Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205
03/12/2015 08:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS
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SB 4-FINL. DISCLOSURE: LEGIS AND PUB OFFICIALS 9:55:21 AM CHAIR STOLTZE announced the consideration of SB 4. SENATOR CATHY GIESSEL, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor of SB 4, explained that the bill changes the filing date for the Annual Public Official Financial Disclosure required by the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) from March 15th of each year to May 15th of each year. It affects all citizens serving on certain boards and commissions, municipal officers, and public officials such as legislators. Some municipalities have opted out of this disclosure date. She pointed out that the required financial documents must be accurate and are required by the IRS. Many of those who must file own their own businesses and do not have their financial information ready by March 15. She referred to a document in members' packets entitled "APOC Civil Assessments" that lists possible assessed penalties for inaccurate filings. She noted letters of support for the bill. 9:58:40 AM She said SB 4 does not change what will be disclosed, it only offers an opportunity to ensure 100 percent accurate disclosures. VIVIAN STIVER, Staff, Senator Cathy Giessel, Alaska State Legislature, explained changes in the bill. It changes the date to May 15 and lists who is required to file. SENATOR HUGGINS asked why it was written as March 15 originally. MS. STIVER understood that the date was chosen because it was during the legislative session and a financial disclosure is required. She pointed out that legislators must file a financial disclosure when they run for state office and, if elected, or if a person is appointed to a commission or board, they must file again within 30 days. The requirement to file was to give voters a chance to see a candidate's financial interests. SENATOR HUGGINS asked if both he and his wife have to file by March 15. MS. STRIVER said yes. SENATOR HUGGINS asked where the information is stored. MS. STRIVER said it is stored on line. She did not know if the public was aware of those documents. SENATOR HUGGINS recalled issues in the past in the legislature and knee-jerk reactions to them. He preferred a date based on the people, not the legislature. He said many may want to run for office, but don't want to show their financial interests. He spoke in support of the bill. 10:04:35 AM CHAIR STOLTZE related that the change was made to March 15 in 1998, as an amendment. The original date was February 15 and coincided with APOC disclosure deadlines. PAUL DAUPHINAIS, Executive Director, Alaska Public Offices Commission, offered to answer questions related to SB 4. CHAIR STOLTZE asked for APOC's opinion of the bill. MR. DAUPHINAIS said APOC is against changing the date for reasons of transparency, but would enforce the deadline as the legislature sees fit. 10:07:11 AM KATHIE WASSERMAN, Executive Director, Alaska Municipal League, testified in support of SB 4. She said the change will help attract people to run for offices. CHAIR STOLTZE closed public testimony. 10:08:37 AM SENATOR HUGGINS asked Mr. Dauphinais about his comment regarding transparency. MR. DAUPHINAIS clarified that when APOC took its position on the bill they were concerned about the legislature and the possibility of a legislator running for office, submitting a financial disclosure, and then potentially signing business contracts, and not having to file a disclosure statement until after the session was over and voting on issues was in the past. SENATOR HUGGINS noted that before legislators vote they must declare a conflict of interest. MR. DAUPHINAIS said that provision is under the Legislative Ethics Act, not APOC. SENATOR HUGGINS said it is the same thing. MR. DAUPHINAIS had no response. SENATOR HUGGINS said he is not trying to get special consideration for legislators and is thinking more about other people who are required to file. CHAIR STOLTZE asked the sponsor if she has considered separating legislators out. 10:12:10 AM SENATOR GIESSEL maintained that legislators face the same accuracy issues and are subject to the same fines. CHAIR STOLTZE noted a zero fiscal note. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said he is concerned with pushing the date back for legislators because the public wants to see legislators' financial disclosures. He encouraged separating out legislators, even though it is sometimes a challenge to get the paperwork done. Candidates have to fill out disclosures. A better policy is to keep the date where it is. CHAIR STOLTZE also had concerns, but wanted to move the bill. He maintained it was a straightforward change and he supports moving the bill out of committee. SENATOR COGHILL said the difference between legislators and others is that there is a higher level of scrutiny and accountably required of legislators. He said he does not mind disclosing his finances and supports the change of dates. 10:18:31 AM CHAIR STOLTZE said he does not have conflicts to disclose. SENATOR COGHILL moved to report SSSB 4 from committee with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal note. There being no objection, the motion carried.