Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/01/1996 09:10 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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  HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 1                                                 
                                                                               
       Proposing an  amendment to the Constitution of the                      
       State of Alaska relating to repeal  of regulations                      
       by the legislature.                                                     
                                                                               
  Co-chairman Halford directed  that HJR 1  be brought on  for                 
  consideration.    TED  POPELY, aide  to  House  Speaker Gail                 
  Phillips, came before committee.   He referenced the sponsor                 
  statement  (copy  on  file in  the  original  Senate Finance                 
  Committee file for HJR  1) and noted that, if placed  on the                 
  ballot, the  resolution would provide voters  an opportunity                 
  to amend  the state  constitution to  allow for  legislative                 
  repeal of administrative regulations,  by joint resolution.                  
  Repeal  would  apply to  regulations  that ignore  or extend                 
  beyond  the  scope  of  enabling  legislation.   Mr.  Popely                 
  acknowledged that the measure had  been before the voters on                 
  three  previous  occasions  and  had  failed.    However,  a                 
  significantly  growing number  of regulations  which do  not                 
  fulfill the purpose and intent of legislation make it timely                 
  once more.                                                                   
                                                                               
  JIM  COLLARD,  President, Juneau  Chamber of  Commerce, next                 
  came before committee and voiced support for the resolution.                 
  He  said  that regulatory  compliance  is often  one  of the                 
  biggest costs  of doing  business.   While many  regulations                 
  accurately implement both the letter and intent of law, many                 
  go far beyond or appear to  ignore intent.  Regulations have                 
  the  force  of  law  for  businesses,  and  they  are  often                 
  promulgated  without  public  input.   When  agencies  craft                 
  regulations that depart  from legislative instructions,  the                 
  agency  becomes  the lawmaker  without  having to  answer to                 
  voters.  HJR 1 provides an effective tool by which to ensure                 
  adherence to legislative intent and return the making of law                 
  to the legislature.                                                          
                                                                               
                                                                               
  PAM LaBOLLE,  President, Alaska  State Chamber of  Commerce,                 
  next spoke on behalf of  the chamber's 700 member-businesses                 
  which  provide  jobs to  70,000  employees.   She  said that                 
  mission of the chamber is to create a climate conducive to a                 
  strong private-sector economy.   Mrs. LaBolle voiced support                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  for HJR 1,  advising that reform  of the present  regulatory                 
  system is second  in priority  to need to  close the  fiscal                 
  gap.   Referencing a  chamber resolution  in support  of the                 
  effort, she noted  that the resolution asks  the legislature                 
  and administration  to "provide  for an  effective oversight                 
  mechanism to assure that regulations are producing effective                 
  results  that  follow   legislative  intent."    She   cited                 
  complaints  regarding regulations  that ignore  or  miss the                 
  point  of  legislation.   Presently,  the  only  recourse is                 
  passage of "corrective legislation."  Since the governor can                 
  veto  that  legislation,  the  current  system  allows   the                 
  executive  branch  to usurp  the  power of  the legislature.                 
  Throughout   the   legislative  process,   the   public  has                 
  opportunity to provide input.  The regulatory process is not                 
  so open or receptive, and  regulations are sometimes adopted                 
  in spite of public sentiment.                                                
                                                                               
  Co-chairman  Frank  asked  if  the  chamber would  fund  and                 
  undertake a campaign to inform the public of the benefits of                 
  HJR 1.   He noted  that because of  lack of explanation  and                 
  understanding,  prior votes on  the issue were  viewed as "a                 
  power grab by the legislature."   Mrs. LaBolle said that the                 
  chamber is  committed to  utilization of  its resources  and                 
  network of local chambers to  educate and inform the public.                 
  Both Co-chairman  Frank and Senator  Randy Phillips stressed                 
  need for the  educational effort  to extend beyond  chambers                 
  and business  groups  to  the  public  at  large.    Further                 
  discussion  of  need  for  adequate   funding  of  a  public                 
  awareness effort followed.  Co-chairman Frank suggested that                 
  a  financial commitment from  the business community similar                 
  to the effort to  close the fiscal gap should  be devoted to                 
  changing the regulatory process.                                             
                                                                               
  JIM  BALDWIN,  Assistant   Attorney  General,   Governmental                 
  Affairs  Section, Dept.  of  Law, advised  that HJR  1 would                 
  dramatically changed  the legislative  process.  He  queried                 
  members  concerning  specific  regulations  giving  rise  to                 
  public complaint.  He suggested that, as an institution, the                 
  legislature should be concerned about  "this sort of power."                 
  As an example, he cited fish  and game regulations and noted                 
  that the board of  fish and game was created  in territorial                 
  days and continued in statehood to place regulatory power in                 
  the  hands  of  experts.    He  questioned  whether  fishing                 
  interests should come  directly to  the legislature to  undo                 
  regulations adopted by the board.                                            
                                                                               
  Mr.  Baldwin  further  cited  an   earlier  attempt  by  the                 
  legislature to annul  regulations by statute  (AS 44.62.320)                 
  and noted that the effort  was ruled unconstitutional (State                 
  v.  A.L.I.V.E Voluntary).    He  stressed  that  regulations                 
  involve more than  just businesses.  Senator  Randy Phillips                 
  noted that  the supreme court ruling was  three to two.  The                 
  question of unconstitutionality was thus not unanimous.                      
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Senator  Phillips directed attention to  page 1, lines 6 and                 
  7,  and  referenced language  calling  for repeal  via joint                 
  resolution.    He  then  noted   language  at  AS  44.62.320                 
  requiring  repeal  by concurrent  resolution  and questioned                 
  which form of  resolution should  be utilized.   Co-chairman                 
  Halford said  that provisions in  HJR 1 would  supercede the                 
  statute.  He informed members  that the effective difference                 
  is "to elevate the kind of resolution to one requiring three                 
  readings so that it does . . . get treated exactly as a bill                 
  would."                                                                      
                                                                               
  As examples of overreaching regulations, Senator Sharp cited                 
  the Forestry Practices  Act which provides  statutory review                 
  to the Dept. of  Fish and Game.  Regulations,  however, call                 
  for  both  review  and  approval.     Proposed  air  quality                 
  regulations set  standards that  are technically  impossible                 
  for coal-fired power  plants to achieve when,  after routine                 
  maintenance,  they are refired  from a cold  start.  Federal                 
  law says  that  states  are not  to  impose  more  stringent                 
  requirements.    Proposed  state  regulations  do so.    The                 
  Senator further noted  that past  governors have  overridden                 
  board of fish and board of  game decisions, and he cited the                 
  False Pass fishery  as an example, suggesting  that politics                 
  is  more  involved   at  the  administrative  than   at  the                 
  legislative   level.     Mr.   Baldwin  stressed   that  the                 
  legislature  presently  has  the power  to  correct  problem                 
  regulations   via  statute.     Senator  Sharp   noted  that                 
  corrective legislation is also subject to veto.                              
                                                                               
  Co-chairman Frank voiced his belief that  legislative repeal                 
  would provide greater opportunity for  public input into the                 
  regulatory process.   He  suggested that  such repeal  would                 
  result in only a slight rather than substantial shift in the                 
  balance of power.                                                            
                                                                               
  Senator Sharp noted  that the  legislature, rather than  the                 
  administration,  is often mistakenly  blamed for  passage of                 
  onerous regulations.                                                         
                                                                               
  Senator Rieger referenced  language at page  1, line 9,  and                 
  asked if it  would permit retroactive or  merely prospective                 
  repeal.  Mr. Baldwin informed members that the broad wording                 
  could be construed to apply retroactively.   He advised that                 
  he would have  to review the Administrative  Procedures Act.                 
  He then voiced his belief that "We're limited in regulations                 
  with retroactive effect."  Senator  Rieger stressed that the                 
  record  should  indicate  that  retroactive  repeal  is  not                 
  contemplated.  Mr. Baldwin concurred that repeal power would                 
  not apply to existing regulations.                                           
                                                                               
  Co-chairman   Halford   referenced   a  $2.2   fiscal   note                 
  accompanying the resolution  and queried members  concerning                 
  disposition of HJR 1.                                                        
                                                                               
                                                                               
  Senator Rieger indicated that conversation with staff of the                 
  sponsor evidenced no objection to clarification  of language                 
  giving rise  to concern  regarding retroactive  repeal.   He                 
  then  formally  MOVED  to  insert  the  word   "prospective"                 
  following the  word "different"  at page  1, line  9.   That                 
  would prevent  ability to backtrack  ten years and  repeal a                 
  regulation upon which businesses and individuals have relied                 
  for a substantial period of time.                                            
                                                                               
  Discussion  followed among  members  relating  to the  House                 
  majority  needed  to  approve  Senate changes  to  HJR  1.                   
  Senator Sharp voiced  reluctance to place the  resolution in                 
  jeopardy by  effecting a  change.   Co-chairmen Halford  and                 
  Frank concurred.   Co-chairman Frank also noted need to keep                 
  resolution language as  simple as  possible.  Senator  Sharp                 
  suggested that a letter of intent  might accomplish the same                 
  end as the proposed amendment.  Senator Rieger  told members                 
  that  careful reading  of the  supreme  court ruling  on the                 
  budget  reserve fund  evidences  that  regardless of  intent                 
  language or the  wording of  ballot propositions, the  court                 
  takes "the wording of  the constitution on its face."   That                 
  overrides all else.  The wording must thus be clear.                         
                                                                               
  Co-chairman  Halford  voiced   opposition  to  the  proposed                 
  amendment and called for a show of hands.  The amendment was                 
  ADOPTED on  a vote  of 4  to 3  (Senators Rieger,  Phillips,                 
  Donley, and Zharoff supported the amendment, and Co-chairmen                 
  Halford and Frank and Senator Sharp were opposed).                           
                                                                               
  End:      SFC-96, #17, Side 1                                                
  Begin:    SFC-96, #17, Side 2                                                
                                                                               
  Co-chairman   Halford  directed   that   the  amendment   be                 
  incorporated within  a Senate  Finance Committee  Substitute                 
  for HJR  1.  Senator  Sharp MOVED that  SCS HJR  1 (Finance)                 
  pass from  committee with individual recommendations and the                 
  accompanying fiscal note.  No  objection having been raised,                 
  SCS HJR 1  (Finance) was  REPORTED OUT of  committee with  a                 
  $2.2 fiscal note from the  Office of the Governor/Elections.                 
  Co-chairmen Halford and Frank and Senators Rieger, Phillips,                 
  and  Sharp signed  the  committee report  with  a "do  pass"                 
  recommendation.    Senators Donley  and  Zharoff  signed "no                 
  recommendation."                                                             
                                                                               

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