Legislature(2017 - 2018)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
04/24/2018 01:30 PM JUDICIARY
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HB 44-LEGISLATIVE ETHICS: VOTING & CONFLICTS 1:53:35 PM CHAIR COGHILL announced the consideration of HB 44. [SCS CSSSHB 44(STA), version N, was before the committee.] 1:54:08 PM At ease 1:57:07 PM CHAIR COGHILL reconvened the meeting. 1:57:22 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked the sponsor if he supported the changes in the State Affairs committee substitute (CS). 1:57:36 PM REPRESENTATIVE JASON GRENN, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, sponsor of HB 44, said yes. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if there are differences between the bill and the initiative. REPRESENTATIVE GRENN replied they are substantially similar. CHAIR COGHILL advised that legislative legal said the only difference is that the initiative says that when a lobbyist pays for a legislator's meal, it must be a de minimis amount and the bill specifies a $15 amount. That is the amount in current statute and the thought was that these pass the sameness test. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if passing HB 44 would remove the initiative from the ballot. REPRESENTATIVE GRENN said if the bill is signed into law, the Division of Elections will determine whether it is substantially similar to the initiative. If so, the initiative would be removed from the ballot. He noted that he has testified that they seem to be mirror images. 1:59:44 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI expressed concern that the legislature would be able to change the bill next year whereas a citizen's initiative can't be changed for two years. CHAIR COGHILL offered his experience that it's difficult to change things back whether it's a bill or initiative. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI cited minimum wage as an instance where that happened. 2:00:30 PM SENATOR COSTELLO offered her understanding that this was brought forward because two legislators who work for oil companies benefitted from the way they voted on an oil tax bill. The voter initiative subsequently came through and the voters in those two districts overwhelmingly supported the way that their elected officials had voted. If there had been a provision on the books that prohibited those citizen legislators from voting on the measure, 60,000 Alaskan voters would not have had a voice, she said. She asked for assurance that in passing HB 44, the members of this citizen legislature would not be prevented from voting on measures, they just have to state they have a potential conflict. REPRESENTATIVE GRENN said HB 44 was not intended to shine a light on previous votes or legislation. As a citizen running for election he thought it was important to do anything that would build trust and transparency with the voters. When HB 44 was originally drafted, the Senators in the scenario she described would not have been precluded from voting based on their employment. However, the bill was changed in the committee process. It is more restrictive on who rises to declare a conflict, but the Uniform Rule that allows a lone objection to compel the person to vote was not changed. He said he believes the bill allows for a citizen legislature but clarifies the statute related to stating a conflict. It is consistent with many other states. CHAIR COGHILL found no further questions. 2:06:33 PM SENATOR COSTELLO moved to report the Senate CS for CSSSHB 44, version N, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). 2:06:56 PM CHAIR COGHILL stated that without objection, SCS CSSSHB 44(STA) moves from the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee.