Legislature(1999 - 2000)

01/28/1999 03:29 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                                                               
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                                                                 
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                                                                 
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                                                                
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."                                                                                                                   

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