Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205
02/12/2015 09:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS
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|Overview: Department of Administration|
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 36-ELECTRONIC DISTRIB. OF REPORTS/NOTICES 10:13:18 AM CHAIR STOLTZE called the committee back to order and announced the consideration of SB 36. 10:13:37 AM SENATOR CATHY GIESSEL, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor of SB 36, related that SB 36 would save the state $500,000 a year and it would also save local governments money. It costs Anchorage $25,000 to publish their annual notice of foreclosures and from $50,000 to $80,000 to publish notice documents. The bill would allow municipalities and the state to use electronic noticing for those publications. She said the bill has been previously offered and the opposition brought up the amount of money they would lose. She asked the committee to consider the budget climate. 10:15:26 AM JANE CONWAY, Staff, Senator Giessel, Alaska State Legislature, provided an overview of SB 36 on behalf of the sponsor: Section 1 grants municipalities the authority to pass an ordinance that will allow electronic notice to taxpayers on the municipality's public Internet website instead of newspaper publication of the amount of state aid a municipality receives and the millage equivalent. Section 2 allows a municipality to meet notice requirements by posting its foreclosure list for delinquent taxes on the municipality's public Internet website. Section 3 allows a municipality to electronically post notice that the redemption period following foreclosure will expire in 30 days on its public Internet website. Section 4 requires the lieutenant governor to include certain reports of state agencies on the Alaska Online Public Notice System. Section 5 creates a new article requiring electronic production and distribution of agency reports if the agency has the technological capability to do so. It requires that reports must be posted for one year or until superseded. It creates exceptions where printing is required by other law, agreement or when a printed copy is requested. It allows electronic distribution to fulfill any agency obligation to publish, prepare, present, or submit a report. It clarifies that print copies of reports may be requested from a library distribution and data access center. It bars a state agency from hiring a contractor to provide photographs or graphics for a report, unless no agency employee to perform the work is available, or the agency would use fewer state resources by hiring a contractor. It defines "report" and "state agency." 10:17:48 AM CHAIR STOLTZE opened public testimony. 10:19:15 AM ROBIN WARD, Acting Director, Real Estate Department, Municipality of Anchorage, testified in support of SB 36. She voiced appreciation for the provisions in the bill that would allow all municipalities the option to publish foreclosure notices on line in a local new publication. She said many more property owners are accessing online notices. She pointed out savings to the municipality from the passage of the bill. She noted the cost gets passed down to the property owner. 10:21:24 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI pointed out that lower-income constituents sometimes don't have computers or access to computers. He asked what parts of town the printed notices were going to. MS. WARD said it depends on who has the lowest bid for a local newspaper distribution. 10:23:00 AM LINDA THIBODEAU, Director, Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums, Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), presented information related to SB 36. She said the state library that is referenced in Sections 4 and 5 is in the division. The bill works for the state library and mechanisms are already in place to distribute notices to patrons electronically or in print through inter-library loan. CHAIR STOLTZE added that it is an access point for the public. SENATOR COGHILL noted the cultural change to electronic postings. He asked if there is a way of tracking the number of viewers. MS. THIBODEAU replied that they see a lot of access to online state documents. She said she could get the percentages of viewers. SENATOR COGHILL addressed a concern with a new system of access. 10:25:10 AM MS. THIBODEAU specified that Sections 1 - 3 of the bill do not related to the state library; only Sections 4 and 5 do. CHAIR STOLTZE speculated that the viewers are those looking at others' property, not their own. CHAIR STOLTZE questioned the fiscal note. 10:26:35 AM CRAIG KAHKLEN, Policy Analyst, Office of Budget and Management, Office of the Governor, answered questions related to SB 36. He explained that the fiscal note shows a savings of $450,000 but does not include one department's information, so the total is closer to $500,000. SENATOR COGHILL asked if information will be added to their existing platform. MR. KAHKLEN said the plan is to use the Lieutenant Governor's electronic distribution system. SENATOR COGHILL wondered if the information would be easy to find. 10:28:33 AM RUSTAN BURTON, Publisher, Juneau Empire, testified in opposition to SB 36. He discussed the contrasting issues SB 36 provides for the Juneau Empire; public notices and profit. He addressed Section 4 that deals with administrative documents, which he said he does not take issue with except for the definition of "public." He said he does have concerns about posting municipality legal notices online. He maintained that a website would not be a good venue for those. He shared information about legislation in other states that tried to deal with legal notices, all of which failed. He maintained that the public has a right to know what their government is doing and those notices belong in newspapers. People do not access government websites for information. 10:33:30 AM MR. BURTON addressed data from New Jersey that showed posting notices online would not save money and does not provide third- party oversight. He concluded that lack of public access is the most important reason to not publish public notices online. Newspapers are good at mass media. 10:37:22 AM SENATOR COGHILL commented that newspapers are becoming more electronic. He asked about the notification process for online public notices and if they would be easy to access. MR. BURTON answered that depends on available resources. He said very few people spend much time on those pages; print is easier to browse for notices. He stressed that print is not dying. 10:40:01 AM KATHIE WASSERMAN, Executive Director, Alaska Municipal League, testified in support of SB 36. She noted the bill provides choices for notification for municipalities. She maintained that newspapers need to react to concerns of their residents. CHAIR STOLTZE left public testimony open and held SB 36 in committee.