Legislature(1997 - 1998)
02/19/1998 01:45 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 231 "An Act relating to regulation of snowmobiles." EDDIE GRASSER, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE BEVERLY MASEK, noted that HB 231 was the result of work done by the Alaska State Snowmobile Association (ASSA) and the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, Department of Natural Resources (DNR). He believed that the legislation would be an important tool in promoting this activity in Alaska, as well as creating greater opportunities for winter recreation in many areas of the State. Mr. Grasser commented that there has been a statutory requirement for registering snowmobiles since 1968, however, few Alaskans have participated. By allowing dealers to handle registrations at the time of purchase, HB 231 will establish an easier process for users to comply. The legislation also allows dealers and other agents to undertake registration renewal. Mr. Grasser continued, it is important to snowmobile enthusiasts to have a good system in place to provide an accurate accounting of the number of snow machines in Alaska. This information is an integral part of the formula used to acquire trail moneys available from the National Trails Fund. He summarized HB 231 would be a good initial step in developing a system providing for snowmobile registration. The State will benefit with help from the federal government. Representative J. Davies asked if there is a fee charged for registration at this time. Mr. Grasser said there is a $5 dollar fee to register a snow machine, which is collected at the point of sale. The goal would be to establish a point of sale registration in order to determine how many snowmobiles are owned in the State. Representative Kohring echoed Representative Martin's concern in adding an additional public tax. He inquired if the dealers would be doing the work of the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Mr. Grasser replied that dealers have voluntarily been providing this work over the years. In this mandatory registration program, point of sale would require that all dealers in the State become responsible to provide the service. With a new program available through the Department of Administration (DOA) and Internet, it will be easier to register. Representative Kohring asked how this legislation would impact a private transaction. Mr. Grasser replied that the new owner must continue to register with DMV. Representative Kelly expressed concern with the language used in reporting of accidents. Mr. Grasser explained that with this bill, snow machines would be treated the same as boats have been. All transactions are required by the bank and will be reported to the Universal Commercial Code (UCC). When buying from an individual, the buyer could check with the UCC to guarantee there is no lien. Representative Kelly asked how a new owner of a used machine accesses information regarding the previous owner(s). Mr. Grasser explained that would be the responsibility of the purchaser, and that any individual can call UCC and find out if there is a bank lien on the machine. Mr. Grasser pointed out that currently, there is an area on the registration card for lien holder information. DMV has advised that information will be printed off with the Title of Ownership. Representative Martin thought that legislation should achieve a higher public purpose. Mr. Grasser commented that the funds would indicate a certain number of snow machines in the State and could then be used to determine State's qualification for federal monies to help maintain trails. In order to qualify for those funds, there will need to be a complete record of the number of snowmobiles in the State. Representative Martin stated that the legislation would present compliance difficulties for rural Alaskan communities. Mr. Grasser pointed out that the snow mobile association supports passage of the proposed legislation. He reiterated in order to qualify for the federal grant requires snowmobiles be registered. Co-Chair Therriault asked the source of federal funding for trails. Mr. Grasser explained that currently there is a non-highway tax for recreational trail users which has created a pool of funds available to various states through the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF). JIM STRATTON, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF PARKS & OUTDOOR RECREATION, DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES, noted that the Department manages the grant program. The funds come to the State Parks office and then those monies are allocated in grants up to $15 thousand dollars to trail clubs. Representative Martin asked the percentage of rural Alaskans that receive that funding. Mr. Stratton did not know the breakdown, however, agreed that most is distributed to urban users. He added that the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has granted funding to the rural communities to help stake snowmobile trails on the Seward Peninsula. Representative J. Davies suggested that there should be a governmental mechanism to collect the fees. He added, the responsible snow mobile owners are currently paying to provide for the trails that everyone uses. The bill requires that everyone pay their fair share. Representative Foster pointed out that the legislation could only work at the point of sale. He noted that it would not address problems in rural Alaska as the DMV offices are few and far between. Representative Foster advised that there needs to be some system of notification to remind snow machine owners that their registration is due to renew. Mr. Grasser believed that by moving that Division to the Department of Administration will help address this problem by creating a mail out reminder. Mr. Grasser noted that in the original version of the bill, there was an exception for rural Alaska, although, that clause had been removed in the House Judiciary Committee version. HB 231 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.