Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/31/2001 11:19 AM JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 177 - CAMPAIGN FINANCE: CONTRIB/DISCLOS/GROUPS                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0859                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG announced  the next order of  business, HOUSE BILL                                                               
NO. 177,  "An Act placing certain  special interest organizations                                                               
within  the  definition  of  'group'  for  purposes  of  Alaska's                                                               
campaign finance  statutes; providing  a contingent  amendment to                                                               
take effect in case subjecting  these organizations to all of the                                                               
statutory requirements  pertaining to groups  is held by  a court                                                               
to  be  unconstitutional;   requiring  certain  organizations  to                                                               
disclose  contributions made  to  them and  expenditures made  by                                                               
them;  requiring  disclosure  of  the  true  source  of  campaign                                                               
contributions;  and  providing for  an  effective  date."   [CSHB
177(STA) was before the committee.]                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
[Because of  their length, the  amendments to CSHB  177(STA) that                                                               
were discussed  during the meeting  are found  at the end  of the                                                               
minutes for HB 177.]                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 0826                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ said  he had  two amendments  to offer,                                                               
which were being copied and distributed to members.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG  noted that the  committee had taken  testimony in                                                               
the public hearing of HB 177 [held on 3/30/01].                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0802                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  explained that  Amendment 2  [which was                                                               
discussed  first]  would  make campaign  finance  laws  apply  to                                                               
issues  and initiatives,  in addition  to candidates.   He  added                                                               
right  upfront  that  that  would  be  unconstitutional,  but  he                                                               
pointed out that the fact  that things have been unconstitutional                                                               
has  not barred  the legislature  from  trying to  set policy  in                                                               
other  directions.    He  said   that  the  reason  it  would  be                                                               
unconstitutional was  because the [U.S.] Supreme  Court said that                                                               
there is nothing  to be corrupted within an  issue or initiative,                                                               
unlike with a candidate who receives  large sums of money from an                                                               
individual  and thereby  becomes unduly  swayed.   Representative                                                               
Berkowitz added  that he thinks  the reality of politics  is such                                                               
that  issues  and  individuals  associated  with  issues  can  be                                                               
tainted  by large  sums  of money  coming to  those  issues.   He                                                               
posited that  current law  was unconstitutional,  and one  way to                                                               
get the  [U.S.] Supreme Court  to revisit and reassess  issues in                                                               
light  of new  political realities  is to  "push the  envelope" a                                                               
little bit.   He  added that  he thought  the envelope  should be                                                               
pushed  by saying  rules that  apply to  individuals should  also                                                               
apply to issues.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0669                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES responded  that she tended to  agree in some                                                               
ways  with  Representative  Berkowitz  on  this  issue,  but  she                                                               
disagreed with  the premise that  the reason for  having campaign                                                               
finance  reform and  monetary limits  was because  a legislator's                                                               
vote could be bought.  She  said that she believed the only issue                                                               
addressed by  campaign finance  rules was  the public's  right to                                                               
know.   She  said  she  agreed that  with  regard  to issues  and                                                               
initiatives, the money  that is spent getting the  message out to                                                               
the  people is  persuasive.   And  the more  money  spent on  the                                                               
message, the more  persuasive it can be.   Further, [the message]                                                               
is not always a full picture of the issue.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES  added that having  said this, she  tends to                                                               
agree that wherever  there is money involved  in affecting policy                                                               
in the state, either by law or  by choice, the public has a right                                                               
to know whose money  is involved.  She said that  was the goal of                                                               
HB 177.   She added  that she thinks  now is  not the time  to do                                                               
what Amendment  2 proposes because  there is not  sufficient time                                                               
for discussion  of this  complicated issue.   She noted  that she                                                               
would be willing  to address that particular issue  at some point                                                               
because she  believes that  policy-making initiatives  and issues                                                               
are being  bought and  paid for without  public awareness  of the                                                               
source of the funds.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ noted that in  Alaska, a lot of time was                                                               
spent worrying about the effect  of "outside money," particularly                                                               
on wildlife initiatives.  He said  that rather than limit who can                                                               
bring forth certain  types of initiatives, his  antidote would be                                                               
to  ban  outside  money.    With  regard  to  outside  money,  an                                                               
individual's campaign  is limited to  $3,000; he said  he thought                                                               
that something similar could be done with regard to initiatives.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0490                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES said she disagreed  that that approach would                                                               
be unconstitutional, so long as it was scheduled correctly.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ  commented  that he  was  not  speaking                                                               
against  his  own amendment  but  was  instead saying  that  [the                                                               
legislature] could still have a  lot of discussion on the subject                                                               
encompassed  by  it.    He  said he  was  using  the  opportunity                                                               
presented  by  having  campaign finance  legislation  before  the                                                               
committee to  have some  of this  discussion.   He added  that he                                                               
might  offer an  amendment during  the House  floor session  that                                                               
would  specifically address  outside  money  for initiatives  and                                                               
issues.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 0440                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ made  a  motion to  adopt Amendment  2,                                                               
[22-LS0406\S.1,  Kurtz, 3/30/01].   [Amendment  2 is  provided at                                                               
the end of the minutes on HB 177.]                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0438                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ROKEBERG  objected.    He  said that  per  the  advice  of                                                               
committee  counsel,  he  would  find it  troubling  to  vote  for                                                               
something that  would be unconstitutional  at this juncture.   In                                                               
addition,  he said  he thought  the sponsor  of HB  177 would  be                                                               
reluctant  to accept  Amendment 2  because it  would broaden  the                                                               
scope,  and it  was not  the sponsor's  intent to  speak to  this                                                               
issue.    He added,  however,  that  while  he agreed  with  both                                                               
Representative James  and Representative Berkowitz that  this was                                                               
an  issue  worthy  of  discussion,   the  lateness  of  the  hour                                                               
precluded further discussion.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0365                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
A roll call  vote was taken.  Representative  Berkowitz voted for                                                               
Amendment  2.     Representatives  James,  Coghill,   Meyer,  and                                                               
Rokeberg voted  against it.   Therefore, Amendment 2 failed  by a                                                               
vote of 1-4.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0361                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ made  a  motion to  adopt Amendment  1,                                                               
[22-LS0406\S.2, Kurtz, 3/31/01]  [Amendment  1 is provided at the                                                               
end of the minutes on HB 177.]                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0359                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG objected.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ   explained  that  Amendment   1  would                                                               
increase the penalties for violators of campaign finance laws.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG disagreed  with Amendment 1 based  on the peculiar                                                               
complexities of  the [campaign  finance] laws,  which he  said he                                                               
thinks  are in  large part  a barrier  to candidate  recruitment.                                                               
[The campaign finance  laws] are so easy to run  afoul of because                                                               
they are entirely  too complex.  In addition, he  said he did not                                                               
think  the new  electronic format  was user-friendly  whatsoever.                                                               
The potential for making errors  and not being in compliance with                                                               
the law was overwhelming at this  juncture.  He added that if the                                                               
whole context of the reporting  requirements could be simplified,                                                               
then he  might be more willing  to look at an  increase in fines,                                                               
and  even increasing  [violations] up  to  a felony  level.   But                                                               
given  the current  flux of  campaign  finance laws,  he said  he                                                               
thought it  was inappropriate [to  increase fines at  this time].                                                               
He  added,  as an  example,  that  current disclosure  provisions                                                               
subject  a  person  to  penalties   if  he  or  she,  through  an                                                               
oversight, neglects to disclose  financial losses from securities                                                               
held in a personal portfolio.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JAMES  agreed that reporting requirements  do pose                                                               
a deterrent  to running for  office.  Many  first-time candidates                                                               
violate campaign  finance laws in  ignorance; she  added, though,                                                               
that ignorance  is no excuse  because a candidate is  required to                                                               
read the entire campaign finance law.   She said she did not have                                                               
any pat answers  on how to make the  [disclosure provisions] less                                                               
cumbersome and easier for people  to understand, or, also, how to                                                               
encourage other  people to  run for the  legislature.   She added                                                               
that she  would like to "open  the door" in order  to find people                                                               
to serve [in the legislature].                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0110                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MEYER  added  that   due  to  the  current  stiff                                                               
penalties, he had contacted the  Alaska Public Offices Commission                                                               
(APOC) frequently  during the  course of  his campaign,  and that                                                               
[Amendment 1]  would make  the situation  worse because  a person                                                               
could  potentially be  a  felon.   He said  he  agreed that  most                                                               
people wouldn't  even attempt to  run for office [because  of the                                                               
complexity of  current campaign finance  laws], and  if penalties                                                               
are  increased,  then  those  who  do run  for  office  would  be                                                               
conferring with the APOC before every move.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ROKEBERG   asked  if  Amendment   1  was   an  "incumbent-                                                               
protection" amendment.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ   responded  that  he  did   not  think                                                               
Amendment 1 put candidates at risk.   He said what he had in mind                                                               
were "operatives  who know how  to circumvent the system,  and do                                                               
so with little risk of any penalty."                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR ROKEBERG  countered that  by "casting the  net" in  the way                                                               
that Amendment  1 was drafted, he  took it to mean  that everyone                                                               
would  be "underneath  that umbrella."   He  asked Representative                                                               
Berkowitz if this was correct.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  responded that  yes, everyone  would be                                                               
under that umbrella,  and he noted that he, too,  called the APOC                                                               
all the time to ask questions.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 01-50, SIDE A                                                                                                              
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ROKEBERG commented  that [new  candidates] would  not have                                                               
the  education and  experience of  reading  the campaign  finance                                                               
laws year after  year as [incumbents] have, and thus  it would be                                                               
a problem [for new candidates].                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ countered that  as he said before, there                                                               
are people out there who know how to go around the rules.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  ROKEBERG   said  he  was  maintaining   his  objection  to                                                               
Amendment  1,   and  asked  if  Representative   Berkowitz  would                                                               
withdraw Amendment 1.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ said  he was  maintaining his  offer of                                                               
Amendment 1.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0045                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
A roll call  vote was taken.  Representative  Berkowitz voted for                                                               
Amendment 1. Representatives Coghill,  Meyer, James, and Rokeberg                                                               
voted against it.  Therefore, Amendment  1 failed by a vote of 1-                                                               
4.                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0066                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JAMES  moved  to  report  CSHB  177(STA)  out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal  note.    There  being no  objection,  CSHB  177(STA)  was                                                               
reported from the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                           AMENDMENTS                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
The following  amendments to CSHB 177(STA)  were discussed during                                                               
the hearing.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Amendment  2 [22-LS0406\S.1,  Kurtz,  3/30/01] (discussed  first;                                                             
not adopted)                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 2, following "statutes;":                                                                                   
          Insert   "applying    certain   campaign   finance                                                                  
     restrictions to ballot propositions and questions;"                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, following line 5:                                                                                                  
          Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                    
        "* Sec. 3.  AS 15.13.040(d) is amended to read:                                                                     
          (d)  Every individual, person, or group making a                                                                      
     contribution or expenditure shall make a full report,                                                                      
     upon a form prescribed by the commission, of                                                                               
               (1)  contributions made to a candidate or                                                                        
      group and expenditures made on behalf of a candidate                                                                      
     or group                                                                                                                   
               (A)  as soon as the total contributions and                                                                      
      expenditures to that candidate or group reaches $500                                                                      
     in a year; and                                                                                                             
               (B)  for all subsequent contributions and                                                                        
     expenditures  to  that candidate  or  group  in a  year                                                                    
     whenever  the total  contributions and  expenditures to                                                                    
     that  candidate or  group that  have not  been reported                                                                    
     under this paragraph reaches $500;                                                                                         
               (2)  [UNLESS EXEMPTED FROM REPORTING BY (h)                                                                      
     OF  THIS  SECTION,]   any  expenditure  whatsoever  for                                                                    
     advertising  in  newspapers  or other  periodicals,  on                                                                    
     radio,  or  on  television; or,  for  the  publication,                                                                    
     distribution, or  circulation of brochures,  flyers, or                                                                    
     other  campaign material  for any  candidate or  ballot                                                                    
     proposition or question."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill section accordingly.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, following line 30:                                                                                                 
          Insert new bill sections to read:                                                                                     
        "* Sec. 5.  AS 15.56.014(a) is amended to read:                                                                     
          (a)  A person commits the crime of campaign                                                                           
     misconduct in the second degree if the person                                                                              
               (1)  knowingly circulates or has written,                                                                        
     printed   or   circulated   a  letter,   circular,   or                                                                    
     publication relating to an election,  to a candidate at                                                                    
     an  election, or  an election  proposition or  question                                                                    
     without the  name and address  of the  author appearing                                                                    
     on its face;                                                                                                               
               (2)         [EXCEPT     AS    PROVIDED     BY                                                                    
     AS 15.13.090(b),]  knowingly  prints  or  publishes  an                                                                    
     advertisement,  billboard,  placard, poster,  handbill,                                                                    
     paid-for  television or  radio  announcement, or  other                                                                    
     communication intended  to influence the election  of a                                                                    
     candidate  or  outcome  of   a  ballot  proposition  or                                                                    
     question without  the words "paid  for by"  followed by                                                                    
     the  name  and  address  of the  candidate,  group,  or                                                                    
     individual paying for  the advertising or communication                                                                    
     and,  if a  candidate or  group, with  the name  of the                                                                    
     campaign chair;                                                                                                            
               (3)  knowingly writes or prints and                                                                              
     circulates, or  has written, printed and  circulated, a                                                                    
     letter,   circular,    bill,   placard,    poster,   or                                                                    
     advertisement in a newspaper, on radio or television                                                                       
               (A)  containing false factual information                                                                        
     relating to a candidate for an election;                                                                                   
               (B)  that the person knows to be false; and                                                                      
               (C)  that would provoke a reasonable person                                                                      
     under the  circumstances to  a breach  of the  peace or                                                                    
     that a reasonable person would  construe as damaging to                                                                    
     the candidate's  reputation for honesty,  integrity, or                                                                    
     the candidate's  qualifications to serve if  elected to                                                                    
     office.                                                                                                                    
        *   Sec.   6.       AS 15.13.010(d),   15.13.040(h),                                                                  
     15.13.065(c),    15.13.084(1),     15.13.090(b),    and                                                                    
     15.13.140 are repealed."                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Amendment 1 [22-LS0406\S.2, Kurtz, 3/31/01] (discussed last; not                                                              
adopted)                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 1, following "Act":                                                                                         
          Insert "increasing the civil penalties and                                                                          
     amending  the  criminal   penalties  for  violation  of                                                                  
     Alaska's campaign finance statutes;"                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, following line 5:                                                                                                  
          Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                    
        "* Sec. 3.  AS 15.13.390(a) is amended to read:                                                                     
          (a)  A person who fails to register when required                                                                     
     by  AS 15.13.050(a)  or who  fails to  file a  properly                                                                    
     completed   and  certified   report  within   the  time                                                                    
     required by AS 15.13.040(d)  - (f), 15.13.060(b) - (d),                                                                    
     15.13.080(c),  15.13.110(a)(1), (3),  or  (4), (e),  or                                                                    
     (f)  is subject  to a  civil penalty  of not  more than                                                                    
     $100  [$50]   a  day  for  each   day  the  delinquency                                                                
     continues as  determined by  the commission  subject to                                                                    
     right of  appeal to the  superior court.  A  person who                                                                    
     fails  to  file  a  properly  completed  and  certified                                                                    
     report within  the time required by  AS 15.13.110(a)(2)                                                                    
     or 15.13.110(b)  is subject to  a civil penalty  of not                                                                    
     more  than  $1000  [$500]  a   day  for  each  day  the                                                                
     delinquency continues  as determined by  the commission                                                                    
     subject to  right of appeal  to the superior court.   A                                                                    
     person  who  violates  a  provision  of  this  chapter,                                                                    
     except a provision requiring  registration or filing of                                                                    
     a report within a  time required as otherwise specified                                                                    
     in this section,  is subject to a civil  penalty of not                                                                    
     more than $100  [$50] a day for each  day the violation                                                                
     continues as  determined by the commission,  subject to                                                                    
     right of  appeal to the  superior court.   An affidavit                                                                    
     stating  facts in  mitigation may  be submitted  to the                                                                    
     commission by a person against  whom a civil penalty is                                                                    
     assessed.   However,  the imposition  of the  penalties                                                                    
     prescribed in this section or  in AS 15.13.380 does not                                                                    
     excuse that  person from registering or  filing reports                                                                    
     required by this chapter."                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill section accordingly.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, following line 30:                                                                                                 
          Insert new bill sections to read:                                                                                     
        "* Sec. 5.  AS 15.56.012(c) is amended to read:                                                                     
          (c)  Campaign misconduct in the first degree is a                                                                     
     class C felony [CLASS A MISDEMEANOR].                                                                                  
        * Sec. 6.  AS 15.56.014(c) is amended to read:                                                                        
          (c)  Campaign misconduct in the second degree is                                                                      
     a class A [CLASS B] misdemeanor.                                                                                       
        * Sec. 7.  AS 15.56.016(b) is amended to read:                                                                        
       (b)  Campaign misconduct in the third degree is a                                                                        
     class B misdemeanor [VIOLATION]."                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
[End of proposed  amendments to CSHB 177(STA);  CSHB 177(STA) was                                                               
reported out of committee.]                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                

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