Story last updated at 3:50 p.m. Thursday, October 31, 2002

News briefs
Council canceled

The Homer City Council meeting was canceled Monday night due to high winds. The meeting has been rescheduled for Monday, Nov. 4, with the Meeting of the Whole scheduled for 4 p.m. and a budget worksession to follow at 6 p.m.

The regular city council meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m.

State chamber sues APOC

The Alaska State Chamber of Commerce has filed a lawsuit against the Alaska Public Offices Commission seeking to revise the statute contained in the Regulation of Lobbying Act that defines a lobbyist as it relates to the amount of time an individual can spend with elected and administration officials in a 30-day period.

Currently, APOC's definition of a lobbyist includes a time reference to four hours in a 30-day period, which it calls a "substantial or regular portion" of time. Lobbyists are precluded from engaging in certain activities such as being active in political campaigns and contributing to candidates for the legislature outside their home districts.

The State chamber recognizes the importance of regulating lobbying so that the public knows the identity, income and activities of lobbyists.

But, said chamber President Pamela LaBolle, "Alaskans who are not professional paid lobbyists should have the right to freely express their opinions to legislators and government officials. The part of the regulation we are challenging unjustly restricts our members' constitutional rights of free speech and association."

"This is an important issue to business and particularly troublesome for small businesses who can't afford paid lobbyists," said Ted Quinn, chairman of the state chamber.

"Talking with legislators or the administration could easily take more than four hours per month, yet not be a substantial or regular portion of what our business pays us to do."

Under the current regulation, APOC could decide that activity makes a businessperson a lobbyist when it is actually a very small part of what the person gets paid for, said Helvi Sandvik, president of NANA Development Corporation and past chairman of the State Chamber.

"We are hopeful that when APOC and the legislature become aware of this problem, a new definition will be developed that will continue to regulate professional, paid lobbyists and not restrict business people who are not paid as lobbyists from talking with the government," LaBolle said.