Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/23/2004 01:45 PM House FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 424                                                                                                            
     An Act relating to review of regulations under the                                                                         
     Administrative Procedure Act by the Legislative Affairs                                                                    
     Agency; and providing for an effective date.                                                                               
BARBARA COTTING,  STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE  JIM HOLM,  testified                                                                   
that HB 424 requires legislative  legal review of regulations                                                                   
before they are  finalized.  Under current statute,  only the                                                                   
Attorney General  formally reviews  proposed regulations  and                                                                   
the review  comes late  in the  process, when public  comment                                                                   
has  already  been  closed.     After  the  Attorney  General                                                                   
approves proposed  regulations, they  are transmitted  to the                                                                   
Lt. Governor's office, where they  are seldom changed and the                                                                   
public  then becomes  justifiably  frustrated  when they  see                                                                   
regulations  adopted  that are  different  from  the ones  in                                                                   
which they commented.                                                                                                           
Ms. Cotting stated  that under HB 424,  legislative attorneys                                                                   
who actually draft  the bills would review  regulations being                                                                   
promulgated from those bills.   By working cooperatively with                                                                   
the Attorney  General's office, differences of  opinion could                                                                   
be worked out before the regulations  were finalized.  In the                                                                   
event  that  differences   could  not  be  worked   out,  the                                                                   
Legislature would have the opportunity  for input.  She added                                                                   
that  the overall  impact  to the  State's  economy would  be                                                                   
positive.    Adding  legislative  review  to  the  regulation                                                                   
process would:                                                                                                                  
   · Help eliminate conflicts,                                                                                                  
   · Create a more stable business environment, and                                                                             
   · Increase the public's trust in government.                                                                                 
Co-Chair Harris  questioned the  comment made by  Ms. Cotting                                                                   
that the Legislature  does not have the  constitutional legal                                                                   
authority  to abolish  regulations.   Ms.  Cotting  responded                                                                   
that they  do not  by statute.   Co-Chair Harris  stated that                                                                   
the Legislature  has the  authority to  place regulations  in                                                                   
statute.   He  understood  that  the legislation  would  have                                                                   
another group  write regulations for  the bills passed.   Ms.                                                                   
Cotting  corrected, indicating  that the  bill would  provide                                                                   
for an  attorney in  Legislative Legal  and Research  Service                                                                   
Division, who would review regulations  by the agencies.  She                                                                   
pointed  out that  Tam Cook,  the  director from  Legislative                                                                   
Legal,  had submitted  a fiscal  note for the  scope of  that                                                                   
work  in the  amount of  $98 thousand  dollars, covering  the                                                                   
cost for one attorney position.                                                                                                 
Ms. Cotting  acknowledged that the  action would be  a policy                                                                   
call.  The legislative  intent causes much to  litigate.  Co-                                                                   
Chair   Harris  asked   the   legal  ramifications   of   the                                                                   
Legislature writing its own regulations  without the input of                                                                   
the  Administration.   He  asked  what  would happen  if  the                                                                   
Legislature took over that entire function.                                                                                     
DEBORAH   BEHR,  ASSISTANT   ATTORNEY  GENERAL,   REGULATIONS                                                                   
ATTORNEY,  DEPARTMENT  OF  LAW, commented  the  problem  with                                                                   
having the Legislature providing  the "nuts and bolts" of the                                                                   
regulations  is that  the Legislature  is not  around for  so                                                                   
many months of the year.  She  understood why the Legislature                                                                   
did not  want to delegate the  work to the  Executive Branch,                                                                   
which attempts  to fill  in the  blanks in  statute.   If the                                                                   
Legislature  wants  to write  their  own regulations,  it  is                                                                   
legal  and  constitutional   but  it  would   mean  that  the                                                                   
Legislature  would  have  to do  much  more  substantial  and                                                                   
detailed work for the individual statutes.                                                                                      
Co-Chair Harris  complained that  one of  the issues  is that                                                                   
the   Legislature    writes   legislation   and    then   the                                                                   
Administration writes regulations  that affect their point of                                                                   
view,  which  happens too  often.    He emphasized  that  was                                                                   
frustrating.     Then  the  Legislature   has  to   pass  new                                                                   
legislation  to make  the original  intent clear.   Ms.  Behr                                                                   
pointed  out that  one of  the  goals of  the proposed  bill,                                                                   
itemized  on Page  3, Lines 8-12,  was to  have the  assigned                                                                   
attorney notify  various bodies in the Legislature  to review                                                                   
and provide additional legislative  oversight.  The framework                                                                   
in the bill is designed to facilitate the oversight.                                                                            
Co-Chair   Williams  asked   if  she   was  referencing   the                                                                   
Legislative Regulation Review  Committee.  Ms. Behr responded                                                                   
that the Legislative  Review Committee has an  active role in                                                                   
the HB 424.                                                                                                                     
DAVE   STANCLIFF,   REGULATION   REVIEW   COMMITTEE,   STAFF,                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  PETE KOTT,  informed  members that  Minnesota                                                                   
co-writes regulation  with their Administration.   That state                                                                   
has fewer  conflicts than  experienced  by Alaska.   Colorado                                                                   
has a  Regulation Review  Committee and  the drafters,  track                                                                   
legislation and watch for when  the regulations are put forth                                                                   
and  then  highlight  specific problems  for  the  Regulation                                                                   
Review  Committee.    That  check   and  balance  provides  a                                                                   
screening  process to let  the legislators  know if  there is                                                                   
anything  wrong.   Because  of the  threat  of the  screening                                                                   
process, the regulation  writers are more precise  in writing                                                                   
regulations.  The Courts have  found that the legislature has                                                                   
limited  ability  to  change regulations  once  they  are  in                                                                   
place.   The  bill  provides an  outline on  how  to build  a                                                                   
cooperative partnership and helps  to determine if the number                                                                   
of regulation concerns could be reduced.                                                                                        
In  response   to  Co-Chair   Harris  query,  Mr.   Stancliff                                                                   
indicated that he has been involved  in the Regulatory Review                                                                   
Committee,  consisting of a  staff of  one.  Co-Chair  Harris                                                                   
asked if  it would be prudent  to have the  Committee consist                                                                   
of  an  attorney   as  the  staff  person.     Mr.  Stancliff                                                                   
acknowledged  that  was  a possibility.    Each  legal  realm                                                                   
within the process has to develop  it's own "flavor" and that                                                                   
would be  the choice of the  Legislature whether to  hire the                                                                   
attorney.  He pointed out that  Legislative Legal Agency is a                                                                   
non-partisan  and  credible  process.    In  good  government                                                                   
reform, it is important to look  at something that serves any                                                                   
philosophy well over time.                                                                                                      
Representative  Foster  referenced  the $98  thousand  dollar                                                                   
fiscal note.   He requested to  add his name as  a co-sponsor                                                                   
of the bill.                                                                                                                    
Ms. Behr pointed out that hiring  a professional editor costs                                                                   
a lot more than the services associated  with Legal Services.                                                                   
Representative  Stoltze  stated  that  no matter  who  is  in                                                                   
office, there must be a 2/3 majority  to repeal a resolution.                                                                   
He did not  know what the  solution should be to  address the                                                                   
concerns of  the proposed  legislation.   It is difficult  to                                                                   
micromanage each issue.                                                                                                         
Representative   Hawker   shared   Representative   Stoltze's                                                                   
concern  with the  legislation.   He  was  troubled with  the                                                                   
Department  of   Health  &   Social  Services  fiscal   note,                                                                   
indicating significant  costs to  that Department.   They are                                                                   
working  diligently  on  regulations to  improve  their  cost                                                                   
efficiencies   and  unnecessary   delays   could  result   in                                                                   
continued expenditures.                                                                                                         
Ms. Cotting pointed out that two  of the fiscal notes are out                                                                   
dated and  address earlier  versions of the  bill.   The only                                                                   
note that is current is the one  from the Legislative Affairs                                                                   
Agency.   She believed  that the  narrative would be  changed                                                                   
for the  other two notes.   There would be no  mandated delay                                                                   
with passage of the bill.                                                                                                       
Mr. Stancliff  pointed out that  there are two  provisions in                                                                   
the bill that explicitly state  that nothing that Legislative                                                                   
Legal does will hold up the process  in any way.  It would be                                                                   
a constitutional  separation  of powers.   The  bill and  the                                                                   
principal  of it are  based to  tie into  two other  measures                                                                   
that will  come before the House  Finance Committee.   HB 242                                                                   
addresses  the "front-end"  into the  regulatory process,  HB
203 deals with the center of the  adjudication process and HB
424 creates the safety valve at the end of the process.                                                                         
PAM  LABOLLE,  ALASKA  STATE  CHAMBER  OF  COMMERCE,  JUNEAU,                                                                   
voiced strong  support for  the proposed  bill.  With  40,000                                                                   
regulations  in Alaska  and 93% of  all regulations  proposed                                                                   
becoming law, it  is important for business  to watch exactly                                                                   
how regulations  are formed, enforced and reviewed  to ensure                                                                   
we are able  to navigate the system.  Senator  Therriault has                                                                   
introduced  a  three-tier  package on  regulatory  reform  to                                                                   
render the system more efficient and flexible.                                                                                  
The three bills are:                                                                                                            
   ·    SB 203, Fair Hearing Bill                                                                                               
   ·    SB 287, Legislative Legal Review of Proposed                                                                            
        Regulations, and                                                                                                        
   ·    SB 333, Judicial Extraction from Administrative                                                                         
Currently,   State   agencies    that   write   and   enforce                                                                   
administrative law  also hear complaints against  those laws.                                                                   
HB  424 provides  a  fix for  the  system by  separating  the                                                                   
administrative adjudication  process from the  agencies.  The                                                                   
bill  creates  a central  hearing  panel that  gives  hearing                                                                   
officers a more independent and  protected station from which                                                                   
to  deliver timely  due process  through  fair and  objective                                                                   
hearings,   thereby,   creating   an   efficient   and   more                                                                   
professional administrative hearing process.  Initial start-                                                                    
up costs would be recouped and significant savings would                                                                        
accrue through the efficiencies.  The reductions in time due                                                                    
to the efficiencies would reduce costs to businesses.                                                                           
Co-Chair Williams stated that HB 424 would be HELD in                                                                           
Committee for further consideration.                                                                                            

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