Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/28/1995 08:06 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HSTA - 02/28/95 Number 441 HJR 1 - REPEAL OF REGULATIONS BY LEGISLATURE KYLE PARKER, Legislative Assistant to Representative Gail Phillips, came to testify on HJR 1. He read the sponsor statement into the record: "This Joint Resolution is a proposal to place a constitutional amendment before the voters of the state of Alaska on the 1996 General Election ballot. The amendment would permit the Legislature to repeal regulations promulgated by state agencies that do not properly implement state statutes. "Many regulations do conform to and accurately implement the laws passed by the legislature; however, there are an increasing number of situations where regulations imposed on the citizens of the state do not. In many cases, legislative directives are ignored or regulations are promulgated that go far beyond the scope of what legislature intended. As you know, once regulations go into effect, they have all the force and effect of law. This is the case even though regulations are promulgated by agency bureaucrats who do not have to answer to the voters. "The Alaska Constitution provides a system of checks and balances among the three branches of government. The people of Alaska have their own check on government through the voting booth, the initiative process, and final authority over amendments to the Constitution. "However, one area that is beyond reasonable access to the people's voice is the tremendous volume of administrative regulations that are proposed by state agencies and written by attorneys at the Department of Law. These regulations affect every aspect of the peoples' lives. Yet the people are virtually powerless to change them. The constitution amendment proposed by HJR 1 would provide the people a reasonable avenue to seek the repeal of improper regulations. "I recognize that this issue has been before the voters three different times and prior efforts to persuade the voters to support similar amendments have failed. Nevertheless, I believe that with a better campaign presentation, clearer ballot language, and the current popular support for regulatory reform, we can see this constitutional amendment become a reality. Now, more than ever, Alaskans understand how regulations affect their daily lives and I believe they will support this ballot proposition that brings state regulations closer to the people. I urge your support of this important resolution." REPRESENTATIVE GREEN commented, saying if this is the case, and there will be a notification and education of the public to get a better knowledge, it will probably create a very positive attitude among the voters. He wondered if that should be reflected in the fiscal note. MR. PARKER stated that Senator Pearce introduced this bill last year in the Senate. He said Representatives Phillips and Pearce have committed to making the education process happen. The fiscal note was not changed last year. He was not certain how they envisioned carrying out the voter education. Mr. Parker said the last time this proposition was on the ballot was in 1986; since then the concept of regulatory reform has been raised in the people's consciousness and, this being the case, it will be an easier campaign. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN wanted to know what happens if a regulation is adopted, which is based on a statute that has passed, but the regulation misses the mark. He asked if the regulation would have to be thrown out or if it would have to go back to the drafters. MR. PARKER said the intent is if regulations are promulgated which go beyond the intent of the enabling legislation, the legislature can be petitioned to revisit and repeal certain provisions of the regulation. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES stated there are things in the Constitution that need statutes for implementing the regulations. She suspects the constitutional amendment, by itself, would not give as much direction. We need statutes to say how these things would happen. Number 528 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER said it would be appropriate to put on record the intent of this committee regarding this bill, which is that it will not be required to annihilate a whole regulation in order to remove one offensive sentence. Number 575 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if this legislation would be put in the repertoire of bills dealing with regulation reform. CHAIR JAMES said this bill would be moved forward because anything done, pertaining to regulation reform, would not be thwarted by this bill passing or not passing. The bottom line issues on regulation reform will be discussed in subcommittee. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON questioned how this would affect the separation of powers. MR. PARKER explained this goes to the point that Representative Green brought up about how far the legislature can go in writing regulations. He hoped he was clear in what the intent is behind the legislature being able to repeal. They would not be in the situation of rewording a sentence, they would be repealing the sections. That keeps them out of the regulatory writing process, which is an executive branch function. In protecting the legislative intent through this constitutional amendment, the legislature would have the power to go in and remove sections of the regulations that offend the intent of the enabling legislation. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON brought up the concealed weapon regulations as an example. The regulations have become law and are being implemented. So, now, if we decide there is something we do not like, she asked what the process would be to change it. MR. PARKER said it would be a resolution that would be passed by both bodies of the legislature. This constitutional amendment would allow the legislature to appeal through a resolution. It would not be a bill. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES added that there is a statute on the books that allows the legislature to annul regulation by resolution. This was challenged in court and was determined to be in violation of the constitution and the separation of powers. There are certain procedures for making statutes or laws, all which are enumerated in the constitution. The only way the legislature can make law is through statute by the current system. The Governor should be able to veto everything the legislature does that affects law. He cannot veto regulations, however; so, if the legislature were to make a law by resolution, the Governor would not have the opportunity to veto it. That is where the separation of powers issue came about. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if this bill would require a majority vote. CHAIR JAMES affirmed that it would require the majority vote. Actually, it would take a two-thirds vote to get out of the House. It would need a majority vote of the public. The language of this bill does not explain how all these things will be done, and such concerns ought to be put on the record if this is going to go forward. We must have backup that supports exactly what it is that we intend by this constitutional amendment. Number 619 REPRESENTATIVE WILLIS said he concurs about the importance of putting everything on the record. He recalled when he was in the other body years ago when he co-chaired State Affairs, they had a subcommittee that handled changing the motor vehicle law. It took about four years to do that, and after he was out of the legislature for almost ten years, a judge in Kenai called to ask about the intent of a particular section of the bill from that committee. Number 633 REPRESENTATIVE JAMES suggested we make a provision in the statute that sets a "sunset date" on regulations, and then by statute, the legislature has the option of either extending the date or not. That does not challenge the constitution, because the Governor has the ability to veto it. Representative James' legislation will involve agencies, legislature and the public in the actual writing of regulations. Then it can be changed before it becomes final. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN wanted to confirm, for the record, that the intent of this resolution is that it will apply to existing regulations as well as to new ones. REPRESENTATIVE JAMES assumed that if the legislature can veto regulations, they can veto any regulations. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN moved that HJR 1 be passed from committee with the attached fiscal note of $2,200, and with individual recommendations. There being no objections, it was so moved.