Legislature(1999 - 2000)
04/18/2000 05:00 PM 225
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 225-CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND LEGISLATIVE ETHICS Number 0010 CO-CHAIR DONLEY reconvened the Conference Committee on HB 225 meeting at 5:00 p.m.; this meeting was recessed to the call of the chairs on April 14, 2000. Members present upon reconvening were Representatives Croft and Harris and Senators Donley, Miller and Hoffman. SENATOR MILLER moved that the committee adopt the proposed committee substitute (CS) labeled LS0931\Z, Kurtz, 4/15/00, as the working document. There being no objection, version Z was adopted. CO-CHAIR DONLEY noted that the committee has received limited free powers on what is now Section 5 in version Z. He also noted that there are three amendments [in the committee packet]. Co- Chair Donley informed the committee that the committee has limited free powers for Sections 2, 5, 6, 8, 10 and 15 of version Z. Number 0154 REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS moved that the committee adopt the following amendment, which was subsequently labeled Amendment 1: Page 3, lines 20-22: Delete "sponsor a political party event within this state by paying for advertising, food, hall rental, and other actual costs associated with the event." Insert "pay for advertising, food, hall rental, and other actual costs of political party annual dinners, meetings, conferences, and conventions." REPRESENTATIVE CROFT expressed the need for disclosure [of such a contribution as specified in Section 5 of version Z]. He asked Ms. Miles if this already has a disclosure requirement. CO-CHAIR DONLEY indicated that parties already file all contributions as well as all their income and outcome. Number 0266 BROOKE MILES, Regulation of Lobbying, Alaska Public Offices Commission, Department of Administration, stated that [the type of contribution discussed in] Section 5 of version Z would require disclosure. She indicated that the commission would have concerns (indisc.). Upon reviewing Amendment 1, she said that the commission's only other comment would be that the committee may wish to consider a limit on the amount. She specified that the limit would be $1,000 that a group can give to a group or $5,000 that an individual can give to a party as those are the current limits. CO-CHAIR DONLEY asked if there was any objection to Amendment 1. There being no objection, Amendment 1 was adopted. Number 0364 SENATOR MILLER moved that the committee adopt Amendment 2, which reads as follows: Page 3, line 21, following "paying": Insert "not more than $1,000" CO-CHAIR DONLEY explained that Amendment 2 would say that the in- kind amount that could [be contributed] towards the things that have now been defined in Amendment 1 would be limited to $1,000. He guessed that the limit should be $1,000 per year. MS. MILES affirmed that [$1,000 per year] would be how the commission would interpret that. REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS asked if that would be $1,000 per event. CO-CHAIR DONLEY clarified that it would be $1,000 per year per contributor. He reiterated Ms. Miles prior testimony that the current limitation for individuals is $5,000 and for groups the limitation is $1,000. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT surmised then that this would place them in the organization category. Number 0462 CHIP WAGONER, Republican National Committeeman; Chair, Legislative Committee, Republican National Committee, noted that [the Republican National Committee] supports this as well as full disclosure of such a contribution. He explained that [the Republican National Committee] is attempting to obtain a Republican National Committee meeting in Alaska. Before there was a ban on corporate funds, there was a Democratic National Committee meeting in Alaska. He noted that these meetings are expensive to put on and most provide participants with a bag that includes pads of paper, pens, et cetera. In order to provide such bags, the sponsors want to place advertising on the bag and thus two or three advertisers would be necessary in order to provide the bags to the participants of the conference. Therefore, he believes the limited language is good, but he suggested increasing [the contribution limit of groups] to $5,000 which would be the same as an individual could contribute. Mr. Wagoner pointed out that [the language] specifies that these contributions would go towards the actual costs associated with the event; no money is going to the candidate or to the advocacy of an election nor is money going towards the defeat of anyone or anything. This was done in Wyoming, a state that also has a ban on corporate contributions. The State of Wyoming was able to put on the Western States Leadership Conference. Furthermore, Wyoming didn't place a limitation in their statute. Of the 15 western states, Alaska is one of two states that has never been able to host the Western States Leadership Conference. Therefore, he reiterated support of this limited exception to the corporate ban and he would suggest increasing [the contribution limit] to $5,000. REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS asked Co-Chair Donley why he chose the $1,000 limit. CO-CHAIR DONLEY explained that he choose the $1,000 limit because that is the maximum that groups can contribute to the party now, and furthermore it is the traditional amount that individuals can contribute to candidates. This amount is also the maximum that political action committees (PACs) can contribute to candidates. He acknowledged that the $5,000 limitation also exists in statute in regard to contributions to the party from individuals. MR. WAGONER suggested that a compromise could be to allow [contributions] of $1,000 for in-state events and $5,000 for interstate events. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT noted that he liked the $1,000 limit. CO-CHAIR DONLEY commented that he believes HB 225 is turning into a fair piece of legislation to which the $1,000 limit would be a reasonable amount that also falls within the existing scheme. He asked if there was any objection to Amendment 2. There being no objection, Amendment 2 was adopted. CO-CHAIR DONLEY directed the committee's attention to the remaining amendment, which would specify that in-kind contributions from attorneys and accountants could also be made to candidates or groups in addition to parties. Number 0750 REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS offered Amendment 3 for discussion purposes. Amendment 3 reads as follows: Page 8, line 17, following "provided to a": Insert "candidate, group, or" SENATOR MILLER objected. He explained that although he originally argued for political parties, he noted that he has some [sympathy] for groups. He believes that many arguments could be posed for political parties versus [groups and candidates]. He also believes that inserting other things runs counter to public opinion and the political reality that exists. It is much more defendable to keep political parties. CO-CHAIR DONLEY agreed and related his belief that there is a legitimate difference between a political party and candidates or specific interest groups. REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS withdrew Amendment 3. There being no objection, Amendment 3 was withdrawn. Number 0851 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT asked if there would be any disclosure of the amount of the professional legal [services]. He believes that it makes sense not to cap it, however it may make sense for [the public] to know how much is given. He asked Ms. Miles if there would be any disclosure of the amount of [professional legal or accounting] services given to the party under sub- subparagraph (iv) of Section 5. MS. MILES replied that the commission's stand is that there would be no disclosure of the professional services that are provided free to the party. However, under sub-subparagraph (v) mass mailings would be disclosed as an expenditure on the party's regular report, although that mass mailing may not be disclosed as a contribution [on the candidate's report]. She specified that sub-subparagraph (iv) would have no disclosure and thus the public wouldn't know which attorneys are contributing [to which campaigns]. CO-CHAIR DONLEY asked if Ms. Miles had any language for that provision that the committee could review if the committee wanted to [require] disclosure. Number 0928 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT indicated that there could be references to the disclosure statutes. He explained that he believes [disclosure of these professional legal and accounting services] is important for the public to know. He pointed out that some of the other categories such as those listed under sub-subparagraph (i) and (iii) can't be estimated. However the professional services that are provided [can be estimated] as these professionals are accustomed to accounting for their services and thus it would not be so onerous to provide a normal billing without placing a cap. SENATOR MILLER remarked that he didn't believe that to be unreasonable. CO-CHAIR DONLEY indicated agreement and related that it would be appropriate to place the burden on the party to report this. He agreed with Representative Croft that [this disclosure] could be achieved simply [with reference to disclosure that occurs in another section]. Furthermore, [Section 5] is one of the sections for which the committee obtained limited free powers and thus could do what is being discussed. SENATOR HOFFMAN inquired as to the time frame that is being contemplated; would this be reported in an annual report? MS. MILES pointed out that parties file campaign disclosure reports on the same schedule as candidates. She indicated that if this disclosure were considered part of the disclosure permitted with unlimited amounts, that would go far in protecting the public's right to know. Number 1020 CO-CHAIR DONLEY suggested that the committee could say that conceptually it wanted to add language to the effect "that this shall be disclosed by a party in the same way as they would disclose a monetary contribution." In that case, all the regular reporting periods would be captured. He agreed with Representative Croft that this is only in reference to sub- subparagraph (iv) of Section 5. This suggestion was determined to be a motion to which there was no objection and thus this conceptual notion will be incorporated into a new CS. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT stated that only Sections 1 and 13 remain controversial. Number 1080 REPRESENTATIVE CROFT moved that the committee delete Sections 1 and 13. SENATOR HOFFMAN inquired as to what happened with Section 6 in version Z. CO-CHAIR DONLEY explained that everything was eliminated except the thank you [advertisements] and the deleted portion was transferred to a new separate section on public office expense term accounts (POET). Before there was a multi-purpose section, which was confusing. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT specified that the [POET accounts] are now found in Section 8 on page 6. Representative Croft returned to his motion to delete Sections 1 and 13 and informed the committee that he reviewed the statutes of both sections, which are general authority sections. There could be a more comprehensive [section] that discusses the different interests served by the campaign laws; however, he expressed concern that there is not enough time to do so now. Representative Croft noted that both sections emphasize that the burden is on "us", which he didn't believe should be the dominant [factor]. He preferred leaving it as the ordinary interpretation of the statutes. He referred to Section 13 which in part says, "...shall interpret this chapter ... that is no more restrictive of the actions of the legislators than is necessary to implement the intent of the law." CO-CHAIR DONLEY commented that [the commission] should be doing it in that manner now. REPRESENTATIVE CROFT said that there a many ways in which one could interpret this such as a interpreting it in a manner that maximizes public disclosure or that keeps elections fair. He reiterated his preference to leaving the interpretation of this to the normal method. CO-CHAIR DONLEY announced that this is a close call. SENATOR HOFFMAN informed the committee that he liked the language. SENATOR MILLER commented that he didn't have much of a problem with the language. He further commented that the committee has come a long way in creating a fair piece of legislation that both bodies could agree on as well as correcting some problems that have existed. Therefore, he indicated that [not deleting Sections 1 and 13] is not worth killing this legislation. Senator Miller stated that he didn't have any objection to the deletion of Sections 1 and 13. REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS agreed. CO-CHAIR DONLEY noted that he is sympathetic to Senator Hoffman's concerns, however he too believes that the bill now addresses many issues that needed to be fixed, including bringing the statutes into compliance with the court decision. SENATOR HOFFMAN indicated that he was okay [with the deletion of Sections 1 and 13]. CO-CHAIR DONLEY announced that there being no objection, Sections 1 and 13 would be deleted. SENATOR MILLER suggested, to which the committee agreed, that the committee meet tomorrow in order to review the new CS.