Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
02/12/2010 08:00 AM EDUCATION
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 209-STATE COUNCIL ON THE ARTS; REGULATIONS 8:39:51 AM CO-CHAIR MEYER announced consideration of SB 209. SENATOR MENARD, sponsor of SB 209, said this bill will provide the Alaska State Council on the Arts (ASCA) the authority to adopt regulations relating to its statutory powers and duties. The bill was introduced at the request of ASCA, which is the Last Frontier's state art agency, created over 40 years ago. Several of the council's programs, she said, are governed by regulations which the council has updated over the years. Recently the arts council has sought to streamline its grant- making policies, procedures, and regulations; in the course of this effort, the council was informed by the Department of Law (DOL) that it does not have the statutory authority to adopt regulations under the Administrative Procedures Act. While this legal opinion is at odds with their long-standing practice, the council considered and took seriously the advice from the Attorney General's office and determined that the best way to rectify the current situation is to amend its enabling statute to allow it explicit statutory authority to adopt regulations. She stated that this legislation will, in essence, codify existing practice and enable the Alaska State Council on the Arts to continue to administer and oversee its existing programs. Any and all regulations adopted in the future will have to comply with the review and public-notice provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act. This bill has a zero fiscal note and will help the Alaska State Council on the Arts to continue performing its long-standing mission of helping more Alaskans appreciate, create, and enjoy the arts. SENATOR MENARD said the best example of the regulations they are discussing is 20 AAC 30.010 through 30.061, which governs all of ASCA's grant programs. Each of the grant programs in the agency has regulations specific to those grants, which outline the purpose of the grants, the application process, deadlines, eligibility, and limitations. 8:43:28 AM CO-CHAIR THOMAS said it makes sense to bring the statute in line with current practice. SENATOR HUGGINS agreed, but asked what other councils have the authority to make regulations. SENATOR MENARD deferred to Rebecca Hattan from the Department of Law. 8:44:16 AM REBECCA HATTAN, Attorney, Department of Law, Juneau, Alaska, said the line of cases that the Department of Law is concerned about centers on commissions as opposed to councils. She could not name another council that promulgates regulations. 8:44:53 AM SENATOR HUGGINS said he is not sure they want to open the door to having councils passing regulations and wondered if ASCA should be made a commission rather than a council, as there is a precedent for commissions in this regard. 8:45:32 AM CO-CHAIR THOMAS questioned whether a change in the verbiage on page 2 might take care of it. 8:46:32 AM MS. HATTAN said the authority to adopt regulations flows directly from statute, so the fact that AS 44.27 is specifically limited to the Alaska State Council on the Arts precludes that problem. SENATOR STEVENS said, if he understands this correctly, Ben Brown has been doing this for years and they are finally going to OK what he has been doing all along. He asked Ms. Hattan if Mr. Brown has done anything wrong. MS. HATTAN said no. She suggested that the best way to move forward is for the council to re-adopt all of their existing regulations in order to eliminate any question of their validity. 8:47:30 AM BENJAMIN BROWN, Chair, Alaska State Council on the Arts, Juneau, Alaska, said the council does not have a great number of programs that require regulations, but those programs it does have definitely do require them. The re-grant program gives out a couple of hundred thousand dollars per year to small arts organizations across the state such as Valley Performing Arts, the Kodiak Arts Council, and Fairbanks Drama Association; the biggest grant is $21,000. These organizations have to apply for the grants in a manner prescribed by regulations that pre-date his appointment to the council seven years ago by Governor Murkowski. The council tried to change the grant regulations about a year ago to streamline the process, and that is when they realized they don't have the technical authority to adopt regulations. They decided the best thing to do is to ask the legislature for the specific authority to adopt regulations that implement their statutes. He reminded the committee members that the legislature had a bill several years ago that dealt with the "Silver Hand" program; it also has regulations that implement the statutes, and those need to have the force of law to combat fraud and protect the integrity of the Alaska Native Art Market. MR. BROWN concluded by saying that the council doesn't have a lot of power, but the specific activities they engage in to improve the lives of Alaskans by making more arts available, require that their regulations have the force of law. With regard to Senator Huggins' concern about councils, he said all fifty states have arts agencies that were created in response to the National Endowment of the Arts creation back in 1967. In Hawaii it is called a foundation; in California it is a commission; in Alaska it's a council; they are all state arts agencies. He said ASCA has been a council for 40 years and he is not sure what affect changing the name might have. As Ms. Hattan pointed out, since this only applies to ASCA, there will not be any seepage of authority to other councils. 8:51:44 AM CO-CHAIR MEYER closed public testimony. 8:51:53 AM SENATOR STEVENS noted that Judiciary is the next committee of referral, so any legal issues can be ironed out there. 8:52:11 AM CO-CHAIR THOMAS moved to report SB 209, labeled 26-LS1236\A out of committee with individual recommendations and zero fiscal note(s). There being no objection, SB 209 was moved from the committee. 8:53:11 AM There being no further business to come before the committee, Co-Chair Meyer adjourned the meeting at 8:53 pm.