Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

02/20/2018 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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-- Public Testimony --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            SENATE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                       February 20, 2018                                                                                        
                           3:31 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Kevin Meyer, Chair                                                                                                      
Senator David Wilson                                                                                                            
Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                           
Senator John Coghill                                                                                                            
Senator Dennis Egan                                                                                                             
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 1                                                                                              
Proposing an amendment  to the Uniform Rules of  the Alaska State                                                               
Legislature  relating to  voting  procedure  and abstention  from                                                               
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 87(FSH)                                                                                 
"An Act relating to participation  in matters before the Board of                                                               
Fisheries and the Board of Game  by the members of the respective                                                               
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
CS FOR SS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 44(STA)                                                                                            
"An  Act  requiring  a  legislator  to  abstain  from  taking  or                                                               
withholding official  action or exerting official  influence that                                                               
could  benefit or  harm  an immediate  family  member or  certain                                                               
employers; and  requiring a legislator  to request to  be excused                                                               
from  voting in  an  instance  where the  legislator  may have  a                                                               
financial conflict of interest."                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SCR 1                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: UNIFORM RULES: ABSTAIN FROM VOTING                                                                                 
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) GARDNER                                                                                                  
02/01/17       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/01/17       (S)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
03/07/17       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/07/17       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/07/17       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/20/18       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: HB 87                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: CONFLICT OF INTEREST: BD FISHERIES/GAME                                                                            
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) STUTES                                                                                            
01/30/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/30/17       (H)       FSH, RES                                                                                               
02/09/17       (H)       FSH AT 10:00 AM GRUENBERG 120                                                                          
02/09/17       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/09/17       (H)       MINUTE(FSH)                                                                                            
02/14/17       (H)       FSH AT 10:00 AM GRUENBERG 120                                                                          
02/14/17       (H)       Moved CSHB 87(FSH) Out of Committee                                                                    
02/14/17       (H)       MINUTE(FSH)                                                                                            
02/15/17       (H)       FSH RPT CS(FSH) NT 2DP 1NR 3AM                                                                         
02/15/17       (H)       DP: TARR, STUTES                                                                                       
02/15/17       (H)       NR: FANSLER                                                                                            
02/15/17       (H)       AM: EASTMAN, KREISS-TOMKINS, CHENAULT                                                                  
03/13/17       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
03/13/17       (H)       Scheduled but Not Heard                                                                                
03/14/17       (H)       RES AT 3:00 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
03/14/17       (H)       -- Continued from 3/13/17 Meeting at                                                                   
                         1:00 PM --                                                                                             
03/15/17       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
03/15/17       (H)       <Bill Hearing Canceled>                                                                                
03/20/17       (H)       RES AT 7:00 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
03/20/17       (H)       Moved CSHB 87(FSH) Out of Committee                                                                    
03/20/17       (H)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
03/22/17       (H)       RES RPT CS(FSH) NT 3DP 5NR 1AM                                                                         
03/22/17       (H)       DP: WESTLAKE, TARR, JOSEPHSON                                                                          
03/22/17       (H)       NR:    DRUMMOND,   JOHNSON,    RAUSCHER,                                                               
                        TALERICO, BIRCH                                                                                         
03/22/17       (H)       AM: PARISH                                                                                             
03/22/17       (H)       RES AT 6:00 PM BARNES 124                                                                              
03/22/17       (H)       <Bill Hearing Canceled>                                                                                
03/27/17       (H)       TRANSMITTED TO (S)                                                                                     
03/27/17       (H)       VERSION: CSHB 87(FSH)                                                                                  
03/29/17       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/29/17       (S)       STA, RES                                                                                               
04/13/17       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/13/17       (S)       <Bill Hearing Canceled>                                                                                
02/20/18       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
BILL: HB 44                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: LEGISLATIVE ETHICS: VOTING & CONFLICTS                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): REPRESENTATIVE(s) GRENN                                                                                             
01/18/17       (H)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/13/17                                                                               
01/18/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/18/17       (H)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
01/23/17       (H)       SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE INTRODUCED                                                                          
01/23/17       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/23/17       (H)       JUD, FIN                                                                                               
01/25/17       (H)       STA REPLACES FIN REFERRAL                                                                              
01/25/17       (H)       BILL REPRINTED 1/25/17                                                                                 
01/25/17       (H)       JUD WAIVED PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE, RULE                                                                 
                         23(A) FOR SSHB 44                                                                                      
01/25/17       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
01/25/17       (H)       -- Meeting Postponed to 1/27/17 --                                                                     
01/27/17       (H)       JUD AT 1:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
01/27/17       (H)       -- Meeting Rescheduled from 1/25/17 --                                                                 
01/30/17       (H)       JUD AT 1:30 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
01/30/17       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
01/30/17       (H)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
02/03/17       (H)       JUD AT 1:30 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
02/03/17       (H)       Moved CSSSHB 44(JUD) Out of Committee                                                                  
02/03/17       (H)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
02/08/17       (H)       JUD RPT CS(JUD) 1DP 3DNP 3AM                                                                           
02/08/17       (H)       DP: LEDOUX                                                                                             
02/08/17       (H)       DNP: KOPP, EASTMAN, REINBOLD                                                                           
02/08/17       (H)       AM: KREISS-TOMKINS, FANSLER, CLAMAN                                                                    
02/18/17       (H)       STA AT 11:00 AM GRUENBERG 120                                                                          
02/18/17       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/18/17       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/21/17       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
02/21/17       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/21/17       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/21/17       (H)       STA AT 5:30 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
02/21/17       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/21/17       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/02/17       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/02/17       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/02/17       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/07/17       (H)       STA AT 5:30 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/07/17       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/07/17       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/28/17       (H)       STA AT 3:00 PM GRUENBERG 120                                                                           
03/28/17       (H)       Moved CS SSHB 44(STA) Out of Committee                                                                 
03/28/17       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
04/03/17       (H)       STA RPT CS(STA) NT 3DP 1DNP 3NR                                                                        
04/03/17       (H)       DP: LEDOUX, TUCK, KREISS-TOMKINS                                                                       
04/03/17       (H)       DNP: BIRCH                                                                                             
04/03/17       (H)       NR: JOHNSON, WOOL, KNOPP                                                                               
04/08/17       (H)       SUSTAINED RULING OF CHAIR Y23 N16 E1                                                                   
04/08/17       (H)       BEFORE HOUSE IN SECOND READING                                                                         
04/08/17       (H)       TRANSMITTED TO (S)                                                                                     
04/08/17       (H)       VERSION: CSSSHB 44(STA)                                                                                
04/10/17       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/10/17       (S)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
02/20/18       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
SENATOR BERTA GARDNER                                                                                                           
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SCR 1.                                                                                         
NATHANIEL GRABMAN, Staff                                                                                                        
Senator Gardner                                                                                                                 
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Provided an overview of SCR 1.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE LOUISE STUTES                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 87.                                                                                         
MATT GRUENING, Staff                                                                                                            
Representative Stutes                                                                                                           
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Provided an overview of HB 87.                                                                            
GLENN HAIGHT, Executive Director                                                                                                
Alaska Board of Fisheries                                                                                                       
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Addressed questions regarding HB 87.                                                                      
BRADLEY MEYEN, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                       
Civil Division                                                                                                                  
Natural Resources Section                                                                                                       
Alaska Department of Law                                                                                                        
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Addressed questions regarding HB 87.                                                                      
JERRY MCCUNE, President                                                                                                         
United Fishermen of Alaska                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 87.                                                                            
FRANCES LEACH, Executive Director                                                                                               
United Fishermen of Alaska                                                                                                      
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 87.                                                                            
JULIANNE CURRY, representing self                                                                                               
Petersburg, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 87.                                                                            
MALCOLM MILNE, President                                                                                                        
North Pacific Fisheries Association                                                                                             
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 87.                                                                            
MATT ALWARD, representing self                                                                                                  
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 87.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE JASON GRENN                                                                                                      
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 44.                                                                                         
RYAN JOHNSTON, Staff                                                                                                            
Representative Grenn                                                                                                            
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Addressed questions regarding HB 44.                                                                      
JERRY ANDERSON, Committee Administrator                                                                                         
Select Committee on Legislative Ethics                                                                                          
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Addressed questions regarding HB 44.                                                                      
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
3:31:19 PM                                                                                                                  
CHAIR  KEVIN  MEYER  called the  Senate  State  Affairs  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 3:31  p.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order  were Senators  Giessel, Wilson,  Coghill, Egan,  and Chair                                                               
            SCR 1-UNIFORM RULES: ABSTAIN FROM VOTING                                                                        
3:32:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MEYER announced  the  consideration  of Senate  Concurrent                                                               
Resolution 1 (SCR 1).                                                                                                           
3:32:47 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BERTA GARDNER, Alaska  State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska,                                                               
sponsor of SCR  1, noted that the committee  heard the resolution                                                               
last year.                                                                                                                      
3:33:19 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease.                                                                                                                        
3:33:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MEYER called  the committee  back to  order. He  confirmed                                                               
that SCR 1 was heard in committee on March 7, 2017.                                                                             
3:34:20 PM                                                                                                                    
NATHANIEL   GRABMAN,  Staff,   Senator   Gardner,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska, provided  an overview  of SCR  1 as                                                               
     SCR  1  is about  transparency.  As  you know,  when  a                                                                    
     legislator  declares a  conflict  of interest,  Uniform                                                                    
     Rule 34(b) requires unanimous consent  in order for the                                                                    
     requestor  to   be  excused   from  voting,   a  single                                                                    
     objection  is sufficient  to overrule  the conflict  of                                                                    
     interest statement.                                                                                                        
     According   to  the   National   Conference  of   State                                                                    
     Legislatures, Alaska  is the only state  which requires                                                                    
     unanimous consent  in order to  abstain from  voting in                                                                    
     those instances. Under Uniform  Rule 34(b) a legislator                                                                    
     may  not  abstain from  voting  unless  they declare  a                                                                    
     conflict of interest and the  entire body agrees; while                                                                    
     this  may  theoretically  occur,  Legislative  Research                                                                    
     could not  find a single instance  of unanimous consent                                                                    
     being  given with  respect to  a  conflict of  interest                                                                    
     This resolution  does not  change the  current process,                                                                    
     rather   it   increases   transparency   by   recording                                                                    
     information often  hidden from  the public;  while this                                                                    
     information may  be recorded on  occasion, this  is not                                                                    
     always the  case. This  resolution aims  to standardize                                                                    
     the  process  by  insuring  that  this  information  be                                                                    
     If  adopted, SCR  1 would  require the  following three                                                                    
     things to  be recorded  in the journal:  the legislator                                                                    
     declaring a conflict, the nature  of that conflict, and                                                                    
     the name  of any  legislators who  would object  to the                                                                    
     By  increasing  transparency   this  proposal  aims  to                                                                    
     accomplish  two  ends:  first,  to  better  inform  the                                                                    
     public; and second, to  protect legislators by avoiding                                                                    
     the appearance of impropriety when there is none.                                                                          
3:36:17 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL  remarked that legislators  must answer  why they                                                               
introduced legislation and what  brought the legislation forward.                                                               
She asked why SCR 1 was introduced.                                                                                             
SENATOR GARDNER explained that people  have said legislators vote                                                               
when they  have a conflict of  interest or they do  not declare a                                                               
conflict of interest.  She said she is not aware  of a legislator                                                               
ever voting when they had  a conflict of interest. She emphasized                                                               
that she  is not accusing  anybody but asserted  that legislators                                                               
worry about being  perceived as failing to  disclose that results                                                               
in people declaring  a "perceived" conflict of  interest to avoid                                                               
someone  saying,   "You  didn't   ever  declare  a   conflict  of                                                               
interest." SCR  1 puts  on the  record a  person that  declares a                                                               
conflict of interest as well as a person that objects.                                                                          
SENATOR GIESSEL asked  if she was implying  that legislators with                                                               
a conflict are still voting and specified as follows:                                                                           
     I'm  just  not quite  sure  what  we are  fixing  here,                                                                    
     whether  the person  stands up  or not  in our  laws in                                                                    
     this  state, which  is a  very small  population and  a                                                                    
     very  large piece  of geography,  all votes  count. The                                                                    
     statement   was   made   in   the   introduction   that                                                                    
     information was being concealed. I am still not quite                                                                      
     sure what the problem is.                                                                                                  
3:38:36 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER  replied that  she has  no intention  of implying                                                               
that people are voting when  they shouldn't vote and specified as                                                               
     What I'm  saying is  that all  of us  should understand                                                                    
     that  there  may very  well  be  a time  when  somebody                                                                    
     should not  vote on  an issue and  we can  conceive how                                                                    
     that  could  easily happen;  every  other  state has  a                                                                    
     variety of ways of dealing with that and we do not.                                                                        
She  said her  office  explored  ways to  address  a conflict  of                                                               
interest but conceded that there is  not a perfect way to address                                                               
the  issue. She  asserted  that if  she ever  had  a conflict  of                                                               
interest, nobody could  ever make her vote because  voting with a                                                               
conflict of interest  is unethical. She explained  that she would                                                               
"sit  there"  and  try  not to  be  confrontational  or  defiant;                                                               
however, she  said she would  not vote if  she had a  conflict of                                                               
interest and suspected that many people would feel the same way.                                                                
She reiterated  that she is  not aware  of anybody voting  with a                                                               
conflict  of  interest;  however,  she  noted  that  there  is  a                                                               
perception that legislators vote  anyway when they have conflicts                                                               
of  interest. She  emphasized  that  there should  be  a way  for                                                               
legislators to gracefully put on  the record when they should not                                                               
vote and  when somebody  does have a  conflict of  interest, they                                                               
should not  be able  to not  vote. She set  forth that  putting a                                                               
conflict of  interest on the record  and the ability not  to vote                                                               
is important for the state.                                                                                                     
She summarized  that SCR  1 simply  places someone's  conflict of                                                               
interest on  the record as  well as  places the next  person that                                                               
objects  on the  record  too.  She reiterated  that  there is  no                                                               
perfect way  to address the  conflict of interest  procedure. She                                                               
suggested  that   a  unanimous   agreement  between   the  Senate                                                               
president,  minority   leader  and   majority  leader   could  be                                                               
considered  for  a  person  not  having  to  vote;  however,  she                                                               
reiterated that she  would not vote if she believed  that she had                                                               
a conflict.                                                                                                                     
3:41:08 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER asked if her intent with  SCR 1 is to get somebody on                                                               
record who objected.                                                                                                            
SENATOR GARDNER answered correct.                                                                                               
CHAIR  MEYER  asked  if she  envisioned  identifying  who  should                                                               
SENATOR  GARDNER replied  that her  intention is  not to  say who                                                               
should object  but to  place whoever does  object on  the record.                                                               
She opined  that caucuses could independently  determine that the                                                               
majority leader or  the caucus leader will  object. She specified                                                               
that what she  wants is for somebody who does  have a conflict of                                                               
interest  to  announce  versus an  announcement  like  an  Alaska                                                               
Public Offices Commission (APOC)  disclosure where an unnecessary                                                               
disclosure is better  than failing to disclose, a  process in the                                                               
Legislature that leads to unnecessary disclosures.                                                                              
3:43:00 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  noted his previous experience  with objecting on                                                               
the Senate floor when a legislator  gets up to make a declaration                                                               
but  will not  ask  to be  excused from  voting.  He agreed  with                                                               
Senator Gardner  that he does  not recall hearing  a legislator's                                                               
conflict reach a level to be  excused from voting. He opined that                                                               
putting  the person  who objects  on  the record  might make  the                                                               
procedure  a political  tool rather  than a  beneficial tool.  He                                                               
remarked that  he does not mind  having a conflict on  the record                                                               
but opined that  placing an objection on the  record could become                                                               
more  of  a political  "lightening  rod"  rather than  an  actual                                                               
3:45:47 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER  agreed and  noted a situation  where she  saw an                                                               
individual make a conflict of  interest declaration and then walk                                                               
out of the room where no one called the individual back.                                                                        
SENATOR COGHILL concurred with Senator Gardner's recollection.                                                                  
SENATOR GARDNER  detailed that the  person was determined  not to                                                               
vote and  not a single person  said, "I object." She  opined that                                                               
leaving the room was a graceful  way not to vote. She pointed out                                                               
that  someone  from  a  district  is  elected  because  of  their                                                               
expertise in an  area. When the legislator's  expertise is deemed                                                               
a conflict related  to an issue and the person  is not allowed to                                                               
vote, it  could be a  thorny problem.  She opined that  sooner or                                                               
later somebody will  have a genuine conflict and  should not vote                                                               
on  an issue  and  there should  be  a way  that  not voting  can                                                               
3:47:30 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MEYER remarked  that  Senator Gardner  brought  up a  good                                                               
point where he  could see an instance occurring.  He continued as                                                               
     But, whenever somebody  who works for a  union votes on                                                                    
     an  issue that  affects that  union, or  somebody works                                                                    
     for  an industry  that impacts  that industry,  they as                                                                    
     individuals  are not  benefitting  anymore than  anyone                                                                    
     else in that union or  industry, that's where it gets a                                                                    
     little thorny.  So, it seems  like you've come  up with                                                                    
     the answer that  if someone truly feels  like they have                                                                    
     a conflict that they could just walk off the floor.                                                                        
SENATOR GARDNER  concurred, but pointed  out that  the legislator                                                               
with the declared  conflict of interest would have  to trust that                                                               
one of  their colleagues does  not disagree and object.  She said                                                               
the legislator still  could leave but somebody could  put a "call                                                               
of the house." She asked how  a legislator can be forced to vote,                                                               
a situation that she does not  think anybody wants to happen. She                                                               
believes that  the public wants  to know that  if a person  has a                                                               
conflict, that they have a way not to vote.                                                                                     
CHAIR MEYER commented  that in his history in  the Legislature he                                                               
did not  recall an issue  where someone  truly had a  conflict of                                                               
interest   and  should   not  have   voted.  He   concurred  that                                                               
legislators have walked off the floor.                                                                                          
3:49:26 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL  stated  that   the  issue  Senator  Gardner  is                                                               
addressing is  a subject  that the  Legislature has  talked about                                                               
for a long time. He said  he was glad Senator Gardner brought the                                                               
issue up and contended that  the Senate floor has "gotten sloppy"                                                               
through the years on protocol. He  pointed out that the rules say                                                               
a  legislator should  standup and  give a  reason and  ask to  be                                                               
given the  permission to  abstain from a  vote, a  procedure that                                                               
rarely happens because  the conflict is perceived and  not a real                                                               
conflict. He said  SCR 1 will make the Legislature  have to stand                                                               
up  and take  notice. He  reiterated that  he struggles  with the                                                               
person  objecting only  because just  one person  can object  and                                                               
there might be more than one  person that objects. He opined that                                                               
having one  person that objects on  the record can result  in the                                                               
individual  being   targeted  rather  than  the   issue  for  the                                                               
objection being  addressed on the  record. He summarized  that he                                                               
has been  around the process long  enough to know that  there are                                                               
the real issues and there are the political issues.                                                                             
SENATOR  WILSON agreed  with Senator  Coghill  about putting  the                                                               
reason for the  objection on the record. He added  that he feared                                                               
constantly  having the  name  of either  the  majority leader  or                                                               
minority leader on the record.                                                                                                  
CHAIR MEYER  remarked that  Senator Wilson  might be  saying that                                                               
nobody  would want  to be  the majority  or minority  leaders. He                                                               
asked  Senator  Gardner to  address  what  would happen  after  a                                                               
conflict of interest is stated  and somebody objects. He inquired                                                               
if the legislative body votes.                                                                                                  
3:51:41 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GARDNER replied  that her  office considered  having the                                                               
body  vote, but  she would  not want  to vote  even if  19 or  21                                                               
people voted that  she should vote. She asserted  that people say                                                               
legislators vote  all the  time with a  conflict of  interest and                                                               
countered as follows:                                                                                                           
     No, people declare  a conflict of interest  that may or                                                                    
     may  not be  a  real conflict  of  interest, but  there                                                                    
     should be  a way out,  there just  should be a  way out                                                                    
     and  I don't  know what  the  answer is,  let's see  if                                                                    
     somebody else has a great answer.                                                                                          
CHAIR MEYER  stated that he  was puzzled  with SCR 1  because the                                                               
resolution does not  give somebody a way out and  states that the                                                               
act will be the Legislature's process.                                                                                          
SENATOR GARDNER specified that SCR 1 does the following:                                                                        
     What it does do is put  on the record that somebody who                                                                    
     might be  accused of having  a conflict of  interest in                                                                    
     voting can say,  "I declared a conflict  of interest, I                                                                    
     described  what  it was  and  under  the uniform  rules                                                                    
     because  so-and-so  objected,  I  had to  vote,  I  was                                                                    
     required  to  vote under  our  rules."  So, it  doesn't                                                                    
     change  that, you  are correct,  but it  does give  the                                                                    
     person  a  defense  and the  person  who  objected  can                                                                    
     defend their own objection.                                                                                                
CHAIR  MEYER replied  that he  may be  coming around  to agreeing                                                               
with Senator  Giessel on the necessity  of SCR 1. He  pointed out                                                               
that legislators  currently stand  up and  declare a  conflict of                                                               
interest and when someone objects  that results in the individual                                                               
having to vote. He asked Senator  Gardner to verify that SCR 1 is                                                               
trying to pinpoint the one person who objects.                                                                                  
SENATOR GARDNER  answered no.  She explained  that her  intent is                                                               
not to  change the statute but  to say that when  a person states                                                               
that they  voted with a conflict,  the person can say  they tried                                                               
not to vote by asking to be excused. She continued as follows:                                                                  
     In  reality if  this  passed and  there's  a record,  I                                                                    
     think people  won't be doing the  perceived conflict of                                                                    
     interest,  they may  stand up  as Senator  Coghill said                                                                    
     and describe  their position  but not  ask not  to vote                                                                    
     and sit  down; but, each  individual has to  draw their                                                                    
     own  line in  knowing  their own  lives  and their  own                                                                    
     investments and decide for themselves  how they want to                                                                    
     proceed, that's what we do all of the time.                                                                                
3:54:40 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL opined  that the real value of SCR  1 would force                                                               
the  conflict of  interest  declaration  to be  put  in a  motion                                                               
because the act  would be recorded with a  result that encourages                                                               
better protocol and behavior.                                                                                                   
SENATOR  GIESSEL  stated  that  she was  not  sure  what  Senator                                                               
Coghill meant  by "sloppy in protocol."  She asked if it  is true                                                               
that  standing  up and  wishing  to  be  excused from  voting  is                                                               
recorded in the minutes of the floor session.                                                                                   
SENATOR COGHILL answered that as far as he knew that was true.                                                                  
CHAIR  MEYER  concurred that  if  somebody  really feels  awkward                                                               
about voting  and does  not want  to vote  they should  have that                                                               
option; however, people are elected  with known backgrounds where                                                               
everything is  disclosed and  in some  cases constituents  like a                                                               
legislator's experience and knowledge.                                                                                          
3:56:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER [held SCR 1 in committee.]                                                                                          
         HB 87-CONFLICT OF INTEREST: BD FISHERIES/GAME                                                                      
3:56:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MEYER announced  the consideration  of House  Bill 87  (HB                                                               
87). [CSHB 87(FSH) was before the committee.]                                                                                   
3:57:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LOUISE  STUTES, Alaska State  Legislature, Juneau,                                                               
Alaska,  sponsor of  HB  87, summarized  that  the bill  strictly                                                               
pertains to conflict of interest for the Alaska Board of                                                                        
Fisheries (Board of Fish) and the Alaska Board of Game (Board of                                                                
Game). She detailed as follows:                                                                                                 
     The  reason for  this bill  is currently  when you  are                                                                    
     sitting  on, particularly  on the  Board  of Fish,  the                                                                    
     Board of  Game doesn't  seem to  be quite  as stringent                                                                    
     although they live under the  same statute as the Board                                                                    
     of  Fish does.  When you  are sitting  on the  Board of                                                                    
     Fish  if   you  have  a  conflict   you  certainly  are                                                                    
     conflicted-out  from   voting  on   it,  but   you  are                                                                    
     conflicted-out from  the discussion as well;  in having                                                                    
     experts on this board it  seems a little odd to exclude                                                                    
     them from  the conversation  when that's what  they are                                                                    
     there  for.  Consequently,  this bill's  intent  is  to                                                                    
     allow  the individuals  to participate  if they  have a                                                                    
     conflict  and  to  allow them  to  participate  in  the                                                                    
     discussion   even  though   they  may   not  have   the                                                                    
     opportunity to vote on the bill.                                                                                           
3:59:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MATT GRUENING, Staff, Representative Stutes, Alaska State                                                                       
Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, provided an overview of HB 87 as                                                                   
     The intent  of HB 87 is  to change the manner  on which                                                                    
     the Board of Fisheries and  the Board of Game function,                                                                    
     to  allow members  to deliberate  on subjects  of which                                                                    
     they  have declared  a personal  or financial  interest                                                                    
     according the  Executive Branch Ethics Act.  The Ethics                                                                    
     Act   forbids  a   public   officer   from  taking   or                                                                    
     withholding  official  action  in  order  to  affect  a                                                                    
     matter in which the member  has a personal or financial                                                                    
     interest.  Official  action  is then  defined  to  mean                                                                    
     advise,   participation,   assistance;  including   for                                                                    
     example,   a    recommendation,   decision,   approval,                                                                    
     disapproval, vote or similar action.                                                                                       
     Currently the  board members are required  to divulge a                                                                    
     conflict  of  interest  if   they  or  their  immediate                                                                    
     families are  involved in  a subject  being deliberated                                                                    
     on. The  conflicted member could  then no  longer offer                                                                    
     their  input in  the  process and  cannot  vote on  the                                                                    
     matter at  hand; in fact,  they are asked to  step down                                                                    
     and  join the  audience.  This  bill allows  conflicted                                                                    
     members  to offer  remarks and  input, but  the members                                                                    
     still  cannot vote  on the  issue. The  member is  also                                                                    
     precluded from  voting on whether they  have a conflict                                                                    
     of interest  or not, that  is determined by  the ethics                                                                    
     officer who  is the  chairman and then  if there  is an                                                                    
     objection it goes to a vote of the board.                                                                                  
     The qualifications for the appointment  to the Board of                                                                    
     Fisheries  and the  Board of  Game are  quite different                                                                    
     and  more general  from most  boards. Instead  of being                                                                    
     chosen because they are  professionals in their fields,                                                                    
     members are  selected on the  basis of interest  in the                                                                    
     public  affairs,  good  judgement, knowledge,  and  the                                                                    
     ability of  field of action  of the board and  with the                                                                    
     view to  providing a diversity  of interest  and points                                                                    
     of  view  on  membership.  One of  the  things  we  are                                                                    
     looking  at is  that  somebody might  have a  different                                                                    
     point of  view because  of their knowledge,  because it                                                                    
     is  essentially a  layman's board,  and you  might only                                                                    
     have a couple  of people that own  a certain particular                                                                    
     type of permit  or work in lodge, they  might have some                                                                    
     perspective  on  the  nuances  of  fishing  that  other                                                                    
     members  of the  board might  not have  and thus  their                                                                    
     knowledge and expertise is actually of great use.                                                                          
     In  addition, many  of  the other  boards  are tied  to                                                                    
     licenses,  they are  exempt, many  of  the boards  from                                                                    
     certain requirements in  the ethics act. So,  this is a                                                                    
     board that deals with licenses  as well and it's one of                                                                    
     the boards that  you are not allowed  to deliberate and                                                                    
     in some cases the boards  are actually allowed to vote;                                                                    
     so,  this makes  a lot  of sense  from our  perspective                                                                    
     from the fact  that you possibly have  very few amounts                                                                    
     of expert viewpoints on what is being discussed.                                                                           
     Often  in  fishing  a financial  interest  is  tied  to                                                                    
     knowledge of the field. Fishing  issues tend to be very                                                                    
     complicated and knowledge based.  A person who may have                                                                    
     an  uncle, aunt,  brother  who has  a  certain type  of                                                                    
     fishing  permit  or  has a  fishing  permit  themselves                                                                    
     might be the  only person on the  board who understands                                                                    
     exactly   what   is    being   discussed   in   detail,                                                                    
     particularly  in  rural  Alaska where  entire  families                                                                    
     might be  permit holders or  lodge owners.  The current                                                                    
     conflict  policy  is  discouraging  in  some  instances                                                                    
     qualified  members from  applying to  the board  on the                                                                    
     basis of  them knowing they would  be conflicted-out of                                                                    
     the discussion in a lot of cases.                                                                                          
     Another  issue  is one  of  public  process and  public                                                                    
     trust. Board  members who are conflicted-out  are still                                                                    
     actually offering  their input,  but they are  doing it                                                                    
     outside  of   the  meeting  and   they  are   doing  it                                                                    
     discussing  on the  side with  other board  members; in                                                                    
     order  to  maintain  the   public's  trust,  we  really                                                                    
     believe these  discussions should  be happening  in the                                                                    
     meeting  and  on  the public  record  so  there's  that                                                                    
     aspect to it  as well is it really  improves the public                                                                    
     process,  it  seems  prudent   to  allow  members  with                                                                    
     expertise and  knowledge to offer their  input, but not                                                                    
     vote.  It is  the  sponsor's opinion  that this  change                                                                    
     will  help the  boards  make  more informed  decisions,                                                                    
     enhance  the public  process and  lead  to a  generally                                                                    
     stronger resource management statewide.                                                                                    
     I will  say that in a  full disclosure I would  like to                                                                    
     point  out  that  due  to  recent  staff  turnover,  we                                                                    
     discovered last week that there  may be some unintended                                                                    
     consequences  with the  bill the  way  it is  currently                                                                    
     drafted.  Unfortunately   due  to  the   personal  bill                                                                    
     deadline we were unable to  fix the draft fixes in time                                                                    
     but also aside from that  we thought it was the prudent                                                                    
     action to  present our intent  to the  committee, point                                                                    
     out the  issues that  might need  to be  addressed, and                                                                    
     let  the will  of the  chair and  the committee  decide                                                                    
     what changes if any need to be made to the bill.                                                                           
4:03:26 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GRUENING  directed attention  to a legal  memo from  Linda M.                                                               
Bruce,  Legislative Counsel,  Legal Services,  dated February  9,                                                               
2017. He  explained that the  memo was  debated at length  and to                                                               
the satisfaction of the House  Resources Committee that there was                                                               
not an issue.  He said after discussions with  Legal Services and                                                               
the Board  of Fish, Representative Stutes'  office concluded that                                                               
clarification  is  needed  in  the  bill's  intent  language.  He                                                               
detailed as follows:                                                                                                            
     What the memo  says essentially is that the  use of the                                                                    
     words  "notwithstanding any  other  provision" of  this                                                                    
     chapter at  the beginning  of the  bill could  have the                                                                    
     effect and it is not  clear whether it does or doesn't,                                                                    
     but  it  seems  like  an easy  fix  of  superseding  AS                                                                    
     39.52.120(c),   which  in   turn  would   supersede  AS                                                                    
     39.52.220. That essentially is "the  nuts and bolts and                                                                    
     the  meat" of  the  process by  which  you'd declare  a                                                                    
     conflict, how a conflict  is determined, who the ethics                                                                    
     officer is, and  how the voting can  be determined, and                                                                    
     whether you can  still vote or deliberate  or not; that                                                                    
     certainly was not our intent,  our intent was simply to                                                                    
     allow  the use  of the  current process  when declaring                                                                    
     and  determining a  conflict of  interest and  the only                                                                    
     thing  that  the  sponsor  would   like  to  change  is                                                                    
     essentially what  was voted  on throughout  the process                                                                    
     too is that if there  is a conflict that the conflicted                                                                    
     member  can  deliberate  but  not  vote.  We  were  not                                                                    
     looking  at  in any  way  to  inadvertently affect  the                                                                    
     current process  by which  the conflict  is determined,                                                                    
     that   seems  to   be  working   well  and   it's  well                                                                    
     established in statute.                                                                                                    
4:05:49 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  GRUENING  called  attention  to a  memo  from  Glenn  Haight                                                               
regarding "Background  Information on  the Alaska Boards  of Game                                                               
and Fisheries Ethics Act Process."  He summarized that Mr. Haight                                                               
also  said  clarification  is  needed   to  get  to  the  intent,                                                               
specifically  what the  bill addressed.  He added  that the  bill                                                               
also narrows the definition of  "immediate family member" for the                                                               
purposes of  debate, not voting.  He conceded that  an unintended                                                               
interpretation  may  imply  that   the  bill  will  supersede  AS                                                               
39.52.220 for the ability to vote;  he said the sponsor will look                                                               
to the  will of  the chair  and the committee  to decide  if that                                                               
change is appropriate.                                                                                                          
He  summarized that  the  bill's intent  is  to allow  conflicted                                                               
members under the current system  to deliberate but not allow the                                                               
ability to  vote. He noted  that he spoke with  Legislative Legal                                                               
and was told that a simple fix could be made.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES  asserted that  the intent  is to  make the                                                               
language  clear cut  and easily  understood. She  reiterated that                                                               
the  intent   is  to  allow   conflicted-out  board   members  to                                                               
participate in the discussion and  impart their knowledge but not                                                               
be  allowed to  vote. She  said  not allowing  somebody to  share                                                               
their expertise seemed odd.                                                                                                     
CHAIR MEYER asked  why Representative Stutes does  not want board                                                               
members to  vote. He opined  that the governor  probably selected                                                               
the board members because of their expertise.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  STUTES  replied that  the  issue  the boards  are                                                               
trying  to   avoid,  particularly   in  fisheries,  is   that  an                                                               
individual can  be affected monetarily.  She reiterated  that the                                                               
intent is  to allow a board  member to put forth  their expertise                                                               
but let others vote.                                                                                                            
4:09:56 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER asked what the financial  hurdle is for a conflict of                                                               
MR. GRUENING replied the financial  hurdle is $5,000 according to                                                               
AS 39.52.110(d).  He disclosed that  the statute was  proposed by                                                               
Hollis French, former state senator.                                                                                            
SENATOR GIESSEL asked  if the memo from Glenn  Haight stated that                                                               
the current  procedure followed by  the boards complies  with the                                                               
Executive Branch Ethics Act.                                                                                                    
MR. GRUENING answered correct.                                                                                                  
SENATOR GIESSEL asked  if the Executive Branch  Ethics Act states                                                               
that a  person who  is conflicted-out  cannot participate  in the                                                               
debate or vote.                                                                                                                 
MR. GRUENING answered correct.                                                                                                  
SENATOR  GIESSEL  asked  if  the   bill  proposes  to  tweak  the                                                               
Executive Branch  Ethics Act only for  the Board of Fish  and the                                                               
Board of Game.                                                                                                                  
MR.  GRUENING answered  correct. He  said the  qualifications for                                                               
the  boards is  very general  and reiterated  that an  individual                                                               
with  intricate  knowledge  might   not  be  allowed  to  provide                                                               
important input in making decisions.                                                                                            
4:12:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL   noted  her  experience   with  serving   on  a                                                               
professional regulatory board and  pointed out the specialization                                                               
in  the Board  of Fish  and Board  of Game.  She opined  that the                                                               
requested change seems very logical.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  STUTES referenced  a situation  that occurred  in                                                               
Kodiak  several  years  ago  with  the Board  of  Fish  where  an                                                               
individual  was conflict-out  and  the  individual's input  would                                                               
have made a difference in the board's vote.                                                                                     
MR. GRUENING  disclosed that the  current chairman for  the Board                                                               
of Fish,  John Jensen from  Petersburg, was  recently conflicted-                                                               
out  of  50 different  proposals  where  he  was not  allowed  to                                                               
SENATOR GIESSEL  pointed out that the  Senate Resources Committee                                                               
interviews  applicants for  the Board  of Fish  and the  Board of                                                               
Game and  noted that the  committee votes on appointees  based on                                                               
their  expertise. She  said  she appreciated  that  the bill  was                                                               
brought forward.                                                                                                                
CHAIR  MEYER asked  what occurs  if  someone does  not declare  a                                                               
conflict of interest.                                                                                                           
4:15:11 PM                                                                                                                    
GLENN  HAIGHT, Executive  Director,  Alaska  Board of  Fisheries,                                                               
Juneau,  Alaska, speculated  that if  the board  passes something                                                               
where  a conflict  was  not declared  that  the board's  decision                                                               
would be voidable based on reconsideration.                                                                                     
4:16:03 PM                                                                                                                    
BRADLEY  MEYEN,  Assistant   Attorney  General,  Civil  Division,                                                               
Natural Resources  Section, Alaska Department of  Law, Anchorage,                                                               
Alaska, addressed Chair Meyer's  question regarding not declaring                                                               
a conflict of interest as follows:                                                                                              
     To  the extent  that a  matter would  take place  where                                                                    
     there  was  a situation  where  someone  had failed  to                                                                    
     properly declare  a conflict I  would need to  check it                                                                    
     out further but I would  agree that my initial response                                                                    
     is  that it  would  be a  voidable  action; however,  I                                                                    
     would like  to add  that the  board members  take these                                                                    
     matters   very  seriously   and   they  explore   their                                                                    
     potential  conflicts  and  they   do  so  with  further                                                                    
     discussions including  discussions with  the Department                                                                    
     of Law  to run through  the specific items that  are in                                                                    
     the ethics  act to avoid  those types of  problems from                                                                    
     even occurring.                                                                                                            
SENATOR GIESSEL  asked if  making an  exception to  the Executive                                                               
Branch Ethics Act would result in a legal problem.                                                                              
MR.  MEYEN referenced  page 5  from Mr.  Haight's April  12, 2017                                                               
memorandum   where  the   Department  of   Laws'  concerns   were                                                               
encapsulated. He  noted that DOL's  concerns actually  called for                                                               
clarifications so  that the change  would be consistent  with the                                                               
Executive Branch Ethics Act.                                                                                                    
4:18:21 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  GRUENING  referenced  AS   39.52.310  through  AS  39.52.330                                                               
regarding  complaints  and  the  process by  which  the  attorney                                                               
general or  person may  initiate a complaint  in addition  to the                                                               
process for a possible hearing.                                                                                                 
MR.  HAIGHT  asserted  that  the   bill's  intent  is  clear  and                                                               
implementation for  the Board of  Fisheries or the Board  of Game                                                               
would be simple.                                                                                                                
4:20:27 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER opened public testimony.                                                                                            
4:21:00 PM                                                                                                                    
JERRY  MCCUNE, President,  United  Fishermen  of Alaska,  Juneau,                                                               
Alaska, testified  in support of  HB 87.  He said not  allowing a                                                               
conflicted-out board  member with  expertise to  answer questions                                                               
is frustrating.                                                                                                                 
4:24:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MEYER   asked  what  happens   when  a  board   member  is                                                               
conflicted-out, if  the remaining members have  access to experts                                                               
during their meetings to answer questions.                                                                                      
MR. MCCUNE  explained that staff  members from the  Department of                                                               
Fish  and Game  attend board  meetings, but  typically the  board                                                               
does not ask questions during the deliberation stage.                                                                           
4:26:08 PM                                                                                                                    
FRANCES  LEACH, Executive  Director, United  Fishermen of  Alaska                                                               
(UFA), Juneau,  Alaska, testified in  support of HB 87.  She said                                                               
what good  is expertise when  a board is  not allowed to  use it.                                                               
She confirmed  that Board  of Fish members  are open,  honest and                                                               
extremely transparent when dealing  with the conflict of interest                                                               
process. She  affirmed that  conflicted-out board  members should                                                               
not  be allowed  to vote,  but UFA  believes that  conflicted-out                                                               
board members should be able  to deliberate and discuss proposals                                                               
on  the record  to help  clarify and  provide an  insight into  a                                                               
fishery. She said  she has seen board members  struggle to decide                                                               
when a conflicted-out  member would have provided  an answer. She                                                               
summarized that  muting a board  member's voice  undermines one's                                                               
strength on a  board, especially the ability to  offer insight on                                                               
a specific fishery.                                                                                                             
4:30:54 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  MEYER concurred  with Ms.  Leach  that the  conflicted-out                                                               
members were  picked because of  their expertise and  opined that                                                               
they should be allowed to vote as well.                                                                                         
SENATOR GIESSEL  agreed with  Chair Meyer  on allowing  voting as                                                               
other regulatory boards do.                                                                                                     
4:32:23 PM                                                                                                                    
JULIANNE CURRY, representing  self, Petersburg, Alaska, testified                                                               
in  support   of  HB  87.   She  agreed  with   the  common-sense                                                               
legislation  to   allow  conflicted-out  members   with  valuable                                                               
expertise  to deliberate.  She asserted  that Alaska's  fisheries                                                               
are much  too complex to  restrict board members'  expertise. She                                                               
added  that she  also supported  further defining  the "immediate                                                               
family member" definition.                                                                                                      
4:33:34 PM                                                                                                                    
MALCOLM  MILNE, President,  North Pacific  Fisheries Association,                                                               
Homer, Alaska,  testified in  support of HB  87. He  said finding                                                               
qualified  members   to  serve  on   the  state  boards   can  be                                                               
challenging  and limiting  participation can  hamper information.                                                               
He  set   forth  that  allowing   conflicted  board   members  to                                                               
deliberate  adds  expertise.  He  said keeping  the  conflict  to                                                               
immediate family members is appropriate.                                                                                        
4:34:59 PM                                                                                                                    
MATT  ALWARD,  representing  self, Homer,  Alaska,  testified  in                                                               
support  of  HB  87.  He  asserted  that  changing  the  conflict                                                               
standards  to  "immediate  family   members"  is  reasonable  and                                                               
responsible. He  agreed that conflicted board  members should not                                                               
have a  vote, but to bar  the members from the  conversation goes                                                               
too far, especially for the subject-matter experts.                                                                             
4:35:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER closed public testimony.                                                                                            
SENATOR  GIESSEL  agreed  with   previous  testimony  that  board                                                               
members are highly  scrutinized and keep their  ethics level very                                                               
high  simply  because  of  the public  scrutiny.  She  said  what                                                               
Representative  Stutes   is  proposing   is  important   for  the                                                               
committee  to consider.  She added  that she  would like  to hear                                                               
from Representative Stutes on how she would perfect the bill.                                                                   
CHAIR MEYER concurred that board  members are closely scrutinized                                                               
and watched. He asked Representative  Stutes if she had suggested                                                               
changes for the bill.                                                                                                           
4:37:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES  said her  office is  going to  clarify the                                                               
language in the  bill so there is no misconception  in the intent                                                               
which  is  to allow  board  members  that are  conflicted-out  to                                                               
participate in the discussion without obtaining a vote.                                                                         
CHAIR MEYER asked  if there has been a discussion  with the Board                                                               
of Game regarding the proposed changes for the bill.                                                                            
MR. GRUENING said  the director for the Board of  Game was unable                                                               
to testify but  in previous testimony said the board  has taken a                                                               
neutral position.                                                                                                               
CHAIR  MEYER suggested  that  Representative  Stutes provide  his                                                               
office  with  her proposed  changes  for  presenting a  committee                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE STUTES agree to do so.                                                                                           
4:39:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER held HB 87 in committee.                                                                                            
4:39:43 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease.                                                                                                                        
          HB 44-LEGISLATIVE ETHICS: VOTING & CONFLICTS                                                                      
4:41:13 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER called the committee  back to order and announced the                                                               
consideration of House Bill 44 (HB 44).                                                                                         
4:41:57 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JASON GRENN,  Alaska  State Legislature,  Juneau,                                                               
Alaska, provided the following sponsor statement for HB 44:                                                                     
     I believe  that we  all here understand  the importance                                                                    
     of a  citizen legislature. We recognize  the importance                                                                    
     of having  representatives and senators from  all walks                                                                    
     of life  for the  betterment of  our state;  because of                                                                    
     that fact,  the standards of ethical  conduct for state                                                                    
     public  officials needs  to  distinguish between  those                                                                    
     minor conflicts that are unavoidable  in a free society                                                                    
     and   those  conflicts   which   are  substantial   and                                                                    
     The intent of HB 44  is to increase transparency within                                                                    
     the Legislature  and allow the  public to see  with the                                                                    
     utmost  certainty that  conflicts  of  interest in  our                                                                    
     capitol  building are  taken seriously.  The intent  of                                                                    
     this bill  is not to  stop a legislator from  voting on                                                                    
     an issue as  we all are elected officials  sent here to                                                                    
     represent our  constituents. The language in  this bill                                                                    
     does  not directly  stop a  legislator  from voting  or                                                                    
     ever  outright disqualify  them, the  bill just  simply                                                                    
     lays out  a standard  form for  which a  legislator can                                                                    
     decide  for  themselves  if  they  have  a  substantial                                                                    
     HB  44  contains  provisions to  ensure  conflicts  are                                                                    
     "substantial" before a legislator  would be required to                                                                    
     abstain  from voting.  Any benefit  a  legislator or  a                                                                    
     member  of  the  legislator's  immediate  family  might                                                                    
     receive from supporting or  opposing a particular piece                                                                    
     of  legislation  would  have to  be  greater  than  the                                                                    
     benefit  of the  general  public of  Alaska that  would                                                                    
     receive  due   to  legislation  in  order   to  require                                                                    
     abstention. The  bill recognized the  responsibility of                                                                    
     legislators to  vote, except in  clear cases  where the                                                                    
     outcome  of  the  vote   would  result  in  substantial                                                                    
     personal financial  gain; this includes cases  where an                                                                    
     immediate  family  member  or a  legislator's  employer                                                                    
     would  receive a  large and  direct financial  benefit.                                                                    
     Twenty-nine other states have  language such as what we                                                                    
     are  proposing that  references the  potential conflict                                                                    
     of interest from an employer.                                                                                              
     HB  44 creates  transparency  by creating  a clear  and                                                                    
     concise standard  for legislators  to use  to determine                                                                    
     if they  have a  conflict of  interest. I  believe that                                                                    
     building  trust  between  the  Legislature  and  public                                                                    
     should be one  of our primary concerns and HB  44 is an                                                                    
     example  of the  Legislature  building  that trust  for                                                                    
     increased transparency.                                                                                                    
4:45:00 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL referenced page 2, line 15, of the bill:                                                                        
     Immediately  preceding  12-month  period  receive  more                                                                    
     than $10,000 of income.                                                                                                    
She asked if the sentence refers to actual dollars or if it                                                                     
would also include in-kind remuneration.                                                                                        
4:45:31 PM                                                                                                                    
RYAN   JOHNSTON,  Staff,   Representative  Grenn,   Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  Juneau, Alaska,  referenced  the  definition in  AS                                                               
24.60.990 that  the income  is aggregate, it  is not  in-kind but                                                               
real dollars.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GIESSEL remarked that the  income could be from stocks or                                                               
some kind of "other" income as well.                                                                                            
MR.  JOHNSTON  replied that  AS  24.60.030,  section 2,  line  22                                                               
addresses  Senator Giessel's  question  regarding  interest in  a                                                               
business, investment, real property,  lease or other enterprises.                                                               
He added that  legislative voting on the  Permanent Fund dividend                                                               
(PFD)  would affect  all  Alaskans  the same  way  and  is not  a                                                               
4:47:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL asked what problem HB 44 is trying to fix.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GRENN  replied that the bill  addresses trust from                                                               
the general  public's standpoint  by declaring conflicts  in more                                                               
public arenas.  He noted  that 29  other states  have legislation                                                               
that affects  an employer.  He summarized that  HB 44  raises the                                                               
conflict definition to a better standard.                                                                                       
4:49:56 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL commented as follows:                                                                                           
     This  is really  a foundational  question. Periodically                                                                    
     each one of us stands  before our constituents. We live                                                                    
     in what  is a form  of democracy. The  word "democracy"                                                                    
     comes from a couple of  Greek words that mean, "Rule by                                                                    
     the voting district," that's  what the word "democracy"                                                                    
     means   and   we   stand  for   our   voting   district                                                                    
     periodically, different  periods of  time based  on the                                                                    
     body that we  serve in, and those districts  know us or                                                                    
     the voters  certainly do, the  people that turn  out to                                                                    
     vote. So,  I can think  of particular people  that this                                                                    
     bill  might target  so to  speak, and  those particular                                                                    
     legislators  are well  known by  their voting  district                                                                    
     who  rule by  selecting that  person to  represent them                                                                    
     because that  person has that knowledge  that they want                                                                    
     of their views carried  forward to the Legislature. So,                                                                    
     I  just put  that out  there, I  think this  is a  very                                                                    
     restrictive criterion  for a state like  ours which has                                                                    
     a very small population,  we represent relatively small                                                                    
     areas, it's one  thing if we were in New  Jersey and we                                                                    
     had  300,000 people  in a  Senate district,  that's not                                                                    
     the  case here.  We are  well known  to our  voters who                                                                    
     rule in our district. So, I  just put that out there as                                                                    
     a  philosophical  question;  again, I  don't  see  that                                                                    
     there is a "why" for this.                                                                                                 
4:51:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRENN explained his intent as follows:                                                                           
     My  belief as  a newly  elected official,  finding ways                                                                    
     that we  can add trust  and transparency to what  we do                                                                    
     in  Juneau is  important to  me. You  mentioned how  we                                                                    
     rule in Alaska in a  small-population state and a small                                                                    
     state  with   a  low  number  of   representatives  and                                                                    
     senators.   Other  citizen   legislatures  around   the                                                                    
     country,  New   Mexico  for  example,  has   a  citizen                                                                    
     legislature that  they receive zero pay  for their work                                                                    
     as  elected  officials and  they  have  a standard  for                                                                    
     conflict of interest much higher  than ours in terms of                                                                    
     when they rise  to conflict, when they  rise to abstain                                                                    
     from voting.  So obviously  different states  handle it                                                                    
     in  different ways  of what  they see  fit and  do with                                                                    
     their citizenry and how they represent.                                                                                    
     Again for  us, my belief  was just elected  officials I                                                                    
     think always  can improve in  terms of  our interaction                                                                    
     with  the public  in how  they  know us  and setting  a                                                                    
     higher  standard is  something  I strive  to  do and  I                                                                    
     think that  this bill helps  achieve that; it  also, in                                                                    
     our  language  regarding   family  and  employers,  the                                                                    
     immediate family is a definition  by statute so if your                                                                    
     spouse  owned a  marijuana business  your voters  might                                                                    
     not know that,  but if this was enacted  and a conflict                                                                    
     arose  and a  huge tax  increase on  that industry  was                                                                    
     happening,  you can  declare a  conflict and  have your                                                                    
     conscious  free  that your  voters  know  that you  are                                                                    
     enacting  on  their  behalf  and   not  anyone  who  is                                                                    
     directly impacted by your actions.                                                                                         
     I greatly  take to heart  your perspective and  I agree                                                                    
     with very much  of it and I think it  is something that                                                                    
     we always need to be talking about.                                                                                        
4:53:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   MEYER  agreed   with  Representative   Grenn's  comments;                                                               
however, he referenced  legislatures in the 1970s  where the body                                                               
voted  on declared  conflicts where  the process  ended up  being                                                               
political. He opined  that the current process  for conflicts has                                                               
been found  to be the  best and  fairest. He agreed  with Senator                                                               
Giessel that  making conflicts so  restrictive will result  in no                                                               
one running  for office. He  pointed out that all  legislators do                                                               
financial  disclosures in  a  careful manner.  He  asked how  the                                                               
$10,000 threshold for a financial conflict was arrived at.                                                                      
MR. JOHNSTON replied that the  $10,000 threshold was derived from                                                               
AS 24.60.990 and the intent  was to stay consistent with Alaska's                                                               
existing statute.                                                                                                               
4:56:41 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GIESSEL addressed  a legislative  brief written  on June                                                               
23,  2015  by  Jerry  Anderson,   administrator  for  the  Select                                                               
Committee  on  Legislative  Ethics.  She  pointed  out  that  Mr.                                                               
Anderson related  a close economic association  with AS 24.60.070                                                               
where the  committee determined  that $250  or more  qualifies as                                                               
"substantial." She continued as follows:                                                                                        
     Here  we have  $250  and then  someplace  else we  have                                                                    
     $10,000. It  seems like  there is a  lot of  bars being                                                                    
     set  and  which  one  do  we  follow?  Perhaps  Senator                                                                    
     Coghill has comments  on this because I  know he serves                                                                    
     on Legislative Ethics.                                                                                                     
CHAIR MEYER  pointed out that  the next committee of  referral is                                                               
the Senate Judiciary Committee,  a committee that Senator Coghill                                                               
chairs and can address at that time.                                                                                            
SENATOR WILSON  asked if  Mr. Anderson  was available  to address                                                               
the committee.                                                                                                                  
4:58:15 PM                                                                                                                    
JERRY  ANDERSON,  Committee  Administrator, Select  Committee  on                                                               
Legislative  Ethics, Alaska  State  Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska,                                                               
addressed  the question  regarding the  $250 threshold  for close                                                               
economic association.                                                                                                           
     That is  not a statutory  $250 amount that was  part of                                                                    
     legislation,  but   rather  the  Select   Committee  on                                                                    
     Legislative Ethics  interpreting and  administering the                                                                    
     act where the $250 was  determined by the committee and                                                                    
     that in particular was with  regard to a shared-calling                                                                    
     plan where it was determined  that the benefit was more                                                                    
     than $250 for each of  the people that were legislators                                                                    
     and  legislative employees  who shared  a calling-plan;                                                                    
     that has  since been clarified where  previously it was                                                                    
     not  clarified  what  a  substantial  interest  was  by                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL referenced  the same legislative brief  on page 2                                                               
regarding  a  list  of  states  with  numerical  or  proportional                                                               
thresholds  and noted  that Alaska's  current statute  states the                                                               
     Has or  seeks contracts  in excess of  $10,000 annually                                                                    
     for goods and services with  the Legislature or with an                                                                    
     agency of the state.                                                                                                       
She asked if the intent is to change the statute to $10,000                                                                     
worth of income.                                                                                                                
5:00:06 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. JOHNSTON explained as follows:                                                                                              
     AS 24.60.990  is the definition  for AS  24.60.030, but                                                                    
     if you look at AS  24.60.030, which is the section that                                                                    
     the  bill  references,  there's  actually  no  monetary                                                                    
     value  placed  in  that section  for  a  legislator  to                                                                    
     determine  a conflict  of interest,  so  that's why  we                                                                    
     found  that amount  and we  are trying  to create  that                                                                    
     more concise list for legislators  to look at to see if                                                                    
     they did  have a conflict  of interest and  the $10,000                                                                    
     amount   fit  with   not   trying   to  penalize   like                                                                    
     contractors,  anyone that  does that  kind of  contract                                                                    
     work with  individual clients; if  they make  $4,000 or                                                                    
     $5,000  per  contract  building   a  home  or  doing  a                                                                    
     remodel, we did  not want to penalize  them for needing                                                                    
     to do  a conflict of  interest or maybe  ethics opinion                                                                    
     for all of their clients  if they were working for many                                                                    
     different individuals, we just  didn't want to penalize                                                                    
     them in  that way. So,  the $10,000 threshold  fit with                                                                    
     that kind of idea as well.                                                                                                 
SENATOR GIESSEL remarked that she was not sure Mr. Johnston                                                                     
clarified her question and commented as follows:                                                                                
     I see completely two different  things. What we have in                                                                    
     AS 24.60.990(b)  talks about  seeking contracts,  so if                                                                    
     you  are  a  legislator  and you  are  serving  in  the                                                                    
     Legislature and  you know that  one of the  agencies is                                                                    
     going out for a contract  to let's say lay carpeting in                                                                    
     one of  their buildings and  the contract would  be for                                                                    
     $10,000  or  more  annually,  that  would  represent  a                                                                    
     threshold  for a  conflict of  interest;  but, what  is                                                                    
     happening in  this bill is you  are actually broadening                                                                    
     that out  significantly to be  $10,000 worth  of income                                                                    
     that is of any kind in  a year. So, that's kind of what                                                                    
     I am  seeing as the  contrast here  and that is  what I                                                                    
     was trying to get down to.                                                                                                 
5:02:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR MEYER held HB 44 in committee and noted that public                                                                       
testimony remains open for the bill.                                                                                            
5:03:07 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Meyer adjourned the Senate State Affairs Standing                                                                         
Committee at 5:03 p.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SCR1 Version A.PDF SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
SCR1 Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
SCR1 Supporting Document-Voting Recusal Provisions in 50 states.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
SCR 1 Fiscal Note SCR1-LEG-SESS-02-16-18.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 87 Version A.PDF SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 87
HB 87 Version R.PDF SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 87
HB87 Summary of Changes A to R 2.17.17.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 87
HB87 Sponsor Statement ver R 2.3.18.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 87
HB87 Additional Document BOF BOG Information.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 87
HB87 Additional Document Historic Bills.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 87
HB87 Additional Document Board Recusal Rates.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 87
HB87 Legal Memo.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 87
HB87 Letter in Opposition RHAK 2.13.17.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 87
HB87 Letters of Support (Combined).pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 87
HB 87 Letter of Support UFA 1.24.2018.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 87
HB 87 Fiscal Note 2018.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 87
HB 44 Version R.PDF SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 44
HB 44 Ver R Explanation of Changes.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 44
HB 44 Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 44
HB 44 Supporting document-AKPIRG Support Letter.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 44
HB 44 Supporting Document-Leg Research Report 15-423m.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 44
HB 44 Supporting Document-LWV 1.27.17.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 44
HB 44 Fiscal Note HB44-LEG-SESS-02-16-18.pdf SSTA 2/20/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 44