Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

03/19/2020 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
Download Video part 1. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ SB 180 STATE GOV'T FINANCES: WEBSITE TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
+= SB 210 LICENSE PLATES: SPECIALTY ORGANIZATIONS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 210(STA) Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            SENATE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                         March 19, 2020                                                                                         
                           3:31 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Joshua Revak, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator John Coghill, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Mia Costello, via teleconference                                                                                        
Senator David Wilson                                                                                                            
Senator Scott Kawasaki                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 210                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to special request specialty organization                                                                      
registration plates."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSSB 210(STA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 180                                                                                                             
"An  Act relating  to  the establishment  and  maintenance of  an                                                               
Internet  website  providing   information  on  state  government                                                               
financial transactions and specifying  the information to be made                                                               
available on the website."                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB 210                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: LICENSE PLATES: SPECIALTY ORGANIZATIONS                                                                            
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) COSTELLO                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
02/21/20       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/21/20       (S)       STA, FIN                                                                                               
03/12/20       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/12/20       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/12/20       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/19/20       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB 180                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: STATE GOV'T FINANCES: WEBSITE                                                                                      
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) WIELECHOWSKI                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
02/07/20       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/07/20       (S)       STA, FIN                                                                                               
03/19/20       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BETTY TANGEMAN, Staff                                                                                                           
Senator Joshua Revak                                                                                                            
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Explained the changes in the committee                                                                    
substitute for SB 210, version M.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
TOM WRIGHT, Staff                                                                                                               
Senator Mia Costello                                                                                                            
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions on SB 210 on behalf of                                                                 
the sponsor.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BILL WIELECHOWSKI                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 180.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
NATE GRAHAM, Staff                                                                                                              
Senator Bill Wielechowski                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Delivered a PowerPoint to introduce SB 180.                                                               
                                                                                                                                
JAMIN LIEBER, representing self                                                                                                 
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 180.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
JIM SYKES, representing self                                                                                                    
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 180.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
JOE GELDHOF, representing self                                                                                                  
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 180.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
TOMOTHY HALE, representing self                                                                                                 
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 180.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WILL MULDOON, representing self                                                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 180.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
VERI DI SUVERO, Executive Director                                                                                              
Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AkPIRG)                                                                                  
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 180.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
RYAN MCKEE, State Director                                                                                                      
Americans for Prosperity                                                                                                        
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 180.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:31:31 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  JOSHUA  REVAK called  the  Senate  State Affairs  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting  to order at 3:31  p.m. Present at the  call to                                                               
order  were Senators  Coghill,  Wilson,  Kawasaki, Costello  (via                                                               
teleconference), and Chair Revak.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
         SB 210-LICENSE PLATES: SPECIALTY ORGANIZATIONS                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:32:43 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR REVAK announced  the consideration of SENATE  BILL NO. 210,                                                               
"An  Act  relating  to  special  request  specialty  organization                                                               
registration plates."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
He stated that this is the  second hearing on the bill and public                                                               
testimony is  closed. He noted  the committee substitute  for the                                                               
committee to consider.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:33:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL moved to adopt  the committee substitute (CS) for                                                               
SB 210, work order 31-LS1564\M, as the working document.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:33:15 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR REVAK objected for an explanation of the changes.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:33:23 PM                                                                                                                    
BETTY  TANGEMAN,  Staff,  Senator   Joshua  Revak,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  Juneau,   Alaska,  on  behalf  of   the  committee,                                                               
explained that the  changes in version M of SB  210 start on page                                                               
1, lines 11-14, which read:                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     If  the department  denies an  application to  create a                                                                    
     specialty  organization registration  plate under  this                                                                    
     section, the  department shall notify  the commissioner                                                                    
     of  the  denial.  The   commissioner  may  reverse  the                                                                    
     decision of the department  and require issuance of the                                                                    
     requested plate.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
She  said  the sponsor  wanted  an  option  for those  not  found                                                               
eligible for  a specialty  plate to appeal  their denials  to the                                                               
commissioner.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR REVAK added  that it was possible the language  in the bill                                                               
would not cover some organizations,  such as a military honor not                                                               
currently envisioned.  This language will allow  the commissioner                                                               
discretion to intervene in the process.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:34:48 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR REVAK removed his objection and version M was adopted.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:35:18 PM                                                                                                                    
TOM   WRIGHT,  Staff,   Senator   Mia   Costello,  Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau, Alaska,  said the sponsor does  not have any                                                               
problem with the  change in the committee substitute  for SB 210,                                                               
version M.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:35:43 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COSTELLO  expressed appreciation  that the  committee was                                                               
hearing the  bill and  stated support for  adding the  option for                                                               
organizations to work directly with the department.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR REVAK solicited the will of the committee.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:36:25 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL moved  to report  the committee  substitute (CS)                                                               
for   SB  210,   version  M,   from  committee   with  individual                                                               
recommendations and attached fiscal note.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR REVAK  found no  objection and  CSSB 210(STA)  was reported                                                               
from the Senate State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:36:46 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
              SB 180-STATE GOV'T FINANCES: WEBSITE                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:38:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   REVAK   reconvened   the  meeting   and   announced   the                                                               
consideration of  SENATE BILL  NO. 180, "An  Act relating  to the                                                               
establishment and  maintenance of  an Internet  website providing                                                               
information  on  state   government  financial  transactions  and                                                               
specifying the information to be made available on the website."                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:38:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BILL WIELECHOWSKI, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau,                                                                    
Alaska, introduced SB 180 paraphrasing the following sponsor                                                                    
statement:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     The  state of  Alaska spends  billions of  dollars each                                                                    
     year on  everything from office  supplies, professional                                                                    
     services,  and  capital  improvement  projects.  Public                                                                    
     accountability helps ensure that  state funds are spent                                                                    
     wisely.  All  50  states  operate  websites  that  make                                                                    
     information   on   state  expenditures   and   revenues                                                                    
     accessible to  the public.  However, compared  to other                                                                    
     states Alaska's site  is ranked as one of  the worst in                                                                    
     the  nation  at  making  the  data  accessible  to  the                                                                    
     public.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     The intent  of the  Alaska Online  Checkbook Act  is to                                                                    
     create  a   free,  searchable  website   that  provides                                                                    
     Alaskans   with    easy   access   to    detailed   and                                                                    
     comprehensive information on  state spending. This will                                                                    
     encourage  better  understanding  of  state  operations                                                                    
     and, ultimately,  help ensure that funding  is directed                                                                    
     to  the   state's  most  important  needs.   The  state                                                                    
     currently  posts   some  financial  information   in  a                                                                    
     downloadable spreadsheet, but  this spreadsheet is very                                                                    
     cumbersome, must be downloaded,  is difficult to search                                                                    
     and understand.  It does not provide  any "big picture"                                                                    
     context about  state expenditures  vs. revenues  nor is                                                                    
     it codified  in law.  The ability  to see  how Alaska's                                                                    
     government  uses  public   funding  is  fundamental  to                                                                    
     transparency   and   bolsters  public   confidence   in                                                                    
     government and promotes fiscal responsibility.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     SB  180  will give  Alaskans  easy  access to  detailed                                                                    
     information   on   state  expenditures   and   revenue,                                                                    
     empowering  them to  become fiscal  watchdogs. It  will                                                                    
     lead to greater government  accountability and a public                                                                    
     better able  to assist  in making  difficult government                                                                    
     decisions.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     I  hope that  you  will join  me  in taking  reasonable                                                                    
     steps  to  ensure  that Alaskans  have  access  to  our                                                                    
     state's financial information.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI advised  that  the state  currently has  an                                                               
EXCEL spreadsheet  that can be downloaded  with this information.                                                               
However, it is slow to download  and operate and it is not easily                                                               
searchable. He referred  to letters in members'  packets from the                                                               
Frontier Group  and United States Public  Interest Research Group                                                               
and noted  that Alaska has received  an "F" in five  of six years                                                               
from several of these groups and  is ranked 49th out of 50 states                                                               
in terms  of access provided to  the public. He offered  his view                                                               
that  it will  only  take  a few  hours  to  put the  information                                                               
together for a better process.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   WIELECHOWSKI   related   that  he   sponsored   similar                                                               
legislation  in 2007  or  2008,  but the  bill  did  not make  it                                                               
through the process. One of the  things mentioned at the time was                                                               
that the  government is already  providing the information,  so a                                                               
bill was  unnecessary. However, Alaska is  not providing adequate                                                               
public access.  He commented on  the unusual circumstance  that a                                                               
bill of  his received support  from Americans for  Prosperity. It                                                               
shows that  SB 180  appeals to  people who have  a wide  range of                                                               
political philosophies. He characterized  it as a good government                                                               
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:41:30 PM                                                                                                                    
NATE  GRAHAM,  Staff,  Senator Bill  Wielechowski,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau, Alaska,  delivered a PowerPoint presentation                                                               
on SB 180, starting with slide 2.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
   • In 2018 Alaska received a failing grade from the U.S                                                                       
     PIRG  Education Fund  for  providing  online access  to                                                                    
     government spending data.                                                                                                  
   • Alaska has no statutory requirements to maintain an                                                                        
     online checkbook.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRAHAM  stated that the  U.S. Public Interest  Research Group                                                               
(U.S.PIRG)  has   ranked  Alaska   49  of   50  for   its  online                                                               
transparency.   In  2010,   U.S.  PIRG   began  tracking   online                                                               
transparency  of state  government  spending information.  Alaska                                                               
received a "D" or an "F"  for each year. Early on Alaska received                                                               
Ds  simply because  the technology  did not  exist for  states to                                                               
offer online transparent information.  The technology now exists,                                                               
and some states provide excellent information.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GRAHAM  reviewed  slide  3 relating  to  the  Alaska  Online                                                               
Checkbook Act:                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
   • Require The State To Provide Monthly And Annual Financial                                                                  
     Information To The Public.                                                                                                 
   • Consolidate State Financial Information.                                                                                   
   • Provide Detailed Information On State Expenditures And                                                                     
     Revenue. (Date, Vendor, Department, Expense Type)                                                                          
   • Increase State Spending Transparency.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SB 180 will not require the  state to provide any new information                                                               
since  the  Department  of  Revenue   (DOR)  and  the  Office  of                                                               
Management and Budget already produce  this information. It would                                                               
just  compile the  data in  one area.  As many  people know,  the                                                               
state  has an  online checkbook  that was  initiated by  Governor                                                               
Palin.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GRAHAM  pointed  out the  differences  between  the  current                                                               
online checkbook and the proposal in SB 180 shown on slide 4:                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Checkbook Online                                                                                                           
     • No Mandatory Reporting Requirements.                                                                                     
     • Data Must Be Downloaded (PDF Or EXCEL).                                                                                  
     • No Online Search Option.                                                                                                 
     • Does Not Include Revenue Reports.                                                                                        
     • Does Not Allow Year To Year Spending Comparison.                                                                         
     • Does Not Include Spending For The University Of                                                                          
     Alaska Or Public Corporations.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Online Checkbook Act                                                                                                       
     • Monthly & Annual Reporting Requirements.                                                                                 
     • All Data Is Online; You Choose What To Download.                                                                         
     • Searchable Data By Agency, Vendor, Year, Etc.                                                                            
     • Includes Revenue & Expenditures                                                                                          
     • You Can Compare State Spending By Fiscal Year.                                                                           
     • Includes Revenue & Expenses Of University Of                                                                             
     Alaska & Public Corporations (Including APFC).                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
He said  data currently  must be  downloaded via  Microsoft Excel                                                               
before it  can be viewed, but  it is cumbersome. For  example, in                                                               
2019 the download consisted of  about 75,000 transactions on each                                                               
sheet. This  process makes  it difficult  to search  for specific                                                               
information.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRAHAM related  that under SB 180 it would  be easy to search                                                               
for  information. It  would be  like searching  an Alaska  Public                                                               
Offices  Commission (APOC)  report  for the  information via  the                                                               
Internet after downloading the specific  data. He reiterated that                                                               
the  current online  checkbook  does not  have  an online  search                                                               
option,  it does  not include  revenue,  and it  does not  easily                                                               
allow comparing state spending from year to year.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:44:41 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GRAHAM  reviewed the reporting requirements  for revenues and                                                               
expenditures on slides 5 and 6:                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
    Reporting Requirements                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
    Revenues                                                                                                                    
    • Receipts Or Deposits.                                                                                                     
    • Proceeds From Taxes.                                                                                                      
       • Agency Earnings (Sales, Services, Licenses Or                                                                          
       Permits).                                                                                                                
        • Other Revenues From State Money Or Property                                                                           
       (Interest, Lease, Gifts, Donations).                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Expenditures                                                                                                               
       • The names and locations of any persons to whom                                                                         
        payment was made.                                                                                                       
     • The amounts of the expenditures disbursed.                                                                               
    • The type of transaction, by account code, including                                                                       
        the purpose of the expenditure.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
He highlighted that  expenditures will also contain  the code and                                                               
the code description.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GRAHAM  reviewed  the  reporting  requirements  for  account                                                               
balances on slide 7:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Account Balances                                                                                                           
     • Statutory Budget Reserve (SBR).                                                                                          
     • Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR).                                                                                     
     • Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account (ERA).                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GRAHAM said  there will  be a  monthly reporting  of account                                                               
balances  for  the  SBR,  CBR,   and  ERA.  This  information  is                                                               
available, but it is not provided in a consolidated report.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:46:04 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GRAHAM reviewed two screen  shot examples of Alaska's current                                                               
online checkbook  on slide 8.  The information is broken  down by                                                               
fiscal year, such  that clicking on one of the  fiscal years will                                                               
bring up an  option to download the information in  a PDF format,                                                               
Excel document, or CSV document.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRAHAM reviewed a screen  shot of Alaska's current format for                                                               
the online checkbook on slide 9:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     • In FY 2016 There Were 78,156 Individual Reports In                                                                       
        The "Online Checkbook".                                                                                                 
     • You Must Use Search Functions Within Excel To Find                                                                       
        Vendors.                                                                                                                
     • Cannot Easily Track Spending By Year.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
He said the files contain  tens of thousands of transactions. For                                                               
example, a person would need to  use a search function within the                                                               
Excel document to see any of the information.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:46:55 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GRAHAM reviewed  slides 10-15, which showed  snapshots of the                                                               
online dashboard for Ohio by department and expense type.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
He reported that Ohio is  ranked as the best transparency website                                                               
in the  nation. The  screen shot of  Ohio's dashboard  allows the                                                               
public to search  by year, agency, and expense  type. This allows                                                               
the public  to see how much  has been spent each  year, including                                                               
the category and amount of the expenditures.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:47:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  REVAK asked  how much  effort it  would take  to establish                                                               
something similar and  how it would be maintained.  He noted that                                                               
the sponsor anticipated a zero fiscal note.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRAHAM responded that once the  data is in a single location,                                                               
it is easy to put together a dashboard.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:48:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI showed  an example and opined  that it would                                                               
be easy  for someone in  the state to  do. He did  not anticipate                                                               
that maintaining the online checkbook would take much time.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WILSON said he agrees but was skeptical about the cost.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   WIELECHOWSKI  said   Mr.  Graham   created  an   online                                                               
searchable  website in  a day.  He opined  that people  with more                                                               
experience would easily be able to do this.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:50:05 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GRAHAM said he took  all the online checkbook dates, combined                                                               
all the Excel spreadsheets for the  last five years and did it in                                                               
a  day.  He  indicated  that   he  does  not  have  a  technology                                                               
background,  so  it  would  be   easier  for  someone  with  that                                                               
background to develop an online checkbook.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRAHAM reviewed slide 16, Additional Benefits:                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
    • Mississippi reported that every information request                                                                       
        fulfilled by its transparency website rather than by                                                                    
        a state employee  saves the  state between  $750 and                                                                    
        $1,000 in staff time.                                                                                                   
       • South Carolina open records requests initially                                                                         
        dropped by  two-thirds  after  the creation  of  its                                                                    
        transparency website, reducing staff time and saving                                                                    
        an estimated tens of thousands of dollars.                                                                              
    • The Texas Comptroller used its transparency website                                                                       
        to evaluate spending.  By monitoring  contracts more                                                                    
        closely and sourcing services from  new vendors when                                                                    
        the potential for  cost-cutting was  identified, the                                                                    
        state saved more than $163 million.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
He  said  states  reported  additional  benefits  in  having  the                                                               
information  easily  accessible.  For example,  vendors  in  Ohio                                                               
reported using ohiocheckbook.com as a  business analytics tool to                                                               
determine when  they could offer product  to a state agency  at a                                                               
better value.  An elected official  used the site to  compare the                                                               
prices  for  road salt  to  ensure  the  county was  obtaining  a                                                               
competitive  rate. Mississippi  reported  it saved  from $750  to                                                               
$1,000  per  information  request  because  the  information  was                                                               
readily available. Texas was able  to save $163 million by having                                                               
information  online   to  more  closely  monitor   contracts  and                                                               
identify cost-cutting measures.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
3:52:02 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  added  that making  information  available                                                               
online will reduce  staff time to compile  information to fulfill                                                               
public records requests.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:52:42 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KAWASAKI asked how other  state agencies, including state                                                               
corporations  such as  the Alaska  Railroad  Corporation and  the                                                               
Alaska Aerospace Development Corporation, would be affected.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GRAHAM  replied all  publicly  owned  corporations would  be                                                               
included in SB 180. All  the information from public corporations                                                               
is  already  public information  but  it  is  not listed  in  the                                                               
current Alaska  checkbook. The University of  Alaska expenses are                                                               
not currently listed but would be under this bill.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  KAWASAKI  asked if  the  public  entities that  are  not                                                               
providing  information for  the  current  Alaska checkbook  would                                                               
have to come up with the numbers.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRAHAM  answered that they  are all required to  follow basic                                                               
accounting guidelines,  so they already have  the information. He                                                               
acknowledged that they  may need to change  their procedures some                                                               
to provide  the information to  the Department  of Administration                                                               
for posting to the proposed online website.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:55:02 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  GRAHAM presented  the following  sectional  analysis for  SB                                                               
180: [Original punctuation provided.]                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Section 1  Names the act  "the Alaska  Online Checkbook                                                                    
     Act."                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Section 2 Adopts legislative findings and intent:                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Subsection (a)  establishes that this bill  is intended                                                                  
     to  allow people  identify and  discover state  revenue                                                                    
     and expenditures.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Subsection (b)  requires that  this act  by interpreted                                                                  
     in favor of disclosure and transparency.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Subsection   (c)   finds   that   state   revenue   and                                                                  
     expenditures   must  be   accounted   for  and   easily                                                                    
     accessible to  the public in  order to maintain  a fair                                                                    
     and open government.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Subsection  (d) adopts  intent  that  the state  should                                                                  
     strive  to create  a user-friendly  website that  gives                                                                    
     the public access to  the state's financial information                                                                    
     in a centralized location.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRAHAM related that Section 2 includes guidelines for                                                                       
departments on the type of information that should be                                                                           
included in the online checkbook.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Section   3    Requires   that   the    Department   of                                                                    
     Administration  to make  the financial  transactions of                                                                    
     the    state   and    the   annual    audit   available                                                                    
     electronically for  use in the public  finance internet                                                                    
     website.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Section 4 Creates a new AS 37.05.215.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     AS  37.05.215   (a)      Requires  the   Department  of                                                                  
     Administration  to  develop   operate  and  maintain  a                                                                    
     searchable, free  to the public, website  that provides                                                                    
     financial  information   available  from   the  central                                                                    
     accounting system or the annual financial report.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     AS  37.05.215  (a)  (1)-(3)    Requires  the  following                                                                  
     information  and  transactions  to  be  posted  on  the                                                                    
     online  check book  website  and  monthly state  income                                                                    
     including:                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
        • Receipts or deposits by a state agency into a                                                                         
          fund or account established within the state                                                                          
          treasury.                                                                                                             
        • Proceeds from taxes received, categorized by                                                                          
          source type, including compulsory contributions                                                                       
          imposed by the state for the purpose of financing                                                                     
          services.                                                                                                             
        • Agency earnings including amounts collected for                                                                       
          sales or services, licenses or permits issued, or                                                                     
          otherwise received by an agency. s                                                                                    
        • Revenue received for the use of state money or                                                                        
          property including interest and lease payments                                                                        
          gifts, donations and federal receipts and other                                                                       
          revenue. Expenditures including:                                                                                      
        • The names and locations of any persons to whom                                                                        
          payment was made.                                                                                                     
        • The amounts of the expenditures disbursed.                                                                            
        • The type of transaction, by account code,                                                                             
          including the purpose of the expenditure.                                                                             
      •  Other information specified by the department.                                                                         
        •  The balance of the following state accounts:                                                                         
        • Statutory Budget Reserve.                                                                                             
        • Constitutional Budget Reserve.                                                                                        
        • Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve Account.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     AS  37.05.215  (a)  (4)-(7)    Requires  the  following                                                                  
     information be posted on the  online check book website                                                                    
     and  updated monthly:  The  amount  deposited into  the                                                                    
     Permanent   Fund  from   all  mineral   lease  rentals,                                                                    
     royalties,  royalty  sale   proceeds,  federal  mineral                                                                    
     revenue sharing  payments, and bonuses received  by the                                                                    
     state. State  revenue and expenditures,  summarized by:                                                                    
     General fund  revenue sources categorized  by function,                                                                    
     department,  and  account.  Total general  fund  income                                                                    
     compared  to  expenditures.  Total assets  compared  to                                                                    
     liabilities  at the  end of  the fiscal  year. For  the                                                                    
     preceding 10 years, by fiscal year the following:                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
        • The number of state employees by department.                                                                          
        • The number of independent contractors engaged by                                                                      
          the state by department.                                                                                              
        • The total long-term debt owed by the state.                                                                           
        • Total general fund expenditures.                                                                                      
        • All general fund payroll by department. AS                                                                            
3:58:49 PM                                                                                                                  
     AS 37.05.215(b)    Describes the reporting requirements                                                                  
     for the previous subsection.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     AS 37.05.215  (c)(1)   Requires  that the  website have                                                                  
     reference   materials   to   assist   the   public   in                                                                    
     understanding the financial provided on the website.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     AS 37.05.215  (c)(2)   Requires  the website to  have a                                                                  
     feature that allows users to  search for information on                                                                    
     the website by keyword and recipient.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     AS 37.05.215 (c)(3)   Requires  the site to have a link                                                                  
     to the  website of the Legislative  Audit Division. The                                                                    
     site   must   also   include   electronic   copies   of                                                                    
     information  related   to  state   service  procurement                                                                    
     contracts, including  compensation and  contract length                                                                    
     and of  information related to  independent contractors                                                                    
     engaged  by  the  state,  by  state  agency,  including                                                                    
     compensation and contract length.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     AS 37.05.215  (d)   Requires the  Department of Revenue                                                                  
     and  other   state  agencies   that  use   the  central                                                                    
     accounting  system   to  provide  information   to  the                                                                    
     Department  of  Administration  that  is  necessary  to                                                                    
     comply with this act.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     AS 37.05.215  (e)   Clarifies  that this bill  will not                                                                  
     require   the  disclosure   of   information  that   is                                                                    
     confidential under  state or  federal law  and requires                                                                    
     that  aggregated information  be  disclosed  if it  can                                                                    
     properly protect confidentiality.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     AS  37.05.215  (f) Defines  "expenditure,"  "searchable                                                                  
     Internet website," and "state agency."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Section 5  Requires the website  to be operating  on or                                                                    
     before October 1, 2021.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Section  6  Requires   information  from  the  previous                                                                    
     fiscal year  be on the  website by October 1,  2022 and                                                                    
     requires site to be updated.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:00:54 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KAWASAKI  asked for examples of  confidential disclosures                                                               
referenced in Section 4.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRAHAM  answered that confidential  information would  not be                                                               
made public,  so oil  company taxes would  be aggregated  and not                                                               
contain detail by field or  amount. Medicaid payments and student                                                               
scholarships  would  also  be aggregated.  He  added  that  state                                                               
settlements  in  the  Department  of   Law  would  also  be  held                                                               
confidential.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:02:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL  asked how state  procurements such  as contracts                                                               
for  sand and  gravel or  legal  services would  be reported.  He                                                               
expressed   concern   that   people   would   have   access   and                                                               
opportunities to review confidential bids.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRAHAM offered his belief  that the current process would not                                                               
change.  The  bidding  process is  kept  confidential,  but  once                                                               
awarded, the contract becomes public.  He displayed an example of                                                               
Ohio's   online  information   by   expense   type.  The   public                                                               
information  for the  Department of  Transportation includes  the                                                               
cost of trucks. He said it does  not identify it as a bid, but he                                                               
imagined the  state received  a fleet  discount. This  means that                                                               
competitors  could  see  the  amount   the  state  paid  for  the                                                               
vehicles.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL  said that was  his expectation but  the spending                                                               
leading up  to the bid may  be available and he  wonders how that                                                               
would work.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI responded  that it  was not  the intent  to                                                               
change the  current confidential  bidding process. He  offered to                                                               
check  with the  department  to  ensure the  language  in SB  180                                                               
clarifies that the bids would be kept confidential.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COGHILL said  he did  not want  the state's  procurement                                                               
process  hampered.  He also  asked  if  he anticipates  that  the                                                               
aggregated information  would be  similar to  how it  is reported                                                               
now. He cited Denali Kid Care information as an example.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRAHAM  answered yes. For  example, resident  and nonresident                                                               
tuition  for the  University of  Alaska  would be  reported as  a                                                               
whole so individual tuition would not be identifiable.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:06:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL commented  that a third of the  revenue the state                                                               
receives  is  from  the  federal government  and  the  public  is                                                               
probably interested  in how departments like  Department of Labor                                                               
and  Workforce   Development  (DOLWD)   and  the   Department  of                                                               
Transportation and Public Facilities (DOTPF) manage that money.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GRAHAM  offered to  follow  up  as  to  whether there  is  a                                                               
breakdown  between federal  and state  dollars. He  recalled that                                                               
Ohio  identifies the  fund  source for  purchases  so the  trucks                                                               
purchased would  indicate highway  maintenance funds, but  he did                                                               
not know  if it shows  whether the money  came from the  state or                                                               
federal  government. Sometimes  the  account  codes provide  that                                                               
information, he said.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL opined that showing  aggregate federal monies for                                                               
child support, child in need  of aid (CINA), Medicaid, or DOT&PF,                                                               
could  provide important  context.  Also,  there is  considerable                                                               
military spending in Alaska that the state never sees.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GRAHAM responded  that the  state's  online checkbook  would                                                               
only include  the money  the state  touches so  money spent  on a                                                               
military base would not be included.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COGHILL said  his point  was  that people  might have  a                                                               
different view  of the  size of government  if they  realized how                                                               
much funding is federal money.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  REVAK  asked if  other  states  list federal  pass-through                                                               
dollars in their online checkbooks.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. GRAHAM replied  he was not positive, but he  believed that in                                                               
Alaska it was  possible to see that more money  was expensed each                                                               
year than what  the state budgets for  unrestricted general funds                                                               
(UGF).                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:10:42 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI added  that to  the extent  that the  state                                                               
accounting practices have a code  for federal pass-through funds,                                                               
it could be  reported online. He said it's a  policy call, but he                                                               
was inclined to think that information should be available.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL  commented that  it would  be interesting  to see                                                               
state dollars enumerated  in gold and federal money  in green. He                                                               
said  he liked  the  idea  of the  bill  and  was thinking  about                                                               
showing the information in the best light.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:12:19 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL   asked  how  fee-for-service  items   would  be                                                               
categorized as opposed to income  from the delivery of a service.                                                               
He  cited DMV,  tuition  at the  university,  and permitting  for                                                               
mines as examples.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:13:41 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI replied it comes  down to how an expenditure                                                               
is  defined. The  goal  of  SB 180  is  to  produce a  searchable                                                               
website for  expenditures. The definition of  expenditure on page                                                               
5, lines 17-22 reads:                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     (1)    "expenditure" means  a  payment  from the  state                                                                    
     treasury that is  greater than $1,000 and  that is made                                                                    
     as  a  grant,  subgrant, contract,  subcontract,  loan,                                                                    
     lease, cooperative agreement,  purchase order, task or-                                                                    
     der,  delivery  order,  or   other  form  of  financial                                                                    
     transaction;   "expenditure"  does   not  include   the                                                                    
     transfer  of money  between state  agencies, individual                                                                    
     payments to state employees or  retirees, or payment of                                                                    
     state or federal assistance to an individual;                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
He  said that  this  language  is broad,  but  it  also tries  to                                                               
protect  individuals' confidentiality.  He pointed  out that  for                                                               
privacy  protection, it  excludes  fund  transfers between  state                                                               
agencies  and  individual payments  made  to  state employees  or                                                               
federal assistance to  individuals. However, he said  that he was                                                               
open to expanding or tweaking that  definition if there is a will                                                               
of the committee to do so.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR REVAK  said it is  a good thought because  for pass-through                                                               
monies  it  could  easily appear  that  expenditures  far  exceed                                                               
revenues.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:15:09 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COSTELLO  said she supports the  concept because Alaskans                                                               
crave  more transparency  in government.  She suggested  that the                                                               
committee could  work out  some of  the finer  details to  make a                                                               
great bill.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:15:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR REVAK opened public testimony on SB 180.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:16:15 PM                                                                                                                    
JAMIN  LIEBER,  representing  self,  Wasilla,  Alaska,  spoke  in                                                               
support of SB  180. He said he thought that  the presenters did a                                                               
good  job highlighting  the pros  of a  new online  checkbook. He                                                               
offered his  view that  people want  transparency, and  this bill                                                               
seems to be a slam dunk.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:16:49 PM                                                                                                                    
JIM SYKES,  representing self, Palmer,  Alaska, spoke  in support                                                               
of SB 180. He shared that  he worked on transparency and reliable                                                               
information when  he was  on the Mat-Su  Borough Assembly  and he                                                               
firmly believes that  providing the information to  the public in                                                               
a user-friendly manner  is essential. It would  give the business                                                               
community  insight and  save money  on  public records  requests.                                                               
This is  especially important since  the public  lacks confidence                                                               
in government and information can  be distorted. He said the Ohio                                                               
online  site  has  components  of   what  the  borough  tried  to                                                               
accomplish. He offered  his view that it is  important to provide                                                               
graphical interface and  fine detail. He referred  to language on                                                               
pages  3-4 of  the bill,  which  he particularly  likes since  it                                                               
provides a  look-back of one year.  He characterized SB 180  as a                                                               
good concept that is broadly supported.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:19:23 PM                                                                                                                    
JOE GELDHOF, representing self,  Juneau, Alaska, spoke in support                                                               
of SB  180. He said  the State of Alaska  is not a  business, but                                                               
the  type  of  information  this  calls for  is  what  all  smart                                                               
businesses  have   at  their   fingertips.  The   updated  online                                                               
checkbook will  allow citizens to  view revenue  and expenditures                                                               
and to work  with the legislature and bureaucrats  to ensure that                                                               
citizens are  getting good  value for the  money being  spent. He                                                               
described it  as a cross  partisan measure  that will be  used by                                                               
the  administration  and the  Office  of  Management and  Budget.                                                               
Citizens will have confidence to  know where money is being spent                                                               
and vendors can  use it to gauge their  effectiveness. The states                                                               
that  have  high  credibility, which  range  from  some  Southern                                                               
states to  Ohio, are the  ones that have good  administration. He                                                               
urged members  to move  the bill forward  and suggested  that the                                                               
legislature work with those who  will implement it to ensure that                                                               
the points Senator Coghill raised today are incorporated.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:21:43 PM                                                                                                                    
TOMOTHY  HALE,  representing  self,   Palmer,  Alaska,  spoke  in                                                               
support  of SB  180. He  related that  he has  found the  current                                                               
online checkbook difficult to use.  For example, he was unable to                                                               
see how much  money was being spent at the  Knik River Public Use                                                               
Area. He said SB 180 is a great idea.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:23:32 PM                                                                                                                    
WILL  MULDOON,  representing  self,   Juneau,  Alaska,  spoke  in                                                               
support of  SB 180 because  it is a good  idea for the  state for                                                               
the  reasons  the  testifiers  mentioned.  He  said  he  is  very                                                               
familiar with this  data set as he maintains the  state's data as                                                               
a  hobbyist. He  noted that  the data  system switched  a bit  in                                                               
2015.  Since  then  the  system consists  of  about  55  reports,                                                               
totaling 4,550 pages  and 3.6 million cells of  data. This amount                                                               
of information  is too  large for a  spreadsheet. He  offered his                                                               
view that  a dashboard or searchable  database is the way  to go.                                                               
He reported that the federal  pass-through money is included now.                                                               
He recalled the figure was "$8  billion of the $21.469 billion in                                                               
all from  July 1,  2015 to  2019." He  said it  is a  complex and                                                               
difficult system  to discern,  so any  efforts to  minimize those                                                               
impacts are greatly appreciated.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:25:47 PM                                                                                                                    
VERI  DI  SUVERO,  Executive  Director,  Alaska  Public  Interest                                                               
Research Group  (AkPIRG), Anchorage,  Alaska, stated  that AkPIRG                                                               
is  a  nonprofit consumer  advocacy  and  public interest  group.                                                               
AkPIRG  works on  a variety  of good  governance issues  and this                                                               
fits squarely  with the key  components that AkPIRG  believes are                                                               
necessary for  transparency in  government. The  online checkbook                                                               
will encourage better understanding  of state operations and help                                                               
reduce  waste. The  U.S.PIRG in  its 2019  portal grading  system                                                               
gave Alaska an F  but she is hopeful that by  2022 the state will                                                               
receive  a   better  grade.  During   the  global   pandemic  and                                                               
fluctuating oil prices, it is  critical to understand the state's                                                               
allocation of  funding to help  decision makers and  prevent mix-                                                               
ups  which result  in increased  government spending  to untangle                                                               
mistakes. She said seeing how  the government is using funding is                                                               
one of  the fundamentals of transparency.  It bolsters confidence                                                               
in  government  and  promotes  responsibility.  She  said  AkPIRG                                                               
believes that if the state  maintained a better website, it would                                                               
save the state and AKPIRG time and money.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:28:13 PM                                                                                                                    
RYAN MCKEE,  State Director,  Americans for  Prosperity, Wasilla,                                                               
Alaska,  spoke   in  favor   of  SB   180.  He   said  government                                                               
transparency is  more crucial  than ever  due to  limited revenue                                                               
and  tight  budgets.  It  could   help  give  Alaskans  a  better                                                               
understanding  of  where  expenditures  are  made  and  eliminate                                                               
transmission of false information.  He encouraged members to vote                                                               
the bill out of committee as soon as possible.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:29:11 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL asked  if the administration has  commented on SB                                                               
180.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GRAHAM  answered  that  the  administration  sent  an  email                                                               
indicating they  were tracking  the bill.  The comments  were not                                                               
specific other  than that  work was underway  on a  new financial                                                               
system.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COGHILL asked  the sponsor  if  he had  talked with  the                                                               
administration about the computer  systems that have been brought                                                               
online  the last  few years  or  how to  fit a  dashboard to  the                                                               
website.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said  no but he could reach  out. He related                                                               
that his  experience in  the past  is that  administrations would                                                               
prefer to do  this without legislation. But the  downside to that                                                               
is that some administrations might not  keep up with the needs of                                                               
society.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL opined that the timing might be right this time.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:32:26 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  REVAK closed  public  testimony on  SB  180. He  expressed                                                               
support for  the bill and  stated the  committee would work  on a                                                               
few of the issues raised today.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
[SB 180 was held in committee.]                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:33:03 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Revak adjourned the Senate State Affairs Standing                                                                         
Committee meeting at 4:33 p.m.                                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 180 Sectional 3.13.2020.pdf SSTA 3/19/2020 3:30:00 PM
SB 180
SB 180 Sponsor Statement 3.13.2020.pdf SSTA 3/19/2020 3:30:00 PM
SB 180
SB 180 Supporting Doc 1 Follow the Money 2019 Report.pdf SSTA 3/19/2020 3:30:00 PM
SB 180
SB 180 Supporting Doc 2 Historical 10-19 Reports Follow The Money.pdf SSTA 3/19/2020 3:30:00 PM
SB 180
SB 180 Supporting Doc 3 Online Checkbook Examples.pdf SSTA 3/19/2020 3:30:00 PM
SB 180
SB 180 Letter of Support AFP 3.13.20.pdf SSTA 3/19/2020 3:30:00 PM
SB 180