Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/15/2003 08:39 AM House FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 295                                                                                                            
     An  Act relating  to the  publishing  and furnishing  of                                                                   
     certain  public notices regarding  regulations  or rules                                                                   
     of certain  state agencies; relating to  distribution of                                                                   
     the  Alaska Administrative  Code, Alaska  Administrative                                                                   
     Register, and  supplements to the code or  register; and                                                                   
     providing for an effective date.                                                                                           
DEBORAH  BEHR, ASSISTANT  ATTORNEY  GENERAL, LEGISLATION  AND                                                                   
REGULATIONS SECTION, DEPARTMENT  OF LAW, noted that Assistant                                                                   
Attorney  General  Tillery  from  Anchorage was  on  line  to                                                                   
address the Committee's technical questions.                                                                                    
Ms.  Behr explained  that  the  legislation would  deal  with                                                                   
legal notices for regulations  that appear in newspapers.  It                                                                   
would change  the legal adds  for adopting regulations.   The                                                                   
goal of the legislation would  allow the State to move toward                                                                   
an abbreviated  notice with  more user-friendly  information.                                                                   
The legal notice  in the paper would refer  to on-line public                                                                   
notice where  more detailed information  could be found.   If                                                                   
someone does  not have a computer,  they could make  a public                                                                   
records request  in order  to receive a  hard copy or  get on                                                                   
the Department's mailing list.   The goal is to make it "user                                                                   
friendly" and is  anticipated to cost the State  75% less for                                                                   
the notices with less information.                                                                                              
Ms. Behr highlighted  the second change, which  would furnish                                                                   
notices   to   agencies  that   are   not  covered   by   the                                                                   
Administrative  Procedures Act  (APA).   She understood  that                                                                   
most people  prefer to get information  by email or  have the                                                                   
option  to request written  copy.   The legislation  broadens                                                                   
that language to non-APA agencies not covered by the Act.                                                                       
Ms. Behr  continued, there  could be a  minor change  as some                                                                   
agencies  have   a  requirement   that  the  information   be                                                                   
published  in three  newspapers.   The language  of the  bill                                                                   
reduces  that to  one.   If the  agency thought  that it  was                                                                   
appropriate to  put it in more  papers, they would  have that                                                                   
option.    Additionally,  the   bill  moves  toward  web-only                                                                   
notices for appropriate sets of  regulations.  The Department                                                                   
was  careful  as to  which  programs  were selected  for  web                                                                   
notices, making  sure that there  was access to  computers or                                                                   
ready access to the Internet.                                                                                                   
Ms. Behr pointed out that historically,  the Executive Branch                                                                   
provided municipalities hard copies  of regulations.  Some of                                                                   
the  smaller  municipalities   prefer  to  use  the  Internet                                                                   
notice.   The final  change in  the bill  allows the  smaller                                                                   
areas to  request information.    If  they want hard  copy, a                                                                   
cost of  no more  than $600  dollars would  be charged.   Ms.                                                                   
Behr referenced the cost savings to the State.                                                                                  
Representative Kerttula  voiced concern with Section  11, the                                                                   
Oil  and  Gas leasing  section.    She  asked if  there  were                                                                   
sections  throughout  the bill  in  which all  public  notice                                                                   
would  be  deleted.    Ms.  Behr  advised  that  the  program                                                                   
selection had been done carefully  in order to make sure that                                                                   
there were  computers or  access to them.   Section  11 deals                                                                   
with the  Department of  Natural Resources,  the Oil  and Gas                                                                   
section.  She understood that  section had be chosen as if it                                                                   
was a  full blown  leasing process, not  changing any  of the                                                                   
Title 38  numbers and that it  would only affect  the notices                                                                   
related  to the  underline rate  process.   The public  would                                                                   
still  receive   the  same  information  either   through  an                                                                   
Internet  notice  or  the  Department  of  Natural  Resources                                                                   
Co-Chair  Williams  requested that  Representative  Berkowitz                                                                   
move his amendment.                                                                                                             
Representative  Berkowitz MOVED  to ADOPT  new Amendment  #1.                                                                   
(Copy on File).  Co-Chair Williams OBJECTED.                                                                                    
Representative Berkowitz  explained that the  amendment would                                                                   
strip  out the  provisions  in the  bill  indicating that  no                                                                   
notices  would  be  required   for  certain  agencies.    The                                                                   
agencies that are exempted from  newspaper notice requirement                                                                   
include  the   oil  and   gas,  conservation,  pipeline   act                                                                   
regulations, and insurance regulations.   The primary savings                                                                   
in  the bill  comes  from  the  reduced amount  of  newspaper                                                                   
print.   He stressed that to  exempt these items  from public                                                                   
notice would make  the public think that government  does not                                                                   
want people  to know  what is  going on.   He added  that the                                                                   
amendment would  preserve most of the cost  savings contained                                                                   
in the bill.                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Williams  suggested that people that  know what they                                                                   
are  looking  for  are  the ones  that  usually  read  public                                                                   
notices.   He did  not believe  that most  people read  them.                                                                   
Ms. Behr commented  that her experience has  proven that most                                                                   
people  get their  info through  emails  or mailing  notices.                                                                   
She was not  aware that newspaper notices were  a primary way                                                                   
to   receive  information   concerning   regulations.     The                                                                   
newspaper  ads are mostly  used for  legal notice versus  the                                                                   
actual notice.                                                                                                                  
Co-Chair  Williams  asked  if the  regular  newspaper  reader                                                                   
would be  able to get all  the information that they  need by                                                                   
reading  the add  in  the paper.   Ms.  Behr  replied that  a                                                                   
professional   person  would   probably  get  all   pertinent                                                                   
information  mailed   to  them.    Representative   Berkowitz                                                                   
appreciated  that could  be true  if that person  lived  in a                                                                   
place that was  connected by wire.  There are  large parts of                                                                   
the  State  that are  not  wired  and  do not  have  computer                                                                   
access.  For those rural parts  of the State, it is important                                                                   
to retain the  legal notice that is available  in newspapers.                                                                   
He   emphasized   that   the   newspaper   requirement   gets                                                                   
information to those people living  in rural Alaska.  Keeping                                                                   
the notice  in the  newspaper retains  the ability  to inform                                                                   
the  public about  what is  happening with  government.   The                                                                   
amendment would provide a transitional measure.                                                                                 
Representative  Stoltze   asked  Representative   Foster  and                                                                   
Representative Moses  if their constituents  read newspapers.                                                                   
Representative Foster  replied that in his 27  villages, most                                                                   
of  them do  not get  newspapers.   Representative  Berkowitz                                                                   
asked if  all those  villages had  Internet.   Representative                                                                   
Foster responded that  most of the villagers live  day to day                                                                   
and that  he doubted that few  had access to the  Internet or                                                                   
Co-Chair  Williams  argued that  there  are  other means  for                                                                   
disseminating information.  He  questioned how information is                                                                   
relayed in  the rural communities.   Ms. Behr  commented that                                                                   
the on  line public  notice was a  major mode of  information                                                                   
dissemination and  that the federal registry was  a great way                                                                   
to get  information.  The  federal government is  moving more                                                                   
toward computer information.                                                                                                    
Representative  Kerttula pointed  out that  Section 11  would                                                                   
omit newspaper publication completely.   She agreed that some                                                                   
of the listings  in Section 11 were pretty  specific however,                                                                   
to  omit   all  newspaper  publications,   particularly  when                                                                   
dealing  with oil  and gas  leases would  not be  good.   She                                                                   
asked if the  Department of Natural Resources  had an opinion                                                                   
regarding  the concern.   Ms. Behr  recommended consulting  a                                                                   
representative  from  Department   of  Natural  Resources  to                                                                   
discuss that concern.  She emphasized  that extensive leasing                                                                   
process  under  Title  38  would not  be  diminished.    Each                                                                   
leasing policy is separate and  distinct and each should be a                                                                   
policy call made by the Legislature.                                                                                            
Representative Kerttula noted  that Section 16 related to the                                                                   
Regulatory Commission  of Alaska (RCA) and asked  if they had                                                                   
input regarding  elimination of their newspaper  information.                                                                   
Ms.  Behr noted  that the  drafting attorney  had checked  in                                                                   
with the  RCA to determine if  it was appropriate  to include                                                                   
that   language.     The  legislation   only  addresses   the                                                                   
Representative   Berkowitz   advised   that  there   was   an                                                                   
administrative  order from  the Governor  that if any  agency                                                                   
wanted  to  exceed  the  minimal   amount  of  public  notice                                                                   
required by  law, they  would need to  get approval  from the                                                                   
Governor's office.                                                                                                              
A roll call vote  was taken on the motion to  adopt Amendment                                                                   
IN FAVOR:      Moses, Berkowitz, Kerttula                                                                                       
OPPOSED:       Stoltze, Chenault, Foster, Hawker, Meyer,                                                                        
Co-Chair Harris and Representative  Whitaker were not present                                                                   
for the vote.                                                                                                                   
The MOTION FAILED (3-6).                                                                                                        
Representative Kerttula  MOVED to DELETE Sections  11 and 16.                                                                   
Co-Chair Williams  OBJECTED noting  that he would  not accept                                                                   
the   motion,  as   it  was   the  same   as  Amendment   #1.                                                                   
Representative  Kerttula  stated that  she  would speak  with                                                                   
representatives from the Department  of Natural Resources and                                                                   
offer the amendment on the House Floor.                                                                                         
Representative Foster MOVED to  report CS HB 295 (STA) out of                                                                   
Committee  with  individual  recommendations   and  with  the                                                                   
accompanying   fiscal   notes.     Representative   Berkowitz                                                                   
Representative Berkowitz noted  that he does not like it when                                                                   
the  government does  away with  public notice  requirements.                                                                   
He stated  that it  goes against the  direction and  that the                                                                   
public should know what is occurring with government.                                                                           
Representative Stoltze noted that  he would support the bill.                                                                   
Vice-Chair Meyer  commented that the  bill was a step  in the                                                                   
right  direction  in  getting   the  State  to  use  Internet                                                                   
services   more  extensively.      Representative   Berkowitz                                                                   
countered that the  State of Alaska has won  awards for being                                                                   
on the cutting  edge of technology.  The State  is not behind                                                                   
in the area of technology.                                                                                                      
Representative Kerttula pointed  out that four years ago, her                                                                   
first  piece   of  legislation   was  the  Internet   notice.                                                                   
Nevertheless,  for  the  areas  that  do  not  have  computer                                                                   
access, this legislation will be detrimental.                                                                                   
A roll call vote was taken on the motion.                                                                                       
IN FAVOR:      Stoltze, Chenault, Foster, Hawker, Meyer,                                                                        
               Moses, Williams                                                                                                  
OPPOSED:       Berkowitz, Kerttula                                                                                              
Co-Chair Harris and Representative  Whitaker were not present                                                                   
for the vote.                                                                                                                   
The MOTION PASSED (7-2).                                                                                                        
CS  HB  295   (STA)  was  reported  out  of   Committee  with                                                                   
"individual recommendations"  and with indeterminate  note #1                                                                   
by the Office of Management and  Budget (OMB) and fiscal note                                                                   
#2 by the Office of Management and Budget.                                                                                      

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