Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/10/2003 10:10 AM RLS
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 edition. 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.