Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/27/1995 04:10 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 SSTA - 4/27/95                                                                
 TAPE 95-21, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
                  SB 141 LEGISLATIVE ETHICS                                  
 CHAIRMAN SHARP calls the Senate State Affairs Committee to order at           
 4:10 p.m. and brings up SB 141 as the first order of business                 
 before the committee.  The chairman calls the first witness.                  
 Number 020                                                                    
 MARGIE MACNIELLE, Chairperson of the House Subcommittee, Select               
 Committee on Legislative Ethics, testifying from Anchorage, informs           
 the committee that most changes made by SB 141 to the Legislative             
 Ethics law are simply technical changes.  The full Ethics Committee           
 has reviewed the draft changes, and has voted unanimously to                  
 forward the draft to the legislature for legislative consideration.           
 MS. MACNIELLE lists the substantive changes:                                  
   1) Increasing the gift threshold from $100 to $250;                         
   2) Permitting the Ethics Committee to impose fines of $2 a day,             
     for a maximum $25 for late disclosures;                                   
   3) Listing possible sanctions for violations of the ethics code;            
   4) Changing the contract and lease section to allow those                   
  covered by the ethics code to participate in contracts for                   
  less than $5,000, with an added disclosure of participation.                 
 MS. MACNIELLE lists the minor changes:                                        
   1) In Section 13, add "spousal equivalent", and replace the word            
  "clientele" with "employer", to avoid requiring reporting                    
  every individual member of an association or trade group that                
  employs a lobbyist;                                                          
   2) In Section 16, (c)(4) was added to the reference;                        
   3) In Section 30, change the word "to" to "of."                             
 Number 080                                                                    
 MS. MACNIELLE asks for support of SB 141 on behalf of the Select              
 Committee on Legislative Ethics.                                              
 Number 105                                                                    
 SUSIE BARNETT, Professional Assistant, Select Committee on                    
 Legislative Ethics, states she does not have specific comments, but           
 is available to answer questions.                                             
 SENATOR LEMAN refers to Section 37.  Senator Leman would like to              
 see the term "substantial interest" clarified to reflect                      
 legislative intent at the time the Legislative Ethics Law was                 
 passed.  The current interpretation of "substantial interest" means           
 that legislators who earn money from businesses that pay more than            
 $5,000 in taxes to the State of Alaska, but who do not hire a                 
 lobbyist, aren't involved in the legislative process, and do not              
 have any more interest in state government than would any citizen,            
 are required to report those sources and the amount of income                 
 earned from those sources.                                                    
 Number 152                                                                    
 MS. MACNIELLE responds that Section 37 deals with APOC, so the                
 Legislative Ethics Committee does not really have a position or an            
 interest in that section.                                                     
 Number 215                                                                    
 BROOKE MILES, Juneau Branch Administrator for the Alaska Public               
 Offices Commission, responds that the status of the proposed                  
 adopted regulations is 2.5 years down the line; they still have not           
 been finalized through the Department of Law.  The regulations are            
 currently undergoing significant changes to the earliest drafts,              
 and Ms. Miles states she is not completely up-to-date on the                  
 definition of "substantial interest."  Ms. Miles states she will              
 get an answer from the Anchorage office of APOC for Senator Leman.            
 If the statute contained a definition for "substantial interest",             
 that would also solve the problem.                                            
 Number 245                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN suggests that the committee consider defining                   
 "substantial interest", while it is working on SB 141.  Senator               
 Leman asks if, since the regulations are not signed and are not               
 final, legislators are required to follow the booklet put out by              
 the APOC for filing disclosures.                                              
 Number 258                                                                    
 MS. MILES  replies that the only thing that can be used as guidance           
 by APOC in preparing the manual and the form are the proposed                 
 regulations.  However, it is Ms. Miles understanding that proposed            
 regulations do not have the force of law.                                   
 Number 265                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asks Senator Leman to work on a definition for                 
 "substantial interest."                                                       
 Number 288                                                                    
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asks Ms. Miles what percentage of requests             
 for financial disclosure reports are public requests.                         
 Number 297                                                                    
 MS. MILES estimates that 15% of the requests are public requests.             
 Number 318                                                                    
 SENATOR LEMAN states he does not like the term "spousal                       
 equivalent."  He knows that term is already in statute, but he                
 thinks it destroys the sanctity of marriage.  Senator Leman thinks            
 that to equate spousal equivalent to marriage and put it in the               
 force of law is inappropriate.                                                
 Number 333                                                                    
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS informs the committee he will be offering an           
 amendment that will disallow spouses and spousal equivalents of               
 legislators from being lobbyists.                                             
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asks Senator Phillips if he has an opinion from                
 Legislative Legal Services regarding the legality of that                     
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS responds he has received a verbal opinion              
 from Legal Services that the prohibition for money is legal, but              
 prohibition for nonprofit might interfere with freedom of speech.             
 Number 355                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN SHARP would like to address Section 36.  He thinks some of           
 the recommended sanctions might disenfranchise voters.  Chairman              
 Sharp announces that SB 141 will be set aside.                                

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