Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/21/1995 08:04 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 The first item on the agenda was HB 83.  Chair James reminded the             
 committee that they heard the sponsor statement at the last meeting           
 and asked that the bill be revisited.                                         
 HSTA - 02/21/95                                                               
 HB 83 - REVIEW OF FEDERALLY MANDATED PROGRAMS                               
 Number 016                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN spoke on the CS for HB 83 and noted that            
 copies had been passed out to committee members.                              
 CHAIR JAMES called for a motion to adopt the CS as the working                
 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER moved to adopt the CS, Version C, for             
 HB 83, which was from the World Trade Committee.   There being no             
 objection, it was so ordered.                                                 
 CHAIR JAMES noted that Representative Joe Green arrived.                      
 Number 055                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN explained the change in the CS; namely, that              
 the review process of federal mandates was changed from "annually"            
 to "once every four years."  This change would reduce the cost of             
 the mandate by 70 percent. Representative Ogan said he discovered             
 while studying this bill that there has never been a study as to              
 what federal mandates cost the state.  One study showed, however,             
 that the municipality of Anchorage alone will spend approximately             
 $430 million to pay for environmental mandates from 1991 to the               
 year 2000.  Representative Ogan suspects we will pay billions of              
 dollars on the state level in that same kind of time frame.  He               
 said there are currently 192 federal mandates in force against the            
 state, and he hopes this bill will be cost effective, and if                  
 passed, it will save the state money.  It will set up methods for             
 dealing with the costs, for negotiating with the federal                      
 government, and also for suing the federal government, if                     
 Number 101                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON said it sounds good in theory, yet              
 every four years the U.S. Congress passes laws, and from these laws           
 we get mandates.  The U.S. Department of Education has stated that            
 you must have certain laws regarding guns in schools, for instance.           
 The state government may or may not agree with the mandate, yet if            
 it comes from the federal government, not from the state level, it            
 would need reviewing.  Her concern was about what they would be               
 trying to accomplish doing reviews every four years, if it was to             
 make determinations about the costs to implement the mandates, or             
 to make recommendations about whether or not we should implement              
 the mandates.                                                                 
 Number 124                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN assured Representative Robinson that the intent           
 of the bill is to scrutinize the mandates and laws to determine if            
 they are constitutional under the Tenth Amendment of the U.S.                 
 Constitution.  That is the thrust of this bill.  He believes the              
 federal government is exceeding its authority, and he said we often           
 hear about how a certain law might work for different areas in the            
 lower 48 states, but also they are not applicable here.  The idea             
 is to scrutinize the mandates as litmus tests to see if they are              
 constitutional.   If they are unconstitutional then they can argue            
 with the federal government in court, if necessary, about their               
 authority to impose the laws on the state.  It will be up to the              
 Governor to decide whether or not to fight these mandates, and                
 different governors will surely take different approaches with it.            
 Number 169                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON agreed that federal laws cannot be changed.           
 The legislature can only control such things as mandates that the             
 state is currently accepting and following.  Every year there is              
 something put on us from the federal government, such as the helmet           
 law and the increase on the drinking age.  Many mandates have                 
 threats of losing federal dollars accompanying them, if the state             
 does not implement it by a certain date.  She asked if                        
 Representative Ogan perceives this bill as a means by which the               
 legislature could decide whether or not to implement the mandate,             
 or as a way to say the Governor should fight it.                              
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said it was a fair analysis.  He mentioned a              
 situation the city of Anchorage experienced recently where they               
 refused to implement an environmental mandate.  It would have cost            
 the city $1 million to implement the mandate.                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON concluded the bill calls for another                  
 report, or a review on a report; it doesnt force anybody to do                
 anything.  She only felt confused about the cost.                             
 CHAIR JAMES said there would be a cost for the review and a fiscal            
 note is attached.  She suspects if they determined that a                     
 considerable amount of money was required to implement a mandate,             
 then made a decision not to implement it, the savings would                   
 probably offset the cost of the evaluation.  She added there is no            
 sure way to identify those moneys; however, according to the                  
 information she has, many of the federal mandates cost the state              
 more to implement than the federal funds provided to the state for            
 Number 202                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN asked what affect it would have on                   
 mandates that come down during the interim period; for instance, a            
 mandate that came down three years ago and has been implemented for           
 these last three years.  He wondered if that would lose much of the           
 effectiveness of what this bill is trying to accomplish.                      
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN agreed the bill might lose some of its                    
 effectiveness.  While studying the fiscal note they determined it             
 would be cost prohibitive to review the mandates each year.  On the           
 other hand, it might be prudent to build something into the bill to           
 allow for reviews on any new mandates that come in the interim.               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asserted that, while it would be a four year             
 cycle, an unacceptable mandate might come up within the first year            
 that should be reviewed.                                                      
 CHAIR JAMES inserted that she felt the Governor should be given the           
 message about an unacceptable mandate.  In fact, it is currently an           
 administrative option.  She said they could be doing that now.  HB            
 83 merely declares that they will review mandates at least every              
 four years.  If a savings was truly recognized it would behoove the           
 Administration to review the mandates without being told that they            
 have to.                                                                      
 Number 240                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ED WILLIS inquired about how to distinguish between            
 the regional concerns versus the national interests.                          
 CHAIR JAMES said she suspects that every decision we ought to make            
 should be representative of both regional and national interests.             
 However, one problem with federal mandates is that although they              
 may apply to Los Angeles or New York, they may not apply to our               
 area.  A problem with federal mandates is that they can only do it            
 in one size fits all.  The question is, if the federal government             
 has the right to make decisions for Alaska based on problems                  
 relating to situations in other states.                                       
 Number 260                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS asked if the review commission would take               
 each mandate individually, then make a ruling on it and say a                 
 particular mandate should not apply to Alaska.  He wondered how it            
 would work, in practice, when it reached the commission level.  He            
 was confused about how we would determine if we should let                    
 something go, because it is in the national interest, or because it           
 is a regional thing and they should leave us alone.                           
 Number 277                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN pointed out that there is a section in the bill           
 that covers new mandates, on page 2, line 30.                                 
  The commissioner of a department or head of another agency of               
 the executive branch authorized to develop a state program to                 
 respond to mandates contained in federal statute shall, with                  
 the assistance of the Department of Law, review the applicable                
 federal statutes, regulations, guidelines, and policies to                    
 determine whether the federal government has exceeded its                     
 constitutional authority to impose mandates on the state.  If                 
 it is determined that the federal government may have exceeded                
 its authority, the commissioner or agency head shall submit a                 
 written report to the governor and the house and senate                       
 judiciary committees setting out the basis for this                           
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN added that there will be disagreements                    
 concerning what the federal government might do that is good for              
 the state, but whether or not it is constitutional, is the question           
 Number 300                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS asked if part of the recommendation is that             
 they could file suit against the federal government, if the                   
 commission saw fit to do that.                                                
 CHAIR JAMES added that the Governor would be the one to file the              
 CHAIR JAMES had to leave for another meeting, so Representative               
 Ogan, Vice-Chair of the State Affairs Committee, took the Chair for           
 the rest of the meeting.                                                      
 VICE-CHAIR OGAN asked for testimony from Molly Sherman who had                
 signed up to testify.                                                         
 Number 335                                                                    
 MOLLY SHERMAN, Volunteer, Alaskan Environmental Lobby, and life               
 long Alaskan, testified against HB 83.  Ms. Sherman said they have            
 19 member agencies throughout the state, and there are almost 2,000           
 members.  Below is the written statement from Alaska Environmental            
 Lobby, Inc.                                                                   
  "The Alaskan Environmental Lobby strongly supports all                      
 endeavors that serve to give the people in Alaska                             
 opportunities to better manage all resources; human, physical                 
 and spiritual.  We feel there are many states' rights issues                  
 that must be addressed, if we are going to move with                          
 intelligence and consistency into the 21st Century.                           
  "We also believe, as does the sponsor of this legislation that              
 the state government should `scrutinize the extent and scope                  
 of authority asserted by the federal government' in many                      
  "There are many examples of federal mandates where the                      
 benefits to this state and its citizens, in economic, public                  
 health and safety terms, have been substantial.  Minimum                      
 drinking age, compensatory schooling, safe working standards.                 
 The U.S. Congress is not made up of raging environmentalists.                 
 They have not conspired to keep Alaska from using its                         
 resources, they are interested in the health and safety                       
 concerns of all its citizens.                                                 
  "It has been suggested that this legislation could save the                 
 state money.  We have been unable to determine how additional                 
 administrative costs, forays into litigation with the federal                 
 government and forfeiture of federally mandated monies will                   
 help Alaskas economy.  In a time when we all feel the need to                 
 be frugal and fiscally responsible HB 83 seems uncertain.                     
  "However, we feel that this can be done in less costly - in                 
 real administrative costs and potential litigation charges -                  
 and more efficient ways than those proposed in HB 83.  It is                  
 unnecessary to do this on statutory basis.  State agencies are                
 already capable of telling us when a program is unnecessary,                  
 over burdensome, overpriced and onerous.  A legislator with a                 
 specific concern is able to contact the specific agency and                   
 get all the pertinent information.  At a time when interagency                
 cooperation is stressed, this would seem a viable and                         
 efficient alternative."                                                       
 Number 383                                                                    
 JACK KREINHEDER, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Management and              
 Budget in the Governors Office, offered some brief comments in                
 regard to HB 83.  He noted that the bill was amended in the House             
 Special Committee on World Trade and the State-Federal Relations.             
 The intent was to make the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)              
 the lead agency in the review of these federal mandates.  They                
 prepared a corresponding fiscal note for it.                                  
 After establishing that the CS had been adopted, MR. KREINHEDER               
 addressed some concerns his office had, and he asked the committee            
 to respond, as to whether those concerns were addressed in the CS.            
 He assured Vice-Chair Ogan that the Administration is supportive              
 and in agreement with the legislatures concerns about the issue of            
 federal mandates, and, in particular, unfunded federal mandates.              
 Nevertheless, they have concerns pertaining to the process this               
 bill requires of them, with countless numbers of federal                      
 requirements that could be interpreted as mandates, such as                   
 requirements to have EXIT signs in every public building.  The                
 concern is that an agency might have to review and write reports              
 about such issues as fire exit signs.  Mr. Kreinheder said he would           
 be glad to work with the committee on specific wording, but it                
 should be something to the effect of federal mandates having a                
 significant fiscal or policy program impact on the state of Alaska,           
 to allow their agency to use some common sense determination about            
 what is an issue, as opposed to routine public safety types of                
 Number 445                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked Mr. Kreinheder what happens now when            
 each department gets federal laws, which come to the state for a              
 determination.  Her question was if there are other reviews in the            
 other departments.                                                            
 MR. KREINHEDER responded there are two steps in the process.  The             
 first step happens before the enactment of these laws and                     
 requirements.  They keep close coordination between the Governors             
 Office in Washington, D.C., with John Katz and his staff who                  
 provide early warning on some of these requirements.  Presently,              
 they are tracking the various block grant proposals in Congress to            
 see how they might affect the state.  His office also works with              
 the Congressional Delegation on any input they wish to have into              
 those proposals.  The second step comes after these proposals are             
 passed.  Mr. Kreinheder said they continue to receive information             
 from the Washington office, but beyond that, he was not aware of              
 any formal reviewing process the departments are required to                  
 follow.  As far as he knew, it is largely up to the department as             
 to what kind of review process they would use for the mandates.               
 VICE-CHAIR OGAN said he would be happy to work with Mr. Kreinheder            
 on changing the language of the bill to avoid a major paper                   
 shuffle.  After all, the intent of this legislation is to                     
 scrutinize potentially unconstitutional mandates and those which              
 cost the state large amounts of money.                                        
 Number 476                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER commented that the legislature has contracted           
 with someone to perform basically the same function for the                   
 legislature that Mr. Katz is doing for the Administration.  With              
 the positioning of our Congressional Delegation it seems an                   
 appropriate time, in Representative Porters view, to try to                   
 intercede during the time the bill is being considered in Congress,           
 as opposed to after it has been completed.  He wondered if they               
 might consider some element of anticipation as opposed to response.           
 Number 489                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said that he would work with Mr. Kreinheder             
 to help get a CS ready for Judiciary along the lines discussed.               
 Representative Porter added that he should correct the motion he              
 made earlier to adopt CS, Version C.  The version they should have            
 adopted was Version F, dated 2/10/95.  With the permission of the             
 committee he said he would revise that motion.  There was no                  
 objection, so the motion passed.                                              
 Number 508                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said that since they adopted another CS they             
 would want to make a significant change in directions, pass the               
 bill out with a new fiscal note.  He asked if he was correct in               
 thinking it will be a significantly different product when it                 
 reaches the Judiciary Committee.                                              
 Number 514                                                                    
 VICE-CHAIR OGAN confirmed that there would be a significantly                 
 different product.                                                            
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN expressed concern that the committee will be             
 passing out a bill they know nothing about and would prefer they              
 hold it.                                                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she understood that instead of doing             
 a sweeping review of federal mandates, they are trying to cut back            
 on the number of programs to look at.  They are looking at the                
 programs that have a more serious impact on the state, although she           
 was not sure who would determine what is serious and what is not.             
 Everything is the same except the numbers, or the types of programs           
 to review.                                                                    
 VICE-CHAIR OGAN supported Representative Robinsons view saying                
 they are merely cutting back the nonessential items to review.                
 Number 543                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN shared his views, but he needed to know what              
 kinds of changes are being made.  He understood they want to                  
 disregard the small, frivolous portions and key in on big costly              
 mandates; nevertheless, he would like to be more comfortable before           
 the bill is passed out of State Affairs.                                      
 Number 553                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said that in order to make HB 83 a                      
 comprehensive bill, it would be appropriate to recognize what they            
 do as a legislature, as an Administration, and as a state, is try             
 to influence legislation at the federal level before it is passed.            
 That mechanism might provide the heads up to activate this type               
 of review, if our efforts to stop it on the federal level fail and            
 the legislation passes.  To make this effective, we should do it              
 before the fact.  He agreed with Representative Green they should             
 probably work on the bill at the committee level rather than to               
 move it on.                                                                   
 Number 578                                                                    
 VICE-CHAIR OGAN decided that he would work with different people on           
 the committee to draft some amendments for the bill, so he would              
 hold HB 83 over and go on to HJR 4.                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects