Legislature(1997 - 1998)

02/19/1998 01:45 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
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.                        

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