Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/18/1996 01:05 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 359 - APPOINTMENT PROCESS FOR BDS & COMM'NS Number 822 PATRICK LOUNSBURY, Staff to Representative Porter presented information to the committee regarding HB 359. He noted that version (g) of this legislation was a result of the House State Affairs Committee meeting and added that version (k) of this same legislation was before the committee now. CHAIRMAN PORTER asked if it was appropriate to note that the difference between these two versions was one word and basically that this change didn't have a substantive effect on the legislation. MR. LOUNSBURY said that this was correct and then referred to page 4, line 12 of work draft (k) and specified that the word "each" was introduced to clarify that a governor is not required to present names of persons appointed by a previous governor. This essentially takes care of any "lame duck" appointments, which is basically the intent of this bill. The phrase, "by that governor" was added in as well. Number 920 REPRESENTATIVE DAVID FINKELSTEIN asked if there was any position from the administration regarding this legislation. CHAIRMAN PORTER noted that they had worked with the administration while presenting this legislation to the State Affairs Committee. The administration had some major concerns of the administration which had already been addressed. The existing minor concerns related to the fact that the legislation requires that forthcoming appointments are due in a shorter period of time than they used to be. This requires the administration to do more work in a shorter period time. Chairman Porter noted again that the administration had no substantive concerns regarding this legislation as of this time. Number 965 REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE noted that in the past they've had problems with individuals slated to serve on boards before they were actually confirmed. CHAIRMAN PORTER asked that Mr. Lounsbury be allowed to explain what this legislation does so that they can get a grasp on that first. Number 984 MR. LOUNSBURY stated that this legislation would require the governor to present to the legislature within 30 days of convening, the names of persons appointed who have previously been unconfirmed and the names of persons to be appointed, for example, an appointment made after 30 days of the session while the session is still in progress would be presented within five calendar days. This feature, which is basically the main thrust of this legislation, allows a new governor to appoint new people or reappoint the interim appointee selected by the previous governor. MR. LOUNSBURY continued outlining the bill by specific sections. Section 1 simply conforms the occupational licensing boards under the purview of this bill and these are boards such as the athletic commission, board of barbers, commercial services, etc. The next few sections just add on other boards established under this legislation's jurisdiction. Section 12 requires that all the boards conform to a March 1, expiration date of when boards are appointed or reappointed. This would allow the legislature to deal with this procedure during session. This would allow the governor to think about these appointments before and after this date. Section 13 of this legislation conforms the bill to how the prior boards dealt with vacancies and would conform to Section 14 of the bill. Section 14 is the "heart and soul" of the bill. Section 14 begins on page 4, line 8 and provides that any aspect of a general procedure in this statute can be modified by the legislature for any board or commission and brought under one umbrella. MR. LOUNSBURY again reiterated that on page 4, line 12, this language clarifies that the governor is not required to present names of persons appointed by a previous governor and that only a presentment during the session satisfies the presentment requirement. He further stated that this section allows the governor to present to the legislature within 30 days of convening, the names of those people who have not been previously confirmed and the people who have been recently appointed. The third sentence of this section provides that an appointment be made after 30 days of the session, ("this is all going to happen in the first year of catch up, so we can all come under March 1,") that the appointment made after 30 days of the session while the session is still in progress has to be presented within five calendar days to allow the legislature to act on it. On page 5, line 26 it provides that the duration of an appointment made during the legislature's interim ends when a new regular session convenes, but this appointee can be reappointed and presented for the confirmation process. "So if you catch someone in-between governors this would allow the new governor to accept the prior governor's appointment and would allow this to go through if this new governor chose to do this." Number 1280 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked if he understand that any appointment made in the interim even during a governor's term would then only be a temporary appointment which would have to be reappointed. MR. LOUNSBURY said this would be true and would expire on the first day of session. Number 1299 REPRESENTATIVE CYNTHIA TOOHEY asked about an individual who had been sitting on a commission for five years and the change has come about, but her name has never been mentioned, would she be automatically waived into this seat. If she has not been reappointed, she has not been removed, but going from one year to the next, does the omission of a name mean an appointment. CHAIRMAN PORTER stated that the only names which have to be offered are new appointments. If someone is appointed for three years and they are confirmed that first year there is nothing which happens the second or third year. Chairman Porter noted that Jim Baldwin from the Department of Law was in attendance if anyone had any questions of him and then asked Mr. Baldwin if he had characterized the department's position correctly regarding this legislation. Number 1374 JAMES BALDWIN, Assistant Attorney General, Governmental Affairs Section, Department of Law responded that because there were about 1,200 offices which they are required to fill, having a significant portion of these coming to an end on a date certain would place a heavy burden on the governor's office to fill these vacancies and he noted the other legal issues which they already discussed in the conjunction with the State Affairs Committee hearing which were really ancillary to the main purpose of the bill. CHAIRMAN PORTER stated that fundamentally, what this bill is seeking to do is to eliminate the mess they had a few years back with an Alaska Public Utilities Commission (APUC) appointment and the resulting suit is still going on costing everyone a bunch of money. Basically what this legislation says is that appointments made after session is over, in any event, and especially by a governor who is leaving office, are not required to be carried forward by the next governor. The new governor may or may not bring a name forward, but that interim appointments "drop dead" if you will, at the end of the calendar year and may be reappointed by the governor, each governor, not the previous governor. There is also a provision which would allow that an appointment that wasn't otherwise submitted to the legislature in a timely fashion, that could have been during the session, does not continue so as to close the loop about being able to circumvent the confirmation process altogether. Number 1486 MR. LOUNSBURY added that regarding the heavy work load burden to the governor's office, since the boards are graduated, according to his calculations the worst case scenario would be about 80 appointments required in those specific months for each board affected. CHAIRMAN PORTER noted that bringing these appointments together during the session obviously is so they are confirmed and not spread out. Number 1527 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN asked if it would be a reasonable compromise to make this period 45 days. CHAIRMAN PORTER didn't think the concern was necessarily the length of time, but more the fact that all the proposed appointment names would be required all at once. Number 1557 MR. BALDWIN did agree with this observation. REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN wished to confirm with Mr. Baldwin that he was not opposed to the bill. MR. BALDWIN said he would merely repeat the testimony presented in the State Affairs Committee meeting. The department favors the concept (indisc. - whispering and paper shuffling) and this bill would clear up the legal issues. This bill would agree with the state's position presently in court, however there are some problems in the way the bill would operate. The department is in favor of parts of the bill to clear up the legal entanglements and stated that there are certain elements in the governor's office who are not happy with the bill and he was asked to convey this to Chairman Porter. Chairman Porter said that he could not accommodate their concerns regarding the deadline option. The Department of Law suggested an alternative, but it ran against a bigger issue which had to do with a concern about short term appointments and how this would be undermined. He said he was not authorized to say that they support the bill, but the administration has asked for many changes to this bill and he would estimate that three quarters of these have been addressed. Number 1695 REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE made a motion to move CSHB 359 (k) as the committees's adopted working version. There being no objection it was so moved. Representative Bunde then made a motion to move HB 359 (k) from the House Judiciary Committee with individual recommendations and zero fiscal note. There being no objection it was so moved.