Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/10/1996 02:05 PM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
               HB 542 BOARD OF FISH VOTING ETHICS                             
 SENATOR TORGERSON introduced CSHB 542(FSH) as the next order of               
 Number 465                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ALAN AUSTERMAN, prime sponsor of HB 542, said he               
 introduced the legislation after a February meeting of past members           
 and the current chairman of the Board of Fisheries.  The main issue           
 that came out of the two-day meeting was that there was a problem             
 with the conflict of interest in the Board of Fisheries and how it            
 was being handled.  People were being conflicted off of the board,            
 decisions were not being made in some instances, and decisions were           
 being swayed in other instances because of the people being                   
 conflicted off of the board.                                                  
 Representative Austerman said HB 542 removes the attorney general             
 out of the picture, in that he does not give opinions any more                
 about the Board of Fisheries conflict of interest.  The bill also             
 mandates that board members will discuss and vote on all issues               
 after declaring a conflict of interest.  Board members will also              
 have to file a financial conflict of interest statement with the              
 Representative Austerman said the basis of the legislation is  to             
 get the Board of Fisheries back on track and have them make                   
 decisions based upon the issues rather than being conflicted off.             
 Number 530                                                                    
 SENATOR ZHAROFF moved that an immediate effective date be added to            
 the legislation.  Hearing no objection, the Chairman stated the               
 motion carried.                                                               
 Number 557                                                                    
 STEVEN WHITE, Department of Law, stated the department has no                 
 position on HB 542.  He related that for the past six years he has            
 advised the Board of Fisheries and has helped them through                    
 implementing the current Executive Ethics Act.  He noted that if HB
 542 passes, it will be the first time that any agency will be                 
 exempted from the conflict of interest provisions of that Act.                
 TAPE 96-20, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
 Mr. White discussed and answered questions on the current process             
 for determining if board members have a conflict of interest.  He             
 emphasized the department does not make the decisions for the                 
 board; they help them work through the issues, but the board itself           
 makes the final determination.                                                
 In his closing comments, Mr. White said he understands that former            
 board chairmen don't like the Ethics Act and it's somewhat                    
 understandable because it does add more to the board process.                 
 However, under the current process, the lay character of the board            
 is preserved because the members who do have experience are allowed           
 to share that experience with the board; they're just not permitted           
 to vote or to persuade other persons.  He also said the department            
 believes in the board process and the integrity of the board                  
 process, and they don't want to see anything that would lead the              
 public to lose its confidence that there's total impartiality on              
 the board when they make their decisions.                                     
 Number 130                                                                    
 There being no further testimony on HB 542, SENATOR TORGERSON asked           
 for the will of the committee.                                                
 SENATOR ZHAROFF moved SCS CSHB 542(CRA) pass out of committee with            
 individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so                  

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