Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 120

04/01/2009 01:00 PM JUDICIARY

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 153(JUD) Out of Committee
Moved CSHB 201(JUD) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
HB 153 - OPEN MEETINGS: EXCEPTION AND DEFINITION                                                                              
1:16:50 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RAMRAS announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL   NO.  153,  "An  Act   exempting  municipal  boards,                                                               
committees,  commissions,  or  other   similar  bodies  from  the                                                               
requirements of  conducting meetings  open to  the public  when a                                                               
meeting is  administrative or managerial in  nature; and amending                                                               
the definition of 'meeting' as  it relates to public governmental                                                               
meetings."  [Before the committee was CSHB 153(CRA).]                                                                           
1:17:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DAHLSTROM  moved to  adopt the  proposed committee                                                               
substitute (CS)  for HB 153, Version  26-LS0653\S, Kane, 3/25/09,                                                               
as  the work  draft.   There being  no objection,  Version S  was                                                               
before the committee.                                                                                                           
1:17:38 PM                                                                                                                    
JANE W.  PIERSON, Staff, Representative Jay  Ramras, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  on  behalf  of the  House  Community  and  Regional                                                               
Affairs Standing  Committee, sponsor  by request,  explained that                                                               
HB 153 proposes changes to  the [Administrative Procedure Act] to                                                               
make it  workable for municipal  service area boards  while still                                                               
preserving  the  intent  of  the Act,  which  requires  that  all                                                               
meetings  of public  bodies  be open  to the  public  and that  a                                                               
public  body  must  provide  reasonable  advance  notice  of  its                                                               
meetings.    The basic  intent  of  the  Act  is to  protect  the                                                               
public's  right  to  know.     Currently,  there  are  exemptions                                                               
excluding meetings  of juries, parole  boards, staff  meetings of                                                               
public employees,  and certain other  groups/entities.   There is                                                               
no  exemption, however,  for members  of  government bodies  that                                                               
also have  administrative and managerial responsibilities.   This                                                               
is  causing a  hardship for  volunteer advisory  board members  -                                                               
such  as road  and fire  service area  commissioners -  who often                                                               
find that  they must  choose between complying  with the  Act and                                                               
providing delayed or unresponsive services.                                                                                     
MS.  PIERSON  said   HB  153  would  add  an   exemption  to  the                                                               
Administrative Procedure  Act for  meetings by  municipal service                                                               
area  boards when  meeting  solely  to act  on  matters that  are                                                               
administrative or managerial in nature;  this would allow them to                                                               
conduct  business more  effectively  without harming  any of  the                                                               
purposes  or  intent  of   the  [Administrative  Procedure  Act].                                                               
Examples  of  such  activities  include  calling  out  snowplows,                                                               
clearing  brush,  or fixing  potholes,  as  needs arise.    These                                                               
advisory  bodies  would still  be  required  to comply  with  the                                                               
[Administrative Procedure Act] whenever  they meet to discuss any                                                               
policy or  budgetary matter; under  Fairbanks North  Star Borough                                                               
ordinance,  such boards  must meet  publicly four  times a  year.                                                               
Version S also addresses an anomaly  in state law by amending the                                                               
definition of "meeting" for advisory  boards.  Currently, the law                                                               
governing  advisory  boards  is   more  stringent  than  the  law                                                               
governing  actual   policy-making  bodies   such  as   a  borough                                                               
assembly.   House  Bill 153  will  allow members  of an  advisory                                                               
board  to have  a  prearranged meeting  as long  as  it does  not                                                               
result in a violation of the  proposed "three or a majority" rule                                                               
applicable to policy-making bodies.                                                                                             
CHAIR RAMRAS relayed that he is  familiar with the problem HB 153                                                               
is intended to address.                                                                                                         
1:21:20 PM                                                                                                                    
A. RENE  BROKER, Attorney, Fairbanks  North Star  Borough (FNSB),                                                               
relayed that  the FNSB  supports HB 153.   Because  service areas                                                               
are  far too  small  and  lack the  financial  resources to  hire                                                               
employees, their  administrative functions  have to  be performed                                                               
by volunteer boards,  which have been authorized by  state law to                                                               
oversee the furnishing of service in  a service area, and so when                                                               
service area  boards perform  that administrative  function, they                                                               
are performing work that would otherwise  have to be done by paid                                                               
employees.   House Bill 153  would extend the  existing statutory                                                               
exemption to  municipal service  area boards  only when  they are                                                               
conducting work  of an administrative  or managerial  nature, and                                                               
not when they are performing their  other duties.  House Bill 153                                                               
would also clarify that more than  three members or a majority of                                                               
the members,  whichever is less, must  be present in order  for a                                                               
gathering  to be  considered  a "meeting".    In conclusion,  she                                                               
reiterated that the FNSB strongly supports HB 153.                                                                              
1:25:59 PM                                                                                                                    
LUKE  HOPKINS, Member,  Fairbanks  North  Star Borough  Assembly,                                                               
Fairbanks  North Star  Borough (FNSB),  relayed that  he supports                                                               
Version  S, and  that  as a  member of  the  FNSB Assembly,  he's                                                               
received  calls from  volunteer road  service area  commissioners                                                               
who are  frustrated by  the current inability  of two  members to                                                               
meet   to  discuss   administrative  functions   such  as   those                                                               
pertaining to road  maintenance/repairs.  He noted  that the bill                                                               
would provide an  exemption for such members  in such situations,                                                               
and would conform  the definition of "meeting" as  it pertains to                                                               
advisory boards  to that pertaining  to governmental  bodies that                                                               
have the authority  to establish policies and  make decisions for                                                               
a  public entity.    In  conclusion, he  asked  the committee  to                                                               
support HB 153 and move it forward.                                                                                             
1:29:12 PM                                                                                                                    
RONALD  ILLINGWORTH,  District  Chair, Twenty-three  Mile  Slough                                                               
Road Service Area, Rural Services  Division, Fairbanks North Star                                                               
Borough (FNSB),  indicated that he  would be speaking  in support                                                               
of HB  153.  Current  law, he  remarked, results in  service area                                                               
board  members  having  to  choose  between  complying  with  the                                                               
Administrative Procedure  Act, ignoring it, or  circumventing it,                                                               
and this  is not an  acceptable practice, he opined.   Currently,                                                               
board  members  of  road  service areas  are  unable  to  conduct                                                               
routine  administrative or  managerial duties  without having  to                                                               
hold a public meeting and provide  advance notice of it.  He then                                                               
offered  an example  involving an  established  contract.   House                                                               
Bill 153  would address  this problem  by providing  an exemption                                                               
for  municipal  service  area   boards  when  performing  routine                                                               
administrative or managerial duties.                                                                                            
1:33:54 PM                                                                                                                    
KATHIE  WASSERMAN, Executive  Director,  Alaska Municipal  League                                                               
(AML), said that  the AML encourages all communities  to abide by                                                               
the Administrative Procedure Act, believes  that they do, and has                                                               
no intention of breaking existing  laws.  However, current law is                                                               
onerous in that  the definition of what constitutes  a meeting is                                                               
different  for  advisory  groups  than  it  is  for  governmental                                                               
bodies, and  this is  particularly onerous  on road  service area                                                               
boards because  often they only  have three members.   Precluding                                                               
two such  board members  from discussing  road repair/maintenance                                                               
issues can  result in only  one person making all  the decisions.                                                               
The  AML  doesn't  want  municipal  service  area  board  members                                                               
attempting to circumvent  current law, and so is  seeking to have                                                               
the  law changed  to  address  this issue.    In conclusion,  she                                                               
relayed that  the AML supports  HB 153,  and is hoping  to assist                                                               
the FNSB in its efforts.                                                                                                        
MS. BROKER,  in response  to questions,  explained that  the bill                                                               
would apply only to authorized  members, that the new language in                                                               
proposed  AS   44.62.310(h)(2)(B)  was  obtained   from  existing                                                               
44.62.310(h)(2)(A),  that  subparagraph   (B)  applies  the  same                                                               
standard for a quorum as  subparagraph (A), and that vacancies in                                                               
membership are not addressed in the bill.                                                                                       
MS.  WASSERMAN,  in response  to  a  question, acknowledged  that                                                               
whenever there  is a  vacancy on  a board  there can  be problems                                                               
with getting business  done, but pointed out that this  is not an                                                               
issue being addressed  by the bill, which  stipulates in proposed                                                               
AS 44.62.310(h)(2)  that a  quorum is  based on  full membership,                                                               
not on how many seats are  filled or vacant, which can fluctuate.                                                               
In response  to another  question, she  said she  doesn't believe                                                               
that Anchorage has very many road service areas.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG, in  response  to  a question,  relayed                                                               
that his  concern is  that Section  2 of  the bill  doesn't apply                                                               
only  to  service  area  boards  but instead  to  many  types  of                                                               
governmental  bodies.    He also  questioned  whether  having  to                                                               
consider  the  entirety of  an  advisory  board's membership  for                                                               
purposes of establishing a quorum would be a problem.                                                                           
MS.  WASSERMAN  said  she  is   unaware  of  any  such  problems,                                                               
particularly given  that usually  communities actively  strive to                                                               
fill any vacancies.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG   expressed  satisfaction   with  [that                                                               
CHAIR RAMRAS closed public testimony on HB 153.                                                                                 
1:40:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DAHLSTROM moved  to  report the  proposed CS  for                                                               
HB 153,  Version 26-LS0653\S,  Kane,  3/25/09,  out of  committee                                                               
with individual recommendations and  the accompanying zero fiscal                                                               
note.  There being no  objection, CSHB 153(JUD) was reported from                                                               
the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 HB153 CS JUD Work draft version S.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
01 HB201 Sponsor Statement.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 201
02 HB153 CSHB152CRA version E.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 152
HB 153
03 HB153 Bill version R.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
04 HB153 DCCED FN.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
04 HB153 Proposed Changes to the Open Meeting Act.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
05 HB153 FNSB letter.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
06 HB153 FNSB Resolution.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
02 HB201 Bill version R.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 201
03 DPS Alaska Concealed Hangun Permits.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
04 Backup DNM Article 3.31.09.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
05 HB201 NRA Info sheet .pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 201
06 HB201 Alaska Concealed Handgun Permits FAQ.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 201
07 HB153 DNM Article 9.3.08.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
07 HB201 MOA between PA and AK.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 201
08 HB153 DNM Article 3.31.09.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
08 HB201 AK Statutes, Regs, and Apps for Concealed Handgun Permits.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 201
09 HB153 CRA Committee Report.pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 153
09 HB201-DPS-RI-03-26-09 (2).pdf HJUD 4/1/2009 1:00:00 PM
HB 201