Legislature(2003 - 2004)
04/07/2003 01:42 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE BILL NO. 79 An Act extending the termination date of the Alaska Minerals Commission. PHELAN STRAUBE, STAFF, SENATOR BEN STEVENS, advised that the Alaska Minerals Commission is set to expire on February 1, 2004. SB 79 would extend the Commission until the year 2014. He noted that the Alaska Minerals Commission was created in 1986 by the Legislature and charged with making recommendations to the Governor and Legislature on ways to mitigate constraints on the development of minerals in Alaska. The Commission consists of 11 members and each member must have at least five years experience in the minerals industry. Five members are appointed by the Governor, three by the President of the Senate, and three by the Speaker of the House. At least one member must reside in a rural community. Mr. Straube noted that the Commission must report its recommendations to the Governor during the first ten days of the regular session. The Alaska Minerals Commission has had numerous recommendations put in place since 1987. Implemented recommendations include: · Passage of Alaska Minerals Policy Act (1988) · Funding for airborne geophysical surveys (1992-2002) · Creation of a task force for RS2477 trail inventory (1993) Assertion of RS2477 rights-of-way (1997) · Legislative Resolution 31 passed opposing International Parks, World Heritage Sites, and Marine Biosphere Reserves in Western Alaska, and supporting the federal American Lands Sovereignty Protection Act (1997) · Extending terms of permits when legal impediments prevent use (1994) Mr. Straube indicated that previously, the Commission had been extended for five years; however, this legislation extends it for ten years. He suggested that a ten-year extension could be the State's way of showing a long-term commitment for that industry. Co-Chair Harris pointed out that some of the fiscal note is designated for travel. NEIL MACKINNON, CHAIRMAN, ALASKA MINERALS COMMISSION, JUNEAU, advised that there are usually two meetings a year, one in the early fall in Fairbanks and the other just before the report is presented to the Legislature. Co-Chair Harris asked what part of the State does most of the mining take place. Mr. MacKinnon replied that primarily in the Fairbanks area. He noted that there are two full time staff employees that support the Mining Commission. That staff is charged with carrying out the wishes of the Commission and in finalizing the report. Co-Chair Harris asked about the future of mining in the State. Mr. MacKinnon commented that it is the "brightest star in the horizon" in the terms of providing jobs and economic activity, mainly in rural areas. He acknowledged that the prices for many years have not been good, however, there are indications of the industry turning around. Co-Chair Harris asked if the State was attempting to develop the coal in Representative Joule's district. Mr. MacKinnon replied that the potential in that area could be significant. Representative Foster MOVED to report SB 79 out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the accompanying fiscal note. Representative Croft OBJECTED. Representative Croft pointed out that the House version of th the bill had been introduced February 19. He noted that the House version of the bill had been sitting in the House Finance Committee for a month. He maintained that there was nothing wrong with that bill. He recommended that the Committee should have moved the House version of the legislation. Representative Croft WITHDREW his OBJECTION. There being NO further OBJECTION, it was so ordered. SB 79 was reported out of Committee with a "do pass" recommendation and with fiscal note #1 by the Department of Community & Economic Development.