Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/12/2003 01:05 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 78-UNIFIED PERMIT APPLICATION                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FATE announced that the  next order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 78,  "An Act  relating to adoption  and use  of a                                                               
unified  permit   application  form   by  the   natural  resource                                                               
agencies;    and   repealing    the   Environmental    Procedures                                                               
Coordination Act."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FATE  noted the bill would  be held in committee  at the                                                               
request of the sponsor.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1821                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA, speaking  as sponsor,  characterized HB                                                               
78 as a one of the first  important steps in an [effort] to start                                                               
streamlining  the resource  permitting  process in  Alaska.   She                                                               
suggested the  way to [obtain]  economic stability in  Alaska and                                                               
get  out of  the state's  current economic  problem is  [through]                                                               
strong, stable, well-managed resource  development.  She said oil                                                               
funds 85 percent of the budget,  but there are other resources in                                                               
Alaska that  are worth  developing.   She said  a clean,  easy to                                                               
use,  fair process  is needed,  and  some good  processes are  in                                                               
place, but  she thought the  [legislature] should spend  its time                                                               
arguing  about substantive  or scientific  issues  - things  that                                                               
really  matter,  not about  the  process.   She  said  permitting                                                               
issues are  really dry and  can be  very boring, but  the process                                                               
drives the  outcome.   She talked about  her love  for permitting                                                               
issues  and offered  some of  her previous  employment experience                                                               
working  in  resource issues  such  as  working in  the  attorney                                                               
general's office  on issues such  as coastal zone  management and                                                               
outer continental lease sales.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1996                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA  said the  bill  would  create a  single                                                               
application process  for projects  that require permits  for more                                                               
than one  state resource  agency.   She said  [HB 78]  requires a                                                               
single  permit   application  form   and  establishes   a  permit                                                               
application clearinghouse  in the  Office of  the Governor.   She                                                               
said  HB  78 also  sets  up  very  tight deadlines  and  requires                                                               
agencies to collaborate on the  permit process, and the bill also                                                               
repeals  the  Environmental  Procedures Coordination  Act.    She                                                               
remarked,  "Maybe I'm  the  only  one that  could  get away  with                                                               
repealing   that  without   someone   questioning  my   motives."                                                               
Representative   Kerttula  suggested   that  the   [Environmental                                                               
Procedures  Coordination Act]  provides  an out-of-date  process,                                                               
and in  her experience  had only  been used  once, ineffectively.                                                               
She suggested  the process  is redundant, and  she said  the bill                                                               
does not  change the permits  themselves or any  statutory duties                                                               
that the agencies have.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  said overall, comments made  on the bill                                                               
have  suggested that  the bill  doesn't go  far enough,  so there                                                               
will be some legislation from  both the governor and the minority                                                               
[caucus]  that  goes a  whole  lot  further.   She  said  another                                                               
comment  she'd  received  is  the   bill  goes  too  far  and  is                                                               
duplicative.  She said the  bill is not duplicative; however, the                                                               
coastal  policy questionnaire,  which gets  used in  coastal zone                                                               
management  issues, does  exist and  is similar.   She  suggested                                                               
creating a  subcommittee to  work out the  issues because  all of                                                               
the different  pieces [of legislation]  will have to  be balanced                                                               
and coordinated.   Representative  Kerttula said  if the  bill is                                                               
duplicative, it  might be with  things that are "coming  down the                                                               
line," and  she suggested  that the question  of where  to locate                                                               
the  clearinghouse would  have to  be worked  out with  impending                                                               
legislation "that's coming our way."  She mentioned that there is                                                               
a  move  to  put  a  lot of  functions  of  permitting  into  the                                                               
Department of Natural Resources.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2067                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   KERTTULA  said   this   bill   would  keep   the                                                               
clearinghouse  in the  governor's  office, and  it  has been  her                                                               
experience  that it's  important for  the governor  to have  easy                                                               
access  to information  about permitting.    She said  this is  a                                                               
policy call and something that can be discussed later.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF told  Representative Kerttula  that she  had                                                               
just described the Kenai River Center.   In response to a comment                                                               
made  by  Representative  Kerttula,  he  said  U.S.  Senator  Ted                                                               
Stevens  offered  support  for  the Kenai  River  Center  and  it                                                               
doesn't work.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA said  she would  like to  talk with  him                                                               
about why it doesn't work.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF  indicated   that  obtaining  a  restoration                                                               
permit can be very time consuming and involve multiple agencies.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  told Representative Wolf that  she would                                                               
talk more with him about that  because she doesn't know that much                                                               
about the Kenai River Center, but  she wanted to learn more about                                                               
it and why it isn't working.   She said her assumption is that it                                                               
probably  involves federal  issues.   This effort,  she said,  is                                                               
about making  [the process] work  and about applicants  that have                                                               
to [obtain  multiple] permits, particularly,  smaller applicants.                                                               
So,  she said,  [under this  bill] the  applicant can  go to  one                                                               
place, use  one application, and  get help [with  the application                                                               
process].                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF  suggested  that  because  of  the  way  the                                                               
[process] is set  up, it is impossible  to go to one  agency.  He                                                               
said there  are federal, state,  and local issues,  which require                                                               
several agencies [to  be involved in the process].   He remarked,                                                               
"You cannot do this."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 2268                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  turned  attention  to  a  handout  in  the                                                               
committee  packet.   He said  the  example of  the small  project                                                               
specifies that the  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers  requires both a                                                               
Section 404 permit and a Section  10 permit.  However, he said, a                                                               
large project only  requires a Section 404  permit and eliminates                                                               
the requirement  for the Section 10  permit.  He said  this would                                                               
lead him  to believe  that if  the project  were big  enough, the                                                               
U.S.   Army   Corps   of   Engineers   would   not   be   needed.                                                               
Representative  Gatto  asked  if  is accurate  that  permits  are                                                               
deleted as the project size increases.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA said  the examples  are actual  projects                                                               
and [represent] the  permits that are required.   She said permit                                                               
requirements  are  based on  the  specifics  of the  project  and                                                               
because of differences  in the two projects, the  U.S. Army Corps                                                               
of Engineers has different requirements.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO   said  it's   not  really   an  [accurate]                                                               
comparison if  totally different  kinds of  projects are  used in                                                               
the example.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA offered to  provide examples that specify                                                               
the differences.   She said the  [handout] was an effort  to show                                                               
how many permits  are required, even in the case  of a very small                                                               
project.  She said the [handout]  was not intended to compare the                                                               
[the  differences  in permit  requirements  for  small and  large                                                               
projects].                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2366                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
WILLIAM  (BILL)  JEFFRESS,  Director,  Division  of  Governmental                                                               
Coordination  (DGC), Office  of Management  & Budget,  testified.                                                               
Mr.  Jeffress  said   along  parallel  paths  with   HB  78,  the                                                               
administration has  already gone quite  a ways in  developing and                                                               
streamlining  the  permitting process.    He  said EO  [Executive                                                               
Order]  106 moves  DGC and  the ACMP  [Alaska Coastal  Management                                                               
Program]  into  DNR,  which  is  part  of  the  overall  plan  to                                                               
streamline permitting.   He talked  about moving the  Division of                                                               
Habitat  and Restoration  to DNR's  Office of  Habitat Management                                                               
and  Permitting.    He  said  the effort  is  to  reorganize  the                                                               
permitting  structure,  and  with current  legislation  that  was                                                               
introduced earlier in  the day, DNR would be  the lead permitting                                                               
agency for all resource permits issued in Alaska.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEFFRESS said  under  this scenario  the  Office of  Habitat                                                               
Management and  Permitting and the  Office of  Project Management                                                               
and Permitting would be created; the  ACMP would be a section and                                                               
a  another   section  would   be  the   large-project  permitting                                                               
coordination team.  He talked  about small, everyday permits that                                                               
are issued,  and he  said [the department]  wants to  ensure that                                                               
there is as seamless a transition  as possible and "none of those                                                               
fall  through  the cracks."    He  indicated a  clearinghouse  is                                                               
envisioned that  will sort  small projects  [and direct  them] to                                                               
the  appropriate  agency.    He  said  large  projects  would  be                                                               
coordinated by a  strong team manager that would  select from the                                                               
different  resource  agencies  involved  and  would  [require]  a                                                               
multi-agency [effort].   He explained  that the  expertise that's                                                               
needed will  be pulled  from different  agencies to  permit those                                                               
projects and move them forward.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEFFRESS indicated  [those involved in the  effort] are still                                                               
working through the "nuts and bolts"  and that some of the issues                                                               
are  under  the [legislature's]  control,  which  will shape  the                                                               
final  direction of  this.   He said  he applauds  Representative                                                               
Kerttula's efforts in putting forth HB  78 and that he thinks the                                                               
focus is  on the same  end result of streamlining  permitting and                                                               
making it easy and as undaunting  a process as possible.  He said                                                               
he'd mentioned  to Representative  Kerttula earlier  that neither                                                               
the federal  government nor the  state has been able  to quantify                                                               
how many opportunities have been  missed, because a lot of people                                                               
look at the permitting process,  which is so cumbersome and scary                                                               
that they decide to do something else.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEFFRESS suggested  the more  user-friendly the  process is,                                                               
the better  off [the state]  is going to be.   He said  in coming                                                               
from the regulatory  community, he knows that there are  a lot of                                                               
resources  available  to draw  on,  and  he hopes  everybody  has                                                               
patience with  him because he  will probably  be asking a  lot of                                                               
questions and  getting ideas on  how to streamline  this process.                                                               
He said a good team is  currently set up that represents both the                                                               
experience  in  DGC  and  within  DNR,  including  the  different                                                               
divisions and  the permitting functions that  DNR has implemented                                                               
over the years.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2588                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR FATE  talked about holding the  bill to see how  it will                                                               
mesh  with  the governor's  proposed  legislation,  and he  asked                                                               
whether any  effort toward  a [creating] a  fiscal note  would be                                                               
made  if this  is merged  with  other efforts  to streamline  the                                                               
permitting process.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  suggested putting all of  the bills into                                                               
a  subcommittee, and  she said  she assumed  that the  best ideas                                                               
would be put forward in the end.   She said she would work toward                                                               
a fiscal note, but in the end she thought it would be subsumed.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF  suggested that moving the  Office of Habitat                                                               
and  Restoration from  ADF&G  to DNR  will  make [the  permitting                                                               
process] more user-friendly.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2657                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  FATE indicated  that HB  78 would  be held  for further                                                               
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                

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