Sponsor says lobbying law to undergo alteration

Posted: Tuesday, April 01, 2003

The sponsor of a bill to relax the state's lobbying law says he will consider the recommendations of the agency that oversees lobbying.

Sen. Ralph Seekins, a Fairbanks Republican, said he plans to offer an amendment to the measure at a later hearing. Seekins is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which heard testimony on the bill Monday.

Senate Bill 89 would allow someone to spend as much as 80 hours in a month lobbying the Legislature or the administration before registering with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

Current state law requires people to pay a $100 fee and register as lobbyists if they spend more than four hours lobbying state government. Commission members agreed the law was too strict but said more than half of the professional lobbyists could work anonymously under the bill.

The commission recommended the Legislature change the measure to require someone to register after 16 hours of lobbying.

Seekins did not say how he would change the bill.

The Legislature is considering the change at the request of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, which argues the four-hour limit restricts the rights of business owners who interact with lawmakers. Once people register as lobbyists, they are barred from working on campaigns or contributing to candidates outside of their district.

Steve Cleary of the Alaska Public Interest Research Group told the committee the current lobbying law should not be changed. He said the bill is a legislative effort to get around a voter initiative that limits lobbyists' ability to donate to campaigns.

The judiciary committee is scheduled to meet again Wednesday.

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