Legislature(2015 - 2016)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
02/24/2016 01:30 PM JUDICIARY
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SB 24-LEGIS. ETHICS ACT: CONTRACTORS,INTERNS 1:40:34 PM CHAIR MCGUIRE announced the consideration of SB 24. She solicited a motion to adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS). 1:40:54 PM SENATOR COGHILL moved to adopt the work draft CS for SB 24, labeled 29-LS0148\H, as the working document. 1:41:03 PM SENATOR GARDNER, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, sponsor of SB 24, explained that she introduced this clean-up bill at the request of the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics. The issue is that the ethics statutes apply to contractors and some sections are unnecessary, don't make sense, and aren't enforced. For example, the people who print statute books are now required to attend ethics training. She was unaware of any opposition to this housekeeping matter. CHAIR MCGUIRE noted that Jerry Anderson and Joyce Anderson were available to answer questions. 1:43:29 PM STEPHEN SWEET, Legislative Intern, Senator Gardner introduced SB 24 reading the following prepared statement: The problem this bill seeks to address is that the ethics committee is not always able to conduct trainings with each legal entity the state has contracts with. Section one clarifies applicability of ethical standards to legislative consultants, interns, contractors, and legislative volunteers. For example, I, as an intern, will continue to be required to comply with statutes banning gift solicitations, banning the use of public time for political purposes, and the like. Section two clarifies how ethics requirements will be levied upon a legal entity. For example, if the Ethics Committee began a contract with, say, an independent contractor halfway through a session, ethics statutes would be applied to only those who would be working on the project with the legislature; such requirements would not apply to those who work at the office of the contractor but who are not working on the project. If Company A has been contracted, not all of their employees would have to abide by Alaska State Legislature ethics standards. Section three defines legislative employees, to include a person, other than a legislator, who is compensated by the legislative branch in return for providing regular or substantial services, regardless of pay scale or if they are full or part time. It would not include interns, contractors, and the like. However, this does not mean that contractors are exempt from ethics standards; that concern is addressed in the first section, which specifically states that interns and consultants are employees for the purposes of compliance with ethics standards. 1:46:37 PM JERRY ANDERSON, Administrator, Select Committee on Legislative Ethics, stated support for SB 24 and relayed that the committee worked extensively with Legislative Legal Services on the provisions of the bill. He deferred further comment to Ms. Anderson who was the administrator when that work was accomplished. 1:47:23 PM JOYCE ANDERSON, Former Administrator, on contract to the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics, explained that the committee looked at the issue after several contractors and several divisions within the legislature called and asked about the requirements. The response to those inquiries was that there was no differentiation between a contractor and a regular legislative employee. That meant that contractors had to attend ethics training and follow the disclosure scheme in the Legislative Ethics Act. The committee looked at this and decided it was not the intent of the ethics code to include contractors. Upon request, Legislative Research provided information from other states where contractors are not considered legislative employees. She said the committee felt, similar to legislative interns, that contractors and consultants should be put under certain sections of the code, but not all of it. The provisions in the bill are recommendations from the subcommittee, of which Senator Gardner was a part. 1:51:10 PM CHAIR MCGUIRE closed public testimony on SB 24 and held the bill in committee. SENATOR COGHILL commented that this issue came up repeatedly during oil and tax discussions so he believes it's appropriate.