Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/22/2001 09:11 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 103(JUD)                                                                                                 
"An Act relating to election campaigns and legislative ethics."                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
JEFF BALASH,  staff  to Senate  State Affairs  Committee,  indicated                                                            
that he would walk through  the Judiciary Committee Substitute (CS).                                                            
He explained that Section  1 codified the current interpretation and                                                            
regulation   of  the  Alaska   Public  Offices   Commission   (APOC)                                                            
concerning different groups  under the control of a single candidate                                                            
being treated as such towards  the limit for contributions.  Section                                                            
2 makes some  clarifications as to  the types of things that  can be                                                            
paid for with surplus campaign funds.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator Green requested clarification with regards to Section 1.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Balash clarified  that  if a  number of  groups  are under  the                                                            
control  of a  single  candidate  than they  are  all  bound by  the                                                            
contribution limits and they are treated as one group.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator   Therriault  further   clarified,   "Basically,  for   Gene                                                            
Therriault,  I  could  have,  the friends  and  neighbors  for  Gene                                                            
Therriault  and  I  could  also  have  the  nonpartisans   for  Gene                                                            
Therriault.    My campaign  effort  could  be split  into  different                                                            
groups,  but  if  I control   them than  they  all  fall  under  the                                                            
contribution limit for Gene Therriault."                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Balash indicated  that Section 2 made changes  to the allowances                                                            
for the use of surplus  campaign funds.  He explained that it allows                                                            
for thank you  advertisements and  seasonal greeting cards  and also                                                            
removes the  Public Office  Expense Term  (POET) account reserve  to                                                            
help eliminate additional  paperwork that successful candidates have                                                            
to go through each year.   He added that this would allow the entire                                                            
lump sum to be  transferred to the POET account and  would eliminate                                                            
the reserve mechanism.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator Therriault  said that he believes the Alaska  Public Offices                                                            
Commission (APOC) supported  the change.  He indicated that APOC was                                                            
asked for the justification  of the reserve account and they thought                                                            
that it came from some  concern over federal taxation of the reserve                                                            
and that justification  was not there anymore.  He expressed that it                                                            
never made sense to him  to have a separate checking account that he                                                            
wrote  one check  from each  year just  to transfer  money from  the                                                            
reserve account  to the POET account.  He referred  to page 3, lines                                                            
21 and 22, pointing out  that the transfer is limited to $10,000 for                                                            
House seats and  $20,000 for Senate seats.  He noted  that it use to                                                            
be  $5,000 per  year  multiplied  by the  number  of years;  in  the                                                            
current bill version it simply states the entire amount.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Balash referred to  Section 3 and indicated that it made changes                                                            
to the allowances for items  that would be retained by the candidate                                                            
in  terms of  personal  property,  for  example,  seasonal  greeting                                                            
cards,  photographs  used  in  the  campaign   and  campaign  signs.                                                            
Section  4 made  a change  to the  uses of  state  funds, which  was                                                            
necessary  to conform  to  a later  section  regarding legislator's                                                             
ability  to  campaign  for  or against  constitutional  amendments.                                                             
Section 5 clarified the  definition of contribution and also allowed                                                            
for a political  party to send out  two mass mailings per  election.                                                            
Section 6 covered the definition of expenditures.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
AT EASE 10:42 AM/10:43 AM                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Balash referred  to Section 7, which made conforming  amendments                                                            
to the ethics code to allow  legislators to use their offices longer                                                            
before and  after session.   Furthermore, it  made an allowance  for                                                            
the  use of  resources  by  a legislator  toward  state  or  federal                                                            
amendments   to  the  constitution.     Finally,  Section   9  is  a                                                            
transitional  provision  dealing  with  funds  already in  the  POET                                                            
reserve account, which  needs to be transferred to the POET account.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Therriault  pointed  out  that there  was  quite  a bit  of                                                            
controversy  originally   with  regards  to  legislators  and  their                                                            
employees  interacting with  initiatives.   He believed that  it was                                                            
appropriate that  a proposed constitutional amendment  come from the                                                            
legislature, quite often  an individual legislator, and a legislator                                                            
should be able to act as advocate for that amendment.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Amendment #1:                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Page 6, line 5:                                                                                                                 
     Delete "or"                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Page 6, line 9, following ";":                                                                                                
     Insert "or                                                                                                               
                          (v) any communication in the form of a                                                              
                newsletter  from a  legislator to  the legislator's                                                           
                constituents,  except   a  communication   expressly                                                          
                advocating the election  or defeat of a candidate;"                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Page 8, line 13:                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Delete "or"                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Page 8, line 16, following ";":                                                                                                 
     Insert "or                                                                                                               
                          (K) a legislator from sending any                                                                   
                communication  in the form  of a  newsletter to  the                                                          
                legislator's  constituents, except  a communication                                                           
                expressly advocating  the  election or  defeat  of a                                                          
                candidate;"                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Donley moved to adopt the amendment.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There was no objection and Amendment #1 was adopted.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Amendment #2:                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Page 6, line 4                                                                                                                  
     delete "photographs and biographies of"                                                                                    
     insert "information about"                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Page 9, line 26                                                                                                                 
     after "solicit"                                                                                                            
     insert "or receive"                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Donley moved to adopt the amendment.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Kelly asked if there was any objection.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Leman objected  and  offered a  friendly  amendment to  the                                                            
amendment to include photographs.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Donley clarified  that the amendment to the amendment would                                                            
insert, "photographs, biographies, and information about".                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
There  was no  objection  and the  amendment  to the  amendment  was                                                            
adopted.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Kelly indicated  that Amendment #2 was before the Committee                                                            
and asked if there was any objection.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
There was no objection and Amendment #2 was adopted.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Amendment #3:                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Page 5, line 23-28, as follows:                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Delete:                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     (i)  services  provided  without  compensation  by individuals                                                             
     volunteering  a portion  or all  of their time  on behalf  of a                                                            
     political  party, candidate, or ballot proposition  or question                                                        
     [,  BUT IT DOES INCLUDE  PROFESSIONAL  SERVICES VOLUNTEERED  BY                                                            
     INDIVIDUALS  FOR WHICH THEY ORDINARILY  WOULD BE PAID  A FEE OR                                                            
     WAGE];                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Insert:                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     (i)  services  provided  without  compensation  by individuals                                                             
     volunteering  a portion  or all  of their time  on behalf  of a                                                            
     political party, candidate,  or ballot proposition or question,                                                            
     but it does include  professional services, other than legal or                                                          
     accounting services,  volunteered by individuals for which they                                                          
     ordinarily would be paid a fee or wage;                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     New Text Underlined [DELETED TEXT BRACKETED]                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Donley explained  that Amendment  #3 would tighten  up the                                                            
Judiciary version  of the bill, Version W, clarifying  that the only                                                            
exception to professional  services being offered  or volunteered to                                                            
a campaign  would be for  legal or accounting  services.  He  made a                                                            
motion to adopt the amendment.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair   Kelly  indicated   that  the  change   would  be   fairly                                                            
significant.  He asked  if there was any objection to the amendment.                                                            
There was no objection and Amendment #3 was adopted.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Amendment #4:                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Page 9, following line 26:                                                                                                      
          Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                    
      Sec. 8. AS 24.60.080(c) is amended to read:                                                                               
               (c) Notwithstanding (a) of this section, it is not                                                               
               a violation of this section for a                                                                                
          legislator or legislative employee to accept                                                                          
                    (1) hospitality, other than hospitality                                                                     
                    described in (4) of this                                                                                    
          subsection,                                                                                                           
                          (A) with incidental transportation at                                                                 
          the residence of a person; however, a vacation home                                                                   
          located outside the state is not considered a residence                                                               
          for the purposes of this subparagraph; or                                                                             
                          (B) at a social event or meal;                                                                        
                    (2) discounts that are available                                                                            
                           (A) generally to the public or to a                                                                  
          large class of persons to which the person belongs; or                                                                
                           (B) when on official state business, but                                                             
          only if receipt of the discount benefits the state;                                                                   
                    (3) food or foodstuffs indigenous to the                                                                    
          state that are shared generally as a cultural or social                                                               
          norm;                                                                                                                 
                    (4) travel and hospitality primarily for the                                                                
          purpose of obtaining information on matters of                                                                        
          legislative concern;                                                                                                  
                    (5) gifts from the immediate family of the                                                                  
          person;                                                                                                               
                    (6) gifts that are not connected with the                                                                   
          recipient's legislative status;                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
                (7) a discount for all or part of a                                                                             
          legislative session, including time immediately                                                                       
          preceding or following the session, or other gift to                                                                  
          welcome a legislator or legislative employee who is                                                                   
          employed on the personal staff of a legislator or by a                                                                
          standing or special committee to the capital city or in                                                               
          recognition  of the beginning  of a legislative  session                                                              
          if  the gift or discount  is available generally  to all                                                              
          legislators  and the personal  staff of legislators  and                                                              
          staff of standing and special committees; this                                                                        
          paragraph does not apply to legislative employees who                                                                 
          are employed by the Legislative Affairs Agency, the                                                                   
          office of the chief clerk, the office of the senate                                                                   
          secretary, the legislative budget and audit committee,                                                                
          or the office of the ombudsman;                                                                                       
          [OR]                                                                                                                  
                (8) a gift of legal services in a matter of                                                                     
          legislative  concern and a gift of other  services related                                                            
          to  the  provision  of  legal  services  in  a  matter  of                                                            
          legislative concern; or                                                                                             
                (9) a gift of transportation from a legislator to a                                                           
          legislator  if transportation takes place  in the state on                                                          
          or in  an aircraft, boat, motor vehicle, or other means of                                                          
          transport  owned or under  the control of the donor;  this                                                          
          paragraph  does not  apply to travel  described in  (4) of                                                          
          this   subsection   or  travel   for  political   campaign                                                          
          purposes."                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson addressed Amendment #4.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SFC 01 # 51, Side A 10:52 AM                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Olson  noted that  in his district  access to most  areas is                                                            
limited  to air transportation  and  it is for  this reason  that he                                                            
asked  that the  Committee adopt  Amendment  #4.  He  moved for  the                                                            
adoption of the amendment.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Kelly asked  if there  was any  objection.   There was  no                                                            
objection and Amendment #4 was adopted.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Donley moved to  report CS SB 103  (JUD), 22-LS0148/W,  as                                                            
amended from Committee.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Kelly interjected  that there were people to testify on the                                                            
bill that he had overlooked.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BROOKE MILES,  Director,  Alaska Public  Offices Commission  (APOC),                                                            
testified via  teleconference, thanked  the Committee for  taking up                                                            
Amendment #3, which addressed  volunteer professional services.  She                                                            
referred  to page 6, line  6 and explained  that under the  proposed                                                            
language  any  person is  prohibited  from  campaign contributions,                                                             
other than  lobbyists, to conduct  a poll and give the results  to a                                                            
campaign  unless the  poll  was designed  to primarily  benefit  the                                                            
candidate.  She expressed  concern with regards to that language and                                                            
said that  the Commission  saw this as  administratively  difficult.                                                            
She referred  to page 5, line 6 and  the Commission identified  this                                                            
as costly,  because it recognized  a major change in current  policy                                                            
that would substantially  restrict public money either to support or                                                            
oppose ballot  questions.   She further explained  that current  law                                                            
required  that public  funds could  only be used  to support  ballot                                                            
questions  specifically appropriated  to that  purpose by state  law                                                            
and municipal ordinance.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Green requested  clarification that  if after two  mailings                                                            
they are taken over the  contribution limit, which would put them in                                                            
violation  and they had no  part of the decision  making as  to what                                                            
group advertisements would contain their information.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Miles  responded after  two free mailings  for each election  if                                                            
the state  party or state  party sub-division  does a state  mailing                                                            
then yes it would be considered a state contribution.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SUSIE  BARNETT  commented  that  the  Ethics  Committee  has  always                                                            
supported  communication with  constituents  when the communication                                                             
relates  to  access   to  the  elected  official  or   reporting  on                                                            
legislative matters.  She  believed that was the intent of Amendment                                                            
#1 was to preserve  that important  function.  She pointed  out that                                                            
there is a  conflict in statute, AS  24.60.030 c.2 sets out  certain                                                            
parameters   on  mass  mailings  using   funds  other  than   office                                                            
allowance.   Secondly, the amendment  actually broadens the  current                                                            
interpretation and practice  of most legislators to allow activities                                                            
beyond  those of legislative  matters.   She  recommended that  they                                                            
consider different language.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Kelly asked Ms.  Barnett to fax  those recommendations  to                                                            
Senator Therriault's office.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Donley  indicated that he had spoke with  the drafters that                                                            
morning and  since the prohibition  that Ms. Barnett spoke  of was a                                                            
specific prohibition the bill would not negate that.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Barnett  referred to Amendment  #4 offered by Senator  Olson and                                                            
said that the amendment  appeared to tilt the playing field in favor                                                            
of those  able to  provide those  types of gifts.   She recommended                                                             
that they  consider  requiring public  disclosure  of acceptance  of                                                            
gifts of that type.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Kelly  reported that the  bill would be HELD in  Committee.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
[Heard and Held]                                                                                                                

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