Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

05/02/2005 08:30 AM JUDICIARY

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08:49:20 AM Start
08:49:44 AM SB187
10:38:54 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Recessed to 5:00 pm --
Scheduled But Not Heard
Scheduled But Not Heard
Moved Out of Committee 5/1/05
Moved CSSB 187(JUD) Out of Committee
Scheduled But Not Heard
Scheduled But Not Heard
Scheduled But Not Heard
Scheduled But Not Heard
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Scheduled But Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
<Bill listing does not indicate the order
in which each will be taken up>
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                          May 2, 2005                                                                                           
                           8:49 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Ralph Seekins, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Senator Gene Therriault                                                                                                         
Senator Hollis French                                                                                                           
Senator Gretchen Guess                                                                                                          
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 187                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to legislative  ethics open meetings guidelines,                                                               
to  the public  members of  the Select  Committee on  Legislative                                                               
Ethics, to  alternate members  of the  legislative subcommittees,                                                               
to  advisory  opinions,  and   to  confidential  information  and                                                               
proceedings   regarding   legislative   ethics   complaints   and                                                               
     MOVED CSSB 187(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                       
SENATE BILL NO. 127                                                                                                             
"An Act prohibiting a public  officer from taking official action                                                               
regarding a matter in which  the public officer has a significant                                                               
financial interest;  and defining 'official action'  for purposes                                                               
of  the chapter  generally referred  to as  the Executive  Branch                                                               
Ethics Act."                                                                                                                    
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
SENATE BILL NO. 165                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to card rooms and card operations."                                                                            
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
SENATE BILL NO. 186                                                                                                             
"An Act relating to the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act."                                                                    
     MOVED CSSB 186(JUD) OUT OF COMMITTEE on 5/1/05                                                                             
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 33(FIN)                                                                                                   
"An Act  relating to required  notification of the  Department of                                                               
Commerce,  Community, and  Economic Development,  economic effect                                                               
statements,  and regulatory  flexibility  analyses regarding  the                                                               
adoption  of regulations  that may  govern the  conduct of  small                                                               
businesses;  relating to  a private  cause of  action, regulation                                                               
invalidation,   and   judicial   review   related   to   required                                                               
notification,   economic   effect  statements,   and   regulatory                                                               
flexibility  analyses for  the adoption  of regulations  that may                                                               
govern  the conduct  of small  businesses; and  providing for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 81(L&C)                                                                                                   
"An  Act establishing  an administrative  fine and  procedure for                                                               
construction  contractors  in certain  circumstances;  increasing                                                               
the amount of a civil penalty  for persons acting in the capacity                                                               
of contractors  or home inspectors;  modifying the elements  of a                                                               
crime   involving   contractor   registration   and   residential                                                               
contractors; modifying  the exemptions  from regulation  under AS                                                               
08.18 for contractors; and  exempting the administrative hearings                                                               
for imposing  an administrative fine on  construction contractors                                                               
from  the  hearings conducted  by  the  office of  administrative                                                               
hearings in the Department of Administration."                                                                                  
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 149(FIN) am                                                                                               
"An  Act  relating  to controlled  substances;  relating  to  the                                                               
crimes of manslaughter,  endangering the welfare of  a child, and                                                               
misconduct  involving a  controlled  substance;  relating to  the                                                               
manufacture of  methamphetamine and to the  sale, possession, and                                                               
delivery  of  certain  substances  and  precursors  used  in  the                                                               
manufacture  of  methamphetamine;  relating  to  listing  certain                                                               
anabolic steroids as controlled  substances; and providing for an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 183(JUD) am                                                                                               
"An Act relating to the  use of campaign contributions for shared                                                               
campaign  activity   expenses  and  to  reimbursement   of  those                                                               
expenses;  and  amending  the  definition  of  'contribution'  in                                                               
regard  to  sharing  fundraising  lists  between  candidates  and                                                               
political parties without compensation."                                                                                        
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 184 am                                                                                                           
"An Act relating to firearms."                                                                                                  
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 201                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to an  application for a permanent fund dividend                                                               
for a member of the armed  forces of the United States serving on                                                               
active duty outside of the  state; and providing for an effective                                                               
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 210(JUD)                                                                                                  
"An Act relating to blood testing of certain persons alleged to                                                                 
have committed certain offenses directed toward peace officers                                                                  
or emergency workers."                                                                                                          
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 187                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: LEGISLATIVE ETHICS/MEETINGS                                                                                        
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) SEEKINS                                                                                                  
04/22/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
04/22/05       (S)       STA, JUD                                                                                               
04/26/05       (S)       STA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
04/26/05       (S)       Moved CSSB 187(STA) Out of Committee                                                                   
04/26/05       (S)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
04/27/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/27/05       (S)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
04/28/05       (S)       STA RPT CS 1AM 1DNP 2NR SAME TITLE                                                                     
04/28/05       (S)       AM: THERRIAULT                                                                                         
04/28/05       (S)       DNP: ELTON                                                                                             
04/28/05       (S)       NR: WAGONER, HUGGINS                                                                                   
04/28/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/28/05       (S)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
04/29/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/30/05       (S)       JUD AT 9:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/30/05       (S)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
05/01/05       (S)       JUD AT 4:00 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
05/01/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
05/01/05       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
05/02/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
Ms. Joyce Anderson                                                                                                              
Legislative Ethics Committee                                                                                                    
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 187                                                                                      
Mr. Merle Thompson                                                                                                              
Susitna Valley, Alaska                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition of SB 187                                                                        
Ms. Barbara Lewis                                                                                                               
Haines, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition of SB 187                                                                        
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR  RALPH   SEEKINS  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 8:49:20 AM.  Present were Senators                                                             
Hollis French, Charlie Huggins, and Chair Ralph Seekins.                                                                        
               SB 187-LEGISLATIVE ETHICS/MEETINGS                                                                           
8:49:44 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS announced SB  187 to be up for consideration.                                                               
He  directed committee  members to  Section  10 of  the bill.  He                                                               
proposed Amendment 3.                                                                                                           
     Section 10, line 10 following the word "complaint", insert                                                                 
"In any case the opinion is  open for inspection by the public on                                                               
the twenty  first day following  notice to the  complainant." The                                                               
amendment gives the  complainant a 20-day period of  time to have                                                               
a meeting and go over the opinion.                                                                                              
SENATOR FRENCH asked  how the amendment would  affect the hearing                                                               
that may take place after the opinion is released.                                                                              
8:51:47 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS replied  all  of  that would  have  to take  place                                                               
within the 21 days.                                                                                                             
SENATOR FRENCH  expressed favor for providing  information to the                                                               
public  but expressed  opposition  to the  final sections,  which                                                               
appear to hold everything confidential.                                                                                         
CHAIR  SEEKINS  commented  if  no  hearing  is  requested  it  is                                                               
available 21  days after  the notice to  the complainant.  If the                                                               
complainant  does   request  a   hearing  and  there   are  still                                                               
recommendations for  directive action it becomes  available after                                                               
that hearing.                                                                                                                   
8:54:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS asked Ms. Joyce  Anderson whether she would be able                                                               
to follow the instructions discussed in SB 187.                                                                                 
MS. JOYCE  ANDERSON, member,  Legislative Ethics  Committee, said                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS  reiterated the  procedures for  and the  intent of                                                               
Section 10.                                                                                                                     
8:58:17 AM                                                                                                                    
Section 11 permits the limited release of information.                                                                          
SENATOR FRENCH asked  whether the subject of  the complaint would                                                               
have access to  the legal opinions from the  committee counsel as                                                               
well as any supporting documentation.                                                                                           
CHAIR  SEEKINS  said  the  complainant  is held  to  a  level  of                                                               
confidentiality as well. At the  point where s/he goes public the                                                               
entire record  goes public. SB 187  is trying to give  the person                                                               
the ability to  conduct an investigation necessary  for a defense                                                               
so there has to be a certain amount of limited release.                                                                         
9:01:02 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH  stated  he  is  unclear as  to  the  reason  for                                                               
CHAIR  SEEKINS  remarked documents  and  other  things like  that                                                               
should not  be released  in total  and the  person should  not be                                                               
able to take copies of the documents.                                                                                           
MS.  ANDERSON noted  the current  process allows  the complainant                                                               
copies  of any  documents  and decisions.  There  have only  been                                                               
three public hearings since the statute has been in place.                                                                      
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  whether the  committee has  the ability  to                                                               
pose restrictions.                                                                                                              
MS. ANDERSON answered yes.                                                                                                      
9:05:15 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH asked  the nature  of the  changes in  Section 13                                                               
regarding confidentiality.                                                                                                      
CHAIR SEEKINS responded the committee  would come back to Section                                                               
13. Section 14  allows the candidate to  waive suspensions during                                                               
a  campaign period.  Section 15  deals  with the  confidentiality                                                               
process of  bringing the  person filing the  complaint in  to the                                                               
chain of confidentiality.                                                                                                       
SENATOR   FRENCH  asked   Chair  Seekins   to  explain   how  the                                                               
confidentiality of the new subsection  compares with the existing                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS explained  the system as it exists now  says if the                                                               
person  filing  the  complaint makes  the  complaint  public  the                                                               
complaint  is  dismissed.  However,  the  committee  can  proceed                                                               
forward with the complaint if they want to.                                                                                     
9:10:17 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS voiced support.                                                                                                 
CHAIR SEEKINS said  if it is serious enough to  file a complaint,                                                               
it should be investigated.                                                                                                      
SENATOR FRENCH  asked whether the  hearings would be open  to the                                                               
public or confidential.                                                                                                         
CHAIR SEEKINS responded  they would be confidential  up until the                                                               
point where probable  cause is determined, as set  out in Section                                                               
9:12:21 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH  noted that doesn't  cover the hearing,  it covers                                                               
the decision.                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS asserted a hearing would end in a decision.                                                                       
SENATOR FRENCH  disagreed. The  hearing ends in  a decision  of a                                                               
violation or  not. Probable cause determination  happens upstream                                                               
of that.                                                                                                                        
MS. ANDERSON suggested  leaving the first sentence  of Section 13                                                               
in the bill.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS  stated  the  intent  is  all  hearings  would  be                                                               
confidential  until indication  of probable  cause. He  asked Ms.                                                               
Anderson to explain the process of determining probable cause.                                                                  
MS.  ANDERSON  walked  the committee  through  the  process.  The                                                               
committee would  first take  a look at  an alleged  complaint. If                                                               
the  allegations,  if proved  true,  would  be a  violation,  the                                                               
committee  would  determine  the   scope  of  investigation.  The                                                               
materials would be reviewed.                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH interrupted  to clarify  the point  at which  the                                                               
committee makes the probable cause determination.                                                                               
MS.  ANDERSON was  not familiar  with probable  cause parameters.                                                               
The committee is committed by  statute to pursue an investigation                                                               
if the allegation is true.                                                                                                      
9:16:12 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  disputed Senator French's indication  of the point                                                               
where  the  investigation  would  become public.  He  stated  the                                                               
committee's  investigation would  be  indication  of prima  facie                                                               
MS. ANDERSON agreed.                                                                                                            
9:18:00 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  ANDERSON  said  after the  investigation  is  conducted  the                                                               
committee   would  then   meet  again   to  either   garner  more                                                               
information  or  to  determine  whether  or  not  probable  cause                                                               
9:19:32 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked the Senate  Judiciary Standing  Committee to                                                               
review AS 24.60.170.                                                                                                            
9:20:47 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Gretchen Guess joined the committee.                                                                                    
9:23:07 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS  said  AS  24.60.170(k) is  the  point  where  the                                                               
investigation becomes public.                                                                                                   
Chair Seekins announced a brief recess at 9:24:48 AM.                                                                         
Chair Seekins reconvened the meeting at 9:31:12 AM.                                                                           
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked Ms.  Anderson to help  him step  through the                                                               
     First a  complaint is file.  There is an  indication by                                                                    
     the staff  as to  whether or not  there is  prima facie                                                                    
     evidence to  go forward.  If that  step of  prima facie                                                                    
     evidence is accomplished,  an investigation begins. The                                                                    
     investigator comes back to  the committee and indicates                                                                    
     a reason  for the hearing.  You have a hearing  at that                                                                    
     point. Following the  hearing a decision is  made as to                                                                    
     whether or not a violation has occurred. Am I correct?                                                                     
MS. ANDERSON said yes except it is not referred to as a hearing.                                                                
CHAIR  SEEKINS   noted  AS  24.60.170(k)  says,   "Following  the                                                               
hearing, the committee shall issue  a decision stating whether or                                                               
not the subject of the complaint violated this chapter."                                                                        
MS. ANDERSON said  that is at the point where  the subject of the                                                               
complaint has requested a hearing.                                                                                              
9:33:13 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. ANDERSON clarified after the  determination of probable cause                                                               
the committee  could formally charge the  person. AS 24.60.170(k)                                                               
refers to that.                                                                                                                 
Chair Seekins announced a short recess at 9:34:34 AM.                                                                         
Chair Seekins reconvened the meeting at 9:47:46 AM.                                                                           
CHAIR  SEEKINS   referred  the  committee  to   AS  24.60.170(h).                                                               
Paragraph (g) is Section 10 of the bill.                                                                                        
9:51:16 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS clarified  a charge  issued is  the trigger  for                                                               
public disclosure.                                                                                                              
CHAIR SEEKINS agreed.                                                                                                           
9:53:12 AM                                                                                                                    
Amendment 3 was unanimously adopted.                                                                                            
9:57:03 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH moved Amendment 4:                                                                                               
     Re-insert the first sentence in Section 13.                                                                                
Hearing no objections, the motion carried.                                                                                      
10:03:16 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH  aired citizens  have a  right to  file complaints                                                               
and   speak  out   against  the   government   without  fear   of                                                               
penalization. He proposed Amendment 5;  beginning on Page 8, line                                                               
18 strike the language up to line 24.                                                                                           
10:04:55 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS  objected.  He said  Senator  Elton  testified  in                                                               
Senate  State Affairs  Standing  Committee there  is evidence  of                                                               
abuse.  He   said  it  is   important  that   confidentiality  be                                                               
maintained until probable cause is found.                                                                                       
Roll  call  proved  Amendment 5  failed  with  Senators  Huggins,                                                               
Therriault, and Chair Seekins dissenting.                                                                                       
10:07:46 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. MERLE THOMPSON testified against SB  187. There is a need for                                                               
open proceedings.  SB 187 does  not protect public  interest. The                                                               
history of Title 24 and AS  24.60.170 originally said the class A                                                               
misdemeanor specifically addressed the  members of the committee,                                                               
and the freedom of speech of the general public remained intact.                                                                
10:11:07 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  THOMPSON continued  the  main  problem with  SB  187 is  the                                                               
freedom  of speech  issue. He  asked  the committee  to read  the                                                               
(U.S. Constitution)  First Amendment. He asserted  any government                                                               
that  doesn't  trust  the people  doesn't  deserve  the  people's                                                               
trust.  SB  187  protects  the  interest  of  people  sitting  in                                                               
Legislature and not the general public.                                                                                         
10:13:41 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked Ms.  Anderson the  section that  harbors the                                                               
provision that allows a complaint to be dropped.                                                                                
10:14:54 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  ANDERSON responded  Section  13,  sub-subparagraph (l).  She                                                               
said she would  feel more comfortable if there  was language that                                                               
said   the   subject   of   the   complaint   could   waive   the                                                               
confidentiality of a dismissal order being public.                                                                              
10:16:55 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  ANDERSON added  Section 9  used to  be public  but the  bill                                                               
needs  to make  sure the  subject  of the  complaint could  waive                                                               
confidentiality.  Also  when there  is  a  complaint regarding  a                                                               
candidate during a  campaign period they should be  able to waive                                                               
10:18:11 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS alleged Page 9; line  5 allows the subject to waive                                                               
confidentiality on any document.                                                                                                
SENATOR  FRENCH  asked Ms.  Anderson  if  her concerns  would  be                                                               
addressed  if  the committee  changed  the  word "subsection"  to                                                               
"section" on Page 9, line 2.                                                                                                    
MS. ANDERSON agreed.                                                                                                            
CHAIR SEEKINS stated no objection.                                                                                              
SENATOR FRENCH moved Amendment 6.                                                                                               
Page 9, line 2 strike  "subsection" and insert "section." Hearing                                                               
no objections, the motion carried.                                                                                              
10:19:50 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  ANDERSON  assessed  there  was  a  problem  using  the  term                                                               
"hearing" in Section 15. A hearing is different than a meeting.                                                                 
10:22:51 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. ANDERSON  referred to the  history of the  Legislative Ethics                                                               
Committee.  The ethics  statute was  passed in  1992 where  there                                                               
were 5  public members  and 4 legislators.  In 1998  language was                                                               
added to allow for an  alternate member. The complaint process is                                                               
similar to an executive session.  During the complaint process it                                                               
is appropriate only to have  members of the committee present and                                                               
not the alternate.                                                                                                              
10:26:36 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGGINS asked Ms. Anderson  whether she sees any problems                                                               
with accountability in regards to conflicts of interest.                                                                        
MS. ANDERSON  said the  statute is  clear regarding  conflicts of                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS  said in  one particular case  there was  an ethics                                                               
MS. ANDERSON was not allowed to comment.                                                                                        
10:29:35 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  THERRIAULT said  the people  who  alleged the  violation                                                               
refused to file a complaint.                                                                                                    
10:30:37 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  BARBARA  LEWIS  testified  in  opposition  to  SB  187.  She                                                               
expressed concerned that  a citizen could be  punished for filing                                                               
a complaint.                                                                                                                    
Chair Seekins announced a brief recess at 10:32:17 AM.                                                                        
Chair Seekins reconvened the meeting at 10:35:43 AM.                                                                          
CHAIR SEEKINS closed public testimony.                                                                                          
SENATOR HUGGINS moved CSSB 187(JUD) from committee with                                                                         
individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s).                                                                         
SENATOR FRENCH objected.                                                                                                        
Roll call proved CSSB 187(JUD) passed out of committee with                                                                     
Senators Guess and French dissenting.                                                                                           
CHAIR SEEKINS recessed the meeting at 10:38:54 AM.                                                                            

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