Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/06/1994 01:40 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATOR TAYLOR introduced SB 333 (DISCLOSURE OF EXECUTIVE BRANCH CLOSE ASSOCIATIONS) at the request of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, and asked RANDY WELKER, Legislative Auditor, to review the legislation. (Due to a malfunction in the taping of the first tape of the committee meeting, the minutes for SB 333 have been compiled from the log notes, and selected parts of the Memorandum from RANDY WELKER, the Legislative Auditor for the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee.) MR. WELKER: "This memorandum is provided to briefly summarize the contents of Senate Bill 333. The bill introduced by the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee is in response to an audit released last year. The impetus for the suggested changes comes primarily from our audit of the Department of Public Safety's Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection (FWP). However, the problem identified is not limited to only FWP. Other public officials with discretionary authority could also be placed in a conflict of interest position. Section 1 of the bill establishes a requirement for disclosure of the formation or maintenance of a close economic association similar to that contained in the Legislative Ethics Act. The bill also requires a public officer, if it appears feasible and in the best interests of the state, to refrain from taking or with- holding official action in a matter that directly involves a person with whom the public officer has a close economic association. However, if taking or withholding official action is not avoidable, the public officer shall immediately disclose the action to the public officer's designated supervisor. The bill requires a supervisor, to whom a public officer has made a disclosure, to make a written determination of whether the officer's involvement could constitute a conflict of interest. The supervisor could reassign duties to avoid the conflict or the supervisor may direct the divestiture or removal by the officer of the financial interest given rise to the conflict. Section 2 of the bill is a change to the nepotism prohibition in statute. As the result of an isolated circumstance we found at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute, we are recommending that the statute be expanded. Currently the only relationship that is prohibited is that a person may not be employed in the same department or agency if they are the spouse of, or related by blood to, the executive head of a principal state department agency. We are recommending that the statute be expanded to include all supervisory/subordinate relationships (not just a relationship to the commissioner) and that the definition of relationship is expended to include a regular member of the officer's household. I appreciate the Committee's consideration of this legislation. If enacted, this legislation will help improve the public perception and clarify the legislature's disapproval of close economic associations by public officials who have discretion in taking or withholding official action that may affect the public officer or a person with whom the public officer has an economic association." MR. WELKER presented some recommendations for suggested changes in AS 39.90.020, AS 24.60.090, and AS 39.52.960. There was some discussion among the committee members about close economic ties, first and second cousins, and how disclosures should be determined. KEVIN RICHIE, Director for the Division of Personnel/EEO, Dept. of Administration, answered questions by SENATOR LITTLE on class action suits, infringements, and adverse actions. SENATOR JACKO moved to pass SENATE BILL NO. 333 (DISCLOSURE OF EXECUTIVE BRANCH CLOSE ASSOCIATIONS) from committee with individual recommendations. Without objections, so ordered.