Legislature(2011 - 2012)CAPITOL 106

01/25/2011 08:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 21 SUICIDE PREVENTION COUNCIL MEMBERS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 21(STA) Out of Committee
*+ HB 14 EXEC ETHICS: LEGAL FEES/FAMILY TRAVEL TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
             HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                        January 25, 2011                                                                                        
                           8:02 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bob Lynn, Chair                                                                                                  
Representative Wes Keller, Vice Chair                                                                                           
Representative Paul Seaton                                                                                                      
Representative Peggy Wilson                                                                                                     
Representative Pete Petersen                                                                                                    
Representative Kyle Johansen                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 21                                                                                                               
"An  Act relating  to  the membership  of  the Statewide  Suicide                                                               
Prevention Council."                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHB 21(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 14                                                                                                               
"An Act authorizing state agencies  to pay private legal fees and                                                               
costs incurred by persons exonerated  of alleged Alaska Executive                                                               
Branch Ethics  Act violations;  allowing certain  public officers                                                               
and former  public officers  to accept  state payments  to offset                                                               
private  legal fees  and costs  related to  defending against  an                                                               
Alaska  Executive  Branch  Ethics  Act  complaint;  and  creating                                                               
certain  exceptions   to  Alaska  Executive  Branch   Ethics  Act                                                               
limitations on the  use of state resources to provide  or pay for                                                               
transportation of  spouses and children  of the governor  and the                                                               
lieutenant governor."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB  21                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: SUICIDE PREVENTION COUNCIL MEMBERS                                                                                 
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) FAIRCLOUGH, GARDNER, HERRON                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
01/18/11       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/7/11                                                                                
01/18/11       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/18/11       (H)       STA, FIN                                                                                               
01/25/11       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB  14                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: EXEC ETHICS: LEGAL FEES/FAMILY TRAVEL                                                                              
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) GRUENBERG                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
01/18/11       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/7/11                                                                                
01/18/11       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/18/11       (H)       STA, JUD, FIN                                                                                          
01/25/11       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ANNA FAIRCLOUGH                                                                                                  
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Introduced HB 21 as joint prime sponsor.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERTA GARDNER                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  As joint prime sponsor, highlighted the                                                                  
changes in the proposed committee substitute to HB 21.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
KATE BURKHART, Executive Director                                                                                               
Advisory Board on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse;                                                                                      
Executive Director                                                                                                              
Alaska Mental Health Board (AMHB)                                                                                               
Division of Behavioral Health (DBH)                                                                                             
Department of Health & Social Services                                                                                          
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 21.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
GRETCHEN STAFT, Staff                                                                                                           
Representative Max Gruenberg                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HB 14 on behalf of Representative                                                              
Gruenberg, sponsor.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
JUDY BOCKMON, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                        
State Ethics Attorney                                                                                                           
Opinions, Appeals, & Ethics                                                                                                     
Civil Division (Anchorage)                                                                                                      
Department of Law (DOL)                                                                                                         
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions  during the hearing on HB                                                             
14.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:02:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR BOB LYNN called the  House State Affairs Standing Committee                                                             
meeting to  order at 8:02  a.m.  Representatives  Keller, Seaton,                                                               
Wilson, Johansen, Petersen, and Lynn  were present at the call to                                                               
order.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:04:28 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LYNN relayed  the  story of  his  gavel, which  originally                                                               
belonged to his grandmother.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:06:41 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LYNN introduced  new and  returning committee  members and                                                               
invited them to say a few words.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
           HB  21-SUICIDE PREVENTION COUNCIL MEMBERS                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:08:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LYNN announced  that the first order of  business was HOUSE                                                               
BILL NO. 21, "An Act relating  to the membership of the Statewide                                                               
Suicide Prevention Council."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:08:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   ANNA  FAIRCLOUGH,   Alaska  State   Legislature,                                                               
introduced HB  21 as joint  prime sponsor.   She stated  that she                                                               
and  Representative  Berta  Gardner  are  members  of  the  State                                                               
Suicide Prevention Council.  She  directed attention to a handout                                                               
in  the committee  packet entitled,  "Mending the  Net:   Suicide                                                               
Prevention in  Alaska," the  annual report  for fiscal  year 2010                                                               
(FY 10)  from the council.   As shown on  page 11 of  the report,                                                               
Representative Fairclough stated  that suicide is one  of the top                                                               
ten causes  of death in Alaska.   Page 20, she  said, describes a                                                               
public  health model  emphasizing  community readiness,  planning                                                               
efforts,   and   outcomes,   with  an   emphasis   on   community                                                               
collaboration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:09:51 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERTA GARDNER, Alaska  State Legislature, as joint                                                               
prime sponsor, highlighted the changes  in the proposed committee                                                               
substitute,  (CS)  for  HB   21,  Version  27-LS0154\B,  Bullard,                                                               
1/22/11.  First,  the proposed CS would require  someone to serve                                                               
on   the  council   who  brings   experience   from  a   military                                                               
perspective, either  as someone currently in  service, a retiree,                                                               
or someone who has worked with military personnel.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:11:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  moved  to adopt  the  proposed  committee                                                               
substitute  (CS)   for  HB  21,  Version   27-LS0154\B,  Bullard,                                                               
1/22/11, as  a work draft.   There being no objection,  Version B                                                               
was before the committee.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:11:30 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  noted that the second  change proposed in                                                               
Version B would change the requirement  of a youth serving on the                                                               
council from being in grade 9, 10,  11, or 12, to being "at least                                                           
16  years  or  age but  not  more  than  20  years of  age"  when                                                           
appointed.   She explained  that with  this change,  somebody who                                                               
has  just  graduated from  high  school,  but is,  perhaps,  just                                                               
becoming  comfortable  in  his/her  ability to  speak  out  as  a                                                               
council member, would be able to serve.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:12:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH  noted that  Chair Lynn had,  some time                                                               
before the  meeting, expressed concern  that the use of  the term                                                               
"active military  personnel" found  in the original  bill version                                                           
was ambiguous.  She noted that  Version B specifies that the term                                                               
means, for example, that the National Guard would be included.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LYNN  made the  distinction that  the National  Guard works                                                               
for the state,  except when commandeered by the  President of the                                                               
United States, in  which case National Guard  members are working                                                               
for the federal government.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:13:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER, in  response  to a  question from  Chair                                                               
Lynn, indicated  that the results  of despair and  depression are                                                               
the same,  irrespective of their  origins.  She said,  "It's hard                                                               
to tease out  exactly which threads lead to  which behaviors, but                                                               
there's no doubt that Alaska has  leading numbers in all of those                                                               
areas:   alcohol  abuse, domestic  violence, sexual  assault, and                                                               
suicide."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LYNN  offered his view  that solving the problem  of sexual                                                               
violence,  alcohol  abuse, and  child  abuse  would result  in  a                                                               
decrease in the suicide rate.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:14:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH  directed attention  to page 10  of the                                                               
aforementioned report,  which states  that of  the 33  percent of                                                               
those  whose death  was caused  by  suicide who  were tested  for                                                               
drugs and/or alcohol, 44 percent  tested positive for alcohol and                                                               
48 percent  tested positive  for other drugs.   She  talked about                                                               
the link between a lack of hope and the occurrence of suicide.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:15:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  expressed  appreciation  of  the  suicide                                                               
prevention  efforts that  are  being  made.   He  said the  House                                                               
Health and  Social Services Standing  Committee has  been talking                                                               
about vitamin  D therapy  for people living  in areas  that don't                                                               
get much light,  and he said that that therapy  is more effective                                                               
than light  therapy.  He  said he  looks forward to  working with                                                               
the  council in  the  future,  and expressed  his  wish that  the                                                               
council look at the issues more broadly.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:17:56 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON  said she is pleased at  the addition of                                                               
language  related  to military  personnel.    She indicated  that                                                               
suicides spike [between  the ages of 15-24], and she  said 23 and                                                               
24 are  the ages at  which many of those  who have served  in the                                                               
military come  back home.   She also  expressed surprise  to have                                                               
read on page 9 of the report  that another group with a high rate                                                               
of suicide is that of people 85 and older.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:19:17 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   FAIRCLOUGH  highlighted   that   in  2009,   140                                                               
individuals [in  Alaska] committed suicide.   She further related                                                               
that between  2000 and  2009, 1,369  took their  own lives.   She                                                               
talked about the  impact suicide has on communities.   She stated                                                               
that although  the number of  suicides in Anchorage is  high, the                                                               
per  capita ratio  of suicides  is considerably  higher in  rural                                                               
areas; therefore,  she warned the  committee members not  to jump                                                               
to  conclusions  reading  just  part  of  the  statistics.    She                                                               
reemphasized the  observation made by Representative  Wilson that                                                               
the suicide  rate is higher  for the  young and the  elderly, and                                                               
she  suggested  the high  rate  of  elderly  suicides may  be  in                                                               
response to life-limiting diseases.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FAIRCLOUGH said  she  and Representative  Gardner                                                               
are honored  to be working  on this task.   She said  the council                                                               
needs the  support of the  legislature, and she noted  that there                                                               
is a $4,000 fiscal note [included  in the committee packet].  She                                                               
related that the council attempts  to "get out into rural Alaska"                                                               
at least once a year,  because those communities are experiencing                                                               
suicide rates 2-6 times the national average.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:21:07 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  pointed  out that  there  are  instances                                                               
where people die and it is not  clear whether or not the cause of                                                               
death  was suicide.   She  emphasized  the value  in hearing  the                                                               
stories from  people in rural  Alaska first-hand.  She  said that                                                               
doing so opens  discussion of a subject that  previously may have                                                               
been  taboo.   In response  to a  question from  Chair Lynn,  she                                                               
reiterated that the common denominator  of suicide is despair and                                                               
the inability to believe that a bad situation can get better.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:23:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FAIRCLOUGH directed  attention to  information on                                                               
page 8  of the aforementioned  report, which states  that suicide                                                               
rates  among  Alaska  Natives  are   higher  than  of  any  other                                                               
ethnicity in the  state, and are the highest of  any ethnicity in                                                               
the  U.S.   She  recollected  having  read that  that  percentage                                                               
increases  further for  Native Alaskan  boys.   She stressed  the                                                               
importance  of  prevention  and building  skills  to  help  young                                                               
people cope with,  for example, a failed relationship.   She said                                                               
village  elders  are getting  involved  in  the effort  to  build                                                               
relationships between youth and elders.   She said the first step                                                               
is talking  about suicide  and hearing from  those who  have been                                                               
affected by  it.  In response  to Chair Lynn, she  concurred that                                                               
an entire community can be affected  by the suicide of one of its                                                               
members.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:25:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  expressed appreciation  to Representatives                                                               
Fairclough and  Gardner for  the work  they are  doing.   He then                                                               
directed  attention  to page  16,  which  shows funding,  and  he                                                               
observed that "the funding doesn't follow the rate."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:25:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FAIRCLOUGH explained  that  in  a community,  the                                                               
involvement of  individuals sometimes makes a  bigger impact than                                                               
money.   The goal,  she said,  is to  use the  money to  create a                                                               
synergy  inside of  communities  to bring  all  resources to  the                                                               
table.  Each community's situation is unique, she added.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:27:07 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  observed that there are  some communities                                                               
that  seem to  be  awaiting advice  and  assistance, while  other                                                               
communities  recognize  that there  is  a  problem and  that  the                                                               
solution   comes  from   within  the   community.     She  echoed                                                               
Representative Fairclough's comment that  money is not always the                                                               
answer.  She said money can pay  for training, but there is a lot                                                               
of work that can be done locally,  and the council hopes to be "a                                                               
gathering point" to get that process started through discussion.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:28:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN directed attention  to page 12 of report,                                                               
which shows the percentage of  U.S. Census area deaths attributed                                                               
to  suicide from  2000-2008.   He  asked if  there  are areas  of                                                               
Alaska that more closely match the national average.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:29:24 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FAIRCLOUGH estimated  that  3  percent of  Alaska                                                               
falls within the national range, and  said the exact answer is in                                                               
the report.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHANSEN  surmised  that   the  council  must  be                                                               
concentrating its efforts  on the areas with  the highest suicide                                                               
rates.  He  asked if former Representative Woody  Salmon has been                                                               
replaced on the  board.  He then asked how  rural areas "get into                                                               
the conversation."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:31:04 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  said she is  not sure how to  answer that                                                               
question, because the  board's membership is not  filled based on                                                               
district,  but rather  based  on requirements  in  statute.   She                                                               
emphasized that the perspective of  the board is that one suicide                                                               
is too  many, and its  members will try  to reduce the  number of                                                               
suicides in Alaska no matter what the national average is.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH  listed entities from which  people are                                                               
serving:   the Advisory Board  on Alcoholism and Drug  Abuse, the                                                               
Alaska Mental Health  Board, the Alaska Federation  of Natives, a                                                               
counselor  or someone  from secondary  schools, a  youth, someone                                                               
who has experienced the death by  suicide [of a family member], a                                                               
person from  a rural community  not connected by roads,  a member                                                               
of clergy, a person  who is under the age of  18, [and one public                                                               
member].   She offered examples  and names.   She noted  that the                                                               
members will  be in Juneau on  January 30 - February  2, and will                                                               
be visiting legislators in the capitol.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:34:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GARDNER,  in   response  to   a  question   from                                                               
Representative Petersen,  said the  council has not  studied what                                                               
other  nations  in northern  climates  are  doing regarding  this                                                               
issue; however, she said she  thinks other nations are looking at                                                               
what Alaska is doing.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:34:51 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON observed that  even though data may look                                                               
good, the problem  still persists.  She explained  that the graph                                                               
on page  12 of the  report shows her  community in a  good light,                                                               
but  the statistics  only go  through 2008,  and just  last month                                                               
there were two suicides.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:36:05 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATE BURKHART,  Executive Director, Advisory Board  on Alcoholism                                                               
& Drug  Abuse;   Executive Director,  Alaska Mental  Health Board                                                               
(AMHB),  Division  of  Behavioral  Health  (DBH),  Department  of                                                               
Health &  Social Services, testified  in support  of HB 21.   She                                                               
stated that  the proposed legislation  is a direct  reflection of                                                               
the council's  determination to respond  to public comment.   She                                                               
said the council held a meeting  in Fairbanks in October 2010, at                                                               
which  time  it heard  passionate  testimony  from young  people.                                                               
That is  one reason that the  council wants to augment  the youth                                                               
member requirement in  statute.  She emphasized  that the council                                                               
considers  itself  responsible  to  the citizens  of  Alaska  and                                                               
really listens to what the public has to say.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:38:56 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  expressed appreciation for the  ideas that                                                               
have been  brought forward  and stated support  of the  idea that                                                               
young people can be effective in  the process.  He credited a new                                                               
legislator, Representative  Alan Dick,  for bringing  energy from                                                               
rural  Alaska.    He  questioned  whether  the  education  system                                                               
prepares young  people for diversity and  leaving their villages.                                                               
He  suggested that  education that  is relevant  to students  may                                                               
help  in eliminating  despair,  and he  opined  that the  council                                                               
should be part of that discussion.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:40:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHANSEN  stated support  of the  changes proposed                                                               
in Version  B, and  expressed appreciation  that the  joint prime                                                               
sponsors  have  continued  the work  that  former  Representative                                                               
Richard Halford began in 2001.   He opined that extending the age                                                               
requirement of  the youth member  to 20 will be  helpful, because                                                               
the time  in a  young person's  life when he/she  is just  out of                                                               
high  school can  present choices  that can  be overwhelming  and                                                               
lead to despair.   He mentioned there are many  military bases in                                                               
Alaska, and indicated that the  addition of language in Version B                                                               
to include the military is a good idea.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:42:06 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON moved  to  report  the proposed  committee                                                               
substitute (CS),  Version 27-LS0154\B,  Bullard, 1/22/11,  out of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal  notes.    There  being no  objection,  CSHB  21(STA)  was                                                               
reported out of the House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
          HB  14-EXEC ETHICS: LEGAL FEES/FAMILY TRAVEL                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:42:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LYNN  announced that the  last order of business  was HOUSE                                                               
BILL NO.  14, "An Act  authorizing state agencies to  pay private                                                               
legal fees  and costs incurred  by persons exonerated  of alleged                                                               
Alaska Executive  Branch Ethics Act violations;  allowing certain                                                               
public  officers  and  former public  officers  to  accept  state                                                               
payments  to  offset private  legal  fees  and costs  related  to                                                               
defending  against   an  Alaska   Executive  Branch   Ethics  Act                                                               
complaint; and  creating certain  exceptions to  Alaska Executive                                                               
Branch Ethics  Act limitations on  the use of state  resources to                                                               
provide or pay for transportation  of spouses and children of the                                                               
governor and the lieutenant governor."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:43:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
GRETCHEN  STAFT,  Staff,  Representative  Max  Gruenberg,  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  presented HB  14 on behalf  of Representative                                                               
Gruenberg, sponsor.   She stated that HB 14 would  put in statute                                                               
the   attorney  general's   proposed  regulations   [establishing                                                               
standards regarding  legal fees  resulting from  ethics violation                                                               
accusations and  payment of travel  expenses for families  of the                                                               
lieutenant  governor  and  governor].    She  said  the  proposed                                                               
legislation  would   address  "the  appearance   of  impropriety"                                                               
related to the executive branch creating its own regulations.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. STAFT offered a sectional analysis  of HB 14.  She noted that                                                               
on page  2, line 10, there  is a stylistic change  from "partisan                                                               
political  purposes" to  "partisan political  purpose".   Also in                                                               
Section  1,  the definition  of  partisan  political purposes  is                                                               
deleted from page 2, lines 14-23.   Ms. Staft pointed out that in                                                               
Section 2,  on page 2, line  25, there is a  change that conforms                                                               
with that in  Section 1, such that  "partisan political purposes"                                                               
is changed  to "partisan political  purpose".  Ms.  Staft related                                                               
that  Section  3  addresses  the  issue  of  resources  used  for                                                               
transporting  the spouse  or child  of a  governor or  lieutenant                                                               
governor.  She  said the attorney general defines a  "child" as a                                                               
minor, while HB 14 defines "child"  [on page 3, lines 7-10, which                                                               
read as follows]:                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     a biological  child, an adoptive child,  or a stepchild                                                                    
     of the governor or lieutenant  governor and is under 19                                                                    
     years of  age or, without  regard to age,  is dependent                                                                    
     on  the  governor  or   lieutenant  governor  for  care                                                                    
     because of a physical or mental disability.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. STAFT stated that under HB  14, state resources could be used                                                               
by the governor  or lieutenant governor to pay  for family travel                                                               
in two  ways.  First,  the governor or lieutenant  governor could                                                               
travel  with the  family member  and  subsequently reimburse  the                                                               
state.   Second,  the governor  or lieutenant  governor would  be                                                               
able to use state funds  toward a family member's travel expenses                                                               
is that  travel expense is seen  to be; and if  the attendance of                                                               
the person is  of benefit to the state.   The situations in which                                                               
the latter  would be considered  are enumerated on page  3, lines                                                               
15-29.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:48:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  STAFT  directed attention  to  Section  4, regarding  ethics                                                               
violations, and said  under HB 14, the state  would be authorized                                                               
to  reimburse  a  state  employee who  was  recused  after  being                                                               
charged with  an ethics violation.   Currently the state  can pay                                                               
the ongoing  fees before  the employee is  exonerated.   She said                                                               
the sponsor  thinks that it  is a better  idea to wait  until the                                                               
person  is exonerated  before the  state puts  forth those  fees.                                                               
She said  the funds could only  be put forward by  a state agency                                                               
that  may  lawfully put  forth  that  payment.   Ms.  Staft  then                                                               
related   that   Section   4  also   contains   definitions   for                                                               
"exonerated"   and    "fees   and   costs   of    private   legal                                                               
representation", beginning  on page 4,  line 22, through  page 5,                                                               
line 3.  She  drew attention to Section 5, on  page 5, lines 6-8,                                                               
which shows that the bill, if adopted, would not be retroactive.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:51:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. STAFT,  in response to a  question from Chair Lynn,  said she                                                               
does  not know  the cost  of an  ethics violation  for which  the                                                               
alleged offender is  later exonerated.  She offered  to find out,                                                               
but also deferred to Judy  Bockmon, an assistant attorney general                                                               
with the Department of Law.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:53:16 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. STAFT,  in response to  questions from  Representative Seaton                                                               
regarding   the   details   behind   exoneration,   offered   her                                                               
understanding that the  attorneys for the employee  would have to                                                               
keep  detailed records  of "hourly  expenditures on  each issue."                                                               
Therefore, if three  ethics claims were brought  against a person                                                               
and two  of those claims  were dismissed, then that  person could                                                               
recover whatever legal  fees and costs were incurred  as a result                                                               
of the two  exonerated claims brought against him/her.   She said                                                               
the  onus would  be  on the  employee and  his  legal council  to                                                               
identify the  purpose of  the fees  and to  show when  those fees                                                               
were incurred.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said he does  not think the wording in bill                                                               
makes that clear.  He requested more details from the sponsor.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:56:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. STAFT,  in response to Chair  Lynn, said she is  not aware of                                                               
any discussion  having taken place  regarding the  possibility of                                                               
requiring  reimbursement  from  a   complainant  when  an  ethics                                                               
violation  claim does  not result  in an  ethics violation.   She                                                               
said she would ask the sponsor about that issue.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:58:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  observed that  the bill  does not  seem to                                                               
address the issue  of excessive accusations, and he  asked if the                                                               
sponsor predicts  an increase in  accusations in the future.   He                                                               
explained  that he  is  curious  why the  bill  is being  brought                                                               
forward.  He directed attention to  page 4, beginning line 22, to                                                               
the definition  of "exonerated".   He  opined that  this sentence                                                               
seems to  give too much  power to  the courts to  give corrective                                                               
action that  would undo intent.   He said he would  like feedback                                                               
from the sponsor on that issue.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:00:30 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. STAFT  said she  will speak  to the sponsor  about that.   In                                                               
response to another question, she  offered her understanding that                                                               
the statutes  listed in the  bill are the  only ones tied  to the                                                               
proposed legislation.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:01:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON, regarding  the reimbursement  of "fair                                                               
market value  of the person's transportation",  observed that the                                                               
cost  of  a  seat  on  a commercial  airline  would  be  easy  to                                                               
calculate, while  it would  not cost any  more for  the governor,                                                               
for example,  to bring one  or two family  members with him  on a                                                               
state-owned plane.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LYNN added  that that  same idea  may apply  to travel  on                                                               
military aircraft to a military function.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:02:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. STAFT offered her understanding  that such scenarios would be                                                               
covered under HB 14, and she  said she would confirm that for the                                                               
committee at a future meeting.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:04:51 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. STAFT, in response to  a question from Representative Keller,                                                               
confirmed that the  only regulatory change proposed  in Section 3                                                               
is the definition of child, and  that the purpose is to eliminate                                                               
the appearance of impropriety.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:06:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. STAFT, in  response to a question  from Representative Seaton                                                               
regarding the  term "necessarily  incurred" on  page 4,  line 31,                                                               
said there  would be an  inquiry into whether  a fee or  cost was                                                               
necessarily incurred.   She stated,  "The burden would be  on the                                                               
employee and  legal council  to prove  that, but  basically we're                                                               
looking at industry standards."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  requested the sponsor get  a legal opinion                                                               
to accompany the bill packet.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:08:21 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JUDY BOCKMON, Assistant Attorney  General, State Ethics Attorney,                                                               
Opinions,   Appeals,  &   Ethics,  Civil   Division  (Anchorage),                                                               
Department  of  Law  (DOL),  echoed  Ms.  Staft's  comments  that                                                               
currently  there  are  regulations  in place  regarding  the  two                                                               
topics covered  in HB 14.   She said  the difference is  that the                                                               
bill   addresses  statute,   whereas  regulations   are  "setting                                                               
standards  to  interpret  the  act."     Regarding  Chair  Lynn's                                                               
previous  query as  to  how much  money the  state  has spent  in                                                               
defending ethics complaints regarding  the governor, she said she                                                               
does not know.   She noted that former Governor  Sarah Palin "has                                                               
defended herself."  She said  there have not been other instances                                                               
where  council  has   been  hired  for  another   governor  or  a                                                               
lieutenant  governor or  other state  officer other  than in  one                                                               
circumstance in the last couple  years, and in that situation the                                                               
person was  not exonerated.   She  added that  the administration                                                               
has,   through   its   risk    management   system,   done   some                                                               
representation  of state  officers;  however,  she indicated  she                                                               
does not know if any of that was  done under the Ethics Act.  She                                                               
said  Governor  Palin's  situation  aside, during  the  last  ten                                                               
years,  "the number  of cases  in  which there  has been  defense                                                               
council ... has been relatively small."                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:11:24 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. BOCKMON, in response to  a prior question from Representative                                                               
Seaton  regarding  apportionment  of  a  claim,  said  regulation                                                               
requires  that the  public  officer  provide clear  documentation                                                               
that the  expenses were  limited to the  violation for  which the                                                               
officer  was   exonerated.    Regarding  the   term  "necessarily                                                               
incurred", she  said there  is a  practice of  review in  a court                                                               
system for attorneys' fees requests.  She continued as follows:                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     In  addition   to  the  comment  regarding   ...  clear                                                                    
     evidence that  it relates to  the exonerated  claim, we                                                                    
     extended  our  regulation  on ...  reasonable  expenses                                                                    
     necessarily  incurred  ...  to  include  evaluation  of                                                                    
     complexity, the  rate charge,  the hours  extended, the                                                                    
     relationship between  the amount of work  performed and                                                                    
     the significance  of the claim,  and several  ... other                                                                    
     relevant factors depending on  the circumstance.  So, I                                                                    
     think that  ... what is certainly  contemplated is that                                                                    
     when  a  person  makes  a claim  for  reimbursement  or                                                                    
     payment of  their attorney's fees, the  request will be                                                                    
     examined for  reasonableness to ensure that  these were                                                                    
     necessarily   incurred   in   the   language   of   the                                                                    
     [regulations] and  the proposed  statute, and  that ...                                                                    
     if  it's a  situation where  there are  multiple claims                                                                    
     and there's a basis for  separating out claims on which                                                                    
     a   representative's  been   exonerated  from   perhaps                                                                    
     another violation, we'll be able to do so.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:13:55 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. BOCKMON, regarding  Representative Keller's previous question                                                               
about corrective  action, referred  to the  language in  the bill                                                               
addressing dismissals  [in Section  4, subparagraph (A)]  and the                                                               
statutes  listed there.   She  indicated  that [AS  39.52.310(d)]                                                               
addresses  the initial  review  stage,  [AS 39.52.320]  addresses                                                               
dismissal for  finding no probable cause  after an investigation,                                                               
and [AS  39.52.370(d)] addresses  dismissal after  public hearing                                                               
by the  board.  She  mentioned [AS 39.52.370(f),  in subparagraph                                                               
(B),  which addresses  dismissals following  an appeal],  and [AS                                                               
39.52.330,  in subparagraph  (C), which  addresses an  allegation                                                               
"resolved solely  with a recommendation for  preventive action"].                                                               
Ms. Bockmon continued as follows:                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     And  so, the  definition  of exonerated  is intended  -                                                                    
     both   in  the   regulations   and  in   Representative                                                                    
     Gruenberg's bill - to cover  all of those situations in                                                                    
     which we  could ...  end up  with something  other than                                                                    
     simply  a  clean  dismissal  and   finding  of  no  ...                                                                    
     violation.    And  the contemplation  would  be  [that]                                                                    
     these  would not  be available  in any  situation where                                                                    
     the matter  was not cleanly  dismissed.  That is  if we                                                                    
     come to  terms to  settle on  some corrective  action -                                                                    
     which  is  what most  often  happens  when there  is  a                                                                    
     violation  -  that  would not  mean  exoneration,  even                                                                    
     though a person may not admit to a violation.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:16:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. BOCKMON, in  response to Chair Lynn, said  the department has                                                               
not looked at  [recovering fees from the complainant  if there is                                                               
an exoneration],  and she said  she did not  know if it  would be                                                               
possible to do so under current statute.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:18:21 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  recalled  a  past bill  that  proposed  a                                                               
$5,000 fine if a filed ethics  complaint was later dismissed.  He                                                               
stated that the issue is  whether the public would be discouraged                                                               
to  file  for  fear  of  a potential  huge  bill  if  the  ethics                                                               
complaint is found in favor of the defendant.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:19:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN pointed out that  in a situation in which                                                               
a person  or group  has filed  a complaint that  turns out  to be                                                               
valid, that  person or group has  often put forth a  lot of money                                                               
and is  not reimbursed.  He  said the bill does  not address that                                                               
issue.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:20:35 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. BOCKMON, regarding  Representative Wilson's previous question                                                               
as  to travel  expenses for  family  members of  the governor  or                                                               
lieutenant governor, noted  that an opinion was  prepared in 2004                                                               
or 2005 that  suggested that it was inappropriate  for the person                                                               
involved to be  traveling on the state's aircraft  at the state's                                                               
expense  for   other  than   state  business.     She   said  the                                                               
consideration is of benefits, not just cost.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:22:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LYNN announced that HB 14 would be held over.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:23:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
State Affairs  Standing Committee  meeting was adjourned  at 9:24                                                               
a.m.                                                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 HB0021A.pdf HSTA 1/25/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 21
02 HB 21 Sponsor Statement Final.pdf HSTA 1/25/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 21
03 HB021-DHSS-SPC-01-21-2011.pdf HSTA 1/25/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 21
01 HB 14 A.pdf HSTA 1/25/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 14
02 HB 14 Sponsor Statement.pdf HSTA 1/25/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 14
03 HB 14 Legal Opinion - Exec. Ethics.pdf HSTA 1/25/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 14
04 HB 14 Exec. Ethics - Relevant Regs (1).pdf HSTA 1/25/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 14
05 HB 14 Sectional Analysis.pdf HSTA 1/25/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 14
06 HB014-LAW-CIV-01-21-11.pdf HSTA 1/25/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 14
01A CS for HB21 Version B.pdf HSTA 1/25/2011 8:00:00 AM
HB 21