Legislature(2001 - 2002)
04/03/2001 08:05 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE April 3, 2001 8:05 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative John Coghill, Chair Representative Jeannette James Representative Hugh Fate Representative Gary Stevens Representative Peggy Wilson Representative Harry Crawford Representative Joe Hayes MEMBERS ABSENT All members present COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE BILL NO. 198 "An Act relating to a post-retirement pension adjustment and cost-of-living allowance for persons receiving benefits under the Elected Public Officers Retirement System; and increasing the compensation of the governor." - HEARD AND HELD HOUSE BILL NO. 193 "An Act relating to the primary election; and providing for an effective date." - MOVED CSHB 193(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 103(FIN) "An Act relating to election campaigns and legislative ethics." - MOVED CSSB 103(FIN) OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 93(FIN) "An Act relating to the Arctic Winter Games Team Alaska trust; and providing for an effective date." - MOVED CSSB 93(FIN) OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL NO. 167 "An Act relating to license plates for Alaska National Guard personnel and for antique motor vehicles; relating to gold rush license plates; and providing for an effective date." - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD HOUSE BILL NO. 28 "An Act relating to the location of legislative sessions; and providing for an effective date." - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 198 SHORT TITLE:GOV SALARY; PUB OFFICERS RETIREMENT COLA SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S)HUDSON Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 03/19/01 0649 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 03/19/01 0649 (H) STA, FIN 03/19/01 0649 (H) REFERRED TO STATE AFFAIRS 04/03/01 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HB 193 SHORT TITLE:MODIFIED BLANKET PRIMARY ELECTION SPONSOR(S): RLS BY REQUEST OF THE Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 03/19/01 0647 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 03/19/01 0647 (H) STA, JUD, FIN 03/19/01 0647 (H) FN1: (GOV) 03/19/01 0647 (H) GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER 04/03/01 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: SB 103 SHORT TITLE:ELECTION CAMPAIGNS AND LEGISLATIVE ETHICS SPONSOR(S): STATE AFFAIRS Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 02/20/01 0432 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 02/20/01 0432 (S) STA, JUD 02/22/01 (S) STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211 02/22/01 (S) Heard & Held MINUTE(STA) 02/27/01 (S) STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211 02/27/01 (S) Moved CS(STA) Out of Committee MINUTE(STA) 02/28/01 0534 (S) STA RPT CS 2DP 3NR NEW TITLE 02/28/01 0534 (S) DP: THERRIAULT, HALFORD; NR: PHILLIPS, 02/28/01 0534 (S) PEARCE, DAVIS 02/28/01 0534 (S) FN1: (ADM) 03/09/01 (S) JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211 03/12/01 (S) JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211 03/12/01 (S) Moved CS(JUD) Out of Committee MINUTE(JUD) 03/13/01 0634 (S) JUD RPT CS 2DP 1DNP 1NR NEW TITLE 03/13/01 0635 (S) DP: TAYLOR, COWDERY; DNP: ELLIS 03/13/01 0635 (S) NR: THERRIAULT 03/13/01 0635 (S) FN1: (ADM) 03/13/01 0635 (S) FIN REFERRAL ADDED AFTER JUD 03/22/01 (S) FIN AT 9:00 AM SENATE FINANCE 532 03/23/01 0783 (S) FIN RPT CS 3DP 2NR NEW TITLE 03/23/01 0783 (S) DP: DONLEY, KELLY, LEMAN; 03/23/01 0783 (S) NR: HOFFMAN, OLSON 03/23/01 0783 (S) FN2: (ADM) 03/23/01 (S) FIN AT 9:00 AM SENATE FINANCE 532 03/23/01 (S) MINUTE(FIN) 03/28/01 (S) RLS AT 10:45 AM FAHRENKAMP 203 03/29/01 0858 (S) RULES TO CALENDAR 2OR 3/29/01 03/29/01 0863 (S) READ THE SECOND TIME 03/29/01 0863 (S) FIN CS ADOPTED UNAN CONSENT 03/29/01 0863 (S) ADVANCED TO THIRD READING UNAN CONSENT 03/29/01 0863 (S) READ THE THIRD TIME CSSB 103(FIN) 03/29/01 0864 (S) PASSED Y17 N2 A1 03/29/01 0867 (S) TRANSMITTED TO (H) 03/29/01 0867 (S) VERSION: CSSB 103(FIN) 03/30/01 0782 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 03/30/01 0782 (H) STA, JUD, FIN 04/03/01 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: SB 93 SHORT TITLE:ARCTIC WINTER GAMES TEAM ALASKA TRUST SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) PHILLIPS Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 02/15/01 0386 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 02/15/01 0386 (S) STA, FIN 02/20/01 (S) STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211 02/20/01 (S) Moved Out of Committee MINUTE(STA) 02/21/01 0451 (S) STA RPT 1DP 3NR 1DP/AM 02/21/01 0451 (S) NR: THERRIAULT, PEARCE, DAVIS; 02/21/01 0451 (S) DP/AM: HALFORD; DP: PHILLIPS 02/21/01 0451 (S) FN1: ZERO(REV) 02/28/01 (S) FIN AT 9:00 AM SENATE FINANCE 532 02/28/01 (S) Scheduled But Not Heard 03/13/01 (S) FIN AT 9:45 AM SENATE FINANCE 532 03/13/01 (S) Heard & Held MINUTE(03) 03/13/01 (S) MINUTE(FIN) 03/14/01 0654 (S) FIN RPT CS FORTHCOMING 5DP 3NR 03/14/01 0654 (S) DP: DONLEY, AUSTERMAN, OLSON, WILKEN, 03/14/01 0654 (S) LEMAN; NR: KELLY, HOFFMAN, WARD 03/14/01 0655 (S) FN1: ZERO(REV) 03/15/01 0673 (S) CS RECEIVED SAME TITLE 03/16/01 0693 (S) RULES TO CALENDAR 3/16/01 03/16/01 0694 (S) READ THE SECOND TIME 03/16/01 0694 (S) FIN CS ADOPTED UNAN CONSENT 03/16/01 0694 (S) ADVANCED TO THIRD READING UNAN CONSENT 03/16/01 0694 (S) READ THE THIRD TIME CSSB 93(FIN) 03/16/01 0695 (S) PASSED Y15 N1 E3 A1 03/16/01 0695 (S) EFFECTIVE DATE(S) SAME AS PASSAGE 03/16/01 0698 (S) TRANSMITTED TO (H) 03/16/01 0698 (S) VERSION: CSSB 93(FIN) 03/16/01 (S) RLS AT 11:30 AM FAHRENKAMP 203 03/16/01 (S) MINUTE(RLS) 03/19/01 0645 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 03/19/01 0645 (H) STA, FIN 04/03/01 (H) STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102 WITNESS REGISTER REPRESENTATIVE BILL HUDSON Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 502 Juneau, Alaska 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified as sponsor of HB 198. FORMER GOVERNOR JAY HAMMOND Lake Clark Lodge Port Alsworth, Alaska 99653 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 198. LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR FRAN ULMER P.O. Box 110015 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0015 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 193. AVRUM GROSS, Chair Primary Election Task Force 424 North Franklin Street Juneau, Alaska 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 193. SARAH FELIX, Assistant Attorney General Governmental Affairs Section Civil Division (Juneau) Department of Law P.O. Box 110300 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided legal information related to HB 193. SENATOR GENE THERRIAULT Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 121 Juneau, Alaska 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified as sponsor of SB 103. SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 103 Juneau, Alaska 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified as sponsor of SB 93. SUSIE BARNETT, Administrator Select Committee on Legislative Ethics Alaska State Legislature P.O. Box 101468 Anchorage, Alaska 99510-1468 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SB 103. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 01-31, SIDE A Number 0001 CHAIR JOHN COGHILL called the House State Affairs Standing Committee meeting to order at 8:05 a.m. Representatives Coghill, Fate, Stevens, Wilson, Crawford, and Hayes were present at the call to order. Representative James arrived as the meeting was in progress. HB 198-GOV SALARY; PUB OFFICERS RETIREMENT COLA Number 0112 CHAIR COGHILL announced that the first order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 198, "An Act relating to a post-retirement pension adjustment and cost-of-living allowance for persons receiving benefits under the Elected Public Officers Retirement System; and increasing the compensation of the governor." Number 0149 REPRESENTATIVE BILL HUDSON, Alaska State Legislature, came forward to testify as sponsor of HB 198. He said HB 198 corrects a long-standing inequity in the retirement benefit calculations for a group of public employees who retired between January 1 and October 14, 1976. Every other person who has retired under the Public Employees Retirement System or Teachers Retirement system has received an automatic cost of living adjustment in retirement benefits based on the consumer price index. But there are about 35 people who retired under the Elected Public Officers Retirement System (EPORS) who have never received a single cost of living increase, and Representative Hudson said that needs to be corrected. "It's basic fairness," he said. Now, an increase of about 40 percent is needed to make up the difference. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said the second aspect of the bill is to increase the governor's salary, which has not changed since 1983, when it was increased to $81,648. The intent at that time was to set the governor's salary at a Range 30, Step F. However, when the legislature set the dollar amount, that amount took precedence over the salary schedule. Again, he said, the issue is basic fairness. He noted that the governor's annual salary now is less than that paid to his chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, legislative director, or to a department director. CHAIR COGHILL indicated his intention to hear the testimony of former Governor Jay Hammond that day and then to hold HB 198 for further hearing and discussion on another day. Number 0710 FORMER GOVERNOR JAY HAMMOND came forward to testify in support of HB 198. He said he thinks a good case can be made for correcting what has been largely an oversight. There has been enormous erosion in the value of the retirement benefits he and others receive. He cited a recent AARP report that over the past 17 years, the price of goods bought by the general public rose 73.9 percent while the price of goods bought by seniors rose 85.1 percent. During that entire time, there has been no change in retirement income for those who, like him, retired under EPORS. His retirement salary, worth $80,000 when he retired, is now worth $32,000 in today's dollars. His retirement package provides a reduced benefit to his wife on his demise. Her retirement income now would be worth roughly $6,000, and as she could outlive him by 10-20 years, that income will be worth "virtually nothing." GOVERNOR HAMMOND explained that the problem is compounded because the Elected Public Officials' Retirement System (EPORS) was structured on a formula that adjusted retirement income in relation to the current salary for the retiree's position. Since there has been virtually no change in the governor's salary ... since 1978, the governor's retirement income has eroded much more than that paid to those who retired under the Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS). The PERS employees receive not only the cost of living increments that other state employees receive, but also a 10 percent cost of living differential for living in Alaska. GOVERNOR HAMMOND acknowledged that for any increase to be palatable to the public, it has to be at reasonable expense, equitable, and politically acceptable. He did not know exactly what the cost might be, but said he thought it could be cut substantially if the legislature were to limit eligibility to those who are at least 70 years old or to those who have not received a cost-of-living adjustment for at least 10 years. He thought most people would readily accept the fact that some adjustment might be appropriate for anybody who hasn't received a cost of living increase in 10 years. GOVERNOR HAMMOND said he frankly thinks there ought to be adjustments across the board in regard to "all sorts of things," although HB 198 probably wouldn't be the appropriate vehicle for doing all of it. He noted that there are three co-equal branches of state government. "You would think, then, that the heads of those co-equal branches would be similarly compensated," he observed. Yet the basic judge's salary is $112,000, and "it seems to me at the very minimum the governor ought to get roughly the same as a judge," he said. He also thinks legislators, who serve one-third of the year, ought to have their salaries boosted to one-third of $112,000. GOVERNOR HAMMOND said he believes it would be possible to increase the governor's salary in the manner proposed by HB 198 without it costing the state one nickel. "All you would have to do is say, all right, the governor's salary goes to $110,000 [as per HB 198] provided, however, we're going to charge him $30,000 for room and board and the use of a free vehicle." That would not increase the impact on the state budget at all, he said. He also suggested adjusting the legislative budget so a legislator could take the $6,000 expense accounts as an addition to his or her salary. The same might be done with the per diem allowance, which some people are reluctant to draw. "As a consequence you've got an inequity among how you people are compensated," he noted. "I think to remove some of these inequities and create something that treats everybody essentially the same is well warranted," he said. "And I think it would be well-accepted by the public." However, he said, he did not want to clutter up HB 198 by putting all those elements into it. GOVERNOR HAMMOND said most people think the governor makes at least $100,000 or $120,000, and "they're appalled to find out that it's much less than hundreds if not thousands of public employees," he said. "Anything you can do to remedy this will be gratefully appreciated by all involved." CHAIR COGHILL said according to Representative Hudson, there are 35 people who would be affected by HB 198. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON expressed hope that HB 198 could be moved forward soon, noting that there are less than six weeks remaining in the session. CHAIR COGHILL suspended the hearing and testimony on HB 198. HB 193 - MODIFIED BLANKET PRIMARY ELECTION Number 1527 CHAIR COGHILL announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 193, "An Act relating to the primary election; and providing for an effective date." He declared a brief at- ease to allow people to shake hands with Governor Hammond. The meeting resumed three minutes later. Number 1574 LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR FRAN ULMER came forward to testify on HB 193. She began by explaining why legislation is required. Alaska, like Washington and California, had a "blanket primary" system, one in which all of the candidates for all of the parties appear on a single ballot and a voter can pick and choose among them. Last summer, the United States Supreme Court in a California case ruled that any state with a blanket primary must modify it if any of the political parties objected to non- party members voting on their candidates. The Republican Party of Alaska requested that only Republicans and undeclared nonpartisans be allowed to vote on their candidates, so the lieutenant governor last summer promulgated emergency regulations to govern the 2000 primary election. Those emergency regulations went out of existence as soon as the primary election was over, creating a need for legislative action to decide how Alaska's primary system is to operate. In order to make a recommendation to the legislature, she created a task force made up of four former lieutenant governors, two former attorneys general, and a representative of the League of Women Voters. That group arrived at a unanimous consensus position, on which HB 193 is based. Avrum Gross, former attorney general under Governor Hammond, served as chair of the task force. Number 1791 AVRUM GROSS, Chair, Primary Election Task Force, came forward to testify. He observed that the committee members brought together about 400 years of political experience. The task force was strictly nonpartisan. It proceeded under the assumption that it had to come up with something because Alaska no longer has a law governing primary elections and something has to be put in place. The task force first heard presentations from the state, then held public hearings in which all major and minor parties in Alaska participated. The task force then drafted a law with which all its members agreed. MR. GROSS said the basic principal used in drafting was to change the law as little as possible from what had existed prior to the Jones case. None of the parties objected to a blanket primary so long as they could limit their primary if they saw fit. The task force decided that when a party [for example, the Republican Party] wished to limit participation in its primary, all registered Republicans would receive a ballot with all the candidates on it. Everyone else would get a ballot with everybody on it except Republicans, so the Republican Party would be able to limit participation in its primary to registered Republicans MR. GROSS said the task force also concluded that party members could still vote for candidates in other parties so long as those parties allowed it. In doing so, the task force retained the concept of a blanket primary unless that primary was narrowed by party choices. That is consistent with the Jones case and with Alaska's past practice. Number 2067 MR. GROSS explained that the committee substitute approaches from a different direction. The CS starts off with all closed primaries. The only people who will get a party's primary ballot will be registered members of that party. But any party can, through its own party rules, open its primary to more people. The task force took the other approach because it thought the majority of Alaskans would favor a blanket primary system insofar as possible. Number 2186 MR. GROSS said the task force took testimony and set a deadline by which the parties must be decide who is going to participate in their primaries. September of the preceding year was unanimously accepted. The task force also decided the deadline for registration in a party would be 30 days before the election [the last day on which people can register to vote]. Number 2301 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES asked Mr. Gross why he had identified the task force as nonpartisan. MR. GROSS said he wanted the committee to understand that the proposal [HB 193] had not come from any particular party viewpoint. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES interpreted that to mean the task force had come at the task from an administrative position, not from a party position. MR. GROSS affirmed that was correct. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES said the outcome reflected that perspective as opposed to what it might have been if determined by political parties. She asked if a person who is not a party member could file for office. MR. GROSS said such a person could do so by petition. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES surmised that if more than one candidate did so, they would not compete in the primary. It appears to her that primaries are specifically for parties to choose their candidates, and if there were not parties choosing their candidates, there would be no need for a primary. MR. GROSS thought that was probably true. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES noted that people who are not party members rarely run for public office and that half of Alaska's voters are not party members. She thinks the state is missing a large group of folks who might be good office holders and have a good, balanced approach. "As long as we continue to make the party worth nothing, we are going to have more and more people who never run for election," she said. Number 2495 MR. GROSS said the task force had discussed Representative James' concern and came to the conclusion that, "This in the end will probably weaken parties more than anything we can think of. The reason it will weaken parties is because [almost] every party that testified ... indicated that it would probably allow independents to participate in its primaries but would not allow registered members of other parties to participate." He said the result is that the only people who are going to be able to vote for all the candidates are going to be independents. Polls show that the vast majority of Alaska voters consider themselves to be independents, he said. The parties have the option of closing their primaries to all but registered members. The problem with that is, "The more you close your party's primary, the purer your candidates become and the less likely they are to win general elections . . . . The reason that most parties welcome independents into their parties is because they realize that at some point or another they're going to have to get the independents to vote for them to win a general election," he said. Mr. Gross pointed out that this could result in many people leaving parties. So long as parties are going to allow independents to participate in their process and not allow people from other parties, then the only way a citizen can vote for everybody is to be an independent. Number 2627 CHAIR COGHILL said one of the reasons he brought forward the CS was to give the parties a choice rather than making the choice for them. MR. GROSS clarified that HB 193 allows parties to eliminate independents from voting in their primaries. "You're coming at it by saying you start with parties and they have to add independents. We've started by saying there's everybody and you have to eliminate independents." CHAIR COGHILL said, "I think that's a public perception of exclusion rather than inclusion, ... and that's why I came to that policy call." Number 2652 REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS observed that if there were a proliferation of parties, the state could end up with a lot of ballots. He asked if that was going to be a problem. Number 2586 MR. GROSS said there are now six political parties and there could be a maximum of six ballots, one for each party. "By insisting on a blanket primary insofar as possible, what we were saying was that the party can decide who can vote for its candidates but it can't decide who its members may vote for," he said. Number 2755 CHAIR COGHILL observed that there is a cost involved in having parties exclude people from their ballots. MR. GROSS agreed. REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS expressed concern that there are six parties now, but no restriction on the number that could come into being. MR. GROSS said there is a limit; a party needs to have a three percent vote in the prior gubernatorial election. CHAIR COGHILL thought the cost would be around $50,000 for a party to exclude others under the task force plan. Number 2805 REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS saw the proliferation of parties as a real danger in the future. MR. GROSS said one has to start with the premise that parties constitutionally have the right to do this. "There's nothing we can do about that. The Supreme Court has ruled. So if each party has rules about who may nominate its candidates, some way you're going to have to accommodate that." CHAIR COGHILL said the task force tried to keep the primary as open as possible, and he thinks the policy call that has to be made "is whether we're doing it for exclusion for inclusion." Number 2872 REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD asked if a nonpartisan primary had been considered. MR. GROSS said it was considered and had a lot of appeal at first. Everyone who wanted to run would file and the two top vote-getters would face one another in a runoff, regardless of party. Louisiana is the only state that does it that way. The problem with it is that the two best candidates do not emerge from the field, but when there are 12 or 14 people running for an office, "a dedicated group of followers is all you really need to make it into the finals," he said. "You don't necessarily get candidates who represent the majority. You tend to get very well organized, extreme groups." The task force rejected the idea of a nonpartisan primary because it does not produce two candidates who represent major, differing points of view. TAPE 01-31, SIDE B Number 2948 LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR ULMER spoke to the number of ballots. Under the CS, there potentially would be six ballots, one for each of the six recognized parties. Under the original bill, there potentially would be seven ballots. The seventh ballot would include all of the candidates from all of the parties and only nonpartisan voters would get it [just like the old blanket primary ballot], assuming that all the party rules allowed nonpartisans to vote for their candidates. Looking at the fiscal difference between the CS and the original version, it's really just one more ballot. In terms of the public policy call, "it is really just a question ... of your philosophy about primaries," she said. The primary traditionally has been viewed as the parties' opportunity to decide who their nominees would be. It used to be done by convention until most states chose to open up the convention process to a more democratic system. She said that in states like Alaska, where over 50 percent of the voters register as undeclared or nonpartisan: It seems like disenfranchising over 50 percent of the voters ... in the primary process may not be the most democratic system. That's the tradeoff here. How much do you allow just the party to determine its own nominees and how much do you allow independents nonpartisans, undeclareds to also participate in that party process? And as long as the party says we want them in, it seems to me we ought to allow that. Whether you set it up as an opt-in or opt-out as long as the party rules control, it's a shade of gray, I guess. The shade of gray that the task force chose was the shade of gray of saying assume everybody's in, reflecting a longstanding tradition in Alaska of the blanket primary. What the task force tried to so was stay as close to existing law only change it enough to accommodate the Jones decision as opposed to changing it more dramatically. Number 2790 LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR ULMER added that the task force had settled on the September deadline for notifying the state of party rules because the parties said they would know by May or June at the latest what those rules were going to be, and September gives the Division of Elections sufficient time to make the necessary changes on ballots and programming. Number 2722 REPRESENTATIVE WILSON asked if under the original bill, the Republicans were the only ones who close their primary, how many ballots there would be. LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR ULMER said two. Republicans, independents, and nonpartisans would get one ballot [with everyone on it] and everybody else would get the blanket ballot [listing all candidates except Republicans]. The task force thought it was better to err on the side of allowing individuals the right to vote to the fullest extent possible. Number 2600 REPRESENTATIVE HAYES wondered why the state pays for a primary if it is a function of the parties. He thinks if a party wants to exclude a large number of voters from its process, that party should pay for its primary election. LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR ULMER explained that the state has an interest in fair and open elections at both the primary and general stage. In general, states moved from a convention system, which was totally controlled by parties, to a primary system because of the notion that opening up the nomination process opens up the democratic election process. She said Sarah Felix, Assistant Attorney General, could describe cases in other states that have raised related questions. Number 2487 CHAIR COGHILL passed the gavel to Representative Fate. Number 2446 SARAH FELIX, Assistant Attorney General, Governmental Affairs Section, Civil Division (Juneau), Department of Law, came forward to testify. She explained that Alaska would not be on very firm ground if it were to require the political parties to pay for the primary elections. There have been two United States Supreme Court opinions and one federal appeals court decision out of the Eighth Circuit that have addressed these issues. The Supreme Court opinions are not directly on point but suggest how the Supreme Court would address this issue. MS. FELIX said in one case, Texas had tried to impose large filing fees on candidates. The court struck that down, saying it unduly burdened candidates' rights of freedom of association. That ruling was similar to the one in the California v. Jones case, which said if a state makes it very difficult for a political party to participate in a primary, that state is burdening their First Amendment associational rights. Ms. Felix thinks making a party pay for a primary election would impose that kind of burden. MS. FELIX said the Eight Circuit Court case, Faulkner v. Arkansas, the state had established a system that required a primary and required the political parties to pay for it. The Eighth Circuit Court struck that down. One of the parties in that case had been unable to afford a primary election, so there wasn't a primary for that party and it essentially dropped out of the general election. "Given how the U.S. Supreme Court has been viewing the primary system and given how they have been affording political parties very broad rights," if Alaska were to impose that kind of a system, Ms. Felix doubted that it would stand. Number 2497 REPRESENTATIVE HAYES said he understood the state's interest in a general election, but not in the primary election if is the method by which parties nominate their candidates. He thought a party should be able to make its own rules and use a caucus or any other method to determine its candidates. The state should not have any involvement in that, but would come back into the process for the general election where it does have a pressing interest. Number 2487 ACTING CHAIR FATE returned the gavel to Chair Coghill. MS. FELIX said Representative Hayes is correct that the state need not have a primary election. The task force considered that option, but chose to hold a primary because they thought doing so was more inclusive. The option is a policy question open to the House State Affairs Standing Committee. CHAIR COGHILL noted that HB 193 is to be considered by the House Judiciary Standing Committee. He then brought forward the CS for HB 193. Number 2269 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES moved to adopt the proposed CS for HB 193 [Version C dated 3/28/01] as the working document before the committee. REPRESENTATIVE HAYES objected, saying that if Alaska is going to have a primary system, he wants to make it as open as possible. He understands the CS to say that voters would have to declare their party affiliation 30 days before the primary. CHAIR COGHILL said that would be true in either version. He thought the CS was closer to what Representative Hayes preferred. It says the primaries are presumed closed until they are opened by the parties. By contrast, the original task force version is that the primaries are open unless somebody excluded them. REPRESENTATIVE HAYES said what the CS is saying that in the Republican closed primary, there would be Republican candidates and everybody else. CHAIR COGHILL said it would be up to the party to include people beyond Republicans if they so chose, and the CS gives them the option to do that. REPRESENTATIVE HAYES said he is more comfortable with the original HB 193 because he thinks it more closely matches what he heard from the public. CHAIR COGHILL said that was a point well taken; that there is no doubt that this is a policy call. Number 2099 REPRESENTATIVE WILSON recalled that in both the original HB 193 and the CS, voters had to register 30 days in advance of an election. She asked the lieutenant governor if in the last election [in which voters were allowed to change their registration up to and including election day], many people switched. LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR ULMER said a few had switched, but that there had not been a huge shift. Number 2027 A roll call vote on the motion to adopt Version C as the working document was taken. Representatives Fate, James, Stevens, Wilson, and Coghill voted for CSHB 193. Representatives Crawford and Hayes voted against CSHB 193. Therefore, CSHB 193 was before the committee by a vote of 5 to 2. Number 1933 REPRESENTATIVE WILSON moved conceptual Amendment 1 to change CSHB 193 in accordance with the lieutenant governor's and the task force's recommendation: Page 2, line 5, Delete "November 1" Insert "September 1". There being no objection, it was so ordered and Amendment 1 was adopted. Number 1888 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES stated for the record that she strongly believes in the two-party system. Her personal preference would be for only party people to vote for party candidates. If that were the case, she thinks a lot of unaffiliated voters would join the parties, and that would please her a lot. She said she supports the CS "mostly because it makes parties, makes positions, and the other way doesn't necessarily." Number 1613 REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD said: I believe the direction we're heading is to close the primary, to make people become more partisan. I believe that it's going to take the political center away. I believe that we're going to have more candidates from the radical right or the radical left and I believe that it's the wrong direction to take Alaska politics because I believe that the center is much more inclusive. Number 1568 REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS sought clarification of the number of ballots that would be possible under the CS and wanted to know if it changes the requirement that voters register 30 days before the election. CHAIR COGHILL said the CS still includes the requirement to register 30 days in advance and, as the lieutenant governor said, the CS probably has one less ballot than what would be required under the original HB 193. He did not like the air of exclusion of the original. Number 1464 LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR ULMER corrected a previous statement she had made. There could be either six or seven ballots under either HB 193 or CSHB 193, depending on party rules. Both give power to the parties to determine their candidates. One says the primary is open unless it is closed, and the other says the primary is closed unless it is opened. Number 1387 REPRESENTATIVE HAYES expressed appreciation for the comments of Representative James. His biggest fundamental problem is that if the parties want that much control over the nominating process, then why should the state be involved? Why should the state foot the bill to allow a party to nominate who it wants? He thinks the state's interest is in the general election. CHAIR COGHILL said he agreed and that that was a separate policy question. He invited Representative Hayes to bring forward a bill to that effect and promised to give it a hearing. Number 1316 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES agreed with Representative Hayes. She said the party caucus is no longer used by either party. "The caucus is the basic premise, the grass roots of party activism," she said. "That's when within your precinct you get the people to come together and discuss the issues, you discuss the platform, ... you get that grass roots effort" [which shapes the party], she said. She indicated willingness to co-sponsor with Representative Hayes a bill calling for party caucuses. Number 1193 REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD said he thinks the CS is more about appearances, that it is trying to guard against the appearance of being a closed party as opposed to an open party. REPRESENTATIVE WILSON observed that things may have evolved the way they have in Alaska because the state is so vast. Number 1103 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES moved to report CSHB 193, as amended, out of the House State Affairs Standing Committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal note. REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD objected because he thinks the CS eliminates many people from the process and he opposes the CS because it is exclusionary rather than inclusionary. A roll call vote was taken. Representatives Fate, James, Stevens, Wilson, and Coghill voted for CSHB 193 as amended. Representatives Crawford and Hayes voted against CSHB 193 as amended. Therefore, CSHB 193(STA) was reported from the House State Affairs Standing Committee. SB 103-ELECTION CAMPAIGNS AND LEGISLATIVE ETHICS Number 0958 CHAIR COGHILL announced the next order of business would be CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 103(FIN), "An Act relating to election campaigns and legislative ethics." Number 0925 SENATOR GENE THERRIAULT, Alaska State Legislature, came forward to testify as sponsor of SB 103. He said SB 103 contains a number of clarification and cleanup items related to the existing Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) and ethics statutes. SENATOR THERRIAULT spelled out the changes: · Section 1 clarifies that multiple groups controlled by a single candidate will be treated as a single group for purposes of the contribution limit. · Section 2 adds thank-you advertisements to the list of permissible uses of unused campaign funds. · Section 3 increases the value of personal property that may be retained by a candidate. The current law allows office materials such as a computer, stationery, and stamps worth a total of $2,500 to be carried forward to the next campaign; SB 103 increases that amount to $5,000. It also permits a candidate to keep a bulk mail permit used in one campaign to use in the next campaign. It sets the value of campaign signs at zero so they can be carried forward. · Section 4 provides that money held by public entities may be used to influence the outcome of a ballot proposition or question under limited circumstances. · Section 5 clarifies and further defines contributions, saying that accountants and attorneys can volunteer their services. · Section 6 adds new exceptions to and clarifies the prohibition on use of public assets and resources by legislators and legislative employees for nonlegislative purposes and certain previously prohibited public political used. Number 0170 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES asked for clarification of Section 5. SENATOR THERRIAULT directed attention to page 4, line 22. TAPE 01-32, SIDE A SENATOR THERRIAULT acknowledged that the drafting was confusing, but said the meaning is that accountants and attorneys can volunteer their professional services and there is no limit on those contributions of services. Number 0090 REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD asked if he had a volunteer come in and do computer work on his mailing list, would that be compensated time or not under SB 103. SENATOR THERRIAULT said that individual would be able to volunteer his or her time. The change SB 103 is making is that a professional person, specifically an accountant or an attorney, can volunteer his or her time and not be restricted by the hourly rate that they generally charge and coming up against a monetary limit. Number 0255 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES still had concern about professional services, specifically what was meant by "other professional services" besides accounting and legal services. SENATOR THERRIAULT consulted with staff regarding Representative Crawford's question about a person contributing computer services. He clarified that a computer professional's contribution would be capped at a certain value, but that SB 103 specifically exempts accountants and attorneys from that limit. Number 0377 REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD understood that to mean that the accountant he paid to help him with his APOC report could have volunteered those services. SENATOR THERRIAULT said that was correct. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES still had concerns about the professional services, which she wished to look into further. REPRESENTATIVE HAYES said he understood the exemption for accounting services, but did not see a distinction between an attorney and a computer person helping a campaign. SENATOR THERRIAULT said it had seemed to the Senate that after a campaign, a candidate might need accounting services because of the [APOC] reports, and might need legal services if there were a recount. At that time, campaign funds might be exhausted and if professionals were willing to donate those services, it could be appropriate. "It was a policy call," he added. REPRESENTATIVE HAYES asked if the only purpose of the provision was for recounts. He thought a candidate could use the party's attorney for that. He expressed concern because he did not understand the point of it. SENATOR THERRIAULT said it is a policy call for the legislature to consider. With respect to Representative James' question about professional services, the prohibition against the computer person already exists in statute. Number 0617 REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD said he had been through a recount. His opponent had a couple of attorneys who came in as volunteers. He questioned at the time whether that was legitimate, and was told this was "after the fact of the campaign" and under the present law did not have to be counted as a contribution. He did not see in SB 103 any limitation to recounts. If a candidate were to violate campaign finance laws and needed an attorney, it seemed to him that person would be able to get an attorney to volunteer the time, and that didn't seem quite right. SENATOR THERRIAULT said Representative Crawford was absolutely right. It is not just the recount issue. If somebody challenged a candidate's residency or said the candidate had violated an APOC ruling, the candidate would be allowed to use the volunteered services of an attorney. It is a policy call for the legislature to decide if it wishes to allow that type of assistance. Number 0745 REPRESENTATIVE FATE said he understands this provision to apply not just to a candidate, but also to the political party. He asked if that was allowed only during a campaign. REPRESENTATIVE THERRIAULT said an attorney or accountant would be able to volunteer his or her services at any time. REPRESENTATIVE FATE recalled times during campaigns when the use of an attorney by any political party had been so excessive that it far exceeded the amount that otherwise could have been donated. He mentioned the last gubernatorial campaign, during which APOC discovered problems that candidates had to contest, "and it was very expensive," he said. "I think this is a good approach to solving that problem." SENATOR THERRIAULT noted that Brooke Miles of APOC was on the teleconference line and might wish to comment on that section. Number 0842 SENATOR THERRIAULT continued: · Section 5: A portion of Section 5 deals with the party's advocating for its slate of candidates. It is limited to two or fewer mass mailings before each election. It also says that a candidate can release polling information as long as the poll was limited to issues and did not mention the candidate and was not taken at the direction of the candidate. The last portion of Section 5 deals with communications in the form of a newsletter from a legislator to constituents, and indicates that incumbents can send out those newsletters and not count the cost as a contribution to that incumbent's campaign. · Section 6 deals with communications by groups to their membership, such as a union newsletter or a corporate newsletter. If the cost of such a normal mailing to members of the group is $500 or less, it is not considered a campaign contribution. · Section 7 concerns the use of legislative offices, changing the allowable period of time from five days before and after the session to ten. · Sections F through J are activities already permitted through internal advice or formal rulings of the Ethics Committee, and the change is just codifying those sections. Also, on page 9 are two sections on ethics that appear in statute in other places, so this is just making corresponding change. CHAIR COGHILL asked about the extended use of office space at the beginning and end of session. SENATOR THERRIAULT explained that right now, legislators are permitted to utilize their offices if they wish to do so, and the change is just broadening that period of time by five days at either end of the session, increasing the total number of days from 130 to 140. Number 1087 SENATOR THERRIAULT said Section 9 had been added by the Senate Finance Committee. It allows a gift of transportation from one legislator to another. "It clarifies that if I was going hunting with Representative Coghill, ... he could fly me out to the hunting camp; that would be allowed." he explained. "Or if Representative Coghill was going to fly down to Mat-Su to participate in some function ..., I could catch a ride with him if he was flying a personal plane." Number 1170 CHAIR COGHILL observed that time was short, and "there's a lot of stuff in here." Number 1197 SUSIE BARNETT, Administrator, Select Committee on Legislative Ethics, testified by teleconference. She said she and the committee chair, Dennis "Skip" Cook, were in general concerned about amendments to the ethics code that have a piecemeal effect. "The ethics code is becoming more and more disjointed over the years as it gets amended and more difficult for legislators and legislative employees to comprehend," she said. "So I guess we are urging caution, and if there are amendments, to please ensure that they are brought in and tied from one section to another." MS. BARNETT said they also are concerned that disclosure required by the ethics code not only benefit the public, but also help legislators and legislative employees in evaluating the influences, gifts, and commitments of those in the legislative branch. "And so on that note, we recommend adding a disclosure requirement to the subsection just referenced by Senator Therriault which is on page 11, subsection 9, ... lines 8-12, ... [requiring] disclosure if the value is over $250." CHAIR COGHILL asked her to repeat her recommendation. MS. BARNETT said they recommend adding a gift disclosure requirement if the value of the gift of transportation is valued at more than $250. It would still be allowable; there wouldn't be a cap on it. "It's just that once it kicked in at $250, much like any of our other gift disclosures, you would need to file a disclosure report. I haven't prepared an amendment to that because ... Terry Cramer of Legal is the one who can tie all the pieces together. There are several sections in the ethics code that refer to disclosure," she said. Number 1369 SENATOR THERRIAULT told the committee that the change allowing gifts of transportation was a policy call, and that he was amenable to whichever way they want to look at it. "There's the full gamut of not requiring it [disclosure], just saying it's allowable; requiring disclosure just to the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics ("Ethics Committee"); or requiring public disclosure," he said. Senate Finance chose to not have any disclosure, ... [but] "if the [House State Affairs] committee wants to consider one of those methods of disclosure, that would be certainly within your purview." Number 1440 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES asked, "Are we assuming that this little trip that you made out hunting was because the two of you are friends or because you're a legislator and he is a supporter?" SENATOR THERRIAULT acknowledged that would be hard to determine. "We're clearly not allowing Representative Coghill, if he had a plane, to fly me ... from village to village during a campaign. Currently under the law, if there is a hearing going on in McGrath on predator control and Coghill was going to fly out there, I could go because it would be a gift for a specific legislative purpose. But now when we're getting into the area of just going hunting or maybe he ... just wants to fly me out around the Tanana Valley ... to show off his new plane, that's what we're really clarifying is that area, and I guess what Ms. Barnett is asking that if we allow that to happen, that we at least have some kind of tracking or disclosure on it." MS. BARNETT confirmed that was, correct, adding, "It's just that it needs to be tied into our disclosure section, but it would only affect this particular disclosure." Number 1585 REPRESENTATIVE HAYES proposed adopting that disclosure as a conceptual amendment [Amendment 1]. There being no objection, Amendment 1 was adopted. REPRESENTATIVE HAYES asked if the committee was going to hold SB 103 for further discussion. CHAIR COGHILL noted that SB 103 had been noticed in another committee and declared his intent to send the conceptual amendment to the drafter and the bill to the next committee of referral. "It's my intention to go ahead and move on this issue," he said. "I think it's unfortunate the time is short, but that's going to be true now probably until the end of session. We're going to have to make sure we stay as concise as possible. I've ried to do that and still allow for as much public discussion as possible. At this point though, we've come to the time where we must either act or fold." Number 1650 REPRESENTATIVE HAYES said if the committee was going to act, he would like to make one more conceptual amendment [Amendment 2]: Page 5, line 26, Delete "other than legal" REPRESENTATIVE JAMES objected. A roll call vote was taken on Amendment 2. Representatives Crawford and Hayes voted for Amendment 2. Representatives Fate, James, Stevens, Wilson, and Coghill voted against Amendment 2. Therefore, Amendment 2 failed by a vote of 5 to 2. Number 1734 SENATOR THERRIAULT asked if the disclosure required by Amendment 1 was disclosure to the Ethics Committee alone or public disclosure. "That does need to be clarified," he said. pointing out that the Ethics Committee receives some information that is simply tracked by the committee but not disclosed to the public. REPRESENTATIVE HAYES said he would feel more comfortable with public disclosure. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES objected, saying disclosure to the Ethics Committee was fine, but that public disclosure was going too far. REPRESENTATIVE HAYES responded, "I will keep it as is and we can vote." SENATOR THERRIAULT clarified that Representative Hayes' amendment called for disclosure to the Ethics Committee and that the information disclosed would be public. Number 1829 REPRESENTATIVE FATE asked Senator Therriault for further clarification. "What is going to be disclosed? Is it going to be the total concept of any time that you associate yourself with an elected official?" he asked. SENATOR THERRIAULT referred to page 11, lines 8-12, saying the disclosure requirement applied specifically to a gift of transportation from one legislator to another worth at least $250. REPRESENTATIVE FATE observed that a gift of transportation could be almost anything, and some things between friends are completely outside the realm of politics. "To bring this even to the Ethics Committee is a stretch, but to bring it to the public is really a stretch," he declared. Number 1912 REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS said he would have problems with this, too. "It includes if you came to Kodiak and I took you halibut fishing, how do we figure out what the cost of that is?" he asked. "If you were to go on a charter, it could easily exceed $250, but ... it's just a silly thing, I can't see us even getting involved in that. I'm against the whole issue." REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD volunteered, "If I went to Kodiak I'd certainly want the halibut trip if I could get Representative Stevens to take me, but ..." REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS interjected, "It's coming back that's the problem, Sir." REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD continued, "... but also I think we could be opening a can of worms here. Using Senator Olson as an example just because he has a plane, he could take a person of his choosing around to different villages and it could be just friendly, but it could run into thousands of dollars worth of campaign contributions by the amount of travel that he might give. I certainly think that we need to have public disclosure of that sort of thing." Number 1993 SENATOR THERRIAULT pointed out that this section of statute deals specifically with ethics. In addition, there are the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) statutes. If Senator Olson was flying somebody around during a campaign and they were meeting with officials, that would be campaigning, and those contributions of transportation would all be disclosed and limited under APOC, he said. Number 2026 REPRESENTATIVE CRAWFORD expressed concern about whether traveling to "all these different villages in the off year" would be considered campaigning. He pointed out that it could be construed to help in a subsequent campaign even thought it wasn't in the time immediately before an election. SENATOR THERRIAULT replied that if the activity triggered the existing APOC laws, that would all be disclosed and limited under APOC. "We're just talking here about what is ethical for you to receive from another legislator as far as transportation," he emphasized. "The APOC statutes and their triggers operate completely ... [apart] from this section of statutes." Number 2074 REPRESENTATIVE WILSON pointed out that private aircraft is about the only way to get to many villages, and if somebody goes up there to visit, that's how they're going to travel, and it's "no big deal." Number 2094 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES gave an example of Senator Olson going out to a village because they're having a potlatch or a party: It's not a campaign season, and Representative Foster's relatives are out there, and he wants to go, and Olson is going and ... [so Representative Foster] gets in and goes. It has nothing to do with campaigning; it has only to do with some personal experience that you're having. That's what this applies to, is that correct? SENATOR THERRIAULT said that was correct. REPRESENTATIVE HAYES said that to him, the issue boils down to his thinking full disclosure to the public is not a bad thing. CHAIR COGHILL called for another vote on the conceptual amendment, Amendment 1, specifying that the disclosure of a gift of travel would be made to the Ethics Committee and then to the public. A second roll call vote on Amendment 1 was taken. Representatives Crawford Hayes voted for Amendment 1. Representatives Fate James, Stevens, Wilson, and Coghill voted against Amendment 1. Therefore, Amendment 1 failed by a vote of 5 to 2. Number 2186 REPRESENTATIVE FATE moved to report CSSB 103(FIN) out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS wished to clarify that the committee had just dealt with amendments proposed in the House State Affairs Standing Committee, and that [CSSB 103(FIN)] still included Section 9 as proposed by Senator Therriault. CHAIR COGHILL said that was correct. REPRESENTATIVE HAYES objected. CHAIR COGHILL said he was going to recess to the call of the chair, but first wanted the committee to vote on CSSB 103(FIN). A roll call vote was taken. Representatives Fate, James, Stevens, Wilson, and Coghill voted for CSSB 103(FIN). Representatives Crawford Hayes voted against CSSB 103(FIN). Therefore, CSSB 103(FIN) moved out of the House State Affairs Standing Committee by a vote of five to two. CHAIR COGHILL recessed the committee at 10:15 a.m., announcing that it would reconvene immediately after the floor session to take up SB 93. [A new tape was inserted when the meeting was reconvened, and therefore there is no recording on Tape 01-32, Side B.] TAPE 01-33, SIDE A SB 93 - ARCTIC WINTER GAMES TEAM ALASKA TRUST Number 0001 CHAIR COGHILL reconvened the meeting of the House State Affairs Standing Committee at 11:02 a.m. Representatives Fate, Stevens, Crawford, and Hayes were present at the call to order. CHAIR COGHILL announced that the next order of business before the committee would be CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 93(FIN), "An Act relating to the Arctic Winter Games Team Alaska trust; and providing for an effective date." SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS came forward to testify as sponsor of SB 93. He explained that it will establish an endowment fund to be managed by the Department of Revenue. Anybody who wants to contribute toward the endowment can do so, and that contribution will be accepted. This bill, SB 93, sets up the technical frameword under which the Department of Revenue will have the authority to manage the fund. CHAIR COGHILL invited any questions from the committee. SENATOR PHILLIPS said the Arctic Winter Games Trust is being set up in exactly the same way as the Alaska Children's' Fund. There are no appropriations for it yet. "All I'm trying to do is establish the endowment for now, and then later on we can work on the appropriation for it," he explained. CHAIR COGHILL asked if he knew of any contributions that would immediately go into the trust. SENATOR PHILLIPS replied that he did not know of any pending contributions, and that it would be up to the Arctic Winter Games Committee to begin raising funds. "This is just authority to begin a trust," he reiterated. "This is not bringing any money out of state at this point. This is just a framework only. I want to make that abundantly clear." Number 0260 CHAIR COGHILL noted that the Arctic Winter Games obviously have captured the attention of Alaska. Number 0286 SENATOR PHILLIPS replied, "I hope so. I think they have." The next games will be held in Greenland in March of 2002, and the state will be sending about 320 athletes. The fund is intended to be invested to earn about five percent interest, capturing proceeds from the investment, not spending any of the investment fund, he explained. Number 0301 CHAIR COGHILL said he would like to move SB 93 to the next committee of referral, the House Finance Standing Committee. What the House State Affairs Standing Committee is passing on to them is a framework for them to work on. He asked the will of the committee. Number 0345 REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS moved to report CSSB 93(FIN) out of the House State Affairs Standing Committee with individual recommendations and a zero fiscal note. There being no objection, CSSB 93(FIN) was moved from the House State Affairs Standing Committee. ADJOURNMENT There being no further business before the committee, the House State Affairs Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 11:05 a.m.