Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205
02/09/2017 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS
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SB 5-POLITICAL CONTRIBUTION LIMITS/PROHIBITION 3:31:09 PM CHAIR DUNLEAVY announced the consideration of SB 5. [Version O committee substitute (CS) was adopted 1/31/2017.] CHAIR DUNLEAVY opened public testimony on SB 5. 3:31:57 PM At ease 3:32:31 PM CHAIR DUNLEAVY called the committee back to order. 3:32:51 PM ANDREE MCLEOD, representing self, Anchorage, Alaska, testified in support of SB 5. She opined that SB 5 will close a loophole in political action committees (PACs). She said there was a reason why the Campaign Reform Act of 1996 was enacted to prohibit lobbyists from certain activities. She pointed out that Article 1 in the Legislative Declaration of Lobbying finds and declares that the operation of responsible representative democracy requires that the fullest opportunity be afforded to the people to petition their government and so lobbyists have a right to do what they do. She set forth that the extortion scheme that has been brought up by "Gabby's PAC" is bad and totally corrupts the process. She pointed out that extortion is the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats. She said there are high moral and ethical standards among public servants in the legislative branch and assuring the people's trust, respect, and confidence is important. She stated that a fair and open government requires legislators to conduct the public's business in a manner that preserves the process's integrity and avoids conflicts of interest or even appearances of conflicts of interest. She said in order for the rules governing conduct to be respected, the code must be administered fairly and without favoritism. She remarked that "heavy leaning" on legislators by the Rules chair has occurred and allowing it to continue is egregious. She noted that the Rules chair controls the door of the bills that go on the floor. She detailed that the Ethics Act says that a legislator may not, through inference or anything else, threaten, state or imply that they take or withhold a legislative action including support or opposition to a bill as a result of a person's decision to provide or not provide a political contribution. She opined that anybody who has been a Rules chair understands the nuances, but her understanding has been that some heavy leaning has occurred on lobbyists. MS. MCLEOD summarized that corruption is going on and it has to stop immediately. She said passing SB 5 will close the loopholes. She asked that legislators not leave any ambiguities in any definitions of what a "group" is. She asserted that leaving the current situation unchecked, dysfunction and corruption ensues. 3:37:18 PM CHAIR DUNLEAVY closed public testimony on SB 5. 3:37:28 PM At ease 3:38:02 PM CHAIR DUNLEAVY called the committee back to order. He asked Senator Meyer, the bill's sponsor, to provide his closing comments on SB 5. SENATOR KEVIN MEYER, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, summarized as follows: The purpose of this legislation is to break as little new ground as possible. We are not trying to do a comprehensive restructuring or overhaul of our campaign finance laws. We are not trying to prohibit legislators from forming PACs, they will still be able to do that under this legislation. We only want to address the loophole that came to everyone's attention last fall during the election process and put some sideboards on legislator control groups; this was obviously brought to our attention in Anchorage by the Anchorage Daily News, and the Democratic party took action and filed a complaint to APOC, and others too have voiced concern and complaints about this. I think all of us should be concerned about it as well because it does kind of taint the whole process, especially down here in Juneau. These legislators that have PACs should operate in line with how other elected officials are required, ourselves. We cannot take contributions while we are in session and we cannot take them from lobbyists unless the lobbyist lives in our district. So basically, SB 5 does two things: disallows a lobbyist's contributions, except a lobbyist can still contribute to candidates in their home district; and it prevents fundraising and expenditure activity during the legislative session. 3:40:16 PM SENATOR GIESSEL moved to report CS for SB 5, version 30- LS0112\O, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). CHAIR DUNLEAVY announced that without objection, CSSB 5(STA) moved out of the Senate State Affairs Standing Committee.