
BARBARA WINKLEY  testified in support  of SSHB 387.   She related                                                               
that most of the [discarded]  telephone books aren't recycled but                                                               
rather end  up in  the Anchorage  landfill.   In the  interest in                                                               
saving energy and conserving paper,  Ms. Winkley urged passage of                                                               
SSHB 387.                                                                                                                       
9:53:02 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKAYLA  SAITO,  Alaska  Center for  the  Environment,  began  by                                                               
relating that she  is testifying on behalf of  over 6,000 members                                                               
of  the  Alaska  Center  for  the Environment  (ACE).    The  ACE                                                               
supports  SSHB 387,  which would  limit the  number of  telephone                                                               
directories the utility is allowed  to distribute while providing                                                               
households  the discretion  to request  additional copies.   This                                                               
legislation  isn't  an  opportunity  to opt-out  of  receiving  a                                                               
telephone book  from a  utility, but rather  helps to  manage the                                                               
hassle    and   waste    created   by    duplicate   directories.                                                               
Additionally, the legislation evens  out the playing field across                                                               
utility companies.   In 2007  alone, 252 tons of  telephone books                                                               
were recycled.   However,  that's only  the telephone  books that                                                               
were   recycled,  many   directories  are   thrown  away   adding                                                               
unnecessary  waste   to  the  limited  local   landfills.    This                                                               
legislation, she  opined, is a  reasonable common  sense solution                                                               
to  unnecessary  waste  produced  by  printing,  delivering,  and                                                               
duplicating  telephone books.   Furthermore,  Alaskans will  save                                                               
energy and resources  used in the production  of these materials.                                                               
In conclusion, Ms. Saito encouraged passage of SSHB 387.                                                                        
9:55:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM  reiterated concern  with the  RCA being                                                               
responsible for  overseeing this due  to the RCA's lack  of staff                                                               
and  already  heavy  workload,  and  inquired  as  to  the  RCA's                                                               
9:55:42 AM                                                                                                                    
RICHARD GAZAWAY, Administrative  Law Judge, Regulatory Commission                                                               
of Alaska (RCA),  confirmed that the RCA is  taxed with projects.                                                               
He then  informed the committee  that there is an  individual who                                                               
is   dedicated  to   regulations  projects.     He   related  his                                                               
presumption  that   if  a  statute  is   passed,  the  conforming                                                               
regulations wouldn't  be as  controversial as  other regulations.                                                               
However, it would entail expense and time.                                                                                      
9:56:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM  commented that although this  issue may                                                               
not be controversial,  it seems to be one more  thing the RCA has                                                               
to do.                                                                                                                          
MR. GAZAWAY  noted his  agreement that  this would  be additional                                                               
work.  He  related that he has discussed this  proposal with only                                                               
the chair  of the RCA.   That  discussion was only  regarding the                                                               
fiscal  note  and  whether  the  RCA would  be  able  to  utilize                                                               
existing resources  to fulfill the obligations  specified in SSHB                                                               
387.  The conversation was that  the RCA could do what's proposed                                                               
in SSHB 387 under its existing workload levels.                                                                                 
9:57:30 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM remarked that  it's interesting that the                                                               
[committee  packet]   doesn't  include  any  comments   from  any                                                               
telephone company.                                                                                                              
9:58:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  inquired as to the  RCA's responsibilities                                                               
under SSHB 387.                                                                                                                 
MR.  GAZAWAY specified  that RCA,  per statute,  is charged  with                                                               
regulating   public   utilities,   including   telecommunications                                                               
companies that  would be  subject to  SSHB 387.   He  pointed out                                                               
that the  statute guides the RCA  as it specifies that  each home                                                               
is to receive  a telephone book for each telephone  number in the                                                               
home.  [Under  SSHB 387], the RCA's duty would  be to comply with                                                               
the statute and  set the guidelines for the  utilities as clearly                                                               
as possible to effectuate the meaning of the statute.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA inquired  as to how onerous  SSHB 387 would                                                               
be on  companies.  She  then inquired as  to whether the  RCA has                                                               
received  any complaints  about the  receipt of  excess telephone                                                               
MR.  GAZAWAY  answered  that  he is  unaware  of  any  complaints                                                               
regarding the  provision of telephone directories.   The existing                                                               
regulation   requires  that   a  certain   number  of   telephone                                                               
directories be provided  free of charge and a  reasonable fee can                                                               
be imposed  for additional directories.   Regarding SSHB  387, he                                                               
questioned whether  there would  be any limits.   He  related his                                                               
understanding that companies would  have to provide one telephone                                                               
directory per  household, and  asked how  many would  the company                                                               
provide for  free and when  would the  customer be charged  for a                                                               
telephone directory.                                                                                                            
10:02:38 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN commented  that  the  statutes, which  are                                                               
replaced  every two  years, in  the capitol  building create  the                                                               
same issue as with the telephone directories.                                                                                   
10:03:06 AM                                                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX  announced that SSHB  387 would be held  over and                                                               
requested a legal opinion regarding  the constitutionality of the                                                               
legislation.   She also requested  hearing from the  utilities on                                                               
this legislation.                                                                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects