Legislature(2019 - 2020)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/20/2020 05:00 PM RULES

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Audio Topic
05:01:44 PM Start
05:02:01 PM HB309
05:29:05 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Location Change --
Uniform Rule 23 Waived
Moved HB 309 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
                 HOUSE RULES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                               
                         March 20, 2020                                                                                         
                           5:01 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Chuck Kopp, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Jennifer Johnston, Vice Chair                                                                                    
Representative Louise Stutes                                                                                                    
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Lance Pruitt                                                                                                     
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 309                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to the procedure for confirmation of the                                                                       
governor's appointments; and providing for an effective date."                                                                  
     - MOVED HB 309 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 309                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: CONFIRMATION OF APPOINTMENTS                                                                                       
SPONSOR(s): RULES                                                                                                               
03/20/20       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/20/20       (H)       RLS                                                                                                    
03/20/20       (H)       RLS WAIVED PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE, RULE                                                                 
                         23 UC                                                                                                  
03/20/20       (H)       RLS AT 5:00 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
GRACE ERVINE, Staff                                                                                                             
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  On behalf of Representative Kopp, chair of                                                               
the House Rules Standing Committee, sponsor, introduced HB 309.                                                                 
MEGAN WALLACE, Director                                                                                                         
Legislative Legal Services                                                                                                      
Legislative Affairs Agency                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions  during the hearing of HB                                                             
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
5:01:44 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  CHUCK  KOPP  called the  House  Rules  Standing  Committee                                                             
meeting to order at 5:01  p.m.  Representatives Stutes, Johnston,                                                               
Johnson, Thompson, Pruitt,  and Kopp were present at  the call to                                                               
5:02:01 PM                                                                                                                    
              HB 309-CONFIRMATION OF APPOINTMENTS                                                                           
CHAIR KOPP  announced that the  order of business would  be HOUSE                                                               
BILL NO. 309, "An Act  relating to the procedure for confirmation                                                               
of the  governor's appointments;  and providing for  an effective                                                               
5:02:19 PM                                                                                                                    
GRACE  ERVINE, Staff,  Representative  Chuck  Kopp, Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  chair  of  the   House  Rules  Standing  Committee,                                                               
sponsor of  HB 309, informed  the committee the bill  provides if                                                               
social  distancing  or  early   adjournment  of  the  legislature                                                               
prevents  the  legislature from  meeting  in  joint session,  the                                                               
governor's  appointments  will  not  automatically  be  declined.                                                               
Currently,  were  the  legislature  to  fail  to  meet  in  joint                                                               
session, the confirmations would be  considered to be declined by                                                               
both bodies  after adjournment.   The  bill requires  the Thirty-                                                               
first Alaska  State Legislature to  reconvene prior  to convening                                                               
of  the  Thirty-second Alaska  State  Legislature  to approve  or                                                               
decline the confirmations.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON  surmised  the  legislature  could  meet                                                               
anytime between now  and the next legislative session.   He asked                                                               
whether  all  of  the  appointees  would  be  [declined]  if  the                                                               
legislature  were  unable  to  meet [in  joint  session  for  the                                                               
purpose of confirmation].                                                                                                       
5:04:19 PM                                                                                                                    
MEGAN WALLACE, Director,  Legislative Legal Services, Legislative                                                               
Affairs Agency, explained the legislature  is required to approve                                                               
the  governor's   appointments;  HB  309  amends   the  statutory                                                               
procedure directing that if the  legislature does not approve the                                                               
confirmations,  by   the  end  of   regular  session,   they  are                                                               
automatically  declined.    The  bill does  not  contemplate  the                                                               
legislature  not   reconvening  in   joint  session   to  confirm                                                               
appointments because it is constitutionally obligated to do so.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON asked  whether  the Thirty-first  Alaska                                                               
State   Legislature  could   reconvene  on   1/7/21  to   confirm                                                               
MS. WALLACE  said yes,  up until  the Thirty-second  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature convenes.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT directed  attention to the bill  on page 2,                                                               
lines 2-4, which read:                                                                                                          
     2  (b) After  the  legislature meets  in joint  session                                                                    
     assembled to  act on the appointments  presented by the                                                                    
     governor during, and after adjournment of, the ...                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  PRUITT pointed  out  the aforementioned  language                                                               
seems to  affect not  only the  normal confirmation  process, but                                                               
anyone  appointed  prior  to reconvening  of  [the  Thirty-first]                                                               
Alaska State legislature].                                                                                                      
MS. WALLACE further explained the  legislature would consider any                                                               
names  presented by  the governor  before the  time of  the joint                                                               
session for  the purpose of confirmation.   The bill is  meant to                                                               
preserve the  provision that allows for  automatic declination of                                                               
appointees on  which the legislature  purposefully fails  to take                                                               
action.  She remarked:                                                                                                          
     If  there's   a  circumstance  where   the  legislature                                                                    
     adjourns, adjourns the second  regular session, and the                                                                    
     governor  continues  to  present names,  up  until  the                                                                    
     point  that   the  legislature  meets  in   that  joint                                                                    
     session, that  if the legislature  doesn't take  up any                                                                    
     of those names, that  then they would be automatically,                                                                    
     it would be tantamount to a declination.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT  said many  appointments take  place during                                                               
interim, for  example, to fill vacancies,  and those appointments                                                               
would   be  addressed   when  the   [Thirty-first  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature was reconvened].                                                                                                    
5:10:12 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. WALLACE concurred.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  PRUITT   asked  whether   a  governor,   who  has                                                               
appointed someone  to a particular  position during  interim, can                                                               
withhold the message of the appointment from the legislature.                                                                   
MS.  WALLACE advised  AS 39.05.080(1)  provides the  governor has                                                               
until  the  fifteenth  day  of   session  to  present  names  for                                                               
confirmation; the  legislature has  until the  end of  session to                                                               
act on confirmations.   She expressed her  understanding names of                                                               
appointees are  withheld during interim  and presented  after the                                                               
legislature convenes  for its regular  session.  However,  it may                                                               
be  possible  for the  governor  to  hold  the names  of  interim                                                               
appointments.  She stated:                                                                                                      
     The  operative language  in the  bill before  you would                                                                    
     be,   "to  act   on  appointments   presented  by   the                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT remarked:                                                                                                 
     The  right once  we've decided  to vote  on that,  once                                                                    
     we've taken that joint session,  the right to determine                                                                    
     whether or not those people  are confirmed rests on the                                                                    
     members that are seated in  these positions in the next                                                                    
     session, the  next regular session.   ...  So,  even if                                                                    
     he  were to  present something  to us,  I don't  really                                                                    
     think it's, it's  really our right to decide  yes or no                                                                    
     on  those  individuals  after ...  the  normal  regular                                                                    
     session.  It's  essentially allowing us to  take a vote                                                                    
     on an interim appointment ....                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  PRUITT suggested  there may  have been  a similar                                                               
situation addressed [by  a special session on  8/10/09 related to                                                               
the appointment and confirmation of the lieutenant governor].                                                                   
MS. WALLACE said:                                                                                                               
     I  recall the  legislature  having to  meet in  special                                                                    
     session ...  a one-day special session  in Anchorage to                                                                    
     address that appointment.  For  that reason, I included                                                                    
     the language  in case  there was  an emergency  need to                                                                    
     appoint someone  and the  governor presented  that name                                                                    
     to  the  legislature  for  appointment,  to  allow  the                                                                    
     legislature to take up that name.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  PRUITT questioned  whether  there  are boards  to                                                               
which an [appointee] cannot be  seated, or participate in actions                                                               
of the board without confirmation,  such as the board of trustees                                                               
of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (AMHTA).                                                                            
MS.  WALLACE  noted  a  temporary exception  in  the  bill  could                                                               
address this issue should the legislature choose to do so.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT  expressed intent  to further  address this                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES said  she is aware of an  individual who is                                                               
sitting  and voting  on  a  board to  which  they  have not  been                                                               
5:15:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KOPP returned  attention to the bill on page  2, lines 2-6,                                                               
which read:                                                                                                                     
     2  (b) After  the  legislature meets  in joint  session                                                                    
     assembled to  act on the appointments  presented by the                                                                    
     governor during,  and after adjournment of,  the Second                                                                    
     Regular  Session  of   the  Thirty-First  Alaska  State                                                                    
     Legislature, the  failure of the legislature  to act to                                                                    
     confirm or decline to  confirm an appointment presented                                                                    
     will be tantamount to a  declination of confirmation on                                                                    
     the day the joint session adjourns.                                                                                        
CHAIR KOPP said:                                                                                                                
     And you could read that  word "during" as going back to                                                                    
     the  legislature meeting,  or  you could  ... read  the                                                                    
     "during" could  be speaking of the  governor making the                                                                    
     appointments during  session or after  adjournment. ...                                                                    
     In laymen's  terms, it looks  like we're  saying, after                                                                    
     the  legislature  meets  in joint  session  to  act  on                                                                    
     appointments  offered by  the  governor during  session                                                                    
     and  after  adjournment  of the  session.    So,  we're                                                                    
     saying those appointments can  happen during session or                                                                    
     after  the  adjournment  of  the   session.    Is  that                                                                    
MS.  WALLACE  said the  language  in  [subsection (b)]  was  from                                                               
underlying statute, AS 39.05.080.  She remarked:                                                                                
     The language  before you is  intended to mean  that the                                                                    
     names  that  were  presented   during  the  ...  second                                                                    
     regular session  of the thirty-first  legislature, that                                                                    
     is what the language is  intended to capture.  So, it's                                                                    
     the names  presented during the second  regular session                                                                    
     of  the Thirty-first  Alaska  State  Legislature.   And                                                                    
     then the language of "after  the legislature meets" was                                                                    
     meant  to  trigger,  it's  not  until  the  legislature                                                                    
     actually meets  in joint session and  then either takes                                                                    
     up  all  or some  of  the  appointments that  then  the                                                                    
     failure to take  up those names would  be tantamount to                                                                    
     a declination of those, of those persons.                                                                                  
CHAIR KOPP  surmised "after the  adjournment" would be  a special                                                               
MS. WALLACE said correct.                                                                                                       
5:18:16 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PRUITT observed  most  appointees  to boards  and                                                               
commissions  begin  their  service  immediately  following  their                                                               
appointment.   However, members appointed  to the AMHTA  board of                                                               
trustees  cannot participate  prior  to confirmation,  as is  the                                                               
situation for appointee Rhonda Boyles,  thus from this time until                                                               
the legislature  reconvenes, there would  be an open seat  on the                                                               
AMHTA board  of trustees.   He questioned  whether the  open seat                                                               
should remain open until the  legislature reconvenes and votes to                                                               
5:20:23 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 5:20 p.m. to 5:22 p.m.                                                                       
CHAIR  KOPP surmised  the issue  raised by  Representative Pruitt                                                               
could be addressed  by a committee substitute for HB  309 or by a                                                               
floor amendment to the bill.                                                                                                    
MS. WALLACE said correct.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT returned attention  to the issue related to                                                               
removing the  language, "and after adjournment  of" and cautioned                                                               
against action  that might  affect future  legislators, including                                                               
their right to vote on interim appointments.                                                                                    
5:23:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PRUITT moved  Conceptual  Amendment  1, which  on                                                               
page 2,  line 3, would  delete the words, "and  after adjournment                                                               
5:24:08 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. WALLACE opined if the governor  did not present a name to the                                                               
legislature,  the  legislature  has constitutional  authority  to                                                               
meet in  joint session and  consider the appointees  absent their                                                               
presentation by  the governor.   She advised in  Alaska's history                                                               
similar circumstances have arisen, and remarked:                                                                                
     It  would likely  be my  opinion  that even  if a  name                                                                    
     hadn't been  presented, if  the legislature  were aware                                                                    
     that  someone had  been appointed  by the  governor and                                                                    
     wanted to  take that  matter up,  that it  likely would                                                                    
     have the  authority to  do so anyway,  as long  as that                                                                    
     appointment  was  made   while  this  legislature  were                                                                    
5:25:36 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE PRUITT restated his motion.                                                                                      
CHAIR  KOPP objected  for discussion  purposes.   There being  no                                                               
further discussion, the objection was maintained.                                                                               
5:27:40 PM                                                                                                                    
A roll call  vote was taken.  Representatives  Pruitt and Johnson                                                               
voted  in  favor  of Conceptual  Amendment  1.    Representatives                                                               
Stutes,   Johnston,  Thompson,   and  Kopp   voted  against   it.                                                               
Therefore, Conceptual Amendment 1 failed by a vote of 2-4.                                                                      
5:27:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR KOPP opened public testimony on HB 309.  After                                                                            
ascertaining no one wished to testify, public testimony was                                                                     
CHAIR KOPP noted the bill has no fiscal impact.                                                                                 
5:28:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  moved to report  HB 309 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.  There being no objection,  HB 309 was reported out of the                                                               
House Rules Standing Committee.                                                                                                 
5:29:05 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Rules Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 5:29 p.m.                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB0309A.PDF HRLS 3/20/2020 5:00:00 PM
HB 309
HB 309 Sponsor Statement 3.20.20.pdf HRLS 3/20/2020 5:00:00 PM
HB 309