Legislature(1993 - 1994)

01/21/1994 01:50 PM Senate JUD

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 SENATOR TAYLOR introduced SENATE CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 101(L&C)               
 (NATIONAL ELECTRICAL CODE) sponsored by the House Labor and                   
 Commerce Committee and asked for someone to testify on the bill.              
 Number 046                                                                    
 DONALD G. STUDY, Director of Labor Standards and Safety for the               
 Department of Labor, spoke in support of the bill, explaining it              
 had passed the House last session 37 to 3.  He also explained it              
 would allow the Department of Labor to adopt the most recent                  
 version of the National Electrical Code and the National Electrical           
 Safety Code, saying these codes had been adopted regularly since              
 Because the state had not adopted the most current code, MR. STUDY            
 described a problem with state oversight with the ALYESKA Pipeline.           
 He said the Department of Labor had been criticized by Congress for           
 not having proper oversight of the pipeline and not having the most           
 current electrical code to enforce the electrical work on ALYESKA.            
 SENATOR DONLEY asked, "So what?  Is it all of a sudden unsafe?"               
 MR. STORY claimed there have been approximately 40,000 electrical             
 SENATOR DONLEY contended it had nothing to do with the codes.                 
 MR. STORY agreed, but he said part of the criticism his department            
 had received was their lack of enforcement.  He explained the                 
 criticism could have been because they were enforcing the 1990 code           
 rather than the 1993 code.                                                    
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked how the pipeline had gotten involved in the              
 code, and MR. STORY explained it was part of the oversight of the             
 pipeline over the past year plus the electrical problems that had             
 SENATOR TAYLOR asked MR. STORY if he was aware of any changes in              
 the 1993 code from any of the previous codes, that would mandate,             
 for example, the 40,000 repairs needed on the pipeline.  He also              
 asked if the new code would require that repairs should be made               
 differently in the new code.                                                  
 MR. STORY explained the new code would allow the use of new                   
 technology, which did not exist in the older codes.  They agreed              
 there would, also, be an effect because of the newer materials used           
 to do the repairs.  MR. STORY said it gave more latitude on the               
 materials used in the repairs.                                                
 Number 092                                                                    
 SENATOR LITTLE approved of the manner in which the code was being             
 updated without specific action by the legislature.  She thought              
 the code change should be made for the public safety, but she                 
 questioned the three votes against the action in the House.                   
 SENATOR DONLEY expressed his opposition to HB 101, because he                 
 thought it is the role of the legislature to adopt these standards,           
 which he said would give the public adequate protection from an               
 over-zealous administration.                                                  
 SENATOR DONLEY explained the codes in HB 101 were national codes,             
 might not be applicable to Alaska, and he cited a battle over the             
 use of plastic pipe, which was resisted by the trades-people in               
 Alaska.  Later the national standards eliminated the plastic pipe,            
 because it was a poor idea, and communities all over the United               
 States were paying millions of dollars to replace the inadequate              
 SENATOR DONLEY claimed the present Executive Branch has too much              
 power, and he did not approve of the delegation of additional power           
 to them.  He thought the codes should be subject to approval by the           
 However, SENATOR DONLEY did indicate his support for the 1993                 
 standard of the National Electrical Code and the National                     
 Electrical Safety Code, but he wanted to see the power preserved to           
 the legislative branch of government for the final approval.                  
 SENATOR DONLEY complained the administration has been unresponsive            
 to his efforts over the years to adopt some controls over their               
 adoption of regulations.  He said there was no adherence to the               
 checks and balances of the committee process or the public notices            
 for adopting regulations which have the effect of law.  SENATOR               
 DONLEY suggested the three people in the House felt as he does on             
 his complaint.  He explained it was his eighth year of opposing               
 regulations presented in this manner since he didn't trust them -             
 Republican or Democrat.                                                       
 SENATOR DONLEY said he would vote to adopt the 1993 electrical code           
 if it was supported by the professional electrical representatives.           
 SENATOR LITTLE said if there was a problem with a specific                    
 provision of the code relating to Alaska, the legislators would               
 know about it, and would be able to make corrective amendments.               
 SENATOR LITTLE empathized with SENATOR DONLEY'S concern for the               
 balance of power, but she thought, to not adopt the electrical code           
 in a timely manner, could endanger the public or not serve them as            
 MR. STORY assured the committee that all regulations, which are               
 adopted, go through a public hearing process.                                 
 Number 141                                                                    
 SENATOR DONLEY outlined the problems he saw with the public hearing           
 process, and he accused the administration of ignoring the                    
 suggestions from the public.  He said it was nothing compared to              
 the legislative process of public hearings, and he considered it an           
 SENATOR TAYLOR questioned the proposed Senate Judiciary committee             
 substitute.  MR. STORY explained "shall"  had been changed to "may"           
 on line 8 on page 1, and the word "immediately" was added to the              
 effective date on line 7, page 2.                                             
 SENATOR TAYLOR questioned whether this went from being a mandated             
 requirement on the department to being discretionary.                         
 MR. STORY referred to a letter from an attorney, who questioned the           
 constitutionality of forcing the department to automatically adopt            
 the standard from a national third party.                                     
 SENATOR TAYLOR indicated this was part of SENATOR DONLEY'S concern.           
 MR. STORY agreed, and explained that some directives from the                 
 national administration won't work in Alaska, and he thought there            
 needed to be public and professional oversight to catch and correct           
 SENATOR DONLEY paraphrased MR. STORY'S comments to signify the                
 administration was "jealously guarding their constitutional                   
 authority to adopt regulations."  He criticized the actions of the            
 attorney general as to the use of the word, may, instead of shall,            
 which he said was related to his earlier argument critical of the             
 power used by the administration to pass regulations.                         
 Number 192                                                                    
 MR. STORY requested to read a letter received from PETER GINDER,              
 an attorney for the firm of KEMPPEL, HUFFMAN, AND GINDER, (255 E.             
 Fireweed, #200. Anchorage, AK 99503), which in part said: "I have             
 reviewed HB 101 as currently introduced and I have significant                
 reservations about the constitutionality of this legislation as               
 proposed.  Basically the word, shall, at line 8 of HB 101 mandated            
 the adoption of future editions of SC. (Safety Code) This could be            
 seen as creating an unconstitutional delegation of legislative                
 authority to a non-governmental agency.                                       
 I believe this type of effort to more or less automatically adopt             
 future editions of the code has been attempted in the past, and has           
 met with adverse attorney general's opinions.  Generally, the                 
 utilities are in agreement that new editions of the code should be            
 adopted, but I do not think it is in anyone's interest ...                    
 utilities of the State of Alaska that the adoption be subject to              
 challenges as unconstitutional."                                              
 SENATOR TAYLOR and SENATOR DONLEY agreed the argument runs both               
 ways, and SENATOR TAYLOR cited examples of this.                              
 MR. STORY explained it was his idea to change "shall" to "may,"               
 because he said it was done automatically every three years.                  
 SENATOR TAYLOR expressed understanding for both MR. STORY'S point             
 of view, and SENATOR DONLEY'S concerns.  He thought the word, may,            
 provided him with enough wiggle room to feel more comfortable about           
 it, and he recalled a previous discussion a year ago when the bill            
 was first heard.                                                              
 There being no further testimony on HB 101, the meeting was                   
 adjourned at 2:09 p.m. by SENATOR TAYLOR.                                     

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