Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/23/1993 09:10 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE April 23, 1993 9:10 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Loren Leman, Chairman Senator Mike Miller, Vice Chairman Senator Robin Taylor Senator Jim Duncan MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Johnny Ellis COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 199 "An Act relating to employees of the division of elections." CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 206(STA) am "An Act amending provisions of the Alaska Elections Code relating to election campaigns to exempt from the election campaign reporting requirements a candidate whose campaign contributions and campaign expenditures do not exceed $1,000, and to extend the Alaska Public Offices Commission's regulation of election campaigns to elections to boards of directors of electrical cooperatives and telephone cooperatives who serve at least 10,000 customers." SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 196 "An Act relating to the state employment preference for veterans and prisoners of war." PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 199 - No previous action to record. HB 206 - No previous action to record. HB 196 - No previous action to record. WITNESS REGISTER Senator Randy Phillips, Chairman of Legislative Budget & Audit Committee State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 199 Duncan Fowler, Ombudsman Office of the Ombudsman P.O. Box 113000 Juneau, AK 99811-3000 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on SB 199 Randy Welker, Legislative Auditor Legislative Audit Division P.O. Box 113300 Juneau, AK 99811-3300 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on SB 199 James Pound, Chief of Staff Office of the Lieutenant Governor P.O. Box 110015 Juneau, AK 99811-0015 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in opposition to SB 199 Mike McMullen, Manager of System Services Division of Personnel & Equal Employment Opportunity Department of Administration P.O. Box 110201 Juneau, AK 99811-0201 POSITION STATEMENT: No position on SB 199 Testified in support of HB 196 Representative Eldon Mulder State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Prime Sponsor of HB 206 Brooke Miles Alaska Public Offices Commission Department of Administration P.O. Box 110222 Juneau, AK 99811-0222 POSITION STATEMENT: Present to respond to questions on HB 206 George Dozier, Jr., Staff to Representative Pete Kott State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on HB 196 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 93-31, SIDE A Number 001 The meeting of the Senate State Affairs Committee was called to order by Chairman Loren Leman at 9:10 a.m. SENATOR LEMAN introduced SB 199 (ELECTIONS EMPLOYEES IN CLASSIFIED SERVICE) as the first order of business. He invited Senator Randy Phillips, Chairman of the Legislative Budget & Audit Committee to present an overview on the legislation. Number 020 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS explained that the legislation was introduced by the Legislative Budget & Audit Committee and that there was no objection by any of the 10 members of the committee to having it introduced. SB 199 is the result of the Legislative Budget & Audit report of February 27, 1993 and also the Ombudsman's report of April 8, 1993. Both conclude that the legislation should be considered by the legislature. Basically, it would remove the employees of the Division of Elections, except for the director, from the exempt service and classify them as employees with a limited right to strike. LB&A and the Ombudsman both recommend that these employees be classified service employees. Number 070 DUNCAN FOWLER, Ombudsman, State of Alaska, said the recommendation to move the majority of the employees in the Division of Elections into the merit system, was to make sure that the employees there would not be hired, fired or promoted for reasons other than merit. Currently, there are only two employees remaining in the Division of Election who were there more than two years ago. The concern is that if there continues to be a turnover of election employees over the years, it has the tendency to shake the consistency and the ability of the division to be able to run good elections. Number 100 SENATOR LEMAN asked why the regional directors were not kept in the exempt service as was done with the director. DUNCAN FOWLER responded that he thinks it is a policy call, but it is his understanding that there has been some litigation involving the Division of Elections for some terminations that occurred. The court has indicated that they believe that regional directors are not policy makers and that regional managers are the kinds of people who should be in a more protected situation. Number 112 DUNCAN FOWLER pointed out that he has recommended that Section 3 of the bill be deleted because there is already a very good system in place to protect those employees who move from exempt service into the merit system. SENATOR PHILLIPS added that he has prepared an amendment which would delete that section. Number 135 SENATOR LEMAN asked if there have been similar turnovers in the 32-year history of the State of Alaska when new administrations have come in. DUNCAN FOWLER answered that he did not go back and do a study of the turnover of prior administrations. However, they did survey other election systems in other states and found that the other states do tend to have systems that protect the employees within those divisions so that they are not subject to political pressures. He added that his sense is that in working for the state for several years and watching these things, that with the current administration this is one of the larger turnovers of this division's personnel that he can recall. Number 160 JAMES POUND, Chief of Staff to the Lieutenant Governor, State of Alaska, said after reviewing SB 199, the Lieutenant Governor must oppose the legislation as it is presently written. There are two basic reasons for the Lieutenant Governor's opposition. First, the bill was drafted in part as a reaction to a Legislative Budget & Audit report in which Randy Welker indicates that employees of the elections division should be non-exempt. Mr. Pound directed attention to a transcript of a deposition from Jerry Reinwand, Chief of Staff to Former Governor Jay Hammond. The deposition is from the Crane v. Coghill civil suit and in it Mr. Reinwand explains in detail why employees in the Governor's Office and the Lieutenant Governor's Office, including the Division of Elections, were placed into and need to remain in an exempt status. The second reason for opposition to the bill is that the Lieutenant Governor's office is in the process of doing a complete management analysis of the Division of Elections. The report, once completed, will give a picture of what has been done in the division and where the division should go. Mr. Pound related that the Lieutenant Governor requests that the committee hold SB 199 in abeyance until their report is complete. Number 200 MIKE MCMULLIN, Division of Personnel & Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, Department of Administration, stated the department did not have a position on SB 199, but that he was available to respond to questions from the committee. Number 210 There being no further witnesses present to testify on SB 199, SENATOR LEMAN said the bill would be held over and that he did not expect that there would be another hearing on it until the next legislative session. Number 225 SENATOR LEMAN introduced CSHB 206(STA) am (ELECTIONS AND ELECTRIC COOP ELECTIONS) as the next order of business. REPRESENTATIVE ELDON MULDER, prime sponsor of HB 206, explained the legislation addresses a problem which they have been experiencing throughout the railbelt in recent years as it relates to electrical and telephone cooperative elections. In the past, many of the these elections were "run out of the pocket", but now that whole focus has changed. Because there are vested interests that lie within these boards, the elections now cost thousands and thousands of dollars. However, with those elections, no changes have been brought to bear in relation to election financing and restrictions, Currently there are no restrictions or reporting requirements by people who run for the boards. HB 206 will require the people running for the boards of electrical and telephone cooperatives to file APOC reports, and they will have the same restrictions that legislators face when they run for election. There is a limitation whereby it will only be placed on those cooperatives which serve over 10,000 customers. In essence, that means it would only apply to five electrical utilities and one telephone cooperative in the state. Representative Mulder also pointed out the bill provides that if an individual raises and spends less than $1,000, that individual does not have to file a report. Number 305 SENATOR LEMAN noted Brooke Miles of the Division of Elections was present to respond to questions. Number 342 SENATOR LEMAN moved that CSHB 206(STA) am be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 350 SENATOR LEMAN introduced SSHB 196 (STATE EMPLOYMENT VETERANS PREFERENCE) as the next order of business. GEORGE DOZIER, staff to Representative Pete Kott, said the legislation addresses veterans employment preference statutes in the State of Alaska. The current statutes permit a total of 10 points to be awarded to disabled veterans, 10 points to be awarded to former prisoners of war and five points to veterans in general. Pursuant to the existing statute, the points can only be used once to obtain a permanent position and may not be used for promotional purposes. HB 196 modifies the existing veterans preference statute by permitting veterans to utilize their points to obtain entry level permanent positions more than once. It retains the previous state policy of not allowing veterans to use their points for obtaining promotions within the classified service. Number 383 MIKE MCMULLEN, Division of Personnel & Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, Department of Administration, voiced the department's support for veteran hire. The bill would expand existing preference which currently is utilized by about five to six percent of state job applicants. He added the bill carries a zero fiscal note. Number 397 SENATOR TAYLOR moved and asked unanimous consent that SSHB 196 be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 400 SENATOR TAYLOR brought SB 199 (ELECTIONS EMPLOYEES IN CLASSIFIED SERVICE) back before the committee to give Randy Welker an opportunity to testify on the legislation. RANDY WELKER, Legislative Auditor, Legislative Audit Division, said both the audit done by the Legislative Audit Division and the investigation conducted by the Ombudsman point to the fact that part of the cause for the problems in the Division of Elections are the result of lower morale and personnel matters that they believe would best be solved by putting these positions in the classified service. To even have doubt cast on the appearance of impartiality in the Division of Elections warrants removing any doubt or any appearance of impairment from that division. SB 199 will accomplish that by placing all employees, other than the director, into classified service. All of the division employees will be on equal footing, they will all understand the rules and will know how things will happen. The audit review found that one of the biggest morale problems in the Division of Elections was not knowing or not understanding how people were promoted, how people were demoted or the reasons for it. Number 435 SENATOR LEMAN restated his question on why regional directors were not kept in the exempt category. RANDY WELKER answered that he thought it was a policy call that the legislature could make. He added that he didn't think there was any clear line drawn between the regional supervisors and the director. Number 456 SENATOR LEMAN said SB 199 would be held over in committee until the next legislative session. There being no further business to come before the committee, the meeting was adjourned at 9:42 a.m.