Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/09/1995 08:05 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HSTA - 02/09/95                                                               
 HB 106 - REPEAL OF ART IN PUBLIC PLACES REQUIREMENT                         
 Number 519                                                                    
 CHAIR JAMES called for Representative Al Vezey to testify and                 
 provide an explanation of the intent of his bill.                             
 REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY, Sponsor of HB 106, stated that HB 106 is             
 a bill intended to repeal one of the statutes that set into                   
 operation a formula funding program.  He said the purpose of the              
 bill is to repeal a formula program and to place back into the                
 realm of the legislature, the accountability and responsibility of            
 the appropriation of state funds.  He did not intend to comment on            
 the merits of where the funding for this program goes.  He said the           
 statute being repealed by this bill is probably one of in excess of           
 100 statutes where the legislature has abrogated its constitutional           
 authority and responsibility to appropriate funds.  He thought it             
 was very appropriate that legislators start to take steps to bring            
 back some of this authority and responsibility back to the                    
 legislature and away from the Administration.  He said it gets to             
 an issue of accountability.  He said when it is in a formula                  
 program, there is no one that the public can hold accountable if              
 they do not like the way that money is being spent.  He said this             
 was just one of many areas in the statutes where he felt the                  
 legislature needed to resume its constitutional responsibility and            
 accountability for appropriating funds.                                       
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON stated she thought it was good public                 
 policy to include art in the constructing costs, which she felt               
 really made a building pleasant to be in for long periods of time.            
 She said she was curious as to why he felt this was not good public           
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said he thought he had answered this in his              
 opening statement, but pointed out that the state spends a lot more           
 than 1 percent of our public works for aesthetics.  He said you               
 could build a box for under $100 a square foot and our public                 
 buildings cost $200 a square foot.  He said some of this was                  
 requirements of law, but much of this funding was architectural               
 improvements which add to the aesthetics and quality of the                   
 building.  He said the legislature has this responsibility and                
 should be accountable for how we spend this money.  With a formula            
 program, there is no accountability or responsibility.  He said the           
 public has no recourse.                                                       
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON stated she did not see how the architect              
 had anything to do with the 1 percent.  She said the 1 percent was            
 intended for decorating the building after it was already built.              
 She wondered what he meant by the role of the architect in this.              
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY responded that her question addressed the area           
 of aesthetics and public appreciation of the building, and he had             
 commented that most of the aesthetics and public appreciation                 
 factor was incorporated into the architecture of the building.                
 Number 600                                                                    
 CHAIR JAMES commented she saw this bill as taking the approach that           
 currently when there is a capital project appropriation, it is 1              
 percent larger to factor in the formula program for art.  If this             
 bill passed, then the legislature would have the choice of saying             
 this is how much they want to spend on this building and this is              
 how much they want to spend on art.  She said that currently with             
 the formula funding program, there is no relationship between the             
 1 percent for art and the value of the building.  With the choice,            
 the legislature may choose to spend more or less for art in a                 
 particular building.  She said she thought the thrust of this bill            
 was to put the choice back to the legislature to decide exactly               
 what they want to do.                                                         
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she didn't think this would change               
 things.  She said she knew from personal experience that people               
 building a new structure did not divide out the 1 percent that they           
 would spend on art.  She said they would come in and request                  
 funding, and out of that amount take 1 percent for art.  She said             
 she did not see this was going to save any money for the budget.              
 She said if a contractor didn't have that requirement for art, they           
 would come back to the legislature to get additional funding.                 
 CHAIR JAMES stated her personal response was that she would much              
 rather have that 1 percent go into a maintenance account for the              
 maintenance of things which are not currently being addressed.                
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN mentioned that he could appreciate the intent             
 of this bill and felt this 1 percent could accumulate to a sizeable           
 amount over the course of many construction projects.  He said this           
 could, five years down the line, affect issues of economic                    
 development and things such as water and sewer projects, which                
 might not have the necessary amount of funding available.  He said            
 if there was a need for art in a particular instance, he was sure             
 that someone would raise the issue with the legislature or the                
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN stated art was something that was truly in the           
 eye of the beholder, and when he looked at some of the art in our             
 public buildings, it was hard for him to justify some the curly Q's           
 and squiggles that are called art.  He said he agreed that art                
 should be something that should be optional to the builder and not            
 mandatory.  He felt the sponsor was right, that by allowing this              
 formula program, the legislature was abrogating its responsibility            
 to oversee the budget.  He stated he agreed that this should                  
 certainly be made voluntary and not mandatory.                                
 Number 644                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN stated he agreed with Representative Vezey's              
 analysis that the aesthetics of a building could be designed in               
 with the architectural details.  He said he would support moving              
 this bill out of committee.                                                   
 CHAIR JAMES called Tim Wilson to come up and testify on HB 106.               
 Number 651                                                                    
 TIM WILSON, Executive Director, Alaska State Council on the Arts,             
 said the council was an autonomous council and commission budget              
 unit under the Department of Education.  He referred to a letter              
 from the council enclosed in the committee packets.  He wanted to             
 point out that the vast majority of these projects were in schools.           
 Thus, he claimed the primary constituency that would be affected by           
 this would be children.  He said in rural areas, schools are very             
 much public facilities used not only for the education of children.           
 He stated the council considers this program as kind of a fiscally            
 conservative program.  He said the program operated on eligible               
 costs, and not every building was eligible and not every cost was             
 eligible.  He stated it was only above the ground construction cost           
 of that building.  He said it was not 1 percent of the entire                 
 capital budget.  He argued that the formula funding program just              
 obliges the contractor to set aside 1 percent of their capital                
 project for purposes of art and decor.  He argued that the                    
 legislature did have oversight in that they appropriated the                  
 capital budgets.  He said it did not cost more because they just              
 cut a little on something like the carpets or floors to pay for the           
 art and aesthetic enrichment of the building.  He thought this was            
 reflected in the attached fiscal notes.  He said he would agree               
 that art is in the eye of the beholder.  He said the Arts Council             
 does not administer this program, but are its advocates.  He                  
 thought this program allowed for each community to decide what type           
 of art it wanted in its buildings.  He said art is a legacy that              
 reflects the values of society and he thought that to take it away            
 was a serious loss.  He attributed the increase of crime and the              
 decay of society to a loss of our culture's values and he thought             
 that art could reinforce and educate us of our values.  He said               
 that as individuals enter the Capitol, they are reminded of the               
 history of our state, as a result of the art displayed.  He claimed           
 that to repeal this program would not save any money, but we would            
 lose a statement of our history and our spirit.                               
 TAPE 95-13, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 015                                                                    
 CHAIR JAMES reiterated that she supported art in public places.               
 She thought though, that she did not agree that this program did              
 not cost us any money.  Even if you take it out of something else             
 such as the carpet, it still costs money.  She stated she was                 
 distressed that we had about $500 million on the request list for             
 schools in this state.  She said many of these schools were in dire           
 need of repairs for life-saving health safety issues.  She asked if           
 it wouldn't be better for the legislature to make a decision on how           
 much they wanted to spend on art in these schools, as opposed to a            
 mandatory 1 percent, so that maybe they could come up with some of            
 the funding necessary to resolve some of these safety issues.                 
 MR. WILSON said he did not mean to imply that this program did not            
 cost money.  Certainly it does.  He stated what he meant was that             
 it did not get added on top of the capital budget.  He thought it             
 did not add to the cost of the building.  He emphasized with the              
 legislature having to prioritize budget decisions, but he thought             
 this was a very small percentage of the budget pie.                           
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER thought perhaps there was a better process of           
 budgeting and decision making in Southeast Alaska than Anchorage,             
 but he had to comment that he thought art in the Federal Building             
 was really bad.  He said he could not see how $100,000 neon tubes             
 on a wall were a wise use of public funds, and although this was              
 not a state expenditure, it was similar to the type of program they           
 were proposing to repeal.                                                     
 MR. WILSON said communities selected the type of art that was                 
 appropriate for them.                                                         
 Number 053                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER argued that these types of decisions could              
 still be made if they repealed this statute, but the question was,            
 who was to be held accountable - some art people or those charged             
 with the entire project and expenditure.                                      
 MR. WILSON explained that after a capital project appropriation is            
 made, then the builder will begin planning either through the                 
 Department of Transportation and Public Facilities or the                     
 Department of Education.  By regulation, they must form a                     
 committee, which includes the architect, the users of the building            
 and other artists and members of the community.  He said the                  
 artists sometimes visit the schools and work with teachers and                
 students to try and get their input into the design of the art.  He           
 thought if they could visit different facilities around the state,            
 they would be very proud of the art displayed.                                
 Number 108                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN stated he also disagreed that it did not cost            
 money to implement the 1 percent for art program.  He also added              
 that this bill did not deny art in public buildings, it just said             
 that we would not demand it.  He also wanted to point out that we             
 had art in public places before this program was in effect, and he            
 felt this would continue.  He said we did not have to dedicate or             
 dictate that it be there.                                                     
 Number 126                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN wanted to state for the record that he was not            
 in opposition to art in public places.  Having said this, he                  
 thought there were better uses for this money as we plan for the              
 CHAIR JAMES commented that some of her favorite art in the Capitol            
 was the school art displayed on the walls, and this did not require           
 the 1 percent funding formula to be placed there.  She said the               
 problem that she had with this program, was the arbitrary taking of           
 1 percent, without consultation of the legislature, and deciding              
 this was the best way to spend our money.                                     
 Number 153                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said he wanted to send a message to the                   
 artistic community that maybe if they were a little more sensitive            
 to the traditional values of the people, maybe they would have more           
 support.  He cited an example of some art that his children had               
 seen in the Alaska State Museum, which displayed a full frontal               
 view of a woman urinating in a cup.  He questioned the artistic               
 value of this and said this was why he thought we should give the             
 local communities more options to decide the type of art they                 
 wanted in their buildings.                                                    
 Number 185                                                                    
 CHAIR JAMES read a testimonial letter from the Institute of Alaska            
 Native Arts, a statewide organization formed in 1976 to provide               
 services to Alaskan Native artists and the general public.  They              
 feared that without the current 1 percent for art program, the                
 works of Alaskan artists would be limited to a few private                    
 collections.  In today's declining budgets, the acquisition                   
 abilities of most museums were declining.  They said the current              
 percent for art program still costs less than one penny for every             
 dollar spent on construction, as art in rural schools receives one-           
 half of 1 percent contribution.  The display of art in public                 
 buildings sends a message of creativity and opportunity.  An empty            
 building sends a very different message.  They strongly urged the             
 committee to not take any action on HB 106, and wherever possible,            
 maintain the current level of support for art programs in the                 
 CHAIR JAMES commented that with this period of declining revenues,            
 the legislature was going to be forced to take a closer look at               
 many of these formula programs, and the question has to be asked              
 what happened with art in public places before these programs were            
 in place.  She said that as Representative Green already pointed              
 out, the art has always been there.  She said that to say that if             
 you take this program away, art will go away, she thought was a               
 misnomer.  She thought this legislature was trying to look at more            
 responsible ways of spending state money and to allow the public              
 more choice to see if they would rather spend the money a different           
 Number 245                                                                    
 NATALIE ROTHAUS, Executive Director, Juneau Arts and Humanities               
 Council, said the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council is concerned             
 over HB 106.  They said the purpose of the percent for arts program           
 is to foster culture and the arts.  She said that repeal of this              
 program will negatively affect the two constituencies that it is              
 designed to help - the public and the artists.  They thought the              
 biggest impact would be felt by Alaska's schools and children.  The           
 result of this program has been to enrich the environment of our              
 buildings and to bring the works of our artists to public view.  It           
 has also given artists work, support, and a place to display their            
 art.  They thought it should be government's role to set the                  
 example of creating an environment that is culturally rich and                
 aesthetically pleasing.  They quoted an editorial which stated that           
 government had as much of a responsibility to fund the arts, which            
 nourish our souls, as they did commerce, which feeds our bodies.              
 The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council feels that government has              
 the responsibility to enhance the quality of life in Alaska, and              
 urged the committee to vote against HB 106.                                   
 Number 270                                                                    
 CHARLES ROHRBACHER, a local artist and iconographer, said he                  
 thought that it was important for the committee to hear from                  
 working artists on the impact of HB 106.  He said he did not                  
 qualify for the 1 percent for art program, as the quality of his              
 art was religious.  He said that as a member of the community of              
 artists, he urged the committee to consider the importance of their           
 decision today.  He thought it would send a message of what the               
 state believed about the purpose and function of art to artists and           
 to the general community.  He also thought it sent a strong message           
 about what we value and don't value.  He said he did not consider             
 this a subsidy, but rather a patronage.  He stated that                       
 historically, different entities were the patrons of the arts,                
 including the church, kings, and in our country, the state as a               
 representation of the people.  He said he would urge the committee            
 to take this responsibility seriously.  He said that historically,            
 people have continuously found the resources to support art and he            
 would urge the committee to do the same and to not eliminate the              
 percent for art program.                                                      
 Number 329                                                                    
 CHAIR JAMES invited Representative Vezey to come and make a closing           
 comment on his bill.                                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said that in his opening statement, he did not           
 address the funding formula program intentionally.  He said there             
 had been a number of wrong statements about how the formula worked,           
 but it was in the statutes and anyone could look it up for                    
 themselves.  Thus, he would not take the time now to speak to these           
 erroneous statements.  He said the subject of the bill was not the            
 elimination of the arts, but accountability of how the legislature            
 appropriates funds.  He thought that accountability and                       
 responsibility should come back to the legislature.                           
 CHAIR JAMES asked for a motion to move this bill out of committee.            
 Number 339                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN moved that the committee pass out HB 106 and              
 attached fiscal notes with individual recommendations.                        
 CHAIR JAMES asked if there were any objections.                               
 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS stated he was going to vote against this                
 bill, saying that we were a multi-cultural state.  He said various            
 cultures express their values and beliefs through art, and as has             
 been pointed out, some of these displays are in our public                    
 facilities, and this should be continued.  He thought the                     
 legislature should not do anything to jeopardize this and it was              
 important that as a society, we continue this program.                        
 CHAIR JAMES reiterated that the motion was to pass this bill out of           
 committee with attached fiscal notes and individual                           
 recommendations.  She called for a roll call vote on the motion.              
 REPRESENTATIVES James, Porter, Green, Ivan, and Ogan voted in favor           
 of the motion.  Representatives Robinson and Willis voted against.            
 CHAIR JAMES announced that the bill had passed.                               

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