Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

05/06/2021 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 3(JUD) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Moved SJR 12 Out of Committee
Moved CSSB 91(STA) Out of Committee
Moved SB 117 Out of Committee
           SB  82-ELECTIONS; ELECTION INVESTIGATIONS                                                                        
4:18:13 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER  announced the consideration  of SENATE BILL  NO. 82                                                               
"An Act relating to elections and election investigations."                                                                     
[CSSB 82(JUD),  work order 32-GS1645\I, was  the working document                                                               
although  references are  to the  work draft  version B  that the                                                               
Judiciary Committee amended then passed from committee.]                                                                        
4:18:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CORI MILLS,  Deputy Attorney General, Civil  Division, Department                                                               
of  Law,  Juneau,  Alaska,  on   behalf  of  the  administration,                                                               
presented a  PowerPoint to introduce  SB 82. She stated  that the                                                               
purpose of SB 82 is to  authorize the attorney general to conduct                                                               
civil investigations  into Title  15 election law  violations and                                                               
bring civil  enforcement actions if  a violation is  found. Under                                                               
current statute, if the Division  of Elections notices suspicious                                                               
behavior  related to  an election,  the  only option  is for  the                                                               
division to refer the matter for criminal investigation.                                                                        
Ms.  MILLS advised  that SB  82 would  add a  civil investigation                                                               
tool  similar to  what the  Department of  Law does  for consumer                                                               
protection  investigations,  but  on   an  expedited  basis.  She                                                               
recounted the  advantages of civil investigations.  Action can be                                                               
taken more quickly,  the evidentiary standard of proof  is not as                                                               
high, and the Department of  Law can more quickly get information                                                               
to the  division it  may need to  make determinations  during the                                                               
election. When  needed, criminal  and civil  investigations could                                                               
run concurrently.                                                                                                               
4:21:31 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  MILLS skipped  ahead to  slide  7 to  discuss the  complaint                                                               
referral  process. She  said an  investigation can  start with  a                                                               
complaint from a member of  the public, when the division notices                                                               
something out  of the  ordinary in the  election process,  or the                                                               
attorney general can initiate an  investigation. Under SB 82, the                                                               
division  would  review   a  complaint  that  is   filed  and  in                                                               
consultation  with the  Department  of Law  determine whether  it                                                               
warrants   investigation.  If   not,  the   complaint  would   be                                                               
dismissed. If the complaint warrants  further review, it would be                                                               
forwarded to the  attorney general who has  discretion to conduct                                                               
an investigation and prioritize cases.                                                                                          
4:22:54 PM                                                                                                                    
THOMAS FLYNN,  Assistant Attorney General, Civil  Division, Labor                                                               
and State Affairs Section, Department  of Law, Anchorage, Alaska,                                                               
continued  the presentation  with a  review  of the  steps of  an                                                               
investigation  from   less  formal   to  more   formal.  Informal                                                               
discovery includes voluntary  interviews with victims, witnesses,                                                               
and  the  target of  the  investigation.  More formal  techniques                                                               
include subpoenas  for testimony  or documents from  agencies. He                                                               
noted that the  bill sets out standard deadlines  with the option                                                               
to  move faster  for an  impending election.  At the  end of  the                                                               
investigation, the  attorney general has the  option of providing                                                               
a notice  of findings  to the  division, going  to court  to seek                                                               
enforcement, or referral for criminal investigation.                                                                            
4:24:10 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. FLYNN presented  the sectional analysis for  SB 82, including                                                               
the changes made in the previous committee.                                                                                     
     SB  82,  "An Act  relating  to  elections and  election                                                                    
     investigations" adds one new section to AS 15.56:                                                                          
     Subsection (a)  would allow anyone  can file  a written                                                                    
     complaint alleging  a violation of state  election laws                                                                    
     or  regulations  to  the  Division  of  Elections.  The                                                                    
     complaint  must  be  filed  within  30  days  after  an                                                                    
     election  or  30  days   after  the  alleged  violation                                                                    
     occurred, whichever is later.                                                                                              
     Subsection  (b) directs  the Division  of Elections  to                                                                    
     refer  alleged  violations  of  campaign  finance  laws                                                                    
     under AS 15.13 to  the Alaska Public Offices Commission                                                                    
     (APOC). The  division has the  discretion to  refer all                                                                    
     other  complaints  to  the  attorney  general.  If  the                                                                    
     complaint is incomplete, frivolous,  or does not allege                                                                    
     a  violation,  the   division  can  request  additional                                                                    
     information or it could dismiss the complaint.                                                                             
     Subsection  (c),   as  amended,  allows   the  attorney                                                                    
     general to investigate an  alleged violation by issuing                                                                    
     subpoenas and interrogatories  and by obtaining records                                                                    
     from agencies.                                                                                                             
     Subsection (d), as amended,  explains that the attorney                                                                    
     general  must  serve  the subpoenas  and  may  initiate                                                                    
     contempt proceedings as prescribed by other laws.                                                                          
     Subsection  (e),   as  amended,  allows   the  attorney                                                                    
     general to  obtain a court  order requiring  a response                                                                    
     through  a  subpoena  or  interrogatory  in  a  shorter                                                                    
     amount of time than is provided in subsection (c).                                                                         
     Subsection (f),  as amended, allows the  recipient of a                                                                    
     subpoena or interrogatory under  subsection (c) to file                                                                    
     an  opposing lawsuit,  which the  court must  expedite.                                                                    
     The  court may  choose to  hear the  attorney general's                                                                    
     argument ex parte.                                                                                                         
     Subsection  (g),  as   amended,  directs  the  attorney                                                                    
     general to provide the division  with the result of the                                                                    
     investigation  and  a  notice   of  findings  once  the                                                                    
     investigation  is complete.  In the  event a  complaint                                                                    
     against  a  state agency  or  employee  has merit,  the                                                                    
     division will make reasonable effort to respond.                                                                           
     Subsection (h),  as amended,  provides that  the notice                                                                    
     of findings  and the record that  supports the findings                                                                    
     are public  records subject to the  Public Records Act.                                                                    
     But intelligence  information the attorney  general has                                                                    
     gathered or provided to law  enforcement is not subject                                                                    
     to disclosure.                                                                                                             
     Subsection (i)  allows the attorney general  to sue for                                                                    
     injunctive relief after  the investigation provided the                                                                    
     alleged  violation  is  not  a  violation  of  campaign                                                                    
     finance laws.                                                                                                              
     Subsection  (j),   as  amended,  allows   the  attorney                                                                    
     general to  seek a  fine of no  more than  $250,000 per                                                                    
     violation  along   with  reasonable  fees   and  costs,                                                                    
     including the cost of the investigation.                                                                                   
MR. FLYNN noted that subsection (k) was added by amendment.                                                                     
     Subsection (k)  would require  the attorney  general to                                                                    
     file an action against  a candidate or elected official                                                                    
     within two years of the filing of the complaint.                                                                           
     Subsections  (l) and  (m) allow  the  division and  the                                                                    
     attorney  general  to  adopt regulations  to  implement                                                                    
     this section.                                                                                                              
     Subsection  (n) clarifies  that the  person filing  the                                                                    
     complaint may always go to court.                                                                                          
       Subsection (o) defines frivolous, state agency and                                                                       
     state employee.                                                                                                            
4:28:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KAWASAKI  said he had a  number of questions, but  he was                                                               
willing  to wait  for  a  written response  if  the answers  were                                                               
lengthy. He raised the following questions:                                                                                     
   • Is there an appeal process for dismissed complaints?                                                                       
   • What does information regarding intelligence information                                                                   
     include and why would that not be part of the public record                                                                
     under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?                                                                               
MS.   MILLS   answered   that  while   there   is   no   specific                                                               
administrative  appeal  process  if   the  division  dismisses  a                                                               
complaint, this does  not preclude the complainant  from going to                                                               
court  or   the  attorney   general  initiating   an  independent                                                               
Addressing   the    second   question    regarding   intelligence                                                               
information, she explained that the  terms come from the Consumer                                                               
Protection Act, which  makes the record of  the investigation and                                                               
intelligence  information   confidential.  She  noted   that  the                                                               
Judiciary  Committee determined  that  the  public would  benefit                                                               
from having  some of  the records be  public, so  they bifurcated                                                               
those   into  a   record   of   investigation  and   intelligence                                                               
information.  The  record   of  investigation  includes  anything                                                               
needed to  support the  notice of  findings and  everything else,                                                               
such as tips, is considered intelligence information.                                                                           
SENATOR  KAWASAKI  asked  why  a tip  would  not  be  disclosable                                                               
MS.  MILLS  answered that  a  tip  might  lead to  an  additional                                                               
investigation   and  if   disclosed,   could   hinder  a   future                                                               
CHAIR SHOWER  advised that he  read the  list in statute  of what                                                               
would be exempted.                                                                                                              
4:33:33 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  REINBOLD asked  if  it  was wise  to  have the  attorney                                                               
general  in charge  of the  process  since that  is an  appointed                                                               
rather than elected position.                                                                                                   
MS. MILLS  pointed out that  the Department of Law  already works                                                               
with  sensitive  matters  that  do  not  always  align  with  the                                                               
position of  elected officials and  they have to find  a balance.                                                               
In addition,  the bill does  not preclude  going to court  so the                                                               
information would be made public.                                                                                               
SENATOR REINBOLD  expressed concern  that every person  would not                                                               
hold to such a high bar.                                                                                                        
CHAIR SHOWER  commented on the importance  of getting legislative                                                               
intent on  the record and the  notion of an elected  or appointed                                                               
attorney general or an elected inspector general.                                                                               
4:36:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER opened public testimony on SB 82.                                                                                  
4:36:40 PM                                                                                                                    
MORGAN  LIM, representing  Planned  Parenthood Alliance  Advocate                                                               
(PPAA), Juneau, Alaska,  stated that PPAA opposes both  SB 82 and                                                               
SB 83. He  reported that in the first quarter  of 2021, more than                                                               
361  voter  suppression  measures  have  been  introduced  in  47                                                               
states. He  posited that they are  part of a nationwide  trend as                                                               
many elected  officials try to make  it more difficult to  cast a                                                               
ballot.  He said  SB 83  imposes burdensome  voter identification                                                               
requirements on  absentee voters  and limits in-person  voting in                                                               
communities with populations of less  than 750. SB 82 perpetuates                                                               
the   unsubstantiated  narrative   that  election   offenses  are                                                               
widespread. Both bills claim to  be combating election fraud, but                                                               
in reality  are bills  in search  of a  problem. Both  bills will                                                               
likely disenfranchise voters, he said.                                                                                          
MR.  LIM  stated  that  PPAA   supports  policies  that  make  it                                                               
convenient for eligible voters to  register and cast a ballot and                                                               
opposes burdensome  requirements for identification  for absentee                                                               
voting and refusing  to allow ballot curing. He  pointed out that                                                               
the  promise of  equal  access at  the ballot  box  has not  been                                                               
achieved when Black, indigenous,  and people of color communities                                                               
are more likely to face  barriers to voting. Nationwide there are                                                               
inadequate  polling places,  increasingly  limited voting  hours,                                                               
disenfranchised  formerly  incarcerated persons,  and  systematic                                                               
efforts to suppress votes.                                                                                                      
He concluded  saying that  Planned Parenthood  Alliance Advocates                                                               
urges the committee not to advance either SB 82 or SB 83.                                                                       
4:39:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER closed  public testimony on SB 82 and  held the bill                                                               
in  committee.  He  advised  that   written  testimony  could  be                                                               
submitted to ssta@akleg.gov.                                                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 82 Change Record.pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 82
SB 82 Law Fiscal Note.pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 82
SB 82 Sectional Analysis Version B, as am..pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 82
SB 82 Sponsor Statement version A.pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 82
SB 82 Version B.pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 82
SB115 Sectional Analysis 04.07.21.pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 115
SB115 Sponsor Statement 04.07.21.pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 115
SB 4 Sectional Analysis-DTD 2-2-21.pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 4
SB 4 Sponsor Statement-DTD 2-2-21.pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 4
SB 4 Suporting Documentation (additional).pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 4
SB 4 Supporting Documentation.pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 4
SB 4 Version B.PDF SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 4
SB 1 ver B.PDF SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 1
SB 1 ver B Supporting Document Police Guidelines Permit 1.22.2021.pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 1
SB 1 ver B Supporting Document Largest Police Departments Ban Neck Restraints 1.22.2021.pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 1
SB 1 ver B Sponsor Statement 1.25.2021.pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 1
SB 1 ver B Sectional Analysis 1.22.2021.pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 1
SB 1 ver B PowerPoint Presentation 1.19.21.pdf SSTA 5/6/2021 3:30:00 PM
SB 1