Legislature(2019 - 2020)SENATE FINANCE 532

06/13/2019 03:00 PM LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL

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Audio Topic
03:00:44 PM Start
04:09:27 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Executive Session
                   ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                   
                     LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL                                                                                      
                                                                                                                              
                        JUNE 13, 2019                                                                                         
                            3:00PM                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
    MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                           
    Senator Gary Stevens, Chair                                                                                               
    Representative Louise Stutes, Vice Chair                                                                                  
    Senator John  Coghill                                                                                                     
    Senator Mia  Costello                                                                                                     
    Senator Cathy  Giessel                                                                                                    
    Senator Lyman  Hoffman                                                                                                    
    Senator Bert  Stedman                                                                                                     
    Senator Natasha von Imhof                                                                                                 
    Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                               
    Representative Neal Foster                                                                                                
    Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                             
    Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                 
    Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                             
    Representative Tammie Wilson                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
    MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
    OTHER MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                     
    Senators Begich, Birch, Gray-Jackson, Kiehl, Wilson;                                                                      
    Representatives Drummond, Hannan, Hopkins, Knopp, LeBon,                                                                  
    Merrick, Spohnholz                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                              
    AGENDA                                                                                                                    
    COMMITTEE BUSINESS  EXECUTIVE SESSION                                                                                     
         a. EDUCATION FUNDING LAWSUIT APPROVAL                                                                              
         b. SPECIAL SESSION PER DIEM APPROVAL                                                                               
                                                                                                                              
    SPEAKER REGISTER                                                                                                          
    Megan Wallace, Director, Legal Services, Legislative Affairs                                                              
    Agency                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
        3:00:44 PM                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                              
 I.     CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                              
        CHAIR  STEVENS called the Legislative  Council meeting to order                                                       
        at 3:00pm in  the Senate Finance Committee Room. Present at the                                                       
        call  were:   Senators  Coghill,  Costello,  Giessel,  Hoffman,                                                       
        Stedman,  Stevens, von  Imhof; Representatives  Edgmon, Foster,                                                       
        Johnson, Kopp, Stutes, Thompson, Wilson.                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
        14 members present.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
II.     COMMITTEE BUSINESS  EXECUTIVE SESSION                                                                               
                                                                                                                              
        3:01:47 PM                                                                                                            
        VICE-CHAIR  STUTES  moved  and  asked  unanimous  consent  that                                                       
        Legislative  Council go  into  Executive Session  under Uniform                                                       
        Rule  22(B)(1), discussion of matters,  the immediate knowledge                                                       
        of  which would adversely  affect the finances  of a government                                                       
        unit and 22(B)(3),  discussion of a matter that may, by law, be                                                       
        required  to be confidential. The  following individuals should                                                       
        please remain  in the room: Jessica Geary; Megan Wallace; Emily                                                       
        Nauman; and  any legislative staff working for Council members.                                                       
        We  also welcome  any Legislators  who  are not  on Legislative                                                       
        Council to remain in the room.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                              
        CHAIR  STEVENS  asked if  there  was objection  to  the motion.                                                       
        Hearing  none, Council will  go into Executive  Session. Please                                                       
        note, no  action will be taken in  Executive Session, which may                                                       
        take approximately thirty minutes.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
        3:02:50 PM                                                                                                          
        Council went into Executive Session.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                              
        4:00:00 PM                                                                                                          
        Council came out of Executive Session.                                                                                
                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
      a. EDUCATION FUNDING LAWSUIT APPROVAL                                                                                 
                                                                                                                              
        4:00:10 PM                                                                                                          
        VICE-CHAIR  STUTES moved  that Legislative Council  utilize the                                                       
        services provided  by Legal Services to undertake litigation on                                                       
        behalf of Legislative  Council regarding the forward funding of                                                       
        education  for  the  2020  fiscal  year  and  that  Legislative                                                       
        Council  authorize   the  Chair  to  give  direction  to  Legal                                                       
        Services regarding the litigation.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
       CHAIR STEVENS  objected for  purposes of  discussion and  asked                                                        
       Megan Wallace to give a brief explanation.                                                                             
                                                                                                                              
       MEGAN WALLACE, Director,  Legal Services,  said if this  motion                                                        
       were to  pass,  the  Legislature,  through passage  of  HB  287                                                        
       appropriated the  full funding for  state aid,  transportation,                                                        
       and thirty million  dollars of  one time funding  for the  2020                                                        
       fiscal  year.  As  of  now,  the  Administration  has  taken  a                                                        
       position that that  was not a  valid appropriation, despite  it                                                        
       being enacted  into  law,  and  that they  intend  to  withhold                                                        
       disbursement of  those funds  to school  districts.  If in  the                                                        
       event that  the  money is  not  disbursed  by mid-July,  as  is                                                        
       required  by  statute,  with  passage  of  this  motion,  Legal                                                        
       Services  will be  prepared  to  undertake  and  file  whatever                                                        
       pleadings are necessary to  commence a lawsuit and seek  relief                                                        
       from  the  court  that  those  funds  be  disbursed  to  school                                                        
       districts as intended by the Legislature.                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
       CHAIR STEVENS asked  if there was  discussion. Seeing none,  he                                                        
       removed his objection and requested a roll call vote.                                                                  
                                                                                                                              
       A roll call vote was taken.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
       YEAS: Senators Coghill, Costello,  Giessel,  Hoffman,  Stedman,                                                        
       Stevens, von  Imhof; Representatives  Edgmon, Foster,  Johnson,                                                        
       Kopp, Stutes, Thompson, Wilson.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                              
       NAYS: None                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                              
       The motion passed 14-0.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
    b. SPECIAL SESSION PER DIEM APPROVAL                                                                                    
                                                                                                                              
       4:02:58 PM                                                                                                           
       VICE-CHAIR STUTES  moved  that  Legislative  Council  authorize                                                        
       Special Session  Per  Diem  payments, retroactive  to  May  16,                                                        
       2019, for the days in which members were physically  present in                                                        
       Juneau  for the  First  Special  Session  of  the  Thirty-First                                                        
       Alaska State Legislature.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
       CHAIR STEVENS  objected for  purposes of  discussion and  asked                                                        
       Megan Wallace again to give a brief explanation.                                                                       
                                                                                                                              
       MEGAN WALLACE, Director, Legal  Services, said with respect  to                                                        
       this motion,  AS 24.10.130(b)  provides that  a  member of  the                                                        
                                                                    st                                                        
       Legislature is not entitled  to daily per  diem after the 121                                                          
       day of a legislative session, until the first day in  which the                                                        
       Legislature passes a fully funded operating budget.  While this                                                        
        language  prevents a member  of the Legislature  from receiving                                                       
                                      st                                                                                      
        per  diem in  between the  121  day  and the  day in  which the                                                       
        Legislature  passes  a  fully  funded  operating  budget,  this                                                       
        language  does  not prevent  this  body from  taking  action to                                                       
        provide  retroactive payments as  the language  states that per                                                       
        diem  is not to  be paid until  after the budget  is passed. So                                                       
        now  that the budget  is passed, with  this motion, retroactive                                                       
        per diem, in my opinion, would be permissible.                                                                        
                                                                                                                              
        CHAIR STEVENS asked if there was discussion.                                                                          
                                                                                                                              
        REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  said  she  cannot  support this  motion                                                       
        because she  voted on this and knows  what she believes was the                                                       
        intent  of the legislation. She understands  it may be somewhat                                                       
        ambiguous  and people have  expenses, but it  was not ambiguous                                                       
        in her mind.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                              
        SENATOR   STEDMAN  said  he   will  support   this  motion.  He                                                       
        understands  the issue  of stopping  per diem to  encourage the                                                       
        conclusion  of the operating  budget after  the regular session                                                       
        of 121  days. He also understands no  per diem being paid until                                                       
        an  operating   budget  is  passed  by   both  bodies  and  the                                                       
        conference  committee report signed.  His concern  is this will                                                       
        turn  into  another  political weapon  or  leverage  within the                                                       
        building  and   would  encourage  members  to  not  support  an                                                       
        operating  budget, force  a special  session, and  then squeeze                                                       
        particular political  opponents who may be financially strained                                                       
        while in Juneau.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                              
        The  Senator  continued  that  the  Legislature  now  has  some                                                       
        younger  members with  families, so  there are people  from all                                                       
        walks of life  and different financial means available. He said                                                       
        he does  not want to restrict membership  of the Legislature to                                                       
        retired,  financially set  Alaskansit  should be  available for                                                       
        all Alaskans.  Legislators should be able to come to Juneau and                                                       
        have   the  ability  to  maintain   a  reasonable  and  average                                                       
        lifestyle.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
        He said  he supports this retroactive clause.  Those who do not                                                       
        want to claim  it, for whatever reason, do not have to since it                                                       
        is  optional. Members can  just claim certain  days, since when                                                       
        traveling  back  home  to district,  they  must  still maintain                                                       
        Juneau   housing  costs.  He  restated   his  support  of  this                                                       
        retroactive  clause and leaves it to  individual Legislators to                                                       
        submit claims  or not. If constituents do  not agree, they have                                                       
        an  opportunity every two  years to change every  member of the                                                       
        House  and  every four  years  to change  every  member  of the                                                       
        Senate.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                              
       CHAIR STEVENS asked if there was further discussion. Seeing                                                            
       none, he removed his objection and requested a roll call vote.                                                         
                                                                                                                              
       A roll call vote was taken.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
       YEAS: Senators Coghill, Costello, Giessel, Hoffman, Stedman,                                                           
       Stevens, von Imhof; Representatives Edgmon, Foster, Kopp,                                                              
       Stutes, Thompson.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                              
       NAYS: Johnson, Wilson                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                              
       The motion passed 12-2.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                              
       CHAIR STEVENS asked members to return the confidential                                                                 
       documents to Ms. Matheny.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
III. ADJOURN                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                              
       CHAIR STEVENS said if there is nothing further to come before                                                          
       the Council, we are adjourned.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                              
       4:09:27 PM                                                                                                           

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