Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/07/2003 01:42 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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.                                                                                               

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