Legislature(1995 - 1996)

01/25/1996 08:00 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 HB 368 - ELECTION CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM                                   
 HB 317 - ELECTION CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM                                   
                                                                               
 The first order of business to come before the House State Affairs            
 Committee was HB 368 and HB 317.                                              
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on Representative Finkelstein, sponsor of HB
 317, to present his sponsor statement.                                        
                                                                               
 Number 0266                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVID FINKELSTEIN said HB 368 and HB 317 were                  
 essentially the same as both bills reflected the provisions brought           
 forth in the initiative.  Minor changes, technical changes, and               
 recommendations were made to the initiative in HB 317.  He called             
 them clean-up and common sense items and were not critical to the             
 intent of the initiative.  The initiative, he said, was a strong              
 expression by the people of Alaska, and the legislature had an                
 important role to play.  The Constitution of the State of Alaska              
 required the legislature to review all initiatives unlike other               
 states, he cited, and gave the length of the session to review the            
 provisions.  Furthermore, if the legislature passed a substantially           
 similar law, the initiative would not go to the ballot.  He cited,            
 in California, the legislature was completely left out of the                 
 process.  He mentioned it was a good opportunity for the initiative           
 group and the legislature to interact and solve problems.                     
 Representative Finkelstein said he was motivated because he                   
 believed there was a high level of disenchantment among the public.           
 He stated he was discouraged to see the reception he received as a            
 politician.  The people felt politics was big money and their role            
 was limited.  He said he was amazed how few individuals gave $25              
 donations and suggested the general reason was they felt it did not           
 make a difference compared to the $1,000 donations.  Representative           
 Finkelstein stated more citizens would get involved in the                    
 political process if the cost of campaigns were reformed creating             
 a sense of "us" rather than "them."  Legislators were not a special           
 group of people, he asserted.  The backgrounds were as varied as              
 any group in the state.  This, he alleged, made the legislature a             
 true representation of the citizens.  The members were not rich but           
 of moderate means, he also stated.  The public, however, perceived            
 the legislators differently.  He further aired there were many ways           
 to approach campaign finance reform and suggested a public finance            
 approach with voluntary spending limits.  Under such a system, he             
 stated, contributions would be matched dollar for dollar with                 
 public funds up to the predetermined limit.  He said he would                 
 support that as an alternative to the initiative.  However, he                
 believed, the legislature was not willing to consider that approach           
 because of public sentiment.  The public did not support public               
 dollars spent on politicians, and furthermore, money could not be             
 appropriated through the initiative process.  He reiterated there             
 was not a single right or wrong way to approach campaign finance              
 reform and again stated he supported public financing.  The                   
 approaches in HB 317 and HB 368 were not unusual, he alleged.  The            
 bills tightened the limits, lowered the maximums, added new                   
 prohibitions, limited the time periods, increased the penalties,              
 and allowed for citizen suits.  In conclusion, he said, it was a              
 moderate reform.                                                              
                                                                               
 Number 0784                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said as sponsor of HB 368 campaign finance reform                 
 should not preclude the ordinary citizen from running for office.             
 She expressed her concern that restricting individuals from                   
 receiving campaign contributions would lower the ability of people            
 without money to run for office.  She agreed the legislature was              
 the proper avenue to address the initiative, and cited the                    
 committee and public input processes were the best way to include             
 and ensure greater understanding among the people.                            
 Number 0858                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ED WILLIS questioned if the legislature passed such            
 a bill, who determined whether the initiative would be                        
 "substantially the same" or "not substantially the same."                     
                                                                               
 Number 0880                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN responded the Lieutenant Governor and              
 the Attorney General had the power through a statute to determine             
 what "substantially the same" meant.  The bottom line, however, was           
 the legislature had significant discretion.  "Substantially the               
 same" meant it must be similar, he said, but it did not mean it               
 must be substantially identical.  He further reminded the committee           
 members the legislature had the power to amend.  The Lieutenant               
 Governor, he stated, would make a decision based on the achievement           
 of the objects in the initiative.  The current initiative was a               
 strengthening, tightening and limiting approach, therefore, actions           
 decided as "similar" would have to be equally strengthening,                  
 tightening, and limiting.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 0984                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATAIVE ROBINSON mentioned Representative Finkelstein's               
 approach of public funds did not match the criteria in the                    
 initiative.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 1000                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN responded nothing was absolute.  If the            
 initiative sponsors agreed it achieved the objectives there was not           
 an issue.                                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 1030                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN said there was a perception the campaign            
 process was heavily influenced by money.  He further stated he was            
 concerned people with money would buy their own influence to                  
 achieve office.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 1072                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said that was a common concern.  He                
 announced he pushed for more prohibitive approaches in the                    
 initiative.  He cited a $100 maximum contribution was adopted                 
 through an initiative by four states last election.  He cited                 
 Oregon adopted indistrict contributions contrary to the initiative            
 which adopted instate contributions.  The state of California was             
 addressing both issues right now.  He alleged, in that context,               
 this initiative was moderate as $500 could be raised off anybody in           
 Alaska and additional money from the same people who gave to a                
 group.  He further cited $5,000 could be raised off of a political            
 party which was money given from individuals to a group.                      
 Therefore, the initiative would not decrease the cost of a                    
 campaign.  He stated, the average cost of a campaign was $50,000 to           
 $60,000 and asserted the cost would be reduced by only 30 to 40               
 percent.  In conclusion, he reiterated, the initiative was not a              
 radical change.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 1200                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATAIVE OGAN asked, if the cost of a campaign mentioned by            
 Representative Finkelstein, depended on if the race was for the               
 house or the senate.                                                          
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said the cost depended on if it was a              
 uncontested or contested race.  Uncontested races brought the                 
 average down, he said.  He stated urban races were the most                   
 expensive at $60,000 to $80,000 due to competition.  He cited                 
 Representative Green's race was at the low end and Representative             
 Robinson's race was at the high end at around $80,000.                        
                                                                               
 Number 1255                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said her race was in the $30,000 range last year.  She            
 stated it was hard for her to determine how she could raise more              
 money based on the prohibitions in the initiative, but she                    
 asserted, she was willing to work for it.  In conclusion, she said            
 she received mostly small contributions from her supporters.                  
                                                                               
 Number 1281                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said the record holder in Alaska for a             
 candidate winning against an incumbent and spending the least                 
 amount of money was Representative Ogan.                                      
                                                                               
 Number 1305                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said thank you very much and for the record the           
 race cost $5,000.                                                             
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said there were some exceptions that               
 proved the rule.                                                              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN responded his race restored his faith in the              
 democratic system because it proved the average person could get              
 elected and not just rich individuals.                                        
                                                                               
 Number 1325                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN apologized for arriving late and stated he           
 was concerned this bill was biased in favor of the incumbent to               
 raise money due to familiarity.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 1417                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES further stated one challenge that affected this bill              
 was the urban versus rural issue.  She cited Senator Georgianna               
 Lincoln's campaign territory included 92 villages and required a              
 lot of travel time and money.  She expressed limited contributions            
 would adversely affect a candidate's ability to travel effectively            
 in a large region.                                                            
                                                                               
 Number 1445                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN IVAN said he was also concerned about the cost            
 of urban versus rural campaigns.  It was also very expensive in the           
 urban areas, he stated, due to the large territory covered.  He               
 cited where television costs were expensive in urban races, travel            
 costs were expensive in rural races.  He recognized the purpose and           
 intent of HB 368 and HB 317, but was afraid the restrictions would            
 inhibit new candidates in rural areas.  He also said the reporting            
 requirements from the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) for             
 the rural areas were horrendous.                                              
                                                                               
 Number 1535                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES asked what percentage of the population contributed to            
 campaigns in Alaska.  She alleged, the bigger the population the              
 larger the contributions.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 1560                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said there was a high ratio of campaign            
 contributions in Alaska compared to other northwestern states.  He            
 said the campaign spending level for a seat that paid only $24,000            
 and represented 5,000 to 12,000 voters was high.  In San Francisco,           
 he cited, the above example would hardly make a political                     
 neighborhood.  Representative Finkelstein further said campaigns in           
 Alaska compared to other states were unbelievably expensive.  He              
 further stated the committee was responsible for balancing the                
 urban versus rural, and incumbency versus non-incumbency issues               
 discussed earlier.  He agreed with the premise of maintaining a               
 level so that a candidate could travel within their district.  The            
 urban races were responsible for challenging the average cost of a            
 campaign, he alleged.  He further said, the current system favored            
 the incumbent and joked that prior to 1994 the chance of dying in             
 office was greater than the chance of losing.  He said, it took an            
 unusual circumstance for an incumbent to lose.  However, the                  
 provisions now favored the challenger.  He cited reducing the                 
 maximum contributions, the money from lobbyists, the money raising            
 period, and eliminating carry over of campaign surplus all favored            
 the challenger.  In conclusion, he asserted, this initiative would            
 level the playing field between the incumbent and the challenger.             
                                                                               
 Number 1828                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON expressed her concern the system favored              
 individuals with money.  She said the only way to eliminate                   
 contributions from the candidate was through a constitutional                 
 amendment.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 1855                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN responded a public finance and voluntary           
 limit statute would solve the problem.  As a result, a campaign               
 would cost the same for everyone.  However, he reiterated, it was             
 a hard concept to pass through the legislature because to the                 
 constituents it sounded like public money was being spent on                  
 politicians.                                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 1899                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if the public financing system would            
 be based on the primary selection process.                                    
                                                                               
 Number 1905                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN replied at the federal level it was                
 operated at the primary.  He said, it was not hard to construct a             
 workable formula.  He alleged the amount of money involved was                
 small.  He said, it would never come close to a fraction of 1                 
 percent of the Alaska state budget.  In conclusion, Representative            
 Finkelstein asserted public financing did not present a mechanical            
 problem, but rather a conceptual problem among the constituents and           
 the legislators.                                                              
                                                                               
 Number 1935                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER stated there was federal case law that            
 did not preclude contributions from the candidate and, therefore,             
 could not be prohibited.  He further asked if a constitutional test           
 had been done on indistrict limits.                                           
                                                                               
 Number 1969                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN responded Mike Frank, Chair, Campaign              
 Finance Reform Now, was better able to answer that question.  He              
 stated, however, existing statutes were tested in Alaska.  In                 
 Oregon, he cited, indistrict limits was challenged by the voters              
 and preliminarily founded unconstitutional.  In conclusion, he                
 said, the constitutionality concept had not yet been resolved.                
                                                                               
 Number 2008                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON questioned if contribution limits from the            
 candidates at a community level had been tested and considered.               
                                                                               
 Number 2028                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said if a limit was established at a               
 district level it was possible to expand it to a community level.             
 He further said, an indistrict limit would unbalance the system and           
 allow rich individuals to dominate the elections, but stated he               
 supported indistrict limits nonetheless.  He cited he had a net               
 loss in his district because most of his supporters did not have a            
 lot of money.  He asserted, indistrict limits would give an                   
 advantage to individuals with money.  Representative Finkelstein              
 also stated there was the possibility individuals would start using           
 a lot of their own money to get to the legislature.  He commented             
 it was an issue at the gubernatorial and presidential levels.  At             
 the local level, however, candidates did not spend too much of                
 their own money.                                                              
                                                                               
 Number 2121                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said Alaska and the legislature were intricately                  
 connected due to the small population.  She cited a situation in              
 Valdez, for example, created a statewide reaction.  Therefore, some           
 people would feel disenfranchised, if they were not able to support           
 the candidate in their best interest.  She further stated, the                
 perception people were bought into office by special interest was             
 backwards.  Chair James stated she believed individuals contributed           
 to candidates who supported their interests, and did not believe              
 individuals contributed to candidates to make them support an                 
 interest.                                                                     
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the first witness via teleconference in                 
 Anchorage, Mike Frank.                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 2203                                                                   
                                                                               
 MIKE FRANK, Chair, Campaign Finance Reform Now, said campaign                 
 finance reform had been in the public eye for many years.  It was             
 an issue debated in Congress and supported by non-partisan public             
 interest groups such as, United We Stand.  There were on going                
 efforts in 37 states, he said, to reform state campaign finance               
 laws.  In the 1980's there were efforts to reform campaign finance            
 laws in Alaska.  He cited Representataive Finkelstein's, Governor             
 Cooper's, and Representataive Brown's efforts.  He said he got                
 involved in the issue because of the anti-government feeling.  Mr.            
 Frank further commented elected officials should be the "village              
 elders" of the government.  They should be honored, respected, and            
 trusted.  Furthermore, the reason they were not treated as such was           
 directly related to how a campaign was financed.  He stated the               
 effort started in 1993 with general research on the issue.  There             
 was an enthusiastic response from supporters and in 1994 an                   
 initiative petition was proposed.  The petition was refiled in 1995           
 with some changes based on the recommendation of APOC and the                 
 volunteers started collecting signatures.  He cited 95 out of 100             
 people stopped, listened and signed the petition.  Due to the                 
 response the goal of 25,000 signatures was raised to 28,000.  The             
 volunteers, however, collected approximately 31,500 signatures.  In           
 1995 the Lieutenant Governor certified the signatures for the                 
 November 1996 ballot.  The initiative, he said, was an effort to              
 refocus the electoral system back to the ordinary Alaskan voter and           
 increase the public faith.  The initiative eliminated large                   
 contributions of private money, created a level playing field for             
 incumbents and challengers, and broke the hold of powerful interest           
 money.  In conclusion, he thanked the legislature for addressing              
 the issue of campaign finance reform and expressed his hope the               
 initiative would not be weakened by the legislative process.                  
                                                                               
 TAPE 94-04, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 0000                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier via teleconference in                
 Anchorage, Kathy Ashby.                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 0040                                                                   
                                                                               
 KATHY ASHBY, Alaska Public Interest Research Group, asked if the              
 voters were trusted to participate in the process, or were elected            
 officials trusted to act on the people's behalf because of access             
 to more information.  She said, she was grateful HB 317 and HB 368            
 were introduced and expressed her fear the bills would not reflect            
 the initiative due to changes after the legislative process.  She             
 urged the committee members to allow the 30,000 plus Alaskans who             
 signed the petition to vote on the issue directly.                            
                                                                               
 Number 0180                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said she trusted the voter.  However, if the voter did            
 not know anything about the issue, it behooved the legislator to              
 keep the voter informed.  Chair James said she was concerned about            
 the remaining voters who did not sign the petition to understand              
 the issues.  She further stated bills were amended based on the               
 committee and public input process.                                           
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier via teleconference in                
 Fairbanks, Bonnie Williams.                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 0229                                                                   
                                                                               
 BONNIE WILLIAMS said she did not believe HB 317, HB 368, and the              
 initiative would change the system for the better.  Ms. Williams              
 said the bills reduced the maximum donations, reduced the pool of             
 donors, and crippled political parties.  She asserted it would not            
 do what the findings and purpose suggested.  The length of the                
 campaign, she asserted, increased because the candidate had to                
 spend more time finding donors.  She also alleged reduced                     
 contributions increased the advantage of the rich.  She cited the             
 1978 Supreme Court ruling that said there were no limits to                   
 contributions from the candidate.  Therefore, the candidate with              
 unlimited wealth had unlimited power.  She cited Mr. Forbes at the            
 national level and Mr. Hickel at the state level who did not have             
 to raise money due to personal wealth.  The incumbency factor was             
 not eliminated as well due to name recognition, she alleged.                  
                                                                               
 Number 0355                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier via teleconference in                
 Anchorage, Stephen Conn.                                                      
                                                                               
 STEPHEN CONN, Executive Director, Alaska Public Interest Research             
 Group (AKPIRG), said research indicated special interest guided the           
 political process through funding and political agendas.  The                 
 failure to see meaningful governmental support for protection of              
 Alaska's consumers and an increasing disregard for their interest,            
 he alleged, prompted the actions of AKPIRG.  Mr. Conn concluded,              
 30,000 Alaskans exercised their rights and asked for a direct vote            
 by signing the initiative.  The people chose to circumvent the                
 legislative process, he asserted, and indirect representation of              
 their interest failed.  "Let the people vote," he said.  Let the              
 people regain control of the political process.  The initiative he            
 claimed was not perfect, but if the legislature passed a substitute           
 bill it would be viewed by the people as robbing them of the                  
 opportunity for a direct vote.                                                
                                                                               
 Number 0509                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier via teleconference in                
 Anchorage, Michele Keck.                                                      
                                                                               
 MICHELE KECK said she collected signatures for the initiative.  She           
 stated the people believed there was too much money in politics.              
 As a result, the average citizen felt disconnected with their                 
 elected officials.  She asked the committee members to not weaken             
 the language of the initiative through the legislative process.               
 She cited provisions limiting individual contributions, banning               
 corporate contributions, and eliminating carry-over excess funds              
 were necessary.  Campaign finance reform was needed, she asserted,            
 for equal access to the political system.  In conclusion, she                 
 stated, the people understood the issues in the initiative so let             
 them vote on it directly.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 0599                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said Ms. Keck was known as the best                
 signature gatherer in the state.  He asked if it was true she                 
 obtained a signature on a high speed ride at the Alaska State Fair.           
                                                                               
 MS. KECK responded citizens all over the state in every direction             
 supported this initiative even upside down.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 0625                                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES commented on the testimony regarding the initiative               
 going straight to the ballot.  She stated, campaign finance reform            
 would not pass the legislature because the issues dealt directly              
 with the people involved.  The initiative process was good because            
 it forced the legislature to act.  Chair James asserted the                   
 committee and public input processes were opportunities for                   
 everyone to participate and asked the testifiers to follow the                
 process.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 0693                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN questioned if the signatures were collected              
 statewide.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 0714                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN answered the signatures were collected             
 statewide.  The law only required two-thirds of the districts.  The           
 best place, he stated, to collect signatures was at the Anchorage             
 International Airport.                                                        
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN thanked Representative Finkelstein and said he           
 also believed in the initiative process as long as it was                     
 representative.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 0735                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said if the initiative did not exist the House State              
 Affairs Committee would not be discussing this issue today and she            
 was happy to be here illustrating her support.                                
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier via teleconference in                
 Anchorage, Randy Harshman.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 0750                                                                   
                                                                               
 RANDY HARSHMAN said he agreed the initiative was the driving                  
 impetus for passing HB 317 and HB 368.  He suggested eliminating              
 cash reserves, outside contributions, and gaming money to decrease            
 the cost of campaigns.  He also said he supported the penalty                 
 increases proposed in the bills.  However, he alleged, APOC was not           
 adequately funded.  He cited he filed a complaint in May and it               
 still had not been investigated.                                              
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier via teleconference in                
 Anchorage, Ed Earnhart.                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 0855                                                                   
                                                                               
 ED EARNHART said he participated in the petition drive to increase            
 participation and improve the system.  He alleged special interests           
 were protecting the people from special interests and cited Mr.               
 Conn from AKPIRG.  He asked why a party did not exist that                    
 represented the people.  Mr. Earnhart alluded a state income tax              
 would enhance participation through donation arrangements.                    
 Whatever the outcome, he stated, the republican idea of                       
 representation was best.                                                      
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier in Juneau, Bart Watson.              
                                                                               
 Number 0970                                                                   
                                                                               
 BART WATSON said he was not active in party politics and did not              
 intend to run for a political office.  He called himself an                   
 ordinary citizen who recognized the importance of the issue.  He              
 asserted the system was impaired.  There was widespread cynicism              
 about the democratic process, a mistrust of the politicians and               
 record low voter turnout.  This, he believed, was directly related            
 to the perception big money was involved and responsible for the              
 decision making.  He alleged, politicians were influenced by                  
 campaign contributions, and the big contributions tilted the                  
 balance.  In his experience, he stated, the public was amazed to              
 learn there were no restrictions on the use of excess campaign                
 funds.  These issues needed to be captured in any piece of                    
 legislation passed.  The public would feel betrayed if the                    
 legislature passed a bill that gutted the basic provisions and                
 weakened the initiative.  There was a connection between the people           
 who gave money and the decisions that were made, he stated.  A                
 problem existed when people had to take money to keep up with the             
 competition.  In conclusion, he stated, real reform must address              
 the perception problem.                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 1260                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said out-of-state money was not always bad            
 money.  She cited her out-of-state money came from her father and             
 her best friend.  The donation was $25 and it was the first time              
 her father gave money to a candidate.  Therefore, out-of-state                
 money was not always bad contrary to the perception.                          
                                                                               
 Number 1315                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said his first race was contested and he                 
 received approximately five contributions above $500.                         
 Representative Green asked Mr. Watson if he felt the limits would             
 change the dynamics of a race.                                                
                                                                               
 Number 1388                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. WATSON said the vast majority of contributions reflected the              
 ability of an individual to participate in the process.  The limit            
 of $500 would not change the dynamics of a campaign race, he                  
 agreed, but the perception of big money and out-of-state money with           
 undue influence was not representative of the majority of the                 
 people.  The opportunity for influence needed to be eliminated and            
 returned to a one vote, one person democratic process.                        
                                                                               
 Number 1455                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he agreed with Mr. Watson's testimony               
 regarding the perception.  Representative Green commented on prior            
 testimony regarding the feeling that contributions were not trying            
 to buy a vote, but a show of support for similar ideas.  He asked,            
 if the larger contributions were perceived as buying a vote or                
 thanking a vote.                                                              
                                                                               
 Number 1508                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. WATSON said the vast majority of donors contributed because               
 they liked the candidate.  However, there was the perception                  
 special interests were able to buy votes.  Mr. Watson addressed the           
 issue of access.  He alleged lobbyists gave money to politicians to           
 keep the doors open and received more attention than an individual.           
 He said, it made the voters feel they were cut out of the process.            
 He reiterated the vast majority of contributions were fine and were           
 not restricted by the initiative.                                             
                                                                               
 Number 1594                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES thanked Mr. Watson for reinforcing her confidence in              
 the younger generation, and complimented him on his presentation.             
 She said, she did not have a problem restricting lobbyist                     
 contributions over restricting lobbyist contributions to a                    
 district.  She cited most lobbyists lived in Anchorage and Juneau.            
 Chair James stated she did not like the idea of a lobbyists, but              
 her attitude changed after becoming a representative.  She again              
 complimented Mr. Watson on his testimony today and encouraged him             
 to continue to participate in the process.  Chair James further               
 said she was extremely discouraged by the low voter turnout in her            
 district and wondered if legislators were not behaving because                
 people were not voting.  She discovered from a survey she conducted           
 voting was not a priority for most people due to their hectic                 
 lives.  She asserted it was important to involve more people in the           
 process so there was a government of the people, by the people, for           
 the people.  In conclusion, she stated, she was not convinced the             
 perception would change even after a change in campaign finance               
 laws.                                                                         
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier in Juneau, Sam Skaggs.               
                                                                               
 Number 1818                                                                   
                                                                               
 SAM SKAGGS said he was in favor of campaign finance reform.  Mr.              
 Skaggs stated he was here today because his children recently asked           
 him what government was.  He said he explained the traditional                
 route and talked to them about democracy as the foundation of                 
 America.  However, he asked himself at what time did he start to              
 explain to his children the business of politics.  Mr. Skaggs                 
 stated he would like to see the initiative passed or a like bill so           
 that he would not have to explain to his children the business of             
 politics.  He asserted personal use of campaign funds, campaign               
 funds carried forward, and out-of-state contributions needed to be            
 eliminated.  He further said the process needed to attract good               
 people through old fashioned statesmanship.  Mr. Skaggs commented             
 campaign finance reform would return Alaska to Alaskans and                   
 consequently, more people would get involved.                                 
                                                                               
 Number 2053                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN responded the initiative and HB 368                
 allowed out-of-state family loans.  Representative Finkelstein                
 stated he did not include the provision in HB 317 because it was              
 unwieldy.  It was highly confusing and based on the advise of the             
 Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) it seemed better to delete.           
 He stated the provision in HB 368 allowed a $1,500 loan from family           
 members.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 2158                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES agreed with the unwieldy feeling Representative                   
 Finkelstein mentioned regarding out-of-state family loans.  The               
 process discouraged loans altogether.  She suggested deleting the             
 provision but was concerned it would change the initiative.  As a             
 result, she stated, Mr. Frank needed to be included in any changes            
 made to the bills.  In conclusion, she said, a negotiation process            
 was needed to produce the best bill possible.                                 
                                                                               
 Number 2250                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said the correct figure HB 368 allowed             
 for an out-of-state family loan was $1,000.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 2300                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES suggested the committee turn to the sections for                  
 review.  She stated Section 1, "FINDINGS AND PURPOSE," did not have           
 a place in the statute and suggested excluding it.  Jack ???, was             
 here to answer any questions regarding the drafting of the bill               
 from the initiative.                                                          
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked which bill the committee would look             
 at first.                                                                     
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied HB 368.                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON commented HB 368 was the vehicle the                  
 committee members would work from.                                            
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES suggested for practical purposes the committee would              
 start with HB 368 because it was identical to the concept of the              
 initiative.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 2370                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON inquired if Representative Finkelstein                
 would share with the committee the comparison chart in front of               
 him.                                                                          
                                                                               
 Number 2395                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN responded the comparison memo was                  
 available to anyone, and would be glad to share it with the                   
 committee members.                                                            
                                                                               
 Number 2460                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES referred to Section 1, "FINDINGS AND PURPOSE."  She               
 said the section was appropriate in an initiative, but not in a               
 statute.                                                                      
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-5, SIDE A                                                             
 Number 0000                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said Section 1 was subjective and was not sure            
 of the proper protocol for having a findings and purpose section.             
 He wondered if it was to determine legislative intent in future               
 court cases.                                                                  
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said he was correct.                                              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said, he agreed campaigns lasted too long and             
 were too expensive, but the initiative would not change the cost of           
 campaigns necessarily because of contributions and loans from the             
 candidate.  In conclusion, he commented, the findings and purpose             
 section was very subjective.                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 0114                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN agreed with Representative Ogan's comments               
 made earlier regarding the subjective finds of Section 1.  He                 
 referred the committee members to Section 1, item 5, "there is                
 great potential for bribery and political corruption; and."  He               
 said, he took great offense to that statement.  Representative                
 Green said he would prefer to see the referenced statement as an              
 opinion rather than a findings and purpose.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 0157                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES suggested the committee preempt the findings with the             
 phrase, "there is a perception."  It might not be reality, she                
 said, but everyone knew reality and perception were not always the            
 same.  Even if there was a perception, she continued, it needed to            
 be corrected.  She cited public opinion was the strongest power to            
 move things.  The public opinion, therefore, must be knowledgeable            
 and forward moving in reality rather than perception.                         
                                                                               
 Number 0203                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said, "perception is reality to those who               
 perceive it."                                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 0216                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said we did not have to agree that the public's                   
 perception was the same as the committee's perception, but we did             
 have to agree there was a perception.                                         
                                                                               
 Number 0225                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN referred the committee members to Section 1,              
 line 8, "(1) campaigns for elective public offices last too long,             
 are often uninformative, and are too expensive;"  and suggested               
 adding "there were too many television commercials."  He aired at             
 the end of a campaign he did not like turning the television or               
 radio on because it was only campaign commercials.                            
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said it was almost 9:45 a.m. and the committee needed             
 to move forward to HB 419.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 0259                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked Mr. Frank if the initiative group               
 would object to deleting Section 1, "FINDINGS AND PURPOSE."                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said a findings and purpose section was needed.                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said, "no."                                              
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES responded we did not have to.                                     
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked Mr. Frank to respond anyway.                    
                                                                               
 Number 0295                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. FRANK said a findings and purpose section in a statute was                
 intended to determine legislative intent and guide court                      
 interpretation.  He said the Campaign Finance Reform Now group                
 would not like to see the findings and purpose section removed from           
 the initiative.  However, if the only thing the legislature did to            
 the initiative in passing was to take out the findings and purpose            
 section, it would remain substantially the same.  The section was             
 important, he reiterated, for future judicial interpretation.  He             
 further said, there was a public perception the ability to convert            
 campaign money to personal use suggested the opportunity for                  
 corruption, and people were shocked to discover that was legal.               
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said it was time to move to the next agenda item.  She            
 suggested the committee members review Section 1 for the next                 
 committee meeting.                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects