Legislature(2001 - 2002)

05/01/2001 08:07 AM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB  88-METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATIONS                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER announced  that the only order  of business before                                                               
the committee  would be SENATE BILL  NO. 88, "An Act  relating to                                                               
metropolitan  planning organizations  and to  establishment of  a                                                               
metropolitan    planning   organization    for   the    Anchorage                                                               
metropolitan area; and providing for an effective date."                                                                        
Number 0089                                                                                                                     
SENATOR RANDY  PHILLIPS, Alaska  State Legislature,  testified as                                                               
the sponsor  of SB 88.   Senator Phillips informed  the committee                                                               
that this  is "Round 6"  for this bill.   He explained  that this                                                               
would only  apply to  Anchorage for  now, although  Fairbanks and                                                               
the Mat-Su Valley  may be impacted in the future.   The Anchorage                                                               
Metropolitan   Area   Transportation   Study  (AMATS)   has   two                                                               
components, one  of which is  the technical committee  that makes                                                               
recommendations to the policy committee.   This bill, SB 88, only                                                               
refers to the  policy committee, which consists  of two appointed                                                               
positions  by  the  governor,  the  Department  of  Environmental                                                               
Conservation  (DEC),  and  the  Department  of  Transportation  &                                                               
Public  Facilities  (DOT&PF),  and  three  [municipally]  elected                                                               
officials,   two  assembly   members,  and   one  mayor.     This                                                               
legislation  will  add  two  additional   members,  one  will  be                                                               
appointed by the Speaker of  the House of Representatives and the                                                               
other  by the  President of  the Senate.   Those  two legislators                                                               
have  to be  from the  [Anchorage] community.   Senator  Phillips                                                               
expressed the hope  that there would be  an understanding between                                                               
the Speaker and the President  so that these two legislators will                                                               
represent  all  of  Anchorage  not   just  a  select  portion  of                                                               
Number 0239                                                                                                                     
SENATOR PHILLIPS  pointed out that the  committee packet includes                                                               
a letter  from the Mayor of  Anchorage in support of  the concept                                                               
put  forth  in  SB  88.    Senator  Phillips  explained  that  he                                                               
introduced SB  88 out  of frustration.   Having  a Representative                                                               
and a  Senator on  the committee  compliments the  AMATS process.                                                               
Senator Phillips said that he  has watched the AMATS process over                                                               
the years and, for  him, it came to a head last  Fall when two of                                                               
[Anchorage's]  projects  moved  down.     Since  the  legislature                                                               
appropriates 10 percent of the funds  for AMATS, he felt that the                                                               
people in "our" district should have  a direct say on that policy                                                               
committee in  regard to the  ranking of the road  projects within                                                               
the  AMATS process.    Senator Phillips  pointed  out that  those                                                               
outside  the Anchorage  area don't  have to  deal with  the AMATS                                                               
process, which is just another  layer to proceed through in order                                                               
to  get projects  to DOT&PF.    Those outside  of Anchorage  deal                                                               
directly with DOT&PF.                                                                                                           
SENATOR  PHILLIPS   mentioned  that   there  will   be  testimony                                                               
asserting that SB 88 is dual  office holding and thus is contrary                                                               
to the  Alaska State  Constitution.  He  pointed out  that Hawaii                                                               
has similar  provisions in its  state constitution and  they have                                                               
allowed   legislators  to   be   on  their   version  of   AMATS.                                                               
Furthermore,  Senator  Phillips  pointed   out  that  the  Alaska                                                               
[Commission   on  Postsecondary   Education]   has  two   elected                                                               
officials  on  its  14-member commission,  which  is  similar  to                                                               
AMATS.   In conclusion, Senator  Phillips reiterated  that having                                                               
two  Anchorage   legislators  on   the  AMATS   Policy  Committee                                                               
compliments the policy committee.                                                                                               
Number 0511                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR MEYER noted that SB 88  has an effective date of July 1,                                                               
SENATOR PHILLIPS explained  that he wants to have  about a year's                                                               
transition in  order to give  the Speaker and the  President time                                                               
to confer  with the members of  the Anchorage caucus so  that the                                                               
best representatives  are chosen.  Furthermore,  it would provide                                                               
the policy  committee time to  adjust to  the idea of  having two                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO  asked if  Senator Phillips  had considered                                                               
making the  legislative members  ex officio  members in  order to                                                               
circumvent the problem of dual office holding.                                                                                  
SENATOR PHILLIPS replied  no.  He reiterated  that Hawaii already                                                               
does this.   Furthermore, the  committee packet should  include a                                                               
letter  from the  Federal  Highway  Administration (FHWA)  saying                                                               
that there  is nothing wrong  with having two legislators  on the                                                               
AMATS Policy Committee.                                                                                                         
Number 0637                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO directed attention  to a letter from George                                                               
Schoener,   Director,  Office   of   Metropolitan  Planning   and                                                               
Programs,  Federal  Highway  Administration, U.S.  Department  of                                                               
Transportation, that  is included in  the committee packet.   Mr.                                                               
Schoener's letter  includes the following statement:   "An action                                                               
by  the legislature  without  the consent  and  support of  local                                                               
officials and the  governor would appear to  be inconsistent with                                                               
the  intent of  23 USC  134."   Therefore, Representative  Halcro                                                               
asked if this is the letter Senator Phillips was referencing.                                                                   
SENATOR PHILLIPS  replied no.   He provided the committee  with a                                                               
letter  from   David  Miller,  Division   Administrator,  Federal                                                               
Highway Administration, U.S.  Department of Transportation, dated                                                               
February 22, 2001.                                                                                                              
Number 0742                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GUESS  noted her amazement that  no public members                                                               
sit  on AMATS  but  that  all members  are  elected officials  or                                                               
employees of  elected officials.   She asked if  Senator Phillips                                                               
had  given  any thought  to  having  members from  the  Anchorage                                                               
SENATOR PHILLIPS  replied no  and noted  that he  would entertain                                                               
such.    However,  he  wasn't  sure  whether  that  would  be  in                                                               
opposition  to FHWA  rules and  regulations  or state  laws.   He                                                               
asked  if Representative  Guess was  suggesting placing  a public                                                               
member on the  policy committee and allowing that  member to have                                                               
a  vote.    He  said  that   he  would  entertain  such,  but  he                                                               
recommended  asking DOT&PF,  the Municipality  of Anchorage,  and                                                               
FHWA how they feel about a public member.                                                                                       
CO-CHAIR  MEYER  remarked  that   theoretically,  the  public  is                                                               
represented on AMATS through their elected representative.                                                                      
Number 0890                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO  returned to  the FHWA letters,  which seem                                                               
to be contradictory.                                                                                                            
SENATOR PHILLIPS informed the  committee that the administration,                                                               
DOT&PF,  and the  Municipality of  Anchorage  have been  opposing                                                               
this legislation,  which is why  this [has been heard  six times]                                                               
and there will probably be a  few more times before this is over.                                                               
Senator Phillips  felt that it is  up to the legislature  to make                                                               
this policy  decision.  Additionally,  he pointed out  that eight                                                               
out of nine Senators voted for  SB 88.  Senator Phillips said, "I                                                               
just think that we make  the policy decisions, we appropriate the                                                               
dollars.  I think, as  directly elected officials, we should have                                                               
some  say  on those  priorities.    This  is  not meant  to  take                                                               
anything away from the policy  committee; it's to add something."                                                               
He wasn't sure where the fear is coming from.                                                                                   
Number 1063                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SCALZI   noted  that  the   House  Transportation                                                               
Standing Committee heard  SB 88 and fleshed out many  points.  In                                                               
regard to the  dual office holding argument, he  pointed out that                                                               
Article  II,   Section  5,   Disqualifications,  of   the  Alaska                                                               
Constitution says:   "No legislator may hold any  other office or                                                               
position of  profit...."  He  informed the committee  that before                                                               
he became  a legislator he  confirmed that his membership  on the                                                               
International  Pacific   Halibut  Commission  would  not   be  in                                                               
violation  of  this  provision  because it  is  not  for  profit.                                                               
Therefore,  Representative Scalzi  disagreed with  the Department                                                               
of Law's conclusion with regard to dual office holding.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE SCALZI  turned to the comment  that DOT&PF doesn't                                                               
have  a  problem   with  an  official  sitting   on  this  policy                                                               
committee,  which  was  confirmed   in  testimony  to  the  House                                                               
Transportation  Standing  Committee.    However,  he  recalled  a                                                               
possible conflict with  SB 88 due to the  regulations saying that                                                               
the   board  has   to  nominate   or  vote   on  these   members.                                                               
Representative Scalzi said  that the board could  choose to place                                                               
elected officials as members.                                                                                                   
SENATOR PHILLIPS  remarked, "That's  not going to  happen, that's                                                               
why the bill was introduced."   He expressed his frustration with                                                               
being "beat up" from constituents  regarding actions from a board                                                               
that consists  of non-elected state officials.   Beyond attending                                                               
meetings, Senator Phillips  has no avenue.  He  indicated that he                                                               
would be  amenable to the  AMATS Board being directly  elected by                                                               
the people in Anchorage.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GUESS  related her understanding that  it would be                                                               
acceptable for  the policy committee to  include two legislators,                                                               
but it's not acceptable for  the legislature, without consent, to                                                               
put legislators on the policy committee.   She asked if there has                                                               
been  a  legal opinion  in  regard  to whether  Alaska's  federal                                                               
dollars would be at risk.                                                                                                       
SENATOR PHILLIPS said that he  hadn't asked Legal Services such a                                                               
question but  rather he  had asked  Legal Services  whether there                                                               
was  anything  in  the   constitution,  state  statutes,  federal                                                               
regulations, et cetera that would  address having a legislator on                                                               
this policy  committee and the  answer was no.   Senator Phillips                                                               
didn't  have  anything  in  writing to  that  respect.    Senator                                                               
Phillips offered to pursue that question.                                                                                     
Number 1420                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO  informed the committee that  his community                                                               
council  includes a  very outspoken  AMATS representative.   This                                                               
representative has shared  many stories in which  she has arrived                                                               
at  AMATS meetings  and  the  meeting has  been  canceled or  the                                                               
agenda has been changed.                                                                                                        
SENATOR PHILLIPS  said that he  has experienced that  first hand.                                                               
Senator Phillips  expressed the  need for these  policy committee                                                               
meetings to be  held when it's convenient for the  public not for                                                               
the committee.                                                                                                                  
Number 1536                                                                                                                     
BILL   CUMMINGS,  Assistant   Attorney  General,   Transportation                                                               
Section, Civil  Division (Juneau),  Department of  Law, confirmed                                                               
the  Department  of  Law's  position  that  SB  88  violates  the                                                               
constitution's  prohibition   against  dual  office   holding  by                                                               
legislators.   He explained  that in  the department's  review of                                                               
this matter  over the  last 20 years,  it doesn't  matter whether                                                               
the person is paid  a wage or not but rather  it matters that the                                                               
person  is  holding  a  second  office under  state  law.    This                                                               
legislation will  mark a  fundamental change  in how  business is                                                               
done  in  regard to  AMATS.    Currently,  AMATS is  a  municipal                                                               
creature, but  SB 88  would change  AMATS to  be a  state agency.                                                               
Therefore, he felt  there should be some  concerns regarding what                                                               
this does  to local  government, which is  addressed in  the more                                                               
recent FHWA  correspondence [dated  April 5,  2001].   He related                                                               
his understanding  that, after review  of "that statute"  and the                                                               
more recent FHWA  correspondence, the Metropolitan Transportation                                                               
Planning process under  23 USC 134 is to provide  local input and                                                               
local control in  regard to how these federal  dollars are spent,                                                               
which would be changed by SB 88.                                                                                                
Number 1680                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SCALZI asked  then if he would be  in violation of                                                               
the dual office  holding provision by being  on the International                                                               
Pacific Halibut Commission.                                                                                                     
MR. CUMMINGS  said that  he didn't  know.   He specified  that he                                                               
didn't know the  nature of the policy  body Representative Scalzi                                                               
is on.   It matters what is actually being  done, that is whether                                                               
the legislator is collecting and  disseminating information or is                                                               
the legislator making policy and managing activity.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  SCALZI   asked  if  a  legislator   would  be  in                                                               
violation of this provision if he/she  is a member of the Chamber                                                               
of Commerce or the Board of the Volcano Interpretive Center.                                                                    
MR.  CUMMINGS answered  that if  the membership  was a  matter of                                                               
collecting  and disseminating  information or  a citizen's  board                                                               
relating to  a particular facility,  then it  [probably] wouldn't                                                               
be a  problem.  However,  if the  legislator holds a  position in                                                               
which he/she is hiring and  firing executive directors and making                                                               
capital  budget  decisions,  there  would likely  be  a  problem.                                                               
Again,  it is  based on  the specifics  and thus  is viewed  on a                                                               
case-by-case analysis.                                                                                                          
Number 1776                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SCALZI  inquired  as   to  who  checks  this  for                                                               
legislators   because   legislators   are  members   of   various                                                               
MR.  CUMMINGS noted  that this  was addressed  in his  [March 14,                                                               
2001] letter  to Senator  Ward to which  there were  three formal                                                               
attorney general  opinions attached.   One of those  opinions was                                                               
in  regard  to  Christopher  Cooke,  a member  of  the  Board  of                                                               
Regents,  and whether  Mr. Cooke  could continue  to be  a regent                                                               
during his appointment to Superior  Court.  The opinion said that                                                               
Mr. Cooke could not hold both  positions because it would be dual                                                               
office holding  because the University  of Alaska is an  organ of                                                               
the  state.   Mr. Cummings  indicated that  the attorney  general                                                               
might  take action  in  an  appropriate case,  which  would be  a                                                               
public spectacle.  Therefore, such  a situation can be avoided by                                                               
not having  legislation that places  legislators at risk.   In an                                                               
extreme case, it could be  argued that a legislator has forfeited                                                               
their legislative position and thus  the legislator has to choose                                                               
whether he/she wants to maintain a  seat in the legislature or on                                                               
AMATS.    In  further  response  to  Representative  Scalzi,  Mr.                                                               
Cummings agreed that this would be complaint driven.                                                                            
MR.  CUMMINGS turned  to previous  comments regarding  the Alaska                                                               
Commission on  Postsecondary Education (ACPE) and  indicated that                                                               
the department objected to (indisc.-static).   He noted that ACPE                                                               
is a  different type of board  because it is such  a large board.                                                               
However, AMATS, under SB 88, is  very small and the impact of the                                                               
legislative members  could be quite  profound in the way  that it                                                               
operates in  comparison to its current  [operation] under current                                                               
Number 1940                                                                                                                     
ANNA  FAIRCLOUGH,  Member,  Anchorage Assembly,  Municipality  of                                                               
Anchorage,  testified  via teleconference.    She  said that  the                                                               
committee  should have  the  Anchorage  resolution opposing  this                                                               
action, SB 88.   The Anchorage Assembly believes that  AMATS is a                                                               
local process and  should be maintained at the local  level.  Ms.                                                               
Fairclough  noted that  AMATS  meetings are  noticed  as are  all                                                               
assembly meetings so  that people know the location.   In the six                                                               
months that  Ms. Fairclough  has served on  AMATS, she  said that                                                               
the  meetings  have  always been  the  Mayor's  conference  room.                                                               
Although  the AMATS  work sessions  may experience  time changes,                                                               
the  major  meetings occur  at  the  same  time and  everyone  is                                                               
welcome  to testify  at that  time.   Ms. Fairclough  pointed out                                                               
that AMATS  has to make  some difficult decisions,  and certainly                                                               
doesn't please everyone all the time.                                                                                           
MS.  FAIRCLOUGH  turned  to the  Hawaiian  Metropolitan  Planning                                                               
Organization (MPO),  which was  hailed by  Senator Phillips  as a                                                               
good working  MPO.  She  informed the committee that  the [AMATS]                                                               
director, Lance Wilbur(ph) was sent  to the Hawaiian MPO in order                                                               
to  show them  how  to do  a  better job.    She interpreted  the                                                               
federal government's perspective to  be that Alaska's process was                                                               
functioning  and producing  projects and  road work  improvements                                                               
more quickly  than the Hawaiian  process.  In Hawaii,  Mr. Wilbur                                                               
pointed out that  because leadership is based on  an elected body                                                               
that  changes over  the  course  of time,  so  does the  priority                                                               
level.   Therefore, as more  elected officials were added  to the                                                               
process, it became more parochial.                                                                                              
MS.   FAIRCLOUGH   addressed   Representative   Guess'   comments                                                               
regarding citizen participation.   She pointed out  that at every                                                               
meeting of the AMATS Policy  Committee, people can speak on every                                                               
agenda  item at  the  time that  item is  heard.   Although  that                                                               
doesn't mean  that each idea  is incorporated, it does  mean that                                                               
the committee listens and is receptive.                                                                                         
Number 2117                                                                                                                     
MS. FAIRCLOUGH inquired  as to how the  legislature believes that                                                               
it can improve  the process.  She mentioned  that she appreciated                                                               
the  10  percent  contributed  by  the  state.    Ms.  Fairclough                                                               
emphasized that assembly  members that serve on  the AMATS Policy                                                               
Committee cannot  seek their own political  interest because they                                                               
have  to answer  to  the  Anchorage Assembly  as  a  whole.   She                                                               
explained that the Anchorage Assembly  actually directs the votes                                                               
of  the  two  assembly  members  that sit  on  the  AMATS  Policy                                                               
MS. FAIRCLOUGH then  turned to the issue of  separation of power.                                                               
She reiterated appreciation  for the 10 percent  funding given by                                                               
the state  to match the FHWA  dollars.  However, she  related her                                                               
belief that  there is  a separation  of power  issue that  is not                                                               
necessarily the  dual office holding  issue.  She  specified that                                                               
those  appropriating the  money  [legislators]  are now  stepping                                                               
into  the process  politically  and directing  how  the money  is                                                               
Number 2238                                                                                                                     
DICK   TRAINI,  Chair,   Anchorage   Assembly,  Municipality   of                                                               
Anchorage,  testified via  teleconference.   Mr. Traini  began by                                                               
saying that  SB 88 is  bad public policy  and thus he  opposes SB
88.   He asked Co-Chair  Meyer how many legislators  he appointed                                                               
when he was Chair of the Assembly to AMATS.                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR MEYER answered that he didn't appoint any legislators.                                                                 
MR.  TRAINI   turned  to  the   sponsor  statement   which  says,                                                               
"Legislators  have   a  direct  link  to   the  constituents  and                                                               
community councils  where many  of the  needs are  initiated, and                                                               
therefore,  should   have  more  input  into   the  AMATS  Policy                                                               
Committee."  Mr. Traini took  exception to that statement because                                                               
the people  that attend  the community  council meetings  are the                                                               
assembly members  and "believe  me, ..., if  you don't  listen to                                                               
the community  council, they  would knock on  your doors  and let                                                               
you  know their  opinion on  AMATS-related issues."   Mr.  Traini                                                               
said, "When you  take a look at this in  total, the process works                                                               
now."   Therefore, he didn't  believe that the process  should be                                                               
disturbed.   Furthermore, he  felt that "we"  have a  more direct                                                               
relationship with  constituents than  individuals in Juneau.   In                                                               
conclusion, Mr. Traini expressed his  desire that SB 88 would not                                                               
move forward because it is bad public policy.                                                                                   
Number 2338                                                                                                                     
TOM   BRIGHAM,   Director,   Division  of   Statewide   Planning,                                                               
Department of  Transportation & Public Facilities,  testified via                                                               
teleconference.   Mr. Brigham  announced that  the administration                                                               
does  not  support  SB  88  and "we"  agree  with  the  Anchorage                                                               
Assembly that  this is  bad public policy.   Mr.  Brigham pointed                                                               
out that since  the creation of AMATS, there has  always been one                                                               
more   municipal  vote   than   state  vote.     Therefore,   the                                                               
municipality has the ability to out  vote the state.  However, SB
88 would shift  the balance of power because there  would be four                                                               
state votes and three municipal  votes, which he believes results                                                               
in diminished local control.                                                                                                    
MR. BRIGHAM informed  the committee that the MPO  is charged with                                                               
reviewing   areawide  transportation   problems  and   developing                                                               
solutions, it is not a parochial  body.  "With all due respect to                                                               
Senator Phillips, that  is the kind of problem  he's been talking                                                               
about and  this is not the  body to get that  problem solved," he                                                               
said.   Mr. Brigham  then turned  to the  letters from  the FHWA.                                                               
The first letter [from Mr. Miller]  says there is no problem with                                                               
having  legislators on  AMATS.   However,  Mr. Schoener's  letter                                                               
says that the legislature can't  simply unilaterally appoint them                                                               
to  AMATS  but  rather  AMATS  has to  vote  to  have  additional                                                               
representation.  Passing legislation  that places two legislators                                                               
on  AMATS  creates  a  train wreck  because  a  redesignation  is                                                               
created.  He  pointed out that a redesignation  is something that                                                               
is  done by  the governor  and local  elected officials.   Senate                                                               
Bill  88 says,  "It is  the intent  of the  legislature that  the                                                               
membership of the current  metropolitan planning organization for                                                               
the Anchorage metropolitan area  (known as AMATS) be restructured                                                               
in accordance with this Act in  a manner that does not constitute                                                               
a redesignation  of the metropolitan planning  organization under                                                               
federal law."   However, Mr.  Schoener's letter says that  is not                                                               
possible.    Mr. Brigham  concluded  by  addressing the  concerns                                                               
regarding public meeting  times.  He informed  the committee that                                                               
AMATS has  a federal grant  to improve its public  process, which                                                               
he believes AMATS is doing.                                                                                                     
Number 2532                                                                                                                     
ALLAN  TESCHE,   Member,  Anchorage  Assembly,   Municipality  of                                                               
Anchorage, testified via teleconference.   Mr. Tesche underscored                                                               
the importance  of this matter  because roads  and transportation                                                               
systems are the backbone of  neighborhoods.  Mr. Tesche commended                                                               
the sponsors of SB 88 for  their dedication to public service and                                                               
their  willingness to  take on  additional responsibilities  at a                                                               
local  level.    However,  Mr. Tesche  noted  the  temptation  in                                                               
government to  do someone else's  job.  For instance,  Mr. Tesche                                                               
wondered how the legislature would  view a long-range fiscal plan                                                               
for the  state by the  municipalities.   He felt that  one should                                                               
guard  against one  level of  government  taking on  the work  of                                                               
another level of government.                                                                                                    
MR. TESCHE emphasized that SB 88  will shift the balance of power                                                               
and responsibility  for decisions  on local roads  from Anchorage                                                               
to  Juneau.    Furthermore,   merely  because  these  legislative                                                               
members  reside in  Anchorage doesn't  necessarily mean  they are                                                               
local residents  because these legislators are  physically absent                                                               
from the  community for half  the year.  These  legislators would                                                               
not have  the direct contact  with private citizens  that members                                                               
of  the local  governing  body have  on a  constant  basis.   Mr.                                                               
Tesche  said if  the desire  is to  delegate the  process of  how                                                               
local  roads in  Anchorage  are built  and by  whom,  then SB  88                                                               
should  be forwarded.    However, the  people  of Anchorage  need                                                               
access to the people that make these decisions.                                                                                 
Number 2733                                                                                                                     
MR. TESCHE turned to Mr. Schoener's  letter and the advice of the                                                               
assistant  attorney  general  and suggested  that  the  committee                                                               
carefully review those.  Mr.  Tesche framed the issue as follows:                                                               
"Is  this  issue so  important  to  the legislature  that  you're                                                               
willing to  take the risk of  a major restructuring of  our local                                                               
policy on roads  in Anchorage or run the risk  of a confrontation                                                               
with  the  federal government?"    In  regard to  Mayor  Wuerch's                                                               
letter supporting  SB 88,  Mr. Tesche felt  that Mayor  Wuerch is                                                               
out of  step because  this is  a legislative  matter that  is not                                                               
vested with the  executive branch.  Furthermore,  Mr. Tesche felt                                                               
that Mayor  Wuerch is out  of touch with the  Anchorage Assembly.                                                               
Although  the   committee  could  ignore  the   concerns  of  the                                                               
Anchorage  Assembly and  hold  on to  Mayor  Wuerch's letter,  he                                                               
urged the committee to proceed  with caution because the presence                                                               
of five assembly  members and the resolution in  opposition to SB
88 illustrate Anchorage's strong  sentiment that nothing needs to                                                               
be fixed with  SB 88.  Therefore, Mr. Tesche  urged the committee                                                               
to oppose SB 88.                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  MEYER mentioned  that  this isn't  the  first issue  on                                                               
which the assembly and the mayor have not agreed.                                                                               
Number 2831                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO  related his  belief that  there is  a high                                                               
level of  frustration.  Furthermore,  he expressed  his amazement                                                               
at Anchorage's  lack of planning as  it relates to roads.   There                                                               
is no reason  why there shouldn't be  more north-south corridors.                                                               
Although Representative  Halcro agreed  with the need  to respect                                                               
local control,  he said that  he hears from constituents  as well                                                               
as assembly  members.   Representative Halcro's  constituents are                                                               
frustrated with  the lack  of decent  roads as  well as  the fact                                                               
that it  takes a  person longer  to drive  between Sand  Lake and                                                               
Muldoon  than it  does between  Muldoon and  Palmer.   Therefore,                                                               
this   is   something   that  deserves   serious   consideration.                                                               
Representative Halcro said that he  didn't believe the process is                                                               
working.  Perhaps  there should be discussion  regarding the need                                                               
for  the  municipality to  take  responsibility  for all  of  the                                                               
state-owned    and    maintained     roadways    in    Anchorage.                                                               
Representative Halcro  related his belief  that there is  a place                                                               
for  the legislature  in this  process, although  he wasn't  sure                                                               
this was it.                                                                                                                    
Number 2965                                                                                                                     
DENNIS POSHARD, Legislative  Special/Special Assistant, Office of                                                               
the   Commissioner,  Department   of   Transportation  &   Public                                                               
Facilities, began  by explaining why  MPOs are here in  the first                                                               
place.  Twenty-some  odd years ago at  the federal transportation                                                               
appropriation  process,  large  municipalities  and  urban  areas                                                               
across the country wanted ...                                                                                                   
TAPE 01-25, SIDE B                                                                                                              
MR.  POSHARD continued,  "...large, many  millions of  dollars of                                                               
federal funds  trying to get  that money directly."   The federal                                                               
government and  the FHWA didn't  want to  establish relationships                                                               
with  a thousand  or more  governmental entities  and to  have to                                                               
oversee  and account  for those  relationships.   Therefore,  the                                                               
federal  government  developed  the  MPO as  a  compromise.    He                                                               
explained that  basically, the federal government  would maintain                                                               
its relationships with the 50 states  and the money will be given                                                               
to  the states  through  the  state DOTs  and  through the  state                                                               
governments  who can  determine  the amount  of  money the  local                                                               
government will  receive.   However, once the  money is  given to                                                               
the MPO, the  MPO determines how that money will  be spent within                                                               
its boundaries.                                                                                                                 
MR.   POSHARD  stated   that   the   department  recognizes   the                                                               
frustration that has been mentioned.   He believes that AMATS and                                                               
the  local assembly  also recognize  the problem  and thus  AMATS                                                               
sought and received  a federal grant, a local  planning grant, of                                                               
$250,000.   That  grant was  used to  perform a  study of  public                                                               
processes  in  order to  develop  suggestions  regarding ways  to                                                               
improve their own public process  and communications.  That study                                                               
is in the  completion phase.  He offered to  provide members with                                                               
a  copy of  the  draft  study, which  he  believes contains  some                                                               
excellent recommendations  that the policy committee  will likely                                                               
Number 2894                                                                                                                     
MR. POSHARD turned to the conflicting  letters from the FHWA.  He                                                               
agreed  with  earlier comments  that  it's  not necessarily  that                                                               
legislators  can't  serve on  AMATS,  "it's  how they  get  there                                                               
that's the  problem."  Mr.  Poshard concluded by saying  that the                                                               
department  feels  that SB  88  is  bad  public policy  and  thus                                                               
opposes  this  legislation.   He  suggested  that  the  committee                                                               
thoroughly  research this  and speak  with the  FHWA in  order to                                                               
ensure that  the federal funds  aren't jeopardized  before voting                                                               
for SB 88.                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  MURKOWSKI  related  her  understanding  that  Mr.                                                               
Poshard  feels  that  SB  88   is  ill-advised  because  how  the                                                               
legislators would  get on  the AMATS  committee.   Therefore, she                                                               
surmised  that Mr.  Poshard,  DOT&PF, is  in  agreement with  Mr.                                                               
Schoener's letter in  that SB 88 would be a  redesignation of the                                                               
MR. POSHARD replied yes.  He  recalled that Mr. Miller, FHWA, had                                                               
testified at the House  Transportation Standing Committee meeting                                                               
that  the  FHWA  agrees  with  Mr.  Schoener's  letter  that  the                                                               
legislators adding  themselves to  AMATS would not  be consistent                                                               
with federal  law and  thus there could  be some  consequences to                                                               
those actions.                                                                                                                  
Number 2735                                                                                                                     
DOUG  VAN  ETTEN,  Member, Anchorage  Assembly,  Municipality  of                                                               
Anchorage, testified  via teleconference.  Mr.  Van Etten related                                                               
his understanding  that the AMATS  process seeks local  input and                                                               
constitutes local control, "local" being  the operative word.  He                                                               
also noted  that AMATS is  a year-round  process.  Mr.  Van Etten                                                               
said  that he  would hate  to have  legislators who  spend almost                                                               
half their  year in Juneau  to have to  spend any more  time than                                                               
necessary on the public process  in Anchorage.  There are already                                                               
many  things that  the  local [government]  can't  deal with  and                                                               
appreciate that the state does.                                                                                                 
MR. VAN  ETTEN said that if  appropriations is the issue  in that                                                               
10 percent  of AMATS funding  comes from the state,  then perhaps                                                               
AMATS should  ask if the  federal representatives want to  sit on                                                               
the committee since  90 percent of the money is  from the federal                                                               
MR.  VAN ETTEN  pointed  out that  the AMATS  process  has to  be                                                               
consensus  building.    The  more  voices  there  are,  the  more                                                               
difficult  it   is  to  build  consensus.     Furthermore,  those                                                               
representatives  that  represent  particular  constituent  issues                                                               
rather  than   broad  overall  community  issues   make  it  more                                                               
difficult  to build  consensus.   As Ms.  Fairclough pointed  out                                                               
earlier, she  can't alone represent  Eagle River but  rather she,                                                               
as  do other  AMATS members,  has to  represent the  overall best                                                               
interest of the community.                                                                                                      
MR. VAN  ETTEN then turned  to an Anchorage  Assembly resolution,                                                               
2001-79S, in which  the assembly has asked  DOT&PF to re-evaluate                                                               
its ranking  criteria in  order to  more effectively  reflect the                                                               
volume  of  traffic needs  in  Anchorage.   Therefore,  Anchorage                                                               
would  actually  be allocated  more  money,  which would  provide                                                               
AMATS  with  greater flexibility  to  make  decisions on  various                                                               
MR. VAN  ETTEN noted his appreciation  of Representative Halcro's                                                               
comment  regarding  local control  versus  state  control on  the                                                               
roads in  Anchorage.  Mr.  Van Etten informed the  committee that                                                               
the  transfer of  control is  currently being  researched and  he                                                               
predicted that the transfer of  responsibility agreements will be                                                               
forthcoming  within  the   next  few  weeks  or   months.    Such                                                               
agreements would outline  the transfer of control  from the state                                                               
to the municipality.  Mr. Van Etten concluded by saying:                                                                        
     I think  that AMATS,  the assembly, and  their workings                                                                    
     with  the   Department  of  Transportation   have  very                                                                    
     effectively  shown  that  we're working  for  the  best                                                                    
     interest  of the  overall community  here  and I  don't                                                                    
     think  that (indisc.)  the  balance  of power  [within]                                                                    
     AMATS  needs  to be  shifted,  as  has previously  been                                                                    
     pointed  out,  from  the  municipality  to  the  state.                                                                    
       There's an adequate job being done here and a very                                                                       
     proactive job.                                                                                                             
Number 2434                                                                                                                     
DICK  TREMAIN,   Member,  Anchorage  Assembly,   Municipality  of                                                               
Anchorage;  AMATS representative,  testified via  teleconference.                                                               
Mr.  Tremain identified  the problem  as there  not being  enough                                                               
funding  coming  to Anchorage.    When  there  is a  shortage  in                                                               
resources, there  is conflict over  their use.   Additionally, it                                                               
is  a seven  year  process to  build federal  roads,  which is  a                                                               
federal  problem not  a  state  or local  problem.   Mr.  Tremain                                                               
informed the  committee that  Anchorage has  about 40  percent of                                                               
the people  in the state,  while only receiving about  20 percent                                                               
of  the dollars.    He agreed  that there  is  congestion and  he                                                               
suggested  that   "congestion  is   not  a  linear   function  of                                                               
population  and vehicles,  that  there  is something  exponential                                                               
involved,  especially   when  you   have  a  community   that  is                                                               
geographically  spread  out as  Anchorage  is."   Therefore,  one                                                               
could argue that  even more money is necessary  because there are                                                               
more travel miles per vehicle per capita.                                                                                       
MR. TREMAIN noted  his appreciation of the  legislative intent to                                                               
help,  but  perhaps that  should  be  focused on  assisting  [the                                                               
municipality]  in obtaining  more federal  dollars and  providing                                                               
Anchorage with a more equitable  distribution of funds within the                                                               
state as  well as upgrading  roads.  In  regard to the  notion of                                                               
transferring road responsibility from the  state to the city, Mr.                                                               
Tremain  pointed out  that a  large transfer  of dollars  will be                                                               
required to  bring them  up to snuff.   Furthermore,  there would                                                               
need  to be  ongoing  operations and  maintenance  funding.   Mr.                                                               
Tremain  mentioned the  numerous  unfunded legislative  mandates,                                                               
which have hurt the municipality tremendously.                                                                                  
Number 2272                                                                                                                     
MR. TREMAIN turned  to the issue of  legislative participation on                                                               
AMATS  and pointed  out that  such  is already  sought as  agenda                                                               
notices  are  sent  out  via  e-mail.   Mr.  Tremain  recalled  a                                                               
statement by Senator  Phillips when he was  informed that [AMATS]                                                               
is having meetings every two weeks  and that comment was, "I have                                                               
a life,  I can't just  show up at meetings  in the middle  of the                                                               
day."   Mr. Tremain agreed  that legislators are  stretched thin.                                                               
Furthermore, Mr.  Tremain said that  membership on AMATS  may not                                                               
be the  way [for the legislature]  to participate.  On  a lighter                                                               
note,  Mr.  Tremain informed  the  committee  that he  represents                                                               
South Anchorage,  which has 52,000  people in that district.   In                                                               
the worst case scenario, Mr.  Tremain suggested that his district                                                               
could  separate  itself from  Anchorage  and  thus would  be  the                                                               
second  entity   in  the  state   eligible  for   a  Metropolitan                                                               
Transportation  group   and  four   legislators  could   come  to                                                               
Anchorage to discuss roads.                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  MEYER asked  if there  was  anyone else  who wished  to                                                               
testify.  There being no one, the public testimony was closed.                                                                  
Number 2165                                                                                                                     
SENATOR PHILLIPS  noted that  many of  the committee  members are                                                               
from  Anchorage and  represent a  constituency  every two  years.                                                               
Furthermore,  "we" live  there.   Although Anchorage  legislators                                                               
are in Juneau for four months,  they are in constant contact with                                                               
their constituency.   Senator Phillips said  that legislators are                                                               
essentially  "camping  out"  in  Juneau  to  represent  the  best                                                               
interest of Anchorage.                                                                                                          
Number 2045                                                                                                                     
DAVID  MILLER, Division  Administrator, Alaska  Division, Federal                                                               
Highway  Administration,   U.S.  Department   of  Transportation,                                                               
acknowledged  that   the  letters  from  the   FHWA  have  caused                                                               
confusion and thus he offered to answer any questions.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  MURKOWSKI  related  her  understanding  that  Mr.                                                               
Miller's  letter   dated  February   22,  2001,   indicated  that                                                               
participation by state legislators on  the board is not precluded                                                               
by  the federal  regulations.   However,  there  is the  proviso,                                                               
"following  Title 23  CFR Section  450."   Mr. Schoener's  letter                                                               
dated April  5, 2001, indicated  that allowing  state legislators                                                               
to sit on the AMATS board  would constitute a restructuring and a                                                               
redesignation [without]  a change in  the by-laws to  allow such.                                                               
Therefore, Representative  Murkowski asked Mr. Miller  to provide                                                               
his opinion regarding whether these letters are inconsistent.                                                                   
MR.  MILLER answered  that he  didn't believe  the letters  to be                                                               
inconsistent.    The  letter  dated February  22,  2001,  was  in                                                               
response  to  a  specific  question regarding  whether  there  is                                                               
anything  in  federal law  that  precludes  the participation  of                                                               
legislators on the AMATS Policy  Committee.  To that question, he                                                               
replied, "No  there isn't."   He continued, "The question  is how                                                               
you get  there."  The letter  dated April 5, 2001,  addresses the                                                               
question of how the legislators come  to be on AMATS.  Mr. Miller                                                               
     If  ...  local  units  of  government  representing  75                                                                    
     percent of affected population  and the governor agreed                                                                    
     and   welcomed,   invited   the  ...   legislature   to                                                                    
     participate in  some part of  the AMATS process  is one                                                                    
     thing.     To  impose  against  their   objections,  is                                                                    
     another, in our view.                                                                                                      
MR. MILLER,  in response to  Representative Murkowski,  said that                                                               
Title 23 CFR  Section 450 specifies the process.   He agreed with                                                               
Representative Murkowski  that the aforementioned  provision says                                                               
that there  must be consent from  the local governing body.   The                                                               
provision  is specific  in that  the formation  of the  MPO is  a                                                               
decision of units of local  government representing 75 percent of                                                               
the population, such as the assembly, and the governor.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  MURKOWSKI  asked  whether   there  would  be  any                                                               
ramifications from  the FHWA, U.S. Department  of Transportation,                                                               
if the consent of the local government is not obtained.                                                                         
Number 1830                                                                                                                     
MR. MILLER said that it is  difficult to speculate on the various                                                               
scenarios that  could occur due  to SB  88.  Normally,  the local                                                               
government and the governor would  work with the board.  However,                                                               
in this  case it  would be  a top-down  approach.   Mr. Brigham's                                                               
reference  to [SB  88 creating]  a  train wreck  is exactly  what                                                               
would happen,  in Mr. Miller's opinion.   For instance, if  SB 88                                                               
passes  and  the  governor  signs the  bill,  then  [the  federal                                                               
government]  could interpret  that  as the  governor agreeing  on                                                               
part of  the redesignation.   However, if the governor  vetoed SB
88, it would be  an indication that he is not  in agreement.  Mr.                                                               
Miller  reiterated   the  difficulty  in  speculating   what  the                                                               
legislature or the assembly would do.                                                                                           
MR. MILLER  remarked that it  would be fair  to say that  the MPO                                                               
and the  planning process established  in federal law  would need                                                               
to  continue in  order  for federal  aide funds  to  be spent  in                                                               
Anchorage.  At  what point it is determined that  the process has                                                               
failed, he  was unsure.   Furthermore, he wasn't sure  that would                                                               
even happen.  Mr. Miller pointed  out that it is interesting that                                                               
the  [FHWA] would  consider SB  88  to be  a redesignation  under                                                               
federal law.   Under that  federal law, the funds  would continue                                                               
to flow into AMATS under  the existing Transportation Improvement                                                               
Program  (TIP) until  the redesignation  occurred.   However,  in                                                               
another  scenario, the  governor and  the assembly  could abolish                                                               
AMATS,  which would  result  in the  termination  of the  federal                                                               
Number 1636                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MURKOWSKI posed a situation  in which SB 88 passes                                                               
both bodies and  the governor signs it and  the assembly approves                                                               
it.     She  surmised   that  it  would   not  be   considered  a                                                               
redesignation  and  things  would  be  okay.    However,  if  the                                                               
assembly  did  not approve,  then  it  would  be construed  as  a                                                               
redesignation and federal highway funds could be jeopardized.                                                                   
MR.   MILLER  stated,   "We  would   consider  passage   of  this                                                               
legislation as a  redesignation, under federal law."   In further                                                               
response to  Representative Murkowski, Mr. Miller  specified, "If                                                               
all  parties consented  after the  fact, our  process is  in tact                                                               
[and thus] we'd continue on."                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE   MURKOWSKI  inquired   as  to   the  consequences                                                               
attached to a redesignation.   She again asked if federal highway                                                               
funding would  be jeopardized because  [FHWA] determined  this to                                                               
be a redesignation.                                                                                                             
MR.  MILLER replied,  "Yes."   If  the  redesignation occurs  and                                                               
there is no  formal action to the existing MPO,  [the FHWA] would                                                               
proceed with  the existing TIP  and transportation plan,  both of                                                               
which  have a  shelf  life.   At  some  point,  something has  to                                                               
happen.   Depending upon the  circumstances, federal  funds could                                                               
continue or discontinue.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  MURKOWSKI  asked  if the  CFR  contains  anything                                                               
specific  regarding   the  [possibility]  that   a  redesignation                                                               
without consent could have financial consequences to the state.                                                                 
MR. MILLER answered  that he didn't believe  the CFR contemplated                                                               
such and thus doesn't  specifically address redesignation without                                                               
consent, to  his knowledge.   He explained  that if SB  88 passes                                                               
and there  is no  agreement, then there  is no  redesignation and                                                               
the MPO is not functioning.                                                                                                     
Number 1409                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO  requested that  Mr. Miller comment  on the                                                               
process in Hawaii.                                                                                                              
MR.  MILLER  said  that  he  didn't have  any  knowledge  of  the                                                               
situation in Hawaii.                                                                                                            
Number 1364                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GUESS posed a situation  in which AMATS decided to                                                               
place  legislators  on  AMATS.     Would  such  be  considered  a                                                               
redesignation, she asked.                                                                                                       
MR.   MILLER  replied   yes  and   said  that   23  CFR   accepts                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE   GUESS  related   her  understanding   then  that                                                               
redesignation is okay.   However, there is  nothing in regulation                                                               
regarding a redesignation that doesn't have unanimous consent.                                                                  
MR. MILLER  explained that it  is acceptable  for the MPO  to add                                                               
membership  when  the local  government  units  and the  governor                                                               
agree.   Typically, a redesignation wouldn't  be a redesignation.                                                               
In  this case,  the  additional members  are [being  implemented]                                                               
from the state  legislature and there is at  least the appearance                                                               
that  the  legislature's  will  is  being  imposed  on  the  MPO.                                                               
Therefore, such  action would  be viewed  as a  redesignation and                                                               
everyone would need to be  in agreement.  Without agreement, then                                                               
there isn't  a functioning metropolitan  planning process  in the                                                               
state, which would have to be  resolved.  He noted the preference                                                               
for the  legislature, the governor,  and the assembly  to resolve                                                               
the  issues.   Without  resolution,  the  process is  broken  and                                                               
doesn't comply with  Title 23 CFR.  At that  point, the funds for                                                               
Anchorage are in jeopardy.                                                                                                      
Number 1151                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  HALCRO  turned  to  Mr.  Tremain's  comment  that                                                               
Anchorage  doesn't  receive its  fair  share  of federal  highway                                                               
money.   He then informed  the committee  that he had  received a                                                               
copy  of a  letter on  that  point from  Commissioner Perkins  to                                                               
Senator  Donley.    He  suggested  that  committee  members  read                                                               
Commissioner  Perkins'  response   to  [Mr.  Tremain's  comment].                                                               
Commissioner  Perkins  pointed  out   that  there  could  be  the                                                               
argument  that Anchorage  receives a  smaller portion  of federal                                                               
highway  funds.     However,  there  are   projects  outside  the                                                               
municipality that directly improve  traffic flows and the quality                                                               
of life in Anchorage.   For instance, the proposed Palmer-Wasilla                                                               
Interchange helps people in Anchorage and the Valley.                                                                           
CO-CHAIR MEYER inquired as to the wish of the committee.                                                                        
Number 1023                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  HALCRO moved  to report  SB 88  out of  committee                                                               
with individual recommendations and  the accompanying zero fiscal                                                               
note.   There being  no objection,  SB 88  was reported  from the                                                               
House Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                        

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