Legislature(1995 - 1996)

05/01/1996 11:13 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  SENATE BILL NO. 191                                                          
       An  Act   relating  to  election   campaigns,  election                 
       campaign  financing,  the oversight  and  regulation of                 
       election  campaigns   by  the  Alaska   Public  Offices                 
       Commission,  the activities of lobbyists that relate to                 
       election campaigns, and the definitions  of offenses of                 
       campaign  misconduct; and  providing  for an  effective                 
  Co-chairman Halford directed  that SB 191 be  brought on for                 
  discussion.    SENATOR TIM  KELLY  came before  committee in                 
  support of the bill.   He explained that utilizing  CSSB 191                 
  (Jud)  as  the  base,  work   draft  CSSB  191  (9-LS1260\H,                 
  Chenoweth, 4/30/96) attempts  to strike an agreement  on key                 
  provisions and clean up and conform initiative provisions to                 
  statutory language.                                                          
  Senator Kelly directed attention  to correspondence from the                 
  chairman   of  Campaign  Finance  Reform--Now!    The  group                 
  collected over 33,000 signatures for placement of a campaign                 
  finance  reform  initiative  on the  November  ballot.   The                 
  correspondence  indicates that version  "H" is an acceptable                 
  approach  which  addresses  the  goals  of  the  initiative.                 
  Senator Kelly highlighted the following areas:                               
  1.   Initiative  provisions  prohibit  non-resident campaign                 
       contributions.  The work draft  CSSB 191 allows limited                 
       non-resident campaign contributions.                                    
  2.   The initiative prohibits personal  use, office use, and                 
  most      other uses of  campaign funds.  The  draft permits                 
            some transfer of campaign funds to office use.                     
  3.   The initiative prohibits all carryforwards of  campaign                 
  funds.    The draft allows some carryforward.                                
  The Senator  referenced need for  the legislation to  meet a                 
  standard  deeming   it  "substantially  the   same"  as  the                 
  initiative  and  noted  strict adherence  to  the  following                 
  important  provisions  that  represent  the  spirit  of  the                 
  1.   Lobbyists   are   prohibited   from   making   campaign                 
  contributions  outside  their  districts.    (Senator  Kelly                 
                 acknowledged that this issue is likely to end                 
                 up in court.)                                                 
  2.   Candidate-groups-to-candidate-groups     transfer    of                 
  campaign  funds are prohibited.                                              
  3.   Corporations, companies, partnerships,  unions and  the                 
  like are  prohibited from making contributions.                              
  The proposed draft is an attempt  to maintain the essence of                 
  campaign finance reform and is  substantially similar to the                 
  initiative.   Senator Kelly  acknowledged that  it does  not                 
  resolve  all the  constitutional  questions that  have  been                 
  raised.  Provisions of either the initiative or the proposed                 
  bill are likely  to be taken  to court, regardless of  which                 
  passes.  It will  take several years for campaign  reform to                 
  settle out in the court system.                                              
  Co-chairman  Halford  asked  if  the  chairman  of  Campaign                 
  Finance Reform--Now!  would encourage the  governor to  sign                 
  the  proposed draft should  it pass  the legislature.   MIKE                 
  FRANK,    Chairman,    Campaign    Reform--Now!,   responded                 
  affirmatively via teleconference  from Anchorage.   The  Co-                 
  chairman then asked  if the  proposed bill is  substantially                 
  similar to the goals of the initiative.  He further asked if                 
  belief that it is would be communicated to the Lt. Governor.                 
  Mr. Frank said he could  not speak for all petitioners.   He                 
  voiced  his  belief  that   lawyers  could  make  reasonable                 
  arguments on "both sides  of the bill" because the  state of                 
  the law is undeveloped.   The few pertinent court  decisions                 
  are 20 years  old, and the  main decision  was 3 to  2.   Of                 
  greater importance is the time and effort that has gone into                 
  the draft.  That has significant advantages.  Mr. Frank said                 
  he was "very supportive" of version  "H" and advised that if                 
  it is  signed into law, he would not become involved in "any                 
  revolution  to  keep the  initiative  on  the  ballot."   He                 
  acknowledged that he  could not guarantee there would not be                 
  objections.     Mr.  Frank   remarked  that  while   certain                 
  provisions of the bill diminish those in  the initiative, he                 
  understands  why the  changes were made  and that  they were                 
  made in  good faith.   They do not  do such violence  to the                 
  initiative that it would serve the long-term interest of the                 
  campaign reform group to raise a challenge, if passed.                       
  In response to a further  question from Co-chairman Halford,                 
  Mr. Frank advised  that reasonable  arguments could be  made                 
  that it is substantially similar.   The political advantages                 
  of passage  of  law are  important to  a long-term  solution                 
  accepted by the legislature.                                                 
  REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN next came before  committee.  Co-                 
  chairman Halford asked if the Representative would encourage                 
  both the Governor  and Lt. Governor to act on the bill if it                 
  was passed.   Representative Finkelstein said he  would vote                 
  for the bill  and encourage signature  by the Governor.   He                 
  said he could not determine whether  the bill would meet the                 
  legal  requirement  of being    "substantially the  same" as                 
  initiative  provisions.   Representative  Finkelstein voiced                 
   his belief that  the bill would be good for  the state, good                
  public policy, and that it reflects the general goals of the                 
  Co-chairman Halford  expressed unwillingness to  replace the                 
  initiative  with   the  proposed   legislation  unless   the                 
  leadership  of  the  30,000 petitioners  is  in  accord with                 
  legislative action.   Representative Finkelstein  reiterated                 
  support for the current draft.                                               
  Senator Rieger referenced  language at Page 20,  line 8, and                 
  inquired concerning the effect of use of "shall" rather than                 
  "may" in discretion relating to  penalties associated with a                 
  complaint.    JACK  CHENOWETH,  Legislative  Counsel,  Legal                 
  Services, Legislative Affairs Agency,  noted the requirement                 
  that  the  commission "shall"  assess  civil penalties.   In                 
  subsection (e),  commencing at  line 17,  the commission  is                 
  given the  opportunity to suspend or set  aside penalties if                 
  it finds the  violation was inadvertent, quickly  corrected,                 
  had  no adverse  impact, and was  not repeated or  part of a                 
  series  or  pattern  of   violations.    There  is   thus  a                 
  presumption the penalty  will be levied, with  the exception                 
  of conditions cited in subsection (e).                                       
  Further discussion  followed concerning the  consequences of                 
  changing "shall"  to "may."   Mr.  Chenoweth explained  that                 
  subsection (b) would become  discretionary, and there  would                 
  be no need for subsection (e).   He noted that, as presently                 
  drafted, provisions are consistent with the initiative and a                 
  bit  more   structured  in  directions   to  the  commission                 
  regarding  how  matters  will be  handled.    Representative                 
  Finkelstein  noted a  different standard in  the initiative.                 
  It contains  both a minimum and  a maximum.  Use  of "shall"                 
  makes a difference in the initiative.  In  the bill it makes                 
  no difference because all penalties are maximums.  There are                 
  no minimums.   Removal of minimums gives  the commission and                 
  the  court   discretion  to  "go  to  zero"  even  when  the                 
  conditions of (e) are not met.                                               
  Senator Rieger next questioned language at Page 9,  line 24.                 
  Representative   Finkelstein   noted  that   the  initiative                 
  contains a $25 cap for cash donations.  Senate State Affairs                 
  Committee returned the total to existing law ($100) with the                 
  concurrence  of  the  sponsors.    Senator  Randy   Phillips                 
  inquired  concerning  the  rationale  behind  the  $25  cap.                 
  Representative Finkelstein  said  that  testimony  from  the                 
  commission  and  members of  the legislature  indicated that                 
  current law does not pose a  significant problem.  Campaigns                 
  in  rural areas  would  be negatively  impacted  by the  $25                 
  maximum.  The  initiative committee concurred in  the return                 
  to $100  as the maximum.   The original intent  was to avoid                 
  contributions that cannot be tracked.                                        
  Senator Rieger questioned language within  Section 14, Pages                 
  13 and  14.   Representative Finkelstein  explained that  it                 
  stems  from  a  request  from   the  Alaska  Public  Offices                 
  Commission.    It recognizes  a  court decision  that allows                 
  individuals  to "do  essentially  anonymous, no  disclaimer,                 
  kinds  of  things  for   relatively  small  expenditures  in                 
  expressing their view through signs  and handouts."  Without                 
  the language,  existing "paid  for by"  standards in  Alaska                 
  could be challenged and struck down.   Senator Rieger voiced                 
  his  understanding  that  provisions  relate  more  to   the                 
  disclaimer than the  amount of money spent.   Representative                 
  Finkelstein concurred.                                                       
  Senator Kelly advised  that in developing the  bill, several                 
  APOC recommendations were adopted.                                           
  BROOKE  MILES,  Juneau Branch  Administrator,  Alaska Public                 
  Offices Commission, came before committee and voiced support                 
  for version "H."   She then explained that the  $98.7 fiscal                 
  note provides  for "some  additional provisions."   The  new                 
  investigator would handle complex civil penalties, inquiries                 
  from the public,  and the complaint caseload.   The position                 
  would also produce a training  program concerning new rules.                 
  The administrative  clerk would  assist in  paper processing                 
  and  provide  support  functions for  the  investigator.   A                 
  regulation specialist  would work  for two  years, only,  to                 
  write regulations to implement the new rules.  In additional                 
  to  the  positions,  the fiscal  note  contains  funding for                 
  travel for training so that new and incumbent candidates are                 
  knowledgeable of rule changes.                                               
  Co-chairman Halford  referenced a proposed  amendment.   Mr.                 
  Chenoweth  explained  that  it would  fit  within  Section 2                 
  language  which  amends  existing  law  prohibiting  use  of                 
  charitable gaming proceeds to support  candidates for public                 
  office,  a political  party, or  an  organization affiliated                 
  with  a political party.   In drafting  the present version,                 
  Mr. Chenoweth  said he  neglected  to make  reference to  AS                 
  15.60  which  defines  "political group."      The amendment                 
  extends  the definition  to  bar  campaign contributions  to                 
  "political groups" as defined  in the election code.   These                 
  are small associations and entities that did not  qualify at                 
  the  3  percent threshold  level  in the  last gubernatorial                 
  election.  Senator  Kelly said the  language was brought  to                 
  light by Senate President Pearce.                                            
  Mr. Frank  advised, via teleconference, that  the initiative                 
  did not contain provisions relating to the use of charitable                 
  gaming proceeds.  He voiced his belief that those supporting                 
  the  initiative  would  have  no   problems  with  the  more                 
  restrictive language in the proposed amendment.  It does not                 
  appear  to impact  initiative provisions  relating to  group                 
  contributions.    Representative Finkelstein  voiced support                 
  for the technical amendment.                                                 
  Senator Randy Phillips MOVED for adoption of CSSB 191  (Fin)                 
  (version "H")  as the mark-up document.  No objection having                 
  been raised, CSSB  191 (Fin) was ADOPTED.   Senator Phillips                 
  then MOVED for  adoption of Amendment  No. 1.  No  objection                 
  having been  raised, Amendment No.  1 was ADOPTED.   Senator                 
  Phillips next  MOVED  for passage  of  CSSB 191  (Fin)  with                 
  individual  recommendations.    No   objection  having  been                 
  raised, CSSB 191 (Fin) was REPORTED  OUT of committee with a                 
  $98.7 fiscal note from the Dept. of Administration (APOC), a                 
  $47.5 note  from the Dept. of  Law, and zero  notes from the                 
  Dept. of  Community and Regional Affairs,  Governor's Office                 
  (Elections),  and Legislative  Affairs Agency.   Co-chairman                 
  Frank  and  Senators  Donley,  Phillips, Rieger,  and  Sharp                 
  signed the committee report with a "do pass" recommendation.                 
  Co-chairman  Halford   signed  "do  pass   unless  amended."                 
  Senator Zharoff signed "no recommendation."                                  

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