Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/13/1994 09:09 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CHAIRMAN LEMAN brings up HB 277 (INDEMNIFICATION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEES) as the next order of business before the Senate State Affairs Committee. The chairman calls Mr. Musser to testify. Number 265 ERIC MUSSER, Aide to Representative Porter, states HB 277 would codify current state policy, which indemnifies employees for actions that occur during the normal scope of their employment. HB 277 also provides for exceptions to the indemnification of employees. An exception would occur when a collective bargaining agreement addresses indemnification. The collective bargaining agreement would supersede the provisions in HB 277. Also, if the acts or omissions of the employee were the result of gross negligence or misconduct, the employee would not be indemnified. MR. MUSSER states there is also a provision in the bill establishing the employees rights. MR. MUSSER states there is a provision allowing the employer to settle claims or actions without the consent of the employee, so long as it settles all claims or actions on behalf of the employee. Number 308 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks Mr. Musser if there have been cases of employees who have had suits brought against them and who have not been defended by their employer. Number 312 MR. MUSSER responds the impetus behind the legislation is that there have been several cases where employees who were in the process of either buying or selling a home, were stopped from doing so because they were a party to an action. CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if there are further questions of Mr. Musser. Hearing none, he calls Ms. Cox to testify. Number 336 SUSAN COX, Assistant Attorney General, Department of Law reiterates Mr. Musser's statements, and says it will not change any existing practices, but simply codify them. Number 349 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks Mr. Musser if the Alaska Municipal League has taken a position on HB 277. Number 350 MR. MUSSER responds the Alaska Municipal League supports HB 277, and there should be a letter of support in committee members bill file packets. CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if any opposition has been voiced to HB 277. MR. MUSSER replies there has been no negative testimony on the bill. SENATOR TAYLOR asks if HB 277 would merely codify common law. Number 359 MS. COX responds she does not know that there is necessarily a common law obligation for employers to indemnify their employees. But it is certainly ongoing practice to do so. Number 363 SENATOR TAYLOR says he has been told, regarding other legislation, that a letter of indemnification has been sent to volunteers working in behalf of the state on emergency response planning teams. When it was researched, there was nothing found to indicate an emergency response planning team or a member of a team had ever been sued in the United States. Senator Taylor continues to describe a problem in indemnifying emergency response planning teams. He comments that situation is directly related to this bill. Number 387 MS. COX replies she is not familiar with the situation to which Senator Taylor is referring. However, there may be a difference between indemnification of public employees and indemnification of volunteers. SENATOR TAYLOR comments the state ought to stand behind volunteers who perform a public service for the state. Number 408 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asks if there are any further questions of the witnesses or if anyone else wishes to testify. Hearing none, the chairman calls a brief at ease. Number 409 CHAIRMAN LEMAN calls the Senate State Affairs Committee back to order. Number 413 SENATOR TAYLOR makes a motion to discharge HB 277 from the Senate State Affairs Committee with individual recommendations. Number 415 CHAIRMAN LEMAN, hearing no objection, orders HB 277 released from committee with individual recommendations.