Legislature(2021 - 2022)GRUENBERG 120

04/06/2021 03:00 PM STATE AFFAIRS

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 63 ALASKA MARINE HIGHWAY OPERATIONS BOARD TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+= HB 137 MOTOR VEHICLE OFFICES TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 137(STA) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                 HB  137-MOTOR VEHICLE OFFICES                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:39:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS  announced that the final  order of business                                                               
would be HOUSE BILL NO. 137,  "An Act requiring the Department of                                                               
Administration  to  maintain  and operate  certain  offices  that                                                               
provide services related to motor  vehicles; and providing for an                                                               
effective date."  [Before the committee was CSHB 137(STA).]                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:39:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS opened public testimony.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:40:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE COONS  expressed his opposition to  HB 137.  He  opined that                                                               
the bill is  not needed, as "finance" allocated  full funding for                                                               
the  DMV offices  in  question.   He  recalled  that  DOA made  a                                                               
recommendation  to  the  legislature,   which  was  turned  down;                                                               
therefore, this  bill is  not necessary.   Instead,  he requested                                                               
that  the  committee hear  HB  140,  sponsored by  Representative                                                               
Vance,  which  would  have  more   immediate  impact  to  seniors                                                               
throughout the state, he said.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:41:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NONA SAFRA  stated her support  for HB 137.   As an  advocate for                                                               
seniors,  veterans, and  those with  disabilities, she  expressed                                                               
concern about the continued possibility  of DMV closures in rural                                                               
Alaska,  which would  leave many  Alaskans  with only  privatized                                                               
DMVs that  charge unregulated, arbitrary  convenience fees.   She                                                               
pointed out  that DOA is  under no  obligation to keep  local DMV                                                               
offices  open and,  as  the former  commissioner  noted, has  the                                                               
authority to close DMVs at will.   She pointed out that those who                                                               
require medical care outside the state  need a Real ID to travel,                                                               
which entails an  in-person visit to the DMV.   She added that if                                                               
a local DMV closes, that trip  could require hundreds of miles of                                                               
travel   through  harsh   weather  and   poor  road   conditions.                                                               
Additionally,  she  indicated  that  many  residents  cannot  use                                                               
online  services for  lack of  internet  connection or  broadband                                                               
issues.  She remarked that HB  137 recognizes that state DMVs are                                                               
integral  to  rural communities  and  keeps  rural Alaskans  from                                                               
being  treated differently  than their  urban counterparts.   She                                                               
urged the passage of HB 137 to maintain access for all Alaskans.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:44:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PETER MCKEE  provided comments  not on  topic with  the published                                                               
agenda.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:48:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS  closed  public  testimony on  HB  137  and                                                               
invited questions from the committee.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN sought to  clarify whether the state would                                                               
be excluded  from [hiring]  a short-term  contract employee  at a                                                               
state-operated [DMV] office.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:49:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ZACK FIELDS, Alaska  State Legislature, shared his                                                               
understanding that  the bill  would not  prohibit the  state from                                                               
[hiring] a temporary employee to operate a state DMV.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  asked whether  that response is  based on                                                               
the bill sponsor's personal intent or an attorney's opinion.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS  said it's  how the bill  was written.   He                                                               
surmised  that  agency operations  had  never  been construed  to                                                               
preclude  use  of temporary  employees;  further,  he shared  his                                                               
belief that temporary employees are used by many agencies.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:50:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS announced that  the committee would consider                                                               
several  amendments.    He  noted   that  he  would  be  offering                                                               
Amendment  1  on  behalf  of  the  bill  sponsor,  Representative                                                               
Fields.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:51:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS moved  to adopt  Amendment 1,  [labeled 32-                                                               
LS0650\B.1, Bullard, 4/5/21], which read:                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 4, through page 2, line 4:                                                                                    
          Delete all material and insert:                                                                                       
        "* Section  1. AS 28.05 is  amended by adding  a new                                                                
     section to read:                                                                                                           
          Sec. 28.05.013. Maintenance and operation of                                                                        
     certain  offices that  provide motor  vehicle services.                                                                  
     (a) The  department, or  the department  in partnership                                                                    
     with  a  municipal,  state, or  federal  agency,  shall                                                                    
     maintain and operate at least  one office that provides                                                                    
     the public  with services related to  motor vehicles in                                                                    
     each community of the state                                                                                                
               (1)  with a population of 850 persons or                                                                         
     more; and                                                                                                                  
               (2)  that had, on January 1, 2021, an office                                                                     
     providing services  related to motor  vehicles operated                                                                    
     by  the  department,  or  by  a  municipal,  state,  or                                                                    
     federal agency in partnership with the department.                                                                         
          (b)  An office under (a) of this section shall                                                                        
     provide the  public with all services  related to motor                                                                    
     vehicles that  the office offered  in the  community on                                                                    
     January 1, 2021.                                                                                                           
          (c)  In this section, "community" means a place                                                                       
     in  the unorganized  borough,  in a  borough,  or in  a                                                                    
     unified  municipality that  is  not  incorporated as  a                                                                    
     municipality  and  in  which 850  or  more  individuals                                                                    
     reside as a social unit."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill section accordingly.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN objected for the purpose of discussion.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:51:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS  explained that Amendment 1  clarifies that                                                               
the term "operate" indicates that  the department shall operate a                                                               
DMV  in  one of  these  communities  and  that outsourcing  to  a                                                               
private  sector entity  that could  raise  prices or  potentially                                                               
fail  to   offer  core  DMV   services  would  not   satisfy  the                                                               
legislative intent, as  the purpose is to  continue offering core                                                               
public  service, including  some  that cannot  be  provided by  a                                                               
private firm.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:52:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN referenced  line  13 of  Amendment 1  and                                                               
remarked:                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     What happens  when we have a  technological development                                                                    
     and the state ceases to  offer a service statewide, but                                                                    
     we have  in statute that ...  the DMV is going  to have                                                                    
     to  keep requiring  that  service  at these  particular                                                                    
     locations.  Is that prudent?                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS stated  that  there  are certain  services                                                               
that  can  only be  accomplished  at  the  DMV versus  a  private                                                               
provider.   He  said the  intent of  Amendment 1  is to  continue                                                               
offering  those   services,  such  as  driver's   license  tests,                                                               
driver's  license renewals  for persons  over age  69, commercial                                                               
driver's  licenses,  and  driver's  license  reinstatement.    He                                                               
opined that  the intent is clear:  to offer core services  at the                                                               
DMV.  Further,  he speculated that if there were  a power outage,                                                               
the courts would understand.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:53:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  pointed out  that the amendment  does not                                                               
specify  "core  services" or  "services  that  only the  DMV  can                                                               
provide," it  says "all  services."  For  that reason,  he opined                                                               
that Amendment 1 is poorly  worded, as all accessible services at                                                               
DMV locations must continue to be accessible at those locations.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS said,  "these  are the  services that  DMV                                                               
offers at its locations."  He  reiterated that the purpose of the                                                               
bill is to continue providing  DMV services consistently in rural                                                               
communities  and not  discriminate against  communities based  on                                                               
size.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:54:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAUFMAN insisted  that because  of the  political                                                               
process, the [DMV] offices were not closed.  He remarked:                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     The people that represent  those districts said, "Nope,                                                                    
     can't  do it,"  and the  vote went  accordingly in  the                                                                    
     budgeting   process.      What  that   gives   is   the                                                                    
     flexibility.  You don't start  to get into the weeds of                                                                    
     having  something  codified  that   locks  you  into  a                                                                    
     certain thing.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAUFMAN characterized  the  bill  as "a  solution                                                               
looking for  a problem."   He  said the  issue was  already voted                                                               
down with a great deal of unanimity.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FIELDS  acknowledged that the  legislation mirrors                                                               
prior debates.   He explained  that sometimes,  an administration                                                               
follows  budget recommendations  and other  times, they  may push                                                               
back.  Because  of the leadership transition at  DOA, he believed                                                               
moving forward with the bill is  a prudent way to ensure that DMV                                                               
facilities remain open.  He added  that the budget language was a                                                               
positive step but not as strong as a bill.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:56:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN  referenced line  6  of  Amendment 1  and                                                               
asked what  circumstances would require  the department to  be in                                                               
partnership with  a federal agency  to accomplish one or  more of                                                               
the services.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS recalled  that when  the then  Barrow [now                                                               
Utqiagvik] DMV closed,  the community considered a  wide range of                                                               
options to  continue providing its  services.  He  explained that                                                               
the purpose in  broadly referencing public agencies  is to ensure                                                               
there  would  be  an  opportunity to  offer  core  services  more                                                               
efficiently.    He pointed  out  that  there is  a  long-standing                                                               
relationship  between federal  statutes  and  state provision  of                                                               
services, including  the Motor Carrier Safety  Improvement Act of                                                               
1999 and  the Commercial Motor  Vehicle Safety  Act of 1986.   He                                                               
said because of the  long-standing state/federal relationship, it                                                               
made  sense  to  reference  federal agencies,  as  the  potential                                                               
permutations  of public  agencies offering  DMV services  vary by                                                               
community.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:58:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN   considered  a   scenario  in   which  a                                                               
community had a  state DMV office that offered 10  services and a                                                               
federal agency  that offered  one service  that related  to motor                                                               
vehicles.    Should  Amendment  1  be  adopted,  he  offered  his                                                               
understanding  that the  DMV office  could close  if the  federal                                                               
office remained open and continued to provide that one service.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS   characterized  Representative  Eastman's                                                               
understanding  of  Amendment  1  as  "absurd."    He  added  that                                                               
offering one service would not satisfy the intent of the bill.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:59:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  withdrew his objection to  the adoption of                                                               
Amendment 1.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  objected.   He characterized  Amendment 1                                                               
as "poorly  written."   Furthermore, he  opined that  the "intent                                                               
[is] different than what's actually on the page."                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
3:59:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STORY expressed her  support for Amendment 1 based                                                               
on  discussions surrounding  the Pioneer  Homes last  year.   She                                                               
recalled   that  legislators   clearly  expressed   their  intent                                                               
regarding  the  Pioneer   Homes;  nonetheless,  "the  department"                                                               
continued  to act  with different  intent.   She relayed  that it                                                               
took legislation [House Bill 96] to change that.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:00:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   CLAMAN   noted   that   with   all   amendments,                                                               
Legislative   Legal   Services   drafts  the   sponsor's   intent                                                               
consistent with legislative  drafting standards and requirements.                                                               
He opined that the current  language in Amendment 1 appropriately                                                               
conveys the sponsor's  intent.  He expressed his  support for the                                                               
amendment  and  stated  his  belief  that  the  language  is  not                                                               
ambiguous.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:01:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A  roll  call  vote  was taken.    Representatives  Tarr,  Story,                                                               
Claman,  and Kreiss-Tomkins  voted in  favor of  the adoption  of                                                               
Amendment 1.   Representatives Kaufman and  Eastman voted against                                                               
it.  Therefore, Amendment 1 failed by a vote of 4-2.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:02:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  moved to adopt Amendment  2, [labeled 32-                                                               
LS0650\B.2, Bullard/Dunmire, 4/6/21], which read:                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, lines 1 - 2:                                                                                                       
         Delete "; and providing for an effective date"                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Page 2, line 5:                                                                                                            
          Delete all material.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN objected.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  indicated that  Amendment 2  would forego                                                               
the immediate effective  date, which is currently in  HB 137, and                                                               
implement  the "normal"  practice of  providing for  an effective                                                               
date 90 days after the bill is passed into law.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   CLAMAN   asked   whether   the   bill   sponsor,                                                               
Representative Fields, is supportive of Amendment 2.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:03:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS  answered  no.    He  explained  that  the                                                               
immediate  effective date  conveys  the  legislature's intent  to                                                               
keep the DMV offices open.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  maintained his  objection to  the adoption                                                               
of Amendment 2.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:04:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was  taken.  Representatives Eastman and Kaufman                                                               
voted in favor  of the adoption of Amendment  2.  Representatives                                                               
Tarr,  Story,  Claman,  and   Kreiss-Tomkins  voted  against  it.                                                               
Therefore, Amendment 2 failed by a vote of 2-4.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:05:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR KREISS-TOMKINS invited final questions from the committee.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:06:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LESLIE  ISAACS, Administrative  Services Director,  Department of                                                               
Administration,  in response  to a  question from  Representative                                                               
Kaufman  regarding   two  fiscal  notes  from   DOA,  shared  his                                                               
understanding  that one  fiscal note  had costs  in the  outlying                                                               
years and  the other had those  costs removed.  He  asked if that                                                               
is correct.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:07:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAUFMAN answered yes.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. ISAACS  explained that  DOA was trying  to decide  the impact                                                               
this legislation  would have on  future years.  He  believed that                                                               
an  amended fiscal  note would  be  submitted by  DOA that  would                                                               
reinsert  the FY  23  - FY  26  costs as  ongoing  expenses.   He                                                               
expounded  that   should  the  bill  be   approved,  this  budget                                                               
decrement would  not be  able to  be offered in  the future  as a                                                               
cost-saving  measure;   therefore,  those  costs  needed   to  be                                                               
reflected in  outlying years  as well.   He  asked if  that makes                                                               
sense.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAUFMAN asked which fiscal note is "official."                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. ISAACS indicated  that the fiscal note with  the figure "582"                                                               
in  the  outlying years  is  accurate.    He noted  that  another                                                               
adjustment should be  made with respect to the  revenue, as there                                                               
would  be  no   change  in  the  revenue   associated  with  this                                                               
legislation  because the  activity associated  with the  existing                                                               
DMV services will  continue.  He stated that the  fiscal note was                                                               
attempting to convey  that these savings could not  be offered in                                                               
the future.  He remarked:                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     It  doesn't work  well with  the format  of the  fiscal                                                                    
     note ... to show a loss  in savings.  So, we would have                                                                    
     to remove  the revenue aspect  of that fiscal  note and                                                                    
     include  outlying expenditures  for what  would be  the                                                                    
     official version of the fiscal note.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:10:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN expressed  confusion, as  only one  fiscal                                                               
note was included in the committee packet.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:10:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TRISTAN WALSH,  Staff, Representative  Zack Fields,  Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, concurred [that there is only one fiscal note].                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS agreed  that he  had only  seen one  fiscal                                                               
note, which  showed 582.5 in FY  22, nothing in the  prior years,                                                               
and zero in  the revenue line.  He  suggested that Representative                                                               
Kaufman was referring to a "phantom" fiscal note.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:11:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FIELDS, in  response to  Mr. Isaacs,  opined that                                                               
claiming that the  bill would cost money because  DOA wouldn't be                                                               
able  to close  a DMV  office in  the future  is a  novel way  of                                                               
presenting  a fiscal  note.   He added  that typically,  a fiscal                                                               
note  indicates  whether  the bill  would  increase  or  decrease                                                               
costs.  He  stated that the bill does not  increase the number of                                                               
services offered  by the DMV;  therefore, there is  no additional                                                               
net cost.   He proceeded  to list  the positive profit  turned by                                                               
the  following  DMV  offices:  Delta  Junction,  $108,000;  Eagle                                                               
River,  $1.1  million;  Haines,  $33,000;  Homer  $457,000;  Tok,                                                               
$162,000; Valdez,  $68,000.  He  said if  DOA were to  provide an                                                               
accurate  fiscal note,  it  would  show a  loss  in DGF  revenue,                                                               
adding that  it is inaccurate to  claim that the bill  would cost                                                               
$0.5 million  more.   He deferred  to Ms.  Javier to  explain the                                                               
cost per facility.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:13:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SABRINA  JAVIER, Fiscal  Analyst,  Legislative Finance  Division,                                                               
Alaska  State  Legislature,  confirmed  that there  is  only  one                                                               
fiscal note,  which she identified  by the control  code "ShScA".                                                               
She cooccurred  with Representative  Fields that the  fiscal note                                                               
makes it  look like DOA is  adding 582.5 in additional  DGF funds                                                               
for General Fund  program receipt authority.  She  noted that the                                                               
numbers listed by the bill sponsor  came from an ad hoc report on                                                               
FY 20 revenues.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:15:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAUFMAN  shared his  belief that  the unpopularity                                                               
of the  proposed DMV closures  resulted in expeditious  action by                                                               
the [House] Finance subcommittee.   He recalled that there was no                                                               
support  for  the  proposal.   He  expressed  his  hesitation  to                                                               
"locking" the legislature  into something that may  make sense in                                                               
the  future both  politically and  fiscally.   He  added that  he                                                               
would  hate   to  "needlessly   dance  on   the  grave   of  [the                                                               
subcommittee's] prior decision."                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:16:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN  characterized   the  legislation  as  "a                                                               
singularly  terrible piece  of legislation  for [his]  district."                                                               
He reflected on  the growth of [District 10],  noting that having                                                               
[a DMV office] in his district  would be a benefit for residents.                                                               
He suggested that  should the bill pass, that  opportunity may be                                                               
eliminated because the  state may not want to  be "handcuffed" to                                                               
adding a  DMV office near existing  offices.  He opined  that the                                                               
bill  is a  backdoor method  of attempting  to "handcuff"  future                                                               
legislators into  appropriations.   He emphasized  his opposition                                                               
to HB 137.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:19:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN  moved to  report  CSHB  137, Version  32-                                                               
LS0650\B, Bullard/Dunmire, 3/29/21, as  amended, out of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:19:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  objected.   He subsequently  withdrew his                                                               
objection.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  KREISS-TOMKINS  hearing  no further  objection,  announced                                                               
that  CSHB  137(STA)  was  moved from  the  House  State  Affairs                                                               
Standing Committee.                                                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 63 Emails of Support - Volume 3.pdf HSTA 4/6/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 63
HB 137 Letter of Support - Zuyus 4.5.21.pdf HSTA 4/6/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 137
HB 137 Letters of Support - 3.29.21 - 4.5.21.pdf HSTA 4/6/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 137
HB 137 Fiscal Note - DOA 3.26.21.pdf HSTA 4/6/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 137
HB 63 Legal Memo - 4.6.21.pdf HSTA 4/6/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 63
HB 137 Amendments B.1 and B.2 - 4.6.21.pdf HSTA 4/6/2021 3:00:00 PM
HB 137