Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205

03/12/2015 08:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS

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Audio Topic
08:03:57 AM Start
08:04:27 AM SB63
08:25:16 AM Confirmation Hearing: Commissioner, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
09:55:21 AM SB4
10:21:13 AM SB24
10:41:32 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Governor's Appointments - Confirmation Hearing: TELECONFERENCED
Col. Laurie Hummel, Commissioner, Department of
Military and Veterans' Affairs
-- Public Testimony --
Moved CSSB 63(STA) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Moved SSSB 4 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
Scheduled but Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         SB 24-LEGIS. ETHICS ACT: CONTRACTORS, INTERNS                                                                      
10:21:13 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STOLTZE announced the consideration of SB 24.                                                                             
SENATOR BERTA  GARDNER, Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor  of SB
24,  explained the  bill  is a  "clean  up bill"  and  is at  the                                                               
request of  the Legislative Ethics  Office. About a year  ago the                                                               
outgoing  administrator   of  Legislative  Ethics   discovered  a                                                               
statute  that had  not been  enforced and  deemed it  needed some                                                               
T.J.  PRESLEY,   Staff,  Senator  Berta  Gardner,   Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  provided information  on SB  24. Through  a routine                                                               
advisory  opinion process,  the Legislative  Ethics Administrator                                                               
discovered  that  independent  contractors and  consultants  were                                                               
considered legislative  employees in statute and  were subject to                                                               
the ethics  code. The statute  said that all the  requirements of                                                               
legislative  employees   must  be   levied  on   the  independent                                                               
contractors and  consultants. He used  West Law Dictionary  as an                                                               
example of a contractor and said  it is not practical or feasible                                                               
to  ask such  a  contractor  or a  corporation  to  fill out  the                                                               
required paperwork.                                                                                                             
He related that  in 2012 interns and volunteers  were given their                                                               
own place in the Ethics Act  and now legislation is needed to fix                                                               
the problem  of the contractors and  consultants. The Legislative                                                               
Ethics Committee established a  subcommittee with Senator Gardner                                                               
and  Representative Millet  to establish  legislation that  would                                                               
fix the problem.                                                                                                                
10:25:12 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  PRESLEY concluded  that they  came up  with a  solution that                                                               
included a focus on conflicts  of interest and unethical conduct.                                                               
He   referred   to    recommendations   by   Legislative   Ethics                                                               
subcommittee  followed   when  writing  SB  24.   The  bill  puts                                                               
independent contractors  and consultants into their  own category                                                               
in the Ethics Act, with reasonable, enforceable requirements.                                                                   
10:26:50 AM                                                                                                                   
JERRY  ANDERSON,  Administrator,  Legislative  Ethics  Committee,                                                               
provided information  on SB 24. He  said the bill is  the product                                                               
of  14  months  of  meetings.   He  noted  the  subcommittee  did                                                               
extensive work  on the  bill. He  said the  bill is  important to                                                               
delineate  the exact  sections of  the Ethics  Act that  apply to                                                               
contractors.  Contractors   are  not  subject  to   the  training                                                               
requirements. It is an important bill.                                                                                          
CHAIR STOLTZE  asked for  the Ethics  Committee's opinion  of the                                                               
MR. ANDERSON said the Ethics Committee supports the bill.                                                                       
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  noted  the  legislature  hires  a  lot  of                                                               
consultants.  He  voiced concern  about  a  consultant who  is  a                                                               
client of the oil industry.                                                                                                     
MR.  PRESLEY replied  that there  is contract  language in  place                                                               
regarding  unethical  conduct.  There  is an  expectation  of  no                                                               
conflict of  interest in  contract matters.  However, enforcement                                                               
is another issue.                                                                                                               
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  summarized that  the change SB  24 provides                                                               
is  that  contractors   would  not  have  to   file  a  financial                                                               
disclosure form.                                                                                                                
MR. PRESLEY  referred to  challenges other  states have  had when                                                               
dealing  with  ethics  and   subcontractors.  He  questioned  the                                                               
problems   with  determining   if  contractors   are  legislature                                                               
employees.  The  Ethic Statutes  list  what  provisions apply  to                                                               
independent contractors and consultants.                                                                                        
10:33:47 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GARDNER  pointed out that  this proposal is  not endorsed                                                               
by the Ethics Committee as a  whole, but by the administrator and                                                               
the out-going administrator, by a  public member who is an ethics                                                               
attorney, and by the chair.                                                                                                     
CHAIR STOLTZE asked for something in writing.                                                                                   
SENATOR  GARDNER  said  the  Ethics  Committee  did  request  the                                                               
legislation, but did not take a vote to endorse it.                                                                             
CHAIR STOLTZE asked for the process in writing.                                                                                 
10:35:03 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR MCGUIRE  noted the  matrix of other  states and  she read                                                               
from Connecticut's: "For most purposes  a consultant is neither a                                                               
public nor state official and  therefore not subject to the State                                                               
Ethics Act."  She said another  provision applies  to contractors                                                               
and   consultants  and   prohibits   the   consultant's  use   of                                                               
confidential   information,  the   acceptance   of  other   state                                                               
contracts which  would impair their judgement,  or the acceptance                                                               
or giving  of anything  of value  that influences  a consultant's                                                               
actions. She said she liked that  statement and saw it as getting                                                               
to the core of the issue.                                                                                                       
She voiced concern  about good people not  applying for positions                                                               
because   they  don't   want  to   deal  with   all  the   filing                                                               
requirements. She also had concerns  about a consultant's fear of                                                               
political  ramifications  from  ethics complaints.  She  gave  an                                                               
example  of  an  LB&A  chair  who  might  hire  an  oil  and  gas                                                               
consultant  who   is  targeted   with  an  ethics   complaint  by                                                               
dissatisfied opposition.                                                                                                        
10:37:59 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGGINS   said  he  understands  the   need  for  ethics                                                               
committees,  but  they don't  make  dishonest  people honest.  He                                                               
opined it was not the oil  and gas industry that had the greatest                                                               
conflicts of  interest, but workers compensation  consultants. He                                                               
recommended hiring consultants that are honest.                                                                                 
10:40:11 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR   GARDNER  summarized   that   currently  contracts   and                                                               
consultants are  subject to the  entire ethics code and  the bill                                                               
tries to keep  that which is meaningful and workable  and get rid                                                               
of what  does not  work. She  concluded, "There  is a  place that                                                               
protects  our  interest  and  allows  us to  move  forward  in  a                                                               
meaningful way without creating mountains of data."                                                                             
CHAIR STOLTZE held SB 24 in committee.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Resume - Laurel Hummel - DMVA.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB4 Support Document - Letter Jon Cook 3-5-15.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 4
SB63 Amendment #1 - By Huggins and Stoltze.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
SB63 Sponsor Statement.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
SB63 Support Documents - Letters of Support 3-10-15.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
SB63 Supporting Document - Research Data LAM.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
SB63 SLAM Floor Plans.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
SB63 Fiscal Note EED-LO 3-6-15.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
SB63 Fiscal Note DOT-EDC 3-2-15.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
26th Legislature - Citation for Representative Neal Richard Foster.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
SB63 Senator Murkowski Remarks on US Senate Floor on Richard Foster.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 63
SB 4 Letter of Support City of Galena.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 4
SB 4 Letter of Support City of Seward.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 4
SB4 Support Document - APOC Biennial Report AS 39 50 060.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 4
SB24 Sponsor Provided - Legislative Ethics Act Applicability to Interns and Volunteers.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 24
Amendment #1 for SB 63 3/12/2015 - Adopted by SSTA.pdf SSTA 3/12/2015 8:00:00 AM
SB 63