Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

03/26/2009 08:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ SB 29 NAMING THOMAS B. STEWART LEG. OFFICE BLDG TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+ Overview: Alaska Public Offices TELECONFERENCED
Commission (APOC)
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 123 EXTEND SUICIDE PREVENTION COUNCIL TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 123(STA) Out of Committee
+= HB 193 LEGISLATIVE ETHICS ACT TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 193(STA) Out of Committee
HB 193-LEGISLATIVE ETHICS ACT                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:45:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LYNN  announced that the  last order of business  was HOUSE                                                               
BILL NO. 193, "An Act  relating to representation by a legislator                                                               
or legislative  employee of another  person in  an administrative                                                               
hearing; relating to charity events  under the Legislative Ethics                                                               
Act;  requiring  compensation of  public  members  of the  Select                                                               
Committee  on Legislative  Ethics; exempting  certain information                                                               
from  disclosure  requirements  of the  Legislative  Ethics  Act;                                                               
relating  to   the  selection  of   alternate  members   and  the                                                               
participation  of   members  and  alternate  members   in  formal                                                               
proceedings  of the  Select Committee  on Legislative  Ethics and                                                               
its  subcommittees;  and   defining  'constituent,'  'constituent                                                               
service,'  'legislative purpose,'  'nonlegislative purpose,'  and                                                               
'private  benefit' for  the purposes  of  the Legislative  Ethics                                                               
Act."                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
[HB 193 was  heard and held on 3/24/09, with  an objection to the                                                               
proposed committee  substitute (CS), Version  26-LS0656\S, Wayne,                                                               
3/23/09, left pending.]                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:46:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   SEATON  reported   on   the   progress  of   the                                                               
subcommittee  assigned to  consider those  items in  HB 193  that                                                               
were highlighted  by the House State  Affairs Standing Committee.                                                               
Working  with Version  S, the  subcommittee agreed  that "private                                                               
benefit"  [as used  in  Section 8  of Version  S]  should mean  a                                                               
benefit,  not  just  a  financial   benefit.    Furthermore,  the                                                               
subcommittee considered  the term "legislative  purpose" [defined                                                               
in Section 8 of Version S].                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:48:51 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  moved  to adopt  the  proposed  committee                                                               
substitute (CS) for HB 193,  Version 26-LS0656\C, Wayne, 3/25/09,                                                               
as a work draft.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:49:07 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG objected for discussion purposes.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:49:30 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON said  he would  hence forth  be discussing                                                               
changes to  the bill as reflected  in [Version C].   He continued                                                               
with his presentation of the  subcommittee's report.  He returned                                                               
the  subject of  the definition  of "legislative  purpose" -  [in                                                               
Section  9 of  Version C],  on page  10, line  24.   He said  the                                                               
subcommittee adopted  a definition  in which  legislative purpose                                                               
"means legislative action or providing  constituent service".  In                                                               
the definition of "constituent" found  in Section 9 of Version C,                                                               
the  subcommittee  deleted the  word  "natural"  before the  word                                                               
"person".   He  directed attention  to Section  1, on  page 2  of                                                               
Version C, wherein he noted  that the subcommittee had eliminated                                                               
wording.  In Version S, the wording read as follows:                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Section 1. AS 24.60.030(a) is amended to read:                                                                             
       (i) Except for supplying information requested by                                                                        
        the hearing officer or the individual, board, or                                                                        
     commission with authority to make  the final decision i                                                                    
     the case,  or when responding to  contacts initiated by                                                                    
     the  hearing  officer  or  the  individual,  board,  or                                                                    
     commission with  authority to  make the  final decision                                                                    
     in the  case, a legislator or  legislative employee may                                                                    
     not   attempt   to   influence  the   outcome   of   an                                                                    
     administrative  hearing   by  directly   or  indirectly                                                                    
     contacting  or   attempting  to  contact   the  hearing                                                                    
     officer  assigned to  the  hearing  or the  individual,                                                                    
     board or  commission with authority  to make  the final                                                                    
     decision  in   the  case   unless  the   legislator  or                                                                
     legislative employee is  representing another person in                                                                
     the case for compensation and subject to AS 24.60.100                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON said  the  change to  that language  would                                                               
read thus in Version C:                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Section 1. AS 24.60.030(a) is amended to read:                                                                             
          (a) A legislator or legislative employee may not                                                                      
               (1) solicit, agree to accept, or accept a                                                                        
     benefit  other  than   official  compensation  for  the                                                                    
     performance of  public duties;  this paragraph  may not                                                                    
     be construed  to prohibit  lawful solicitation  for and                                                                    
     acceptance of  campaign contributions,  solicitation or                                                                    
     acceptance  of contributions  for a  charity event,  as                                                                    
     defined in AS 24.60.080(a)(2)(B),  or the acceptance of                                                                    
     a  gift   [LAWFUL  GRATUITY]  under  AS   24.60.075  or                                                            
     24.60.080 [AS 24.60.080];                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  noted that  was not a  unanimous decision,                                                               
but passed in the subcommittee by a 2:1 vote.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:53:16 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON noted that  the subcommittee also changed a                                                               
the word "gratuity" in AS  24.60.030 to "gift", because "gift" is                                                               
"the word that is used throughout."                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  said  the  subcommittee  asked  the  bill                                                               
drafter,  Mr. Wayne,  to prepare  a legal  opinion regarding  the                                                               
definition  of   the  word  "constituent"   and  the  use   of  a                                                               
constituent  e-mail list  that is  not available  to the  general                                                               
public.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:54:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  noted that  the reference to  an e-mail                                                               
list occurs in  language on page 2, lines 17-18,  [of Version C],                                                               
which read as follows:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
               (B) the use of  a legislator's legislative                                                                   
     mailing  list  for campaign  purposes,  or  the use  of                                                                
     mailing  lists,  computer  data, or  other  information                                                                    
     lawfully   obtained  from   a  government   agency  and                                                                    
     available  to  the  general public  for  nonlegislative                                                                    
     purposes;                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG stated  his belief  that that  language                                                               
was  an   amendment  that   is  not   formally  listed   [in  the                                                               
subcommittee report].                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:55:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RYNNIEVA MOSS,  Staff, Representative John Coghill,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, on  behalf of Representative Coghill,  prime sponsor                                                               
of HB 193, related:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     It was discussed  with Mr. Wayne that  if this language                                                                    
     did  not  cover that,  he  was  to  come up  with  some                                                                    
     language that did.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   SEATON   confirmed   that   it   is   also   his                                                               
understanding that  a request had  been made of the  bill drafter                                                               
to research  the issue to  determine whether  or not there  was a                                                               
conflict or clarification was needed  between the statute and the                                                               
legal  advisory opinion.   He  said Mr.  Wayne must  have decided                                                               
that there was no conflict.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:59:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOYCE ANDERSON, Ethics  Committee Administrator, Select Committee                                                               
on Legislative Ethics, stated:                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     You  certainly could  use that  address or  that e-mail                                                                    
     address, but  you could not  use state resources  to do                                                                    
     it if you were going to use it for campaign purposes.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LYNN  indicated that that  information could be taken  to a                                                               
home computer for "doing my campaign thing."                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. ANDERSON replied, "Exactly."                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:59:26 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON asked if this  would work in reverse - "if                                                               
it would be  covered" if he brought his campaign  mailing list to                                                               
the legislature.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. ANDERSON responded, "Yes, it would be."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:59:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON continued  with  the subcommittee  report.                                                               
He  said the  subcommittee asked  Mr. Wayne  for a  legal opinion                                                               
regarding the  definition of a constituent  and an interpretation                                                               
of duty of representation under  the Constitution of the State of                                                               
Alaska.  Mr.  Wayne reported that he could find  no explicit duty                                                               
of  representation  in the  constitution,  and  he suggested  one                                                               
interpretation  may   be  that   "you  owe   a  duty   under  the                                                               
constitution."     Representative   Seaton  indicated   that  the                                                               
subcommittee is  comfortable having that legal  opinion follow to                                                               
the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:01:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  noted that  the  language  on page  4,                                                               
lines 9-10,  is similar to  the language  on page 2,  lines 17-18                                                               
[text provided previously].                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MOSS, in  response  to  Representative Gruenberg,  confirmed                                                               
that  the  review  of the  subcommittee's  proposed  changes  was                                                               
complete.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:02:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG  removed   his  objection  to  adopting                                                               
Version C  as a work  draft.   There being no  further objection,                                                               
Version C was before the committee.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:02:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MOSS said  the  bill  sponsor feels  strongly  that when  [a                                                               
legislator] takes  the oath of  office, he/she is taking  an oath                                                               
to  represent everyone  in Alaska,  to protect  the rights  given                                                               
them through the Constitution of the State of Alaska.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR   LYNN   commented   that  although   he   represents   his                                                               
constituency,  99 percent  of everything  on which  he has  voted                                                               
affects  the  entire  state.     He  asked,  "Does  one  duty  or                                                               
representation surpass the other?"                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. MOSS opined that the answer  is no, because all Alaskans have                                                               
equal rights under the constitution.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:03:55 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  noted  that part  of  the  subcommittee's                                                               
discussion  revolved around  the question  of what  makes up  the                                                               
definition of an Alaskan.  For  example, would a company that has                                                               
activity  in the  state be  an Alaskan?   He  mentioned financial                                                               
benefit and  indicated that was  part of "the ...  moving natural                                                               
person  discussion."     He  stated   that  one  intent   of  the                                                               
subcommittee is to make clear  for the Ethics Committee the bases                                                               
on which  it makes its decisions.   He said he  thinks the entire                                                               
subcommittee  agreed  to  identify  the  issue  and  request  the                                                               
[legal] information, then  pass that on to the  next committee of                                                               
referral.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:05:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. MOSS,  in response to  Representative Wilson,  explained that                                                               
the  subcommittee  report  currently   in  the  committee  packet                                                               
contains some notes  unrelated to HB 193, and she  said she would                                                               
e-mail an updated copy to each committee member.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 9:08:27 AM to 9:09:34 AM.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:09:47 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG moved to  adopt Amendment 1, labeled 26-                                                               
LS0656|S.1, Wayne, 3/25/09, which read as follows:                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 7, following "subcommittees;":                                                                              
          Insert "establishing that persons who are subject                                                                   
     to  the   Legislative  Ethics  Act  may   rely  without                                                                  
     prejudice  on  certain  advice from  employees  of  the                                                                  
     Select Committee on Legislative Ethics;"                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Page 7, following line 22:                                                                                                 
     Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                         
        "* Sec.  8. AS 24.60.158  is repealed  and reenacted                                                                  
     to read:                                                                                                                   
          Sec.   24.60.158.   Informal   advice.   (a)   The                                                                  
     committee  shall  authorize  and  train  at  least  one                                                                    
     committee staff  employee to  respond to  requests from                                                                    
     legislators, legislative  employees, or  public members                                                                    
     of   the  committee   for   advice   about  the   legal                                                                    
     requirements of  this chapter,  including advice  as to                                                                    
     whether  the facts  and circumstances  of a  particular                                                                    
     case constitute a violation  of ethical standards under                                                                    
     this chapter. However, the advice  provided by staff is                                                                    
     not binding  on the committee except  as provided under                                                                    
     (b) of this section.                                                                                                       
          (b)  A person who is a legislator, legislative                                                                        
     employee,  or  public  member   of  the  committee  may                                                                    
     request  a  written staff  opinion  as  to whether  the                                                                    
     facts   and   circumstances   of  a   particular   case                                                                    
     constitute a violation of  ethical standards under this                                                                    
     chapter,  and  committee  staff   shall  respond  to  a                                                                    
     request  made  under  this   subsection  in  a  writing                                                                    
     entitled "staff  advisory opinion."  If the  person who                                                                    
     requests  the opinion  provides  with  the request  all                                                                    
     information  that  the  person reasonably  believes  is                                                                    
     material to the request,  and all information the staff                                                                    
     requests, and  if the information provided  is accurate                                                                    
     to  the best  of the  person's understanding,  then the                                                                    
     person  may   rely  on  the  written   opinion  without                                                                    
     prejudice unless it is rescinded by the committee.                                                                         
          (c)  The committee is bound by a staff advisory                                                                       
     opinion under  (b) of this  section to the  same extent                                                                    
     it is bound by an  advisory opinion under AS 24.60.160;                                                                    
     however, a  staff advisory opinion may  be rescinded by                                                                    
     a majority vote of the  committee. An opinion under (b)                                                                    
     of this  section, whether  or not  it is  rescinded, is                                                                    
     subject   to   the    redaction   and   confidentiality                                                                    
     requirements of AS 24.60.160(b)."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill section accordingly.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:09:59 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON objected.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:10:08 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LES  GARA,  Alaska State  Legislature,  spoke  to                                                               
Amendment 1.   He explained  that according to current  law, when                                                               
legislators  or legislative  employees  ask for  advice from  the                                                               
staff of the Ethics Committee, they  rely on that advice at their                                                               
own risk.   The problem with  getting fined related to  an Ethics                                                               
complaint  is that  the public  then thinks  that the  legislator                                                               
involved is unethical,  when he/she may have  been just following                                                               
the  advice given  by the  Ethics Committee  staff.   Amendment 1                                                               
would allow  legislators and  legislative staff  to rely  on that                                                               
advice, provided  they had given  the Ethics Committee  staff all                                                               
relevant information.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR LYNN asked how this might affect Ms. Anderson's position.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:15:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA responded  that he  assumes Ms.  Anderson is                                                               
already  doing  a   thorough  job  in  her   response  to  ethics                                                               
questions; therefore, the only difference  to Ms. Anderson may be                                                               
that her response would be in writing.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:17:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  said she  has  called  Ms. Anderson  many                                                               
times and  has been told  various considerations that need  to be                                                               
made rather than  being given a yes  or no answer.   She said she                                                               
does not want  to put Ms. Anderson into a  position where she may                                                               
not  have  been  given  a  detail that  would  have  changed  her                                                               
response, resulting  in the matter  becoming one of  "he said/she                                                               
said."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA said  that situation  would be  protected by                                                               
the language [found within subsection (b)] of Amendment 1.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LYNN  asked  what  use  there  would  be  for  the  Select                                                               
Committee on Legislative Ethics if Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  replied  that the  ethics  committee  would                                                               
still  review   the  cases   involving  "close   questions,"  the                                                               
remainder  of  the ethics  statute  would  still exist,  and  the                                                               
Ethics   Committee   could    still   consider   each   situation                                                               
independently.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:20:07 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  said any time  Ms. Anderson tells  her she                                                               
is not  100 percent certain  about an issue,  she [Representative                                                               
Wilson]  decides,   "I'm  not  going   to  do  it."     She  said                                                               
Representative Gara  has not yet  convinced her [of the  need for                                                               
Amendment 1].                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  noted  that current  statute  requires  Ms.                                                               
Anderson  to  tell the  inquirer  that  she  is not  100  percent                                                               
certain.  Amendment 1 would not change that.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON stated another  concern that it costs those                                                               
in remote areas quite a bit of money to have a formal hearing.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:22:15 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON, regarding subsection  (b) in Amendment 1,                                                               
asked Representative  Gara how  he defines  "reasonably believes"                                                               
when what is reasonable to one person may not be to the next.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  said the  goal  is  for the  legislator  to                                                               
provide   the  Ethics   Committee   staff   with  "all   material                                                               
information."    He  said  a  person  may  submit  10  pieces  of                                                               
information  and  not  know  that   an  eleventh  piece  existed;                                                               
therefore,  the person  would  have  submitted everything  he/she                                                               
knew about.   He  said a  legislator cannot be  asked to  do more                                                               
than provide information in all honesty and in good faith.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:23:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON indicated that  the language is ambiguous,                                                               
and he  said he would like  to know, "What exactly  are we trying                                                               
to fix?"  He asked for an example of a specific case.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA offered  an example in which  a legislator is                                                               
offered "some sort  of event to go to," and  he/she does not know                                                               
whether or not  the event must be reported or  is okay to attend.                                                               
The event is happening eminently.   If the legislator goes to the                                                               
event based on the opinion  received from Ethics Committee staff,                                                               
and subsequently the  Ethics Committee decides that  the event is                                                               
not sanctioned, the legislator could  be accused of committing an                                                               
ethics violation.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON  said there  are various  levels involved.                                                               
For  example, he  said he  would feel  comfortable defending  his                                                               
attendance  at  his  daughter's   Girl  Scout  troop's  jamboree.                                                               
However, there are  some events that may result in  a battle that                                                               
he does  not want to  fight.  In those  cases, he said,  he wants                                                               
very specific  information and would  wait however long  it takes                                                               
to get [an  okay from the Ethics Committee].   He stated, "I have                                                               
a lot of confidence  in Joyce, but ... if it  rises to that level                                                               
to  where I  think  it can  cost  me an  election,  that's a  no-                                                               
brainer."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA said he also  would not engage in a situation                                                               
that he thinks is a "close  call."  He offered another example in                                                               
which  a  legislator  wants  to  work longer  on  a  case  for  a                                                               
constituent in  need, but  there is  a limit of  10 hours  that a                                                               
legislator can give to one  constituent's case.  That constituent                                                               
needs help  by the  end of  the week.   The legislator  asks [Ms.                                                               
Anderson] if it  would be okay to help the  constituent more than                                                               
10 hours  and "the answer  is yes."   However, someone  who knows                                                               
the issue  has been one  of contention files a  complaint against                                                               
the  legislator.    The Ethics  Committee  then  deliberates  and                                                               
decides that  although what the  legislator did was  motivated by                                                               
good intentions,  the statute  does limit the  time to  10 hours,                                                               
thus,    the   legislator    has    violated   ethics    statute.                                                               
Representative Gara said  that legislator would, for  the rest of                                                               
his/her life, "walk  around with the badge that  says you engaged                                                               
in unethical conduct."                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:29:39 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  said the  problem  is  that most  of  the                                                               
informal advice  obtained will be  "not 100 percent  sure," which                                                               
means that  those issues will  be heard by the  Ethics Committee.                                                               
Furthermore,  he  stated his  belief  that  "they" would  not  be                                                               
issuing  an  opinion   in  the  one-week  time   period  used  in                                                               
Representative  Gara's example  without the  issue going  through                                                               
legal review.  He said it  seems that [Amendment 1] is an attempt                                                               
for  a "quick  cure," but  "we're putting  in a  bullet that's  a                                                               
long, long bullet."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:31:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. ANDERSON  said she agrees with  a lot of the  comments of the                                                               
committee  members thus  far.    She stated  that  if  it is  the                                                               
legislature's  wish to  change the  process for  informal advice,                                                               
she, and the  Ethics Committee would take  whatever action needed                                                               
to implement that  process.  However, she pointed  out some areas                                                               
that she  thinks may be  problematic.   She said she  agrees with                                                               
Representative Seaton's  comment that  more people  would request                                                               
her opinion  in writing, which  would increase her work  load and                                                               
make it  necessary to increase her  staff from part time  to full                                                               
time  and  hire  an  attorney.   She  stated,  "I  feel  that  if                                                               
someone's going  to want  to have binding  advice, it's  going to                                                               
involve just  a little  bit more; I  might not have  a yes  or no                                                               
answer, because there is no yes or no answer with ethics."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. ANDERSON  stated that  sometimes when  she gives  advice, she                                                               
talks about  the appearance  of impropriety  - that  although the                                                               
statute  does  not  prohibit  the  questioned  thing,  there  are                                                               
concerns  that   she  suggests  the  individual   might  want  to                                                               
consider.   She  then leaves  it to  the individual  to make  the                                                               
decision.  She stated that  she would feel a little uncomfortable                                                               
doing that "if this was going  to be binding advice," even if she                                                               
told the individual that it would be his/her choice.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. ANDERSON  talked about the  make-up of the  Ethics Committee:                                                               
nine  members, four  of  which are  legislators  and five  public                                                               
members  who  vote  on  advisory  opinions.   The  chair  of  the                                                               
committee is a  volunteer, she noted.  She stated  that she would                                                               
be  uncomfortable issuing  advice in  writing that  would not  be                                                               
"black and white,"  without running it by the  chair.  Therefore,                                                               
she said she  thinks [the requirements in Amendment  1] would put                                                               
a burden on the committee.  She  pointed out that if she did have                                                               
to hire staff,  her office would have to be  moved to create more                                                               
space.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:34:36 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. ANDERSON related  that she receives hundreds of  calls.  Some                                                               
of the answers she gives are very  black and white.  She said she                                                               
does  not anticipate  that  those answers  would  be required  in                                                               
writing,  but  it  would  be  the option  of  the  legislator  or                                                               
legislative  staff  person  to request  the  answer  in  writing.                                                               
There are times when people call  and ask questions, to which Ms.                                                               
Anderson says  she does follow  up in writing, because  she feels                                                               
that the conversation was very  complicated, and many facets were                                                               
involved in the answer.  Ms.  Anderson said she is confused as to                                                               
whether Amendment 1  would require that the  advice be published,                                                               
which  would then  require  a redaction  of  all the  identifying                                                               
information.   She said  that would take  time, but  is possible,                                                               
and  would perhaps  be  helpful  to people  looking  to see  what                                                               
advice has been  given to other individuals.  She  noted that she                                                               
publishes advisory opinions every January.  She continued:                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     That's  a   very  positive  part  of   this  particular                                                                    
     amendment, because  then it  would get  the information                                                                    
     out for questions that might  be similar.  On the other                                                                    
     hand,  what  we do  on  our  web  site right  now  with                                                                    
     advisory  opinions is  we  say that  if  the facts  and                                                                    
     circumstances  are  not  exactly  the same  as  in  the                                                                    
     advisory  opinion, you  cannot  rely  on that  advisory                                                                    
     opinion for your own particular situation.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. ANDERSON cited AS 24.60.165, which read as follows:                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Sec.  24.60.165.   Use  of  information submitted  with                                                                    
     request for advice.                                                                                                        
     The  committee  may not  bring  a  complaint against  a                                                                    
     person based upon information  voluntarily given to the                                                                    
     committee  by  the person  in  connection  with a  good                                                                    
     faith  request   for  advice  under  AS   24.60.158  or                                                                    
     24.60.160,  and may  not use  that information  against                                                                    
     the  person in  a proceeding  under AS  24.60.170. This                                                                    
     section does not preclude the  committee from acting on                                                                    
     a  complaint  concerning  the  subject  of  a  person's                                                                    
     request  for  advice if  the  complaint  is brought  by                                                                    
     another  person,  or if  the  complaint  arises out  of                                                                    
     conduct  taking place  after the  advice is  requested,                                                                    
     and  does   not  preclude  the  committee   from  using                                                                    
     information  or evidence  obtained from  an independent                                                                    
     source, even  if that information or  evidence was also                                                                    
     submitted with a request for advice.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. ANDERSON  concluded, "So,  there is  some sort  of protection                                                               
there right now, but it's not exactly what is in the amendment.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:37:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON asked if Ms.  Anderson holds some people at                                                               
a  higher  standard than  others.    She  explained that  in  the                                                               
medical profession,  a nurse would  be held to a  higher standard                                                               
than a nurse's aide, because the  former would know more than the                                                               
latter.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. ANDERSON answered no.  She  added that the only exception may                                                               
be that the language she uses  to verbally explain a matter to an                                                               
attorney may be different from what  she would use to explain the                                                               
same information to someone who is not an attorney.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:39:30 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. MOSS said  she has not discussed [Amendment 1]  with the bill                                                               
sponsor, and  whether or not to  adopt it would be  a policy call                                                               
for the  committee to  make.  She  predicted the  amendment would                                                               
not pass through the committee, but  she hopes the matter will be                                                               
discussed in the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:40:05 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A roll  call vote was  taken.  Representative Gruenberg  voted in                                                               
favor of  Amendment 1.  Representatives  Seaton, Wilson, Johnson,                                                               
and Lynn  voted against it.   Therefore, Amendment 1 failed  by a                                                               
vote of 1-4.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:40:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  [moved to  adopt] Conceptual  Amendment 2,                                                               
which read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Page  5 line  7 following  "or witness  in the  matter"                                                                
     insert  "or  responding  to an  interrogative  from  an                                                                
     administrative officer"                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON objected for discussion purposes.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:42:10 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. MOSS,  in response to  Representative Wilson,  explained that                                                               
an  interrogative is  a list  of questions  that are  written and                                                               
responded to in writing.  She  likened it to a deposition, except                                                               
that the answers are written rather than given orally.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:42:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON pointed  out that  the amendment  is being                                                               
offered  conceptually.    He  noted  that  there  had  been  some                                                               
question regarding  the language that  had been proposed  [at the                                                               
end of  the first paragraph in  Section 1, Version S,  which read                                                               
as follows]:                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
          (i) Except for supplying information requested by                                                                     
     the  hearing  officer  or  the  individual,  board,  or                                                                    
     commission with  authority to  make the  final decision                                                                    
     in the  case, or when responding  to contacts initiated                                                                    
     by  the hearing  officer or  the individual,  board, or                                                                    
     commission with  authority to  make the  final decision                                                                    
     in the  case, a legislator or  legislative employee may                                                                    
     not   attempt   to   influence  the   outcome   of   an                                                                    
     administrative  hearing   by  directly   or  indirectly                                                                    
     contacting  or   attempting  to  contact   the  hearing                                                                    
     officer  assigned to  the  hearing  or the  individual,                                                                    
     board, or  commission with authority to  make the final                                                                    
     decision  in   the  case   unless  the   legislator  or                                                                
     legislative employee is  representing another person in                                                                
     the case for compensation and subject to AS 24.60.100                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said the question  came up as to whether or                                                               
not  a legislator  or  legislative office  could  respond if  not                                                               
serving  as   a  witness   but  asked   for  information   by  an                                                               
administrative officer.   The purpose  of Conceptual  Amendment 2                                                               
is  to clarify  that  a legislator  or  legislative office  could                                                               
respond to such a request.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. MOSS said she thinks the  use of the word "interrogative" may                                                               
be restrictive.  She suggested using the word "inquiry" instead.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:44:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  moved to amend Conceptual  Amendment 2, to                                                               
use the word "inquiry" rather than "interrogative".                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:45:28 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  questioned which terms should  be used:                                                               
"inquiry", "interrogative", or  "interrogatory".  Furthermore, he                                                               
questioned,  "Should   it  also  cover  these   kinds  of  formal                                                               
discovery requests or whatever, from another party?"                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:45:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TERRY  L.  THURBON, Chief  Administrative  Law  Judge, Office  of                                                               
Administrative Hearings,  Department of Administration,  said she                                                               
would recommend  using the word  "inquiry".  She  offered further                                                               
details.   She emphasized  that "this  shouldn't be  happening to                                                               
begin with."   She explained  that if the  administrative officer                                                               
who is  sending an office inquiry  of some kind is  actually "the                                                               
neutral"  who is  ultimately  going to  decide  the case,  he/she                                                               
should not be  outside the context of the hearing  process on the                                                               
record with the other parties  involved.  Sometimes, she related,                                                               
a discussion changes course and  suddenly pertains to an issue in                                                               
a case  that will come  before the administrative officer.   When                                                               
that  happens, it  is time  to end  the conversation  and make  a                                                               
disclosure  for the  record that  the  mention of  the topic  was                                                               
inadvertent and  no harm was  done.  If  it will appear  that the                                                               
administrative  officer  was   influenced  by  the  conversation,                                                               
he/she could  recuse him/herself.   The matter would be  open and                                                               
transparent, so there would be no ethical problem.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:48:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JUDGE THURBON stated,  "So, with that in mind, I  don't think the                                                               
amendment  is necessary."   She  added that  it also  may not  be                                                               
necessary  because  "earlier  up  in the  section,  we  have  the                                                               
legislator  or  legislative  employee  being told  they  may  not                                                               
attempt to  influence the outcome  of the hearing by  directly or                                                               
indirectly contacting the person who's going to hear the case."                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:48:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said  if someone is asking  a legislator or                                                               
legislative  employee a  question,  "we shouldn't  be under  some                                                               
burden to ... figure  out" whether or not it is  okay to give out                                                               
the information being requested.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:50:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  clarified that Judge Thurbon  is saying                                                               
that it  is a violation  of the Canons  of Judicial Ethics  for a                                                               
judge or anybody who is a  decision maker to contact a legislator                                                               
or  legislative   employee  in  an  ex   parte  basis;  therefore                                                               
[Conceptual Amendment 2] is unnecessary.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:51:10 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON clarified  that  he is  not talking  about                                                               
what "they" can do;  he wants it clear what "we"  can answer.  He                                                               
offered an example.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:51:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. MOSS described  an instance where both parties  may be asked,                                                               
separate of each  other, to do something in the  best interest of                                                               
a constituent.  In response to  Chair Lynn, she said she does not                                                               
think Conceptual  Amendment 2 would  hurt anything, and  it would                                                               
help  legislators and  legislative  employees  feel better  about                                                               
"acting when they are contacted."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:52:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JUDGE THURBON  stated that it is  not always clear what  the role                                                               
is  of people  in the  executive branch;  therefore, it  will not                                                               
always be clear when such a person  is talking about a case.  She                                                               
said  anyone   else  is   okay  to  talk   to,  for   example:  a                                                               
representative  from  the  oil   and  gas  industry,  the  lawyer                                                               
representing  that  industry, a  private  party,  or the  private                                                               
party's lawyer.  She stated:                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     The only  bar that  this provision that's  currently on                                                                    
     the  books was  intended to  bar was  the inappropriate                                                                    
     contacts with a decision-maker.   And I don't know that                                                                    
     adding this  phrase, "or responding to  an inquiry from                                                                    
     an administrative officer" cures  that problem; I think                                                                    
     it  muddies  the  water  a   little  bit,  perhaps,  by                                                                    
     bringing back in some of the language that the ... CS                                                                      
     is getting rid of.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
JUDGE  THURBON reiterated  that the  ethical problem  surrounding                                                               
responding to  a question from  an administrative officer  who is                                                               
hearing the  case being discussed  is mostly the problem  of that                                                               
administrative officer  for having  asked the  question privately                                                               
in the  first place.   If the legislator or  legislative employee                                                               
being asked  the question  becomes aware  of the  situation, then                                                               
he/she  needs to  disclose the  exchange  in order  to solve  the                                                               
ethical problem.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  questioned  why  Conceptual  Amendment  2                                                               
could not read "for responding to an inquiry".                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:55:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. MOSS,  in response to Representative  Gruenberg, related that                                                               
in her previous  example, one of the people of  whom she spoke is                                                               
an employee who sits in hearings and makes decisions.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:56:17 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG told  Representative  Seaton that  when                                                               
the bill is  heard by the House Judiciary  Standing Committee, he                                                               
[Representative  Gruenberg]  would  commit to  working  with  the                                                               
parties and Representative  Seaton.  He said he  has an amendment                                                               
that he will defer to the House Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  said he would  like the committee  to vote                                                               
on the amendment.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:57:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A roll  call vote  was taken.   Representatives  Johnson, Seaton,                                                               
and Lynn voted in favor  of Conceptual Amendment 2, [as amended].                                                               
Representatives   Wilson   and   Gruenberg  voted   against   it.                                                               
Therefore, Conceptual Amendment  2, as amended, was  adopted by a                                                               
vote of 3-2.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  LYNN  offered  his understanding  that  the  amendment  to                                                               
Conceptual Amendment 2 had previously been adopted.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 9:58:09 AM to 9:58:50 AM.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:58:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON moved to adopt  Amendment 3, which read as                                                               
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 12 insert:                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
        (i) Except when representing another person as a                                                                    
      licensed professional in the State of Alaska in the                                                                   
     case for compensation and subject to AS 24.60.100                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON   explained  that   he  was   moving  the                                                               
amendment  just  to have  it  on  the  record  that it  had  been                                                               
discussed during the subcommittee meeting.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:59:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG objected.   He stated that  he thinks it                                                               
was  improper for  his own  amendment to  have been  offered when                                                               
there is no time to debate the issue.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:59:56 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  explained  that  he did  not  intent  to                                                               
advance the  amendment, and he  reiterated that  the subcommittee                                                               
discussed the issue at length.  He withdrew Amendment 3.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said he appreciates that.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:00:16 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  moved to  report  CSHB  193, Version  26-                                                               
LS0656|C,  Wayne,  3/25/09, as  amended,  out  of committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There being no  objection, CSHB 193(STA) was reported  out of the                                                               
House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01 SB 29.pdf HSTA 3/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
SB 29
02 SB 29 Sponsor Statement.pdf HSTA 3/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
SB 29
HB 123 Legislative Audit 06-20055-08.pdf HSTA 3/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 123
CS for HB 123 Version R.pdf HSTA 3/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 123
03 SB 29 Memorial Quotes.pdf HSTA 3/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
SB 29
04 SB 29 Letters of Support.pdf HSTA 3/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
SB 29
05 SB 29 Hickel Letter of Support.doc HSTA 3/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
SB 29
06 SB 29 Fiscal Note.pdf HSTA 3/26/2009 8:00:00 AM
SB 29
REVISED InsightOverviewLegCopy.ppt HSTA 3/26/2009 8:00:00 AM