Legislature(2015 - 2016)HOUSE FINANCE 519

04/01/2015 01:30 PM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to 2:00 p.m. Today --
+= HB 158 REFINED FUEL SURCHARGE;MOTOR FUEL TAX TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 158(FIN) Out of Committee
+ HB 13 ELECTION PAMPHLETS AND ABSENTEE BALLOTS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 41 SPORT FISHING SERVICES TELECONFERENCED
<Bill Hearing Postponed to 4/2/15>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 13                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     "An  Act requiring  notice of  the postage  required to                                                                    
     mail  an absentee  ballot on  the envelope  provided by                                                                    
     the  division of  elections for  returning an  absentee                                                                    
     ballot; and repealing the  authority to include certain                                                                    
     material  from  a  political   party  in  the  election                                                                    
     pamphlet."                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:08:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BOB  LYNN, SPONSOR,  discussed that  the bill                                                                    
related to  the official  election pamphlet.  He highlighted                                                                    
that the pamphlet carried an  air of authenticity because it                                                                    
was  published by  the government  of the  State of  Alaska;                                                                    
therefore, voters  tended to give  far more credence  to the                                                                    
words in  the election  pamphlet than  they did  to campaign                                                                    
mailers. He  asserted that  because candidates  could afford                                                                    
to advertise in  the pamphlet, it was  a campaign equalizer.                                                                    
He stated  that the pamphlet  was basically a "vote  for me"                                                                    
publication  for  candidates,  judges, and  initiatives.  He                                                                    
furthered that  candidates could write almost  anything they                                                                    
chose "however ridiculous it may  be" without editing by the                                                                    
state,  which  he  believed  was  fine.  He  continued  that                                                                    
unfortunately there was a section  in the pamphlet where any                                                                    
registered political  party could make  campaign statements,                                                                    
which  could  mean  escalated   attacks  on  candidates.  He                                                                    
stressed  that the  pamphlet was  supposed to  be a  neutral                                                                    
governmental publication about who  and what the voters were                                                                    
voting  on. He  communicated that  the bill  would eliminate                                                                    
political  party  advertisements  in the  official  election                                                                    
pamphlet. He urged members to pass the bill.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gattis  wondered about  the history.  She had                                                                    
noticed  the advertisements  in the  past election,  but not                                                                    
prior to that. Representative  Lynn asked for clarification.                                                                    
Representative Gattis asked  how it had come to  be that the                                                                    
state allowed  political parties to advertise.  She wondered                                                                    
if  advertisement  in the  pamphlet  was  open to  everyone.                                                                    
Representative   Lynn   deferred   the   question   to   the                                                                    
department.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
GAIL FENUMIAI,  DIRECTOR, DIVISION  OF ELECTIONS,  OFFICE OF                                                                    
THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR  (via teleconference), answered that                                                                    
current  state law  only allowed  for  political parties  to                                                                    
purchase space  in the pamphlet (outside  of any information                                                                    
that  could be  voluntarily provided  by candidates  running                                                                    
for office).                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gattis asked  about the  history behind  the                                                                    
law. Ms.  Fenumiai replied that the  advertisements had been                                                                    
allowed for at least the past twenty years.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Gara  expounded   that   the  ability   for                                                                    
political  parties to  advertise  in the  pamphlet had  been                                                                    
around  for  a  long-time.  He  detailed  that  historically                                                                    
parties  had used  two pages  in the  pamphlet to  highlight                                                                    
their platform; however, in the  past one of the parties had                                                                    
determined  that personal  advertisements  were allowed.  He                                                                    
believed  the  advertisements  would only  escalate  in  the                                                                    
future. He asked for  verification that historically parties                                                                    
could use the space to highlight their platforms.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Fenumiai  asked  Representative   Gara  to  repeat  the                                                                    
question.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative    Gara   asked    for   confirmation    that                                                                    
historically parties had  used two pages in  the pamphlet to                                                                    
highlight  their  platform.  Ms.  Fenumiai  replied  in  the                                                                    
affirmative.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara noted that it  had only been in the past                                                                    
year that one of the  political parties had figured out that                                                                    
the  advertisement  against  another  party  was  legal.  He                                                                    
reasoned that  the advertisements could target  any state or                                                                    
federal  candidate. He  and  Representative  Lynn were  both                                                                    
opposed to the state paying for negative ads.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Thompson asked about how  much money was brought in                                                                    
through advertising.  He observed  that the fiscal  note was                                                                    
zero.  Ms. Fenumiai  responded that  political parties  were                                                                    
allowed to  pay for up  to two pages  at $600 per  page. She                                                                    
believed there  were a total  of four political  party pages                                                                    
in the 2014 pamphlet, which brought in about $2,400.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Thompson  observed that there was  a fiscal impact,                                                                    
but it was not large.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:15:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Neuman asked  whether  there  had been  complaints                                                                    
about advertisements  prior to  the past year.  Ms. Fenumiai                                                                    
replied that the past election  was the first year she could                                                                    
recall receiving complaints.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Neuman  asked about  sideboards  in  the law  that                                                                    
addressed what  could be included in  the advertisements and                                                                    
who  could advertise.   Ms.  Fenumiai  responded that  there                                                                    
were  no   limitations;  the  division  accepted   what  was                                                                    
provided  by  candidates  and  parties.  She  added  that  a                                                                    
disclaimer  was   provided  at  the  bottom   of  the  pages                                                                    
indicating which entity paid for the ad.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Neuman surmised  that any  political party  within                                                                    
the State of  Alaska that was recognized by  the Division of                                                                    
Elections  was  allowed  to   place  an  advertisement.  Ms.                                                                    
Fenumiai  answered   in  the  affirmative;   any  recognized                                                                    
political party could place an ad in the pamphlet.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Neuman  asked  if  the   division  had  looked  at                                                                    
adopting sideboards  that addressed what could  or could not                                                                    
be  included in  an ad  to  prevent a  negative impact.  Ms.                                                                    
Fenumiai replied  that the division  had not  considered the                                                                    
issue.  Co-Chair  Neuman  asserted  that  the  division  had                                                                    
probably  thought  about  the  idea, but  did  not  want  to                                                                    
discuss it.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Thompson  noted  that Representatives  Pruitt  and                                                                    
Wilson had joined the meeting.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kawasaki  asked if any political  party could                                                                    
advertise  in the  pamphlet  even  if they  did  not have  a                                                                    
candidate  in  the race.  Ms.  Fenumiai  responded that  any                                                                    
recognized party could  advertise even if they  did not have                                                                    
a candidate.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kawasaki thought he  had read that candidates                                                                    
were   not  allowed   to  make   statements  about   another                                                                    
candidate. He thought  the language had to  be positive. Ms.                                                                    
Fenumiai replied  that there  were no  provisions specifying                                                                    
what  the subject  matter of  a candidate's  statement could                                                                    
be. There were  limits to the number of  words a candidate's                                                                    
biography and statement could contain.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kawasaki thought he  recalled the Division of                                                                    
Election's  specifying that  a  candidate's statement  could                                                                    
not be about another person.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:19:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Saddler  asked for  verification that  there were                                                                    
no  standards  as  to  what  candidates  could  put  in  the                                                                    
pamphlet.  Ms.   Fenumiai  confirmed  that  there   were  no                                                                    
standards in place.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Saddler  asked if  there could  be any  limits on                                                                    
political  speech under  the First  Amendment  [to the  U.S.                                                                    
Constitution]. Ms. Fenumiai deferred the question.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Lynn replied  that according  to Legislative                                                                    
Legal Services  there were no First  Amendment problems with                                                                    
the bill.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Saddler  countered  that  there  were  no  First                                                                    
Amendment  problems with  removing advertisements;  however,                                                                    
he  believed limiting  the content  of advertisements  would                                                                    
violate the First Amendment.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOANNA LEWIS,  STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE BOB LYNN,  replied that                                                                    
she had learned from Legislative  Legal Services that it was                                                                    
legal to limit  who was allowed to put  information into the                                                                    
pamphlet, but  the limit  had to  be applied  equally across                                                                    
the board (i.e. the limit could  not be applied to one party                                                                    
but not another).                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Lynn  expounded that  it had always  been his                                                                    
understanding  that it  was  not legal  for  a candidate  to                                                                    
mention   another  candidate's   name  in   their  statement                                                                    
published in the pamphlet.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Saddler asked  how many  parties were  currently                                                                    
eligible  to  advertise  in the  pamphlet.  He  wondered  if                                                                    
historically  all  eligible  parties   had  tended  to  take                                                                    
advantage  of  the  advertising  opportunity.  Ms.  Fenumiai                                                                    
replied  that all  parties had  the  opportunity to  provide                                                                    
information  in  the  pamphlet; there  were  currently  four                                                                    
parties recognized in Alaska.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Saddler  asked Ms. Fenumiai to  identify the four                                                                    
parties. Ms.  Fenumiai replied  that the  recognized parties                                                                    
were  the Alaskan  Republican, Democratic,  Libertarian, and                                                                    
Independence   parties.  She   relayed   that  the   Alaskan                                                                    
Democratic,   Libertarian,   and  Republican   parties   had                                                                    
purchased pages in the 2014 general election pamphlet.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Saddler  asked  whether all  parties  tended  to                                                                    
place ads  in the pamphlet.  Ms. Fenumiai answered  that the                                                                    
two major parties had historically  been the ones to provide                                                                    
ads to pamphlets.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:23:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Guttenberg  asked   how  a  political  party                                                                    
became recognized  and eligible  to purchase  a page  in the                                                                    
pamphlet. Ms.  Fenumiai answered  that a party  was required                                                                    
to submit  a form and run  a candidate for governor  who had                                                                    
received  at  least 3  percent  of  the  total vote  in  the                                                                    
preceding  general election  (if  there was  not a  governor                                                                    
race, the  U.S. senator or representative  races were used).                                                                    
By  the  time  the  pamphlet  was  published  the  political                                                                    
parties were already set for the year.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Guttenberg  discussed that the  next election                                                                    
cycle  was  presidential.  He   noted  that  many  political                                                                    
parties would  have presidential  candidates on  the ballot.                                                                    
He wondered if a political  party from another state (with a                                                                    
presidential  candidate) would  be prevented  from having  a                                                                    
page in the  election book. Ms. Fenumiai did  not believe it                                                                    
would  qualify.  She  detailed that  per  Alaska  statute  a                                                                    
political party was defined as  an organized group of voters                                                                    
that  represents   a  political  program  and   that  ran  a                                                                    
candidate (for governor, U.S. Senate, or Congress).                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Guttenberg addressed  the term  "sideboards"                                                                    
that he  equated to  political free  speech. He  wondered if                                                                    
the  Division   of  Elections  was  capable   of  beating  a                                                                    
challenge  that could  arise  if it  put  any sideboards  on                                                                    
something  [e.g.   the  election  pamphlet].   Ms.  Fenumiai                                                                    
deferred the question to the Department of Law.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative Guttenberg  wondered if a challenge  had ever                                                                    
arisen in  response to something  published in  the election                                                                    
pamphlet  in  the  past.  Ms.  Fenumiai  did  not  recall  a                                                                    
challenge in the past.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Neuman asked  for an  explanation  of the  changes                                                                    
between the  original legislation and the  version passed by                                                                    
the House State Affairs Committee.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:27:34 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:27:55 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Lynn  answered  that a  section  related  to                                                                    
postage had been deleted from  the original bill version. He                                                                    
explained that  originally the bill  had specified  that the                                                                    
Division of  Elections would take  care of  absentee ballots                                                                    
that  were mailed  without adequate  postage. The  provision                                                                    
had been  removed, which  was reflected  in the  zero fiscal                                                                    
note.  The  remaining  issue addressed  by  the  legislation                                                                    
pertained  to what  political parties  could include  in the                                                                    
pamphlet.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Neuman  wondered  whether the  sponsor  asked  the                                                                    
political parties  that normally advertised in  the pamphlet                                                                    
if  they had  recommendations  to  work out  accommodations.                                                                    
Representative  Lynn replied  in the  negative. He  believed                                                                    
that most political parties would  like to gain an advantage                                                                    
over their  opponents. The legislation addressed  his belief                                                                    
that  it  was  inappropriate  for  candidates  or  political                                                                    
parties to publish "hit" pieces in the election pamphlet.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Neuman observed  that  the  backup materials  only                                                                    
included  the political  pamphlet from  the preceding  year.                                                                    
Representative Lynn  answered that he only  had the pamphlet                                                                    
from the prior election.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Saddler  asked  about  the  basic  economics  of                                                                    
producing  the election  pamphlet. He  wondered how  much of                                                                    
the cost of producing  advertisement and candidate pages was                                                                    
covered by  a party or candidate  and how much was  paid for                                                                    
by  the division.  Ms.  Fenumiai replied  that  it cost  the                                                                    
division  $256,000 to  produce  the  election pamphlet.  The                                                                    
party pages  had brought in approximately  $2,400 [in 2014].                                                                    
She  did not  know the  amount of  revenue generated  by the                                                                    
candidate  pages off  hand.  She would  follow  up with  the                                                                    
information.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Saddler  surmised that  it  was  clear that  the                                                                    
Division of  Elections was paying  for a  substantial amount                                                                    
of the cost associated with the pamphlet.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Pruitt   wondered  why   the  goal   was  to                                                                    
eliminate  party advertising  altogether. He  wondered about                                                                    
an option  of being allowed  to put information in  that was                                                                    
not negative. Representative Lynn  answered that what may be                                                                    
viewed  as negative  to one  person may  not be  negative to                                                                    
another.  He  reasoned  that  candidates,  initiatives,  and                                                                    
judges were all voted for  on the ballot; however, political                                                                    
parties were not.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:32:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Pruitt  stated that if negativity  was in the                                                                    
eye of the beholder he had  a problem with all of the ballot                                                                    
initiatives  and  did not  believe  they  should be  in  the                                                                    
pamphlet  because there  were negatives  on  both sides.  He                                                                    
believed the issue could be  micromanaged to the extent that                                                                    
the  pamphlet  had  to  be done  away  with  altogether.  He                                                                    
advised addressing  negativity if  that was the  concern. He                                                                    
remarked  that  some  of  the small  parties,  such  as  the                                                                    
Congress Party, may not have  an advertising platform due to                                                                    
their  size. He  did not  understand why  parties should  be                                                                    
penalized.  He could  identify other  items in  the pamphlet                                                                    
that he believed were negative.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Lynn   replied  that  residents   voted  for                                                                    
candidates, initiatives,  and judges, but not  for political                                                                    
party.  He agreed  that negativity  was  in the  eye of  the                                                                    
beholder,  but  he  wondered  why  the  advertisements  were                                                                    
included in the pamphlet to begin with.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Pruitt  countered   that  there  were  still                                                                    
people who  voted by  political party.  He believed  that to                                                                    
discount  that   reality  would  not  address   reality.  He                                                                    
reasoned  that  if  the  concern  was  the  negativity,  the                                                                    
negativity should  be addressed. He believed  the bill would                                                                    
penalize  all of  the political  parties  by limiting  their                                                                    
exposure.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Lynn answered  that  people voting  strictly                                                                    
along  party lines  could  identify  which party  candidates                                                                    
represented.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:35:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson  asked why  the Division  of Elections                                                                    
was paying  anything for the  ads. She thought  the division                                                                    
should  just charge  more. She  thought paying  $256,000 for                                                                    
the pamphlet  was high.  She stated that  "if we  don't like                                                                    
what they  do, at  least get  more money  out of  them." She                                                                    
asked the  division to determine  how much it would  have to                                                                    
charge  parties and  candidates so  that the  state was  not                                                                    
subsidizing elections.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Edgmon  wondered if  there was  anywhere else                                                                    
within the  election process that  was essentially  based on                                                                    
neutrality. He  wondered if the  pamphlet was the  only part                                                                    
of the election  process where a party could  pay to publish                                                                    
a partisan statement.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Thompson  noted that Ms.  Fenumiai could  follow up                                                                    
later. He  relayed that  the committee  would hear  the bill                                                                    
again  in the  future; members  would have  a chance  to ask                                                                    
additional questions.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative Lynn  summarized that the bill  was not about                                                                    
money. He  explained that it  did not matter to  him whether                                                                    
the statements  by political  parties were  free or  cost $1                                                                    
million per page;  it was not the point  of the legislation.                                                                    
He  stressed that  political  party  advertisements did  not                                                                    
belong in  the election  pamphlet. He believed  the election                                                                    
pamphlet   was  a   place  for   candidate  and   initiative                                                                    
statements; it should be kept as pure as possible.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
HB  13  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 13 Explanation of Changes ver H to ver N.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 13
HB 13 Supporting Documents - 3 emails.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 13
HB13 Sponsor Statement.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 13
HB 158 NEW FN DOR.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 158
HB 158 Oil Spill Prevention-Public Letters of Support 3-31-2015.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 158
SB 86
HB 158 CAP Comments.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 158
HB 158 Overview of the Spill Prevention and Response Division.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 158
HB 158 ADEC Cleanup Levels Established For Petroleum for Soil and Groundwater.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 158
House Finance Committee HB158 Refined Fuel Surcharge Follow Up.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 158
HB 13 Current Statute Language.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 13
HB 13 NEW FN GOV.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 13
HB 158 NEW FN Fund Transfer.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 158
HB 158 CS WorkDraft FIN 29-LS0608-I version.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 158
Alper to Thompson and Neuman re HB158 04-01-15.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 158
HB 41 CS WorkDraft FIN P version.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 41
HB 158 AOGA Testimony for HB 158 470 Fund FINAL.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 158
15.052 House Finance Committee HB158 Refined Fuel Surcharge Follow Up to....pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 158
HB 158 Opposition Letter.pdf HFIN 4/1/2015 1:30:00 PM
HB 158