Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/10/2003 10:10 AM RLS

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HCR 16-UNIFORM RULES; MASON'S MANUAL EDITION                                                                                  
CHAIR ROKEBERG  announced that the  last order of  business would                                                               
be HOUSE  CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO.  16, Proposing  amendments to                                                               
the Uniform Rules of the  Alaska State Legislature providing that                                                               
the  2000 edition  of "Mason's  Manual of  Legislative Procedure"                                                               
shall implement  the rules; and  providing for an  effective date                                                               
for the amendments.                                                                                                             
CHAIR ROKEBERG  spoke as  the chair of  the House  Rules Standing                                                               
Committee, the  sponsor of  HCR 16.   He said  that he  wanted to                                                               
bring  this  issue  before  the  legislature  because  it's  very                                                               
important for  members, particularly  new members,  to understand                                                               
the rules and  procedures of the body.   Chair Rokeberg explained                                                               
that currently  the Alaska  State Legislature  is using  the 1979                                                               
edition of "Mason's  Manual of Legislative Procedure".   The 1979                                                               
edition is  out of print,  and therefore the  legislature's Print                                                               
Shop  has to  print  it.   The  1989  and  2000 editions  updated                                                               
"Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure"  such that the language                                                               
is more gender neutral and  deletes references to other political                                                               
subdivision bodies that may have used  it.  He indicated that any                                                               
resistance to adopting the new  edition is perhaps related to the                                                               
comfort with the 1979 edition and reluctance to change.                                                                         
Number 2029                                                                                                                     
PAMELA  VARNI, Executive  Director,  Legislative Affairs  Agency,                                                               
agreed with  the aforementioned  difficulty in printing  the 1979                                                               
edition.   She noted  that there  is a  zero fiscal  note because                                                               
back in  2000 100  copies were  purchased.   About half  of those                                                               
have  been  distributed;  copies  have been  distributed  to  the                                                               
House, the  Chief Clerk,  and the Senate  Secretary.   The manual                                                               
still  needs to  be  distributed to  the Legislative  Information                                                               
Offices (LIO) and the Senate.   There should be a few extras, she                                                               
said.     In  checking  with   the  National  Council   of  State                                                               
Legislature  (NCSL), there  are about  70 chambers,  she related,                                                               
that  use "Mason's  Manual of  Legislative Procedure".   However,                                                               
Alaska is probably  the only chamber using the 1979  version.  In                                                               
response to Chair  Rokeberg, Ms. Varni said that  she didn't know                                                               
the cost of printing the 1979 edition.                                                                                          
CHAIR   ROKEBERG  remarked   that  it's   a  fairly   substantial                                                               
undertaking to print the 1979 edition.                                                                                          
Number 2112                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  ROKEBERG highlighted  that under  Rule 55  of the  Uniform                                                               
Rules of the  Alaska State Legislature, the  Uniform Rules govern                                                               
and   take  precedent   over  "Mason's   Manual  of   Legislative                                                               
Procedure".  Therefore, HCR 16  actually refers to an adoption of                                                               
the changes to  the Uniform Rules.  He related  his belief in the                                                               
importance  of  moving  into  the  21st  century  with  the  2000                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  noted  his   reluctance  to  change  and                                                               
explained  that he  had  tried  to find  any  place  in the  2000                                                               
edition  that  would  have  a   shift  in  power.    However,  he                                                               
acknowledged that  the Uniform  Rules probably  more specifically                                                               
address [the committee]  make up.  He said that  to this point he                                                               
hasn't been able to find a  problem with the 2000 edition.  After                                                               
using both  the 1979  and 2000 editions,  he didn't  believe that                                                               
there would be much difficulty in changing to the 2000 edition.                                                                 
CHAIR  ROKEBERG  pointed  out  that  the  article  entitled  "The                                                               
Thoroughly  Modern Mason's  Manual" reviews  the changes  between                                                               
the 1979  and 1989 editions,  which is included in  the committee                                                               
packet.   This article discussed somewhat  strengthening the hand                                                               
of  the  presiding  officers,  which  Jack  Chenoweth,  Assistant                                                               
Revisor   of  Statutes,   reviews  in   his  January   17,  2003,                                                               
memorandum.   From this memorandum,  Chair Rokeberg said  that he                                                               
couldn't find any  significant power changes other  than the snap                                                               
voting.  Chair  Rokeberg then referred to the  [January 18, 2003]                                                               
memorandum from  Ms. Cook.   In that memorandum, Ms.  Cook points                                                               
out  that Section  650(5) of  the 2000  edition adds  an explicit                                                               
requirement:   "The rules governing  meetings of  committees also                                                               
apply  to  subcommittees."    Ms.   Cook  says,  "Note  that  the                                                               
provision  might have  the effect  of requiring  subcommittees to                                                               
comply with  meeting notice requirements, such  as the 'preceding                                                               
Thursday'  rule  now  normally applied  only  to  full  committee                                                               
meetings.   See  also paragraph  (9) added  in the  2000 version,                                                               
limiting the  power of a committee  to take up a  matter referred                                                               
to  a  subcommittee."   Chair  Rokeberg  expressed  concern  with                                                               
regard  to  the aforementioned  change  because  of the  possible                                                               
slowing  of the  process  if subcommittees  followed the  Uniform                                                               
Rules for notification.                                                                                                         
TAMARA COOK,  Director, Legislative Legal and  Research Services,                                                               
Legislative  Affairs Agency,  pointed  out that  the question  of                                                               
subcommittees is  currently not  addressed in the  Uniform Rules.                                                               
The word  "subcommittee" isn't  used in the  Uniform Rules.   She                                                               
explained  that   the  legislature's   practice  has   been  that                                                               
subcommittees adhere to the principle  of open meetings, although                                                               
subcommittees don't  generally comply  with Uniform Rule  23, the                                                               
notice requirements.   The  preceding Thursday  rule is  the most                                                               
difficult  for subcommittees.   Ms.  Cook related  her experience                                                               
that the  legislature hasn't held subcommittees  to [Uniform Rule                                                               
23]  but have  been  held  then to  reasonable  notice such  that                                                               
members know to  attend and the public following  the matter have                                                               
some chance to attend the meeting.                                                                                              
MS. COOK  pointed out  that the  Select Committee  on Legislative                                                               
Ethics is charged  with forming guidelines for  open meetings and                                                               
have come  forward with a  series of guidelines.   However, those                                                               
guidelines  have never  been  adopted by  the  legislature.   She                                                               
informed the committee  that in all the guidelines  she has seen,                                                               
the  guidelines treat  subcommittees as  strictly as  the Uniform                                                               
Rules are  with committees.  Still,  Ms. Cook felt that  would be                                                               
difficult for  the legislature to  adhere to during the  press of                                                               
business.   She indicated that  if subcommittees follow  the same                                                               
notification rules  as the  standing committees,  it will  take a                                                               
long time before  the subcommittee could report back  to the full                                                               
committee in order  for the full committee to act  on the matter.                                                               
Therefore,  perhaps   HCR  16  could  also   address  the  notice                                                               
requirement for subcommittees in some fashion.                                                                                  
CHAIR ROKEBERG noted his understanding  that the Uniform Rules as                                                               
well as custom and tradition of  the body can take precedent over                                                               
"Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure."                                                                                      
TAPE 03-2, SIDE B                                                                                                             
CHAIR ROKEBERG  said that he  didn't want to create  tension with                                                               
the adoption of  the 2000 edition.  He asked  if the 2000 edition                                                               
would take  precedent and require  that subcommittees  follow the                                                               
same notice provisions  as other committees if  the Uniform Rules                                                               
were silent on the matter.                                                                                                      
MS. COOK  answered that the argument  could be made.   She echoed                                                               
earlier  testimony   that  the   Uniform  Rules  control.     She                                                               
explained, "The  question is:   given the  fact that  the Uniform                                                               
Rules does not  address the notice required  of subcommittees but                                                               
does  address  the  notice requirement  of  committees,  can  one                                                               
logically  take  the  position that  because  our  Uniform  Rules                                                               
specifically  says   'committees  shall  provide   the  following                                                               
notice' by implication that means  that subcommittees do not have                                                               
to follow it,  and therefore the Uniform  Rules preempt Mason's."                                                               
She characterized it as a  tenuous argument, although she said it                                                               
wasn't an impossible ruling to see.                                                                                             
CHAIR  ROKEBERG inquired  as to  Ms. Cook's  recommendation.   He                                                               
said  that  it's  not  the  committee's  intention  to  slow  the                                                               
process.   Should the  Uniform Rules be  amended to  address this                                                               
issue or should the record merely be left to stand, he asked.                                                                   
MS.  COOK  responded that  if  the  matter  is left  silent,  the                                                               
legislature will  undoubtedly wrestle with this  matter and solve                                                               
it one  way or another.   Perhaps the Select Committee  on Ethics                                                               
will eventually develop guidelines  that address subcommittees in                                                               
a  more favorable  fashion.   If the  committee is  interested in                                                               
proposing an  amendment to the  Uniform Rules, Ms.  Cook proposed                                                               
amending  Uniform Rule  23  saying that  Uniform  Rule 23  notice                                                               
requirements  do not  apply to  subcommittees, but  subcommittees                                                               
shall provide  reasonable public notice under  the circumstances.                                                               
Ms.   Cook   asked  if   while   the   notice  requirements   for                                                               
subcommittees  are  being  addressed,  should  she  also  address                                                               
conference committees in  the same manner.  She  pointed out that                                                               
conference  committees do,  in  fact,  provide reasonable  notice                                                               
under the circumstances.                                                                                                        
CHAIR   ROKEBERG  said   that  would   be  consistent   with  the                                                               
legislature's practice.                                                                                                         
MS. COOK  said that she  could easily draft a  section specifying                                                               
that   subcommittees  and   conference   committees  shall   give                                                               
reasonable notice under the circumstances.                                                                                      
Number 2251                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  McGUIRE   moved  that   the  committee   adopt  a                                                               
conceptual amendment stating, "Uniform Rule  23 does not apply to                                                               
subcommittees  and  conference  committees  but  that  reasonable                                                               
notice will  be given under  the circumstances."  There  being no                                                               
objection, it was so ordered.                                                                                                   
CHAIR ROKEBERG  announced his intention  to move  this resolution                                                               
today  and  bring it  before  the  full  body.   He  related  his                                                               
understanding from Representative Berkowitz  that the Minority is                                                               
conceptually  in  consent [with  the  passage  of  HCR 16].    He                                                               
explained that the resolution has  an effective date of July 2003                                                               
and thus  taking it up this  year will provide the  membership an                                                               
opportunity to  familiarize themselves with the  2000 edition and                                                               
transition before the next session.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE McGUIRE noted her support  of HCR 16.  She related                                                               
her  belief   that  the  2000   edition  is  reflective   of  how                                                               
legislatures currently conduct business.                                                                                        
CHAIR ROKEBERG  mentioned that staff  had suggested  that perhaps                                                               
an immediate effective  date [for the change to]  Uniform Rule 23                                                               
would  be appropriate.   However,  he said  he didn't  believe it                                                               
would be  necessary because there  shouldn't be any  problem with                                                               
the current rules.  The issue would be created after the                                                                        
adoption of the 2000 edition.                                                                                                   
MS. COOK agreed.                                                                                                                
Number 2110                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE McGUIRE moved  to report HCR 16 as  amended out of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
zero fiscal notes.   There being no objection,  CSHCR 16(RLS) was                                                               
reported from the House Rules Standing Committee.                                                                               

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