Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106

01/26/2006 08:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS

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08:05:58 AM Start
08:06:50 AM HB349
08:35:58 AM HB273
09:45:44 AM Confirmation Hearing(s): || Commissioner, Department of Administration
09:46:03 AM Lieutenant Governor Designee
09:46:16 AM Alaska Public Offices Commission (apoc)
09:46:46 AM HB278
10:05:06 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved CSHB 273(STA) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
<Continued from 01/24>
Confirmation Hearings
Commissioner, Dept. of Administration
Lieutenant Governor Designee
Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC)
HB 349-COMMISSION ON LEG. COMP. & ALLOWANCES                                                                                  
CHAIR  SEATON announced  that  the first  order  of business  was                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 349,  "An Act relating  to legislator  salary and                                                               
benefits;  establishing the  Citizens' Commission  on Legislative                                                               
Salary  and  Benefits and  defining  its  powers and  duties  and                                                               
abolishing  the  State   Officers  Compensation  Commission;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date by  repealing secs. 9 and 12, ch.                                                               
124, SLA 1986."                                                                                                                 
8:06:50 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   BRUCE  WEYHRAUCH,   Alaska  State   Legislature,                                                               
introduced  HB 349,  as  sponsor.   He  paraphrased  part of  his                                                               
sponsor  statement  [included  in the  committee  packet],  which                                                               
     House  Bill 349  creates  a commission  that will  make                                                                    
     recommendations  regarding legislative  pay.   It  does                                                                    
     not raise salaries of legislators,  but does provide an                                                                    
     increase for the Speaker of  the House and President of                                                                    
     the Senate from $500 per year to $500 per month.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH  indicated which version of  the bill he                                                               
would like the committee to work with.                                                                                          
8:08:50 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN moved to adopt  committee substitute (CS) for                                                               
HB 349,  Version 24-LS1391\L,  Wayne, 1/25/06,  as a  work draft.                                                               
There being no objection, Version L was before the committee.                                                                   
8:09:41 AM                                                                                                                    
JACQUELINE  TUPOU,  Staff   to  Representative  Bruce  Weyhrauch,                                                               
Alaska State Legislature, on  behalf of Representative Weyhrauch,                                                               
sponsor, reviewed the  changes made in Version L of  HB 349.  She                                                               
said most  of the  changes were  just a  matter of  semantics and                                                               
logistical  problems.     One  substantive  change   was  to  the                                                               
timeframe  of the  bill, making  it "a  little more  indefinite."                                                               
She said  that will  allow the  commission to  flesh out  what it                                                               
wants its process to be.                                                                                                        
8:10:30 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER said  until HB 349, she  wasn't aware that                                                               
current  statute   already  provides   a  commission   to  review                                                               
legislative  salaries,  and  that   that  commission  includes  a                                                               
business executive,  a representative from a  nonpartisan voters'                                                               
organization,  a person  with  public administration  experience,                                                               
and a  representative of  a labor  organization appointed  by the                                                               
governor and confirmed  by the legislature.  Under  the new plan,                                                               
she noted,  the members of  the commission would be  appointed by                                                               
the President  of the Senate and  the [Speaker] of the  House and                                                               
there would  be no provision  to have those  appointees confirmed                                                               
by the  legislature.  She  stated that she is  uncomfortable with                                                               
potentially removing all public participation.                                                                                  
8:11:18 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TUPOU explained that the  legislature currently has the power                                                               
to  set its  own pay  and can't  delegate that  to someone  else;                                                               
therefore,  "for  that  citizens'  commission  currently  on  the                                                               
statutes  book  to  be  implemented  there would  have  to  be  a                                                               
constitutional change."                                                                                                         
8:12:03 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH noted  that  attorneys said  delegating                                                               
the  authority to  set legislative  pay to  the executive  branch                                                               
seems  to  a  cause  a  problem  between  separation  of  powers.                                                               
Regarding Representative  Gardner's concern about  public notice,                                                               
he said,  "... You  can bet  that if  the legislature's  going to                                                               
raise its  pay, there better be  a public process or  there'll be                                                               
heck to pay from the public."                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  stated for clarification, "That's  not in                                                               
this bill;  that's a decision  that could  be made down  the road                                                               
one way or the other ...."                                                                                                      
8:13:12 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TUPOU  directed attention to page  4, beginning on line  5 of                                                               
Version L, which read:                                                                                                          
     The commission  shall give reasonable public  notice of                                                                    
     its preliminary  findings and  recommendations, solicit                                                                    
     public  comments, and  give due  regard  to the  public                                                                    
     comments, before  submitting a  final report  under (d)                                                                    
     of this section.                                                                                                           
8:13:26 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER said, "I'll stand corrected."                                                                            
8:13:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN asked  if there is anything in  the bill that                                                               
relates  to  "office allowance."    He  said  that has  not  been                                                               
changed for several years.                                                                                                      
8:13:46 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH  replied, "No, that  per diem -  none of                                                               
that - is addressed.  All this does is set a salary."                                                                           
MS. TUPOU, in response to  a comment by Representative Weyhrauch,                                                               
noted that legislators are currently paid at a range 7.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH surmised, "Per  diem, I suppose, as part                                                               
of ... pay to a legislator  would be considered, but that's up to                                                               
the commission and the legislature.   All this does is really set                                                               
up the mechanism for determining all this."                                                                                     
8:14:41 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  concluded,  "So,  ... they  could  look  at                                                               
office lounge, or per diem, or anything else."                                                                                  
8:14:54 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH  said, "There's  no restriction  on what                                                               
they would look at."                                                                                                            
8:15:08 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.   TUPOU,   in  response   to   a   follow-up  question   from                                                               
Representative Lynn, surmised that a  legislative page is paid at                                                               
least at a Range 10.                                                                                                            
8:15:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  said, "Separate  from  this  group is  the                                                               
$500.   My first  impression is  ... we're  making a  decision on                                                               
just two  members.  Wouldn't the  committee be a better  group to                                                               
make the  determination of $500, whether  it's a month or  a year                                                               
8:16:05 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH responded as follows:                                                                                  
     When I  read through the  statute in preparing  for the                                                                    
     bill,  I   saw  that   those  positions   were  already                                                                    
     segregated  out, and  it already  said "$500  per year"                                                                    
     for  the [Senate]  President and  the  Speaker [of  the                                                                    
     House].   And so, ...  just in the process  of drafting                                                                    
     the bill  ... with the  drafter, I said,  "Well, change                                                                    
     the ... word  'year' to 'month'."  So,  the statute had                                                                    
     already segregated  those offices  out and ...  I don't                                                                    
     remember the  year that that was  implemented - decades                                                                    
     ago.    And  again,  just knowing  how  much  work  the                                                                    
     Speaker [of  the House] and  the [Senate]  President do                                                                    
     throughout  the year,  every day,  I just  thought $500                                                                    
     per month, ... even  that, seemed (indisc.) compared to                                                                    
     the workload.                                                                                                              
8:16:50 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TUPOU  noted that  the Alaska  State Constitution  shows that                                                               
8:17:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked if  Legislative Council  is currently                                                               
authorized to change "our salary."                                                                                              
8:17:24 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TUPOU  responded that the  legislative body, as a  whole, has                                                               
the authority to set their own pay.                                                                                             
8:17:46 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.   TUPOU,   in  response   to   a   follow-up  question   from                                                               
Representative Gatto,  said HB 349  provides that  the commission                                                               
would release [its  preliminary findings].  Ninety  days from the                                                               
release date,  if Legislative Council  does not take  any action,                                                               
the report of those preliminary  findings would be adopted in the                                                               
policies therein by Legislative Council.                                                                                        
8:18:07 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  stated her concern regarding  the lack of                                                               
public  process.    Even  though   the  language,  as  previously                                                               
discussed, would require the commission  to report to Legislative                                                               
Council, the language on page  4, line 17, shows that Legislative                                                               
Council "may publish the final  report".  She emphasized the word                                                               
"may" and  said it  makes her a  little uncomfortable  that there                                                               
would be no requirement that the  report be made available to the                                                               
MS. TUPOU surmised that the reason  for the use of the permissive                                                               
"may"  is because  the commission  would have  already printed  a                                                               
report and distributed it to  the public.  If Legislative Council                                                               
doesn't make  any changes, she  suggested, it would  be redundant                                                               
to publish the report again.                                                                                                    
8:19:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  asked, "If [Legislative]  Council doesn't                                                               
act,  and the  recommendations  become public,  then there  isn't                                                               
necessarily  any  report  or  announcement  of  that.    Is  that                                                               
8:19:58 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  TUPOU replied,  "Not  past the  commission's  report."   She                                                               
explained  that if  Legislative Council  accepts the  report from                                                               
the commission by  doing nothing, then that  becomes "the report"                                                               
at that point.                                                                                                                  
8:20:37 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TUPOU, in response to  a request for clarification from Chair                                                               
Seaton, said  the language  in the  bill regarding  public notice                                                               
[is  on page  4,  lines  5-8] and  follows  the previously  noted                                                               
language  about  the  commission's  preliminary  findings.    She                                                               
reiterated that  if Legislative Council  does nothing,  the final                                                               
report that was provided by the commission becomes policy.                                                                      
8:21:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON  pointed out that  there is nothing in  the language                                                               
that says the  final report is given to the  public.  He remarked                                                               
that the final  report could be significantly  different than the                                                               
preliminary report.   He asked,  "Was it  the intent to  not make                                                               
that public?"                                                                                                                   
8:22:02 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH suggested  the concern  stated by  both                                                               
Representative Gardner  and Chair Seaton  is in reference  to the                                                               
use of the word "may" on page  4, line 17.  He mentioned changing                                                               
"may" to  "shall" to ensure that  the report is made  public.  He                                                               
said there is no desire to pull  the wool over anyone's eyes.  He                                                               
added,  "Ultimately  the  truth  will  out."   He  asked  if  the                                                               
committee would  like a conceptual  amendment to change  "may" to                                                               
8:22:57 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON answered in the  affirmative.  He said the committee                                                               
would probably offer  a conceptual amendment to  require that the                                                               
final report be sent to Legislative Council and to the public.                                                                  
8:23:16 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  mentioned   the  "Madison  amendment,"                                                               
which he said  provided that U.S. Congress may not  raise its own                                                               
salary.   He  explained that  this means  no salary  increase can                                                               
become  effective until  after the  next Congress  convenes.   He                                                               
said  when  he  served  [in  the legislature]  in  the  past,  he                                                               
introduced  a ratification  of the  Madison Amendment,  which was                                                               
not adopted.  He stated he thinks  it would be a good idea to add                                                               
that provision to  HB 349.  He clarified that  the language would                                                               
provide that no legislative pay  raise can become effective until                                                               
after the next  election.  That way, he said,  people will have a                                                               
chance to vote "if they don't like  the way this is going to take                                                               
8:24:44 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH  stated that  he  is  not in  favor  of                                                               
adding that  language at  this point,  but would  like to  have a                                                               
chance to consider that issue separately.                                                                                       
8:25:11 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON clarified  that no amendments had been  made yet and                                                               
won't be until after public testimony has been taken.                                                                           
8:25:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  turned to [the last  sentence] of Section                                                               
13 [on page 4], which read as follows:                                                                                          
     Any  part of  the commission's  report not  rejected or                                                                    
     amended  by  the  Alaska Legislative  Council  and  any                                                                    
     amendment to the report made  by the Alaska Legislative                                                                    
     Council  under AS  24.10.130 take  effect on  the first                                                                    
     day of the  first full month following the  last day of                                                                    
     the legislative  session in which  the final  report is                                                                    
     issued or the amendment is passed.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER   asked  if   that  means  that   if  the                                                               
commission  recommends that  legislators are  paid $100,000,  for                                                               
example, and  Legislative Council  amends that to  $120,000, that                                                               
would automatically become law without  any other review, debate,                                                               
or discussion.                                                                                                                  
8:26:10 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TUPOU suggested that Mr.  Wayne, the attorney who drafted the                                                               
bill,  would  be  better suited  to  answer  questions  regarding                                                               
8:27:14 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  WEYHRAUCH,   in  response  to  follow-up   questions  from                                                               
Representative  Gardner, reiterated  that there  is no  intent to                                                               
"sneak one past anyone," and he  would not object to a conceptual                                                               
amendment that  would include some  sort of discussion  or review                                                               
"by somebody else."                                                                                                             
8:27:56 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TUPOU  said it's important  to note that the  legislature has                                                               
the power  to set  its own  pay and cannot  delegate that  job to                                                               
someone else.  She  said, "... What we've tried to  do is put the                                                               
public in the process, because they currently aren't."                                                                          
8:28:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH  recognized   that  unfortunately  many                                                               
amendments are  adopted without any  public comment  or testimony                                                               
whatsoever and  become law without  people knowing the  effect or                                                               
meaning of them.                                                                                                                
8:28:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON directed attention to  Section 8 of Version L, which                                                               
read as follows:                                                                                                                
     *Sec.8.AS 39.23.210 is amended to read:                                                                                  
          A member of the commission shall meet the                                                                         
     qualifications of AS 39.05.100  and may not be employed                                                                
     by  the  state,  including the  University  of  Alaska,                                                                    
     serve as  a member of another  state board, commission,                                                                    
     or  authority,  or  hold elective  state  or  municipal                                                                    
     office during membership on the commission.                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON indicated  that that  language shows  a significant                                                               
change in the bill.                                                                                                             
8:29:48 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  directed attention  to page 4,  line 19                                                               
and said potentially [the commission]  could give the report five                                                               
days  before the  end  of  the session  without  giving anyone  a                                                               
chance  for anyone  to  do  anything, and  it  would take  effect                                                               
immediately.   He questioned why  the phrase, "[DURING  THE FIRST                                                               
10 DAYS OF A LEGISLATIVE SESSION]" was deleted.                                                                                 
8:30:46 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH said he  views that decision as "wanting                                                               
to  give  some  more  leeway  to both  the  legislature  and  the                                                               
commission  in  reporting,  as   opposed  to  restricting  it  to                                                               
providing it  within the first 10  or 15 days and  [putting] some                                                               
arbitrary number on it."                                                                                                        
8:31:20 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG said  he thinks  it would  do just  the                                                               
opposite.   He explained  that that  effective date  would remain                                                               
the same,  which would be after  session ended.  By  allowing the                                                               
report to  be given later,  less time  is being given  for public                                                               
scrutiny, he said.                                                                                                              
8:31:50 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE WEYHRAUCH  said he  thought 15  days would  be too                                                               
8:32:07 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TUPOU pointed  out that if Legislative Council  does not take                                                               
action, there would  always be a 90-day review  period "before it                                                               
would   take  effect."      In  response   to   request  a   from                                                               
Representative  Gruenberg,   she  offered  to  find   where  that                                                               
language is in the bill.                                                                                                        
8:33:01 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEATON said he wanted  to clarify that the report published                                                               
by Legislative Council would be the final report issued.                                                                        
8:33:16 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  WEYHRAUCH added  that Legislative  Council serves                                                               
as a conduit  for the commission's report.  In  response to Chair                                                               
Seaton, he confirmed that the  dates that are being discussed are                                                               
in regard to the issuance of the Legislative Council report.                                                                    
8:33:41 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG said  the only  reference to  "90 days"                                                               
that he could find in the bill is  on page 5, line 24.  He stated                                                               
that lots of  commissions make their reports on the  first day of                                                               
the session.  He asked the  sponsor to consider that, and said he                                                               
would be inclined to offer such an amendment.                                                                                   
8:34:33 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  turned to  page 4,  line 22,  and suggested                                                               
the word "take" should have an "s" at the end.                                                                                  
8:35:11 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEATON,  after  ascertaining  that there  was  no  one  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony.                                                                                               
CHAIR SEATON announced that HB 349 was heard and held.                                                                          

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