Legislature(2003 - 2004)
02/19/2004 03:40 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 287-REGULATION REVIEW CHAIR GARY STEVENS announced SB 287 to be up for consideration. He noted there was a committee substitute (CS) and asked for a motion to adopt it as the working document. SENATOR BERT STEDMAN made a motion to adopt CSSB 287, version 23-LS1566\D as the working document. There being no objection, it was so ordered. CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked Mr. Stancliff to explain the changes in the CS and noted there was a revised fiscal note accompanying the CS. DAVE STANCLIFF, staff to sponsor Senator Gene Therriault, said the CS addresses several of the comments expressed at the prior meeting. To reduce the fiscal impact and not involve legislative legal in reviews that don't need their expertise, all boards and commissions were removed from the review process. The boards of fish and game were removed in the CS and they represent almost 21 percent of all regulation proposals that the attorney general's (AG) office reviews in a year. With that workload reduction, the fiscal note is reduced by about $100,000. Page 2, lines 10-18 addresses the means of communication. He explained that the bill requires a review, but the communication between legislative legal and the AG's office is informal rather than in writing unless there is no resolution. The third change is on page 2, lines 19-22 and relates to communication between Legislative Legal Services and the Department of Law, the Administrative Regulation Review Committee, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. For reasons of confidentiality, documents between the Legislative Legal Services and any of the parties named are to be considered working documents. He reported that conversations are ongoing regarding changes suggested by the Department of Law. Because those changes might further reduce the fiscal impact, the sponsor has said he would make the changes prior to the hearing in the Finance Committee if he elects to incorporate them. Page 2, lines 23-25 makes it clear that reviews conducted by the Legislative Legal Services will not delay the adoption, amendment, or repeal of a regulation. On page 1, line 9 states that the Department of Law will not be encumbered with the task of copying and providing documents to legislative legal. He concluded his comments by reemphasizing that the sponsor is still working with the Department of Law and he is aware that many of their suggestions are designed to reduce the fiscal impact. CHAIR GARY STEVENS thanked Mr. Stancliff and noted that although this was the second time the committee had heard the bill, it would be helpful for him to recap the purpose of the legislation and what it is attempting to accomplish. MR.STANCLIFF explained that the legislation is based on the premise that the Executive Branch, through the Department of Law, provides a good balance regarding their perspective into the legislative system. But the same level of oversight and involvement ceases during the interim when regulations begin to flow. In comparison, the Minnesota Legislative Branch co-writes regulation with the Executive Branch while the Colorado Legislature conducts an annual review of regulations. SB 278 is an effort to raise the quality and standard of regulations to comport with what the Legislature intended in statute. To accomplish this end, the Legislative Branch would review regulations before the public comment period. This, he asserted, is nothing more than a quality review by the legislative legal team. SENATOR BERT STEDMAN remarked this would require additional state hiring, but the fiscal note indicates there isn't any physical space available in the legislative legal office. He asked for a comment on increasing efficiency versus increasing state overhead. MR. STANCLIFF replied that is a concern, but incorporating other suggestions from the Department of Law may reduce the fiscal note to the point that finding new space for the new hires won't be an issue. With regard to cost, he suggested that, "Just as in a business, an investment sometimes up front translates into a great savings on down the line." He acknowledged that the Finance Committee might insist that existing space be found before they agree to move the bill. SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS questioned excluding all boards, commissions, councils or other public corporations. She noted the Board of Fish and the Board of Education are both boards within a department and she was curious how that would work. Because the Board of Education approves regulations the Department of Education makes, she questioned whether regulation such as the implementation of the high school qualifying exam would be excluded. MR. STANCLIFF replied if the regulation or proposed rule is generated from a board or commission, it would be exempt from this rule regardless of whether or not it is part of an agency. He reported this broad-brush application was a policy call to reduce cost. It is agency driven regulations promulgated as a matter of agency policy that have been problematic, he asserted. Further, board and commission members take their jobs very seriously and they usually have an assistant attorney general assigned to work with them. SENATOR GUESS maintained the writing is too broad and she would like the committee to consider that and have Mr. Stancliff take that assertion back to the sponsor. She didn't believe any comments in the previous hearing suggested that all education regulations be excluded from the bill, but that is what appears to have happened. The Board of Fish and the Board of Education are very different and she asked that be taken into consideration. She then asked if councils and public corporations included the Alaska Railroad Corporation, Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC), and Permanent Fund Corporation. MR. STANCLIFF agreed and said those political subdivisions that have been created over the years and exempted from the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) are excluded from the review process. SENATOR GUESS asked if the Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence would be an example of a council. MR. STANCLIFF said yes, he thought the drafter, Tam Cook, was trying to separate any quasi-regulatory body that had been created from the "hard agency" regulatory provisions. SENATOR GUESS expressed concern about the three extra positions and asked him to elaborate on the "savings down the road" he referred to earlier. She reviewed the fiscal note and said, "For the record, when it gets to Senate Finance - 10 months of a legal secretary seems interesting..." MR. STANCLIFF said there has been some discussion of how this might be funded. He pointed to the chart that shows some of the ways that agencies are financially affected when the AG reviews them. He contended that the direct savings would probably come from having a better process. When people know their work will be reviewed, they do a better job. The indirect savings, he asserted, are enormous. "The cost of one poorly written, wrongfully constructed regulation, applied at the wrong time, that causes litigation is unbelievable." He called this a "better government provision." CHAIR GARY STEVENS observed that legislative legal works less than full time during the interim and he wondered if there might not be a way to use them more fully. MR. STANCLIFF thought there was room for further negotiation in the interest of making the bill more fiscally palatable. CHAIR GARY STEVENS asked if there were other questions or comments. SENATOR GUESS made a final comment regarding eliminating all boards, commissions, councils, and public corporations. She advised, "You might want to go for what you think is right and see if we can negotiate somewhere around that because I'm pretty concerned about it." CHAIR GARY STEVENS announced Senator John Cowdery had joined the meeting. 3:50pm ANNETTE KREITZER, chief of staff to Lt. Governor Leman, answered Senator Guess's question about boards and commissions saying there is nothing in the public process that would preclude Legislative Legal from reviewing boards and commissions. As they look at amending the bill, they would keep that in mind, she said. For the record she stated that Lt. Governor Leman and his staff would continue to work with the sponsor as the bill moves along. SENATOR GUESS said she appreciates the comment and she sees the purpose of the bill, but her worry is that if all boards and commissions are taken off the table that won't change because people are busy. CHAIR GARY STEVENS announced he would like to move the bill on to the Finance Committee. SENATOR COWDERY made a motion to move CSSB 287, \D version, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. There being no objection, it was so ordered.