Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120
04/04/2017 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS
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HB 158-APOC OFFICE LOCATIONS 3:06:38 PM CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that the first order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 158, "An Act relating to the location of offices for the Alaska Public Offices Commission and the locations at which certain statements and reports filed with the commission are made available." 3:07:02 PM REPRESENTATIVE DAVID EASTMAN, Alaska State Legislature, presented HB 158, as prime sponsor. He relayed that under current state statute, the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) is required to have physical office locations in each Senate district in the state and to have a central office. He stated that APOC is required to make available paper copies of all filings made to the commission at each of these locations as well as at the Office of Lieutenant Governor (OLG) and at the Legislative Affairs Agency (LAA) reference library. He mentioned that there are about 13 offices for which APOC is required to provide paper copies of the filings. He asserted that the statute is outdated: there is no mention of accessing the filings through a website or submitting online reports. REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN stated that HB 158 would reduce the statutory burden on APOC: APOC would no longer be required to have physical office locations in each Senate district; it only would be required to maintain one central office with physical copies of filings available to the public; and it would provide information through the APOC website and receive filings online, which is already occurring. He added that HB 181 would not require any APOC policy change but would give APOC the statutory permission to do what it is already doing in an "internet age." 3:10:10 PM REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP asked, "Do we have an APOC office in all 20 Senate districts currently?" REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN replied, "Currently we do not." He explained that APOC currently is not following state statute regarding this requirement, and it maintains that it lacks the funds to do so. REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP asked for the location of APOC offices. REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN responded that APOC has an office in Anchorage and a smaller one in Juneau. REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP asked whether the proposed legislation only would remove statutory language; there would be no functional changes. REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP answered that the functional changes are that APOC neither would be required to have offices in every Senate district nor be required to offer access to physical documents at the OLG and LAA locations. He stated that the documents would be handled at a central office designated by APOC. He added that there would be no requirement that APOC close offices, but the requirement for the [additional] offices would be eliminated. REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP referred to Section 1(j) of HB 188, which read, "The commission shall establish a central office". He asked for clarification of the intent of HB 188: that the central office has been established already, that the Anchorage office will be considered the central office, or APOC will establish a central office. REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN replied that his intent is for APOC to determine which office will be the central office. REPRESENTATIVE KNOPP asked if APOC currently is violating state statute by not having an office in each Senate district. REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN answered, "That is correct." CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS suggested that the intent of the proposed legislation is both to "clean up" statutes that don't represent practices and to enact a functional change "bringing the statutes into the twenty-first century" and acknowledging the possibility of digitizing records. REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN responded, "Absolutely." He added that HB 188 would set the following priorities: ensuring that there is a website; ensuring it is functional; and allowing candidates and groups to use the website in place of the expectation of many district offices. 3:13:10 PM REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON referred to the zero-fiscal note and suggested that if offices will be closed, the fiscal note should be negative. REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN answered that if there were a dozen offices across the state, there would be a negative fiscal-note; however, since the budget has not allowed for those offices, there would be no savings due to office closures. REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked for the number of APOC offices. REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN replied that he only is aware of the office in Anchorage and a satellite office in Juneau. REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked if under HB 188, one of the two offices would be closed. REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN answered that under HB 188, it would not be required that one of the offices close; the requirement would be that only one office is required and APOC must establish a central office. He added that APOC could choose to have three offices. He conjectured that later APOC could decide it has the resources for 20 offices, but he opined that possibility is not likely. 3:14:59 PM REPRESENTATIVE WOOL summarized as follows: the statute currently requires one office in each of 20 Senate districts; APOC has not been abiding by the statute as it has two Senate district offices - one in Anchorage and one in Juneau; the proposed legislation would change the statutory requirement to one office, which would allow APOC to close the Juneau office; there would be one centralized statewide office; and all other transmittals would be electronic. He asked if the proposed legislation requires one office, or if APOC could maintain the office in Juneau, as well. REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN explained that the statute currently requires APOC to have between 12 and 20 offices. There is an exemption for a large municipality such as Anchorage, which has multiple Senate districts; Anchorage is not required to have an office in each of its Senate districts but must have one Anchorage office. He said that under HB 188, there would be an expectation of one or more offices rather than an expectation of 13 or more offices. He stated that the decision to maintain a Juneau office would be at the discretion of APOC. REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked Representative Eastman to indicate where the language "one or more office" is in HB 188. REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN responded that the requirement for maintaining a central office is on page 1, line 6, of HB 188. He added that the proposed legislation does not preclude APOC from having satellite offices. REPRESENTATIVE WOOL specified that the proposed legislation states that APOC shall establish a central office. He suggested that the future of the Juneau office remains a question. He added that the Juneau office could be named the central office and, therefore, the Anchorage office would be in question. REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN relayed that whichever office was not the central office would always be in question, and it would be for APOC to decide [if it should remain open]. He said that the requirement under HB 188 is to have at least one office and a website. 3:17:46 PM HEATHER HEBDON, Executive Director, Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC), stated that if passed, HB 188 would have very little impact for APOC; it would align the statutes with current practice. She mentioned that it has been a long time since APOC has had more than two offices. 3:18:36 PM REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked if all transmittals to and from APOC are electronic. MS. HEBDON relayed that there are a few paper filings received from the smaller municipalities; however, they are scanned to a Portable Document Format (PDF) and are available on the APOC website. She said that those documents are data-entered into the online filing system; therefore, the majority, if not all, of the reports are available through the website and on the online system. 3:19:45 PM REPRESENTATIVE WOOL asked how many people work in the Anchorage and Juneau offices, respectively. MS. HEBDON responded that the Anchorage office has five full- time employees and the Juneau office has one full-time employee. CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that HB 188 was held over.