Legislature(2009 - 2010)

04/16/2009 05:11 PM House FIN

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 88                                                                                                             
     "An Act extending the termination date of the Board of                                                                     
     Governors of the Alaska Bar Association; and providing                                                                     
     for an effective date."                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Thomas MOVED to adopt  CS for HB 88, 26-LS410\R as                                                                   
a  working document.  There  being NO  OBJECTION,  it was  so                                                                   
6:08:37 PM                                                                                                                    
JANE  PIERSON,  STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE  JAY  RAMRAS,  SPONSOR,                                                                   
explained that the bill would  extend the termination date of                                                                   
the Board of Governors of the  Alaska Bar Association to June                                                                   
30,  2013. She  informed the  committee that  the Alaska  Bar                                                                   
Association  was   established  in  1955.  The   two  primary                                                                   
functions  of the association  are to  screen applicants  for                                                                   
admission,  and   to  provide  discipline   by  investigating                                                                   
grievances against  members of the bar. The  association also                                                                   
provides  classes  for  continuing  legal  education,  lawyer                                                                   
referral   service,  pro-bono   services,   and  lawyer   fee                                                                   
arbitration.  The  board consists  of  12 members;  nine  are                                                                   
attorney  members, elected  by the active  membership  of the                                                                   
Bar  Association,  three  are  non-attorney  public  members,                                                                   
elected  by the governor  and confirmed  by the  legislature.                                                                   
The Division of  Legislative Budget & Audit  (LB&A) concluded                                                                   
in a  November 4,  2008 report  that the  board, through  the                                                                   
Alaska  Supreme  Court,  protects   the  public  by  insuring                                                                   
persons licensed to practice law  are qualified, and provides                                                                   
for   the   investigation   of   complaints.   The   division                                                                   
recommended the termination of  the board be extended to June                                                                   
30, 2017.  The board  is scheduled to  terminate on  June 30,                                                                   
2009.  Upon termination,  the board  would have  one year  to                                                                   
conclude its administrative operations.                                                                                         
6:10:51 PM                                                                                                                    
PAT   DAVIDSON,  LEGISLATIVE   AUDITOR,   LEGISLATIVE   AUDIT                                                                   
DIVISION,   LEGISLATIVE   AFFAIRS   AGENCY,   explained   the                                                                   
extension audit  was conducted as  required by statute.   The                                                                   
division recommended that the  board be extended for the next                                                                   
eight years.  Since the audit,  conducted two years  ago, the                                                                   
bar  dues have  been  reduced from  $550.00  to $410.00.  The                                                                   
audit recommended  mandatory continuing  legal education  for                                                                   
members. Another prior recommendation  included improving the                                                                   
association's   website   to  make   discipline   information                                                                   
regarding  attorneys available  to  the  general public.  The                                                                   
division  also recommended  amending the  bar bylaws  to meet                                                                   
public notice requirements.                                                                                                     
6:12:47 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Hawker opened public testimony.                                                                                        
DEBORAH  O'REGAN,   ALASKA  BAR  ASSOCIATION   testified  via                                                                   
teleconference.  She offered to  stay online to  be available                                                                   
to answer questions.                                                                                                            
Co-Chair Hawker closed public testimony.                                                                                        
6:14:02 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Hawker addressed the zero fiscal note.                                                                                 
Representative Foster  referred to page  3 of the  Alaska Bar                                                                   
Association 2007  Annual Report (copy on file).  He asked how                                                                   
many lawyers were members of the  Alaska Bar Association. Co-                                                                   
Chair  Hawker  understood  that  Anchorage  had  the  highest                                                                   
number of lawyers per capita of any city in America.                                                                            
Ms. O'Regan reported that there  are 38,000 members of Alaska                                                                   
Bar  Association.   Of  those, 1000  are  either inactive  or                                                                   
outside the state. This brings  the total of in-state members                                                                   
to 28,000.                                                                                                                      
6:15:39 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Thomas MOVED to report  CSHB 88, 26-LS0410\R (FIN)                                                                   
out  of Committee  with  individual recommendations  and  the                                                                   
accompanying fiscal  note.  There being NO  OBJECTION, it was                                                                   
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
CSHB  88  (FIN)  was  REPORTED  out  of  Committee  with  the                                                                   
attached zero  fiscal note the recommendations  of individual                                                                   
6:16:21 PM                                                                                                                    

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