Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/27/1995 04:10 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
               SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                                
                         April 27, 1995                                        
                           4:10 p.m.                                           
                                                                               
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
 Senator Bert Sharp, Chairman                                                  
 Senator Randy Phillips, Vice-Chairman                                         
 Senator Loren Leman                                                           
 Senator Jim Duncan                                                            
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
 Senator Dave Donley                                                           
 [Due to a coinciding Finance Committee meeting, Senator Donley was            
 not present.]                                                                 
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
 SENATE BILL NO. 141                                                           
 "An Act relating to legislative ethics; and providing for an                  
 effective date."                                                              
                                                                               
 SENATE BILL NO. 118                                                           
 "An Act relating to credits against certain taxes for contributions           
 to certain public educational radio and television networks and               
 stations; and providing for an effective date."                               
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
                                                                               
 SB 141 - See State Affairs minutes dated 4/20/95.                             
                                                                               
 SB 118 - See State Affairs minutes dated 4/20/95.                             
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
 Margie MacNielle, Chairperson                                                 
 House Subcommittee                                                            
 Select Committee on Legislative Ethics                                        
 P.O. Box 101468, Anchorage, AK 99501-1468¶258-8172                            
   POSITION STATEMENT: supports SB 141                                         
                                                                               
 Susie Barnett, Professional Assistant                                         
 Select Committee on Legislative Ethics                                        
 P.O. Box 101468, Anchorage, AK 99501-1468¶258-8172                            
   POSITION STATEMENT: testified on SB 141                                     
                                                                               
 Brooke Miles, Juneau Branch Administrator                                     
 Alaska Public Offices Commission                                              
 P.O. Box 110222, Juneau, AK 99811-0222¶465-4864                               
   POSITION STATEMENT: testified on SB 141                                     
                                                                               
 Senator John Torgerson                                                        
 State Capitol, Juneau, Alaska, 99801-1182¶465-2828                            
   POSITION STATEMENT: prime sponsor of SB 118                                 
                                                                               
 Bob Bartholomew, Deputy Director                                              
 Income & Excise Audit Division                                                
 Department of Revenue                                                         
 P.O. Box 110420, Juneau, AK 99811-0420¶465-4773                               
   POSITION STATEMENT: testified on SB 118                                     
                                                                               
 Diane S. Kaplan                                                               
 KOAHNIC Broadcasting Corporation                                              
 P.O. Box 100108, Anchorage, AK 99510¶272-7997                                 
   POSITION STATEMENT: supports SB 118                                         
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 SSTA - 4/27/95                                                                
                                                                               
 TAPE 95-21, SIDE A                                                            
                                                                               
 Number 001                                                                    
                                                                               
                  SB 141 LEGISLATIVE ETHICS                                  
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP calls the Senate State Affairs Committee to order at           
 4:10 p.m. and brings up SB 141 as the first order of business                 
 before the committee.  The chairman calls the first witness.                  
                                                                               
 Number 020                                                                    
                                                                               
 MARGIE MACNIELLE, Chairperson of the House Subcommittee, Select               
 Committee on Legislative Ethics, testifying from Anchorage, informs           
 the committee that most changes made by SB 141 to the Legislative             
 Ethics law are simply technical changes.  The full Ethics Committee           
 has reviewed the draft changes, and has voted unanimously to                  
 forward the draft to the legislature for legislative consideration.           
                                                                               
 MS. MACNIELLE lists the substantive changes:                                  
   1) Increasing the gift threshold from $100 to $250;                         
   2) Permitting the Ethics Committee to impose fines of $2 a day,             
     for a maximum $25 for late disclosures;                                   
   3) Listing possible sanctions for violations of the ethics code;            
   4) Changing the contract and lease section to allow those                   
  covered by the ethics code to participate in contracts for                   
  less than $5,000, with an added disclosure of participation.                 
                                                                               
 MS. MACNIELLE lists the minor changes:                                        
   1) In Section 13, add "spousal equivalent", and replace the word            
  "clientele" with "employer", to avoid requiring reporting                    
  every individual member of an association or trade group that                
  employs a lobbyist;                                                          
   2) In Section 16, (c)(4) was added to the reference;                        
   3) In Section 30, change the word "to" to "of."                             
                                                                               
 Number 080                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. MACNIELLE asks for support of SB 141 on behalf of the Select              
 Committee on Legislative Ethics.                                              
                                                                               
 Number 105                                                                    
                                                                               
 SUSIE BARNETT, Professional Assistant, Select Committee on                    
 Legislative Ethics, states she does not have specific comments, but           
 is available to answer questions.                                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN refers to Section 37.  Senator Leman would like to              
 see the term "substantial interest" clarified to reflect                      
 legislative intent at the time the Legislative Ethics Law was                 
 passed.  The current interpretation of "substantial interest" means           
 that legislators who earn money from businesses that pay more than            
 $5,000 in taxes to the State of Alaska, but who do not hire a                 
 lobbyist, aren't involved in the legislative process, and do not              
 have any more interest in state government than would any citizen,            
 are required to report those sources and the amount of income                 
 earned from those sources.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 152                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. MACNIELLE responds that Section 37 deals with APOC, so the                
 Legislative Ethics Committee does not really have a position or an            
 interest in that section.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 215                                                                    
                                                                               
 BROOKE MILES, Juneau Branch Administrator for the Alaska Public               
 Offices Commission, responds that the status of the proposed                  
 adopted regulations is 2.5 years down the line; they still have not           
 been finalized through the Department of Law.  The regulations are            
 currently undergoing significant changes to the earliest drafts,              
 and Ms. Miles states she is not completely up-to-date on the                  
 definition of "substantial interest."  Ms. Miles states she will              
 get an answer from the Anchorage office of APOC for Senator Leman.            
 If the statute contained a definition for "substantial interest",             
 that would also solve the problem.                                            
                                                                               
 Number 245                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN suggests that the committee consider defining                   
 "substantial interest", while it is working on SB 141.  Senator               
 Leman asks if, since the regulations are not signed and are not               
 final, legislators are required to follow the booklet put out by              
 the APOC for filing disclosures.                                              
                                                                               
 Number 258                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. MILES  replies that the only thing that can be used as guidance           
 by APOC in preparing the manual and the form are the proposed                 
 regulations.  However, it is Ms. Miles understanding that proposed            
 regulations do not have the force of law.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 265                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asks Senator Leman to work on a definition for                 
 "substantial interest."                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 288                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asks Ms. Miles what percentage of requests             
 for financial disclosure reports are public requests.                         
                                                                               
 Number 297                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. MILES estimates that 15% of the requests are public requests.             
                                                                               
 Number 318                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN states he does not like the term "spousal                       
 equivalent."  He knows that term is already in statute, but he                
 thinks it destroys the sanctity of marriage.  Senator Leman thinks            
 that to equate spousal equivalent to marriage and put it in the               
 force of law is inappropriate.                                                
                                                                               
 Number 333                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS informs the committee he will be offering an           
 amendment that will disallow spouses and spousal equivalents of               
 legislators from being lobbyists.                                             
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asks Senator Phillips if he has an opinion from                
 Legislative Legal Services regarding the legality of that                     
 amendment.                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS responds he has received a verbal opinion              
 from Legal Services that the prohibition for money is legal, but              
 prohibition for nonprofit might interfere with freedom of speech.             
                                                                               
 Number 355                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP would like to address Section 36.  He thinks some of           
 the recommended sanctions might disenfranchise voters.  Chairman              
 Sharp announces that SB 141 will be set aside.                                
 SSTA - 4/27/95                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 368                                                                    
                                                                               
       SB 118 TAX CREDIT: GIFTS TO PUBLIC BROADCASTING                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR SHARP brings up SB 118 as the next order of business before           
 the Senate State Affairs Committee and calls the first witness.               
                                                                               
 Number 373                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR TORGERSON, prime sponsor of SB 118, informs the committee             
 that SB 118 is an attempt to plug some of the gaps in funding for             
 public broadcasting that were created by budget cuts.  The original           
 intent of the bill was to allow up to a $100,000 tax credit.  It is           
 his intent to create a true public-private partnership in the face            
 of declining revenue.  Senator Torgerson understands there might be           
 a motion to adopt the house version of this legislation, which is             
 quite different from SB 118.                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 390                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN states he has not seen a proposed committee                     
 substitute.                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP does not have one either.                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN comments that SB 118 seems to be reasonably                     
 consistent with existing tax credits.  But if it [the house                   
 version?] is substantially different, he would want to give it                
 careful scrutiny.                                                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR TORGERSON states it [the house version?] will increase the            
 amount available for a tax credit to $350,000, and includes other             
 categories.  It also has a sunset at five years.                              
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asks if it [the house version?] keeps the credit at             
 50% of the amount given.                                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR TORGERSON replies he would have to defer to his staff on              
 that question.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 427                                                                    
                                                                               
 BOB BARTHOLOMEW, Deputy Director of the Income & Excise Audit                 
 Division, Department of Revenue, informs the committee that there             
 is currently in statute a provision for taking a tax credit for               
 contributions to postsecondary educational institutions.  This bill           
 would expand that credit to cover public broadcasting                         
 contributions.  The estimated fiscal impact of SB 118 is about                
 $845,000.  This figure is included in the department's fiscal note.           
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asks what amount was taken for education credits               
 last year.                                                                    
 MR. BARTHOLOMEW responds that $944,000 in education tax credits               
 were taken last year.                                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asks Ms. Kaplan to convey her concerns to              
 the committee.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 460                                                                    
                                                                               
 DIANE KAPLAN, KOAHNIC Broadcasting Corporation, states the purpose            
 of SB 118 is to encourage increased private contributions from                
 corporations in Alaska.  The goal is to begin an endowment fund to            
 begin to replace some of the state funding that has been lost over            
 the last ten years, and to preserve essential services throughout             
 the state.  The house version of the bill that was adopted                    
 originally had a $500,000 cap, with no sunset date.  The committee            
 substitute that was reported from the House Finance Committee                 
 places a $350,000 maximum on tax credits, with a five-year sunset             
 provision.  It also includes the fish-landing tax as one of the               
 eligible taxes.  We consider this to be the most important piece of           
 legislation for public broadcasting this year: in addition to                 
 encouraging new private contributions, it also increases the                  
 ability of corporations to donate to higher education.  Ms. Kaplan            
 hopes that the Senate State Affairs Committee will adopt a senate             
 committee substitute that matches the house version of the bill.              
 She thinks it is important that public broadcasting and higher                
 education not be put in competition for the same level of                     
 contributions.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 483                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asks, why not allow for donations to primary and                
 secondary education, in addition to donations for postsecondary               
 education?                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 499                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS comments he would like to keep the bill                
 moving, and asks if a committee substitute can be presented when              
 the bill is in the Finance Committee.                                         
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP adds that he would be more comfortable moving the              
 original bill, than something he hasn't seen.                                 
                                                                               
 Number 510                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN states he is not on the Finance Committee, and he               
 thinks the committee should consider expanding SB 118 to include              
 contributions towards primary and secondary education.                        
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP notes that any diversion from the general fund is a            
 dilution of funds available for appropriation.                                
                                                                               
 Number 545                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN states he intends to offer an amendment to include K-           
 12 education in the state.                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asks if that would be constitutional,                  
 especially if the money was contributed to a private, religious               
 school.                                                                       
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN responds that it's not unconstitutional to make tax-            
 deductible contributions to a church.                                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR TORGERSON adds that Senator Leman's suggestion would also             
 require a title change.                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 563                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP states he would just as soon hold the bill over to             
 work on those suggestions, if it is the desire of the committee to            
 make such substantial changes to the bill.                                    
                                                                               
 Number 567                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. KAPLAN expresses concern that if too many items, or even any              
 other beneficiaries are added to SB 118, it would so dilute the               
 amount of money that would go to any one entity, that it would not            
 make a meaningful difference.  She also thinks adding on other                
 items would make it harder to pass the bill.                                  
                                                                               
 Number 580                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN expresses disagreement with Ms. Kaplan's previous               
 statement.                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP states the committee will hear SB 118 again, as soon           
 as the committee substitute for the bill is prepared.                         
                                                                               
 Number 590                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP adjourns the Senate State Affairs Committee meeting            
 at 4:55 p.m.                                                                  
                                                                               

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