Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/05/2001 03:35 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                     ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                   
                  SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                                                                              
                           April 5, 2001                                                                                        
                             3:35 p.m.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                              
Senator Gene Therriault, Chair                                                                                                  
Senator Randy Phillips, Vice Chair                                                                                              
Senator Rick Halford                                                                                                            
Senator Drue Pearce                                                                                                             
Senator Bettye Davis                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All Members Present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                              
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CS FOR HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 22(RLS)                                                                                       
Relating  to  a diverse  community;  condemning  a  recent  racially                                                            
motivated  attack;  and requesting  the  Municipality  of  Anchorage                                                            
police department  to continue  their conclusive  investigation  and                                                            
requesting  the criminal  justice  system  to take  rapid action  to                                                            
reach the determination of this case.                                                                                           
          MOVED SCS CSHJR 22(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 34                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to the monthly salary for heads of principal                                                                   
executive departments; and providing for an effective date."                                                                    
          HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                              
HJR 22 - No previous action recorded.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SB 34 - No previous action recorded.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative Brian Porter                                                                                                     
Alaska State Capitol, Room 208                                                                                                  
Juneau, AK  99801-1182                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HJR 22                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Mike Abbott, Legislative Director                                                                                               
P.O. Box 110001                                                                                                                 
Juneau, AK 99811-0011                                                                                                           
Introduced SB 34                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 01-18, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 001                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN GENE  THERRIAULT called the Senate State  Affairs Committee                                                          
meeting  to order  at  3:35  p.m. Present  were  Senators  Phillips,                                                            
Pearce and Chairman Therriault.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
The first order of business was HJR 22.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
           HJR 22-DIVERSE COMMUNITY/CONDEMN HATE CRIMES                                                                     
                                                                                                                              
Representative  Brian Porter, bill  sponsor, said it is unfortunate                                                             
that it is necessary to  write and pass this type of legislation but                                                            
in light of the  [paintball] incident in Anchorage  the necessity is                                                            
apparent  and  it is  appropriate  for  the legislature   to make  a                                                            
statement of this type.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Most legislators have had  the opportunity to review the tape of the                                                            
unfortunate  incident and  the actions  of the  three teenagers  are                                                            
reprehensible  at best.  "Having been  involved  in law enforcement                                                             
some time  myself,  there are periodically  offenses  that make  you                                                            
wonder if the  prohibition against  some forms of cruel and  unusual                                                            
punishment  are perhaps in need of  amendment. Obviously,  we should                                                            
not  respond  in kind  so  the  firm  statement  that that  kind  of                                                            
activity  is  reprehensible,  not  acceptable  and  we  should  look                                                            
further  in  trying  to  eliminate  this  type  of  behavior  is  an                                                            
appropriate statement by the legislature."                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
He has  reviewed  the committee  substitute  (CS)  developed by  the                                                            
committee and has no problem with the substitute.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked  for a motion to adopt the S version dated                                                            
4/4/01.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS  moved adoption  of S version  dated 4/4/01  as the                                                            
working document. There was no objection.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT said  that, as chairman, he was asked to look at                                                            
the title  and reduce  the resolution  to include  the major  points                                                            
from the title. They came up with three resolves.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
   1. Condemnation of the recent action in Anchorage.                                                                           
   2. Asking the municipal government to follow through with a                                                                  
     thorough investigation.                                                                                                    
   3. Asking the United States Commission on Civil Rights to conduct                                                            
     a full investigation.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
He looked  at the resolution  Senator Lincoln  introduced and  spoke                                                            
with Senator  Davis and asked for  the condemnation of the  acts and                                                            
for  the U.S.  Commission  on Civil  Rights  to conduct  its  formal                                                            
investigation.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
There were  no questions about the  CS, no additional testimony  and                                                            
no additional amendments offered.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
He asked for the will of the committee.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DAVIS moved  SCS CSHJR 22(STA)  and zero  fiscal note  from                                                            
committee with  individual recommendations. There  was no objection.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                  SB  34-COMMISSIONERS' SALARIES                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  informed committee members that  the bill would                                                            
be heard but there would be no final action taken that day.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MIKE ABBOTT,  legislative  director in the  Office of the  Governor,                                                            
was particularly  appreciative of  the hearing in light of  the fact                                                            
that legislation  putting in place  pay raises for public  officials                                                            
is not easy legislation.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Pay ranges  for cabinet officers  are set  in statute with  no merit                                                            
increase  opportunities.   SB 34  would  change  that  and  make  it                                                            
possible for the  governor to set a range of $86,800  to $96,200 for                                                            
cabinet  level salaries.  Functionally, this  would provide  a range                                                            
from 28, step E to range  30, step F. The specific salary within the                                                            
range would be set at the discretion of the governor.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator Halford joined the meeting.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. ABBOTT  said this is  the second legislature  in which  Governor                                                            
Knowles has introduced  this legislation. The justification  is that                                                            
the salaries  were set in  the current range  and step more  than 20                                                            
years  ago, in 1980.  Although  compensation for  the positions  has                                                            
gone up  as a result of  collective bargaining,  it has not  kept up                                                            
with  inflation.  If  the  1980  salaries   had  been  adjusted  for                                                            
inflation, they would be  approximately $46,000 higher now than they                                                            
were then.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
There are many  state employees who make more than  their department                                                            
heads.  Last year,  more than 90  Department  of Transportation  and                                                            
Public  Facilities   (DOTPF)  employees   earned  more  than   their                                                            
commissioner.  In the Department of Law there are  50 employees with                                                            
a  higher  step  and   range  than  the  attorney  general.   It  is                                                            
appropriate  for commissioners to  make more that those individuals                                                             
working for them.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Federal   salaries   for   positions   with   similar   duties   and                                                            
responsibilities  pay substantially  more. The salary for  the state                                                            
director of  the Bureau of Land Management  is between $110,000  and                                                            
$125,000  per  year  plus  25 percent  tax  exempt  cost  of  living                                                            
allowance (COLA); the administrator  for the federal highways office                                                            
makes somewhere between  $80,000 and $100,000 per year plus COLA and                                                            
the  director of  the National  Marine  Fisheries  Service makes  in                                                            
excess  of $100,000  per year  plus COLA.  There  is attrition  from                                                            
state ranks to  federal positions because state compensation  simply                                                            
is not competitive.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 786                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
He  called  attention   to  correspondence  from  former   attorneys                                                            
general, former  commissioners of  commerce and labor and  chiefs of                                                            
staff  from previous  administrations  all  lending  support to  the                                                            
proposed  increase.  Compensation   offered  to  some  of  the  most                                                            
important   individuals  in   state  government   is,  in   fact,  a                                                            
disincentive to serve or remain in service.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked  for a repeat of the salary ranges and Mr.                                                            
Abbott obliged.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
He asked  why the  range was  offered and  how it  would be  decided                                                            
which commissioners were  paid at the lower range and which would be                                                            
offered the top range.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. ABBOTT said the governor's  rationale in suggesting the range is                                                            
to  give  the  chief   executive  the  opportunity   to  respond  to                                                            
excellence  and seniority of service.  Currently, the status  quo is                                                            
$86,000.  The  governor's  intent  is  to  review  the  service  and                                                            
performance  of the  existing cabinet  and would  make compensation                                                             
decisions on that  basis. It would be this governor's  intent to use                                                            
$86,000  as the base  but another  governor might  have a  different                                                            
idea.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS  indicated a lack of sympathy for  the legislation.                                                            
He  said that  money  is part  of  it but  it  is a  public  service                                                            
position and those  individuals should be ready and  willing to give                                                            
to the state.                                                                                                                   
MR. ABBOTT didn't  disagree, but said it's a multifaceted  challenge                                                            
to encourage quality individuals  to relocate to Juneau and join the                                                            
cabinet. Clearly, public  service is the single greatest reason most                                                            
individuals  accept cabinet  positions.  Even at  the highest  level                                                            
requested, nearly  every one of the individuals is  taking a pay cut                                                            
from what  they could earn  in the private  sector. This bill  gives                                                            
the  governor  the  opportunity  to  reward  service  and  recognize                                                            
contributions  and  to provide  slightly  more competitive  pay  for                                                            
important state officials.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT said  he agrees with  the concept of  rewarding                                                            
excellence but he's unsure  that governors would offer commissioners                                                            
salaries  at   the  bottom  end  of   the  scale.  They   might  all                                                            
automatically start at the top.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. ABBOTT  said the legislation was  written in the context  of the                                                            
current  administration  but if  it's  the committee's  pleasure  to                                                            
amend the  bill to require  starting at the  lower end of the  scale                                                            
that would be generally  consistent with Governor Knowles' intent in                                                            
promoting this legislation.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  DAVIS  asked   whether  all  commissioners   serving  under                                                            
Governor  Knowles were  hired  at the same  level  or whether  their                                                            
salaries were dependent upon the department they would head.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ABBOTT  said they  were  all  paid the  same  as set  forth  in                                                            
statute.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DAVIS  asked whether there  is any other way to raise  those                                                            
salaries.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. ABBOTT read  from the statutes: "The monthly salary  of the head                                                            
of each  principle  executive  department of  the state  is step  E,                                                            
range 28."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR DAVIS  said she thought the salaries are low  and need to be                                                            
raised. She'd like to see  this legislation moved from committee, if                                                            
not today, at least soon.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT  said all  individuals  serving  now signed  on                                                            
knowing   about  the  statutory   language.   He  asked  about   the                                                            
administration's  position if  this became  effective with  the next                                                            
administration and not the current one.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. ABBOTT  said clearly there  is not a lot  of time left  for this                                                            
administration.  They proposed a retroactive  effective date  to the                                                            
beginning  of  the year  so,  if approved  and  funded,  the  salary                                                            
increase would be effective  January 1, 2001. Governor Knowles feels                                                            
strongly that  he would like to take  this opportunity to  recognize                                                            
and reward  individuals who  have served for  an extended period  of                                                            
time. It would  be a slap in the face  to those individuals  if they                                                            
were not given a raise while their successors were so rewarded.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
There  is  an amended  fiscal  note  that  although  not  large,  is                                                            
meaningful.  The  Governor   feels  very  strongly  that  it  is  an                                                            
opportunity that  should be available to the current  administration                                                            
as well as future ones.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  THERRIAULT said the  fiscal note  he has is dated  2/26/01                                                            
for $78,100.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. ABBOTT  said  that is  the correct  one; February  reflects  the                                                            
amended note.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT  asked for questions  or other testimony.  There                                                            
was none.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
He said the bill may come  up again under bills previously heard and                                                            
he will notify  Mr. Abbott if there is intent to do  so. If there is                                                            
a desire  to move  the bill  he would  talk about  changing  certain                                                            
language.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.                                                                                          

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