Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

05/03/2022 03:30 PM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
03:42:48 PM Start
03:43:33 PM Presentation: Pacific Dataport
04:23:39 PM HB297
04:52:52 PM HB234
05:19:31 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
              HB 234-POLITICAL CONTRIBUTION LIMITS                                                                          
4:52:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER  announced the  consideration of  CS FOR  HOUSE BILL                                                               
NO.  234(STA)   am(efd  fld)  "An   Act  relating   to  political                                                               
contributions;  relating  to  the  location of  offices  for  the                                                               
Alaska  Public  Offices Commission  and  the  locations at  which                                                               
certain  statements and  reports  filed with  the commission  are                                                               
made available."                                                                                                                
[This is the third hearing and public testimony is closed.]                                                                     
4:53:39 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CALVIN SCHRAGE,  Alaska State Legislature, Juneau,                                                               
Alaska,  sponsor of  HB  234, reminded  the  committee that  this                                                               
legislation fixes  the hole in  campaign finance that  came about                                                               
after  the court  struck down  Alaska's  individual to  candidate                                                               
contribution limits. After the ruling,  the Alaska Public Offices                                                               
Commission   (APOC)  issued   temporary  advisory   limits.  APOC                                                               
recently  abandoned those  limits,  which  effectively leaves  no                                                               
individual to candidate campaign  contribution limits. The courts                                                               
also struck down the limits  on out-of-state contributions, which                                                               
effectively  leaves   the  state   open  to   unlimited  campaign                                                               
contributions from out-of-state doners.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRAGE relayed  that Alaska voters overwhelmingly                                                               
supported  two separate  ballot initiatives  for robust  campaign                                                               
contribution  limits. Polling  today  still shows  about 70  plus                                                               
percent  of  Alaskans  support  robust  contribution  limits.  He                                                               
acknowledged the  concern voiced  in the previous  committee that                                                               
this limits  speech. However, it's  a limitation that  the people                                                               
want to ensure that there is no undue influence in elections.                                                                   
4:56:32 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  REINBOLD stated  that she  supports campaign  limits and                                                               
was working with the members to address their concerns.                                                                         
SENATOR COSTELLO  asked if he  could share the polling  data that                                                               
he mentioned.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRAGE agreed to provide some information.                                                                      
CHAIR SHOWER asked  what the legislature might do  to prevent the                                                               
court  from  striking down  the  contribution  limits in  SB  234                                                               
because  it  limits free  speech,  just  as  it  did on  the  two                                                               
previous ballot measures.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRAGE  said the  Supreme Court  identified three                                                               
concerns  with  Alaska's  individual   to  candidate  limits:  1)                                                               
Alaska's $500 limit  was substantially lower than  the limits the                                                               
court had previously upheld; 2)  Alaska's individual to candidate                                                               
limit  was substantially  lower than  comparable limits  in other                                                               
states; and 3) Alaska's limit was not adjusted for inflation.                                                                   
To address  those concerns HB  234 first reduced  the limitations                                                               
on  challengers. The  court looked  at  whether challengers  were                                                               
able to  effectively fund raise  like incumbents. The  bill moved                                                               
the  limits  to  a  campaign cycle  to  alleviate  the  disparity                                                               
between  the amounts  of money  an incumbent  can raise  versus a                                                               
challenger.  To   addresses  the  concern  about   adjusting  for                                                               
inflation,  HB  234  requires APOC  to  adjust  the  contribution                                                               
limits  every  10 years,  based  on  Alaska's consumer  inflation                                                               
rates. Finally,  there is  no need to  justify the  limit because                                                               
the bill increases the limit above  what is found in other states                                                               
and the court  has upheld. He recapped that the  limit is higher,                                                               
it is per  campaign, and the limits are  inflation adjusted every                                                               
10 years. These changes address  the concerns of both the Supreme                                                               
Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.                                                                                   
5:01:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER questioned whether  the bill wasn't still vulnerable                                                               
to the argument  that it restricted speech. He also  asked if the                                                               
risk of a  court challenge would be lessened if  the bill were to                                                               
adopt the federal contribution limits.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  SCHRAGE  responded  to   the  first  question  by                                                               
pointing  to  Citizens  United   where  the  U.S.  Supreme  Court                                                               
acknowledged  that fighting  corruption  was  a legitimate  state                                                               
interest worthy  of justifying a  restriction of free  speech. To                                                               
the question about defending the  contribution limits, he pointed                                                               
out that  the contribution limits in  HB 234 are higher  than the                                                               
limits the court previously upheld  as constitutionally valid. It                                                               
is also above the limits in many other state.                                                                                   
SENATOR  HOLLAND asked  for  the  reason for  the  March 3,  2022                                                               
retroactive date.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SCHRAGE explained  that campaigns  were following                                                               
the APOC  staff guidance  on contribution limits  up to  March 3,                                                               
2022.  That is  when APOC  rejected the  staff's proposed  $1,500                                                               
limit, which threw the door open to unlimited contributions.                                                                    
CHAIR  SHOWER asked  him  to  talk about  the  perception if  not                                                               
reality that the field is  not level when an individual candidate                                                               
is  competing against  a candidate  who has  strong support  from                                                               
either an independent expenditure (IE) group or a union.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRAGE  said he'd  heard those concerns,  but his                                                               
belief was  that there was broad  support from both sides  of the                                                               
aisle for contribution  limits as a means  of fighting corruption                                                               
in  elections.  He opined  that  it  did  not match  the  Alaskan                                                               
identity to  support unlimited  money coming  into the  state for                                                               
Alaskan elections.                                                                                                              
CHAIR SHOWER commented  on the importance of there  being a sense                                                               
of  fair play,  which  might include  restricting  groups on  all                                                               
sides from offering  paid time off to campaign  or requiring that                                                               
it be reported against the contribution limit.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRAGE agreed  with the notion of  a fair playing                                                               
field and said he'd like to  fix all the problems with elections.                                                               
However, that  was outside the scope  of the bill, and  his focus                                                               
and the intent  of HB 234 was  to fix the gaping  hole in out-of-                                                               
state  contributions and  individual to  candidate contributions.                                                               
Specifically to  the comment about  union members  receiving paid                                                               
time  off  to  campaign,  he   offered  his  understanding  those                                                               
activities were split into a separate arm.                                                                                      
5:12:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SHOWER commented  on the inability of  individuals to match                                                               
the money,  power, and influence of  a large union like  the IBEW                                                               
or somebody's  brother with a  large IE  group who might  come in                                                               
from out of state to support a candidate.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  SCHRAGE agreed  that  some people  have used  the                                                               
process very  effectively. He noted  that in addition  to unions,                                                               
there are some  significant business PACS. He also  noted that IE                                                               
groups  may be  able to  raise millions  of dollars,  but they're                                                               
frequently   charged   substantially   more   for   things   like                                                               
advertising. He  said it doesn't  balance the playing  field, but                                                               
it is important context.                                                                                                        
CHAIR  SHOWER commented  that he  was tainted  because his  union                                                               
never supports him due to the R" attached to his name.                                                                          
5:15:09 PM                                                                                                                    
ERIC  GUNDERSON,  Staff,  Representative Calvin  Schrage,  Alaska                                                               
State Legislature,  Juneau, Alaska, highlighted that  in the last                                                               
election  cycle, the  independent  expenditure  amounts going  to                                                               
each  campaign  was  relatively even.  He  acknowledged  that  it                                                               
depended on where the money was  coming from, but the amount that                                                               
the groups can  give to a candidate was limited  under HB 234. He                                                               
acknowledged  that what  they're giving  to IE  groups themselves                                                               
wasn't something that the legislature could do much about.                                                                      
CHAIR SHOWER said that's part of  the dark money he'd like to get                                                               
rid of.                                                                                                                         
CHAIR  SHOWER asked  Tom  Lucas  if he  had  anything  to add  or                                                               
5:16:41 PM                                                                                                                    
TOM   LUCAS,   Attorney,   Alaska  Public   Offices   Commission,                                                               
Department   of   Administration    (DOA),   Anchorage,   Alaska,                                                               
referenced the  comment about  union members  using paid  time to                                                               
engage in campaign  activities and explained that  doing that for                                                               
a regular PAC or candidate would  be unlawful. It would be a non-                                                               
monetary contribution  from the  business or  labor organization,                                                               
which  is  prohibited. However,  if  it  was  being done  for  an                                                               
independent expenditure  (IE) group,  there is no  limitation. An                                                               
IE  group  can  receive  unlimited amounts  from  almost  anybody                                                               
except a foreign national.                                                                                                      
5:18:37 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRAGE  thanked the  committee for  its attention                                                               
and expressed  hope that  HB 234  could be  passed into  law this                                                               
CHAIR SHOWER held HB 234 in committee for future consideration.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB297 Slides.pptx SSTA 5/3/2022 3:30:00 PM
HB 297
Tribal Letters to Sec. Raimondo - Combo File.pdf SSTA 5/3/2022 3:30:00 PM
PDI - Connecting Rural Alaska - AK Senate Rural Affairs 5.3.22.pdf SSTA 5/3/2022 3:30:00 PM