Legislature(2007 - 2008)CAPITOL 120

03/03/2008 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 3, 2008                                                                                          
                           1:10 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Jay Ramras, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Nancy Dahlstrom, Vice Chair                                                                                      
Representative John Coghill                                                                                                     
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Ralph Samuels                                                                                                    
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
Representative Lindsey Holmes                                                                                                   
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 414                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to the crime victim compensation fund."                                                                        
     - MOVED HB 414 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 355                                                                                                              
"An  Act requiring  the  disclosure of  the  identity of  certain                                                               
persons,  groups,  and nongroup  entities  that  expend money  in                                                               
support  of  or  in  opposition to  ballot  initiatives  and  the                                                               
aggregate  amounts of  significant contributions  or expenditures                                                               
made by those persons, groups, and nongroup entities."                                                                          
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
HOUSE BILL NO. 255                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to dual sentencing of certain juvenile                                                                         
offenders; amending Rule 24.1, Alaska Delinquency Rules; and                                                                    
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
     - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                  
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 414                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: CRIME VICTIM COMPENSATION FUND                                                                                     
SPONSOR(S): JUDICIARY                                                                                                           
02/25/08       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/25/08       (H)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
03/03/08       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
BILL: HB 355                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: DISCLOSURE OF CONTRIBUTIONS: INITIATIVES                                                                           
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) JOHANSEN                                                                                          
02/06/08       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/06/08       (H)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
02/13/08       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
02/13/08       (H)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
02/22/08       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
02/22/08       (H)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
03/03/08       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 120                                                                             
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
JANE W. PIERSON, Staff                                                                                                          
to Representative Jay Ramras                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 414 on behalf of the sponsor,                                                               
the   House   Judiciary   Committee,    which   is   chaired   by                                                               
Representative Ramras.                                                                                                          
GERAD G. GODFREY, Chair                                                                                                         
Violent Crimes Compensation Board (VCCB)                                                                                        
Department of Administration (DOA)                                                                                              
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided comments and responded to                                                                       
questions during discussion of HB 414.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE KYLE JOHANSEN                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Sponsor of HB 355.                                                                                       
SONIA CHRISTENSEN, Staff                                                                                                        
to Representative Kyle Johansen                                                                                                 
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  During discussion of HB 355, testified on                                                                
behalf of the sponsor, Representative Johansen.                                                                                 
CHRISTINA ELLINGSON, Acting Director                                                                                            
Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC)                                                                                         
Department of Administration (DOA)                                                                                              
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION  STATEMENT:     Provided   comments  and   responded  to                                                             
questions during discussion of HB 355.                                                                                          
CHIP THOMA                                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 355.                                                                          
STEVE CLEARY, Executive Director                                                                                                
Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AkPIRG)                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 355.                                                                          
MARGARET PATON-WALSH, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                
Labor and State Affairs Section                                                                                                 
Civil Division (Anchorage)                                                                                                      
Department of Law (DOL)                                                                                                         
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Responded to  questions during discussion of                                                             
HB 355.                                                                                                                         
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR JAY  RAMRAS called the  House Judiciary  Standing Committee                                                             
meeting  to  order  at  1:10:34  PM.    Representatives  Samuels,                                                             
Dahlstrom,  Coghill,  and Ramras  were  present  at the  call  to                                                               
order.   Representatives Lynn, Holmes,  Gruenberg arrived  as the                                                               
meeting was in progress.                                                                                                        
HB 414 - CRIME VICTIM COMPENSATION FUND                                                                                       
1:11:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the  first order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO.  414,  "An  Act relating  to  the  crime  victim                                                               
compensation fund."                                                                                                             
1:12:06 PM                                                                                                                    
JANE  W.  PIERSON, Staff  to  Representative  Jay Ramras,  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  presented HB 414 on  behalf of Representative                                                               
Ramras, chair  of the  House Judiciary  Committee, sponsor.   She                                                               
explained that  the Violent Crimes Compensation  Board (VCCB) was                                                               
established  under  AS  18.67  in   1972  to  help  mitigate  the                                                               
financial hardships victims suffer as  a direct result of violent                                                               
crime.   The  board may  compensate medical  expenses, counseling                                                               
costs, lost income, lost support,  funeral expenses, and/or other                                                               
reasonable costs sustained by Alaskan  victims of violent crimes.                                                               
The VCCB awards  approximately 85 percent of  its budget directly                                                               
to victims  and/or their  service providers.   Based on  the past                                                               
four  years, the  average  amount the  board  awards annually  is                                                               
MS. PIERSON  stated that HB 414  would create a non  general fund                                                               
(GF)  program  definition for  the  VCCB  under AS  37.05.146(c).                                                               
Revenues could be  placed directly into this fund  and be matched                                                               
at  $.60 on  every dollar  from federal  grants.   Therefore, the                                                               
VCCB could obtain additional funding  without any additional cost                                                               
to  the state.    Funding  sources for  the  VCCB include  inmate                                                               
salaries, restitution payments,  permanent fund dividends (PFDs),                                                               
and payments  made by VCCB claimants  under repayment agreements.                                                               
However, those  funds are currently  deposited directly  into the                                                               
state's GF and  any fund balance not expended is  returned to the                                                               
GF.  Again,  this bill would allow the VCCB  to retain unexpended                                                               
funds and obtain  matching federal funds at the rate  of $.60 per                                                               
state dollar.                                                                                                                   
CHAIR RAMRAS  that he is  sympathetic with  the intent of  HB 414                                                               
since he has been a victim of property crime himself.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM referred to  the VCCB annual report, and                                                               
said that  she reads that report  and supports the work  the VCCB                                                               
accomplishes.   She  relayed her  support of  HB 414,  which, she                                                               
surmised, would  allow the  VCCB the  ability to  roll unexpended                                                               
funds forward.                                                                                                                  
1:17:25 PM                                                                                                                    
GERAD  G.  GODFREY,  Chair,  Violent  Crimes  Compensation  Board                                                               
(VCCB), Department  of Administration  (DOA), concurred  with Ms.                                                               
Pierson's summation.  He noted that  when a claimant comes to the                                                               
VCCB  he/she  must  sign  a  subrogation  agreement.    The  VCCB                                                               
realizes  that some  claimants will  receive a  settlement award,                                                               
for example, for  an accident involving a driver  who was driving                                                               
under the  influence (DUI).   Although eventually the  claim will                                                               
be settled,  it may take  considerable time, and,  meanwhile, the                                                               
victim's  bills continue  to accrue,  oftentimes when  the person                                                               
cannot work.   Mr. Godfrey  highlighted that the VCCB  awards are                                                               
for  tangible  losses based  on  a  formula,  with a  maximum  of                                                               
$40,000.   The claimant  or his/her  attorney will  reimburse the                                                               
VCCB for the settlement once  awarded.  He characterized the VCCB                                                               
award as a  de facto loan, so when the  settlements are received,                                                               
the funds  are directed to the  general fund (GF) rather  than to                                                               
the  VCCB.   He too  noted that  the VCCB  receives funding  from                                                               
garnished  PFDs.   Additionally,  the  VCCB  received funding  of                                                               
approximately     $400,000     during    Governor     Murkowski's                                                               
administration.    He  explained  that if  the  VCCB  can  recoup                                                               
settlement awards  from subrogation agreements and  court ordered                                                               
restitution  or  judgments,  then   the  VCCB  may  become  self-                                                               
sustaining.   He  referred to  a graph  in members'  packets that                                                               
illustrates the  projected funding of  the VCCB, and  opined that                                                               
if HB 414  passes, the VCCB could eventually  operate on interest                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG asked  whether  the  money coming  from                                                               
inmates' PFDs is  deposited into the GF and  then appropriated to                                                               
the VCCB.                                                                                                                       
MR.   GODFREY   answered   that   the   legislature   makes   the                                                               
appropriation but  he is not  sure of the  appropriation process.                                                               
However,  he  noted,  the  largest   percentage  of  the  PFD  is                                                               
appropriated  to the  Department of  Corrections (DOC),  which he                                                               
surmised is appropriate since the DOC houses the inmates.                                                                       
MS. PIERSON advised that garnished  PFDs are first deposited into                                                               
the GF and are then allocated to the VCCB.                                                                                      
CHAIR RAMRAS, after first determining  that no one else wished to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 414.                                                                                     
1:25:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM moved to report  HB 414 out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   There being no objection,  HB 414 was reported  from the                                                               
House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                             
HB 355 - DISCLOSURE OF CONTRIBUTIONS: INITIATIVES                                                                             
1:26:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  355, "An  Act  requiring the  disclosure of  the                                                               
identity of  certain persons, groups, and  nongroup entities that                                                               
expend  money   in  support  of   or  in  opposition   to  ballot                                                               
initiatives   and   the    aggregate   amounts   of   significant                                                               
contributions or expenditures made  by those persons, groups, and                                                               
nongroup entities."                                                                                                             
1:26:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KYLE JOHANSEN,  Alaska State Legislature, sponsor,                                                               
explained  that  he had  introduced  HB  355  in order  to  begin                                                               
discussions  about  the  initiative  process  and  the  need  for                                                               
openness and  transparency of  funding during  that process.   He                                                               
offered his concern  that funding is obscured,  and remarked upon                                                               
the  importance of  requiring disclosure  of an  individual or  a                                                               
group that  funds ballot initiatives,  regardless of  whether the                                                               
group  supports or  opposes the  ballot initiative.   Legislators                                                               
and  potential   legislators  currently  must   disclose  income,                                                               
campaign contributions, and investments,  to provide the public a                                                               
basis for  making decisions  about the people  they elect.   This                                                               
bill  would  require disclosure  of  those  who influence  ballot                                                               
initiatives.   He explained  that his intent  is to  require full                                                               
disclosure of groups  such that if a group in  Wyoming is funding                                                               
a ballot initiative, the public has a right to know it.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN  opined that  when a  question is  on the                                                               
ballot, the  issue becomes a public-relations  battle with little                                                               
discussion about  the proposed change  and is instead  more about                                                               
slogans.   He acknowledged that HB  355 might have to  be altered                                                               
and that some issues may still need to be addressed.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS   asked  who  is  currently   allowed  to                                                               
contribute   funds   to   organizations   that   sponsor   ballot                                                               
1:33:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SONIA CHRISTENSEN, Staff to  Representative Kyle Johansen, Alaska                                                               
State   Legislature,  on   behalf  of   Representative  Johansen,                                                               
sponsor, stated  that there  are no  restrictions with  regard to                                                               
who can contribute to ballot initiatives.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN offered that he  did not believe that any                                                               
limit  is  imposed on  the  amount  that  can be  contributed  to                                                               
support ballot initiatives.                                                                                                     
CHAIR RAMRAS  described his  experience in  collecting signatures                                                               
for a ballot initiative, and  acknowledged that it is a difficult                                                               
task.   He mentioned two  distinct aspects to  ballot initiatives                                                               
as being collecting signatures and  advocating for or against the                                                               
issue  to  be  placed  on  the   ballot.    He  relayed  his  own                                                               
experiences with  collecting signatures, and noted  that although                                                               
he  had initially  been  opposed to  the  legislation allowing  a                                                               
sponsor  of  a  ballot  initiative  to  pay  someone  to  collect                                                               
signatures,  [he no  longer  is].   Additionally,  he found  some                                                               
people  would  not  support  his   initiative  because  they  had                                                               
concerns about retribution.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN  opined that  if someone wants  to donate                                                               
money   for  a   ballot  initiative,   he/she  should   not  fear                                                               
retribution.   However,  the contributor  should  be required  to                                                               
disclose that  donation.  He  said that although he  supports the                                                               
initiative  process,   his  main  concern  and   the  reason  for                                                               
introducing  HB 355  is  that ballot  initiatives  have become  a                                                               
multimillion-dollar  industry  and so  it  is  difficult for  the                                                               
public  to discern  who is  funding  the ballot  initiative.   He                                                               
offered his  understanding that some  businesses focus  on ballot                                                               
initiatives for profit.   He stressed that citizens  have a right                                                               
to know the source of funding for ballot initiatives.                                                                           
CHAIR   RAMRAS  stated   said  that   he  shares   Representative                                                               
Johansen's  concern about  outside  interests "hijacking"  ballot                                                               
1:45:43 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS  recalled  the  ballot  initiative  Chair                                                               
Ramras collected signatures for all  summer long.  He pointed out                                                               
that  someone could  have  spent millions  to  oppose the  ballot                                                               
initiative and  that it would be  difficult to find out  who paid                                                               
for the campaign opposing the initiative.                                                                                       
CHAIR  RAMRAS offered  his understanding  that HB  355 would  not                                                               
affect that aspect  of ballot initiatives.  However,  he said his                                                               
exclusive concern  is to  protect the  ability of  individuals to                                                               
place something  on the ballot.   He  said that he  supports full                                                               
disclosure  for  donations by  individuals  and  groups once  the                                                               
initiative is on the ballot.                                                                                                    
MS.  CHRISTENSEN  clarified  that  HB  355  would  apply  to  any                                                               
committee that  spends or incurs  $500 in expenditures  and would                                                               
require  the  group  to  file  with  the  Alaska  Public  Offices                                                               
Commission (APOC).                                                                                                              
CHAIR RAMRAS  recalled that he  helped collect  46,000 signatures                                                               
for the ballot initiative to  limit the legislative session to 90                                                               
days,  and  that a  group  opposed  to  the initiative  spent  $1                                                               
million  to oppose  it.   He asked  whether a  group opposing  an                                                               
initiative  is  currently required  to  report  and disclose  its                                                               
source of funds on a ballot initiative.                                                                                         
MS.  CHRISTENSEN  answered  that  currently  the  source  of  the                                                               
funding would need to be disclosed.                                                                                             
CHAIR RAMRAS surmised that HB 355  is limited to funding spent to                                                               
collect signatures.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN stated that  his intention, regardless of                                                               
whether  the   legislation  actually  does  so,   is  to  require                                                               
financial disclosure  for those who either  collect signatures or                                                               
run a campaign to support or oppose a ballot initiative.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  asked what  specifically would  be changed                                                               
by HB 355.                                                                                                                      
MS.  CHRISTENSEN  indicated  that  a  sectional  analysis  is  in                                                               
members' packets provide that information.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS posed  a scenario in which  a group forms,                                                               
but its contributors are not known to the public.                                                                               
CHAIR  RAMRAS agreed.    He reiterated  his  earlier concern  for                                                               
adverse  impacts  on  private  citizens  who  seek  to  place  an                                                               
initiative on the ballot.                                                                                                       
1:53:30 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTINA  ELLINGSON,  Acting  Director,  Alaska  Public  Offices                                                               
Commission  (APOC),  Department  of Administration  (DOA),  noted                                                               
that  the APOC  just  addressed this  reporting  question at  its                                                               
meeting in  February 2008.  She  offered that under Section  4 of                                                               
HB 355,  the reporting statute  would be changed by  deleting "an                                                               
initiative".   She explained that  people must  gather signatures                                                               
to get an initiative, referendum, or  a recall on the ballot, and                                                               
that  currently,  AS  15.13.110(e) identifies  when  reports  are                                                               
required,   such  that   each   group  is   required  to   report                                                               
contributions  and expenditures  30  days after  filing with  the                                                               
lieutenant governor  and 10 days  after the end of  each calendar                                                               
quarter.   However, under HB  355, the reports would  be required                                                               
the 15th  day of  each month  before the  election and  two weeks                                                               
prior  to  the election.    She  stated  that  the rest  of  bill                                                               
pertains to Division  of Elections matters.   Currently, once the                                                               
first 100  signatures are obtained  by a "loosely  formed" group,                                                               
then that group must file with the APOC.                                                                                        
CHAIR RAMRAS  relayed his understanding  that HB 355  attempts to                                                               
have a  "loosely formed" group  provide fuller disclosure  to the                                                               
MS. ELLINGSON  agreed.  However,  she opined that this  bill does                                                               
more  [than  that].   She  clarified  that  the first  filing  is                                                               
generally  done   by  the  sponsor   of  the  initiative.     She                                                               
characterized  the   initiatives'  sponsors  as  often   being  a                                                               
"handful of  people" who will register  as a group.   She further                                                               
noted that  sometimes the group  is represented by  attorneys who                                                               
are hired to assist them.                                                                                                       
1:59:26 PM                                                                                                                    
CHIP THOMA stated  that he supports HB 355, and  that he has been                                                               
involved   in  three   local   initiatives   and  two   statewide                                                               
initiatives,  and that  in each  instance the  opposition to  the                                                               
initiatives  was overwhelming  and the  funding sources  were not                                                               
documented.    He said  that  he  is not  a  lobbyist  nor is  he                                                               
compensated in  any way  for his  presence before  the committee.                                                               
He offered  that he  joined the cruise  ship initiative  since he                                                               
thought it  was a  good cause.   He relayed  that Joe  Geldhof, a                                                               
Juneau attorney, authorized  him to report to  the committee that                                                               
the cruise  ship initiative received one  outside contribution in                                                               
the amount  of $10,000 for  advertising purposes.   An additional                                                               
$30,000 was raised to obtain  signatures, which were collected by                                                               
volunteers  or  paid signature  gatherers.    He noted  that  the                                                               
cruise ship initiative had strong  local support, especially from                                                               
the  Alaska Native  Sisterhood (ANS),  which  was concerned  that                                                               
cruise ships  would affect their  subsistence foods.   He pointed                                                               
out  that the  opposition  spent  over $2  million  to fight  the                                                               
initiative, though he did not  know who furnished the funding for                                                               
over  27  mailers  and the  television  advertising  campaign  to                                                               
combat  this  initiative.    However, he  stated  that  he  later                                                               
learned  that  the Northwest  Cruise  Ship  Association based  in                                                               
Vancouver, Canada, provided the  funding through PacWest, a major                                                               
group form Miami,  Florida.  He said that his  group prevailed in                                                               
its efforts, although he opined that  the group could have won by                                                               
much  greater margin  if the  funding source  had been  known and                                                               
MR. THOMA suggested that the  bill should also apply to statewide                                                               
municipal  ballot initiatives,  that registered  lobbyists should                                                               
be prohibited  from donating to  any ballot  initiative campaign,                                                               
and that  proposed AS 15.45.780  contain a "top  ten" contributor                                                               
list  for  all ballot  initiative  advertising  such that  anyone                                                               
contributing over $500 or $1,000  to a ballot initiative campaign                                                               
should  be listed.    He  recalled one  local  initiative to  ban                                                               
fluoride in  drinking water.   Supposedly  the issue  was locally                                                               
funded; however, the American Dental  Society primarily funded an                                                               
opposition  campaign.    Additionally,  he  offered  that  Alaska                                                               
doesn't  have  a  professional signature  gathering  group.    He                                                               
concluded with his support for HB 355.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL referred to  the reporting requirements of                                                               
the  bill,   and  asked   Mr.  Thoma   whether  he   thought  the                                                               
requirements were reasonable and if  he thought that the proposed                                                               
requirements  would  affect  how   people  would  conduct  ballot                                                               
initiative advertisement campaigns.                                                                                             
MR. THOMA  answered that advertising decisions  generally must be                                                               
made  early on,  so he  does not  think that  the changes  to the                                                               
reporting  requirement would  affect  advertising.   However,  he                                                               
stressed that  a cumulative donor  list should be filed  with any                                                               
advertising for ballot initiatives.                                                                                             
2:08:49 PM                                                                                                                    
STEVE   CLEARY,  Executive   Director,  Alaska   Public  Interest                                                               
Research  Group (AkPIRG),  after  relaying that  AkPIRG has  been                                                               
operating in Alaska since 1974,  has approximately 1,600 members,                                                               
and that  its mission  is to protect  consumers and  advocate for                                                               
open  and  honest  government  in   Alaska,  stated  that  AkPIRG                                                               
supports  HB 355,  which he  characterized as  "a great  step for                                                               
Alaska."    He  too  remarked  that  ballot  initiatives  are  an                                                               
important part of the lawmaking process  in Alaska.  He said that                                                               
AkPIRG  believes in  full disclosure,  which he  characterized as                                                               
essential for  open government, and  that the public has  a right                                                               
to know who  is funding a ballot initiative.   The current system                                                               
allows and rewards  secrecy by allowing a group  to pay signature                                                               
gatherers and put forth an  initiative without having to disclose                                                               
the source  of funding  for its ballot  initiative campaign.   He                                                               
stated  that  AkPIRG  believes  that  Alaskans  should  know  the                                                               
funding  source in  the signature  gathering phase  and not  just                                                               
after  an  initiative  has  been   placed  on  the  ballot.    He                                                               
acknowledged  that once  something is  on the  ballot, the  issue                                                               
achieves  some  legitimacy.    Therefore,  it  is  critical  that                                                               
Alaskans know,  prior to that  phase, the sources of  the funding                                                               
for the signature gathering.                                                                                                    
MR.  CLEARY said  that the  AkPIRG  is currently  working on  the                                                               
Clean Elections Ballot initiative.   Alaskans for Clean Elections                                                               
chose  to   disclose  its  contributions  during   the  signature                                                               
gathering phase  even though it  is not currently required  to do                                                               
so.  In contrast to  that, the "anti-corruption" initiative would                                                               
negate the Clean Elections initiative,  he opined.  That group is                                                               
not  required to  list its  contributors or  expenses during  the                                                               
signature  gathering phase.   He  said that  the AkPIRG  believes                                                               
that  the bulk  of  the "anti-corruption"  initiative funding  is                                                               
coming from Mr.  Howard Rich, a New York business  tycoon who has                                                               
funded ballot  measures all  across the  United States.   Similar                                                               
measures have been thrown off  the ballot in Montana, he offered,                                                               
such  as one  sponsored by  a group  named "Montanans  in Action"                                                               
even though its funding sources originated in New York.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS asked Mr. Cleary  if he has had experience                                                               
with subgroups donating funding to  the main group that organizes                                                               
to support or oppose an initiative,  such that it is difficult to                                                               
ascertain  the   original  source  of  funding   for  the  ballot                                                               
initiative,  regardless  of  whether   it  is  in  the  signature                                                               
gathering phase or the actual ballot initiative campaign.                                                                       
MR. CLEARY  stated that  he has not  experienced such,  but would                                                               
research that issue further.                                                                                                    
2:14:02 PM                                                                                                                    
MARGARET  PATON-WALSH,  Assistant  Attorney  General,  Labor  and                                                               
State Affairs Section, Civil  Division (Anchorage), Department of                                                               
Law (DOL),  stated that  the DOL has  one potential  problem with                                                               
HB 355.   She  referred to  Section 6  of proposed  AS 15.45.780.                                                               
She stated  that a potential  First Amendment concern  was raised                                                               
by a U.S. Supreme Court  decision, McIntyre v. the Ohio Elections                                                             
Commission,  514 U.S.  335(1995).   In that  case, Mrs.  McIntyre                                                             
handed out  flyers at a school  board meeting in opposition  to a                                                               
bond proposal.  The requirement  that political advertising would                                                               
include  the name  of the  committee person,  group, or  nongroup                                                               
entity that  was behind  it, would run  afoul of  First Amendment                                                               
protections for anonymous speech  that were outlined in McIntyre,                                                             
she opined.   In that  case, the court addressed  Ohio's interest                                                               
regarding   public  information,   which  is   clearly  what   is                                                               
motivating HB  355, she  surmised.  The  court found  the state's                                                               
interest  insufficient to  justify trumping  a person's  right to                                                               
anonymous  speech.    Thus,  she   expressed  concern  about  the                                                               
constitutionality of  proposed Section 6, absent  some attempt to                                                               
define  political advertising.    The  current election  statutes                                                               
defines "communication"  in AS 15.13, a  narrower definition that                                                               
would  exclude flyers  that  the U.S.  Supreme  Court found  were                                                               
protected in McIntyre, she opined.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  asked  whether the  contribution  amount                                                               
matters enough  to impose a  $500 limit, and whether  a threshold                                                               
was indicated in McIntyre.                                                                                                    
MS.  PATON-WALSH answered  that  the funding  issue  is not  very                                                               
clear  in  McIntyre.   She  offered  that  the court  makes  some                                                             
reference  to  the small  scale  of  Mrs. McIntyre's  activities.                                                               
However, the  court did not make  a clear distinction, nor  is it                                                               
the central part  of the analysis of the issue.   She opined that                                                               
it is  possible that  some argument  could be  made based  on the                                                               
threshold amount.  She said she  could not predict, but her sense                                                               
is that given the cost of  reproducing flyers at Kinkos, it could                                                               
be that  $500 would be  too low  a threshold to  cover activities                                                               
such  as  those  engaged  in  by Mrs.  McIntyre.    Even  if  the                                                               
threshold  were raised,  it  is  not clear  if  that  would be  a                                                               
compelling basis for the distinction, she surmised.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL asked  whether a  person who  contributes                                                               
$50 to a political campaign  could assert the right to anonymity.                                                               
Currently, he noted, that person  is required to furnish name and                                                               
address along with his/her contribution.                                                                                        
MS.  PATON-WALSH answered  that  a person  could  not assert  the                                                               
right to anonymity, which is  more closely connected to political                                                               
speech;  so  the financial  contribution,  although  it could  be                                                               
characterized  as   a  political  statement,  is   in  some  ways                                                               
distinguished by the  U.S. Supreme Court as  a political "flyer."                                                               
If  a person  writes  out  his/her support  or  opposition to  an                                                               
initiative and  posts it  in various places  around a  city, that                                                               
"posting"  is  considered a  direct  expression  of the  person's                                                               
political speech.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  acknowledged that  the court  has already                                                               
determined  that  people  have  a  right to  know  who  made  the                                                               
contribution, for  example, when someone makes  a contribution of                                                               
$500 or more.                                                                                                                   
2:20:16 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  relayed that he must  disclose the source                                                               
of  advertising expenditures  by  listing "paid  for  by" on  the                                                               
advertisement.   He  asked why  anonymity on  expenditures for  a                                                               
group in ballot initiative situations is allowed.                                                                               
MS.  PATON-WALSH answered  the  court  hasn't actually  addressed                                                               
that issue  of "paid for by"  a particular candidate.   The court                                                               
has  only made  a distinction  between elections  for office  and                                                               
ballot or bond initiatives.   She advised that McIntyre addresses                                                             
an "issue"  election and  not an election  of an  individual, and                                                               
that  she  does not  know  the  extent  to which  that  anonymity                                                               
protection  would expand  if that  issue came  before the  court.                                                               
She explained  that there  were three  opinions are  expressed in                                                               
McIntyre:    the majority  opinion,  concurring  opinions, and  a                                                             
dissent opinion.                                                                                                                
MS. PATON-WALSH  again offered that  one solution to  address the                                                               
constitutional issues  in the bill  would be to add  a definition                                                               
of  political  advertising  that  excludes  the  areas  of  known                                                               
jurisprudence  protections by  the  court and  leaves open  areas                                                               
that have not  yet been determined by the court.   She opined the                                                               
current definition  of communication in AS  15.13.090 essentially                                                               
provides protection  for the types  of speech engaged in  by Mrs.                                                               
McIntyre but not for many other things.                                                                                         
2:23:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN asked why there  is anonymity for initiatives                                                               
but not  for an individual's  campaign, particularly   given that                                                               
most  elected  officials  are  elected due  to  their  stance  on                                                               
issues.    He asked  whether  other  states have  passed  similar                                                               
legislation and,  if so,  whether constitutional  challenges have                                                               
been raised with respect to anonymity.                                                                                          
MS.  PATON-WALSH  answered  that   McIntyre  is  essentially  the                                                             
preeminent case on this issue.   The state of Ohio had prohibited                                                               
anonymous  leaflet advertising,  she said,  and so  Mrs. McIntyre                                                               
was fined  under that statute,  but the U.S. Supreme  Court ruled                                                               
it unconstitutional.  She opined  that the "paid for by" language                                                               
requirement is  a standard provision  found in many  other states                                                               
and  at the  federal  level, and  that a  huge  gray area  exists                                                               
between  what Mrs.  McIntyre did  and  the "paid  for by"  issue.                                                               
Again, McIntyre  provides the  only clues as  to what  may happen                                                             
with regard to  anonymous speech.  She said that  she is not able                                                               
to say  with certainty whether  something will  be constitutional                                                               
since so little information exists.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  said that he  struggles to understand  why a                                                               
contribution to a  political campaign cannot be  anonymous, yet a                                                               
contribution to an initiative can be.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHANSEN   offered  that  he  shares   that  same                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES  referred  to  page  2,  lines  20-31,  of                                                               
proposed Section  5, and asked  about the  reporting requirements                                                               
for  a  group   that  raises  money  for   several  purposes  and                                                               
contributes more than  $500 per year.  Would  the organization or                                                               
the individuals  or members that contributed  to the organization                                                               
be required to be disclosed as contributors?                                                                                    
MS.  ELLINGSON  answered  that  ballot  issues  just  report  the                                                               
funding  source.   She  posed a  scenario such  that  if a  group                                                               
decided to support  an initiative, it would remit  the funds from                                                               
its  own  funds.   Under  current  disclosure  law a  "group"  is                                                               
triggered when it  solicits money from its  members; otherwise an                                                               
entity  could simply  make a  donation that  is derived  from its                                                               
general membership fees.                                                                                                        
2:31:15 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES surmised,  then, that  if a  group made  a                                                               
donation from  its general membership  funds, the  only reporting                                                               
required  would  be for  the  single  donation  from it  for  the                                                               
purpose  of a  ballot initiative.   She  asked whether  the group                                                               
would be  required to report  if it specifically  solicited funds                                                               
for a ballot initiative.                                                                                                        
MS.  ELLINGSON  answered that  the  group  would be  required  to                                                               
report and would have to name itself.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  referred to  proposed AS  15.45.760, which                                                               
requires that  the committee name  must include the  ballot title                                                               
and the  word "for" or  the word "against".   She inquired  as to                                                               
whether, in actual practice, multiple  groups would have the same                                                               
MS. ELLINGSON  answered no, and  explained an outside  entity had                                                               
tried to  tie up every  conceivable variation  of a name  so that                                                               
others  could not  use it.   She  noted that  most groups  devise                                                               
their own name.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES stated  that she did not  find a definition                                                               
of "initiative committee" in HB 355.                                                                                            
MS.   ELLINGSON  answered   that  initiatives   fall  under   the                                                               
definition of "group" in statute.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES referred  to  proposed  AS 15.45.760,  and                                                               
opined that several  groups could have similar names.   She asked                                                               
whether multiple groups  are formed or if it is  usually just one                                                               
group "for" and one group "against" an initiative.                                                                              
MS.  ELLINGSON  answered  that   sometimes  multiple  groups  are                                                               
formed.  Although proposed AS  15.45.760 pertains to the Division                                                               
of  Elections, some  provisions in  HB 355  probably should  fall                                                               
under APOC's campaign disclosure purview, she suggested.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLMES expressed  concern that  if more  than one                                                               
group is formed,  they could be limited with regard  to what name                                                               
they get to choose.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL surmised  that the  titles of  the groups                                                               
would not lend itself to "a clean debate."                                                                                      
2:36:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked the  sponsor to also consider what                                                               
aspects of the bill APOC should administer.                                                                                     
CHAIR RAMRAS asked  MS. Ellingson to elaborate on  the genesis of                                                               
the  requirement for  disclosure for  campaign contributions  but                                                               
not for initiatives.                                                                                                            
MS. ELLINGSON said  that that APOC decision arose  out of several                                                               
court  cases.   Up until  1997, statutes  stated that  disclosure                                                               
applied to activities that are  intended to influence the outcome                                                               
of the election.  Thus, an  argument could be made that without a                                                               
question on the ballot, there  isn't an election.  The commission                                                               
held  discussions  on whether  it  is  constitutional to  require                                                               
disclosure  since a  group may  not gather  enough signatures  to                                                               
place the initiative on the ballot and hold an election.                                                                        
CHAIR  RAMRAS  asked  why  disclosure is  required  even  if  the                                                               
initiative never makes it to  the ballot, particularly given that                                                               
many initiatives fail.                                                                                                          
MS. ELLINGSON agreed.   She offered that  some groups voluntarily                                                               
disclose their signature-gathering funds.                                                                                       
CHAIR RAMRAS  surmised that once an  organization advertises that                                                               
it is collecting signatures, the group would need to disclose.                                                                  
MS. ELLINGSON clarified that if  a group is collecting signatures                                                               
and requests people to vote for  or against the initiative in the                                                               
event  that it  is  on  the ballot,  the  group  must report  and                                                               
disclose the contributors.                                                                                                      
MS. ELLINGSON, in  response to a question, answered  that a group                                                               
that  is  only in  the  signature-gathering  stage would  not  be                                                               
required to  disclose since an  election might not  ultimately be                                                               
held.  She pointed out  that candidates and groups have different                                                               
standards for reporting requirements,  and opined that candidates                                                               
are held to  a higher standard.  Furthermore, if  a candidate ran                                                               
for office and later withdrew,  he/she would still be required to                                                               
report his/her expenditures and distribution of funds.                                                                          
CHAIR RAMRAS  opined that a person  who runs for office  is fully                                                               
engaged in  running for  office.  If  that person  withdraws from                                                               
the race,  he/she is out of  the race.   In the case of  a ballot                                                               
initiative, until  a person submits  the signatures  and requests                                                               
certification, the ballot  initiative will not be  on the ballot,                                                               
and once  those signatures are  submitted, the person  then loses                                                               
custody of the ballot initiative.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN offered  his concern  that listing  names of                                                               
contributors  would have  the effect  of creating  a database  of                                                               
people  who support  or  oppose  an initiative.    He offered  an                                                               
example of groups such as  Planned Parenthood and Alaska Right to                                                               
Life, whose goals are diametrically opposed to one another.                                                                     
2:44:47 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. ELLINGSON surmised that groups  could contribute $1,000 to an                                                               
initiative group,  and that  group could form  a separate  arm to                                                               
solicit  funds for  specific  ballot issues.    She offered  that                                                               
currently, about  four groups have formed  whose specific purpose                                                               
is  for a  ballot initiative  and the  groups' name  reflects its                                                               
purpose.  In  response to [comments], she agreed  that the groups                                                               
could contribute to  candidates or a ballot  initiative, but that                                                               
the list  of contributors  is already  on record.   Thus,  no new                                                               
list  of  contributors  would be  created,  because  such  groups                                                               
already have a list of their contributors on file.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS argued  that an  organization could  form                                                               
another arm and  that arm could contribute to  candidates and the                                                               
public will still not know the source of the contributions.                                                                     
MS.  ELLINGSON answered  that the  public can  simply review  the                                                               
reporting  by  the secondary  group.    She advised  that  ballot                                                               
initiatives "enjoy the  ability of being able to  collect as much                                                               
money as they want from any source that they want."                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  stressed that the  point of HB 353  is to                                                               
identify  any  money  that  is  collected  that  is  intended  to                                                               
influence public  policy in Alaska  regardless of whether  or not                                                               
an initiative is  successfully placed on the ballot.   The public                                                               
should  know the  source of  the funds,  he opined.   He  posed a                                                               
scenario in  which an  organization contributes  $1 million  to a                                                               
ballot measure, and opined that if  the original source of the $1                                                               
million is unknown, then the goal  of the bill will not have been                                                               
met.  He said,  "The goal is to have a  transparent process so we                                                               
know who  is trying to  influence public  policy in the  State of                                                               
Alaska,   whether  it   is  the   Sierra  Club   [or]  ExxonMobil                                                               
Corporation ...."                                                                                                               
MS. ELLINGSON  answered that disclosure  is required at  the time                                                               
the person  makes a  contribution to  the organization  to inform                                                               
the public  about an issue.   For example, several  entities that                                                               
favor  one side  of an  issue  but which  may not  be located  in                                                               
Alaska   can  contribute   large  sums   of  money,   though  the                                                               
contributions must  all be disclosed  as being to the  group they                                                               
contribute to  or must be  listed as an  independent expenditure.                                                               
Thus, the public can identify whether  the source is from a large                                                               
company or  an individual contributor.   She recalled  one ballot                                                               
initiative that addressed  same-sex marriages.  One  of the major                                                               
contributors  was  the  Church  of  Jesus  Christ  of  Latter-Day                                                               
Saints, widely known as the LDS  Church or the Mormon Church from                                                               
Utah; although it  reported its contributions of  $150,000 to one                                                               
of  the groups,  it  was  not required  to  reveal  who made  the                                                               
individual contributions to the church.                                                                                         
2:51:25 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  offered  his  understanding  that  the                                                               
McIntyre  decision  provides  for  the right  of  anonymous  free                                                             
speech  in  political situations  in  certain  cases.   He  asked                                                               
whether, in  the event  that the  legislature cannot  control the                                                               
right of a group to  disclose contributions, the state would have                                                               
the right to require that the  group disclose that it had refused                                                               
to reveal its financial sources in election pamphlet material.                                                                  
MS.  PATON-WALSH  offered  to research  that  issue  further  and                                                               
respond  in  writing.    She   offered  a  distinction  that  the                                                               
protection  for   anonymous  speech   pertains  to   a  published                                                               
statement  of a  political position.    She posed  a scenario  in                                                               
which  a person  who writes  an advertisement  in the  form of  a                                                               
flyer against a  proposition does not need to  sign the material.                                                               
However, if  the person  spends money  to advertise,  he/she must                                                               
disclose the funding.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG surmised that  that would pertain to the                                                               
language in proposed AS 15.13.780.                                                                                              
MS. PATON-WALSH  agreed, and offered  that her concern  is solely                                                               
confined  to  proposed  AS  15.13.780   regarding  the  issue  of                                                               
anonymity of speech.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG   suggested  that   a  remedy   to  the                                                               
constitutional concern could  be to add the phrase,  "or the fact                                                               
that  the  author  of  the  advertising  refused  to  reveal  the                                                               
MS. PATON-WALSH said she would research that issue further.                                                                     
CHAIR RAMRAS asked whether APOC  supports the changes proposed in                                                               
HB 355  with respect  to the  signature-gathering portion  of the                                                               
2:57:43 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  ELLINGSON referred  to proposed  AS 15.13.110(e),  and noted                                                               
that  it states  that the  first report  will be  within 30  days                                                               
after  the   first  filing  with  the   lieutenant  governor  and                                                               
quarterly thereafter; proposed AS 15.13.110(e) read:                                                                            
     A group  formed to sponsor an  initiative, a referendum                                                                    
     or  a  recall shall  report  30  days after  its  first                                                                    
     filing with the lieutenant  governor.  Thereafter, each                                                                  
     group  shall report  within 10  days after  the end  of                                                                    
     each  calendar quarter  on  the contributions  received                                                                    
     and  expenditures made  during  the preceding  calendar                                                                    
     quarter  until  reports  are  due  under  (a)  of  this                                                                    
MS.  ELLINGSON explained  that [APOC]  staff  has never  required                                                               
disclosure  during   signature  gathering   unless  a   group  is                                                               
advocating for or against a ballot measure.                                                                                     
CHAIR  RAMRAS recalled  his experience  in collecting  signatures                                                               
and  noted  that  since  his  group  was  not  advocating  for  a                                                               
position, his report was zero.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  asked whether HB  355 is intended  to ban                                                               
groups  from  contributing and  only  allow  individuals to  make                                                               
contributions,  with  no limit  on  amounts,  yet requiring  full                                                               
disclosure.   He also asked  whether the bill's  current language                                                               
would pass constitutional muster.                                                                                               
CHAIR RAMRAS  pointed out that  the Fairbanks North  Star Borough                                                               
(FNSB) raised $150,000 for a  ballot initiative to raise property                                                               
tax exemptions.   He  asked whether such  an initiative  would be                                                               
affected by passage of the bill.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  opined that the FNSB  couldn't contribute                                                               
at all on statewide initiatives  since funding would be solely by                                                               
CHAIR  RAMRAS  surmised that  if  contributions  were limited  to                                                               
individuals,  then  the FNSB  would  be  precluded from  altering                                                               
property tax exemptions.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS agreed.                                                                                                  
MS. PATON-WALSH advised that there  is no First Amendment concern                                                               
raised by the  hypothetical example because an  individual is not                                                               
allowed  to  make an  anonymous  contribution.   She  offered  to                                                               
research that issue further for the committee.                                                                                  
3:03:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  asked Ms. Paton-Walsh to  also consider                                                               
Article   11   of  the   Alaska   State   Constitution  and   the                                                               
constitutional decisions rendered by  the Alaska Supreme Court in                                                               
conjunction  with  the  fundamental  right of  association.    He                                                               
opined that severe problems would  result if the legislature were                                                               
to ban the right of association.                                                                                                
MS.  PATON-WALSH offered  to research  that issue  further.   She                                                               
offered  her understanding  that Representative  Samuels was  not                                                               
suggesting that  groups be prevented  from forming in  support of                                                               
or  in  opposition  to  ballot  initiatives.    However,  another                                                               
organization  could   not  contribute  to  a   ballot  initiative                                                               
committee  in  order  to  conceal  the  original  source  of  its                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  opined  that the  group  would  simply                                                               
offer that its reason to band  together pertained to the right to                                                               
associate and not to concealing its  contributors.  He said he is                                                               
interested  in who  would  administer the  various  parts of  the                                                               
bill, and opined that the APOC  is well suited to administer much                                                               
of the  bill.   He then  referred to  proposed AS  15.45.780, and                                                               
asked whether McIntyre applies and, if  so, if a group chooses to                                                             
be  anonymous,  whether  that  fact shall  be  disclosed  in  all                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES  referred to language  on page 3,  lines 9-                                                               
10, regarding naming the initiative committees.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL asked  whether  the  findings and  intent                                                               
provision   is   necessary.     He   referred   to  proposed   AS                                                               
15.13.110(g),  and asked  what other  reporting requirements  are                                                               
needed to determine the entire schedule.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  offered his  strong support for  the concept                                                               
of  the  bill.    He  stated  that he  would  like  to  see  [the                                                               
provisions   of  statutes   pertaining   to]  contributions   for                                                               
initiatives   be  aligned   with  those   for  candidates.     He                                                               
highlighted  that  the  process   should  be  as  transparent  as                                                               
possible.   Furthermore, if corporations cannot  contribute to an                                                               
individual's campaign,  then why  should corporations  be allowed                                                               
to contribute to ballot initiatives.                                                                                            
3:09:36 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  surmised that generally the  U.S. Supreme                                                               
Court has found it is  far different to contribute to individuals                                                               
than it is to contribute to ideas.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG opined  that  HB  355 raises  important                                                               
constitutional issues that need to be considered.                                                                               
[HB 355 was held over.]                                                                                                         
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 3:10 p.m.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects