The Alaska Public Offices Commission on Thursday approved an update to several regulations, including public official financial disclosure regulations.
The most significant change in the disclosure update, according to APOC executive director Paul Dauphinais, is in the self-employment section. He said there was a problem in distinguishing between retail and non-retail businesses because retail was never defined.
“Potentially, if they go through as written, there will probably a little bit more disclosure from people, but it will make it so much easier for people and it will reduce the number of complaints filed,” Dauphinais said.
Under current regulations, self-employed filers must report different information for retail or non-retail businesses.
“(There) were some complaints dealing with people not reporting correctly,” he said. “The intention of this is to make it much more understandable and remove the difference between retail and non-retail reporting structure.”
Under the new regulations, self-employed filers would fill out the same information, without that separate distinction. Tracking information for customers also got a little easier.
Dauphinais said for businesses like a grocery store, where a customer may come in every week or so, that customer wouldn’t necessarily need to be tracked as most businesses wouldn’t. Dauphinais said they wouldn’t require tracking on small transactions. But, for a customer who may purchase, for example, printer cartridges and spend $5,000 throughout the year, that series of transactions would require tracking.
He said another change in relation to that is self-employed filers may no longer have to report a specific dollar amount for static customers, but instead a spending range.
“That’s the intent, for people to be able to file or being appointed to a commission, to be able to file a source of your income, so the public can be confident they know where that source of income is coming from,” Dauphinais said. “That’s the point of disclosure laws, transparency for the public.”
Dauphinais said the whole reason for the re-writing of the regulations was to make them clearer for the filers and for the public. He said most people serving on boards and commissions are volunteers and it would be counterproductive to overburden them with an excessively complex filing structure.
While the commission approved the regulation changes on Thursday, that doesn’t mean the changes are final. The changes have to go to the Department of Law and then the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. Both places could potentially make substantive changes or even refuse APOC’s recommendations.
City and Borough of Juneau City Clerk Laurie Sica said APOC regulation changes won’t stop the public process of the city’s move to opt-out.
“I don’t know if any of the changes would be significant enough to stop the opt-out process,” she said. “They won’t stop anything that’s in motion right now. (The Assembly will) keep talking about it and probably amend it.”
Sica said any changes would be made by the Assembly.
Mayor Bruce Botelho, who initiated the process for the city opting out, is out of the country and could not be reached for comment on the changes and how they might affect the city’s desire to opt-out of state regulations.