Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/27/1995 04:10 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 amendment. 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.