House Bill 87 is a very bad bill, and I do not support it. The bill attempts to convert financially conflicted board members into non-financially conflicted board members by waving a magic wand over them. A board member announcing they may have a conflict of interest or the board voting on the conflict cannot remove the conflict. The only real way to address board conflict of interest is for the Legislature and governor to completely overhaul Alaska’s board selection process. Alaska boards have a big enough job as it is, it is not reasonable for the state to also expect them to be daily vetting their members by voting if they should be able to offer input or vote. HB 87 attempts to allow financially conflicted board members to offer input but not be able to vote. If anything HB 87 should be attempting to ban financially conflicted board members and not allow them to further taint Alaska’s board process. Conflicted board members announcing that they have a conflict of interest and offering or not offering input or voting is a meaningless gesture. None of the above.
What if a friend of a board member has a direct financial connection to a board issue. Do you believe a board member would announce that one of their friends has a conflict with an issue so they do also? These are questions that our state boards do not even have the time to debate. It is improper for any board member to have a financial conflict of interest involving any issues the board is involved with. Conflicted board members should not have been appointed by the governor in the first place but if they somehow were, they should no longer offer input or vote on that issue. HB 87 is an attempt to take a step back in time and in the wrong direction, to when board members openly flaunted their financial conflict of interest while destroying many of Alaska historic fisheries. Alaska’s current and defective board selection process needs to be completely overhauled to prevent the governor from appointing board members with financial conflict of interest.
If the state requires a board, the governor should be required to appoint non-professional members that have zero financial conflict of interest in the board issues. I also suggest that the governor be required to appoint professional industry staff to advise his board members. These changes would relieve our boards from dealing with the conflict of financial interest issues, while allowing them to be advised by knowledgeable industry professionals. Allowing financially conflicted board members on to boards is wrong, allowing them to vote is wrong and allowing them to offer input is wrong.
• Don Johnson lives in Soldotna.