Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205
03/02/2016 03:30 PM RESOURCES
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SB 125-LEGISLATIVE MEMBERS OF AGDC BOARD 4:33:34 PM CHAIR GIESSEL announced consideration of SB 125. SENATOR MIA COSTELLO, sponsor of SB 125, said the legislature has a depth of knowledge regarding the gasline, and SB 125 is offered in a spirit of cooperation and making the gasline process better for all Alaskans. The bill adds two non-voting ex-officio members to the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC). She said there are more members on her son's soccer team than there are on the AGDC board. Adding members will improve communication and the process, she stated. 4:35:49 PM WESTON EILER, staff to Senator Costello, Alaska State Legislature, said that the first two sections of SB 125 add two nonvoting legislative members to serve two-year terms (on the AGDC), one from the House and one from the Senate, and sections 3 through 6 are conforming amendments. The AGDC now has five public members and two commissioners of state departments appointed by the governor. He said SB 125 is intended to strengthen and diversify the board for upcoming complex policy issues and large funding decisions, which require transparent and clear decision-making. Having legislators on the board gives all parties a seat at the table, and legislators understand that a long view is needed for budgeting decisions. The legislators will be an asset, he opined, providing perspective and continuity. Legislators serve on over 12 state boards and commissions, he added, including the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority and the Alaska Aerospace Corporation. They will better understand AGDC if they are on the board, which is helpful because any contract over the span of two years needs to come back to the Legislature, he stated. SENATOR STOLTZE said he served on two boards as an ex-officio and always participated in executive sessions. SENATOR COSTELLO said she intends for the two legislators to attend all meetings. MR. EILER noted that legislative council said the bill language allows members to participate in executive sessions. 4:41:03 PM SENATOR STOLTZE said the bill relies on good faith, and "every hand outreached hasn't always been shaken, hence this bill is before us." He said the change will allow a better flow of information. Most board members are not legislators, and when he was an ex-officio, he helped provide the legislative perspective, especially when asking candid questions in executive sessions. The board will still make its own decisions, he stated, but it will be with better informed consent. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said AGDC started out with people who had pipeline experience, and now it is shifting more to being political, and that is not the direction it should go. SENATOR COSTELLO appreciated his sentiment, "but who better to have sitting there in the room than people that were around when the statutes and the laws were written and crafted for the project?" The benefit of having expertise is invaluable, and legislators are elected by their neighbors and are political people, but they "wear different hats." She said the precedent is set with other boards, and she offers the bill in a spirit of teamwork. SENATOR STOLTZE said he was reminded of a movie from the 1980s where people were shocked that there was a whorehouse in Texas, "but there are politics on this board." His good friend, John Burns, had "tire tracks on his back" from a truck driven by a "trimmed out politician," and he probably saw that his job was more political than he expected. CHAIR GIESSEL opened public testimony, and, finding none, she closed it. 4:45:06 PM SENATOR COGHILL asked if the bill needs to be explicit in allowing legislative board members to attend executive sessions. MILES BAKER, Vice President, Internal Affairs, AGDC, Juneau, answered that the board has not discussed it, but he assumes legislative members would participate in executive sessions. SENATOR COGHILL asked if there are any barriers. MR. BAKER said he is not aware of any, but he will get back to the committee with an answer. SENATOR COGHILL said he expects there will be barriers, and it needs to be put into law. CHAIR GIESEL said that she thinks Senator Coghill is correct. SENATOR STOLTZE said he understands Mr. Baker's situation, because "when you're walking on eggs you don't hop." He asked for a document to clear up the issue. 4:47:33 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if the board gets per diem and if travel is involved. MR. BAKER answered that public members of the AGDC board receive a $400 honorarium for each day they do board business, which is typically one meeting per month preceded by a day of committee work. He estimated a total of two to four days of honorariums each month, but the two commissioners are not entitled to them. The board usually meets in Anchorage, but it has met in Fairbanks and Palmer, and AGDC pays for hotels and travel. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said SB 125 has no fiscal note and asked if legislative members would use their office accounts. MR. BAKER assumed that the legislators would operate similar to the commissioners, and travel and per diem would be subject to the legislative budget rules and not come from the AGDC budget. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if the legislative members will sign confidentiality agreements. MR. BAKER answered that for most of what the board is involved in there have not been many requests [for agreements]. Legislators are already entitled to most of the confidential information that would require the board to sign such an agreement, but whether their normal oath of office would apply or whether the legislative members would need to sign the agreements could be answered by legal counsel. 4:51:24 PM SENATOR STOLTZE asked what activities or information might the board want to exclude legislators from, "since you used the term 'most'." MR. BAKER explained that he meant that not everything the board deals with needs confidentiality agreements. 4:52:30 PM CHAIR GIESEL closed public testimony. SENATOR MICCICHE offered conceptual amendment 1 stating that, other than voting, legislative board members shall participate in all processes of the board, including executive sessions, and they shall not receive an honorarium. SENATOR COGHILL objected for discussion. SENATOR STOLTZE suggested "no compensation" instead of "no honorarium." This is not an issue on most boards, but "I think there's been other factors that even cause this legislation being brought forward." SENATOR MICCICHE suggested adding travel or per diem after "honorarium." SENATOR COGHILL said it is not clear if legislators could use their legislative accounts. SENATOR STOLTZE said he served on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Council and the Knik Arm Bridge Toll Authority, and there has never been a question that the legislative branch "picked up these; it was certainly a courtesy to us ... and it was a benefit to have us on the board as a nonvoting member." He said legislators cannot be voting members because of the dual office [statute]. That the committee is even dealing with this bill dictates why the language has to be so specific, he opined. SENATOR MICCICHE said conceptual amendment 1 is: other than voting, legislative members of the board shall participate in all processes of the board, including executive sessions. 4:57:52 PM At ease. 4:58:17 PM SENATOR MICCICHE continued with his conceptual amendment: [legislative members will not] be compensated by AGDC for an honorarium, travel, or per diem for their participation on the AGDC board. CHAIR GIESEL noted the need to renumber the bill. Finding no further objections, conceptual amendment 1 was adopted. 4:59:28 PM SENATOR COSTELLO moved to report SB 125, version 29-LS1250\E, as amended, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI objected and said he respects the sponsors in putting SB 125 forward, but the legislature has numerous opportunities to participate with the AGDC, including regular briefings and testimony. He stated that Alaska needs less politics [in the AGDC], and the bill adds a new layer. He removed his objection, but he said he will not support the bill. CHAIR GIESSEL heard no further objections, and CSSB 125(RES) moved out of committee.