Legislature(2019 - 2020)GRUENBERG 120

02/24/2020 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 124 ELECTRONIC DOCUMENTS AND NOTARIZATION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+= HB 201 DEFENSE OF PUB. OFFICER: ETHICS COMPLAINT TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 201(JUD) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        HB 201-DEFENSE OF PUB. OFFICER: ETHICS COMPLAINT                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:31:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CLAMAN announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  201, "An Act relating to  legal representation of                                                               
public officers in ethics complaints."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:32:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX as  prime sponsor of HB 201,  stated that a                                                               
committee substitute  (CS) was available  that would help  to cut                                                               
down on some  "excess verbiage" that was present in  HB 201.  She                                                               
explained  that the  proposed CS  would  make it  clear that  the                                                               
attorney  general  may  not represent  the  governor,  lieutenant                                                               
governor, or  any other  public official  in an  ethics violation                                                               
complaint.  She  expressed that this would  leave the regulations                                                               
formed 10 years  ago in place, and the status  quo would continue                                                               
as it has for the past 10 years.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CLAMAN  asked whether the proposed  legislation would apply                                                               
to the attorney general.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:33:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  replied  that  she  thinks  the  language                                                               
"another public  officer or former public  officer" would include                                                               
the  attorney general.   She  remarked  that Dan  Wayne from  the                                                               
Legislative Legal Services could speak more to that topic.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:34:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DAN  WAYNE,  Attorney,  Legislative  Legal  Counsel,  Legislative                                                               
Legal   Services,  Legislative   Affairs  Agency,   Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  remarked that  Representative  LeDoux was  correct;                                                               
the  attorney  general  was  encompassed   by  the  term  "public                                                               
officer."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:34:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  CLAMAN,  after ascertaining  that  there  were no  further                                                               
questions, asked  for a  motion to  adopt the  CS as  the working                                                               
document before the committee.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:34:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   STUTES  moved   to   adopt  proposed   committee                                                               
substitute (CS) for HB 201,  Version 31-LS1264\S, Wayne, 2/18/20,                                                               
as a work draft.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:35:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN objected to the motion.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN stated that he  would like to know whether                                                               
the changes to the proposed  legislation meant that the committee                                                               
would   be  moving   away   from   conversations  pertaining   to                                                               
reimbursements,  and  whether  these changes  should  affect  the                                                               
legislative  branch in  addition  to the  executive  branch.   He                                                               
expressed  that  he  found  those   conversations  to  be  rather                                                               
interesting and fruitful in the past two hearings.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:35:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX replied  that  that is  the direction  the                                                               
proposed legislation was  going to take.  She said  she wanted to                                                               
make  the proposed  legislation  "nice and  simple,  and this  CS                                                               
accomplishes that."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:36:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN maintained the objection.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN reiterated the  point that he thinks those                                                               
conversations were  both interesting  and fruitful, and  he hopes                                                               
that a  way to  continue them can  be found.   He stated  that he                                                               
could not see  a better vehicle for discussing  those points than                                                               
HB 201.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:36:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A  roll call  vote was  taken.   Representatives Shaw,  Drummond,                                                               
Stutes, LeDoux, and Claman voted in  favor of the motion to adopt                                                               
the proposed  committee substitute (CS)  for HB 201,  Version 31-                                                               
LS1264\S,  Wayne,  2/18/20,  as  a work  draft.    Representative                                                               
Eastman voted against it.  Therefore,  Version S was adopted as a                                                               
work draft by a vote of 5-1.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:37:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  remarked that there might  be a potential                                                               
conflict between  existing legislation  under Title 23,  which he                                                               
said spells  out that the  attorney general is the  legal advisor                                                               
of the  governor, and  the legislation  proposed under  CSHB 201,                                                               
which would  make it  so the attorney  general cannot  advise the                                                               
governor on certain things.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:37:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WAYNE responded  that the  constitutional requirement  is to                                                               
represent the  office of  the governor  in an  official capacity,                                                               
not  in a  personal  capacity  as in  the  defense  of an  ethics                                                               
complaint.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN remarked that he  was trying to find a way                                                               
that  the proposed  legislation could  be misused,  and he  asked                                                               
whether  it would  be possible  for someone  to file  a complaint                                                               
against  the  governor  whenever  he/she wanted  to  deprive  the                                                               
governor  of  advisement from  the  attorney  general or  whether                                                               
there would be firewalls in place to prevent this.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. WAYNE replied  that the proposed legislation  only deals with                                                               
complaints filed  under the Alaska  Executive Branch  Ethics Act,                                                               
and  any  other  situation  involving  litigation,  disagreements                                                               
about the  law, or the  limits of the governor's  authority would                                                               
not be covered under CSHB 201.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN recalled  a situation  from the  previous                                                               
year,  in  which  the  governor  was  sending  out  social  media                                                               
regarding  the  Permanent  Fund  Dividend  (PFD),  and  he  asked                                                               
whether  a complaint  filed against  the  governor for  something                                                               
related to that  would "trigger" the Executive  Branch Ethics Act                                                               
and prohibit the  attorney general from offering  legal advice to                                                               
the governor.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. WAYNE replied  that he could think of two  ways that the term                                                               
"trigger"  might be  relevant to  the  [Executive] Branch  Ethics                                                               
Act:  First, when an officer  is elected to public office the Act                                                               
is  triggered  and  the  elected   official  is  responsible  for                                                               
following  it.   Second,  misuse  of  government resources  by  a                                                               
public  official,  for  political  or  personal  purposes,  might                                                               
constitute  a violation  of  the  Act and  someone  could file  a                                                               
complaint.   He remarked that  if no  complaint was filed,  as in                                                               
the   hypothetical    situation   Representative    Eastman   had                                                               
referenced, then  the legislation  proposed under CSHB  201 would                                                               
probably not be applicable because  it only applies to complaints                                                               
filed  under the  Executive Branch  Ethics Act.   He  pointed out                                                               
that page 1, lines 7-8, of Version S state that specifically.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  asked how difficult, time  consuming, and                                                               
costly  it  is  for  someone  to file  a  complaint  against  the                                                               
governor.   He remarked  that he  could see  how a  situation may                                                               
arise in which the governor  has not acted improperly but someone                                                               
might not want the governor to  be able to work with the attorney                                                               
general on a  certain policy issue and might file  a complaint to                                                               
prevent them from working together.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WAYNE  answered  that  his  recollection  of  the  complaint                                                               
provisions of  the Executive Branch  Ethics Act is that  there is                                                               
no cost to file a complaint, and  it may be relatively easy for a                                                               
complaint to be  filed; however, it is difficult  for a complaint                                                               
to pass through the various stages  required to make it to a high                                                               
level decision.  He remarked that  he has never filed a complaint                                                               
and does not have first-hand experience with the process.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:42:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  asked whether  it would be  difficult for                                                               
someone to  file a  complaint on  a whim,  and later  - if  it is                                                               
admitted that  the complaint was  politically motivated  and made                                                               
to separate  the governor  and attorney  general -  whether there                                                               
would be any penalty for that.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:43:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX answered  that her thought on  the topic is                                                               
that the  attorney general could  not advise the governor  as far                                                               
as  the  ethics  complaint  goes, but  he/she  could  advise  the                                                               
governor  for  anything  else  that  does  not  pertain  to  that                                                               
particular ethics complaint.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:44:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  CLAMAN  commented  that   he  agreed  with  Representative                                                               
LeDoux's analysis.   He said, as an example, that  someone who is                                                               
opposed    to   proposed    legislation   regarding    electronic                                                               
notarization  could lobby  against  the  proposed legislation  by                                                               
sending letters  to the governor  asking for him/her to  not sign                                                               
the bill,  but could  also file an  ethics complaint  against the                                                               
governor saying  that he/she took  money from title  companies in                                                               
the last election and is conflicted  on this topic.  He said that                                                               
he thinks  the attorney  general could still  give advice  to the                                                               
governor  on  signing  the  bill but  could  not  provide  advice                                                               
regarding the ethics complaint.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:45:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  asked whether  there was any  penalty for                                                               
filing fraudulent  ethics complaints  against a  public official.                                                               
He wondered  whether there  was something that  could be  done to                                                               
rework  the  language in  line  6  and  line  7 of  the  proposed                                                               
legislation   under  Version   S   to  prevent   it  from   being                                                               
misinterpreted.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:46:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX replied  that she did not  see how changing                                                               
the  language  would  be  misinterpreted or  needed  to  be  made                                                               
clearer.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:46:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  WAYNE  commented that  any  statute  or legal  provision  is                                                               
subject to the  interpretation of the individual  reading it and,                                                               
in  this  instance,  it  seems   to  him  that  the  most  likely                                                               
interpretation of the proposed legislation  is that it is limited                                                               
to complaints which are filed.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:47:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  CLAMAN,  after ascertaining  that  there  were no  further                                                               
questions, discussed the committee's options for Version S.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:49:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 1:49 p.m. to 1:51 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:51:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CLAMAN announced  that during the at-ease  it was suggested                                                               
that, since  this was the  third hearing on  HB 201 in  the House                                                               
Judiciary  Standing  Committee,  the  bill could  be  moved  from                                                               
committee.   He asked whether  there was any objection  to moving                                                               
Version S out of committee.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:51:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN said  that he would object  to the motion.                                                               
He  expressed that  he  thinks more  discussion  on the  proposed                                                               
legislation would be fruitful.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:52:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STUTES  moved to  report  CSHB  201, Version  31-                                                               
LS1264\S,  Wayne,  2/18/20,  out  of  committee  with  individual                                                               
recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:52:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN objected to the motion.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:52:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A  roll  call vote  was  taken.   Representatives  LeDoux,  Shaw,                                                               
Drummond, Stutes, and  Claman voted in favor of  moving CSHB 201,                                                               
Version  31-LS1264\S,  Wayne,  2/18/20,  out  of  committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
Representative  Eastman  voted  against   it.    Therefore,  CSHB
201(JUD)  was  reported  out  of  the  House  Judiciary  Standing                                                               
Committee by a vote of 5-1.                                                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 124 v. S 2.17.2020.PDF HJUD 2/24/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 2/26/2020 1:00:00 PM
HB 124
HB 124 v. A 4.12.2019.PDF HJUD 4/12/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 4/15/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 2/24/2020 1:00:00 PM
HB 124
HB 124 Sponsor Statement v. S 2.20.2020.pdf HJUD 2/24/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 2/26/2020 1:00:00 PM
SJUD 3/20/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 124
HB 124 Sponsor Statement v. A 4.12.2019.pdf HJUD 2/24/2020 1:00:00 PM
HB 124
HB 124 Sectional Analysis v. S 2.21.2020.pdf HJUD 2/24/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 2/26/2020 1:00:00 PM
SJUD 3/20/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 124
HB 124 Explanation of Changes v. A to v. S 2.21.2020.pdf HJUD 2/24/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 2/26/2020 1:00:00 PM
SJUD 3/20/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 124
HB 124 Supporting Document - Letters Receieved by 2.21.2020.pdf HJUD 2/24/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 2/26/2020 1:00:00 PM
SJUD 3/20/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 124
HB 124 Fiscal Note DNR-RO 2.14.2020.pdf HJUD 2/24/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 2/26/2020 1:00:00 PM
HB 124
HB 201 Work Draft Committee Substitute v. S 2.18.2020.pdf HJUD 2/24/2020 1:00:00 PM
HB 201
HB 201 v. U 2.10.2020.PDF HJUD 2/10/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 2/17/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 2/24/2020 1:00:00 PM
HB 201
HB 201 Sponsor Statement 2.10.2020.pdf HJUD 2/10/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 2/17/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 2/24/2020 1:00:00 PM
HB 201
HB 201 Summary of Changes v. U to v. S 2.24.2020.pdf HJUD 2/24/2020 1:00:00 PM
HB 201
HB 201 Fiscal Note LAW-CIV 2.8.20.pdf HJUD 2/17/2020 1:00:00 PM
HJUD 2/24/2020 1:00:00 PM
HB 201