Legislature(1995 - 1996)

01/30/1996 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                                   
                                                                               
 Number 2000                                                                   
                                                                               
 The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs             
 Committee was HB 368 and HB 317.                                              
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said the committee was to look at the individual                  
 sections today.  She further said a committee substitute would be             
 written based on the testimony and discussion in the committee.               
                                                                               
 Number 2082                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON suggested adding the clause "there is a               
 perception from the public" instead of "the legislature finds."               
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said in the last meeting we discussed perception versus           
 reality.                                                                      
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked when the merit of the legislation               
 versus the initiative would be discussed.  She stated many people             
 called her office to say they were upset a piece of legislation was           
 being considered.  She said she thought they would be pleased that            
 the legislature was addressing the issue.  She asserted a bill                
 needed to mirror the existing initiative.  She asked if the other             
 members of the committee also received the same feedback.                     
                                                                               
 Number 2210                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said she had a few calls from people distressed about             
 the bill.  She further said it was an obligation to the people to             
 discuss the issue.  She also stated the committee should take heed            
 to the drafters.  She alleged things needed to be defined.  She               
 reiterated it was not the intention to challenge the initiative's             
 efforts.  Chair James asserted it was understandable the people               
 involved in the initiative would be upset because they obviously              
 felt the legislature could not deal with it directly.  She said she           
 hoped the committee process would convince the people legislators             
 were more honorable than believed.  She alleged the initiative was            
 a lawyer's chance and a court's nightmare.                                    
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-7, SIDE A                                                             
 Number 0000                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVID FINKELSTEIN started by addressing the                    
 sections.                                                                     
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said Section 2 conformed to a later                
 section.                                                                      
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said Section 3 read municipalities could           
 regulate more strictly than state law.  He said he was not sure if            
 they were completely restricted from that right now, however.                 
 Section 3, therefore, was a clarification.                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said Section 4 addressed inflation                 
 adjustment.  He said HB 368 and the initiative made all amounts               
 subject to an inflation adjustment, whereas HB 317 tied inflation             
 adjustment to actual contribution limits only.  He alleged the                
 other minor amounts were silly to adjust and should stay at a round           
 number.  He recommended the approach in HB 317.                               
                                                                               
 Number 0208                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said she had an aversion to the consumer price index              
 and the measurement of inflation.  She alleged inflation                      
 measurements created a consumer price index.  She suggested a                 
 statute to change the amounts instead of a provision in a bill.               
                                                                               
 Number 0274                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said in five years the amounts were reviewed            
 and adjusted according to Section 4.  He suggested establishing a             
 maximum contribution figure instead of adjusting for inflation.               
                                                                               
 Number 0308                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said Section 4 in HB 317 only turned the           
 power over to the commission.                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 0346                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said if Section 4 were deleted an amendment             
 would be needed to adjust the amount.                                         
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said Representative Porter was correct.            
                                                                               
 Number 0369                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN continued addressing the sections.                 
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said Section 5 was a conforming                    
 amendment.                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said Section 6 was a cost saving step.             
 The section, he asserted, stated candidates that did not raise more           
 than $1,000 or intend to raise more than $1,000 did not have to               
 deal with the provisions of this chapter.  The reason, he said, was           
 to help the rural and smaller school board elections, for example.            
 He alleged there were many elections this section applied to due to           
 the small communities.  He also said the $1,000 figure was not a              
 magic figure and probably could be slightly higher.                           
                                                                               
 Number 0473                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER called on a witness from the Alaska Public              
 Offices Commission (APOC).                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 0488                                                                   
                                                                               
 BROOKE MILES, Regulation of Lobbying, Public Offices Commission,              
 Department of Administration, said the commission had a                       
 teleconference on HB 368 yesterday, and a written statement was               
 being prepared.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 0520                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked if a provision existed to exclude a               
 candidate who did not intend to spend more than $1,000.                       
                                                                               
 Number 0535                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. MILES said under current commission policy, it did permit                 
 candidates for municipal offices to file an exemption if they did             
 not intend to or raise more than $1,000.                                      
                                                                               
 Number 0554                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said the law was not clear, and if                 
 someone challenged it they would succeed.  Section 6, he stated,              
 would extend the exemption to state offices as well.                          
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said Section 7 precluded the 50 percent            
 provision.  He said there was confusion when drafting the bill and            
 it did not reflect the initiative.  The bill said if a group                  
 supported or opposed and contributed to one candidate more than 50            
 percent of its funds, the name of the candidate should be part of             
 the name of the group.  He further suggested adopting the                     
 provisions in HB 317 instead of HB 368.  Section 7 also called for            
 registering before making an expenditure.                                     
                                                                               
 Number 0736                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said if you had to register before making a                       
 contribution the 50 percent concept was gone.                                 
                                                                               
 Number 0751                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said the 50 percent was separate and               
 only related to the title of the group.  According to Mike Frank,             
 he alleged, there was a mistake when interpreting the intent of the           
 initiative.  He said it was corrected in HB 317.                              
                                                                               
 Number 0833                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES commented she was concerned about the general public              
 interpreting the initiative when a bill drafter had problems.                 
                                                                               
 Number 0864                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN continued addressing the sections.                 
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said Section 8 stated only an individual           
 or a group of individuals could make a contribution to a candidate.           
 However, non-individuals could not contribute to a candidate.  He             
 stated this was the rule at the federal level.  He cited labor                
 unions and corporation contributions were banned during and prior             
 to the 1940's.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 0967                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER stated only individuals and political action            
 groups could make contributions to a candidate, and cited the                 
 political action group was limited to $500, and the individual                
 $250.                                                                         
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said it was $500 from a group and $500             
 from an individual.                                                           
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked how much an individual could make a               
 contribution to a political action group.                                     
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN replied $250.                                      
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER responded a political action group could make           
 a contribution to a candidate of $500.  He asked if a political               
 action group could be a group of employees at a business, for                 
 example.                                                                      
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN replied yes.  He further said at the               
 federal level that was the type of political action groups that               
 proliferated.  He said he did not suspect that would happen at the            
 state level because the amount limits were the same as for                    
 individuals.  He cited at the federal level the contribution limit            
 was five times higher for groups.                                             
                                                                               
 Number 1091                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES asserted she would get rid of political action groups             
 altogether.  However, she said, she did not want to water down the            
 initiative.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 1114                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said under the first amendment the right           
 to assemble in the political realm was the right to assemble in a             
 political group.  He stated it was upheld at the federal level.               
                                                                               
 Number 1155                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said a constitutional amendment was being discussed at            
 the federal level to fix the problem of political action groups.              
 She reiterated she wished they did not exist.  She said Section 8             
 presumed only individuals could make contributions to political               
 action groups and candidates, therefore, this eliminated revenue              
 from charitable gaming activity, for example.                                 
                                                                               
 Number 1213                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said the bills did not address                     
 charitable gaming.  He said, Mike Frank believed the vast majority            
 of the charitable gaming money came when a group turned its permit            
 over to an operator or vender and received the proceeds.  He stated           
 that would be a corporation giving money to a political group which           
 was not allowed.  There was a contrary view, he said, but he did              
 not know the answer.  He announced he believed it would still be              
 prohibited.  He cited legislation from Representative Martin and              
 Senator Pearce addressing charitable gaming.  He further stated,              
 the legislation allowed activity for a group to interact with the             
 public in the attempt to solicit funds that clearly demonstrated              
 where the funds would go.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 1294                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked if Mr. Frank believed there was an                
 avenue for gaming proceeds through the political group to reach the           
 candidate.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 1315                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN responded the initiative committee                 
 believed a third party vendor raising money for a political group             
 was prohibited.  He cited that was a corporation and it was not               
 allowed.  He further said there was a contrary view, but he did not           
 agree with it.  In conclusion, he said, there was not a problem               
 discussing the charitable gaming issue.                                       
                                                                               
 Number 1348                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said he would like to stay on the same page             
 as the initiative.  He stated he supported strengthening the                  
 language to preclude charitable gaming proceeds if it were the wish           
 of the committee and the direction of the initiative.                         
                                                                               
 Number 1382                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN replied there was a difference in the              
 initiative and the bills between someone who raised money on their            
 own with a permit, such as a raffle, and in the way money was                 
 raised in reality.  He suggested clarifying the issue.                        
                                                                               
 Number 1421                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said we should clarify the issue by stating only                  
 individuals could give to groups, and that money from groups could            
 only come from individuals.  Therefore, groups could only make                
 collections and not earn money in any other manner.                           
                                                                               
 Number 1446                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON inquired about auction fund raising for               
 candidates.                                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 1457                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said a charitable gaming permit was not            
 required for an auction.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 1480                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES read the following statement into the record from Ken             
 Waldman, Box 22498, Juneau, Alaska 99802, (907) 463-8753.                     
                                                                               
 "Legislators now writing their own versions of a campaign finance             
 reform bill, and legislators who support those efforts, just don't            
 get it.                                                                       
                                                                               
 "1) The work is wasteful duplication.  A decent initiative signed             
 by more than 32,000 Alaskans is already on the ballot this                    
 November.  Supposedly busy people, don't legislators realize their            
 time can better be spent on issues that haven't yet reached the               
 petition stage?  Or do 32,000 Alaskans continually have to sign               
 petitions to be heard?                                                        
                                                                               
 "2) The work is cynical.  After years of blocking such a measure,             
 they're rushing forward only because it will be on the ballot.                
 Being in touch with their constituents--a part of the job, yes?--             
 would have revealed a large number did indeed approve the measure.            
                                                                               
 "3) The work is arrogant.  The official line is they'll write a               
 "better" bill.  In reality, no writing is perfect; all writing is             
 flawed, as will their bill be, only in different ways.  The real              
 reason has got to be to take this issue out of voters' hands,                 
 silence our voices.                                                           
                                                                               
 "4) The work is absurd.  Giving the legislators the benefit of the            
 doubt, I'm reminded of a movie scene where fire fighters arrive to            
 save a town on fire.  Only trouble, everything's cold rubble.  The            
 fire fighters are sincere, but inept.  Wanting to help, they're               
 days late.                                                                    
                                                                               
 "No wonder more than 32,000 Alaskans signed the initiative.  No               
 wonder so many of us are disgusted.  No wonder we need reform, and            
 have needed it for years.                                                     
                                                                               
 "Keep at them."                                                               
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Anchorage, Robert Gigler.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 1550                                                                   
                                                                               
 ROBERT GIGLER asked if Representative Green was present.                      
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN replied yes.                                             
                                                                               
 MR. GIGLER referred to a memorandum from a teleconference meeting.            
 He said he had a problem with contributions from the national                 
 parties to the state of Alaska.  He cited the National Republican             
 Party made enormous campaign contributions and should not be                  
 allowed.  He also asserted the $50 civil penalty should be raised             
 to $500.  He said after the appeal process the $50 went down to               
 nothing.  He also said it was the initiative petition to be on the            
 ballot in November of 1996.  In conclusion he said we need to get             
 something done.  He further said he was filing over 50 complaints             
 from February 15 - 17, 1996 because no one was filing within the              
 ten day time frame.                                                           
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Barrow, Frank Smith.                                                          
                                                                               
 Number 1731                                                                   
                                                                               
 FRANK SMITH said he agreed with virtually everything Representative           
 Finkelstein said.  He further stated he was opposed to the                    
 contribution amount from political groups as it disturbed the                 
 political process.  He alleged when a candidate had access to large           
 sums of money it corrupted the process.  He also said he was                  
 concerned the language in the bill exempted municipalities that               
 chose to do so.  He cited the "wet status" election in Barrow where           
 it was unable to determine exactly where the money came from                  
 because the municipality many years ago chose to exempt itself.  He           
 suggested eliminating the language from the bill.                             
                                                                               
 Number 1790                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said the bill stated municipalities could get stronger            
 and not weaker.                                                               

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