Legislature(1999 - 2000)
01/28/1999 03:29 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SJR 3-REPEAL OF REGULATIONS BY LEGISLATURE SENATOR ROBIN TAYLOR, sponsor of SJR 3, stated SJR 3 is not a new concept; it has been voted on by the people of Alaska three times. The separation of powers established in the Constitution has, unfortunately, created a turf battle between the Governor's Office and the Legislature. The executive branch writes regulations to carry out the law, however the Legislature sees some of those regulations as a distortion of the law. The Legislature's only recourse in such situations is to change the enabling statute itself. The Alaska Administrative Code is a very complex network of rules of law, and the public is frustrated that state government is involving itself in all aspects of people's lives. SJR 3 allows the public to amend the Constitution so that the Legislature can pass a simple resolution requiring a majority vote of each house to repeal regulations that are inconsistent with its enabling statute. SENATOR MACKIE questioned what will happen to a particular program, or whatever is being regulated, when the Legislature repeals the regulations it operates by. He asked whether the program will be suspended until the Administration writes new regulations, and what will happen if the Legislature disagrees with the new regulations. Number 516 SENATOR PHILLIPS recalled that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) adopted a regulation dealing with water quality control in the early 1980's. Former Senator Ziegler introduced a resolution regarding those regulations which DEC promptly changed. He suggested that the mere introduction of the resolution will prompt similar action. SENATOR MACKIE repeated his concern about what will happen to a program after regulations are repealed. SENATOR TAYLOR responded departments can impose emergency regulations and do so frequently. He noted the Department of Fish and Game opens and closes most fisheries by emergency regulation. He thought debate about the impact that a repeal of regulations would have could be healthy. He assumed each resolution would contain language suggesting how the problem could be corrected. Number 548 SENATOR PHILLIPS said he has seen the introduction of resolutions prompt changes in regulations over a dozen times. SENATOR MACKIE asked why the Legislature no longer has the ability to repeal regulations. SENATOR PHILLIPS explained the Supreme Court decided in the Lie (ph) case that the Legislature can only change regulations through a bill that has three readings, not through a resolution. SENATOR MACKIE asked if that is why a constitutional amendment is required. SENATOR PHILLIPS said that is correct. He noted that although he intends to support SJR 3, he does not believe the public understands its impact, as it has been voted down three times. Number 561 SENATOR ELTON discussed three concerns he has with the legislation. He felt the process to repeal a regulation will be much less rigorous than the process it takes to adopt a regulation which involves all segments of Alaskans. He expressed concern that SJR 3 could create instability for a person starting a business who must rely on stable regulations to develop a business plan. Additionally, the regulatory web is complex, therefore repeal of one regulation could have a ripple effect on others. Finally, he expressed concern that SJR 3 does not require the Legislature to outline the problems with the repealed regulation so that it can be rewritten satisfactorily. TAPE 98-1, SIDE B Number 000 SENATOR TAYLOR responded the only choice the Legislature has at this point is to change the statute on which many regulations are based, even though 90 percent of the regulations are satisfactory. He felt that action would be very disruptive to a department's operations and the Legislature has seldom acted to change regulations for that reason. SENATOR TAYLOR did not believe passage of SJR 3 would cause instability for new businesses, because a problem regulation is usually only in place for one or two years before the public becomes aware of its impact. He added the rigorous public process that is in place to adopt a regulation is "a joke." The bureaucracy writes the regulation, gives public notice, and those who have the time and inclination to follow the process write or testify at a public hearing, yet the adopted regulation does not reflect any of the testimony provided. SENATOR PHILLIPS asked if the type of resolution should be specified on page 1, line 8. SENATOR TAYLOR replied it was left as a simple resolution so that each house could introduce and pass them separately. Number 535 SENATOR PHILLIPS expressed concern that opponents of this measure will look for a legal technicality to keep this measure off the ballot. SENATOR TAYLOR stated that language difference is the only change from previous bills that have passed. He said his intent was to make it as easy as possible for the state's policy-making body to establish what the policy is. He added he had no objection to specifying what type of resolution is required. SENATOR PHILLIPS said under the existing system, the Governor can veto a bill that repeals regulations and he would most likely be advised to do so by his department heads. Number 497 SENATOR TAYLOR informed committee members the Independent Businesses of Alaska did a poll of its 3,000+ membership asking whether the Legislature should be given authority to repeal regulations found to be improper or inconsistent with the law. Survey results reported 73 percent were in favor, 15 percent were opposed, and 12 percent were undecided. Regulation review and change is a top priority of the Alaska Chamber of Commerce. SENATOR ELTON expressed concern that on line 6, the process used to make the finding is not defined. He thought it was misleading and that simply saying the Legislature can repeal regulations with a finding would be adequate. SENATOR MACKIE disagreed that the language is misleading because the Legislature will have to hold hearings to make the finding. SENATOR TAYLOR said his concern with that provision was that the finding should be embodied within the resolution. Number 454 PAM LABOLLE, President of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, stated regulatory reform is the Chamber's second priority, second only to fiscal planning. The Chamber has supported the concept of SJR 3 for several years now. The body that makes the laws should have the authority to repeal regulations that do not carry out the legislative intent. This ballot issue failed to pass because of the way it was put forth and because of confusion over the separation of powers. The Chamber is committed to informing the public if SJR 3 is on the ballot again. SENATOR MACKIE moved SJR 3 from committee with individual recommendations and then withdrew his motion. SENATOR ELTON offered an amendment to page 1, line 9, to insert a new sentence to read: The resolution shall explain why the Legislature finds the regulation inconsistent with its enabling statute. Number 381 SENATOR TAYLOR opposed the amendment because he believed it was redundant. SENATOR ELTON stated it is often difficult to determine legislative intent from committee hearings because all sides of an issue might be presented. If the resolution states why the Legislature believes the regulation is inconsistent, the agency that has to redraft it will understand the problem. SENATOR MACKIE added that statutes do not contain intent language, and that most resolutions contain a findings section. SENATOR TAYLOR repeated the Legislature can only repeal a regulation after finding that it is inconsistent with its enabling statute, therefore the resolution will have to contain a findings provision stating the reasons for the inconsistency. SENATOR ELTON withdrew his amendment. Number 362 SENATOR PHILLIPS suggested changing line 6 to read, "The Legislature may, after a stated finding that a...." After further discussion, SENATOR ELTON offered to work with the sponsor. SENATOR MACKIE moved SJR 3 from committee with individual recommendations. SENATOR ELTON objected. The motion carried with Senators Mackie, Phillips, and Ward voting "Yea," and Senator Elton voting "Nay."