Legislature(2017 - 2018)HOUSE FINANCE 519
02/22/2017 01:30 PM FINANCE
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HOUSE BILL NO. 57 "An Act making appropriations for the operating and loan program expenses of state government and for certain programs; capitalizing funds; amending appropriations; repealing appropriations; making supplemental appropriations and reappropriations, and making appropriations under art. IX, sec. 17(c), Constitution of the State of Alaska, from the constitutional budget reserve fund; and providing for an effective date." HOUSE BILL NO. 59 "An Act making appropriations for the operating and capital expenses of the state's integrated comprehensive mental health program; and providing for an effective date." 2:56:43 PM Co-Chair Seaton indicated that it was an opportune time to discuss the new amendment procedures. 2:57:20 PM DAVID TEAL, DIRECTOR, LEGISLATIVE FINANCE DIVISION (LFD), expressed his intent to discuss the new budget amendment system. He believed the process for legislators and staff was very similar to the old system. He explained that the old process had worked but it had been cumbersome, due to technical or structural errors that occurred. For example, errors included the misnaming of the agency, allocation, or appropriation; removing money that did not exist; and a lack in line item detail. He furthered that it forced LFD to do a lot of guessing about what the amendment really meant and what was supposed to be done with the money. Additionally, under the old system the co-chair had to track amendments in a spreadsheet because due to duplicates and other. As amendments were passed LFD had to rekey the amendments into the budget system. He explained that the process had required entering the same data at three different times. He added that often times proposed language had not gone through Legislative Legal Services and did not meet its standards. The division had decided in the past there was something wrong with the inefficiencies and had been beginning to prepare a new amendment system. Mr. Teal addressed the new amendment system. He detailed that the system offered drop down menus on the LFD website to help avoid technical problems. A new amendment could be easily added by finance committee members only. 3:01:09 PM Mr. Teal walked the committee through an explanation and used the Department of Revenue (DOR) as an example. The system would help users avoid technical errors. He relayed that once an amendment was entered correctly the author could edit, delete, and attach any PDF backup including a Legislative Legal Services language amendment. It was also possible to share the material with others. He compared the system to CAPSIS [Capital Project Submission and Information System]. The amendment author could let Legislative Finance Division view the material. The division would help the author with transaction titles, catch errors, edit the explanation if desired, and so forth. Theoretically the process would result in better amendments. Representative Kawasaki asked if the amendment author would continue to have access to edit the amendment once it was submitted in the system to the finance committee. Mr. Teal answered that LFD could view the amendment and edit it if requested by a finance member's office. The goal was to have errors fixed prior to sending the amendments to the committee. 3:06:09 PM Co-Chair Seaton asked if an amendment could be changed once it had been shared with other committee members. Mr. Teal answered that the amendment could be changed after it had been sent for viewing by LFD, but once the amendment had been submitted it could not be changed. He explained that it would prevent the potential for an amendment to be edited while LFD was loading it. Co-Chair Seaton asked for verification that amendments could be shared with other committee members before being submitted. Mr. Teal replied that the amendments could be shared at any time and cosponsors could be added. That process was between legislators' offices and was not viewed by LFD. Representative Wilson asked about looking at positions but not PCNs [position control numbers] that were funded with half general funds and half federal funds. With the assumption that federal funds could probably be put into other positions still in the department, she asked if it was possible to pay the salary with all general funds. She remarked that the department would most likely determine a way to utilize the federal funds. Alternatively, she wondered if it had to match the positions. Mr. Teal answered that an amendment did not have to be matched. For example, there was a governor's amendment asking for new positions. It was possible to reverse the whole thing or choose up to ten different fund codes. He detailed that it was possible to use general funds but not the federal funds. The maker of the amendment could chose whatever option they wanted. Representative Wilson assumed the best way to do it would be include information in the explanation about the rationale for the change. Mr. Teal answered in the affirmative. The goal was to have an explanation that headed off questions in the committee. Theoretically it would save time in committee. 3:09:06 PM Co-Chair Seaton thought it was important for members to understand how the process worked. He described the process the committee would use to develop the operating budget. He read from a prepared statement: Subcommittees are in the process of closing out and forwarding their recommendations to House Finance. When each department's subcommittee report is scheduled in the House Finance the subcommittee chair will describe the subcommittee's recommendations. Then, if amendments were recommended, House Finance will take up those amendments using the Legislative Finance amendment report instead of the packets of amendments that were used in prior sessions. House Finance will also see the statutory changes proposed by the subcommittee chairs. Those statutory changes are listed and briefly explained in the subcommittee narrative reports and each subcommittee chair will need to submit their statutory recommendations to each affected policy committee. We're not voting on those, those are recommendations that come from the subcommittee. In certain circumstances there will be language amendments that I will propose in addition to the subcommittee recommended amendments. Those will come with each department. As Mr. Teal mentioned, I will have two additional amendments proposed for the Department of Revenue that we will take up tomorrow and they're included in the Legislative Finance report that you have in the file and you should have three files on your desk. After we go through all of the subcommittee reports I will also bring forward other language amendments for the statewide items. That will be at the end of the process. I just want to reiterate what Mr. Teal has said in how this is going to progress. Then we will have a new committee substitute drafted at that point - this is after we incorporate the subcommittee proposals and the language amendments that will generate the CS. Once the committee substitute is before us, we will take public testimony on those amendments. After public testimony we will then take up round two amendments. Any additional budget amendments from House Finance Committee members. Those amendments will need to be submitted via the new operating budget amendment system. 3:12:05 PM Representative Wilson referred to the DOR and observed there were amendments. She did not see any amendments for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA). She asked for verification that if members did not see any amendments, someone would give the subcommittee report, but there would be no accompanying amendments. Co-Chair Seaton noted there were two amendments [for DOR] that would be generated in the new system. Mr. Teal showed the LFD website (on the projector screen) related to subcommittee reports. The items would be posted as subcommittees closed out as they were reported out of committee. He pointed out that the Department of Administration, Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, Office of the Governor, DMVA, and DOR had all closed out thus far. Once a department subcommittee closed out LFD would post the transaction detail, narrative, and amendment packets. He used DOR as an example and pointed to the two amendments passed out of subcommittee (one related to mental health and the other related to the Tax Division). Subcommittee amendment packets would also be included on the website. He looked at the transaction report for DOR and explained that there were now four amendments - one of the amendments involved language. He explained that one of the additional amendments would move paternity testing money from the language section of the bill to Section 1. The amendments would be voted on by the full committee. Attached supporting documents would be the actual Legislative Legal Services amendment. Any other backup would be attached and would be in members' packets. The system gave the public and all legislators the ability to look at amendments well in advance before they were taken up during the meeting. He explained that the new system should rectify the past problem where amendments that members had not seen were printed right before a meeting. 3:15:54 PM Representative Wilson asked about DMVA. Co-Chair Seaton noted members should have the DMVA material in their packets. Representative Wilson surmised that unlike the DOR example, members would not see amendments written for DMVA. She believed the information shown on the website reflected the amendment instead. She explained that the DOR amendment looked more like a format the committee was used to seeing. Mr. Teal answered in the affirmative. He explained that the website was showing the amendments that were exactly as passed out by the subcommittee because there were no language amendments. The subcommittees had purview over the numbers section of the bill. He elaborated that DOR had two separate amendments because language was involved. The website showed what had been done with the decrement and the transaction type was "wordage," which meant there was intent added by the committee. Members would have an opportunity to see the information early and vote on it. Representative Wilson thought it would be difficult for the public to understand. She referred to DOR and noted there were two different types of papers [in the packets]. She asked for verification that the amendments the committee was used to seeing pertained only to the language, but amendments related to the numbers section would appear like the ones they had just seen for DMVA. Mr. Teal answered that the "L" in front of the amendment number was a signal there was backup material. The backup or supporting documentation would be the amendment prepared by Legislative Legal Services. The trouble with the amendment on the screen (shown as a typical amendment with page references from Legislative Legal Services) was that most people including finance committee members, had no idea what the page references meant. Much of the language was conforming and the amendment did not specify what the change did. The action of the amendment was actually described in the new system. The DOR amendment he looked at moved the cost recovery for paternity testing from language to Section 1. Hopefully it would be easier for committee members and the public to understand amendments. 3:19:38 PM Co-Chair Seaton believed that in the past the language section changes all appeared in a CS only. He detailed that amendments had not been seen by other finance members and the public. The new system would bring all of the amendments in front of the committee individually. Representative Wilson appreciated what the chairs were trying to do. She wanted to ensure they were not looking at two different types of amendments. She did not want to miss anything. She thanked the chair for his latitude. Co-Chair Seaton explained the labeling contingency for the amendments. The "L" in front of an amendment number indicated the amendment was a language amendment from the subcommittee chair of the operating budget. Amendments with no "L" came from the numbers section, which would be in subcommittee reports. He furthered that instead of having the language changes presented at the end in a CS, any language amendments would be included in members' packets. He added that statewide amendments would be wrapped into the language section at the end and would all come before the committee. Representative Thompson referred to the subcommittee reports' narrative, which included recommendations that a standing committee change statutes for a particular item. He observed there were quite a few listed. He asked if members were allowed to object to the items in the process. Co-Chair Seaton explained that the recommendations came forward from the subcommittee chair. If a legislator disagreed they could offer a preferred format in the form of a bill. He clarified that the committee would not be debating the recommendations by the subcommittee. If someone disagreed they could communicate to the standing committee chair or to members and the standing committee may not go forward with the recommendation. Every House member had the opportunity to have the input into all committees and on the House floor. A legislator could always propose a statutory amendment in the form of legislation. The goal was to consolidate and look at budgetary impacts and make recommendations to standing committees to clean up statutes and get rid of indirect expenditures. The recommendations would be made by subcommittee chairs directly to the standing committee. The information would get reported, but the House Finance Committee would not discuss and vote on the items that would come forward as subcommittee recommendations. HB 57 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further consideration. HB 59 was HEARD and HELD in committee for further consideration. 3:24:44 PM Co-Chair Seaton announced that it was Mr. Teal's birthday. The co-chairs presented Mr. Teal with a present. Co-Chair Seaton addressed the schedule for the meeting the following day.