Legislature(2005 - 2006)BELTZ 211

04/26/2005 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS


Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Recessed to Call of Chair 8 PM 4/27--
*+ SB 182 STATE VETERANS' CEMETARY & FUND TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 182 Out of Committee
+ HB 183 CAMPAIGN FINANCE: SHARED EXPENSES/LISTS TELECONFERENCED
Moved SCS CSHB 183(STA) Out of Committee
+ HB 210 BLOODBORNE PATHOGEN TESTING TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 210(JUD) Out of Committee
+ HB 215 PERM FUND CORP. INVESTMENTS/REGULATIONS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
SB 186 EXECUTIVE BRANCH ETHICS
Moved CSSB 186(STA) Out of Committee
SB 187 LEGISLATIVE ETHICS/MEETINGS
Moved CSSB 187(STA) Out of Committee
*+ SB 127 EXEC. BRANCH ETHICS: FINANCIAL INTERESTS TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 127 Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
= HB 127 PFD:PEACE CORPS/OLYMPIAN/SANCTIONS
Moved CSHB 127(FIN) am Out of Committee
                 SB 186-EXECUTIVE BRANCH ETHICS                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
VICE-CHAIR  THOMAS  WAGONER,  announced  SB  186  to  be  up  for                                                               
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:34:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  RALPH  SEEKINS, Sponsor,  said  the  question of  ethics                                                               
legislation  arose  with the  recent  high  profile case  of  the                                                               
former attorney  general (AG). It  was determined that  the state                                                               
law  regarding when  someone  may have  a  potential conflict  of                                                               
interest  that might  relate to  the state  ethics laws  required                                                               
clarification.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Former  U.S. Attorney  Robert Bunde's  investigation of  the case                                                               
pointed out that  Alaska has no clear bright  line regarding what                                                               
is  a significant  interest in  a  company when  the company  may                                                               
benefit  or be  harmed by  a state  employee. Governor  Murkowski                                                               
agreed and said to find a way to address the concern.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
As Judiciary Committee  chair, he compared current  Alaska law to                                                               
laws in other states and the  federal government. In an effort to                                                               
find proper  terminology that  could be reduced  to state  law he                                                               
examined   the   ethical   standards  of   various   professional                                                               
associations  and the  generally  accepted accounting  principles                                                               
(GAAP).                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Review  of broad  and narrow  treatises indicated  that with  too                                                               
much restriction  on allowing government employees  and officials                                                               
to have  investments qualified people are  driven from meaningful                                                               
government  service.  This is  particularly  true  for those  who                                                               
enter government service as a capstone to their career, he said.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Everyone agrees that  high moral standards in  public offices are                                                               
essential  to assure  the trust,  respect and  confidence of  the                                                               
people.  It's  also  agreed  that  a  fair  and  open  government                                                               
requires that public officers conduct  the public's business in a                                                               
way  that  preserves the  integrity  of  the process  and  avoids                                                               
conflicts of interest.  However, there isn't agreement  on how to                                                               
do that.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:39:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS said  when he  started with  the recommendations                                                               
that Mr. Bunde made, discussion  immediately ensued regarding the                                                               
meaning of  "value" and "significant"  when applied  to different                                                               
companies and individuals. He tried  to reach a balance point for                                                               
conducting  the business  of government  while protecting  public                                                               
interest and not violating the public trust.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:41:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
When a  person has evidence  of an  ethics violation by  a public                                                               
employee, that person  has a moral responsibility  to report that                                                               
behavior.  No  public  law  should  discourage  that  action.  He                                                               
asserted that  no proposed legislation encroaches  on a citizen's                                                               
constitutional right to speak openly  about what they've heard or                                                               
seen.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SB  186 provides  that anyone  bringing  or knowing  of a  formal                                                               
complaint filed  with the personnel  board becomes  a participant                                                               
in the  process and should be  held to the same  high standard of                                                               
confidentiality as  the members  of the personnel  board. Because                                                               
ethics  complaints  must not  be  frivolous  or filed  with  evil                                                               
intent, there  must be a  stiff penalty for anyone  who knowingly                                                               
perverts the  confidentiality process.  This is  common practice,                                                               
he said.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Even the proceedings of the  personnel board or the investigatory                                                               
process by the  AG's office prior to a finding  of probable cause                                                               
would  be  held  in  high  confidence. This  is  to  protect  the                                                               
innocent from trial in the media.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
When there  is probable  cause the charge  would be  made public,                                                               
but  if  the charge  were  found  to have  no  basis  in fact  an                                                               
individual's reputation would not be besmirched.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:46:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SB  186   is  the   starting  point   for  legislators   to  work                                                               
collectively  to develop  a proposal  that  prosecutes those  who                                                               
have   violated  ethics   laws   and  maintains   confidentiality                                                               
throughout the process until probable cause is determined.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:47:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR CHARLIE  HUGGINS asked what  happens when  probable cause                                                               
is determined.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS  said he  understands  that  when someone  comes                                                               
forward  with an  ethics complaint  an investigation  begins. All                                                               
proceedings  are confidential;  they have  the right  of subpoena                                                               
and the right for discovery. At  some point a decision is made as                                                               
to whether  there is probable  cause. If there is  probable cause                                                               
the  matter becomes  public; if  there isn't  probable cause  the                                                               
matter does not become public.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:51:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  KIM  ELTON  directed  attention   to  Section  1,  which                                                               
provides   for   criminalization    of   releasing   confidential                                                               
information. Using  the example of  telling his wife that  he had                                                               
to hire and  pay for legal services, he demonstrated  how easy it                                                               
would  be  to  innocently violate  the  proposed  confidentiality                                                               
provision. If  the bill were  to become law, that  exchange would                                                               
create a class A misdemeanor.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:53:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS  responded,  "If  you  know  that  there  is  an                                                               
investigation, keep your mouth shut."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON questioned not being able to tell his wife.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  acknowledged he  might not  get away  with that.                                                               
Nevertheless,  the intention  in SB  186  is to  stop the  gossip                                                               
chain to protect the innocent.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON changed  topics and said it's clear  that there are                                                               
multiple   interpretations  for   an   appropriate  bright   line                                                               
regarding equity interest.  With that in mind he  was curious how                                                               
he arrived at the $10,000 figure.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS answered Mr. Bunde proposed that amount.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON directed attention to  page 2, lines 7-10. He noted                                                               
that (B) has a  qualifier on the $10,000 and (C)  does not have a                                                               
qualifier. He asked if he was missing something.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  replied you could  own 100 percent of  an equity                                                               
position as long as it doesn't exceed $10,000.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON raised a question about page 6, Sec. 16.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS announced  he would propose an  amendment to that                                                               
section, which  could be considered  in either this  committee or                                                               
in the  Judiciary Committee. The  intention is to  define "family                                                               
member" in  reasonable terms  to include only  those who  live in                                                               
your household  because you  would have  some knowledge  of their                                                               
investments.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
5:01:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR CHARLIE HUGGINS asked what  sorts of things Mr. Bunde was                                                               
trying to clarify.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS responded  he was  trying to  define what  would                                                               
constitute a substantial or significant interest.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
VICE-CHAIR WAGONER declared there's  a serious problem associated                                                               
with  the attorney  general, who  is appointed  by the  governor,                                                               
investigating an ethics complaint against the governor.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS said  he shares  that concern  and his  proposed                                                               
amendment  would  address  that  issue to  some  extent.  If  the                                                               
governor suspected that the attorney  general committed an ethics                                                               
violation, the governor  would ask the personnel  board to select                                                               
an  investigator who  would conduct  an  investigation with  full                                                               
subpoena powers  If an ethics  violation did occur,  the governor                                                               
would  file a  complaint with  the personnel  board and  it would                                                               
move forward with the regular process.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
He  suggested that  same process  would take  place if  an ethics                                                               
complaint were filed against the governor.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
5:08:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON used the example  of former Attorney General Renkes                                                               
and the  reports in the  Anchorage Daily  News to point  out what                                                               
would be  an unintended  consequence in Section  1. At  the point                                                               
that  the  investigator  contacted  the  reporter  to  ask  about                                                               
deleted emails and  when it was that Attorney  General Renkes had                                                               
been interviewed,  that reporter  would have been  precluded from                                                               
talking about the investigation let alone reporting on it.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS  replied  he   didn't  believe  that  successful                                                               
prosecution of  a member of the  press would take place,  but the                                                               
governor could  be prosecuted if  he/she revealed  a confidential                                                               
matter as part of an investigation.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  ELTON  referenced  AS   39.52.340(a)  and  said  the  AG                                                               
wouldn't  have  been able  to  talk  to  the governor  about  the                                                               
investigation under the provisions of  Section 1. If he mentioned                                                               
that an investigation  had begun he would have  committed a class                                                               
A misdemeanor.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS agreed  that once  the accused  was told  by the                                                               
accuser that  there is  an investigation  then the  process would                                                               
have to  go forward  before any  further conversation  could take                                                               
place.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
There were no further questions or testimony.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
VICE-CHAIR WAGONER announced he would hold SB 186 in committee.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
                 SB 186-EXECUTIVE BRANCH ETHICS                                                                             
                                                                                                                              
8:16:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR   GENE  THERRIAULT   announced  SB   186  to   be  up   for                                                               
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
He moved the \F version  committee substitute (CS) as the working                                                               
document. There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:16:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS reported the following:                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Sections 1 and 2 had no changes.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Section  3  (f)  talks  about   "immediate  family"  rather  than                                                               
"family" because is not with the extended family.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR THERRIAULT  noted that  the word  "entity" was  struck from                                                               
Section 2  in several  instances. He asked  if the  drafters made                                                               
the suggestion.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  said that's correct.  Business is defined  as an                                                               
entity so the term is redundant.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
In Section  3 "business  associate" is used  instead of  any term                                                               
that is closely  related to person. The definition  is located in                                                               
Section 19.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
In  Section  4  the  terms,  "or position"  and  "or  a  business                                                               
associate"  and "or  by reason  of the  officer's position"  were                                                               
added to  clarify that  due to their  position, someone  may have                                                               
access to information that should be confidential.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
In  Sections 5,  6  and 7  the words  "or  a business  associate"                                                               
replaces "closely associated person."  That change in combination                                                               
with the  definition of  "immediate family"  should take  care of                                                               
the universe of people we're interested in, he said.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:20:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  KIM  ELTON  questioned whether  a  "business  associate"                                                               
would  encompass a  smaller group  because "a  closely associated                                                               
person"  might  include  something  in  addition  to  a  business                                                               
associate.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS replied  the idea is that  the next-door neighbor                                                               
or   your  fishing   friend  would   not  be   included.  Family,                                                               
professional  associations,  and  business associations  are  all                                                               
covered.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
In Section 8(b)(2)(A) the words  " personal or" were deleted. The                                                               
discussion  is  about  financial  interests only.  In  that  same                                                               
subparagraph  "interest  that  gives"  replaces  "interests  that                                                               
give".                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:22:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  CHARLIE HUGGINS  asked  for an  example  of personal  or                                                               
financial interests that might be a potential violation.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  answered you  could tell  someone to  sell their                                                               
stock  or   withdraw  from  a   partnership  or  sell   a  lodge.                                                               
Divestiture  is  basically  saying  get rid  of  the  conflicting                                                               
interest.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Section  8(b)(2)(B) deals  with  putting  the financial  interest                                                               
that may be a conflict into a blind trust.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR THERRIAULT  noted that  with the removal  of the  words "no                                                               
direct" there would be no control at all.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  responded there  would be no  management control                                                               
over that financial interest.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:24:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  ELTON observed  that the  proposed  language would  have                                                               
allowed former Attorney General Renkes  to place his KFx stock in                                                               
a blind trust  or other financial structure over which  he had no                                                               
management authority.  That would  have satisfied the  ethics law                                                               
even  though he  didn't  get  rid of  his  conflict of  interest.                                                               
However, at  some point he  would have accrued benefit  from that                                                               
stock ownership.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  drew attention to  page 3, lines 24-31  where it                                                               
says  there is  a written  determination regarding  whether there                                                               
was a  violation. If the  supervisor determines that  a violation                                                               
exists  or will  occur  he  or she  would  have  two options  The                                                               
supervisor  could reassign  the employee's  duties or  direct the                                                               
employee to place  the investment in a blind trust  over which he                                                               
or she had no control.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR THERRIAULT  added that there  were two issues. One  was the                                                               
stock ownership and the other  was the allegation that the former                                                               
attorney general  bought and sold  the stock. Clearly  buying and                                                               
selling would no longer be an issue under the proposed language.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  ELTON  expressed  concern  that  that  subparagraph  (B)                                                               
causes something to  happen but it doesn't  remove the perception                                                               
that the  public officer  could benefit. Putting  the stock  in a                                                               
blind trust  places the  public official one  step away  from the                                                               
investment,  but it  doesn't remove  the  potential incentive  to                                                               
benefit the company in question.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:28:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS restated his belief  that leaving the decision to                                                               
a supervisor is a legitimate option.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  ELTON questioned  whether  there wouldn't  have been  an                                                               
unintended consequence  of no public record  whatsoever if former                                                               
Attorney General  Renkes had  moved his  investment into  a blind                                                               
trust. In that instance there was  at least a public file showing                                                               
his holdings in KFx, he said.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS pointed  to  the three  options  available to  a                                                               
supervisor  in   a  similar  circumstance:  don't   work  on  the                                                               
particular  project;  sell  the  stock;  put  the  stock  into  a                                                               
management system over which the  public employee has no control.                                                               
He  stressed   that  the  supervisor  would   provide  a  written                                                               
determination  that would  go in  the  file and  to the  attorney                                                               
general.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON  said his  understanding is  that a  personnel file                                                               
isn't open  to the public so  under this proposal he  wasn't sure                                                               
that there  would be a  document that  could be disclosed  to the                                                               
public.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  clarified that the  proposed language  calls for                                                               
the  file to  be  released  to the  public  employee  and to  the                                                               
attorney general.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR THERRIAULT asked the sponsor to continue.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS   directed  attention  to  Section   9.  It  was                                                               
discussed conceptually  during the  previous hearing  and relates                                                               
to  an allegation  of  a violation  by  the governor,  lieutenant                                                               
governor, or  attorney general.  In the  event of  an allegation,                                                               
the  personnel board  would appoint  an independent  counsel with                                                               
full  power  to issue  and  enforce  subpoenas. The  investigator                                                               
would prepare a written report  outlining the findings and giving                                                               
a conclusion.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
If  an  allegation   were  made  against  the   governor  or  the                                                               
lieutenant governor,  then the attorney general  would review the                                                               
conclusion and  make the  final determination  as to  whether the                                                               
complaint would  go forward. Similarly,  the governor  would make                                                               
the  final  determination  for an  allegation  made  against  the                                                               
attorney  general.  For  the  first   time  in  our  statutes,  a                                                               
procedure  is set  forth  to  address a  complaint  at that  high                                                               
level, he said.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON  asked for verification  that nothing in  Section 9                                                               
precludes anyone else from filing a complaint.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:36:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS said  no; this  isn't the  process for  filing a                                                               
complaint it's the  process for determining whether  or not there                                                               
was a violation that provided basis for a complaint.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:37:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Section 10  would amend AS  39.52.240(a). It states  that Section                                                               
10 doesn't apply to allegations  investigated in proposed Section                                                               
9.                                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Section   11  would   amend  AS   39.52.310(a)   to  include   AS                                                               
39.52.230(b).                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Section  12 would  amend AS  39.52.335(a).  In the  event that  a                                                               
complaint  was  dismissed, the  subject  of  the complaint  would                                                               
receive a  copy of the  summary of the  matter. He noted  that at                                                               
any time the parties could stipulate that a complaint is public.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Section 13 would  amend AS 39.52.335(f). The  personnel board may                                                               
issue a  confidential report on  the complaint to the  subject of                                                               
the complaint, the complainant and the attorney general.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON  asked why  the language  about the  superior court                                                               
was stricken from Section 12.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS answered the matter  would no longer go there; he                                                               
thought it applied to the appeal process.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR THERRIAULT announced an at-ease  from 8:40:23 PM to 8:42:29                                                           
PM to review the statute.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON stated  that the superior court  would be precluded                                                               
from making the matter public.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS disagreed.  Subsection (h)  says that  the court                                                               
can order the matter be  made public. Deleting paragraph (2) just                                                               
precludes it at this particular section, he said.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:43:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Section 13 amends AS 39.52.335(f).  It says that the confidential                                                               
report may be issued to the  attorney general, the subject of the                                                               
complaint, and  the complainant. The report  remains confidential                                                               
if it is dismissed.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Section   14  amends   AS   39.52.340(a).   The  information   an                                                               
independent counsel might discover  would be confidential and the                                                               
information  about a  filing  or intention  to  file a  complaint                                                               
could not  be disclosed. He  clarified that documents  from state                                                               
agencies don't become secret just  because they were requested in                                                               
an investigation.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Section  15 amends  AS 39.52.380(a)  to  include four  additional                                                               
statutory  references.  It expands  on  the  power given  to  the                                                               
independent counsel.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Section 16  amends AS 39.52.410(a)  and relates to the  length of                                                               
time investments  would remain  in a blind  trust. He  noted that                                                               
some  language was  inadvertently omitted.  He suggested  that it                                                               
could be reinserted in the next committee of referral.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Section 17 amends AS 39.52.960(9)  by adding "an interest held by                                                               
a public  employee with a  business associate" to  the definition                                                               
of "financial interest."                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Section 18 amends AS 39.52.960(11)  to further clarify and narrow                                                               
who is included as an immediate family member.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:48:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON suggested that removing  grandparent, aunt or uncle                                                               
might be going too far.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  argued that given  all the step  permutations of                                                               
the current American family the net would be cast too far.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON said  he wasn't suggesting expanding  the number of                                                               
people that  are covered,  but some  previous legislature  made a                                                               
decision  that it  is appropriate  to include  grandparent, aunt,                                                               
and uncle  in the  definition. Unless  the existing  language has                                                               
caused  a  problem,  he  didn't   believe  the  scope  should  be                                                               
narrowed. Also,  there's the  provision in  law that  says you're                                                               
not complicit in a conflict of  interest if you didn't know about                                                               
the financial arrangement.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS  responded you  would  have  to prove  that  you                                                               
didn't know.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:53:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Section 19 amends AS 39.52.960  by adding new paragraphs defining                                                               
"business associate" and "household."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Section 20 repeals AS 39.52.335(g) and AS 39.52.335(h).                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  ELTON directed  attention  to Section  12  and said  the                                                               
previous discussion  included the assurance that  AS 30.52.335(h)                                                               
was deleted  at that point  because it was covered  elsewhere. He                                                               
noted that Section 20 repeals AS  30.52.335(h) so the net is that                                                               
there would be no appeal to  the superior court to make something                                                               
public.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  said he didn't notice  that but it does  take it                                                               
out. It says that if the  complaint is dismissed or resolved then                                                               
it's the end of the line.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  THERRIAULT  asked if  there  was  a particular  reason  to                                                               
strike  that subsection.  Because  (h) was  permissive, a  person                                                               
could go to the court and ask for release of the information.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS answered he didn't believe  so. He said he had no                                                               
problem  if  someone  wanted  to  go to  the  court  to  get  the                                                               
information as long as it was  clear that there was a substantial                                                               
concern to the public interest.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON  observed that those protections  would be supplied                                                               
by the superior court just as they are now.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS agreed to review  the matter. The instructions to                                                               
the drafter were  that once the personnel board  finds that there                                                               
was no violation then the matter is closed.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR THERRIAULT brought up the  comparison between the personnel                                                               
board and a grand jury proceeding.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  interjected there  is neither an  appeal process                                                               
for nor a  public disclosure of a grand jury  finding of no basis                                                               
for an indictment.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  THERRIAULT  asked Senator  Elton  what  might trigger  the                                                               
court to release the information if  the matter had been found to                                                               
have no basis.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON  responded that would presume  fact situations that                                                               
have  not yet  occurred, but  it appears  as though  the proposal                                                               
changes parts  of law in  a way that  may not be  necessary. It's                                                               
perfectly appropriate  for any  Alaskan to  be curious  about the                                                               
conduct  of a  public officer  and it  might be  in the  public's                                                               
interest for a dismissal to be part of the public record.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Given the nature of the repealer,  he asked what the provision is                                                               
in subsection (g).                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR THERRIAULT read the statute.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Fire alarm at 9:00:27 PM                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:09:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS read subsection (h)  and stated that the proposed                                                               
change  would keep  a matter  confidential when  a complaint  has                                                               
been  dismissed. He  argued that,  "We're just  getting rid  of a                                                               
paragraph  that  says that  if  it  wasn't  made public  but  the                                                               
personnel board  thought it  should, then  somebody could  sue to                                                               
make it public. "                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WAGONER drew a parallel  between a baseless complaint and                                                               
a mistake on a credit report.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  commented once  information is  on the  Web it's                                                               
there forever.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON  motioned to  strike Section  20. He  explained his                                                               
reasoning is  that under  subsection (g)  the personnel  board is                                                               
given the opportunity to use  discretion in issuing a report that                                                               
is  scrubbed  of  identifying information.  Repealing  those  two                                                               
subsections is  taking away opportunities that  could benefit the                                                               
subject of the  complaint and other state employees  who may want                                                               
to know what decisions the board has made.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS  said he  didn't  object  to striking  (g)  from                                                               
proposed Section 20, but (h) has  no reason for remaining in law.                                                               
Once a  person is found  innocent of  the charges, the  matter is                                                               
dismissed   and  the   facts  of   the  matter   would  be   kept                                                               
confidential.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  THERRIAULT   announced  he  would  divide   the  question.                                                               
Amendment 1a would  ask whether AS 39.52.335(g)  should be struck                                                               
from Section 20.  Amendment 1b would ask  whether AS 39.52.335(h)                                                               
should be struck from Section 20.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON moved Amendment 1a.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR THERRIAULT  found there was  no objection and  Amendment 1a                                                               
passed.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                              
SENATOR ELTON moved Amendment 1b.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
He  stated that  the discussion  has centered  on the  assumption                                                               
that the  only disposition of a  complaint is a dismissal  and he                                                               
couldn't  see  that. Subsection  (h)  would  allow the  personnel                                                               
board to  recommend that the matter  be made public for  a number                                                               
of reasons.  If a person  is found  innocent it might  be helpful                                                               
for the  public to know  that. Since it hasn't  been demonstrated                                                               
that the  existing statutes  are creating a  problem, he  said he                                                               
wasn't comfortable making further change.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS emphasized  that  if probable  cause were  found                                                               
then it would become a public matter.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  ELTON  directed  attention  to (h)(1).  It  talks  about                                                               
dismissal  or  resolution of  the  complaint,  but not  dismissal                                                               
alone.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS  responded  if   there  was  evidence  that  the                                                               
dismissal  was  clearly  contrary  to the  requirements  of  this                                                               
chapter  then a  person would  have a  right to  bring an  action                                                               
under the common law to retry  the issue. But not for disclosure,                                                               
he said                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR THERRIAULT found  there was no further  debate on Amendment                                                               
1b and asked for a roll call vote.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Amendment 1(b)  failed 1 to 3  with Senator Elton voting  yea and                                                               
Senators Wagoner, Huggins and Therriault voting nay.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  THERRIAULT  found  there  were  no  further  questions  or                                                               
amendments on SB 186. He asked for the will of the committee.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WAGONER motioned  to report CSSB 186 (STA),  version F as                                                               
amended,   and  attached   fiscal  notes   from  committee   with                                                               
individual recommendations.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON objected. He stated  that at the beginning the task                                                               
was simply  to establish  a bright line  to define  a substantial                                                               
interest. SB 186  goes far beyond that point.  It repeals certain                                                               
provisions and makes some information  less public. He said he is                                                               
more comfortable with a bill that  sets a dollar amount to define                                                               
substantial  interest. He's  uncomfortable  going  further if  it                                                               
hasn't been demonstrated that the  existing statutes are creating                                                               
a problem.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:19:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR THERRIAULT called for a roll call vote.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
The  motion passed  3 to  1  with Senators  Huggins, Wagoner  and                                                               
Chair Therriault  voting yea and  Senator Elton voting  nay. CSSB
186(STA) moved to the next committee of referral.                                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects