Legislature(1995 - 1996)
05/03/1995 08:45 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE BILL 93 (RES) "An Act relating to the disposal of state land along the Dalton Highway; and providing for an effective date." SENATOR MIKE MILLER testified in support of SB 93 (RES). He pointed out that in the last session the Legislature passed SB 210 which provided for the reauthorization of existing leases in three development nodes along the Dalton Highway including Deadhorse, Yukon River Crossing and Coldfoot. Future non-residential land disposal at Deadhorse was allowed in that legislation. He continued that with the recent opening of the highway to public traffic, the need for additional services has expanded. SB 93 would allow the State to proceed with future non-residential disposal in each of the remaining four nodes along the route for development of various public facilities. The legislation is structured to allow disposal only within the identified nodes which have existing pads so that orderly development is maintained at regular intervals along the highway. He concluded, as with any state land disposal, all proposed sales or leases will require a Land Use Plan, subject to procedures set forth in law which provide for thorough public review. 2 Representative Brown asked how close Stephens Village was to the development areas. Senator Miller did not know. Representative Brown asked if any of the village areas were in opposition to the legislation. Senator Miller responded that the only village which testified was the North Slope Borough and that their concerns have been addressed. Representative Martin asked if the current lessee's were being protected. Senator Miller understood that they would continue to be protected. He stated that the Tanana Chief Conference supported the legislation. Representative Brown asked about the litigation proceedings filed over the opening of the Haul Road. Senator Miller replied that the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of the State. Representative Brown inquired if public maintenance and safety for the road use had been addressed in the budget. Senator Miller replied that in opening the road, eligibility for federal funds would increase. TERESA SAGER, STAFF, SENATOR MILLER, explained that since the decision was made to coordinate efforts, the Departments of Natural Resources, Transportation and Public Facilities and Public Safety have been working cooperatively in order that all public needs will be met. The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOTPF) has indicated that they do not anticipate more than an additional 50 vehicles on the road per day during the peak summer months and that they do not intend to change their current maintenance plan. Representative Brown asked the total expected cost to the State. Ms. Sager pointed out that the proposed legislation has zero fiscal notes. Representative Therriault commented that the cost of opening the road should not be tied to the legislation as the road is currently open. Representative Brown emphasized that there will be a cost associated with developing the area in order to make it possible for more people to travel the road. DAVID VANDENBERG,(TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE), NORTH ALASKA ENVIRONMENTAL CENTER, FAIRBANKS, echoed Representative Brown's concern and spoke against the proposed legislation. He pointed out that there is currently insufficient funding for law enforcement and that there have been long standing objections to the opening of the Dalton Highway. He projected that SB 93 was a portion of the adjournment package. Representative Therriault reiterated that the road is currently open, which had been approved by the court. 3 Representative Navarre asserted that statewide services are currently inadequate. Road maintenance has been underfunded for many years. He stressed that the Legislature should be prepared to cover future costs associated with the proposed legislation. He stressed that these will be new costs to the State. Representative Navarre urged the Committee members to recognize that there will be great fiscal impact to DOTPF in passage of the bill. Representative Brown agreed with the comments of Representative Navarre and noted that there also had not been a fiscal note attached for the Department of Public Safety. She noted that Department is currently not able to deal with addressing adequate service needs. The legislation will add increased pressure on that Department. Representative Brown asked if not opening the road was an option at this time. Representative Therriault explained that the court ruled that if public money is spent on the road, it must be open to the public. Representative Navarre asked if a fiscal note had been solicited from DOTPF. Ms. Sager advised that one had not been requested, noting that there had been a position paper provided by that agency indicating that they do not anticipate fiscal impact. She added that when DNR recommended the legislation, they requested to see the development occur in nodes in order to avoid strip development. DNR noted that the nodes had been evenly spaced along the highway in order to avoid the problems that come with strip development. Representative Navarre reiterated that DOTPF would experience costs associated with passage of the legislation and urged Committee members to consider adequate funding for that Department. Representative Mulder MOVED to report HCS CS SB 93 (RES) out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the accompanying fiscal notes. There being NO OBJECTIONS, it was so ordered. HCS CS SB 93 (RES) was reported out of Committee with a "do pass" recommendations and with zero fiscal notes by the Department of Fish and Game and the Department of Natural Resources dated 2/28/95.