Administrative appeals change on the horizon

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2003

Senate President Gene Therriault is backing a plan to centralize the state's administrative appeals process.

Therriault, a Republican from North Pole and chairman of the Administrative Regulation and Review Committee, is working on a proposal to change the way state departments review administrative appeals. He said he hopes to offer legislation this session.

Currently when citizens or businesses want to challenge an administrative regulation, they appeal to a hearing officer who works for the department implementing the regulation.

Such an arrangement creates a potential for bias or at least the appearance of bias, Therriault told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

"You've got one person who's overseeing the actions and possibly overruling the decision made by his co-worker," Therriault said. "Having a little more separation there, by putting the function perhaps in the Department of Administration ... sort of insulates them from the other state workers."

Therriault said earlier proposals suffered from over-inflated estimates of the cost. In 1997, the administration of then-Gov. Tony Knowles, a Democrat, put the figure at about $6 million.

Gov. Frank Murkowski, a Republican, agreed to have his administration work with the Legislature to change the appeal process.

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