Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
03/01/2010 01:30 PM JUDICIARY
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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SB 209-STATE COUNCIL ON THE ARTS; REGULATIONS 2:14:33 PM CHAIR FRENCH announced the consideration of SB 209. SENATOR LINDA MENARD, Sponsor of SB 209, read the following sponsor statement: Senate Bill 209 will provide the Alaska State Council on the Arts the authority to adopt regulations relating to its statutory powers and duties. The bill has been introduced at the request of the Alaska State Council on the Arts (ASCA), which is the Last Frontier's state arts agency, created over 40 years ago. The council works in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to foster the development of the arts for all Alaskans through education, partnerships, grants and services. Several of ASCA's programs are governed by regulations, which ASCA has promulgated and updated over the years. Recently ASCA has sought to improve and streamline its grant-making policies, procedures, and regulations. In the course of this effort, ASCA was informed by the Department of Law that ASCA technically does not have statutory authority to adopt regulations under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). While this legal opinion is at odds with long- standing practice, ASCA considered the advice from the Attorney General's office, and determined that the best way to rectify the current anomalous situation is to amend its enabling statute to allow ASCA the explicit statutory authority to adopt regulations. This legislation will in essence codify existing practice and will enable ASCA to continue to administer and oversee its existing programs. Any and all regulations adopted in future will have to comply with the review and public-notice provisions of the APA. This bill has a zero fiscal note and will help ASCA continue performing its long-standing mission of helping more Alaskans appreciate, create, and enjoy the arts and having regulatory authority will directly contribute to ASCA's ability to do so. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked her to explain the structure of the Alaska State Council on the Arts. SENATOR MENARD said ASCA is a state agency that was formed with assistance from the National Endowment of the Arts. The governor appoints the board members and they must adhere to the Administrative Procedures Act. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI noted that the Workers' Compensation Board develops their regulations through the Department of Labor and asked if ASCA would likewise develop regulations through a department. 2:18:50 PM BENJAMIN BROWN, Chair, Alaska State Council on the Arts, explained that ASCA is a stand-alone within the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED). State employees do the day-to-day work, but ASCA staff would draft the regulations that would be approved by the Department of Law (DOL) and then the Lieutenant Governor's Office. The problem came to light through efforts to streamline ASCA grants. He noted that ASCA regrants money it receives from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Legislature to arts organizations like Out North Theatre, Perseverance Theatre, Anchorage Concert Association, and Fairbanks Drama Association. ASCA was able to streamline many procedures in its policies, but some were ensconced in state regulations. When ASCA asked DOL to review the proposed changes, DOL determined that AKSA didn't have the authority to make these changes. CHAIR FRENCH noted that his letter summarizes the problem and points out that the best remedy would be to add the missing language to the statute. I believe that's wise, he said. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if ASCA has policies and procedures in place and if it currently works with an assistant attorney general when it adopts regulations. MR. BROWN answered yes; when Ms. Fox drafts something it is reviewed by an assigned assistant attorney general. Ms. Hattan is that person. She inherited the problem after it came to Mr. Slotnick's attention. ASCA has also worked with Ms. Behr and Mr. Weaver both of whom do regulatory review. These regulations would go through all the same hoops as any other proposed regulations, he added. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if someone from DOL is online. 2:22:26 PM REBECCA HATTAN, Attorney, Civil Division, Department of Law (DOL), introduced herself. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if this proposal is unusual. MS. HATTAN replied it's not at all uncommon. She explained that Alaska has advisory and non advisory councils that have the authority to promulgate regulations. She named as examples the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, the Police Standards Council, and the Fire Council. CHAIR FRENCH asked Ms. Fox if she had anything to add to the conversation. CHARLOTTE FOX, Executive Director, Alaska State Council on the Arts, related that it was a surprise to learn that ASCA didn't have the statutory authority to promulgate regulations since it had been operating under its regulations for a number of years. SENATOR COGHILL questioned what will happen to the regulations that were passed without statutory authorization. MR. BROWN opined that they would be repromulgated. This will be a little more work, but it would get ASCA into the public eye and provide an opportunity to publicize changes to the grant program. CHAIR FRENCH closed public testimony and announced he would hold SB 209 for a future hearing. 2:25:38 PM There being no further business to come before the committee, Chair French adjourned the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee at 2:25 p.m.