House State Agencies
Jan. 25, 2023
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- HB 1099 FOIA timeline for AG opinion
- HB 1163 State lands in waterways
- HB 1164 Deleting obsolete language for State Lands
Rep Tosh: Morning members. Chair sees a quorum. This meeting is called to order. Just a couple of reminders. If anyone here wants to speak for or against a bill, the sign up sheet is just right out the back door there at the end of the room. We will make sure we check it and make sure you have that opportunity to speak for or against any bill that is on today’s agenda. Before we get started, if there is a bill here that you might have been interested in, I will go ahead and advise you at this time. 1104 is a bill that we heard last week. That bill was defeated here in committee, so we will move it today to the deferred list. So, 1104 is being moved to deferred.
Also sponsor of 1198 contacted me yesterday or last night and he wants to pass over that bill today. So, committee members and those in the audience, the three bills that we will be hearing today are House Bill 1099, House Bill 1163, and House Bill 1164. I see the sponsors of those bills are in the room. I am going to go ahead and remind you on the front end and hopefully I will remember to remind you before we leave here today, committee members, the committee photo will be made next Wednesday at 10:00. So next Wednesday at 10:00, and the clerk, Carley, will send out a reminder letting everyone know to try and be here for the committee photo.
So, any questions from committee members or any comments? If not, I see none, then we will get started with today’s agenda. House Bill 1099, Representative Collins. Representative Collins, just have a seat at the end of the table and identify yourself to the committee and you are recognized to present your bill.
HB 1099 FOIA timeline for AG opinion
Rep Collins: Thank you Mr. Chair. Andrew Collins. House Bill 1099 deals with the Freedom of Information Act, or the FOIA, and all it does is clarify a term in here that is ambiguous. If you have the bill, you can see that an Attorney General opinion is requestable currently immediately after a decision is made by a custodian of certain records. The term ‘immediately’ is a vague term. One person’s immediately might not be someone else’s immediately. So, Senator Payton, who is the Senate sponsor of this bill, spoke with Attorney General Griffin and the language that was landed upon in lieu of ‘immediately’ was ‘before the close of the office of the Attorney General the following business day.’ So that is a defined time as opposed to a vague time. The problem with ‘immediately,’ of course, not only do people get confused under the current law, but people can actually not get to pursue their rights under the current law, and they might miss the opportunity and that is what happened to a constituent of mine and that is why I was made aware of this issue in the first place. This bill is supported by the FOIA Coalition, the FOIA Task Force, the Press Association, Municipal League, and the Office of the Attorney General. I think everybody is on board with it because, again, what we are doing is not really a significant change but is a clarification of something that is ambiguous. And with that, I am happy to take any questions.
Rep Tosh: Representative Wardlaw, you are recognized for a question.
Rep Wardlaw: Thank you Mr. Chair. Sitting here reading Pg. 2, line 2 of the bill, says “seek an opinion from the Attorney General who within 3 working days of the receipt of the request shall issue of opinion.” I just want to know who in the world has ever gotten an opinion from the Attorney General’s Office in 3 days? [laughter] Have we ever held them to this 3 day deadline that is in statue? Because that is not underlined, so that has been there, right?
Rep Collins: That’s been there. That is the current law. My understanding is that they hold them to this high standard under the FOIA. Obviously, they need to get this information pretty quick. As far as I know, the AG’s office complies with them.
Rep Wardlaw: Maybe you ought to write a bill that holds them to that standard for every opinion so that we can finally get our constituents the answers they are asking for.
Rep Collins: That might be a good bill.
Rep Wardlaw: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Rep Tosh: Any further questions from the committee members? Seeing none, no one has signed up to speak for or against the bill. Representative Collins, you are recognized to close with your bill.
Rep Collins: Thank you. I am closed for the bill.
Rep Tosh: Representative Collins has closed for the bill. What’s the pleasure of the committee? Representative Womack has a motion of do pass. Any discussion on the motion? Seeing no discussion on the motion, all in favor of the bill say aye. All opposed say no. The ayes have it. Congratulations, your bill is passed.
Rep Collins: Thank you.
HB 1163 State lands in waterways
Rep Tosh: Committee members, the next item on today’s agenda is by Representative Bentley. Representative Bentley will present House Bill 1163 and then 1164. Representative Bentley, identify yourself to the committee then you are recognized to present your bill.
Rep Bentley: Thank you, Chairman. Thank you for presenting the bill. If it’s okay with you, I would like to have Kelly Boyd from the Land Commissioner’s office here with me just in case there is something I can’t answer from the committee members.
Rep Tosh: Okay. If you would, glad to have you with us in committee today. Mr. Boyd. If you would, just identify yourself to the committee.
Boyd (State Lands): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am Kelly Boyd, Deputy Commissioner of State Lands.
Rep Tosh: Thank you for being here. Representative, you are recognized.
Rep Bentley: Thank you. Colleagues, as you know, last session we did some bills that would help make the commissioner’s office more effective and more efficient. We come today with another bill to do exactly that. In the past, we have allowed land owners that have land contingent to a river– over time, as you know, in the bend of the river– if don’t know, anyway, I live by a river so I know. Anyway, sand will gather over time and then debris will settle on that and then a tree will grow up and all of a sudden you have land that can actually be built on and be used. So, we have a process in place now where that landowner would have to go to the Land Commissioner’s office and let them know about that, put a process in place and put a deposit in there to pay for a surveyor to go out there and survey that land across the state. So, as you know, as a land owner, you know the surveyors in your area. Those surveyors know the land there. But the process was really convoluted when the Land Commissioner would send out a survey , would delay, and it would take a long process. What this does is put it back in the land owners hands. So the landowner would hire the surveyor and get exactly what the land commissioner’s office does to make it more fluid, more efficient, easier for the Land Commissioner’s office, easier for the land owner to get this process taken place. So, this pretty much is it in a nutshell. If anybody has any questions on this bill I will take those questions.
Rep Tosh: Any questions from the committee members? Seeing none, no one signed up to speak for or against the bill. Representative Bentley, are you ready to close with your bill?
Rep Bentley: I am closed for the bill, and with that, I would make a motion to do pass.
Rep Tosh: Representative Bentley has closed with her bill. She has made a motion of a do pass. Any discussion on the motion? Seeing none, all in favor say aye. All opposed say no. The ayes have it. Congratulations, Representative, and I understand we have another bill, House Bill 1164. If you are ready, then you are recognized to present that bill.
HB 1164 Deleting obsolete language for State Lands
Rep Bentley: Thank you, Chairman, thank you, committee. Here’s another one of my favorite bills to get rid of obsolete language. The language in this bill has actually been around since 1947. I think I can say this is before any of us were born. So, this really gets rid of language that is obsolete and no longer used by the Land Commissioner’s office, and at their request, we are going to delete some obsolete language this morning. If anybody has any questions, I will be happy to take them.
Rep Tosh: Any questions from the committee members? Seeing none, no one has signed up to speak for or against the bill. Representative Bentley, are you ready to close?
Rep Bentley: I am closed, Chairman.
Rep Tosh: I have a motion do pass. Representative Bentley has made a motion to do pass. Any discussion on the motion? Seeing none, all in favor say aye. All opposed say no. Congratulations Representative Bentley, your bill is passed.
Rep Bentley: Thank you Chairman. Thank you, committee. I appreciate your support.
Rep Tosh: Committee members, that completes today’s agenda. And before we adjourn, I will remind you again, committee photos next Wednesday right here at 10:00. And we are adjourned.