Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/11/2001 08:52 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 103(FIN)                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act relating to election campaigns and legislative                                                                     
     ethics."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Tibbles noted that members  were provided with a proposed                                                                   
committee substitute,  work draft 22-LS0148\H.  He noted that                                                                   
three  sections  were modified  or  deleted by  the  proposed                                                                   
committee substitute. He discussed the changes.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Section 1  of the  Judiciary version  was deleted.  Section 1                                                                   
would have required  the Commission to develop  a single form                                                                   
for  financial  disclosure statements.  The  requirement  was                                                                   
removed   because  the   statute   referenced  two   separate                                                                   
disclosure  laws:  one applied  to  the legislature  and  one                                                                   
applied to  all public officials.  The laws are  distinct and                                                                   
different. The issue is still being reviewed.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Section  5 was also  deleted.  Section 5 allowed  the use  of                                                                   
office account funds to influence  the outcome of an election                                                                   
concerning  a ballot  proposition  if the  use was  permitted                                                                   
under the  ethics law.  Mr. Tibbles  noted that testimony  by                                                                   
Brook  Miles,  Executive  Director,  Alaska  Public  Officers                                                                   
Commission indicated  that deletion of the section  would not                                                                   
prevent the  practice. The intent  is to clarify  that public                                                                   
money could not  be used other than to perform  the usual and                                                                   
customary duties of one's job.  Members can support of oppose                                                                   
ballot  propositions and  send  mailings.  Members could  not                                                                   
operate  a campaign  or  influence a  campaign  out of  their                                                                   
office.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Section 6, subsection 4(a)(ii):  use by a political party was                                                                   
deleted.  Mr.  Tibbles  explained   that  the  provision  was                                                                   
confusing. Under  current law,  a union or corporation  could                                                                   
mail to  their shareholders or  members and families  only if                                                                   
it is a regular communication,  such as a newsletter. Special                                                                   
bulletins would not  be allowed. It would be  limited to $500                                                                   
dollars.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Croft  agreed   with   the  elimination   of                                                                   
subsection  4(a)(ii)   and  pointed  out  that   there  is  a                                                                   
constitutional  right to associate  with people that  want to                                                                   
form a group to communicate on issues.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative John Davies MOVED to ADOPT Amendment 1:                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     A campaign  that receives $500, or goods  or services of                                                                   
     a value of  $500, may file a contributor's  statement as                                                                   
     required   under   this  section   on   behalf  of   the                                                                   
     contributor.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Mulder  noted that the amendment had  been discussed                                                                   
in the previous  meeting. The amendment would  allow the 15.5                                                                   
reports to  be filed by the  campaign with the  Alaska Public                                                                   
Officers Commission.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative John Davies MOVED to ADOPT Amendment 2:                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Section 19.25.105 is amended by adding:                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     (a) (7) Political campaign signs no larger than 4 feet                                                                     
     by 8 feet may be within the right of way within 45 days                                                                    
     of an election in which a candidate or ballot issue or                                                                     
     constitutional amendment is to be decided, and those                                                                       
     signs must removed within 10 days after that election.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Section 19.25.150 is amended by adding:                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     A sign in violation of AS 95.25.105 (a) (7) may be                                                                         
     removed immediately by the department, and returned to                                                                     
     the candidate or campaign for upon receipt of a $100                                                                       
     handling fee per sign.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  John  Davies  explained  that  the  amendment                                                                   
would  address  the  use  of  political  campaign  signs.  He                                                                   
observed  that  there is  confusion  regarding  the law.  The                                                                   
amendment would allow  the use of signs within 45  days of an                                                                   
election.  Signs would  have  to be  removed  within 10  days                                                                   
after  an election.  The  amendment  would also  clarify  the                                                                   
penalty. The department  would be able to  immediately remove                                                                   
signs  that are  in  violation  of the  law.  Signs would  be                                                                   
returned to the  campaign with a $100 handling  fee. He noted                                                                   
that his  intent is to clarify  the law and even  the playing                                                                   
field.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Hudson expressed  support for the  amendment.                                                                   
He noted  that the  department must  currently give  a 30-day                                                                   
notice before signs can be removed.  He maintained that there                                                                   
are violations  under the  current law.  He noted that  signs                                                                   
could not be placed near election  sites and would not affect                                                                   
billboard laws. The amendment  would legalize the status quo.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Mulder  spoke  in  support  of  the  amendment.  He                                                                   
observed  that current  law has  been inconsistently  applied                                                                   
from location to location and campaign to campaign.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
In  response  to  a  question   by  Representative  Whitaker,                                                                   
Representative John  Davies explained that the  state version                                                                   
of the 1966 federal act was adopted  by initiative. State law                                                                   
disallows  billboards  along   state  maintained  roads.  The                                                                   
Department of  Transportation and Public Facilities  has made                                                                   
a distinction between rural roads.  During the last election,                                                                   
the Northern Region  of the Department of  Transportation and                                                                   
Public Facilities  enforced the  law on all state  maintained                                                                   
road  in Fairbanks.  He  observed  that there  was  a lot  of                                                                   
confusion  regarding  the  use  of  signs.  The  department's                                                                   
interpretation  was viewed  as onerous,  although it  was the                                                                   
correct  interpretation  of  the  law.  The  amendment  would                                                                   
clarify  the law  and draw  a bright  line as  to the use  of                                                                   
campaign signs.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Lancaster questioned  if the amendment  would                                                                   
be self-serving.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GENE THERRIAULT  expressed concern  that a  specific                                                                   
allowance would be  carved out. He noted that  the Department                                                                   
of Transportation and Public Facilities  is protective of the                                                                   
right away. He  added that signs are not allowed  if they are                                                                   
visible from a state maintained  road on private property. He                                                                   
expressed   concern  that   the  amendment   would  set   the                                                                   
Legislature up for criticism.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  John  Davies  responded  that  the  exemption                                                                   
would  be handled  in the same  way as  other exemptions.  He                                                                   
stressed that a large number of  people are putting up signs.                                                                   
The amendment would specify what  is allowed and what is not.                                                                   
He acknowledged  that the  30-day rule  makes sense  for most                                                                   
business  uses,  but  argued that  the  30-day  rule  invites                                                                   
people  to  place  signs  29  days  before  the  election  in                                                                   
violation of the law. The amendment  would clarify the rules.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Croft  acknowledged   that  it  creates   an                                                                   
exception that other businesses  won't have but stressed that                                                                   
it would  confirm the current  practice. He pointed  out that                                                                   
there would not  be further opportunity to debate  the issue,                                                                   
since it is the final committee  assignment on a senate bill.                                                                   
He acknowledged the  need to review the issue,  but suggested                                                                   
that it should be taken up in other legislation.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Whitaker  spoke  against  the  amendment.  He                                                                   
observed that  the public approved of the  limitations placed                                                                   
on the signs in the Northern Region.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Harris questioned if  there is any  provision                                                                   
to allow the department to designate areas allowing signs.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Therriault clarified  that the  department does  not                                                                   
allow signs in the road right-of-way.  He noted that the bill                                                                   
was scheduled for floor action  that day and that there would                                                                   
be little time to review the amendment.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was taken on the motion.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
IN FAVOR: Davies, Hudson, Mulder                                                                                                
OPPOSED: Croft, Harris, Lancaster, Whitaker, Williams                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representatives Foster, Moses  and Bunde were absent from the                                                                   
meeting.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
In response  to a  question by  Senator Therriault,  Co-Chair                                                                   
Mulder restated the intent of  Amendment 1. He emphasized the                                                                   
intent  of diminishing  the  "hassle factor"  for  individual                                                                   
donors.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator   Therriault   reviewed  statute   requirements   for                                                                   
contributions. He noted that the  contributor must state that                                                                   
they are not prohibited by law  from making the contribution.                                                                   
He questioned  if a campaign  could fill  out a form  for the                                                                   
candidate. He  questioned if the  language had  been reviewed                                                                   
by the Department of Law.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative John Davies pointed  out that the amendment is                                                                   
permissive  and  states that  they  "may". He  stressed  that                                                                   
regulation would allow the intent to fit with the statute.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Therriault did  not have problems  with the  intent,                                                                   
but expressed  concern that he  was not sure how  the drafter                                                                   
would interpret the language.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Mulder observed that  the Division of Legal Services                                                                   
was reviewing  the amendment.  He noted that  it was  not his                                                                   
intent to  diminish or  threaten the bill.  He noted  that if                                                                   
the  result  is  adversarial  that  the  amendment  could  be                                                                   
withdrawn.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Mulder MOVED  to report  HCS  SB 103  (FIN) out  of                                                                   
Committee with the accompanying fiscal note.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
HCS SB  103 (FIN) was  REPORTED out of  Committee with  a "do                                                                   
pass"  recommendation and  with a  previous published  fiscal                                                                   
impact note (#2) by the Department of Administration.                                                                           

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