Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/28/1995 08:06 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 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.                 

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