Legislature(1999 - 2000)
03/22/2000 01:44 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 277-ONLINE SYSTEM REPLACES AK ADMIN JOURNAL MS. DEBORAH BEHR, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Law (DOL), commented that during the March 3 Judiciary Committee meeting a question was raised about the definition of "newspaper of general circulation." This wording appears twice in SB 277. The first time is on page 3, line 26 and it sets out the current statutory requirement that notice of an agency's intent to adopt a regulation must be "published in the newspaper of general circulation..." Then on page 5, line 7, the bill uses the same language in setting out the method for notifying the public of updated documents already incorporated by reference in a regulation. Both references use the phrase in the context of regulation adoption. The Administrative Procedures Act does not have a definition of "newspaper of general circulation." When Ms. Behr reviews regulations, she looks to see that they are published in a readily available newspaper of wide distribution throughout the state. Often times she will advise agencies to publish in more than one newspaper to make sure that the distribution reaches the area affected by the regulation. Number 297 SENATOR HALFORD said he was asked by another member of the legislature about a possible amendment requiring an abbreviated form to be used in publications. MS. BEHR commented that she has seen the amendments, and it is her understanding that the Lieutenant Governor's Office prefers to keep the bill focused on the online public notice. The language she has seen is old language from a prior bill that does not reflect on the online public notice. Number 379 MR. JOHN LINDBACK, Office of the Lieutenant Governor, noted that in 1997 the Governor proposed, as a bill, what is embodied in these amendments. Because the lieutenant governor's office is in charge of filing regulations, it was designated as the lead agency. The regulations were proposed because there were too many complaints being received from the public about regulations being adopted without a public hearing. Mr. Lindback said the newspaper industry hated the Governor's bill, and since that time an effort has been made trying to convince them that these amendments are not something they need to be afraid of, but they have not been convinced. Because the amendments are controversial, it is requested they not be attached to this bill. MS. BEHR noted that there is a technical problem on page two, line 3 of the amendment. This section requires the lieutenant governor to provide additional public notice, which adds an unnecessary cost. All of section 4 can be deleted with no effect on the bill. SENATOR HALFORD noted this will not remove the requirement to publish, it will only shorten the form. Number 816 MR. LINDBACK commented there is a long list of requirements in the statute of what is required for an ad. The amendments being discussed remove some of these requirements, opening the door for some agencies to take the notices out of the back of the newspaper and put them into display ad space. There is also a provision allowing a coordinated advertising approach allowing municipal advertising pages. The newspaper industry has been dead set against these provisions. SENATOR HALFORD moved to adopt amendment 1-LS1407\A.1, as modified. SENATOR ELLIS objected. The roll was taken on the motion. Voting yea: SENATOR DONLEY, SENATOR HALFORD and CHAIRMAN TAYLOR. Voting nay: SENATOR ELLIS, and so the amendment was adopted. SENATOR HALFORD noted the bill now has a positive fiscal note because it saves the state money. MS. BEHR commented that the last time DOL asked for a fiscal note, they were told it would be awash because display ads are a little more expensive. MR. LINDBACK said the idea behind the amendment is to get a more prominent ad for the money, not that it will cost any less. MS. ANNETTE KREITZER, staff to Senator Leman, thanked the committee for entertaining the amendment. The amendment does give the lieutenant governor some discretion in terms of what state agencies are required to do with legal notices. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has found a way to save money--about $100,000, by using the smaller and shorter format, while still informing the public. Number 1068 MR. LINDBACK stated that DOT has in deed saved money, but it is not because of these provisions. The provisions being discussed were not required at the time--DOT just wrote better ads. Display ad space is more expensive and that is why the fiscal note was considered to be awash. There is a possibility that advertising money can be saved by using the coordinated approach that is contemplated in one section of the amendments. Number 1130 SENATOR DONLEY moved SB 277am from committee with individual recommendations. There being no objection, the motion carried.