Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106

02/09/2006 08:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 349(STA) Out of Committee
Moved CSHB 413(STA) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HB 349-COMMISSION ON LEG. COMP. & ALLOWANCES                                                                                  
9:18:53 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR  GATTO announced that  the last 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."                                                                                                                 
9:19:31 AM                                                                                                                    
JACQUELINE  TUPOU,  Staff   to  Representative  Bruce  Weyhrauch,                                                               
Alaska State Legislature, on  behalf of Representative Weyhrauch,                                                               
sponsor of HB  349, told the committee that  the suggestions from                                                               
the committee at  the last bill hearing were  incorporated into a                                                               
committee substitute.                                                                                                           
9:19:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER moved  to  adopt  the proposed  committee                                                               
substitute (CS)  for HB 349, Version  24-LS1391\X, Wayne, 2/8/06,                                                               
as  a work  draft.   There  being no  objections,  Version X  was                                                               
before the committee.                                                                                                           
9:20:18 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  TUPOU  said the  sponsor,  in  response  to a  request  from                                                               
Representative Gruenberg at the  prior bill hearing, [reinstated]                                                               
language pertaining to  the date by which  the Alaska Legislative                                                               
Council  would   have  to   submit  its   final  report   to  the                                                               
legislature, as shown on page 4, line 13, as follows:                                                                           
     during  the  first  30  [10]   days  of  a  legislative                                                                
MS. TUPOU,  regarding another change made,  directed attention to                                                               
[page 4, beginning on line 16], which read:                                                                                     
     The Alaska Legislative Council  shall publish the final                                                                    
     report made available under AS 39.23.240(d)                                                                                
MS.  TUPOU  explained  that  previously  the  language  had  been                                                               
permissive and read "may" instead of "shall".                                                                                   
9:21:15 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR  GATTO, after  ascertaining that there  was no  one to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony.                                                                                               
9:21:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER cited AS 39.23.240(a), which read:                                                                       
     Sec. 39.23.240.  Duties of the commission.                                                                                 
          (a) The commission shall review the salaries,                                                                         
     benefits, and allowances of  members of the legislature                                                                    
     and  prepare a  report on  its findings  at least  once                                                                    
     every  two years,  but not  more frequently  than every                                                                    
     year. The commission shall  notify the legislature that                                                                    
     the report is available.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER asked  if what the committee  is doing now                                                               
is working  to "separate out  who decides salaries  from benefits                                                               
and allowances."                                                                                                                
MS.  TUPOU  responded,  "If  you're   referring  to  the  current                                                               
statutes, the current statutes are  not being implemented because                                                               
they're unconstitutional."                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER said she understands that.                                                                               
VICE CHAIR  GATTO asked Ms.  Tupou, "Could  you tell us  what the                                                               
current statute that's unconstitutional is?"                                                                                    
9:22:38 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TUPOU  answered, "Yeah,  the current  statute provides  for a                                                               
similar program  in the way  that it's  a commission, but  it has                                                               
members of  the executive branch in  there, and so, that  sort of                                                               
violates   the   separation   of    powers.      And   so,   it's                                                               
unconstitutional,  and so,  without  a constitutional  amendment,                                                               
it's never been implemented since it got on the books in 1986."                                                                 
9:23:06 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  offered her understanding that  under the                                                               
proposed  bill   the  salary  of  the   legislators  would  still                                                               
ultimately be determined by the Alaska Legislative Council.                                                                     
9:23:23 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TUPOU  confirmed that is  correct.  She said  the legislature                                                               
has to have authority over its  salary; "any other change to that                                                               
would be unconstitutional."                                                                                                     
9:23:36 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER proffered, "Except  that [the President of                                                               
the  Senate] and  the  Speaker  of House  would  be getting  this                                                               
additional 'bump' that's not ...  considered and responded by the                                                               
[Alaska Legislative Council]."                                                                                                  
9:23:56 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TUPOU answered that's correct.   She said the reason for that                                                               
is that, under the Alaska  State Constitution, the aforementioned                                                               
two positions are separated to receive additional compensation.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER asked, "And  under the constitution, then,                                                               
it  ... needs  to  be determined  differently  from other  salary                                                               
MS. TUPOU directed  attention to page 1, [line 14]  of Version X,                                                               
which shows that the amount that  the President of the Senate and                                                               
the House  Speaker has been  changed from $500  a year to  $500 a                                                               
9:24:39 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE  CHAIR   GATTO  asked  if   the  constitution   directs  the                                                               
legislature  to  address the  question  of  the salaries  of  the                                                               
President of  the Senate  and the House  Speaker, or  "somehow we                                                               
interpreted that."                                                                                                              
9:24:55 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. TUPOU conjectured  that since there is  specific reference in                                                               
the  Alaska  State  Constitution  that  the  aforementioned  will                                                               
receive   compensation,  while   "other   legislators"  are   not                                                               
mentioned specifically, "that's why it  would be initially in the                                                               
statute."   She added,  "And then  we've amended  it in  our bill                                                               
because it was in the original statute."                                                                                        
9:25:20 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR GATTO  asked Ms. Tupou if she is  saying that the only                                                               
people entitled to any kind  of compensation are the President of                                                               
the  Senate  and   the  House  Speaker,  and  the   rest  of  the                                                               
legislators are  "subject to  [the Alaska]  Legislative Council's                                                               
MS. TUPOU deferred the question to Dan Wayne.                                                                                   
9:25:29 AM                                                                                                                    
DAN  WAYNE, Attorney,  Legislative Legal  and Research  Services,                                                               
referred  to   Article  2,  Section   7,  of  the   Alaska  State                                                               
Constitution, which read as follows:                                                                                            
     SECTION  7.    Salary  and  Expenses.Legislators  shall                                                                    
     receive annual  salaries. They may  receive a  per diem                                                                    
     allowance  for  expenses  while   in  session  and  are                                                                    
     entitled  to   travel  expenses   going  to   and  from                                                                    
     sessions.  Presiding  officers may  receive  additional                                                                    
9:26:24 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER asked  Mr. Wayne  if there  would be  any                                                               
problem  legally in  having the  additional  compensation of  the                                                               
presiding officers handled in the  same way "that we're proposing                                                               
salaries  be  handled  going  through  the  commission  and  then                                                               
through [Legislative] Council."                                                                                                 
9:26:42 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  WAYNE  answered no,  because  ultimately  it is  the  Alaska                                                               
Legislative Council  that is making  the decision about  what the                                                               
salary  and  benefits  will  be.     He  stated,  "Inserting  the                                                               
commission  into  that  process,   with  respect  to  salary  and                                                               
benefits,  ...  allows  a  citizens'  group  to  study  it,  make                                                               
recommendations,  and so  forth, which  become  effective if  the                                                               
[Alaska] Legislative  Council and  the legislature decide  not to                                                               
... make  any changes  to them."   Mr.  Wayne indicated  that the                                                               
decision not to do anything is, in essence, "an act."                                                                           
9:27:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  opined  that  in the  interest  of  full                                                               
disclosure and public participation,  all the salaries, including                                                               
"any  additional,"  should  go  through the  same  process  of  a                                                               
citizens' commission  and be possibly  amended then  confirmed by                                                               
the Alaska  Legislative Council.   She asked  Ms. Tupou  what the                                                               
sponsor's response  would be  to an  amendment that  would delete                                                               
the provision related  to additional salary for  the President of                                                               
the Senate and the House Speaker.                                                                                               
9:28:31 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  TUPOU  said  that  she  could  not  support  or  oppose  any                                                               
amendments proposed  during the meeting because  the bill sponsor                                                               
would not have had a chance to consider them ahead of time.                                                                     
The committee took an at-ease from 9:28:41 AM to 9:28:46 AM.                                                                
9:30:16 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR  GATTO, in response  to a request  from Representative                                                               
Gruenberg, recapped Representative Gardner's amendment idea.                                                                    
9:30:45 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER clarified  that she  has no  objection to                                                               
the  aforementioned positions  receiving an  increase in  salary,                                                               
but  she doesn't  know that  they should  be handled  differently                                                               
than the other issues.                                                                                                          
9:30:51 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER asked Mr.  Wayne for suggested language to                                                               
use in an  amendment that would require that the  salaries of the                                                               
President  of  the   Senate  and  the  House   Speaker  would  be                                                               
determined in the same manner  as other salary adjustments, which                                                               
would  be through  the commission's  recommendations and  through                                                               
the Alaska Legislative Council.                                                                                                 
9:31:32 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. WAYNE suggested  deleting the sentence [beginning  on page 1,                                                               
line 13, through page 2, line 1], which read as follows:                                                                        
     The  president of  the senate  and the  speaker of  the                                                                    
     house  of  representatives  are  each  entitled  to  an                                                                    
     additional  $500  a  month   [YEAR]  during  tenure  of                                                                
MR. WAYNE also suggested adding  language under Section 4 so that                                                               
it would  be another  duty of the  Alaska Legislative  Council to                                                               
set the amount.  Alternatively,  he suggested that language could                                                               
be added under Section 10 to  charge the commission with the task                                                               
of  determining whether  additional compensation  is paid  to the                                                               
President of  the Senate and the  House Speaker, and, if  so, how                                                               
much it would be.                                                                                                               
9:32:41 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR GATTO directed attention  to the sentence beginning on                                                               
page  1,  line  13  [text  provided  previously],  and  suggested                                                               
changing language within the sentence to read:                                                                                  
     may each be entitled, at the discretion of Legislative                                                                     
     Council to an additional salary of                                                                                         
9:32:58 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  WAYNE responded  that Vice  Chair  Gatto's suggestion  would                                                               
accomplish the same  thing as striking the  sentence and "putting                                                               
a  sentence  under Section  4,"  but  it  would still  leave  the                                                               
commission  out of  the decision,  leaving  it up  to the  Alaska                                                               
Legislative  Council.   He said,  "I suppose  it just  depends on                                                               
whether or not  it's the will of the legislature  to have ... the                                                               
commission study it  and make recommendations to  the council and                                                               
then have the council act, or  to just have the council handle it                                                               
(indisc. -- paper  shuffling) from that."  He said  he thinks one                                                               
issue is whether additional compensation,  as shown in Article 2,                                                               
Section 7,  is meant to  be the  same as salary,  or if it  is an                                                               
allowance.   He said  that as  he was drafting  the bill,  he was                                                               
thinking of additional compensation as allowance.                                                                               
9:34:23 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR GATTO suggested that  the term "allowance" should only                                                               
apply during  session, because  that is the  only time  when [the                                                               
President  of the  Senate  and  the House  Speaker]  serve in  an                                                               
official capacity "on the podium."                                                                                              
9:34:49 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS  disagreed with Vice Chair  Gatto's remark.                                                               
He said  the work  load of  the President of  the Senate  and the                                                               
House Speaker doesn't diminish that  much during interim, and may                                                               
even increase.                                                                                                                  
9:35:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER moved Conceptual  Amendment 1, to make the                                                               
allowance  be   considered  by  the  commission   and  ultimately                                                               
determined by the Alaska Legislative Council.                                                                                   
9:35:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ELKINS objected  to Conceptual  Amendment 1.   He                                                               
     I think  it's pretty obvious  by the salary of  $2001 a                                                                    
     month that  this legislature is not  overpaid, and it's                                                                    
     been that  way for a  number of years.   And as  far as                                                                    
     public participation  goes, if  a pay raise  would have                                                                    
     to come through  in a bill, there's plenty  of time for                                                                    
     all  kinds of  public input.   ...  Whether the  public                                                                    
     likes   it  or   [doesn't]  like   it,  they   have  an                                                                    
     opportunity at  us every two  years in the House.   And                                                                    
     I'm not in favor of  setting up a commission outside of                                                                    
     this body  to ... recommend  our pay  at all.   I think                                                                    
     that's our job; I think  that's what we were elected to                                                                    
     do, and  then stand before  the people and see  if they                                                                    
     accept it.                                                                                                                 
9:36:29 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER reiterated  that the  question really  is                                                               
not  whether [certain  members of  the body]  should get  more or                                                               
less,   but  whether   that  decision   should  be   handled  any                                                               
differently  than  the  decisions  for the  salary  benefits  and                                                               
allowances "for the rest of us."                                                                                                
9:37:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS  reemphasized that  his point is  that "the                                                               
decision should be handled in this body and only in this body."                                                                 
9:37:23 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR GATTO  said that's a separate question.   He suggested                                                               
that Representative  Elkins is really  saying that  "we shouldn't                                                               
even have this bill."                                                                                                           
9:37:40 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS responded, "Basically, yes."                                                                              
VICE CHAIR GATTO  said allowing the legislature  to establish its                                                               
own salaries  would look inherently  unfair to the  public, thus,                                                               
he said he thinks having  a recommendation from a separate ground                                                               
is  a good  idea.   He said  Representative Gardner  is proposing                                                               
that that separate  group not only make a  recommendation for the                                                               
legislature's salaries,  but also for  "any bump for  the speaker                                                               
and the president."                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE   GARDNER  concurred   with  Vice   Chair  Gatto's                                                               
estimation of the intent of Conceptual Amendment 1.                                                                             
VICE  CHAIR GATTO  asked if  there were  any other  objections to                                                               
Conceptual Amendment 1.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  objected, then  removed his  objection [when                                                               
it was clarified that Representative Elkins still objected.]                                                                    
9:38:53 AM                                                                                                                    
A roll  call vote was  taken.  Representatives Gardner  and Gatto                                                               
voted in favor  of Conceptual Amendment 1.   Representatives Lynn                                                               
and Elkins voted  against it.  Therefore,  Conceptual Amendment 1                                                               
failed to be adopted by a vote of 2-2.                                                                                          
9:39:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  restated   her  concern  regarding  full                                                               
disclosure  and public  participation, even  bearing in  mind the                                                               
previous remarks from Representative Elkins.   She said she would                                                               
like  the   final  report  from   the  citizens'   commission  on                                                               
legislative benefits described in Section  12, line 13 [under the                                                               
old bill].                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER indicated that she  would like to offer an                                                               
amendment  that  would require  that  the  report the  commission                                                               
makes   available   to   the  Alaska   Legislative   Council   be                                                               
simultaneously made available to the public.                                                                                    
9:41:29 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. WAYNE suggested:                                                                                                            
     On page 4, line 10:                                                                                                        
       Between "to" and "the Alaska Legislative Council"                                                                
          Insert "the public and"                                                                                           
9:41:44 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR  GATTO asked Representative  Gardner if that  would be                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER answered,  "That's  great."   [Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 2 was considered moved for adoption.]                                                                                 
9:42:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ELKINS offered  his understanding  that once  the                                                               
report is  distributed to  the Alaska  Legislative Council  it is                                                               
available to the public already.                                                                                                
9:42:19 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR GATTO said he  doesn't think that is necessarily true.                                                               
He explained that the Alaska  Legislative Council has information                                                               
on other things that are  discussed and are under contract, thus,                                                               
information given to  the council can be public  document, but in                                                               
some instances is  not.  He said Representative  Gardner wants to                                                               
delineate that question  by specifying that "this  document - not                                                               
all documents - ... be available to the public."                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS  replied, "I  think this document  would be                                                               
anyway because it's not proprietary and the other one is."                                                                      
9:42:46 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  relayed her  concern  is  to ensure  the                                                               
public  knows   exactly  what   the  commission   recommends  and                                                               
ultimately  what the  Alaska Legislative  Council goes  with, and                                                               
she  wants   both  those  elements   "to  be   available  without                                                               
9:42:58 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE  CHAIR  GATTO  stated   his  agreement  with  Representative                                                               
Elkins'  remark that  the Alaska  Legislative Council  "would not                                                               
hold   this   as   discretionary   information   anyway,"   thus,                                                               
[Conceptual   Amendment  2]   would  not   add  any   measure  of                                                               
accountability to the bill.                                                                                                     
9:43:39 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER responded:                                                                                               
     You may very  well be right [Vice Chair  Gatto], but as                                                                    
     you  explained earlier,  it's  very  ... difficult  for                                                                    
     legislators  to  make recommendations  regarding  their                                                                    
     own  salary and  benefits, and  we're introducing  this                                                                    
     bill, in part, to address  that and have a process that                                                                    
     is open  and allows  input from  other people,  so that                                                                    
     ultimately what happens is clear  and open.  And I just                                                                    
     want to  ensure that  every part of  that is  clear and                                                                    
     open, so that afterwards we  can't be accused of trying                                                                    
     to hide any part of the process.                                                                                           
9:44:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN recommended  erring  on the  side of  public                                                               
9:44:18 AM                                                                                                                    
VICE CHAIR  GATTO reviewed  Conceptual Amendment  2 and  asked if                                                               
there was any objection.                                                                                                        
9:44:36 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  ELKINS  objected  for discussion  purposes.    He                                                               
admitted, "Sometimes  I gristle  when public disclosure  comes up                                                               
because ...  it ...  implies ... we  would do  something illegal,                                                               
and I don't  believe we would do anything illegal."   He said, "I                                                               
do not believe for a minute that  this item would be held ... not                                                               
for public discretion  by the [Alaska] Legislative  Council."  He                                                               
said he has a problem with [Conceptual Amendment 2].                                                                            
9:45:20 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  said she  does not  intend to  imply that                                                               
the  Alaska  Legislative  Council  would be  anything  less  than                                                               
honorable at  any step of  the way, but  she wants to  ensure the                                                               
public that  "we are  making every  effort to  be open  about the                                                               
entire  process  of  discussing possible  raises,  salaries,  and                                                               
9:46:30 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG indicated  that [Conceptual Amendment 2]                                                               
may  not be  technically  be necessary,  but  it would  certainly                                                               
offer  some assurance  to  the public.    He told  Representative                                                               
Elkins he  hopes he  will reconsider  his objection,  because the                                                               
bill  is not  controversial,  will  do no  harm,  and will  offer                                                               
confidence to the public.                                                                                                       
9:47:17 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS removed his objection.                                                                                    
VICE  CHAIR GATTO  asked if  there was  any further  objection to                                                               
Conceptual Amendment 2.  There being none, it was so ordered.                                                                   
9:47:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   GARDNER,  in   response   to   a  request   from                                                               
Representative  Gruenberg, reviewed  the  subject  of the  failed                                                               
Conceptual Amendment 1.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG, after  ascertaining that  the vote  on                                                               
Conceptual  Amendment 1  had  been 2-2,  asked  if any  committee                                                               
member would be willing to ask  for a reconsideration so he could                                                               
9:48:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER asked  for reconsideration  to Conceptual                                                               
Amendment 1.                                                                                                                    
[Discussion took  place regarding  the rules  of reconsideration,                                                               
which  members had  actually been  present during  the roll  call                                                               
vote on  Conceptual Amendment  1, and the  timing of  holding the                                                               
bill versus moving it through committee.]                                                                                       
9:50:48 AM                                                                                                                    
A roll  call vote was  taken.  Representatives  Gruenberg, Gatto,                                                               
and   Gardner  voted   in  favor   of  Conceptual   Amendment  1.                                                               
Representatives  Elkins and  Lynn voted  against it.   Therefore,                                                               
Conceptual Amendment 1 was adopted by a vote of 3-2.                                                                            
9:51:42 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG moved to report CSHB 349, Version 24-                                                                  
LS1391\X,  Wayne,  2/8/06,  as amended,  out  of  committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations.    There being  no  objection,  CSHB
349(STA) was  reported out  of the  House State  Affairs Standing                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects