Legislature(1997 - 1998)
05/05/1998 03:40 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE May 5, 1998 3:40 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Lyda Green, Chairman Senator Jerry Ward, Vice-Chairman Senator Jerry Mackie Senator Mike Miller Senator Jim Duncan MEMBERS ABSENT All members present COMMITTEE CALENDAR - CONFIRMATION HEARING: Mark C. Rowland, Alaska Public Offices Commission SENATE BILL NO. 183 "An Act relating to voter qualification, disqualification, and registration; to voter registration officials; to election notices; to mail elections; to certain voting procedures; to the transportation of ballots; and to the official election pamphlet and certain immunity from liability regarding claims arising from publication of the official election pamphlet." - MOVED CSSB 183(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 62(CRA) Relating to bringing Balto back to Alaska. - MOVED CSHJR 62(CRA) OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 324(L&C) am "An Act relating to deferral of certain municipal assessment payments." - MOVED CSHB 324(L&C) am OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 57 am Relating to an amendment to the Constitution of the United States prohibiting federal courts from ordering a state or a political subdivision of a state to increase or impose taxes. - MOVED SCS HJR 57(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 59 Relating to an amendment to the Constitution of the United States prohibiting desecration of the Flag of the United States. - MOVED HJR 59 OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 353(HES) am "An Act relating to adoption by reference in regulations; and providing for an effective date." - MOVED CSHB 353(HES) am CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 408(FIN) "An Act establishing the Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety Commission." - MOVED CSHB 408(FIN) OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 464(STA) "An Act authorizing state veterans' home facilities to provide nursing home care with related medical services." - MOVED CSHB 464(STA) CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 264(FIN) "An Act relating to negotiated regulation making; and providing for an effective date." - ADOPTED AND MOVED SCS CSHB 264(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 183 - See State Affairs minutes dated 2/17/98. HJR 62 - No previous action to record. HB 324 - No previous action to record. HJR 57 - No previous action to record. HJR 59 - No previous action to record. HB 353 - See HESS minutes dated 4/22/98, 4/24/98 & 4/27/98. HB 408 - No previous action to record. HB 464 - No previous action to record. HB 264 - See State Affairs minutes dated 4/16/98. WITNESS REGISTER Mark C. Rowland Anchorage, AK Representative Scott Ogan State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Prime Sponsor of HJR 62 & HB 324 Jeff Logan, Staff to Representative Joe Green State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on HJR 57 James Hornaday, Staff to Representative Pete Kott State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on HJR 59 Bruce Campbell, Staff to Representative Pete Kelly State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on HB 353 Representative John Davies State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Prime Sponsor of HB 408 Representative Jeannette James State Capitol Juneau, AK 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Prime Sponsor of HB 464 & HB 264 Gerald Dorsher Veterans of Foreign Wars P.O. Box 240003 Douglas, AK 99824 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 464 Jim Kohn, Director Division of Alaska Longevity Programs Department of Administration P.O. Box 110211 Juneau, AK 99811-0211 POSITION STATEMENT: Department supports HB 464 Charles McLeod, Jr., Special Assistant Office of Veterans Affairs Department of Military & Veterans Affairs P.O. Box 5800 Ft. Richardson, AK 99505-0800 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 464 Douglas Mertz, Representing Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council 319 Seward St. Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Outlined concerns with HB 264 Pam LaBolle, President Alaska State Chamber of Commerce 217 2nd St., Suite 201 Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Supports SCS CSHB 264(STA) Deborah Behr, Assistant Attorney General Legislation & Regulations Section Department of Law P.O. Box 110300 Juneau, AK 99811-0300 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered information on SCS CSHB 264(STA) ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 98-19, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN GREEN called the Senate State Affairs Committee to order at 3:40 p.m., and noted the presence of Senators Ward, Miller, Duncan, Mackie and Green. SB 183 - VOTING & ELECTIONS CHAIRMAN GREEN brought SB 183 before the committee as the first order of business. She noted that concerns were expressed at a previous hearing on the legislation, and after checking with individuals who were in the business of doing elections around the state, a committee substitute was drafted which includes their suggested amendments. She then requested a motion to adopt the proposed State Affairs CS. SENATOR MILLER moved the adoption of CSSB 183(STA), version "E," and hearing no objection, it was so ordered. SENATOR MILLER moved CSSB 183(STA) and the accompanying fiscal note be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 030 CHAIRMAN GREEN stated the next order of business would be a confirmation hearing on the governor's appointee to the Alaska Public Offices Commission, Mark C. Rowland. MARK ROWLAND, addressing the committee via teleconference from Anchorage, briefly reviewed his work history as an attorney after coming to the state of Alaska in 1965. He has worked as an assistant attorney general, an assistant district attorney, as well as having served on the Superior Court bench for 19 years, three years of which he spent as a presiding judge. He said he knows something about the Public Offices Commission because he was subject to its jurisdiction for a number of years. Number 065 There being no questions or comments from committee members, CHAIRMAN GREEN thanked Mr. Rowland for addressing the committee. SENATOR MILLER moved that the name of Mark C. Rowland be forwarded to a joint session for consideration, and that this does not reflect an intent by any committee member to vote for or against the nominee. Hearing no objection, the motion carried. Number 090 CSHJR 62(C&RA) - BRING BALTO BACK TO ALASKA CHAIRMAN GREEN brought HJR 62 before the committee as the next order of business. REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN, prime sponsor of the resolution, explained Balto was the lead dog on the original serum run to Nome. Balto died in 1933 and was preserved by a taxidermist and then donated to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. He said third grade students in his district have launched a movement to bring Balto back to the state where he rightly belongs, and the resolution requests that Balto be returned from the museum to the state of Alaska. There being no further testimony on HJR 62, CHAIRMAN GREEN requested a motion on the legislation. SENATOR MILLER moved HJR 62 be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. CSHB 324(L&C) am - MUNICIPAL LIEN FOR UTILITY IMPROVEMENTS CHAIRMAN GREEN brought CSHB 324(L&C) am before the committee as the next order of business. REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN, prime sponsor of HB 324, said his area has a number of local improvement districts (LIDs), and there are property owners who are on very fixed incomes and cannot afford these LID assessments. HB 324 will allow boroughs, by ordinance, to defer payment of an LID by an economically disadvantaged resident. However, the legislation does not require local governments to provide this relief. There being no further testimony on HB 324, CHAIRMAN GREEN requested a motion on the legislation. SENATOR MILLER moved CSHB 324(L&C) be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. HJR 57 - AMEND US CONSTIT. TO LIMIT FED. COURTS CHAIRMAN GREEN brought HJR 57 before the committee as the next order of business. JEFF LOGAN, staff to Representative Joe Green who is prime sponsor of HJR 57, said the resolution requests Congress to exercise the power granted to them under article V of the U.S. Constitution to prepare and present to the legislatures of all 50 states an amendment that would prohibit federal courts from ordering a state or political subdivision to increase or impose taxes. A similar resolution was approved by the 19th Alaska Legislature. Mr. Logan related that the resolution is partly in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision in Missouri v. Jenkins, which upheld the right of a Federal District Court to order a property tax increase in Kansas City, Missouri. Last year in Rockford, Illinois, a U.S. District Court magistrate ordered property tax assessments increased by 12 percent. He said Representative Green believes that this is far beyond the bounds of what the framers of the U.S. Constitution intended. Mr. Logan pointed out that so far 12 states have adopted this amendment and there are a number of other states considering it. Mr. Logan directed attention to a proposed amendment for the committee's consideration; however, because the committee had lost its quorum, the Chairman stated HJR 57 would be held until later in the meeting. Number 170 HJR 59 - DESECRATION OF U.S. FLAG CHAIRMAN GREEN introduced HJR 59 as the next order of business. JAMES HORNADAY, staff to Representative Pete Kott who is the prime sponsor of HJR 59, explained the resolution urges Congress to present a constitutional amendment to the states that would authorize Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the American flag. He said the flag has long been enshrined as the symbol of what is right with America and is a most worthy emblem of our nation. However, the law, as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court, no longer accords to the Stars and Stripes that reverence, respect and dignity befitting the banner of our noble experiment of a nation state, which Lincoln called the last best hope of mankind. In closing, Mr. Hornaday said Representative Kott urges support for the resolution, realizing that there are very strong emotional feelings on the issue. There being no questions or further testimony on HJR 59, CHAIRMAN GREEN requested a motion to move the legislation out of committee. SENATOR MILLER moved HJR 59 be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 275 CSHB 353(HES) am - ADOPTION BY REFERENCE IN REGULATIONS CHAIRMAN GREEN introduced CSHB 353(HES) am as the next order of business. BRUCE CAMPBELL, staff to Representative Pete Kelly who is the prime sponsor of HB 353, explained the legislation allows the Department of Health and Social Services to adopt within its regulations standards set out in federal or state law or regulation, or the specific national standards, without adopting a new regulation every time that these standards are changed. Currently, any time manuals are changed the state agency must adopt a new regulation adopting the citation change, and as the regulation adoption process is so lengthy, it is impossible for a state agency to remain current with standards adopted by reference. Mr. Campbell noted that this legislation applies only to the Department of Health and Social Services. There being no further testimony on HB 353, CHAIRMAN GREEN asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR MILLER moved CSHB 353(HES) and the accompanying zero fiscal note be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 325 CSHB 408(FIN) - SEISMIC HAZARDS SAFETY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN GREEN brought HB 408 before the committee as the next order of business. REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DAVIES, prime sponsor of HB 408, explained the bill creates a seismic safety commission in the Governor's Office and it would be an umbrella commission to coordinate the activities of existing state agencies. He noted Alaska has some of the largest earthquakes in the world, and yet it is one of the few states in the western United States that does not have a seismic safety commission. Representative Davies said the commission is patterned after some of the language that was developed in California. The purpose of the commission is to mitigate possible effects by earthquakes by making sure people adhere to buildings codes and encouraging appropriate land use. Number 385 CHAIRMAN GREEN inquired if this commission would be a coordinating agency with the Division of Emergency Services within the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES explained that the planning effort that goes on in the Division of Emergency Services is for earthquake response to the damage that occurs whereas this group would try to prevent damage from occurring in the first place, so it is prevention versus response. CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if this commission would be only a recommending group, and REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES acknowledged that was correct. He added that it is meant to be a catalyst to bring people together who are working on similar things and to focus efforts. There being no further testimony on CSHB 408(FIN), CHAIRMAN GREEN asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR MILLER moved CSHB 408(FIN) be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 400 CSHB 464(STA) - NURSING CARE AT STATE VETERANS' HOME CHAIRMAN GREEN introduced CSHB 464(STA) as the next order of business. REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES, prime sponsor of HB 464, explained the legislation provides only one change in the current law which will add in nursing home care with related medical services as an option for state veterans' home facilities. Currently, the only federal money that is available for any veterans' home would require that they include nursing home care with related medical services. Representative James pointed out that there is no fiscal note with the legislation because all it does is authorize a feasibility study to see whether or not it is a good idea to try to put in a nursing home care with related medical facilities for a veterans' home in Alaska. Veterans' organizations have been working to raise funds to do that study, and if it was determined that such a facility would be a good idea, they could then come back to the Legislature and request funding to construct a facility. Sixty- five percent of the cost of building such a home would be funded by the Federal Government. GERALD DORSHER, representing the Veterans of Foreign Wars and testifying in support of HB 464, said a nursing home facility for veterans is truly needed in Alaska. He related that because of the lack of facilities in this state, the local veterans' organization recently paid transportation costs for a long-time resident of Juneau who had been accepted into a Washington state veterans' home. Mr. Dorsher pointed out that there are 42 states that currently have veterans' homes and that number will increase to 47 states in the next two years. CHAIRMAN GREEN noted that there is a great deal of interest in the Mat-Su area for a veterans' home. JIM KOHN, Director, Division of Alaska Longevity Programs, said the reason the Department of Administration is in favor of the legislation is because they believe it gives a full range of choices to look at from domiciliary care through skilled nursing care, although he cautioned that the result of the study may not be the building of a veterans' home in the state. He stated the department fully supports the legislation. CHARLES MCLEOD, JR., Special Assistant, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, testifying in support of HB 464, said it would allow the state to take advantage of funding from the federal Department of Veterans' Affairs. He said money has been set aside for the study and they will proceed with the study as soon as they receive the funds. He urged passage of the bill out of committee. There being no further testimony on HB 464, CHAIRMAN GREEN stated she would accept a motion to move the bill out of committee. Number 480 SENATOR MACKIE moved CSHB 464(STA) and the accompanying zero fiscal note be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. CSHB 264(FIN) - NEGOTIATED REGULATION MAKING CHAIRMAN GREEN brought CSHB 264(STA) before the committee. Number 485 REPRESENTATIVE JEANNETTE JAMES, prime sponsor of HB 264, read the following sponsor statement into the record: "House Bill 264 enables and encourages negotiated regulation/rule making. Currently negotiated regulation making is in use by the Federal Government, Montana and Nebraska and several other states. "The citizens of Alaska are clamoring for the Legislature to do something about the regulation process; negotiated regulation making addresses the issue on point. "Negotiated regulation making is used only in cases involving very complex or controversial regulations. "Negotiated regulation is a voluntary process for drafting regulations that brings together those parties who would be significantly impacted by a regulation (rule), including the Government, to reach consensus on some or all of its aspects before the rule is formally published as a proposal. An impartial mediator is used to facilitate intensive discussions among the participants, who operate as a committee open to the public. "Regulations drafted using this process tend to be more technically accurate, clear and specific, and less likely to be challenged in litigation than are rules drafted by the agency alone without input from outside parties. The Administrative Procedures Act notices process is unchanged. "The negotiated regulation making process costs more money at the front end than the traditional approach (e.g. the added cost for a facilitator). In addition, agency personnel must work closely as a team with outside party representatives and their time must be dedicated to the project if it is to succeed. The advantages clearly outweigh these considerations, however. Because representatives of all the interested parties draft the regulation, the formal process of public notice and comments is generally very smooth and very few comments and concerns are raised in that process. More importantly, lengthy regulation litigation is hopefully generally eliminated and compliance with the rule is believed to be much higher. Thus, agency long-term costs of litigating rules and enforcing standards are sharply reduced. "There is no fiscal impact for this piece of legislation and the reason for that is that it is purely voluntary. It is assumed the agencies will choose this form whenever it appears that it is going to be beneficial to them." REPRESENTATIVE JAMES noted there was a draft State Affairs SCS for the committee's consideration which addresses concerns expressed by the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce. Number 520 SENATOR MACKIE moved the adoption of SCS CSHB 264(STA), version "R." Hearing no objection, the motion carried. Number 547 CHAIRMAN GREEN commented that she thinks the aim of the legislation is good, but she is concerned that if the selection of the membership is done by the agency head and then they are given the information from the agency head it could be biased even though there are volunteers sitting in on it. She is also concerned that this will present a delay rather than efficiency or timeliness in the process. TAPE 98-20, SIDE B Number 585 DOUGLAS MERTZ, representing the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council, said the original legislation would have allowed a commissioner or agency head to create a totally biased committee, one which was front loaded to that commissioner's own special interest so that the entire regulation writing process could be biased throughout its length. He added that the current version of the bill is much better than the original version, but the council still has concerns with the legislation. This version still allows the members of the regulation writing committee to refuse to hear testimony or refuse to consider written material from other public interests who are not on the committee. It gives them immunity from the Executive Branch Ethics Act and it makes the appointment and creation of this immune from judicial review. Mr. Mertz said if the committee passes out this legislation, the council urges to do it without any backsliding toward the original version, and to do it with a clearly stated intent that the new process is to be used without any kind of biasing on the front end or favoring of a particular interest by a commissioner. Number 559 CHAIRMAN GREEN commented that she shares some of Mr. Mertz's concerns, but she wasn't sure that this legislation was making the process any worse. MR. MERTZ said the only ways in which this a step backwards to what exists now is that the appointment of this committee is immune from judicial review and that the state employees who are part of it would be exempt from the Executive Branch Ethics Act. Number 535 SENATOR MACKIE inquired if the Administration supports the legislation. DEBORAH BEHR, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law, said throughout the legislative process she has worked closely with the sponsor and the staff, and this draft is totally workable for the Administration. She emphasized that it is a voluntary process to be used in appropriate cases. Number 525 PAM LABOLLE, President, Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, stated their concerns that this be decided at the commissioner level, that a time limit be established, the grants and gifts language be deleted, as well as continuity of membership on the committee have all been addressed in the State Affairs SCS. There being no further testimony on HB 264, CHAIRMAN GREEN stated she would entertain a motion to move the legislation out of committee. Number 515 SENATOR MACKIE moved SCS CSHB 264(STA) and the accompanying zero fiscal note be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. Number 500 HJR 57 am - AMEND US CONSTIT. TO LIMIT FED. COURTS CHAIRMAN GREEN brought HJR 57 am back before the committee and requested a motion to adopt the proposed amendment and to move the resolution out of committee. SENATOR WARD moved adoption of the following amendment to HJR 57 am: Amendment No. 1 Page 2, line 5: After "that" insert "this amendment constitutes a continuing application in accordance with article V of the Constitution of the United States, and that" Hearing no objection, the amendment was adopted to be incorporated into a State Affairs SCS. SENATOR WARD moved SCS HJR 57(STA) be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. There being no further business to come before the committee, the meeting adjourned at 4:36 p.m.