Legislature(1995 - 1996)
01/25/1996 08:00 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE January 25, 1996 8:00 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Jeannette James, Chair Representative Scott Ogan, Vice Chair Representative Joe Green Representative Ivan Ivan Representative Brian Porter Representative Caren Robinson Representative Ed Willis MEMBERS ABSENT All members present. COMMITTEE CALENDAR * HOUSE BILL NO. 368 "An Act relating to election campaigns, election campaign financing, the oversight and regulation of election campaigns by the Alaska Public Offices Commission, the activities of lobbyists that relate to election campaigns, and the definitions of offenses of campaign misconduct; and providing for an effective date." - HEARD AND HELD * HOUSE BILL NO. 317 "An Act relating to election campaigns, election campaign financing, the oversight and regulation of election campaigns by the Alaska Public Offices Commission, the activities of lobbyists that relate to election campaigns, and the definitions of offenses of campaign misconduct; and providing for an effective date." - HEARD AND HELD * HOUSE BILL NO. 419 "An Act relating to the disposal of firearms and ammunition by the state or a municipality." - PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE * HOUSE BILL NO. 75 "An Act relating to criminal mischief." - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 368 SHORT TITLE: ELECTION CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) JAMES JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 12/29/95 2362 (H) PREFILE RELEASED 01/08/96 2362 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 01/08/96 2362 (H) STA, JUDICIARY, FINANCE 01/25/96 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HB 317 SHORT TITLE: ELECTION CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) FINKELSTEIN JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 04/21/95 1427 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 04/21/95 1427 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY, FINANCE 01/08/96 2358 (H) SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE INTRODUCED-REFERRALS 01/08/96 2358 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY, FINANCE 01/25/96 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 BILL: HB 419 SHORT TITLE: DISPOSAL OF FIREARMS BY PUBLIC AGENCIES SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) KOTT, Ogan, Foster, Barnes, Sanders, Willis, Toohey, Vezey, Kelly JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/12/96 2438 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 01/12/96 2438 (H) STATE AFFAIRS, JUDICIARY 01/16/96 2457 (H) COSPONSOR(S): OGAN 01/19/96 2495 (H) COSPONSOR(S): FOSTER, BARNES 01/22/96 2512 (H) COSPONSOR(S): SANDERS, WILLIS, TOOHEY 01/24/96 2529 (H) COSPONSOR(S): VEZEY, KELLY 01/25/96 (H) STA AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 102 WITNESS REGISTER REPRESENTATIVE DAVID FINKELSTEIN Alaska State Legislature State Capitol, Room 424 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Telephone: (907) 465-2435 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 317. MIKE FRANK, Chair Campaign Finance Reform Now 2224 Turnagain Parkway Anchorage, Alaska 99517 Telephone: (907) 248-5078 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided comments on HB 317 and HB 368. KATHY ASHBY 1835 West 15th Avenue Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Telephone number not available POSITION STATEMENT: Provided comments on HB 317 and HB 368. BONNIE WILLIAMS 1335 Sunnyslope Road Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 Telephone: (907) 457-2637 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided comments on HB 317 and HB 368. STEPHEN CONN, Executive Director Alaska Public Interest Research Group 507 "E" Street, Number 202 Anchorage, Alaska 99501 Telephone: (907) 278-3661 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided comments on HB 317 and HB 368. MICHELE KECK 4341 McCalister Drive Anchorage, Alaska 99504 Telephone: (907) 258-9653 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided comments on HB 317 and HB 368. RANDY HARSHMAN 6925 Windsor Place Anchorage, Alaska 99502 Telephone: (907) 243-8072 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided comments on HB 317 and HB 368. ED EARNHART 1043 West 74th Avenue Anchorage, Alaska 99518 Telephone: (907) 349-1160 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided comments on HB 317 and HB 368. BART WATSON P.O. Box 20688 Juneau, Alaska 99802 Telephone: (907) 586-4139 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided comments on HB 317 and HB 368. SAM SKAGGS 709 Gold Street Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 586-6479 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided comments on HB 317 and HB 368. REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT Alaska State Legislature State Capitol, Room 432 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Telephone: (907) 586-3777 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 419. DUGAN PETTY, Director Division of General Services Department of Administration P.O. Box 110210 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0210 Telephone: (907) 465-2250 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided comments on HB 419. GRETCHEN PENCE, Special Assistant Office of the Commissioner Department of Public Safety P.O. Box 111200 Juneau, Alaska 99811-1200 Telephone: (907) 465-4322 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided comments on HB 419. BERNARD GOODNO P.O. Box 92 Delta Junction, Alaska 99737 Telephone: (907) 895-4000 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided comments on HB 419. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 96-04, SIDE A Number 0000 The House State Affairs Committee was called to order by Chair Jeannette James at 8:05 a.m. Members present at the call to order were James, Ogan, Ivan, Porter, Robinson and Willis. Member absent was Representative Green. HB 368 - ELECTION CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM HB 317 - ELECTION CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM The first order of business to come before the House State Affairs Committee was HB 368 and HB 317. CHAIR JAMES called on Representative Finkelstein, sponsor of HB 317, to present his sponsor statement. Number 0266 REPRESENTATIVE DAVID FINKELSTEIN said HB 368 and HB 317 were essentially the same as both bills reflected the provisions brought forth in the initiative. Minor changes, technical changes, and recommendations were made to the initiative in HB 317. He called them clean-up and common sense items and were not critical to the intent of the initiative. The initiative, he said, was a strong expression by the people of Alaska, and the legislature had an important role to play. The Constitution of the State of Alaska required the legislature to review all initiatives unlike other states, he cited, and gave the length of the session to review the provisions. Furthermore, if the legislature passed a substantially similar law, the initiative would not go to the ballot. He cited, in California, the legislature was completely left out of the process. He mentioned it was a good opportunity for the initiative group and the legislature to interact and solve problems. Representative Finkelstein said he was motivated because he believed there was a high level of disenchantment among the public. He stated he was discouraged to see the reception he received as a politician. The people felt politics was big money and their role was limited. He said he was amazed how few individuals gave $25 donations and suggested the general reason was they felt it did not make a difference compared to the $1,000 donations. Representative Finkelstein stated more citizens would get involved in the political process if the cost of campaigns were reformed creating a sense of "us" rather than "them." Legislators were not a special group of people, he asserted. The backgrounds were as varied as any group in the state. This, he alleged, made the legislature a true representation of the citizens. The members were not rich but of moderate means, he also stated. The public, however, perceived the legislators differently. He further aired there were many ways to approach campaign finance reform and suggested a public finance approach with voluntary spending limits. Under such a system, he stated, contributions would be matched dollar for dollar with public funds up to the predetermined limit. He said he would support that as an alternative to the initiative. However, he believed, the legislature was not willing to consider that approach because of public sentiment. The public did not support public dollars spent on politicians, and furthermore, money could not be appropriated through the initiative process. He reiterated there was not a single right or wrong way to approach campaign finance reform and again stated he supported public financing. The approaches in HB 317 and HB 368 were not unusual, he alleged. The bills tightened the limits, lowered the maximums, added new prohibitions, limited the time periods, increased the penalties, and allowed for citizen suits. In conclusion, he said, it was a moderate reform. Number 0784 CHAIR JAMES said as sponsor of HB 368 campaign finance reform should not preclude the ordinary citizen from running for office. She expressed her concern that restricting individuals from receiving campaign contributions would lower the ability of people without money to run for office. She agreed the legislature was the proper avenue to address the initiative, and cited the committee and public input processes were the best way to include and ensure greater understanding among the people. Number 0858 REPRESENTATIVE ED WILLIS questioned if the legislature passed such a bill, who determined whether the initiative would be "substantially the same" or "not substantially the same." Number 0880 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN responded the Lieutenant Governor and the Attorney General had the power through a statute to determine what "substantially the same" meant. The bottom line, however, was the legislature had significant discretion. "Substantially the same" meant it must be similar, he said, but it did not mean it must be substantially identical. He further reminded the committee members the legislature had the power to amend. The Lieutenant Governor, he stated, would make a decision based on the achievement of the objects in the initiative. The current initiative was a strengthening, tightening and limiting approach, therefore, actions decided as "similar" would have to be equally strengthening, tightening, and limiting. Number 0984 REPRESENTATAIVE ROBINSON mentioned Representative Finkelstein's approach of public funds did not match the criteria in the initiative. Number 1000 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN responded nothing was absolute. If the initiative sponsors agreed it achieved the objectives there was not an issue. Number 1030 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN said there was a perception the campaign process was heavily influenced by money. He further stated he was concerned people with money would buy their own influence to achieve office. Number 1072 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said that was a common concern. He announced he pushed for more prohibitive approaches in the initiative. He cited a $100 maximum contribution was adopted through an initiative by four states last election. He cited Oregon adopted indistrict contributions contrary to the initiative which adopted instate contributions. The state of California was addressing both issues right now. He alleged, in that context, this initiative was moderate as $500 could be raised off anybody in Alaska and additional money from the same people who gave to a group. He further cited $5,000 could be raised off of a political party which was money given from individuals to a group. Therefore, the initiative would not decrease the cost of a campaign. He stated, the average cost of a campaign was $50,000 to $60,000 and asserted the cost would be reduced by only 30 to 40 percent. In conclusion, he reiterated, the initiative was not a radical change. Number 1200 REPRESENTATAIVE OGAN asked, if the cost of a campaign mentioned by Representative Finkelstein, depended on if the race was for the house or the senate. REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said the cost depended on if it was a uncontested or contested race. Uncontested races brought the average down, he said. He stated urban races were the most expensive at $60,000 to $80,000 due to competition. He cited Representative Green's race was at the low end and Representative Robinson's race was at the high end at around $80,000. Number 1255 CHAIR JAMES said her race was in the $30,000 range last year. She stated it was hard for her to determine how she could raise more money based on the prohibitions in the initiative, but she asserted, she was willing to work for it. In conclusion, she said she received mostly small contributions from her supporters. Number 1281 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said the record holder in Alaska for a candidate winning against an incumbent and spending the least amount of money was Representative Ogan. Number 1305 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said thank you very much and for the record the race cost $5,000. REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said there were some exceptions that proved the rule. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN responded his race restored his faith in the democratic system because it proved the average person could get elected and not just rich individuals. Number 1325 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN apologized for arriving late and stated he was concerned this bill was biased in favor of the incumbent to raise money due to familiarity. Number 1417 CHAIR JAMES further stated one challenge that affected this bill was the urban versus rural issue. She cited Senator Georgianna Lincoln's campaign territory included 92 villages and required a lot of travel time and money. She expressed limited contributions would adversely affect a candidate's ability to travel effectively in a large region. Number 1445 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN IVAN said he was also concerned about the cost of urban versus rural campaigns. It was also very expensive in the urban areas, he stated, due to the large territory covered. He cited where television costs were expensive in urban races, travel costs were expensive in rural races. He recognized the purpose and intent of HB 368 and HB 317, but was afraid the restrictions would inhibit new candidates in rural areas. He also said the reporting requirements from the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) for the rural areas were horrendous. Number 1535 CHAIR JAMES asked what percentage of the population contributed to campaigns in Alaska. She alleged, the bigger the population the larger the contributions. Number 1560 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said there was a high ratio of campaign contributions in Alaska compared to other northwestern states. He said the campaign spending level for a seat that paid only $24,000 and represented 5,000 to 12,000 voters was high. In San Francisco, he cited, the above example would hardly make a political neighborhood. Representative Finkelstein further said campaigns in Alaska compared to other states were unbelievably expensive. He further stated the committee was responsible for balancing the urban versus rural, and incumbency versus non-incumbency issues discussed earlier. He agreed with the premise of maintaining a level so that a candidate could travel within their district. The urban races were responsible for challenging the average cost of a campaign, he alleged. He further said, the current system favored the incumbent and joked that prior to 1994 the chance of dying in office was greater than the chance of losing. He said, it took an unusual circumstance for an incumbent to lose. However, the provisions now favored the challenger. He cited reducing the maximum contributions, the money from lobbyists, the money raising period, and eliminating carry over of campaign surplus all favored the challenger. In conclusion, he asserted, this initiative would level the playing field between the incumbent and the challenger. Number 1828 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON expressed her concern the system favored individuals with money. She said the only way to eliminate contributions from the candidate was through a constitutional amendment. Number 1855 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN responded a public finance and voluntary limit statute would solve the problem. As a result, a campaign would cost the same for everyone. However, he reiterated, it was a hard concept to pass through the legislature because to the constituents it sounded like public money was being spent on politicians. Number 1899 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if the public financing system would be based on the primary selection process. Number 1905 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN replied at the federal level it was operated at the primary. He said, it was not hard to construct a workable formula. He alleged the amount of money involved was small. He said, it would never come close to a fraction of 1 percent of the Alaska state budget. In conclusion, Representative Finkelstein asserted public financing did not present a mechanical problem, but rather a conceptual problem among the constituents and the legislators. Number 1935 REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN PORTER stated there was federal case law that did not preclude contributions from the candidate and, therefore, could not be prohibited. He further asked if a constitutional test had been done on indistrict limits. Number 1969 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN responded Mike Frank, Chair, Campaign Finance Reform Now, was better able to answer that question. He stated, however, existing statutes were tested in Alaska. In Oregon, he cited, indistrict limits was challenged by the voters and preliminarily founded unconstitutional. In conclusion, he said, the constitutionality concept had not yet been resolved. Number 2008 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON questioned if contribution limits from the candidates at a community level had been tested and considered. Number 2028 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said if a limit was established at a district level it was possible to expand it to a community level. He further said, an indistrict limit would unbalance the system and allow rich individuals to dominate the elections, but stated he supported indistrict limits nonetheless. He cited he had a net loss in his district because most of his supporters did not have a lot of money. He asserted, indistrict limits would give an advantage to individuals with money. Representative Finkelstein also stated there was the possibility individuals would start using a lot of their own money to get to the legislature. He commented it was an issue at the gubernatorial and presidential levels. At the local level, however, candidates did not spend too much of their own money. Number 2121 CHAIR JAMES said Alaska and the legislature were intricately connected due to the small population. She cited a situation in Valdez, for example, created a statewide reaction. Therefore, some people would feel disenfranchised, if they were not able to support the candidate in their best interest. She further stated, the perception people were bought into office by special interest was backwards. Chair James stated she believed individuals contributed to candidates who supported their interests, and did not believe individuals contributed to candidates to make them support an interest. CHAIR JAMES called on the first witness via teleconference in Anchorage, Mike Frank. Number 2203 MIKE FRANK, Chair, Campaign Finance Reform Now, said campaign finance reform had been in the public eye for many years. It was an issue debated in Congress and supported by non-partisan public interest groups such as, United We Stand. There were on going efforts in 37 states, he said, to reform state campaign finance laws. In the 1980's there were efforts to reform campaign finance laws in Alaska. He cited Representataive Finkelstein's, Governor Cooper's, and Representataive Brown's efforts. He said he got involved in the issue because of the anti-government feeling. Mr. Frank further commented elected officials should be the "village elders" of the government. They should be honored, respected, and trusted. Furthermore, the reason they were not treated as such was directly related to how a campaign was financed. He stated the effort started in 1993 with general research on the issue. There was an enthusiastic response from supporters and in 1994 an initiative petition was proposed. The petition was refiled in 1995 with some changes based on the recommendation of APOC and the volunteers started collecting signatures. He cited 95 out of 100 people stopped, listened and signed the petition. Due to the response the goal of 25,000 signatures was raised to 28,000. The volunteers, however, collected approximately 31,500 signatures. In 1995 the Lieutenant Governor certified the signatures for the November 1996 ballot. The initiative, he said, was an effort to refocus the electoral system back to the ordinary Alaskan voter and increase the public faith. The initiative eliminated large contributions of private money, created a level playing field for incumbents and challengers, and broke the hold of powerful interest money. In conclusion, he thanked the legislature for addressing the issue of campaign finance reform and expressed his hope the initiative would not be weakened by the legislative process. TAPE 94-04, SIDE B Number 0000 CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier via teleconference in Anchorage, Kathy Ashby. Number 0040 KATHY ASHBY, Alaska Public Interest Research Group, asked if the voters were trusted to participate in the process, or were elected officials trusted to act on the people's behalf because of access to more information. She said, she was grateful HB 317 and HB 368 were introduced and expressed her fear the bills would not reflect the initiative due to changes after the legislative process. She urged the committee members to allow the 30,000 plus Alaskans who signed the petition to vote on the issue directly. Number 0180 CHAIR JAMES said she trusted the voter. However, if the voter did not know anything about the issue, it behooved the legislator to keep the voter informed. Chair James said she was concerned about the remaining voters who did not sign the petition to understand the issues. She further stated bills were amended based on the committee and public input process. CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier via teleconference in Fairbanks, Bonnie Williams. Number 0229 BONNIE WILLIAMS said she did not believe HB 317, HB 368, and the initiative would change the system for the better. Ms. Williams said the bills reduced the maximum donations, reduced the pool of donors, and crippled political parties. She asserted it would not do what the findings and purpose suggested. The length of the campaign, she asserted, increased because the candidate had to spend more time finding donors. She also alleged reduced contributions increased the advantage of the rich. She cited the 1978 Supreme Court ruling that said there were no limits to contributions from the candidate. Therefore, the candidate with unlimited wealth had unlimited power. She cited Mr. Forbes at the national level and Mr. Hickel at the state level who did not have to raise money due to personal wealth. The incumbency factor was not eliminated as well due to name recognition, she alleged. Number 0355 CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier via teleconference in Anchorage, Stephen Conn. STEPHEN CONN, Executive Director, Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AKPIRG), said research indicated special interest guided the political process through funding and political agendas. The failure to see meaningful governmental support for protection of Alaska's consumers and an increasing disregard for their interest, he alleged, prompted the actions of AKPIRG. Mr. Conn concluded, 30,000 Alaskans exercised their rights and asked for a direct vote by signing the initiative. The people chose to circumvent the legislative process, he asserted, and indirect representation of their interest failed. "Let the people vote," he said. Let the people regain control of the political process. The initiative he claimed was not perfect, but if the legislature passed a substitute bill it would be viewed by the people as robbing them of the opportunity for a direct vote. Number 0509 CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier via teleconference in Anchorage, Michele Keck. MICHELE KECK said she collected signatures for the initiative. She stated the people believed there was too much money in politics. As a result, the average citizen felt disconnected with their elected officials. She asked the committee members to not weaken the language of the initiative through the legislative process. She cited provisions limiting individual contributions, banning corporate contributions, and eliminating carry-over excess funds were necessary. Campaign finance reform was needed, she asserted, for equal access to the political system. In conclusion, she stated, the people understood the issues in the initiative so let them vote on it directly. Number 0599 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said Ms. Keck was known as the best signature gatherer in the state. He asked if it was true she obtained a signature on a high speed ride at the Alaska State Fair. MS. KECK responded citizens all over the state in every direction supported this initiative even upside down. Number 0625 CHAIR JAMES commented on the testimony regarding the initiative going straight to the ballot. She stated, campaign finance reform would not pass the legislature because the issues dealt directly with the people involved. The initiative process was good because it forced the legislature to act. Chair James asserted the committee and public input processes were opportunities for everyone to participate and asked the testifiers to follow the process. Number 0693 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN questioned if the signatures were collected statewide. Number 0714 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN answered the signatures were collected statewide. The law only required two-thirds of the districts. The best place, he stated, to collect signatures was at the Anchorage International Airport. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN thanked Representative Finkelstein and said he also believed in the initiative process as long as it was representative. Number 0735 CHAIR JAMES said if the initiative did not exist the House State Affairs Committee would not be discussing this issue today and she was happy to be here illustrating her support. CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier via teleconference in Anchorage, Randy Harshman. Number 0750 RANDY HARSHMAN said he agreed the initiative was the driving impetus for passing HB 317 and HB 368. He suggested eliminating cash reserves, outside contributions, and gaming money to decrease the cost of campaigns. He also said he supported the penalty increases proposed in the bills. However, he alleged, APOC was not adequately funded. He cited he filed a complaint in May and it still had not been investigated. CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier via teleconference in Anchorage, Ed Earnhart. Number 0855 ED EARNHART said he participated in the petition drive to increase participation and improve the system. He alleged special interests were protecting the people from special interests and cited Mr. Conn from AKPIRG. He asked why a party did not exist that represented the people. Mr. Earnhart alluded a state income tax would enhance participation through donation arrangements. Whatever the outcome, he stated, the republican idea of representation was best. CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier in Juneau, Bart Watson. Number 0970 BART WATSON said he was not active in party politics and did not intend to run for a political office. He called himself an ordinary citizen who recognized the importance of the issue. He asserted the system was impaired. There was widespread cynicism about the democratic process, a mistrust of the politicians and record low voter turnout. This, he believed, was directly related to the perception big money was involved and responsible for the decision making. He alleged, politicians were influenced by campaign contributions, and the big contributions tilted the balance. In his experience, he stated, the public was amazed to learn there were no restrictions on the use of excess campaign funds. These issues needed to be captured in any piece of legislation passed. The public would feel betrayed if the legislature passed a bill that gutted the basic provisions and weakened the initiative. There was a connection between the people who gave money and the decisions that were made, he stated. A problem existed when people had to take money to keep up with the competition. In conclusion, he stated, real reform must address the perception problem. Number 1260 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said out-of-state money was not always bad money. She cited her out-of-state money came from her father and her best friend. The donation was $25 and it was the first time her father gave money to a candidate. Therefore, out-of-state money was not always bad contrary to the perception. Number 1315 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said his first race was contested and he received approximately five contributions above $500. Representative Green asked Mr. Watson if he felt the limits would change the dynamics of a race. Number 1388 MR. WATSON said the vast majority of contributions reflected the ability of an individual to participate in the process. The limit of $500 would not change the dynamics of a campaign race, he agreed, but the perception of big money and out-of-state money with undue influence was not representative of the majority of the people. The opportunity for influence needed to be eliminated and returned to a one vote, one person democratic process. Number 1455 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he agreed with Mr. Watson's testimony regarding the perception. Representative Green commented on prior testimony regarding the feeling that contributions were not trying to buy a vote, but a show of support for similar ideas. He asked, if the larger contributions were perceived as buying a vote or thanking a vote. Number 1508 MR. WATSON said the vast majority of donors contributed because they liked the candidate. However, there was the perception special interests were able to buy votes. Mr. Watson addressed the issue of access. He alleged lobbyists gave money to politicians to keep the doors open and received more attention than an individual. He said, it made the voters feel they were cut out of the process. He reiterated the vast majority of contributions were fine and were not restricted by the initiative. Number 1594 CHAIR JAMES thanked Mr. Watson for reinforcing her confidence in the younger generation, and complimented him on his presentation. She said, she did not have a problem restricting lobbyist contributions over restricting lobbyist contributions to a district. She cited most lobbyists lived in Anchorage and Juneau. Chair James stated she did not like the idea of a lobbyists, but her attitude changed after becoming a representative. She again complimented Mr. Watson on his testimony today and encouraged him to continue to participate in the process. Chair James further said she was extremely discouraged by the low voter turnout in her district and wondered if legislators were not behaving because people were not voting. She discovered from a survey she conducted voting was not a priority for most people due to their hectic lives. She asserted it was important to involve more people in the process so there was a government of the people, by the people, for the people. In conclusion, she stated, she was not convinced the perception would change even after a change in campaign finance laws. CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier in Juneau, Sam Skaggs. Number 1818 SAM SKAGGS said he was in favor of campaign finance reform. Mr. Skaggs stated he was here today because his children recently asked him what government was. He said he explained the traditional route and talked to them about democracy as the foundation of America. However, he asked himself at what time did he start to explain to his children the business of politics. Mr. Skaggs stated he would like to see the initiative passed or a like bill so that he would not have to explain to his children the business of politics. He asserted personal use of campaign funds, campaign funds carried forward, and out-of-state contributions needed to be eliminated. He further said the process needed to attract good people through old fashioned statesmanship. Mr. Skaggs commented campaign finance reform would return Alaska to Alaskans and consequently, more people would get involved. Number 2053 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN responded the initiative and HB 368 allowed out-of-state family loans. Representative Finkelstein stated he did not include the provision in HB 317 because it was unwieldy. It was highly confusing and based on the advise of the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) it seemed better to delete. He stated the provision in HB 368 allowed a $1,500 loan from family members. Number 2158 CHAIR JAMES agreed with the unwieldy feeling Representative Finkelstein mentioned regarding out-of-state family loans. The process discouraged loans altogether. She suggested deleting the provision but was concerned it would change the initiative. As a result, she stated, Mr. Frank needed to be included in any changes made to the bills. In conclusion, she said, a negotiation process was needed to produce the best bill possible. Number 2250 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN said the correct figure HB 368 allowed for an out-of-state family loan was $1,000. Number 2300 CHAIR JAMES suggested the committee turn to the sections for review. She stated Section 1, "FINDINGS AND PURPOSE," did not have a place in the statute and suggested excluding it. Jack ???, was here to answer any questions regarding the drafting of the bill from the initiative. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked which bill the committee would look at first. CHAIR JAMES replied HB 368. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON commented HB 368 was the vehicle the committee members would work from. CHAIR JAMES suggested for practical purposes the committee would start with HB 368 because it was identical to the concept of the initiative. Number 2370 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON inquired if Representative Finkelstein would share with the committee the comparison chart in front of him. Number 2395 REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN responded the comparison memo was available to anyone, and would be glad to share it with the committee members. Number 2460 CHAIR JAMES referred to Section 1, "FINDINGS AND PURPOSE." She said the section was appropriate in an initiative, but not in a statute. TAPE 96-5, SIDE A Number 0000 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said Section 1 was subjective and was not sure of the proper protocol for having a findings and purpose section. He wondered if it was to determine legislative intent in future court cases. CHAIR JAMES said he was correct. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said, he agreed campaigns lasted too long and were too expensive, but the initiative would not change the cost of campaigns necessarily because of contributions and loans from the candidate. In conclusion, he commented, the findings and purpose section was very subjective. Number 0114 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN agreed with Representative Ogan's comments made earlier regarding the subjective finds of Section 1. He referred the committee members to Section 1, item 5, "there is great potential for bribery and political corruption; and." He said, he took great offense to that statement. Representative Green said he would prefer to see the referenced statement as an opinion rather than a findings and purpose. Number 0157 CHAIR JAMES suggested the committee preempt the findings with the phrase, "there is a perception." It might not be reality, she said, but everyone knew reality and perception were not always the same. Even if there was a perception, she continued, it needed to be corrected. She cited public opinion was the strongest power to move things. The public opinion, therefore, must be knowledgeable and forward moving in reality rather than perception. Number 0203 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said, "perception is reality to those who perceive it." Number 0216 CHAIR JAMES said we did not have to agree that the public's perception was the same as the committee's perception, but we did have to agree there was a perception. Number 0225 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN referred the committee members to Section 1, line 8, "(1) campaigns for elective public offices last too long, are often uninformative, and are too expensive;" and suggested adding "there were too many television commercials." He aired at the end of a campaign he did not like turning the television or radio on because it was only campaign commercials. CHAIR JAMES said it was almost 9:45 a.m. and the committee needed to move forward to HB 419. Number 0259 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked Mr. Frank if the initiative group would object to deleting Section 1, "FINDINGS AND PURPOSE." CHAIR JAMES said a findings and purpose section was needed. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said, "no." CHAIR JAMES responded we did not have to. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked Mr. Frank to respond anyway. Number 0295 MR. FRANK said a findings and purpose section in a statute was intended to determine legislative intent and guide court interpretation. He said the Campaign Finance Reform Now group would not like to see the findings and purpose section removed from the initiative. However, if the only thing the legislature did to the initiative in passing was to take out the findings and purpose section, it would remain substantially the same. The section was important, he reiterated, for future judicial interpretation. He further said, there was a public perception the ability to convert campaign money to personal use suggested the opportunity for corruption, and people were shocked to discover that was legal. CHAIR JAMES said it was time to move to the next agenda item. She suggested the committee members review Section 1 for the next committee meeting. HB 419 - DISPOSAL OF FIREARMS BY PUBLIC AGENCIES Number 0500 The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs Committee was HB 419. CHAIR JAMES called on Representative Pete Kott, sponsor of HB 419. Number 0514 REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT stated the Department of Administration used to sell excess service revolvers, confiscated firearms, and ammunition. In 1995 the policy changed so that only hunting rifles and shotguns were sold at public auctions and handguns were destroyed. However, due to public pressure, the policy changed so that weapons would be sold to a federally licensed firearms dealer at which point a contractual agreement would be made to sell the weapons to a police department or law enforcement agency. HB 419, he said, was similar to the existing policy except it allowed the dealer to sell the weapons to the public and not just law enforcement agencies. A background check would be required due to the Brady Bill on anyone that purchased a weapon. The bill would prevent the Administration from oscillating back and forth and returning to the previous policy of destroying weapons. He asserted it was a substantial loss of revenue ranging from $14,000 to $150,000 or according to the 1994 number of weapons disposed of that represented 25 percent of the division's disposal budget. In conclusion, he commented the opportunity should be retained to sell weapons to the public. Number 0731 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER referred the committee members to Section 1 and questioned why it restricted the municipalities. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT replied there was not a specific reason for restricting municipalities and questioned if the section even applied to municipalities as it read. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER responded AS 12.36.030(b) dealt with law enforcement agencies in general. In Anchorage, he cited, it would affect how the Anchorage Police Department dealt with weapons. He stated, he was not sure if it was the intent to restrict the municipalities. Number 0800 CHAIR JAMES said she had a problem with the confiscation of assets in general. She alleged an asset should be converted to cash as opposed to retaining it. She asked Representative Porter to further explain his concern regarding the restrictions of municipalities. Number 0840 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said he would like to see in general the state government interfere less with the city government just as he would like to see the federal government interfere less with the state government. He stated as a member of a municipal assembly it was always frustrating when the ability to make certain decisions were circumvented by the state. Representative Porter further cited he knew of many city politicians that would disagree with the state. He lastly commented it was a giant step backwards for communities that had already addressed the issue. Number 0912 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT replied he was not sure how HB 419 would change a municipal policy. Number 0925 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER stated a municipality wanted the ability to make the policy. HB 419 allowed the destruction of unsafe and unserviceable weapons whereby the Anchorage municipality, for example, had a policy that sold sought after weapons such as collector items. The provision was a result of years of negotiations. He lastly said, "Saturday Night Specials" did not return to the streets and it was a city concern. Number 0980 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT replied the intent of HB 419 was not to allow "Saturday Night Specials" to return to the street, but required the municipalities to sell usable weapons to a licensed federal arms dealer who would in return sell to the general public. Number 1000 CHAIR JAMES suggested eliminating language that addressed the municipalities. Number 1015 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT said he would not object to Chair James' suggestion. Number 1020 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked Representative Kott to reiterate the differences between the current policy and HB 419. Number 1040 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT replied the existing policy at one point last year stated serviceable excess weapons with value were sold to the public. In the fall, the policy changed so that some weapons were destroyed. However, due to public pressure, the policy now stated excess weapons were sold to a licensed federal firearms dealer who in turn sold them to law enforcement agencies. HB 419 extended the policy to allow weapons to be sold to the general public. In conclusion, he said, the public safety was protected because a background check was needed to purchase a weapon from a dealer. Number 1169 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if a state employee would be responsible for the background check. Number 1192 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT said the state's responsibility ended upon disposal of the weapons to the licensed dealer. The dealer would then be responsible for ensuring the purchaser met the prerequisites under federal law. Number 1215 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON stated under HB 419 the weapons would be sold to a dealer and not directly to the public. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT said she was correct. Number 1230 CHAIR JAMES stated she agreed with the bill because it gave the people an option. If you limited the buyers, she alleged, you limited the value. She further stated historical weapons should be sold for their value rather than given to a museum. Number 1270 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said as co-sponsor of HB 419 he felt it was a responsible way to dispose of excess firearms. The bill required the weapons to be sold to a licensed firearms dealer who was required to follow federal guidelines. In conclusion, he asserted, the background check would be enforced. CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier, Dugan Petty, Director, Division of General Services, Department of Administration. DUGAN PETTY, Director, Division of General Services, Department of Administration, stated the fiscal note for HB 419 would increase receipts by 10.4 thousand and of that $3,944 would go directly to the general fund. The bill as written did not direct where the funds went and because the property was not classified as surplus the money would go to the general fund. The remaining $6,432 was based on an assumption. He said he would be happy to answer any questions regarding the fiscal note. HB 419 required the department to sell handguns to the general public which was not consistent with the current policy. The current policy required a number of reviews to determine if a firearm was serviceable and safe, and unsafe firearms were destroyed. The remaining would be recirculated to other state agencies if there was a need. He further said collectible firearms and antiques would be made available for display, and the department was considering making them available for gun safety programs. The policy, however, did not make these firearms available to the public. The weapons were sold to a licensed dealer in compliance with federal guidelines. Number 1470 CHAIR JAMES said the current policy suggested the general public did not have a need for these weapons which posed a basic philosophy difference. She asserted forfeited private property should be converted to cash. She did not have a problem with the state using the cash to offset expenses. However, she did not want the state to retain the piece of property. In conclusion, she explained, if there was a forfeiture it should be sold for the cash. Number 1535 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if the assumption was based on the State Trooper's revenue. Number 1545 MR. PETTY replied the assumption was based on an historical average of firearms in the surplus property program. Therefore, that would include the Department of Corrections, for example, and not just the Department of Public Safety. Number 1570 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked how much money would stay with the municipalities if the committee adopted to delete Section 1. Number 1584 MR. PETTY replied the assumptions were generated from state agencies and not municipalities. Number 1590 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN stated this was state firearms and not municipalities. MR. PETTY replied that was correct. Number 1600 MR. PETTY responded to Chair James' comments regarding forfeited property. He said HB 419 still allowed an agency discretion to retain unclaimed and owner unknown property. Number 1630 CHAIR JAMES said she understood and did not agree with the principle. Number 1640 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS questioned how the state obtained these weapons. Number 1650 MR. PETTY replied there were a number of way. He cited, surplus state property, firearms seized in an arrest and not claimed but used as evidence, firearms seized in an arrest and not claimed and not used as evidence, firearms seized by the court, and firearms seized in a controlled substance arrest. CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier, Gretchen Pence, Special Assistant, Office of the Commissioner, Department of Public Safety. Number 1715 GRETCHEN PENCE, Special Assistant, Office of the Commissioner, Department of Public Safety, said it was the position of the Administration that confiscated and surplus weapons should not be sold to the public. The state was not in the business of selling firearms, she asserted. In response to the public, when the state announced it would destroy some firearms, the policy was modified. The current policy, therefore, stated the weapons would be sold to a licensed firearms dealer who would in turn sell them to law enforcement agencies only. The weapons before being sold were reviewed and those deemed unsafe or unlawful would be destroyed. The weapons unclaimed would be held by the department, and every attempt would be made to determine the rightful owner. Rifles, and shotguns would be sold to a licensed firearms dealer who would in turn sell them to the public. Antiques, curios and collectibles would be pulled and donated to museums for public display. The Department of Public Safety and all state law enforcement agencies would have an opportunity to review the list of firearms to determine if any could be used for their purposes. Other state agencies would also be able to review the list. Finally, the remaining firearms would be available to a licensed firearms dealer who contractually agreed to resell to a law enforcement officer or agency. In conclusion, she reiterated, the policy of the Administration was not to be sell weapons to the public. CHAIR JAMES called on the next testifier via teleconference in Delta Junction, Bernard Goodno. Number 1840 BERNARD GOODNO said the Governor reported last week weapons would be sold to federal firearms dealers who in turn would sell to law enforcement agencies only. He alleged, this was a "back door" gun control policy and violated his rights. He asked who decided the safety of a weapon. He cited a "Saturday Night Special" was a gun control buzz word. He suggested the Governor and the Department of Public Safety resign if they could not uphold their oath of office, and asked them to stop violating his constitutional rights. Number 1900 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved to delete Section 1 from HB 419. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN objected. CHAIR JAMES called for a discussion regarding the motion. Number 1919 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER responded Section 1 was the provision that placed the state onto the municipalities, and they should be allowed to make their own decisions. He further stated many municipalities had already established policies that were functioning fine. Number 1942 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN asked what the deletion of Section 1 did to the intent of HB 419. CHAIR JAMES deferred the question to Representative Porter. Number 1950 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said it would have no affect at all in terms of the betrothment of firearms by the state. The fiscal note addressed possession of weapons by the state but did not address the acquisition of weapons by first class municipalities such as Anchorage. The disposal method varied for each of the municipalities based on the needs of the individual city. He concluded, therefore, it should be left up to the cities and not "big brother." Number 2000 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked, if by deleting Section 1, would it allow local jurisdiction to permit "Saturday Night Specials," for example, to return to the public. Number 2018 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER answered yes, and so would HB 419. Number 2023 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN wondered how deleting Section 1 would affect local jurisdiction. Number 2040 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER responded it did not change a thing. If the municipalities were mandated, they would not be able to preclude "Saturday Night Specials" unless they were unsafe or unserviceable. He said he suspected that did not mean subjectively but objectively. In other words, if the gun worked it would be deemed safe and serviceable. Number 2044 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN commented he was concerned some municipalities would be more lenient than others except when required by federal law. He further questioned if municipalities would want to dispose of weapons differently; and would the same restrictions apply or was there a variation. Number 2081 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER replied a municipality was bound by the same federal guidelines. A municipality could not sell weapons to a felon, for example. However, they could make the decision on what weapons and in what manner they wanted to return the weapons to the public. The current policy placed variations on selling restrictions. A city could also place variations. However, if HB 419 was law, the cities would be bound by it. Number 2118 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN again asked if there was the possibility a local jurisdiction would be more lenient towards the disposal of weapons. Number 2140 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked Representataive Green to further explain his question. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN replied more lenient toward the disposal of weapons. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked Representative Green to provide an example of his concerns. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN wondered if a municipality would be more or less restrictive, if a weapon was sold to a gun dealer and subsequently sold to the public. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER replied a municipality in the example cited by Representative Green would be more lenient because HB 419 as written stated a dealer could only sell a weapon to a law enforcement officer or agency. Number 2153 CHAIR JAMES corrected Representative Porter's previous statement. She said HB 419 allowed the dealer to sell to the public and not to a law enforcement office or agency. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER accepted the correction. Number 2157 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON stated by deleting Section 1 it took away the dictation and control of the municipalities. Furthermore, a municipality could implement any policy through an ordinance. Number 2170 CHAIR JAMES asked Representative Kott to reponed as sponsor of HB 419. REPRESENTATIVE KOTT agreed with the merit of the discussion. He asserted his intention was not to restrict municipalities. The emphasis was rather at the state level. Representative Kott further stated municipalities in their right mind could make a determination as to what weapons to sell to the public. He agreed it could be decentralized to that level. He was not so sure if deleting Section 1 was the answer and suggested a conceptual amendment that deleted municipalities from the bill. Section 4 would need to be changed as well, he said. Number 2223 CHAIR JAMES called on Representative Porter to make a motion for a conceptual amendment. Number 2224 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER moved that Representative Kott remove the requirement of the municipalities in HB 419 and do whatever was needed to achieve that purpose. CHAIR JAMES asked if there was an objection. Number 2240 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN removed his objection to delete Section 1. He further stated Representative Porter was the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee in line with the next committee of referral for HB 419. He said he agreed with the conceptual amendment. CHAIR JAMES, hearing no objection to the conceptual amendment, it was so ordered. Number 2283 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if there were other policies related to the disposal of property such as automobiles. Number 2290 MR. PETTY replied there were a series of unclaimed property statutes referenced in HB 419. He stated firearms and property were treated the same if confiscated in an arrest and used as evidence. Number 2325 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN moved HB 419 move from the committee with conceptual amendments, fiscal notes and individual recommendations to the next committee of referral. There was an objection, so a roll call vote was taken. RepresentativesJames, Ogan, Green, Ivan, Porter, and Willis voted in favor of moving the bill. Representative Robinson voted against moving the bill. So HB 419 moved from the House State Affairs Committee. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked to explain her objection. She stated the current policy was good and did not believe a change was warranted. CHAIR JAMES replied policies changed over night. ADJOURNMENT CHAIR JAMES adjourned the House State Affairs Committee meeting at 10:20 a.m.