Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/03/2001 08:05 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 103-ELECTION CAMPAIGNS AND LEGISLATIVE ETHICS                                                                              
Number 0958                                                                                                                     
CHAIR COGHILL  announced the next  order of business would  be CS                                                               
FOR  SENATE  BILL NO.  103(FIN),  "An  Act relating  to  election                                                               
campaigns and legislative ethics."                                                                                              
Number 0925                                                                                                                     
SENATOR GENE  THERRIAULT, Alaska State Legislature,  came forward                                                               
to testify  as sponsor  of SB  103.   He said  SB 103  contains a                                                               
number of clarification and cleanup items related to the                                                                        
existing Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) and ethics                                                                     
SENATOR THERRIAULT spelled out the changes:                                                                                     
   · Section 1 clarifies that multiple groups controlled by a                                                                   
     single  candidate will  be  treated as  a  single group  for                                                               
     purposes of the contribution limit.                                                                                        
   · Section 2 adds thank-you advertisements to the list of                                                                     
     permissible uses of unused campaign funds.                                                                                 
   · Section 3 increases the value of personal property that may                                                                
     be retained by  a candidate.  The current  law allows office                                                               
     materials such  as a computer, stationery,  and stamps worth                                                               
     a  total  of  $2,500  to  be carried  forward  to  the  next                                                               
     campaign; SB 103  increases that amount to $5,000.   It also                                                               
     permits a candidate  to keep a bulk mail permit  used in one                                                               
     campaign to use in the next  campaign.  It sets the value of                                                               
     campaign signs at zero so they can be carried forward.                                                                     
   · Section 4 provides that money held by public entities may                                                                  
     be used to influence the  outcome of a ballot proposition or                                                               
     question under limited circumstances.                                                                                      
   · Section 5 clarifies and further defines contributions,                                                                     
     saying that  accountants and  attorneys can  volunteer their                                                               
   · Section 6 adds new exceptions to and clarifies the                                                                         
     prohibition  on  use  of  public  assets  and  resources  by                                                               
     legislators  and  legislative employees  for  nonlegislative                                                               
     purposes and certain  previously prohibited public political                                                               
Number 0170                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES asked for clarification of Section 5.                                                                      
SENATOR THERRIAULT directed attention to page 4, line 22.                                                                       
TAPE 01-32, SIDE A                                                                                                              
SENATOR THERRIAULT acknowledged that  the drafting was confusing,                                                               
but  said  the meaning  is  that  accountants and  attorneys  can                                                               
volunteer their  professional services and  there is no  limit on                                                               
those contributions of services.                                                                                                
Number 0090                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD asked  if he had a volunteer  come in and                                                               
do computer work  on his mailing list, would  that be compensated                                                               
time or not under SB 103.                                                                                                       
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  said  that   individual  would  be  able  to                                                               
volunteer his or her  time.  The change SB 103  is making is that                                                               
a  professional   person,  specifically   an  accountant   or  an                                                               
attorney, can volunteer his or her  time and not be restricted by                                                               
the hourly rate that they  generally charge and coming up against                                                               
a monetary limit.                                                                                                               
Number 0255                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES   still  had  concern   about  professional                                                               
services,  specifically what  was  meant  by "other  professional                                                               
services" besides accounting and legal services.                                                                                
SENATOR THERRIAULT consulted  with staff regarding Representative                                                               
Crawford's   question  about   a  person   contributing  computer                                                               
services.     He   clarified  that   a  computer   professional's                                                               
contribution would be capped at a  certain value, but that SB 103                                                               
specifically exempts accountants and attorneys from that limit.                                                                 
Number 0377                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD   understood  that  to  mean   that  the                                                               
accountant he  paid to help him  with his APOC report  could have                                                               
volunteered those services.                                                                                                     
SENATOR THERRIAULT said that was correct.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES  still had  concerns about  the professional                                                               
services, which she wished to look into further.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HAYES  said  he   understood  the  exemption  for                                                               
accounting services,  but did  not see  a distinction  between an                                                               
attorney and a computer person helping a campaign.                                                                              
SENATOR THERRIAULT said it had seemed  to the Senate that after a                                                               
campaign, a  candidate might need accounting  services because of                                                               
the [APOC] reports,  and might need legal services  if there were                                                               
a recount.   At that time, campaign funds might  be exhausted and                                                               
if professionals were willing to  donate those services, it could                                                               
be appropriate.  "It was a policy call," he added.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE HAYES asked  if the only purpose  of the provision                                                               
was for recounts.   He thought a candidate could  use the party's                                                               
attorney  for that.   He  expressed  concern because  he did  not                                                               
understand the point of it.                                                                                                     
SENATOR THERRIAULT said  it is a policy call  for the legislature                                                               
to  consider.   With  respect to  Representative James'  question                                                               
about   professional  services,   the  prohibition   against  the                                                               
computer person already exists in statute.                                                                                      
Number 0617                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD said he had  been through a recount.  His                                                               
opponent had  a couple  of attorneys who  came in  as volunteers.                                                               
He questioned  at the time  whether that was legitimate,  and was                                                               
told this  was "after  the fact  of the  campaign" and  under the                                                               
present law  did not have  to be counted  as a contribution.   He                                                               
did  not  see  in SB  103  any  limitation  to  recounts.   If  a                                                               
candidate were  to violate  campaign finance  laws and  needed an                                                               
attorney, it  seemed to him that  person would be able  to get an                                                               
attorney  to  volunteer the  time,  and  that didn't  seem  quite                                                               
SENATOR  THERRIAULT said  Representative Crawford  was absolutely                                                               
right.    It  is  not  just  the  recount  issue.    If  somebody                                                               
challenged  a candidate's  residency  or said  the candidate  had                                                               
violated an  APOC ruling, the  candidate would be allowed  to use                                                               
the volunteered  services of an  attorney.   It is a  policy call                                                               
for the legislature to decide if  it wishes to allow that type of                                                               
Number 0745                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE FATE  said he understands this  provision to apply                                                               
not just  to a candidate,  but also to  the political party.   He                                                               
asked if that was allowed only during a campaign.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE THERRIAULT  said an  attorney or  accountant would                                                               
be able to volunteer his or her services at any time.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE FATE recalled times  during campaigns when the use                                                               
of an attorney by any political  party had been so excessive that                                                               
it  far  exceeded  the  amount that  otherwise  could  have  been                                                               
donated.   He mentioned the  last gubernatorial  campaign, during                                                               
which APOC  discovered problems that  candidates had  to contest,                                                               
"and it was  very expensive," he said.   "I think this  is a good                                                               
approach to solving that problem."                                                                                              
SENATOR THERRIAULT noted that Brooke Miles of APOC was on the                                                                   
teleconference line and might wish to comment on that section.                                                                  
Number 0842                                                                                                                     
SENATOR THERRIAULT continued:                                                                                                   
   · Section 5: A portion of Section 5 deals with the party's                                                                   
     advocating for  its slate of  candidates.  It is  limited to                                                               
     two or  fewer mass mailings  before each election.   It also                                                               
     says  that a  candidate can  release polling  information as                                                               
     long as the  poll was limited to issues and  did not mention                                                               
     the  candidate and  was not  taken at  the direction  of the                                                               
     candidate.    The  last  portion of  Section  5  deals  with                                                               
     communications  in   the  form   of  a  newsletter   from  a                                                               
     legislator  to constituents,  and indicates  that incumbents                                                               
     can send out  those newsletters and not count the  cost as a                                                               
     contribution to that incumbent's campaign.                                                                                 
   · Section 6 deals with communications by groups to their                                                                     
     membership,  such  as  a union  newsletter  or  a  corporate                                                               
     newsletter.    If the  cost  of  such  a normal  mailing  to                                                               
     members of the  group is $500 or less, it  is not considered                                                               
     a campaign contribution.                                                                                                   
   · Section 7 concerns the use of legislative offices, changing                                                                
     the  allowable period  of  time from  five  days before  and                                                               
     after the session to ten.                                                                                                  
   · Sections F through J are activities already permitted                                                                      
     through  internal advice  or formal  rulings  of the  Ethics                                                               
     Committee, and the change is  just codifying those sections.                                                               
     Also, on  page 9 are two  sections on ethics that  appear in                                                               
     statute   in  other   places,  so   this   is  just   making                                                               
     corresponding change.                                                                                                      
CHAIR COGHILL asked about the extended use of office space at                                                                   
the beginning and end of session.                                                                                               
SENATOR  THERRIAULT explained  that  right  now, legislators  are                                                               
permitted to  utilize their offices  if they  wish to do  so, and                                                               
the change  is just broadening that  period of time by  five days                                                               
at  either end  of the  session, increasing  the total  number of                                                               
days from 130 to 140.                                                                                                           
Number 1087                                                                                                                     
SENATOR THERRIAULT  said Section 9  had been added by  the Senate                                                               
Finance Committee.   It allows a gift of  transportation from one                                                               
legislator  to another.     "It  clarifies that  if  I was  going                                                               
hunting with Representative  Coghill, ... he could fly  me out to                                                               
the hunting camp;  that would be allowed." he explained.   "Or if                                                               
Representative  Coghill  was  going  to fly  down  to  Mat-Su  to                                                               
participate in some  function ..., I could catch a  ride with him                                                               
if he was flying a personal plane."                                                                                             
Number 1170                                                                                                                     
CHAIR COGHILL  observed that time  was short, and "there's  a lot                                                               
of stuff in here."                                                                                                              
Number 1197                                                                                                                     
SUSIE  BARNETT, Administrator,  Select  Committee on  Legislative                                                               
Ethics,  testified  by teleconference.    She  said she  and  the                                                               
committee chair,  Dennis "Skip"  Cook, were in  general concerned                                                               
about  amendments  to  the  ethics code  that  have  a  piecemeal                                                               
effect.   "The ethics code  is becoming more and  more disjointed                                                               
over  the  years  as  it  gets amended  and  more  difficult  for                                                               
legislators and  legislative employees to comprehend,"  she said.                                                               
"So I guess  we are urging caution, and if  there are amendments,                                                               
to  please ensure  that they  are brought  in and  tied from  one                                                               
section to another."                                                                                                            
MS.  BARNETT  said  they  also   are  concerned  that  disclosure                                                               
required  by the  ethics code  not only  benefit the  public, but                                                               
also  help legislators  and legislative  employees in  evaluating                                                               
the  influences,   gifts,  and   commitments  of  those   in  the                                                               
legislative branch.  "And so on  that note, we recommend adding a                                                               
disclosure  requirement  to  the subsection  just  referenced  by                                                               
Senator Therriault which  is on page 11, subsection  9, ... lines                                                               
8-12, ... [requiring] disclosure if the value is over $250."                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL asked her to repeat her recommendation.                                                                           
MS.  BARNETT  said  they  recommend   adding  a  gift  disclosure                                                               
requirement if the value of  the gift of transportation is valued                                                               
at more than  $250.  It would still be  allowable; there wouldn't                                                               
be a cap on it.  "It's just  that once it kicked in at $250, much                                                               
like any of our other gift  disclosures, you would need to file a                                                               
disclosure  report.   I  haven't prepared  an  amendment to  that                                                               
because ... Terry Cramer of Legal is  the one who can tie all the                                                               
pieces together.   There are several sections in  the ethics code                                                               
that refer to disclosure," she said.                                                                                            
Number 1369                                                                                                                     
SENATOR THERRIAULT  told the committee  that the  change allowing                                                               
gifts  of transportation  was  a  policy call,  and  that he  was                                                               
amenable to whichever way they want  to look at it.  "There's the                                                               
full gamut  of not  requiring it  [disclosure], just  saying it's                                                               
allowable; requiring  disclosure just to the  Select Committee on                                                               
Legislative  Ethics  ("Ethics  Committee"); or  requiring  public                                                               
disclosure,"  he said.   Senate  Finance  chose to  not have  any                                                               
disclosure,  ... [but]  "if the  [House State  Affairs] committee                                                               
wants to consider one of  those methods of disclosure, that would                                                               
be certainly within your purview."                                                                                              
Number 1440                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES asked,  "Are we  assuming that  this little                                                               
trip that  you made out  hunting was because  the two of  you are                                                               
friends or because you're a legislator and he is a supporter?"                                                                  
SENATOR THERRIAULT acknowledged that  would be hard to determine.                                                               
"We're clearly not  allowing Representative Coghill, if  he had a                                                               
plane, to fly  me ... from village to village  during a campaign.                                                               
Currently  under the  law,  if there  is a  hearing  going on  in                                                               
McGrath  on predator  control and  Coghill was  going to  fly out                                                               
there,  I could  go because  it would  be a  gift for  a specific                                                               
legislative purpose.   But now  when we're getting into  the area                                                               
of just going  hunting or maybe he  ... just wants to  fly me out                                                               
around the  Tanana Valley ... to  show off his new  plane, that's                                                               
what we're really  clarifying is that area, and I  guess what Ms.                                                               
Barnett is  asking that if  we allow that  to happen, that  we at                                                               
least have some kind of tracking or disclosure on it."                                                                          
MS. BARNETT confirmed that was,  correct, adding, "It's just that                                                               
it needs  to be tied  into our  disclosure section, but  it would                                                               
only affect this particular disclosure."                                                                                        
Number 1585                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  HAYES  proposed  adopting that  disclosure  as  a                                                               
conceptual amendment  [Amendment 1].   There being  no objection,                                                               
Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE HAYES asked if the  committee was going to hold SB
103 for further discussion.                                                                                                     
CHAIR  COGHILL noted  that SB  103  had been  noticed in  another                                                               
committee  and  declared  his  intent   to  send  the  conceptual                                                               
amendment to  the drafter and the  bill to the next  committee of                                                               
referral.   "It's  my  intention to  go ahead  and  move on  this                                                               
issue," he  said.  "I think  it's unfortunate the time  is short,                                                               
but  that's going  to  be  true now  probably  until  the end  of                                                               
session.  We're going to have to  make sure we stay as concise as                                                               
possible.   I've  ried to  do that  and still  allow for  as much                                                               
public discussion as possible.   At this point though, we've come                                                               
to the time where we must either act or fold."                                                                                  
Number 1650                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HAYES said if the committee was going to act, he                                                                 
would like to make one more conceptual amendment [Amendment 2]:                                                                 
     Page 5, line 26,                                                                                                           
          Delete "other than legal"                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES objected.                                                                                                  
A  roll call  vote was  taken  on Amendment  2.   Representatives                                                               
Crawford and  Hayes voted for Amendment  2. Representatives Fate,                                                               
James, Stevens,  Wilson, and Coghill  voted against  Amendment 2.                                                               
Therefore, Amendment 2 failed by a vote of 5 to 2.                                                                              
Number 1734                                                                                                                     
SENATOR THERRIAULT asked if the  disclosure required by Amendment                                                               
1  was  disclosure  to  the  Ethics  Committee  alone  or  public                                                               
disclosure.  "That does need  to be clarified," he said. pointing                                                               
out that the  Ethics Committee receives some  information that is                                                               
simply tracked by the committee but not disclosed to the public.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HAYES said  he would  feel more  comfortable with                                                               
public disclosure.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES  objected, saying  disclosure to  the Ethics                                                               
Committee  was fine,  but that  public disclosure  was going  too                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HAYES responded, "I will keep  it as is and we can                                                               
SENATOR   THERRIAULT   clarified   that   Representative   Hayes'                                                               
amendment called for disclosure to  the Ethics Committee and that                                                               
the information disclosed would be public.                                                                                      
Number 1829                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   FATE  asked   Senator  Therriault   for  further                                                               
clarification.  "What  is going to be disclosed?   Is it going to                                                               
be  the total  concept of  any time  that you  associate yourself                                                               
with an elected official?" he asked.                                                                                            
SENATOR THERRIAULT  referred to page  11, lines 8-12,  saying the                                                               
disclosure  requirement   applied  specifically  to  a   gift  of                                                               
transportation  from one  legislator  to another  worth at  least                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE FATE observed that  a gift of transportation could                                                               
be  almost   anything,  and  some  things   between  friends  are                                                               
completely outside  the realm of  politics.  "To bring  this even                                                               
to the  Ethics Committee  is a  stretch, but to  bring it  to the                                                               
public is really a stretch," he declared.                                                                                       
Number 1912                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVENS said  he would  have problems  with this,                                                               
too.  "It includes  if you came to Kodiak and  I took you halibut                                                               
fishing,  how do  we figure  out what  the cost  of that  is?" he                                                               
asked.  "If you  were to go on a charter,  it could easily exceed                                                               
$250,  but ...  it's just  a  silly thing,  I can't  see us  even                                                               
getting involved in that.  I'm against the whole issue."                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  CRAWFORD volunteered,  "If I  went to  Kodiak I'd                                                               
certainly want  the halibut  trip if  I could  get Representative                                                               
Stevens to take me, but ..."                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS interjected, "It's  coming back that's the                                                               
problem, Sir."  REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD  continued, "... but also                                                               
I think we could  be opening a can of worms  here.  Using Senator                                                               
Olson as an example just because he  has a plane, he could take a                                                               
person of his choosing around  to different villages and it could                                                               
be  just friendly,  but it  could run  into thousands  of dollars                                                               
worth of campaign  contributions by the amount of  travel that he                                                               
might  give.   I  certainly think  that we  need  to have  public                                                               
disclosure of that sort of thing."                                                                                              
Number 1993                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  pointed out  that  this  section of  statute                                                               
deals  specifically with  ethics.   In  addition,  there are  the                                                               
Alaska  Public Offices  Commission (APOC)  statutes.   If Senator                                                               
Olson was flying somebody around  during a campaign and they were                                                               
meeting  with officials,  that would  be  campaigning, and  those                                                               
contributions  of  transportation  would  all  be  disclosed  and                                                               
limited under APOC, he said.                                                                                                    
Number 2026                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   CRAWFORD   expressed   concern   about   whether                                                               
traveling  to "all  these  different villages  in  the off  year"                                                               
would be  considered campaigning.   He pointed out that  it could                                                               
be construed  to help  in a subsequent  campaign even  thought it                                                               
wasn't in the time immediately before an election.                                                                              
SENATOR  THERRIAULT replied  that if  the activity  triggered the                                                               
existing  APOC laws,  that  would all  be  disclosed and  limited                                                               
under APOC.   "We're just talking here about what  is ethical for                                                               
you   to   receive   from   another    legislator   as   far   as                                                               
transportation,"  he emphasized.   "The  APOC statutes  and their                                                               
triggers  operate completely  ...  [apart] from  this section  of                                                               
Number 2074                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON pointed out  that private aircraft is about                                                               
the only  way to get  to many villages,  and if somebody  goes up                                                               
there to visit, that's how they're  going to travel, and it's "no                                                               
big deal."                                                                                                                      
Number 2094                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES gave  an example of Senator  Olson going out                                                               
to a village because they're having a potlatch or a party:                                                                      
     It's   not  a   campaign  season,   and  Representative                                                                    
     Foster's relatives are  out there, and he  wants to go,                                                                    
     and Olson  is going and ...  [so Representative Foster]                                                                    
     gets  in  and  goes.     It  has  nothing  to  do  with                                                                    
     campaigning;  it  has only  to  do  with some  personal                                                                    
     experience  that  you're  having.    That's  what  this                                                                    
     applies to, is that correct?                                                                                               
SENATOR THERRIAULT said that was correct.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE HAYES  said that to  him, the issue boils  down to                                                               
his thinking full disclosure to the public is not a bad thing.                                                                  
CHAIR  COGHILL   called  for  another  vote   on  the  conceptual                                                               
amendment, Amendment 1, specifying that  the disclosure of a gift                                                               
of travel would  be made to the Ethics Committee  and then to the                                                               
A   second   roll  call   vote   on   Amendment  1   was   taken.                                                               
Representatives   Crawford   Hayes   voted   for   Amendment   1.                                                               
Representatives Fate  James, Stevens,  Wilson, and  Coghill voted                                                               
against Amendment 1.  Therefore, Amendment  1 failed by a vote of                                                               
5 to 2.                                                                                                                         
Number 2186                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  FATE  moved  to   report  CSSB  103(FIN)  out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal notes.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS  wished to clarify that  the committee had                                                               
just dealt  with amendments proposed  in the House  State Affairs                                                               
Standing  Committee,  and  that [CSSB  103(FIN)]  still  included                                                               
Section 9 as proposed by Senator Therriault.                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL said that was correct.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE HAYES objected.                                                                                                  
CHAIR COGHILL  said he  was going  to recess to  the call  of the                                                               
chair, but first wanted the committee to vote on CSSB 103(FIN).                                                                 
A  roll  call  vote  was taken.    Representatives  Fate,  James,                                                               
Stevens,   Wilson,  and   Coghill   voted   for  CSSB   103(FIN).                                                               
Representatives  Crawford  Hayes  voted  against  CSSB  103(FIN).                                                               
Therefore, CSSB  103(FIN) moved  out of  the House  State Affairs                                                               
Standing Committee by a vote of five to two.                                                                                    
CHAIR COGHILL  recessed the committee  at 10:15  a.m., announcing                                                               
that it  would reconvene immediately  after the floor  session to                                                               
take up SB 93.                                                                                                                  
[A new  tape was  inserted when the  meeting was  reconvened, and                                                               
therefore there is no recording on Tape 01-32, Side B.]                                                                         
TAPE 01-33, SIDE A                                                                                                              

Document Name Date/Time Subjects