Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

04/08/2010 08:00 AM House STATE AFFAIRS

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08:08:00 AM Start
08:08:10 AM SB244
09:03:28 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved HCS SB 244(STA) Out of Committee
        SB 244-GOVERNOR'S DUTY STATION/TRAVEL ALLOWANCES                                                                    
8:08:10 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN announced  that the only order of  business was SENATE                                                               
BILL NO. 244, "An Act  providing that, during the governor's term                                                               
of  office, the  duty  station  of the  governor  is Juneau,  and                                                               
prohibiting payment of  certain travel allowances for  use of the                                                               
governor's personal residence."                                                                                                 
The committee took an at-ease from 8:08:25 AM to 8:13:39 AM.                                                                
8:14:13 AM                                                                                                                    
DARWIN  PETERSON,  Staff,  Senator  Bert  Stedman,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  presented  SB 244  on  behalf  of Senator  Stedman,                                                               
sponsor.   He  stated  that  the proposed  bill  would codify  in                                                               
statute the administrative requirement  that Juneau is officially                                                               
considered the governor's  duty station.  Currently  there are no                                                               
statutory  provisions requiring  the  governor to  reside in  the                                                               
capital  city and  occupy the  governor's mansion  during his/her                                                               
term of  office.  He related  that SB 244 would  not prohibit the                                                               
governor from  maintaining a personal residence  anywhere else in                                                               
Alaska;  however,   the  governor  would  be   subject  to  state                                                               
personnel laws  as they apply  to the calculation and  payment of                                                               
travel allowances.   If passed, the legislation  would not affect                                                               
the current governor, but would affect all future governors.                                                                    
8:15:38 AM                                                                                                                    
KEVIN BROOKS,  Deputy Commissioner,  Office of  the Commissioner,                                                               
Department of  Administration,  in  response to Chair  Lynn, said                                                               
the proposed  legislation would not  change the pay  allowance of                                                               
the governor.   He described the  bill as "a formal  statement of                                                               
duty station,"  noting that "current practice  is consistent with                                                               
how  the bill  is  constructed."   He  related  that every  state                                                               
employee in the executive branch  has a formal duty station, with                                                               
the exception  of the  governor.  The  proposed bill  would treat                                                               
the  position  of  governor  like  all  other  positions  in  the                                                               
executive branch.  In response to  a question from Chair Lynn, he                                                               
said he  does not know  why the  governor has been  excluded thus                                                               
8:18:04 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO ascertained  that  Mr.  Brooks, whose  duty                                                               
station is  Juneau, lives  in Juneau.   He  pointed out  that Mr.                                                               
Brooks could, if  he wanted, live in Anchorage and  fly to Juneau                                                               
every day for  work.  He asked Mr. Brooks  if he distinguishes as                                                               
"fairly special" a  situation in which someone owns a  house in a                                                               
community other than  Juneau and is elected and given  a house in                                                               
MR. BROOKS  responded, "I would  agree, that's fairly  unique, as                                                               
it relates to other employees in the executive branch."                                                                         
CHAIR LYNN  stated his  assumption that the  governor has  use of                                                               
the governor's mansion rent-free.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO and MR. BROOKS confirmed that is correct.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  said the governor  is elected for  a finite                                                               
amount  of time  - there  is a  term limit  of eight  years.   He                                                               
asked, "In your opinion, is  this distinction for the governor so                                                               
different from  other employees  that we  should not  declare the                                                               
governor's duty station?"                                                                                                       
8:20:11 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BROOKS offered his perspective  that the proposed legislation                                                               
would  provide some  guidance and  clarity.   He said  it is  not                                                               
uncommon  for an  individual to  take a  job in  one part  of the                                                               
state and have a home in another  part.  He relayed that there is                                                               
a state administrative  manual used by all  state agencies, which                                                               
outlines rules regarding  travel.  The state  makes a distinction                                                               
between lodging expense and meal  allowance.  Currently the state                                                               
gives  $60 a  day for  meal allowance,  while lodging  expense is                                                               
only  given  as a  reimbursement  for  expenditure.   Mr.  Brooks                                                               
offered  an example  in  which a  state employee  has  a home  in                                                               
Anchorage and a  duty station in Juneau.  If  that employee flies                                                               
to Anchorage  on state business  and stays in his/her  home while                                                               
in  Anchorage,  he/she  would  not  be  given  lodging  allowance                                                               
reimbursement, because  no money  would have  been spent  by that                                                               
employee on  lodging.  Mr.  Brooks stated that the  proposed bill                                                               
is  consistent with  current policy.    He said,  "It makes  some                                                               
clarification on  a single position  where it doesn't  exist, and                                                               
it's how we treat 1,500 other executive branch employees."                                                                      
8:22:52 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BROOKS, in  response to Chair Lynn, said  there is publicized                                                               
debate  about  how a  former  governor  was reimbursed  for  meal                                                               
allowance.   In response  to a  follow-up question,  he confirmed                                                               
that  currently  Juneau  is  not  specified  in  statute  as  the                                                               
governor's duty  station.  He  said if a  governor had a  home in                                                               
Anchorage, stayed  at that home  during a  state-related business                                                               
trip in Anchorage, and bought  groceries and cooked meals at that                                                               
home,  he/she could  be  reimbursed at  the  $60-a-day amount  if                                                               
he/she submitted  a claim.   Likewise, if  the governor ate  at a                                                               
restaurant while  in Anchorage, he/she  could be reimbursed.   He                                                               
indicated  that that  reimbursement  would not  be available  for                                                               
eating out at a restaurant in the duty station.                                                                                 
8:26:37 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BROOKS,  in response to Representative  Gatto, confirmed that                                                               
under SB  244, a governor  would still  be allowed to  travel for                                                               
state business  from Juneau  to a  town in  which he/she  owned a                                                               
home, stay  in that home during  the business trip, and  submit a                                                               
claim to be reimbursed $60 a day for food.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO responded  that it is not  clear what change                                                               
would be effected by SB 244.                                                                                                    
8:27:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked  if there is an  option of receiving                                                               
per diem or reimbursement in the executive branch.                                                                              
MR. BROOKS answered there is not.                                                                                               
8:28:12 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  PETERSON, in  response  to Chair  Lynn,  clarified that  the                                                               
intent of the  proposed legislation is not to  change policy, but                                                               
rather it is simply a statement  of policy that Juneau, a capital                                                               
city, is the duty station of  the governor.  That statement would                                                               
be codified  in statute,  he said.   In  response to  a follow-up                                                               
question from Chair  Lynn, he explained that under  SB 244, since                                                               
Juneau would be named in  statute as the governor's duty station,                                                               
it may become an issue if a governor did not live in Juneau.                                                                    
8:29:34 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  PETERSON,  in response  to  Representative  Gatto, read  the                                                               
first sentence  of the  definition of duty  station, which  is in                                                               
the   aforementioned  Alaska   Administrative  Manual   [excerpts                                                               
included in the committee packet], as follows:                                                                                  
     The  duty  station of  a  traveler  includes the  city,                                                                    
     town, or village within 50  miles of where the traveler                                                                    
     spends the major portion of  their working time, or the                                                                    
     place  to  which  the  traveler   returns  to  duty  on                                                                    
     completion of special assignments.                                                                                         
MR. PETERSON  said the bill  would not prevent the  governor from                                                               
traveling.  He stated, "It's  just when the governor returns home                                                               
and the  governor's living  in Alaska, the  capital ...  city and                                                               
the governor's mansion is where the governor should reside."                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN noted that Mr. Peterson said "should reside."                                                                        
MR. PETERSON said  yes.  In response to  Representative Gatto, he                                                               
said the  bill specifies Juneau  as the capital  city; therefore,                                                               
if SB 244  was passed into law, statute would  have to be amended                                                               
if the capital city ever was relocated.                                                                                         
CHAIR  LYNN  suggested  the  language  be  changed  now  to  read                                                               
"capital" rather than "Juneau".                                                                                                 
8:32:49 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BROOKS, in response to  Representative Seaton, explained that                                                               
without  SB 244,  a governor  from Kotzebue,  for example,  could                                                               
decide that  Kotzebue is his/her  duty station, which  would mean                                                               
every time  that governor  came to Juneau,  he/she could  stay in                                                               
the  governor's mansion  and  eat the  meals  provided there  and                                                               
submit a claim for those meals.                                                                                                 
8:35:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN  recollected that in the  past, there has                                                               
been  controversy   regarding  the   travel  of   the  governor's                                                               
children.  He  noted that that issue is not  addressed in SB 244,                                                               
and he questioned why.                                                                                                          
MR.  PETERSON responded  that the  sponsor intentionally  did not                                                               
address that issue,  because it is a much  more complicated issue                                                               
that would probably require a separate piece of legislation.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PETERSEN  offered  a  hypothetical  situation  in                                                               
which  the governor's  children do  not come  to Juneau  with the                                                               
governor,  in  order  to  remain in  their  school  and  hometown                                                               
located in  other than Juneau.   He asked  if under SB  244, with                                                               
the governor's  duty station being Juneau,  the governor's travel                                                               
back and forth from Juneau to  see his/her children would be paid                                                               
by the state.                                                                                                                   
8:37:43 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BROOKS responded  that he cannot imagine  that the governor's                                                               
trips to  see his/her children  would not also  include business,                                                               
because the  position of governor is  held 365 days of  the year;                                                               
therefore, he speculated that those trips  may be paid for by the                                                               
CHAIR  LYNN remarked  that legislators  also represent  the state                                                               
365 days of the year.                                                                                                           
MR. BROOKS responded that is correct.                                                                                           
8:38:59 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked if anyone  has raised the issue of                                                               
separation of power in relation to the proposed legislation.                                                                    
MR. PETERSON  answered yes.   He said  the issue was  raised with                                                               
Legislative Legal  and Research  Services.   He relayed  that not                                                               
only is it within the purview  of the Alaska State Legislature to                                                               
declare the governor's duty station,  the legislature is the only                                                               
body in the state that can do so.                                                                                               
8:40:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  opined  that if  the  state  regularly                                                               
provides the  governor with meals  "here," and the  governor does                                                               
not eat  those meals, then it  should be fair that  the state pay                                                               
an equivalent cost "wherever the governor eats the meals."                                                                      
MR. BROOKS  responded that  that would  occur under  SB 244.   In                                                               
response to  a follow-up question from  Representative Gruenberg,                                                               
he offered his  understanding that currently a  governor who, for                                                               
example, lives in Wasilla and  drives back and forth from Wasilla                                                               
to Anchorage  would not get  reimbursed for that  travel expense,                                                               
and the proposed legislation "doesn't change that at all."                                                                      
8:42:13 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG asked  for confirmation  that currently                                                               
the governor  "would be entitled  to the meal allowance,"  so [SB
244] would not change that either.                                                                                              
MR. BROOKS replied,  "Currently a governor would  be eligible for                                                               
that   meal  allowance."     He   clarified  that   the  proposed                                                               
legislation  does not  change current  practice, but  "makes that                                                               
distinction  between ...  lodging costs  versus meal  allowance."                                                               
In response  to a  follow-up question, he  specified that  SB 244                                                               
would put "duty station into law."                                                                                              
8:42:50 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON offered  his understanding  that under  SB
244, when  a governor who  has residence  in another part  of the                                                               
state comes  to Juneau and  is given  meals, he/she would  not be                                                               
allowed to claim  meal allowance.  He clarified  that without the                                                               
proposed  legislation, a  governor could  claim a  meal allowance                                                               
when in Juneau if he/she  declared someplace outside of Juneau as                                                               
his/her duty station.   He offered his understanding  that SB 244                                                               
would correct  that, and  he said  he sees  that as  the proposed                                                               
bill's biggest impact.                                                                                                          
MR. BROOKS responded, "What you just described is accurate."                                                                    
8:44:28 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN  recollected that a  former governor had  released the                                                               
cook staff  at the governor's mansion.   He asked who  would have                                                               
paid for the food after that happened.                                                                                          
MR. BROOKS  imparted, "The state  would have still  purchased the                                                               
food, just would not have been paying to have it prepared."                                                                     
CHAIR LYNN  asked for clarification regarding  how that situation                                                               
would have been changed under SB 244.   He asked, "Is it the cook                                                               
that's paid  for or is  it the  food that's consumed  that's paid                                                               
MR. BROOKS  offered his  understanding that it  is an  option for                                                               
the governor to have staff  that will purchase groceries, prepare                                                               
meals,   and  clean   up  afterward.     He   then  offered   his                                                               
understanding that the aforementioned  previous governor chose to                                                               
have  the state  reimburse the  purchase  of food  and leave  the                                                               
preparation to the governor's family.                                                                                           
CHAIR LYNN concluded, "But this  bill wouldn't change any of that                                                               
at all."                                                                                                                        
MR. BROOKS confirmed that is correct.                                                                                           
8:46:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN  pointed out that  there is an  office in                                                               
Anchorage that is  frequently used by the governor,  and he asked                                                               
if the  bill would make Juneau  the duty station 365  days of the                                                               
year, even if the legislature was not currently in session.                                                                     
MR. BROOKS  replied, "It would  be the duty station  for purposes                                                               
of  calculating travel  - not  necessarily where  they worked  or                                                               
spent time  - because  obviously the governor  is going  to spend                                                               
time  throughout the  state  and  ... outside  of  the state,  as                                                               
well."   In response to Chair  Lynn, he stated that  SB 244 would                                                               
not force the governor to live in Juneau.                                                                                       
8:47:43 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON  offered her  understanding  that  the                                                               
proposed legislation would make  accounting easier.  Furthermore,                                                               
the bill  would not allow  a governor to  get paid for  the miles                                                               
he/she travels between home and work.                                                                                           
8:49:00 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  BROOKS  said  Representative  Wilson  is  correct  regarding                                                               
accounting.  However, he said the  issue of mileage is really not                                                               
addressed in the proposed legislation.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON directed  attention  page  2, line  8,                                                               
Section 2(b)(2), which read as follows:                                                                                         
               (2) the governor is not entitled to, and may                                                                     
     not claim  as a  travel allowance, a  lodging allowance                                                                    
     when  staying  in  the  governor's  personal  residence                                                                    
     while  in  travel  status   away  from  the  governor's                                                                    
     designated duty station.                                                                                                   
MR. BROOKS said the key [term]  in that bill language is "lodging                                                               
CHAIR  LYNN  asked,  "Was  that ever  claimed  before  -  lodging                                                               
MR. BROOKS offered  his understanding that the answer  is no, but                                                               
said  the claims  are handled  by  the governor's  administrative                                                               
office.   He  said,  "To get  a lodging  allowance,  you have  to                                                               
submit an invoice."                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON said  the language in  the bill  is not                                                               
clear.    She  suggested  that  a comma  should  be  added  after                                                               
"lodging allowance".  She explained  that that would clarify that                                                               
"we're talking about the lodging allowance."                                                                                    
MR.  PETERSON said  that would  be  a fine  amendment that  would                                                               
clarify the language.                                                                                                           
8:51:20 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE PETERSEN  asked if, in  the event a  governor from                                                               
Juneau was elected and wanted to  live in his/her own home rather                                                               
than in the governor's mansion,  the state would provide food and                                                               
a cook.                                                                                                                         
8:51:52 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. BROOKS  responded that the  bill really does not  address the                                                               
provision  of a  cook  or  other food  preparers.    He said  the                                                               
governor in  that hypothetical situation  certainly would  not be                                                               
given a lodging allowance.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked, "What if  they rented a house and had                                                               
rental receipts  and stayed  in their  house?   Would they  get a                                                               
lodging allowance?"                                                                                                             
MR. BROOKS said if that was  in Juneau the governor would not get                                                               
a lodging allowance, because under  SB 244, the governor would be                                                               
in his/her duty  station.  In response to Chair  Lynn, he offered                                                               
his understanding that  the same answer would  be true currently,                                                               
without SB 244.                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked, "What if  they went to the Goldbelt -                                                               
now they have a receipt.  Can they submit that?"                                                                                
MR. BROOKS  replied, "If duty  station is defined in  Juneau that                                                               
would not be reimbursed."                                                                                                       
8:53:24 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  stated   his  understanding  that  the                                                               
proposed legislation would make it  clear that when a governor is                                                               
staying  in his/her  personal residence,  anywhere in  the state,                                                               
he/she would not  be given a lodging allowance.   Furthermore, if                                                               
the governor is in Juneau, he/she  would not get a meal allowance                                                               
either, "because  you had  chosen to buy  your meals  outside and                                                               
not have them provided by the state."                                                                                           
MR. BROOKS said he believes that is accurate.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG further stated  his understanding that a                                                               
governor with a  residence in Anchorage or  Wasilla, for example,                                                               
who was working in those locations, could get a meal allowance.                                                                 
MR. BROOKS responded that is correct.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said that seems  fair.  He  said former                                                               
Governor  Sarah  Palin  did  not  receive  a  mileage  allowance,                                                               
because the  state provided a car  for her and the  gasoline.  He                                                               
opined that that  is fair, as well.  He  said there are governors                                                               
in other  states who have  chosen not  to live in  the governor's                                                               
residence  in order  to save  money  for the  state.   He said  a                                                               
governor  might have  to  go  to another  part  of  the state  to                                                               
conduct state  business when the  legislature is not  in session,                                                               
and it  is reasonable  for the  governor to  stay in  his/her own                                                               
8:56:31 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN,  after ascertaining  that there was  no one  else who                                                               
wished to testify, closed public testimony.                                                                                     
8:56:39 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON moved to adopt  Conceptual Amendment 1,                                                               
as follows:                                                                                                                     
        Page 2, line 9, between "lodging allowance" and                                                                         
          Insert ","                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON explained  that Conceptual  Amendment 1                                                               
would provide clarification.                                                                                                    
CHAIR LYNN  asked if  there was  any objection.   There  being no                                                               
objection, Conceptual Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                  
8:57:14 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON moved to adopt Amendment 2, as follows:                                                                  
     Page 1, line 2:                                                                                                            
          Delete "Juneau"                                                                                                       
          Insert "the state capital"                                                                                            
CHAIR LYNN asked  if there was any objection.   There being none,                                                               
Amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                                                        
8:57:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON moved to adopt Amendment 3, as follows:                                                                  
     Page 2, line 6:                                                                                                            
          Delete "Juneau"                                                                                                       
          Insert "the state capital"                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVES P. WILSON and SEATON objected.                                                                                  
8:58:12 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  asked Mr.  Brooks  if  duty stations  are                                                               
assigned  by  particular  city.     He  asked  if  there  is  any                                                               
difference in  the way the bill  would be implemented if  it read                                                               
"Juneau" or "the capital city".                                                                                                 
MR. BROOKS explained that currently  each employee's duty station                                                               
is designated as a specific city.  He continued as follows:                                                                     
     But I think there's  an understanding ..., from hearing                                                                    
     the discussion  here, that if the  capital is currently                                                                    
     Juneau, then that's the duty  station - the actual city                                                                    
     we  would use,  and ...  if  it ever  changed, then  we                                                                    
     would adjust it accordingly.                                                                                               
8:59:08 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON removed his objection.                                                                                    
8:59:19 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PETERSON said  he does not think the bill  sponsor would have                                                               
a problem  with Amendment  3, because  changing "Juneau"  to "the                                                               
capital city" would still accomplish his intent.                                                                                
8:59:38 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON removed her objection.                                                                                 
CHAIR  LYNN  announced that  there  being  no further  objection,                                                               
Amendment 3 was adopted.                                                                                                        
9:01:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON moved to report  SB 244, as amended, out of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal notes.                                                                                                                   
9:01:28 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO objected.   He  expressed his  concern that                                                               
the  proposed  legislation would  have  little  real effect,  but                                                               
would add constraints;  therefore, he sees no  benefit in passing                                                               
the bill.                                                                                                                       
9:01:54 AM                                                                                                                    
A roll call vote was  taken.  Representatives Johnson, Gruenberg,                                                               
Petersen, Seaton, Wilson,  and Lynn voted in favor  of the motion                                                               
to report  SB 244, as  amended, out of committee  with individual                                                               
recommendations    and    the    accompanying    fiscal    notes.                                                               
Representative  Gatto  voted  against  it.    Therefore,  HCS  SB
244(STA) was  reported out  of the  House State  Affairs Standing                                                               
Committee by a vote of 6-1.                                                                                                     

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