JUNEAU - The Senate Judiciary Committee has OK'd a bill relaxing the state's lobbying laws.
Sen. Ralph Seekins, a Fairbanks Republican, proposed lengthening the time in which someone can attempt to influence state government before they register as a lobbyist.
Someone who lobbies for more than four hours during a 30-day period must pay a $100 fee and register as a lobbyist. Seekins, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, wants to change the limit to 40 hours.
The committee voted 3-2 to move Senate Bill 89 to the Rules Committee where it is expected to be scheduled for a floor vote. Seekins voted for the measure along with Republican Sens. Gene Therriault of North Pole and Scott Ogan of Palmer. Democratic Sens. Hollis French and Johnny Ellis of Anchorage voted against the measure.
The bill is supported by the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, which argues the current rule restricts the rights of business owners who interact with lawmakers. Opponents argue it is an effort to allow people to lobby without being restricted from giving campaign donations to lawmakers outside their district.