Legislature(2015 - 2016)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/18/2015 01:30 PM JUDICIARY

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01:38:16 PM Start
01:38:40 PM SB43
01:50:57 PM Confirmation Hearing: Attorney General
03:02:14 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled:
-- Rescheduled from 03/13/15 --
+ Confirmation of Governor's Appointment: TELECONFERENCED
Craig Richards, Attorney General - Department of
Law
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
+= SB 43 IMMUNITY FOR FIRE DEPT. & MEMBERS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 18, 2015                                                                                         
                           1:38 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Lesil McGuire, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator John Coghill, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Mia Costello                                                                                                            
Senator Bill Wielechowski                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Peter Micciche                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CONFIRMATION HEARING                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     - Attorney General of the State of Alaska                                                                                
          Craig Richards                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     - CONFIRMATION ADVANCED                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 43                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to immunity for a fire department and employees                                                                
or members of a fire department."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                              
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB  43                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: IMMUNITY FOR FIRE DEPT. & MEMBERS                                                                                  
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) COGHILL                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
02/06/15       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/06/15       (S)       CRA, JUD                                                                                               
02/17/15       (S)       CRA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
02/17/15       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/17/15       (S)       MINUTE(CRA)                                                                                            
03/05/15       (S)       CRA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
03/05/15       (S)       Moved  CSSB 43(CRA) Out of Committee                                                                   
03/05/15       (S)       MINUTE(CRA)                                                                                            
03/06/15       (S)       CRA RPT CS  3DP  SAME TITLE                                                                            
03/06/15       (S)       DP: BISHOP, EGAN, MACKINNON                                                                            
03/16/15       (S)       JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
03/16/15       (S)       Scheduled but Not Heard                                                                                
03/18/15       (S)       JUD AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
JORDAN SHILLING, Staff                                                                                                          
Senator John Coghill                                                                                                            
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Reviewed the changes  in version P CS for SB
43.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MITCH FLYNN, Fire Chief                                                                                                         
Steese Fire Department                                                                                                          
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 43.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CRAIG RICHARDS, Attorney General Designee                                                                                       
Department of Law (DOL)                                                                                                         
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified as Attorney General Designee.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:38:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  LESIL   MCGUIRE  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 1:38  p.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order were  Senators Costello,  Wielechowski, Coghill,  and Chair                                                               
McGuire.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
            SB  43-IMMUNITY FOR FIRE DEPT. & MEMBERS                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:38:40 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MCGUIRE announced  the  consideration  of SB  43. "An  Act                                                             
relating  to immunity  for  a fire  department  and employees  or                                                               
members of a fire department."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COGHILL,  speaking  as  sponsor, explained  that  SB  43                                                               
addresses  immunity for  fire departments.  In the  Interior some                                                               
volunteer  fire departments  contract with  local governments  to                                                               
provide  services  and  they  aren't   given  the  same  immunity                                                               
protection from  liability as the  employees of  fire departments                                                               
operated by  municipalities. He  deferred further  explanation to                                                               
Mr. Shilling.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:40:11 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL   motioned  to  adopt  the   proposed  committee                                                               
substitute  for  SB  43,  labeled  29-LS0325\P,  as  the  working                                                               
document.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:41:01 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:41:36 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MCGUIRE  reconvened the meeting and  announced that without                                                               
objection, version P is before the committee.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:42:00 PM                                                                                                                    
JORDAN SHILLING, Staff, Senator  John Coghill, explained that the                                                               
language  on page  1, lines  11-13, clarifies  that the  immunity                                                               
does not apply  if the legal action  taken is based on  an act or                                                               
omission of  an employee or  member of  a fire department  in the                                                               
execution of a duty under contract with a private entity.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.   SHILLING  summarized   the   intent   of  the   legislation                                                               
paraphrasing from the following sponsor statement:                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Senate Bill 43 extends  protections to certain types of                                                                    
     fire departments.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Under   current  law,   employees  of   municipal  fire                                                                    
     departments receive  immunity from  liability. However,                                                                    
     some  fire departments,  such  as  those in  Fairbanks,                                                                    
     Chugiak, and Girdwood,  operate as volunteer-based non-                                                                    
     profits  that   contract  with  local   governments  to                                                                    
     provide  services.  These  types  of  fire  departments                                                                    
     aren't    similarly    protected   in    statute    (AS                                                                    
     09.65.070(c)).                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Liability  protections  should   not  be  exclusive  to                                                                    
     employees    of    fire   departments    operated    by                                                                    
     municipalities and  should be  extended to  include all                                                                    
     fire departments  that have a  contractual relationship                                                                    
     with local governments.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Senate  Bill  43  also extends  immunity  available  to                                                                    
     municipal  fire  departments  and  to  contracted  fire                                                                    
     departments. While  municipal fire  departments already                                                                    
     have   some   statutory  protections,   contract   fire                                                                    
     departments  have  none.  Because the  current  statute                                                                    
     does  not  protect  them  from  liability,  these  fire                                                                    
     departments,   local    governments,   and   ultimately                                                                    
     taxpayers, are vulnerable.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
He reviewed  the history  of the statute.  It was  established in                                                               
1975 at the request of  the Juneau Volunteer Fire Department, and                                                               
was modeled after  a law from Delaware. He  noted that Fairbanks,                                                               
Anchorage,   and   the   firefighters  themselves   support   the                                                               
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:45:51 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked what the  rewrite in Section  1 tries                                                               
to do.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHILLING replied the current  statute only covers municipally                                                               
operated  fire  departments. Section  1  on  page 2,  lines  2-3,                                                               
redefines  fire  department  to  include  fire  departments  that                                                               
operate  under  contract  or agreement  with  a  municipality  or                                                               
village.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI observed that  the repealed and reenacted AS                                                               
09.65.070(c) is a lot longer than the current statute.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHILLING  clarified that  the changes  are to  cover contract                                                               
fire departments and  to create an exception to  the immunity for                                                               
intentional  misconduct or  gross negligence.  That language  was                                                               
lifted from the 911 statutes.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL  added that  these standards  are not  unusual in                                                               
these types of circumstances.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. SHILLING  pointed out that AS  09.65.070(c) provides immunity                                                               
primarily  to  staff  of  a  fire  department  but  also  to  the                                                               
department  itself and  subsection (d)  provides immunity  to the                                                               
department itself.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE asked Mr. Shilling to  bring a copy of the existing                                                               
AS   09.65.070(c)  to   the  next   hearing  with   the  proposed                                                               
substantial changes highlighted.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:49:40 PM                                                                                                                    
MITCH  FLYNN,  Fire  Chief,  Steese  Volunteer  Fire  Department,                                                               
Fairbanks, Alaska, said he works  for a nonprofit in Fairbanks to                                                               
provide fire  and EMS  services under  contract to  the Fairbanks                                                               
North Star Borough.  This past year he learned about  the lack of                                                               
immunity  protection the  fire  department has  because  it is  a                                                               
contractor.  This  exposes  the   fire  department  to  potential                                                               
litigation and  large judgments. He  urged the committee  to pass                                                               
the legislation.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:50:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MCGUIRE  announced she  would hold SB  43 in  committee for                                                               
further consideration.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
^Confirmation Hearing: Attorney General                                                                                         
                      Confirmation Hearing                                                                                  
            Attorney General of the State of Alaska                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:50:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MCGUIRE announced  the next order of business  would be the                                                               
confirmation hearing for Craig Richards  for Attorney General for                                                               
the State  of Alaska. She asked  him to tell the  committee about                                                               
himself and why he wants to assume this position.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:51:04 PM                                                                                                                    
CRAIG  RICHARDS, Attorney  General  Designee, Anchorage,  Alaska,                                                               
told the committee that he  grew up in Fairbanks, studied finance                                                               
at the University  of Virginia and law at the  Washington and Lee                                                               
University School of  Law. After graduation he  clerked for Judge                                                               
Ralph Beistline, worked in public  finance to research whether or                                                               
not the  gas pipeline could be  built with tax exempt  bonds, was                                                               
hired  by Bill  Walker  for a  short-term  job, and  subsequently                                                               
joined the firm. The practice focused  on oil and gas tax matters                                                               
and  gas  pipeline development  and  he  continued to  do  public                                                               
finance  work. He  noted that  he took  time off  to attend  Duke                                                               
University  where he  received an  MBA, focusing  on oil  and gas                                                               
quantitative modeling and oil and gas finance.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL RICHARDS  related personal information including                                                               
that his  wife teaches English  and English as a  second language                                                               
at West High School in Anchorage. They have one child.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Responding  to the  question about  his interest  in the  job, he                                                               
said it  took him  by surprise when  Governor Walker  offered him                                                               
the position. After some thought  and consultation with his wife,                                                               
he  decided it  was a  once in  a lifetime  opportunity to  serve                                                               
Alaskans.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:57:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MCGUIRE asked  what aspects of the job  present the biggest                                                               
challenges and how the legislature can provide support.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL RICHARDS related  that the largest challenge for                                                               
the department is  dealing with the budget  reductions. The eight                                                               
percent reduction for  FY2016 is manageable, but  the next series                                                               
of cuts will present be more difficult.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MCGUIRE commented  that the  department will  be competing                                                               
with the  private sector looking  for expertise,  particularly on                                                               
oil and gas.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:01:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL asked if he  expects to retain the current roster                                                               
of  Criminal  Division  employees,  given his  lack  of  criminal                                                               
experience.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL RICHARDS  pointed out that his  lack of criminal                                                               
experience  wasn't unique  among previous  attorneys general.  He                                                               
stated support for engaging the  Criminal Division because of the                                                               
rethinking  justice initiatives  and highlighted  that he  didn't                                                               
foresee  any dramatic  changes other  than the  impact of  budget                                                               
reductions that  will reduce staff  by 10 people this  year, half                                                               
of  which  will  be  attorneys.  He  noted  that  a  lot  of  the                                                               
reductions  can be  managed through  the  department's annual  10                                                               
percent turnover,  but it  will take some  thought to  resize the                                                               
Criminal Division without just shrinking out of rural Alaska.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COGHILL commented  on protecting  families and  children                                                               
and asked if he'd had experience with family law.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY  GENERAL  RICHARDS  replied  he doesn't  have  a  strong                                                               
background, but he isn't unfamiliar with that area of law.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COGHILL asked  him to  comment on  the issue  of working                                                               
with tribal  governments while staying  within the bounds  of the                                                               
constitution that  says governments  are supposed to  be boroughs                                                               
and cities.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL  RICHARDS said  he's had to  dive in  head first                                                               
because  of pending  cases  and  also because  it's  an issue  of                                                               
importance to  both the tribal  communities and  law enforcement.                                                               
He noted that  tribal issues have to be  taken one-by-one because                                                               
different bodies  of law control  the different issues.  He noted                                                               
that  one initiative  has  been to  work  with DHSS  Commissioner                                                               
Valerie  Davidson and  local tribes  and rural  constituencies to                                                               
figure  out how  to  make  it a  little  easier  to place  Indian                                                               
children with Indian families in  rural communities in compliance                                                               
with the Indian  Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The  Department of Law                                                               
is also  continuing its work  on the civil  diversion agreements,                                                               
which will provide  tribal communities the ability  to have cases                                                               
diverted from  the state  criminal justice  system to  the tribal                                                               
justice system for some class  B misdemeanors and other cases for                                                               
first-time and nonviolent offenders.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:09:18 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  talked about the structural  differences and how                                                               
to  blend the  rights  of  the individual  as  opposed to  tribal                                                               
rights. He  encouraged Attorney General  Richards to  continue to                                                               
work on  this conundrum and to  talk to the Alaska  Supreme Court                                                               
about the work it had done.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL RICHARDS related  that the state constitution is                                                               
his  guiding document  and he  believes that  a lot  can be  done                                                               
working with tribes to make justice better in rural Alaska.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR   MCGUIRE   highlighted   that  this   administration   has                                                               
demonstrated a willingness to work on tribal issues.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
She  asked  if  he'd  looked into  the  Environmental  Protection                                                               
Agency's (EPA) proposed expansion of critical habitat areas.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY  GENERAL  RICHARDS  answered  yes;  the  state  recently                                                               
joined the  lawsuit challenging the critical  habitat designation                                                               
of the ringed seal.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MCGUIRE   highlighted  that   the  Alaska   Arctic  Policy                                                               
Commission believes that  the EPA will try to  use the Endangered                                                               
Species Act  in critical  habitat areas  to block  development in                                                               
the  Chukchi  Sea and  Beaufort  Sea.  She  also noted  that  the                                                               
federal  government  stated  the  top two  goals  of  the  Arctic                                                               
Council  for the  next two  years are  climate change  and marine                                                               
stewardship. The idea  of mapping new marine  protected areas has                                                               
been introduced  as part of  marine stewardship, all of  which is                                                               
very  different than  Alaska's goal  of economic  development for                                                               
the people  of the North. She  opined that it will  be critically                                                               
important  for  the  Department  of Law  to  develop  a  specific                                                               
expertise  in this  area because  Alaska  is hamstrung  if it  is                                                               
unable to develop its natural resources.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY   GENERAL   RICHARDS   expressed  gratitude   that   his                                                               
predecessors  built an  excellent  Endangered  Species Act  (ESA)                                                               
team within  the department. He  noted the  successful challenges                                                               
for  the  bearded  seal  and  the  Polar  Bear  critical  habitat                                                               
designations and committed to continue  such challenges and force                                                               
the EPA to return to science-based decision making.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:15:44 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COSTELLO  asked  what  he   sees  as  the  next  largest                                                               
challenge after the budget.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY  GENERAL   RICHARDS  replied   it's  the  idea   of  re-                                                               
envisioning   justice   in   Alaska,  particularly   up   through                                                               
sentencing.  Right now,  there  is a  collective  effort to  make                                                               
justice  smarter and  he is  committed  to developing  a plan  to                                                               
administer   justice  more   cheaply   and  efficiently   without                                                               
affecting the quality of justice for Alaskans.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COSTELLO asked  if the administration is  willing to make                                                               
an up-front investment to get to the long-term improvements.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY  GENERAL  RICHARDS replied  he  believes  there will  be                                                               
support once there is a plan.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COSTELLO asked  if he  believes  that Alaska's  juvenile                                                               
justice system is working.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY  GENERAL   RICHARDS  replied  he  isn't   aware  of  any                                                               
fundamental failures, but  the department intends to  look at the                                                               
issues that have been brought forward.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COSTELLO asked  how he  would characterize  his role  as                                                               
attorney general.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL  RICHARDS stated  that the Attorney  General for                                                               
the State of  Alaska is not a  constitutionally defined position,                                                               
but  the legislature  has characterized  the  role as  consistent                                                               
with that  of an  attorney general at  common law.  He represents                                                               
the  heads of  almost all  the  departments and  agencies of  the                                                               
state  within the  executive branch,  the Governor's  Office, and                                                               
the  people.  Ultimately,  his final  representation  is  to  the                                                               
public interest and to the interests of the people of Alaska.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COSTELLO  asked if  he is  satisfied with  the conviction                                                               
rates of Alaska's district attorneys.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL RICHARDS  voiced a qualified yes  and noted that                                                               
in the next  few months the department will  revisit the decision                                                               
to  no   longer  plea  on   sentencing.  The   judiciary,  public                                                               
defenders,  and some  legislators  have complained  that that  is                                                               
resulting in more trials and lower conviction rates.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COSTELLO asked  if he  expects any  more changes  to the                                                               
regional district  attorneys and  if he  sees those  decisions as                                                               
political or policy driven.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY  GENERAL RICHARDS  answered that  he sees  changes as  a                                                               
function of  retirement and budget  reductions, but  every effort                                                               
will  be made  to  manage the  reductions proportionally  through                                                               
urban and rural areas.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:22:43 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COSTELLO noted  that he  did not  have to  file an  APOC                                                               
statement  and asked  if he  received proceeds  from the  sale of                                                               
Governor Walker's law firm.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL RICHARDS clarified that  he does have to file an                                                               
APOC  form and  the  information  is disclosed  on  the form.  He                                                               
explained that  when the  firm was sold,  he received  about one-                                                               
third of the proceeds.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COSTELLO  asked if he  stands by  the comment he  made in                                                               
the  Valdez Star  when he  agreed  with a  previous governor  who                                                               
characterized  the  state's  current  oil  tax  system  as  crony                                                               
capitalism.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY  GENERAL   RICHARDS  replied  he  would   stand  by  his                                                               
characterization of  what said in  the article. The  sentiment he                                                               
was expressing is that he didn't  feel that Senate Bill 21 struck                                                               
the  right balance  between what  was good  for independents  and                                                               
what  was good  for the  existing legacy  producers on  the North                                                               
Slope. He said he continues to have concerns.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COSTELLO  asked  how he  would  characterize  the  Point                                                               
Thomson settlement.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL  RICHARDS stated  that the  fundamental gravamen                                                               
was that the  Point Thomson settlement agreement  went around the                                                               
DNR  regulatory process  and adopted  a contractual  structure to                                                               
guide management of the field.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COSTELLO   asked  if  he  agrees   with  the  governor's                                                               
characterization that "It was the  worst, dirtiest, backroom deal                                                               
in state history."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL RICHARDS replied he  didn't know about that, but                                                               
the  deal  was   done  in  secret  and  in  a   manner  that  was                                                               
inconsistent with Alaska law.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COSTELLO  noted that he  had to relinquish  the authority                                                               
to participate  in decisions  regarding Point  Thomson settlement                                                               
litigation. She asked if he  foresees having to recuse himself on                                                               
other matters and, if so, who would assume the lead.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL  RICHARDS answered that  he wasn't aware  of any                                                               
issues  other  than  the  few  items that  were  in  the  initial                                                               
delegation of authority that occurred in late December.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:26:54 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COSTELLO  asked  if  he  serves as  an  advisor  to  the                                                               
governor  on  the  direction  he's  taking  on  oil  and  gasline                                                               
matters.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY  GENERAL  RICHARDS  replied it's  dropped  to  virtually                                                               
nothing in the last few months.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE summarized the conversation  they had in her office                                                               
including  that she  said the  only challenge  he'll have  is the                                                               
unusual  circumstance that  he practiced  law with  the Governor.                                                               
She  asked him  to walk  through what  will happen  in the  event                                                               
there is a conflict with a former client.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:28:47 PM                                                                                                                    
ATTORNEY GENERAL  RICHARDS discussed the process  he went through                                                               
when Governor Walker  asked him to serve as  attorney general. He                                                               
hired outside  counsel to provide  legal advice on how  to handle                                                               
the  circumstance that  he  had litigated  against  the State  of                                                               
Alaska,  and  that attorney  gave  him  a letter  suggesting  the                                                               
potential  conflicts.  Prior  to  taking office  the  DOL  ethics                                                               
attorneys   independently  looked   at  his   ethical  situation,                                                               
including  a  fact  pattern  rundown   of  all  his  cases.  They                                                               
recommended  that his  ethical advisor  should be  the lieutenant                                                               
governor  rather  than the  governor  and  that he  delegate  his                                                               
authority  to  the section  head  of  oil,  gas and  mining  when                                                               
appropriate. In  the event  of future  conflicts, the  DOL ethics                                                               
attorneys  would take  the  issue to  his  ethics advisor,  Byron                                                               
Mallott.  As  a  belt  and   suspenders  measure  the  lieutenant                                                               
governor  received permission  to  hire outside  counsel for  any                                                               
potential conflict issues related to  the attorney general or the                                                               
governor. He noted  that the governor also  has independent legal                                                               
counsel  to provide  advice on  potential conflicts  his attorney                                                               
general has.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:31:35 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  highlighted that in the  legislature people                                                               
who  work for  industries vote  on  issues and  write bills  that                                                               
directly affect  their industries.  He asked  him to  discuss the                                                               
different   standards   for   the  attorney   general   and   the                                                               
legislature.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL  RICHARDS responded  that he isn't  too familiar                                                               
with the rules  for the legislature but he falls  under the Rules                                                               
of Professional  Conduct for attorneys  and the  Executive Branch                                                               
Ethics Act. His  hope is that all officials  in Alaska understand                                                               
their ethical  obligations and follow  the appropriate  rules. He                                                               
intends to do so and suspects the legislative body does too.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI pointed out  that legislators regularly note                                                               
their  conflict and  then  they're forced  to  vote, whereas  the                                                               
Rules of Professional Conduct  prohibit Attorney General Richards                                                               
from doing that.  He couldn't hear a case from  Valdez because he                                                               
represented Valdez.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY  GENERAL RICHARDS  replied that's  usually correct;  the                                                               
test is a substantially related matter.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  if he  had a  sense of  how previous                                                               
attorneys  general  handled  conflicts  and  who  some  of  their                                                               
clients were.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY   GENERAL   RICHARDS   replied  they   delegated   their                                                               
authority. He didn't remember their  clients other than that John                                                               
Burns represented one of the utilities from Fairbanks.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:35:47 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   WIELECHOWSKI  asked   how  many   different  plans   of                                                               
development  were  in  place before  Point  Thomson  was  finally                                                               
developed.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY  GENERAL  RICHARDS recalled  it  was  the 23rd  plan  of                                                               
development that resulted in development.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:36:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MCGUIRE  turned the  discussion back  to smart  justice and                                                               
asked if  he'd had conversations  with the PEW  Charitable Trusts                                                               
and  MacArthur Foundation  and  if he  intended  to accept  their                                                               
offer of free help with data research.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL  RICHARDS said he hasn't  had conversations with                                                               
PEW, but  he believes they  require the  heads of both  houses of                                                               
the  legislative body,  the chief  justice, and  the governor  to                                                               
agree to  accept their services.  He's had two meetings  with the                                                               
Governor's  Office  encouraging  him  to accept  that  offer  and                                                               
believes he's  leaning in  that direction. He  noted that  no one                                                               
has come forward with a reason not to accept advice.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL  asked him  to discuss  his participation  in the                                                               
Hillcorp deal.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL  RICHARDS explained  that the Department  of Law                                                               
is  representing  AIDEA  in  the   Fairbanks  Natural  Gas  (FNG)                                                               
purchase in  an agency  client role.  In its  role as  a people's                                                               
attorney,  the  Regulatory  Affairs   &  Public  Advocacy  (RAPA)                                                               
section  of  DOL  is continuing  the  former  attorney  general's                                                               
policy  that  the  sale  of   the  liquefaction  plant  at  Point                                                               
MacKenzie should not go forward  to Hillcorp from an affiliate of                                                               
FNG  until there  is a  determination as  to whether  or not  the                                                               
plant should be subject to  cost-based rate regulation. Generally                                                               
a utility that  is integrated with a supply  or production system                                                               
that leads to the ultimate  distribution is regulated on the same                                                               
cost of  service basis as  the actual distribution of  the public                                                               
utility.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COGHILL commented  that the  news accounts  in Fairbanks                                                               
made  it  appear  that  the  two were  tied  together  when  they                                                               
weren't.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL  RICHARDS agreed  they weren't tied  and pointed                                                               
out that the RAPA situation had been ongoing for about a year.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COGHILL asked  if he  was familiar  with the  Morey case                                                               
that's about all  Alaskans being able to participate in  a Tier I                                                               
harvest.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY  GENERAL RICHARDS  replied he  wasn't familiar  with the                                                               
fact pattern in the case.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE  asked if the  issue with the  Hillcorp transaction                                                               
is that a contract was already in place.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY  GENERAL RICHARDS  reviewed  the  timeline. About  eight                                                               
months  ago  there   was  an  attempt  to   sever  the  affiliate                                                               
relationship between the liquefaction  plant and the distribution                                                               
system owned by FNG. The state  challenge it. Early this year the                                                               
FNG affiliate  Titan Alaska LLC entered  into a deal to  sell the                                                               
liquefaction plant  to the independent  company Hillcorp.  One of                                                               
the first  official actions he took  was to say not  to allow the                                                               
sale to  go through without  guidance from the RCA  about whether                                                               
the plant should or should not  be rate regulated. A month or two                                                               
after that he  learned that AIDEA was looking  at the acquisition                                                               
of FNG.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COGHILL  noted that  part  of  the discussion  was  that                                                               
Walker  Richards,  LLC  sold  to  a  law  firm  that  happens  to                                                               
represent  the  North  Star  Borough, which  is  looking  at  the                                                               
purchase of FNG.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY  GENERAL RICHARDS  agreed that  the firm  that purchased                                                               
Walker  Richards, LLC  does represent  the  Interior Gas  Utility                                                               
(IGU). He clarified that he  had no professional interaction with                                                               
that firm in  their representation of IGU. In  fact, the opposite                                                               
was  true   because  he  represented  the   Alaska  Gasline  Port                                                               
Authority  that looked  at  an independent  purchase  of FNG  4-5                                                               
years before.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL expressed appreciation for the answer.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:48:02 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MCGUIRE  asked if he had  any comments on the  Indian Child                                                               
Welfare Act (ICWA) case in the Native village of Tununak.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL  RICHARDS noted  that the  state won  that case.                                                               
The issue was whether the Native  person seeking to have the ICWA                                                               
preference  applied had  to  apply for  the  adoption first.  The                                                               
Alaska  Supreme Court  ruled that  they did,  based largely  on a                                                               
reading of  a U.S.  Supreme Court case  that the  state contended                                                               
said the same thing. The  grandmother filed for rehearing and the                                                               
state intends to  join and support its prior  position, but asked                                                               
for  a 30-day  extension to  reach  out to  the stakeholders  and                                                               
listen to what they have to say.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COGHILL asked  if  he  had any  experience  or ideas  as                                                               
attorney general about how to protect people from cyber scams.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY  GENERAL  RICHARDS replied  the  Department  of Law  has                                                               
employees in  the Consumer  Protection Unit  that are  working to                                                               
keep up, but it's something  that every attorney general's office                                                               
in the country is struggling with.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL  advised that the legislature  and this committee                                                               
in  particular   is  interested   in  learning   about  potential                                                               
loopholes and blind spots.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE flagged sex trafficking,  sex assault, and domestic                                                               
violence as  matters of great  concern that need to  be addressed                                                               
differently.  Just  as  Mothers   Against  Drunk  Driving  (MADD)                                                               
changed the  acceptance of drunk  driving, she would like  to see                                                               
Alaska become  the last state  that a  sex abuser wants  to come.                                                               
She encouraged him to work with the first lady on this.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  noted  that yesterday  he  was  questioned                                                               
about opposing the  state when he represented Valdez  in the TAPS                                                               
case. He  said he never  understood the state's  position because                                                               
had the  state prevailed, local  communities and  property owners                                                               
would have lost tens of millions  of dollars and the oil industry                                                               
would have  made tens  of millions  of dollars.  He asked  if the                                                               
characterization was correct.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL  RICHARDS responded that  it's fair to  say that                                                               
the state's  position was closer to  the municipalities' position                                                               
than  to the  TAPS owners.  For a  good portion  of the  case the                                                               
municipalities  asserted that  TAPS was  worth about  $13 billion                                                               
and the state  maintained it was in the $7  Billion or $8 Billion                                                               
range.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  noted the  $5 billion difference  and asked                                                               
how much the state would get.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL  RICHARDS replied  the difference in  $5 billion                                                               
at 20 mils is $100 million.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL  flagged ANILCA  as an  important topic  to delve                                                               
into.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL  RICHARDS responded that his  staff is preparing                                                               
a binder and he  looks forward to diving in in  the next month or                                                               
two.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE encouraged him to  be candid about areas within DOL                                                               
that should not be cut.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
ATTORNEY GENERAL RICHARDS replied he's tried to do that already.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR MCGUIRE thanked him for taking the position.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:01:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MCGUIRE motioned  to forward the name  Craig Richards for                                                               
the position of  Attorney General for the State of  Alaska to the                                                               
full body for consideration in  accordance with AS 39.05.080. She                                                               
reminded members  that this  does not reflect  any intent  by the                                                               
members  to  vote for  or  against  the confirmation  during  any                                                               
further sessions.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:02:14 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair McGuire adjourned the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee                                                                 
meeting at 3:02 p.m.                                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
1 SB43 Sponsor Statement.pdf SJUD 3/18/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 43
2 SB43 Version H.pdf SJUD 3/18/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 43
3 SB43 Summary of Changes Version W to H.pdf SJUD 3/18/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 43
4 SB43 Letter of Support Fire Chiefs Assoc.pdf SJUD 3/18/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 43
4.1 SB43 Letter of Support FNSB.pdf SJUD 3/18/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 43
4.2 SB43 Letter of Support Interior Fire Chiefs.pdf SJUD 3/18/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 43
4.3 SB43 Letter of Support - AFD.pdf SJUD 3/18/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 43
4.4 SB43 Letter of Support - City of Fairbanks.pdf SJUD 3/18/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 43
5 SB43 FN #1.pdf SJUD 3/18/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 43
5.1 SB43 FN #2.pdf SJUD 3/18/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 43
6 CS SB43 Version P.pdf SJUD 3/18/2015 1:30:00 PM
SB 43
Attorney General -Craig Richards.pdf SJUD 3/18/2015 1:30:00 PM
Craig Richards