Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

02/16/2005 08:30 AM JUDICIARY

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
08:37:28 AM Start
08:39:00 AM Overview Presentation: Select Committee on Legislative Ethics
10:32:44 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Overview of the Select Committee on TELECONFERENCED
Legislative Ethics - Review of the
SCLE Opinion Dated January 7, 2005
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
            SENATOR HUGGINSALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                           
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                       February 16, 2005                                                                                        
                           8:37 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Ralph Seekins, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Senator Gene Therriault                                                                                                         
Senator Hollis French                                                                                                           
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator Gretchen Guess                                                                                                          
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
Overview of the  Select Committee on Legislative  Ethics (SCLE) -                                                               
Review of  the SCLE Opinion  dated January  7, 2005 by  Ms. Joyce                                                               
Anderson, Administrator,  Select Committee on  Legislative Ethics                                                               
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR  RALPH   SEEKINS  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 8:37:28 AM.  Present were Senators                                                             
Charlie  Huggins,  Gene  Therriault   and  Chair  Ralph  Seekins.                                                               
Senator Hollis French arrived at 8:41.                                                                                          
 ^Overview Presentation: Select Committee on Legislative Ethics                                                             
8:39:00 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  JOYCE  ANDERSON,  SCLE  administrator,  said  she  had  been                                                               
working  for  the   SCLE  since  June  2001.   The  committee  is                                                               
responsible  for  looking  at the  Legislative  Ethics  Code,  AS                                                               
24.60.   It  issues   advisory   opinions   for  legislators   or                                                               
legislative employee.                                                                                                           
8:41:03 AM                                                                                                                    
The request could  be for a confidential advisory  opinion or for                                                               
a discussion  in an open session.  She said the opinion  could be                                                               
drafted by  herself or  Barbara Craver,  SCLE legal  counsel, and                                                               
would go  to the  committee for review  until the  final decision                                                               
was agreed  upon. The  advisory opinion  is issued  without names                                                               
even if confidentiality was waived by the complainant.                                                                          
The committee is responsible for  looking at complaints against a                                                               
sitting legislator or employee, present  or past, if the incident                                                               
occurred within a  certain timeframe. It looks  at the legitimacy                                                               
of  a  complaint   and  could  decide  to  go   forward  with  an                                                               
investigation.  At  that point,  the  scope  of investigation  is                                                               
settled and  will be what  the committee  focuses on. It  is also                                                               
decided  at the  first  meeting whether  an outside  investigator                                                               
would  be  appropriate. According  to  statute,  if there  is  an                                                               
investigation,  all of  the materials  are  confidential and  the                                                               
committee meets  in executive session  to look at them.  If there                                                               
is enough  information, a decision  can be made on  whether there                                                               
is probable cause, a dismissal or a need of more information.                                                                   
8:41:53 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HOLLIS FRENCH arrived.                                                                                                  
8:42:26 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS asked what happens if a complaint has merit.                                                                      
MS. ANDERSON replied that it's  moved forward to an investigative                                                               
stage. Not having  merit could mean the issue is  not within SCLE                                                               
jurisdiction - the  complaint might not be in the  Ethics Code or                                                               
the timeframe may have expired, among other reasons.                                                                            
8:43:31 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. ANDERSON  said the  statute authorizes  her to  give informal                                                               
advice, however  it is not  binding on  the committee.   A formal                                                               
opinion can be requested.                                                                                                       
8:44:05 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS asked the difference between binding and advisory.                                                                
MS.  ANDERSON  replied  that  the SCLE  gives  a  formal  binding                                                               
advisory opinion  - binding  by the committee  on the  person who                                                               
asked for it.                                                                                                                   
8:44:43 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS said he couldn't find that in statute.                                                                            
8:45:02 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  ANDERSON continued  describing  her responsibilities  saying                                                               
that  she  provides  administrative support  to  the  nine-member                                                               
committee makes  sure the disclosures are  properly completed and                                                               
filed on  time and distributes  a bi-monthly newsletter.  She has                                                               
put together a  "Standards of Conduct Handbook"  and put together                                                               
the   published  opinions.   She   investigates  complaints   the                                                               
committee  has  put forward  during  its  scope of  investigation                                                               
phase and  trains legislators and  staff. She works  closely with                                                               
the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC).                                                                                    
8:46:50 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS asked  the value  of her  informal advice  since                                                               
it's not binding on the committee.                                                                                              
MS. ANDERSON  replied that  she issues  informal advice  based on                                                               
what a person is asking. It  is given in good faith. All informal                                                               
advice is  cleansed of any identifying  information and submitted                                                               
to the committee at the next meeting.                                                                                           
8:48:40 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS  asked what happens when  the committee questions                                                               
her informal advice.                                                                                                            
MS. ANDERSON explained  that she gets back to  the individual who                                                               
requested the advice,  obtains more information and  gets back to                                                               
the  committee.  The  new  information   may  have  answered  the                                                               
committee's questions or it may change the advice.                                                                              
8:49:33 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  the  value  of an  informal  opinion on  an                                                               
ethics violation if it's not binding on the committee.                                                                          
8:50:28 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  ANDERSON  replied  when   an  individual  requests  informal                                                               
advice, she  always suggests that he  or she ask for  an advisory                                                               
opinion if that is appropriate.                                                                                                 
8:51:41 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS asked whether the SCLE has questioned her advice.                                                                 
MS.  ANDERSON replied  three times  the committee  questioned her                                                               
advice.  She obtained  additional information  for two  times and                                                               
changed the advice.                                                                                                             
8:52:19 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS  asked whether  interpretation  of  advice is  a                                                               
common problem.                                                                                                                 
MS. ANDERSON  replied that the  statute is ambiguous;  it depends                                                               
on the facts of the situation.                                                                                                  
8:53:37 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  whether someone  could  request an  opinion                                                               
about someone else's actions.                                                                                                   
MS.  ANDERSON  replied that  the  person  could only  request  an                                                               
opinion about his own actions.                                                                                                  
8:54:27 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  if it  ever looked  like someone  wanted an                                                               
opinion to bring charges against someone else.                                                                                  
MS. ANDERSON  said she would have  to check. She added  that SCLE                                                               
has received a request for a  binding opinion that was not on the                                                               
action of the  individual requesting it and  the committee denied                                                               
responding to that request.                                                                                                     
8:55:18 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS  asked  for  a  clearer  understanding  of  what                                                               
advisory and binding opinions are.                                                                                              
8:56:24 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS  said if  new  material  facts are  admitted,  the                                                               
binding  opinion can  change. Otherwise  the  SCLE opinion  can't                                                               
MS.  ANDERSON  agreed. She  referenced  AS  24.60.165 that  talks                                                               
about use of information submitted  with requests for advice. The                                                               
last sentence says  if the individual goes against  the advice of                                                               
the advisory opinion, that information  could be used against him                                                               
in a complaint process.                                                                                                         
8:58:10 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked if Chapter  60, the "Standards  of Conduct,"                                                               
apply to all employees or just some.                                                                                            
MS.  ANDERSON replied  that  it applies  to  all legislators  and                                                               
staff plus some Legislative  Affairs employees. Certain employees                                                               
are  exempt like  the  supply  shop, the  print  shop  and a  few                                                               
others. It also covers members of the SCLE.                                                                                     
8:59:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS said AS 24.60.020  leads him to believe it includes                                                               
all legislative employees.                                                                                                      
9:00:00 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  ANDERSON said  employees  under a  Range  15 aren't  covered                                                               
because they don't  have a level of  responsibility that requires                                                               
them to be covered. She offered to research the issue further.                                                                  
9:00:38 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS  asked  what  the timeframe  is  for  an  advisory                                                               
MS.  ANDERSON  replied  the  committee  must  issue  an  advisory                                                               
opinion within  60 days.  The person  requesting the  opinion may                                                               
waive that request or the  committee, based on circumstances, may                                                               
ask him to waive that request.                                                                                                  
9:01:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS asked about confidentiality.                                                                                      
MS. ANDERSON  explained that an advisory  opinion is confidential                                                               
unless, but the requestor can waive confidentiality.                                                                            
9:02:19 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked what the responsibilities  for a complainant                                                               
9:02:41 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. ANDERSON  replied that according  to legislation  that passed                                                               
last year, the  complainant must keep confidential  that they did                                                               
file a complaint or the committee will dismiss the complaint.                                                                   
     The statute  also says that  does not affect  the right                                                                    
     of  the  committee  or  any  other  person  to  file  a                                                                    
     complaint under  similar circumstances. It's  just that                                                                    
     individual that  filed the complaint would  not be able                                                                    
     to file another one.                                                                                                       
She referenced  an incident  a couple of  years ago  when someone                                                               
filed a complaint and then went public with it on TV.                                                                           
9:05:20 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS said  he remembered that circumstance  and asked if                                                               
that complaint would be dismissed under the new legislation.                                                                    
MS. ANDERSON replied yes.                                                                                                       
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  whether the  committee  could dismiss  that                                                               
complaint, but then might proceed  forward with its own complaint                                                               
using the information.                                                                                                          
MS. ANDERSON answered that could  happen, although it hasn't. "It                                                               
would  be a  policy  decision by  the committee  as  to how  they                                                               
wanted to proceed with that."                                                                                                   
9:05:49 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS said Wasilla residents  want integrity, but if he                                                               
goes   public  with   a  violation,   he  is   in  violation   of                                                               
confidentiality.  He asked  if that  made sense.  He didn't  want                                                               
people to  use this  as a  "steel trap"  for things  that weren't                                                               
9:07:43 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS responded  that  the ethics  laws  don't apply  to                                                               
people who aren't legislators or legislative employees.                                                                         
MS.  ANDERSON replied  that  her  research shows  that  a lot  of                                                               
states fine  individuals who have  filed an ethics  complaint and                                                               
then make it public. Some states  don't allow the complaint to be                                                               
brought forward again.                                                                                                          
9:10:40 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS   asked  what  the  majority   of  complaints  are                                                               
MS. ANDERSON replied  that advisory opinions run  the whole gamut                                                               
-  40 opinions  mentioned "financial"  or "conflict  of interest"                                                               
since 1984, advisory opinions have  been asked for contracts over                                                               
$5,000. Some requests are very  factual; others are general. It's                                                               
difficult to  talk about complaints since  they are confidential.                                                               
The  only  ones  that  are   published  are  the  ones  that  are                                                               
investigated; she can't  talk about ones that  are dismissed. The                                                               
committee   has  had   complaints   regarding  legislators   with                                                               
legislation,  use of  employees  for personal  purposes and  open                                                               
9:14:23 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS asked  if she thought anything  should be changed                                                               
based on the coalbed methane issue in the Mat-Su Valley.                                                                        
MS. ANDERSON  replied when to  declare a conflict of  interest on                                                               
the floor  is one  of the areas  that require  clarification. Her                                                               
advice has  been to announce a  conflict in committee as  well as                                                               
on the floor,  although the Ethics Code does  not require action.                                                               
Most  people attend  the  committee meetings  and  not the  floor                                                               
9:17:58 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT commented  that you don't have to  stand up on                                                               
the floor and  say you're a fisherman every time  a fishing issue                                                               
comes  up;   you  disclose  that   information  on   a  financial                                                               
disclosure.  "We don't  want to  get to  the point  where at  the                                                               
beginning of  every committee meeting  everybody turns in  a copy                                                               
of their financial disclosure. We're required to do it once."                                                                   
9:19:16 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS said there is a difference between impropriety and                                                                
appearance of  the same. Sometimes  it's a good idea  to insulate                                                               
oneself from appearance of improper  behavior. The question is if                                                               
the statute makes what improper behavior clear.                                                                                 
9:21:00 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. ANDERSON referenced  AS 24.60.030 (g) that  says a legislator                                                               
may not  vote on a  question if the  legislator has an  equity or                                                               
ownership  interest in  a  business,  investment, real  property,                                                               
lease, or  other enterprise  if the  interest is  substantial and                                                               
the  effect of  that interest  of the  action to  be voted  on is                                                               
greater  than the  effect in  a substantial  class of  persons to                                                               
which  the  legislator  belongs  as   a  member  of  either  that                                                               
profession, occupation, industry or region.                                                                                     
9:22:51 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS asked how the Uniform Rules come into effect.                                                                     
MS.  ANDERSON replied  that  they say,  "Unless  the entire  body                                                               
agrees to allow that person not to vote, they must vote."                                                                       
CHAIR SEEKINS he thought that referred  to Rule 34(b) and that it                                                               
referred to voting on the floor, but not in committee.                                                                          
MS. ANDERSON  agreed and said there  is an example on  page 15 of                                                               
the SCLE Handbook.                                                                                                              
9:26:20 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT said it gets to be absurd.                                                                                   
9:28:01 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  if she  had seen  someone dismissed  from a                                                               
MS. ANDERSON answered that it  had happened according to research                                                               
she did.                                                                                                                        
SENATOR THERRIAULT remarked, "There are  only 20 of us.... I have                                                               
never seen anyone excused from voting - ever."                                                                                  
CHAIR SEEKINS asked the definition of "substantial."                                                                            
MS. ANDERSON replied  that it isn't defined in the  code and that                                                               
would  be  an area  the  Legislature  could  look at.  The  other                                                               
example has to do with stock ownership.                                                                                         
     Owning $2,000  worth of  stock in  a major  oil company                                                                    
     would  not be  considered  substantial, whereas  owning                                                                    
     $2,000  of  stock in  a  fledgling  business that  only                                                                    
     issued  $10,000  total  in stock  would  be  considered                                                                    
9:29:25 AM Recess 9:38:08 AM                                                                                                
9:38:53 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  asked  who   determines  the  appearance  of                                                               
conflict of interest.                                                                                                           
MS. ANDERSON  replied that the  statute itself has  no definition                                                               
of "substantial" and if a  complaint were received, the committee                                                               
would  have to  look at  it to  see whether  there is  a possible                                                               
violation of  the Ethics Code, in  which case, it would  be moved                                                               
forward to an investigation.                                                                                                    
9:41:06 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT said  he thought the issue of  appearance of a                                                               
conflict of interest in the findings section is problematic.                                                                    
MS. ANDERSON  replied that  she doesn't speak  for the  SCLE, but                                                               
for informal advice, she doesn't  look at the findings. She looks                                                               
at a  particular statute  that talks about  the issue.  The issue                                                               
Senator Therriault is talking about is in AS 14.60.010 (2).                                                                     
9:44:24 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH said  he thought findings lay  out high standards,                                                               
but a  violation must be  grounded in some statute.  Findings are                                                               
good precepts to guide one's behavior.                                                                                          
9:45:32 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  THERRIAULT referenced  section (4)  that says,  "The law                                                               
should not impose unreasonable or  unnecessary burdens that would                                                               
discourage  citizens  from  entering   the  state  of  government                                                               
service." If the law is fuzzy, that discourages public service.                                                                 
9:47:20 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS agreed that it must be clear and definitive.                                                                      
9:48:22 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT asked if an  outside group requested an ethics                                                               
opinion on the coalbed methane issue.                                                                                           
MS. ANDERSON replied  a legislator or a  legislative staff person                                                               
could only request an advisory opinion.                                                                                         
9:49:03 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT asked if a complaint was made.                                                                               
MS.  ANDERSON replied  that  committee  neither acknowledges  nor                                                               
doesn't acknowledge if a complaint has been filed.                                                                              
       If a complaint had been filed and investigated, it                                                                       
      would have been put in the book that was sent around                                                                      
     to offices and no, there is not one in there.                                                                              
9:49:50 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT  said the troubling  aspect is  the appearance                                                               
of conflict. "What is the bar for that?"                                                                                        
MS. ANDERSON  replied that she  hasn't received a  complaint that                                                               
talked about  an "appearance"  of conflict  and didn't  think one                                                               
had  ever  been  filed.  Public  complaints  have  pointed  to  a                                                               
particular statute  and given a  particular statement as  to what                                                               
someone thought was thought to be violated.                                                                                     
9:51:16 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  THERRIAULT   asked  if  language  about   appearance  is                                                               
standard in decisions that the committee issues.                                                                                
MS.  ANDERSON replied  that  she  is not  familiar  with the  '94                                                               
advisory opinion in  question and she offered to  check that out.                                                               
She  doesn't  usually  doesn't  volunteer  that  language  unless                                                               
someone asks about it.                                                                                                          
9:52:26 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked if  the SCLE has  defined something  that is                                                               
not in statute.                                                                                                                 
MS. ANDERSON  replied yes;  the committee is  required to  make a                                                               
decision  based  on  the  information   it  had  whether  it's  a                                                               
complaint or a request for an  advisory opinion. She asked him to                                                               
clarify  whether  he  meant  something   that  wasn't  stated  or                                                               
something that was ambiguous.                                                                                                   
9:53:58 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS replied both, but one  at a time. If an activity is                                                               
not  prohibited  in   statute,  but  appears  to   be  an  ethics                                                               
violation, would SCLE define it and has that ever happened.                                                                     
MS. ANDERSON replied that it hasn't ever happened.                                                                              
     The committee  is very careful in  that aspect, because                                                                    
     they  are not  creating law,  because that  isn't their                                                                    
     jurisdiction. Their  jurisdiction is to look  at issues                                                                    
     that relate to the ethics statute.                                                                                         
9:55:47 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS asked  if advisory opinions are viewed  in light of                                                               
statutes  that existed  at the  time  of the  opinion versus  the                                                               
statute that is in place today.                                                                                                 
MS.  ANDERSON  answered  yes.  The SCLE  internal  web  page  has                                                               
advisory  opinions  listed  and   has  a  disclaimer  saying  the                                                               
opinions  might not  be applicable  to today's  statutes, because                                                               
they may have changed.                                                                                                          
9:57:20 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked when something  hasn't been  clearly defined                                                               
in statute  and might become  a benchmark, for instance  like 25%                                                               
ownership being a substantial interest,  would that carry forward                                                               
into future decisions.                                                                                                          
MS. ANDERSON  replied that he was  speaking of an example  in the                                                               
Standards of  Conduct Handbook.  The committee  looks at  all the                                                               
facts relating to a particular  case. The committee might ask for                                                               
outside information if it feels all the facts aren't there.                                                                     
9:58:43 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS  asked if she  had seen any  significant changing                                                               
of ethics laws in her tenure.                                                                                                   
MS.  ANDERSON replied  that  the statute  has  been changed  four                                                               
times during her  tenure. It was changed for  advice on lobbyists                                                               
giving  tickets  to  legislators and  legislators  using  private                                                               
airplanes, for instance.                                                                                                        
10:00:15 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGGINS said he is  concerned when an issue has notoriety                                                               
as this one  does and he is resistant to  a knee-jerk reaction to                                                               
fix it so well it's overkill and needs to be revisited again.                                                                   
10:01:38 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  FRENCH asked  how the  complaint system  works and  if a                                                               
finding of no violation remains confidential.                                                                                   
MS. ANDERSON  replied that complaints moved  to the investigative                                                               
stage  are   public.  If   a  complaint   doesn't  move   to  the                                                               
investigative  stage, it  remains confidential.  The first  thing                                                               
she does when  a complaint is received is she  contacts the chair                                                               
of  the House  or  Senate subcommittee.  The  complaint would  go                                                               
before  one or  both  of those  depending on  whom  the issue  is                                                               
concerning.  A complaint  against  a  Legislative Affairs  person                                                               
would go before the full committee.                                                                                             
10:03:34 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH asked if the complaint stays in-house.                                                                           
MS. ANDERSON replied  that the complaint stays in  the house that                                                               
has the  complaint. The subcommittee  is instructed to  not share                                                               
the information  with other committee  members. If  the complaint                                                               
is completely  out of the committee's  jurisdiction, she wouldn't                                                               
call  it together.  The chair  of the  subcommittee would  call a                                                               
meeting  to look  at the  complaint. She  could do  a preliminary                                                               
investigation.  The  committee  decides   if  the  subject  is  a                                                               
violation of the  Ethics Code. If so, it is  obligated by statute                                                               
to move it  forward to an investigative stage. At  the meeting in                                                               
executive  session,  the  committee  would decide  the  scope  of                                                               
investigation.  The scope  would be  sent to  the subject  of the                                                               
complaint  and  the  complainant.  At  this  first  meeting,  the                                                               
committee  decides if  staff will  investigate  the complaint  or                                                               
whether to go  with an outside investigator. It has  gone with an                                                               
outside investigator when allegations were very complex.                                                                        
10:06:15 AM                                                                                                                   
At the second  committee meeting the committee would  look at the                                                               
investigative materials  and see  whether it had  the information                                                               
it needed. It could make a  determination of probable cause or it                                                               
could  ask   for  more  information.  Statute   also  allows  the                                                               
committee  to  expand its  scope  of  investigation if  there  is                                                               
another possible violation. The subject  of the complaint has the                                                               
option  to appear  before  the committee  and  can have  counsel.                                                               
After the committee has all  the information, it would deliberate                                                               
on whether there was probably cause or dismiss the complaint.                                                                   
10:08:21 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH asked what statute governs the complaint process.                                                                
MS.  ANDERSON  replied AS  24.60.170  and  there are  some  legal                                                               
opinions on how to interpret some of issues.                                                                                    
10:08:38 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGGINS  asked if  a potato  farmer wanted  to be  on the                                                               
committee, what could he tell him the prerequisites are.                                                                        
MS. ANDERSON  answered that the  public members serve  a two-year                                                               
term  and are  appointed  by  the chief  justice  of the  Supreme                                                               
Court. So they submit an  application letter to the chief justice                                                               
saying they would like to be  a member of the committee. The only                                                               
requirement is they  must let him know what  political party they                                                               
belong to. She  said that there hasn't been  much publicity about                                                               
the application process and the  committee has decided to do more                                                               
in the future.                                                                                                                  
10:10:11 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGGINS  asked  what  the   average  profession  on  the                                                               
committee is.                                                                                                                   
MS. ANDERSON responded that right  now there are three attorneys,                                                               
one teacher and one professor.                                                                                                  
10:11:00 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGGINS said  it is questionable where  attorneys rate in                                                               
ethical confidence by the public.                                                                                               
10:11:36 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS  asked  if  she thought  AS  24.60.170  should  be                                                               
reviewed for clarification.                                                                                                     
MS. ANDERSON  said it is a  difficult statute because it  is long                                                               
and add-ons refer to many preceding sections.                                                                                   
10:12:45 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS asked how it would read easier?                                                                                   
MS.  ANDERSON replied  that recommending  legislation is  part of                                                               
her  duties   and  she  would   look  at  that  issue   and  make                                                               
10:13:36 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  said he wants the  statute to be clear  and easily                                                               
understood.  He asked  if there  is any  published commentary  to                                                               
help understand it.                                                                                                             
10:16:29 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  ANDERSON  replied  that  only   the  Handbook  and  advisory                                                               
opinions are available.  She asked him to be  more specific about                                                               
what he meant in terms of commentary.                                                                                           
CHAIR SEEKINS  elaborated something  that gives  a little  bit of                                                               
history of  where the law  came from,  what the intent  was, some                                                               
guidelines of  what to  do, a  cross reference  to the  form that                                                               
would have to be used to declare a conflict.                                                                                    
MS. ANDERSON  said something  like that sounds  like it  would be                                                               
helpful. She  thought declaring  conflict on  the floor  could be                                                               
10:18:14 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH asked how advisory opinions are circulated.                                                                      
MS.   ANDERSON  replied   by  e-mail   newsletter,  booklets   on                                                               
complaints  and  advisory  opinions   reports  and  on  the  SCLE                                                               
10:19:46 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked if  any other section  of the  statute might                                                               
need additional clarification.                                                                                                  
MS. ANDERSON suggested the membership  of the committee should be                                                               
fleshed out;  it is supposed to  have nine members, but  has only                                                               
four. Senators have not been appointed  yet and three of the five                                                               
public  member terms  expired last  week.  The committee  doesn't                                                               
have enough for a quorum.  She suggested making the public member                                                               
terms  for  three  years  at   staggered  intervals.  "We're  not                                                               
operational  right  now.  We  cannot  meet  to  discuss  advisory                                                               
opinions.  We cannot  meet to  discuss complaints  or any  of our                                                               
other business that needs to be taken care of."                                                                                 
10:22:16 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH asked the process for getting new public members.                                                                
MS. ANDERSON replied  the chief justice has  referred three names                                                               
to the Legislature for confirmation hearings.                                                                                   
10:23:45 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGGINS asked  how  his potato  farmer  finds out  about                                                               
CHAIR SEEKIKNS said he doesn't.                                                                                                 
MS. ANDERSON  responded there has  not been a good  formal system                                                               
in  place  for vacancies  on  the  committee. The  website  tells                                                               
people to contact the chief  justices of the Alaska Supreme Court                                                               
by submitting  a letter. An  application process is  being worked                                                               
10:24:55 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGGINS  aired  the  public is  unaware  it  can  become                                                               
involved in the process.                                                                                                        
10:25:20 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS said  the make  up  of the  committee should  have                                                               
broad representation.                                                                                                           
10:26:18 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH asked when public member terms end.                                                                              
CHAIR SEEKINS replied 30 days  after the start of the legislative                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH asked whether forwarded names are public record.                                                                 
MS. ANDERSON  replied Chief Justice Bryner  forwarded three names                                                               
for three vacancies in early December.                                                                                          
SENATOR FRENCH  openly considered  the fact that  the Legislature                                                               
has  to just  vote up  or down  on individuals.  "It's not  as if                                                               
we're going to get more names. Is that right?"                                                                                  
MS. ANDERSON  replied her experience  is that the  chief justices                                                               
have always forwarded just the number  of names for the number of                                                               
10:27:46 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGGINS asked the professions of the three candidates.                                                                  
MS. ANDERSON replied two attorneys and one teacher.                                                                             
10:28:57 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGGINS  said he  was  concerned  that a  potato  farmer                                                               
doesn't have access to the chief justice.                                                                                       
MS.  ANDERSON   said  her  suggestion  was   to  have  three-year                                                               
staggered terms for public members.                                                                                             
10:31:05 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS  said  the  last   time  the  Judiciary  Committee                                                               
considered a nomination there was  concern that a member had been                                                               
on the  committee for some  time. It has  nothing to do  with the                                                               
performance  of an  individual, but  it shouldn't  be a  lifetime                                                               
appointment.  A  new individual  might  be  needed to  provide  a                                                               
regular rotation from the public.                                                                                               
There being no further business to come before the committee, he                                                                
adjourned the meeting at 10:32:44 AM.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects