Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/17/2001 01:20 PM TRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB  88-METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATIONS                                                                                    
CHAIR KOHRING announced that the  next order of business would be                                                               
SENATE BILL  NO. 88,  "An Act  relating to  metropolitan planning                                                               
organizations  and to  establishment of  a metropolitan  planning                                                               
organization for  the Anchorage metropolitan area;  and providing                                                               
for an effective date."                                                                                                         
Number 1863                                                                                                                     
SENATOR RANDY  PHILLIPS, sponsor of  the bill, stated that  SB 88                                                               
passed  out of  the  Senate last  week.   He  explained that  the                                                               
purpose of SB 88 is  to assist AMATS (Anchorage Metropolitan Area                                                               
Transportation  Study), which  only Anchorage  qualifies for,  by                                                               
adding one Senate member and  one House member from the Anchorage                                                               
area  to the  AMATS committee.   Currently,  the AMATS  committee                                                               
consists of  five members:   the mayor, two assembly  people, and                                                               
one  appointed  position  from the  Department  of  Environmental                                                               
Conservation (DEC) and one from  the Department of Transportation                                                               
& Public Facilities (DOT&PF).                                                                                                   
SENATOR  PHILLIPS commented  that more  direct representation  is                                                               
needed from  the legislature in  the roads and  projects process,                                                               
because they  are delayed.   He went  on to say  that two  of the                                                               
five  appointed  committee  members  are  not  "held  accountable                                                               
directly to the people," which  he does not think is appropriate.                                                               
This has led to a lot of frustration over the past ten years.                                                                   
SENATOR PHILLIPS mentioned  a project that was  supposed to occur                                                               
in Eagle River  and Muldoon last year, but that  got "bumped down                                                               
or sideways" on  the list, which upset a lot  of constituents who                                                               
were  counting  on   it  happening  at  a  certain   time.    The                                                               
constituents  then contacted  their legislators  who couldn't  do                                                               
anything about the  situation, because of the way  the process is                                                               
set up.  He said:                                                                                                               
      So, in order for constituents to have a more direct                                                                       
     say in what's going on, I propose this bill to simply                                                                      
     add one senator, [and] one house member, and increase                                                                      
     the policy committee from five to seven.                                                                                   
SENATOR PHILLIPS  acknowledged that  those outside  the Anchorage                                                               
area might view  this issue as an Anchorage fight.   However, "It                                                               
will be coming to your neighborhood,  maybe sometime soon.  And I                                                               
do not wish this on anybody," he said.                                                                                          
SENATOR PHILLIPS  pointed out  a letter  in the  committee packet                                                               
from the Federal Highway Administration  dated February 22, which                                                               
says there are no problems  with having legislators on the policy                                                               
committee.    However,  he  noted  that  the  administration  has                                                               
opposed  this legislation  on  a  couple of  points.   The  first                                                               
concern  of the  administration  was the  issue  of dual  office-                                                               
holding.   However, Hawaii  has legislators  on their  version of                                                               
AMATS.   He said Hawaii  has "virtually the same  constitution as                                                               
we do  when it comes to  dual officeship."  He  stated his belief                                                               
that  the Division  of Legal  and Research  Services [Legislative                                                               
Affairs Agency]  has provided a  legal opinion that this  bill is                                                               
"OK" while the  Office of the Attorney General has  said it can't                                                               
be done.  However, he said "it's pretty straightforward."                                                                       
Number 1710                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER  related her  experience with some  of the                                                               
roads in  the Dillingham  area.  She  said her  understanding was                                                               
that legislators get a directive  from the local municipality, so                                                               
"it's  not top  down."   She asked  why this  was not  working in                                                               
Senator Phillip's area.                                                                                                         
SENATOR PHILLIPS replied that it  was not working because elected                                                               
state officials  are not  directly involved in  the process.   He                                                               
reiterated  that the  committee  consists of  the  mayor and  two                                                               
assembly members representing the municipal side, and two non-                                                                  
elected people,  from DEC  and DOT&PF, who  are appointed  by the                                                               
SENATOR PHILLIPS  commented that  the Glenn Highway  situation is                                                               
very frustrating.  The Glenn Highway  needs to be repaved, but it                                                               
won't be  [until] a  couple of  years from  now.   At the  end of                                                               
session, "the only  thing we get is ... a  list [that says] gives                                                               
us your  money and we'll  just do what we  have to do  without no                                                               
say."  Legislators have no direct  say other then to send letters                                                               
to  the technical  or policy  committee.   This is  just "another                                                               
layer  that  makes  it  real   difficult  to  get  your  projects                                                               
through," he said.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE   KAPSNER  stated   that   having  three   elected                                                               
officials on a  five person committee means that  they would have                                                               
the  majority   vote,  and  be  held   accountable  by  municipal                                                               
election.  She inquired if "that's still not working."                                                                          
SENATOR PHILLIPS said no because  "generally speaking" there is a                                                               
"90-10  split," 90  percent federal  funds and  10 percent  state                                                               
funds.    He believes  as  a  legislator representing  30,000  to                                                               
40,000 people, [he]  should have a "little say"  over where these                                                               
priorities go.  He went on to say:                                                                                              
     We're  paying part  of the  bill and  I don't  mind the                                                                    
     process.    It's  just that  when  you're  elected  and                                                                    
     people come to  you and say why isn't  this being done,                                                                    
     [and]  I   say  its   because  of  AMATS,   they  don't                                                                    
     understand it.   I'm  the guy  who's getting  the flak,                                                                    
     because  I'm the  most  visible.   I'm  elected [so]  I                                                                    
     should be held  accountable for my actions  and all I'm                                                                    
     asking is to  make me accountable for my  actions.  Let                                                                    
     me be part of the  decision process in setting up these                                                                    
     priorities.   You'll hear from DOT[&PF].   They've come                                                                    
     up  with  another ...  excuse  why  they don't  support                                                                    
     [this bill].   I  just wish they  would say  they don't                                                                    
     support it  and leave  it as  is.   But anyway,  I just                                                                    
     think it's  very difficult as a  legislator, explaining                                                                    
     ... to a constituent, why isn't your road being paved.                                                                     
Number 1553                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  KAPSNER remarked  that  she  empathizes with  his                                                               
situation because  she has  the same  problem in  Dillingham with                                                               
the Wood Tik  Chik (ph) Road.   However, she would not  ask to be                                                               
on  the Dillingham  City Council.   She  stated that  one of  the                                                               
concerns with  this bill is  the dual office  holding prohibition                                                               
in the  Alaska State Constitution.   She asked if this  should be                                                               
waived for this situation.                                                                                                      
Number 1524                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  PHILLIPS  reiterated his  belief  that  the Division  of                                                               
Legal and  Research Services  has said  SB 88  is not  a problem,                                                               
while  the Department  of  Law has  said  it is  a  problem.   He                                                               
reiterated   that  Hawaii,   which  has   practically  the   same                                                               
constitution   as  far   as   dual   office-holding,  has   state                                                               
legislators serving on  its version of AMATS.   He described this                                                               
situation as a  struggle that has been going on  for eight to ten                                                               
years.   He  has  reached  a point  of  frustration  in which  he                                                               
believes "we  got to step  in and have  some say in  this process                                                               
and be held accountable for your actions."                                                                                      
SENATOR PHILLIPS suggested that  legislators outside of Anchorage                                                               
imagine the following:                                                                                                          
     Your constituents  are telling you this,  this and this                                                                    
     ... for their roads, or  harbors, or whatever and [you]                                                                    
     really  can't reach  in and  try to  make it  right for                                                                    
     them and  still get  virtually beat  up because  of it.                                                                    
     ...  Somebody  else is making the decision  for you and                                                                    
     the  only  thing  you're doing  is  approving  a  list,                                                                    
     handing a check  and then they go and  do whatever they                                                                    
     have to do.                                                                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS explained  that the President of  the Senate and                                                               
the Speaker  of the House  would appoint the  legislative members                                                               
of this committee.   He imagined that the  Anchorage caucus would                                                               
understand that  these legislative members would  be representing                                                               
Anchorage as  a whole, not their  "own corner" of Anchorage.   He                                                               
said  there would  be "some  understanding between  the presiding                                                               
officer and that member and the  caucus as a whole."  He believes                                                               
this  would "add  a little  bit more  credibility to  the public,                                                               
despite negative feelings towards legislators."                                                                                 
Number 1430                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  remarked that  she has strong  empathy for                                                               
his situation because she feels it as  well.  She asked if he was                                                               
proposing that all areas do this.                                                                                               
SENATOR  PHILLIPS answered  no, an  area  is forced  to have  the                                                               
AMATS process when  the population reaches 50,000.   He said none                                                               
of "your" communities  will ever qualify, however  it is possible                                                               
that the Wasilla and Fairbanks areas would.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  questioned if  this bill leaves  out areas                                                               
such as Southeast, where the population is small.                                                                               
Number 1355                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  PHILLIPS pointed  out that  Representative Wilson  has a                                                               
direct  link to  DOT&PF in  dealing with  projects, while  he has                                                               
"another layer to  work through."  For example,  when projects in                                                               
Muldoon and  Eagle River  were delayed  last October,  many angry                                                               
people called  him.  In  turn, he called  DOT&PF who told  him to                                                               
talk to  AMATS.  If AMATS  did not exist, he  could deal directly                                                               
with the  commissioner or regional  officer for  the Southcentral                                                               
SENATOR PHILLIPS  informed the committee that  AMATS meetings are                                                               
not consistent  and have been  canceled and moved.   He indicated                                                               
that having  a legislator at  these policy committees  would help                                                               
ensure that a meeting isn't canceled.   He also stated that AMATS                                                               
has lost "a lot of credibility with every folks in our area."                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON remarked  that although  she doesn't  have                                                               
this  "middle"   problem,  she  still   has  the   same  problem.                                                               
Therefore, she  is not  sure if  this legislation  is the  way to                                                               
resolve the issue.                                                                                                              
SENATOR  PHILLIPS  responded  to  these remarks  by  saying  that                                                               
before  AMATS,  when there  were  projects,  one would  call  the                                                               
DOT&PF central office and the  commissioner who would work on the                                                               
project list.   He stated that since AMATS was  started, 10 to 12                                                               
years ago,  "you have to go  through another maze to  get through                                                               
where  you  should  be."    He  reiterated  that  areas  such  as                                                               
Representative Wilson's  district do not  have to deal  with this                                                               
other part.                                                                                                                     
Number 1223                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  KAPSNER  asked if  Hawaii  has  a prohibition  on                                                               
legislators serving in multiple positions.                                                                                      
SENATOR PHILLIPS  interjected that  Hawaii has no  prohibition on                                                               
legislators  serving   on  its   version  of  the   AMATS  policy                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SCALZI wondered  whether  Senator Phillips  would                                                               
rather get rid of AMATS.                                                                                                        
SENATOR PHILLIPS said that he  has talked about that possibility.                                                               
However, AMATS is  an executive order agreed  between the federal                                                               
and state governments.  He said, "I  would love to get rid of it,                                                               
frankly, and just deal with DOT[&PF] directly on a daily basis."                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SCALZI asked if there  has been any benefit to the                                                               
AMATS board.                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  PHILLIPS  replied  that   he  is  "one  very  frustrated                                                               
individual."   However, if he had  to put a "positive  spring" on                                                               
it,  he would  say  the AMATS  committee has  probably  led to  a                                                               
"little bit better planning" than before.   But it's getting to a                                                               
point where  they are  planning things  "literally to  death" and                                                               
they are  not getting the project  done.  For example,  the Glenn                                                               
Highway is  in bad  shape, and  it won't  be repaved  for another                                                               
couple of years.                                                                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS reiterated  to the committee that  he knows this                                                               
is an  Anchorage fight.   However, it's possible that  the Mat-Su                                                               
Valley and Fairbanks areas are  close to getting this mandated as                                                               
well.   He believes "we"  should have  more say in  what happens.                                                               
He noted  that he would  not want to  be on the  policy committee                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SCALZI pondered  whether  this  board is  somehow                                                               
delaying or  causing a  delay of  projects to happen  or is  it a                                                               
lack of  funding.  However, if  AMATS is a board  that recommends                                                               
projects, a lot of things may be out of their hands.                                                                            
SENATOR  PHILLIPS  concurred,  but   said  that  there  are  many                                                               
projects that occur  in his area that the community  does not ask                                                               
for.   He  referred  to one  project  in which  no  one from  his                                                               
community requested.   It was discovered that  "someplace deep in                                                               
DOT[&PF] in the Anchorage area made the request."                                                                               
An  at-ease was  called at  2:42 p.m.   The  House Transportation                                                               
Standing Committee meeting was called back to order at 2:44 p.m.                                                                
TAPE 01-29 SIDE A                                                                                                               
Number 0054                                                                                                                     
CHERYL CLEMENSEN, Assembly Member,  East Anchorage, testified via                                                               
     I've been  on the [Anchorage] Assembly  for about eight                                                                    
     years, AMATS  for two  years, and I  was on  AMATS when                                                                    
     similar  legislation for  this first  came up  three or                                                                    
     four years  ago.   This kind  of legislation  has never                                                                    
     been  requested by  the  local governing  body.   As  a                                                                    
     matter of  fact, the local  governing body has  gone on                                                                    
     record every year  as opposing the change  to the AMATS                                                                    
     or  to the  Metropolitan planning  office which  is the                                                                    
     (indisc.)  of  the Metropolitan  Planning  Organization                                                                    
     [MPO].    It  came  up  the first  year,  and  I  can't                                                                    
     remember  if  it  was  three or  four  years  ago,  the                                                                    
     Anchorage Assembly  held a public hearing  of the issue                                                                    
     and  the  House   Transportation  [Standing]  Committee                                                                    
     participated via  teleconference.  Several  people from                                                                    
     the community  participated and  testified.   There was                                                                    
     not one person who testified in favor of this.                                                                             
     We  have  never,  at  the  local  level,  received  any                                                                    
     letter, e-mail, [or] telephone calls  that I'm aware of                                                                    
     or  testimony  asking  that we  increase  the  size  of                                                                    
     AMATS,  that  we  add another  layer  of  participation                                                                    
     level  of government....    While  people are  somewhat                                                                    
     frustrated  with  AMATS  as they  are  with  any  other                                                                    
     process  that involves  public money,  no one  has ever                                                                    
     suggested  that this  would  be a  proper  fix for  it,                                                                    
     except  the   members  of  the  legislature.     And  I                                                                    
     understand  that frustration.   But,  we are  extremely                                                                    
     frustrated at this end [because]  year after year after                                                                    
     year   [we]  have   to  be   going  through   the  same                                                                    
     To  be  honest  with  you, legislators  have  the  same                                                                    
     opportunity that members of the  public have to comment                                                                    
     on the  plans and the  things that  come before us.   I                                                                    
     know Senator  Donley has routinely sent  in letters and                                                                    
     comments on  the plans.   And he has been  effective in                                                                    
     getting some changes or getting  things moved up on the                                                                    
     list....  When  AMATS took up 15th Avenue,  a couple of                                                                    
     years ago, I  was on AMATS ...  and several legislators                                                                    
     from  the area  did fly  in  from Juneau  so that  they                                                                    
     could  testify and  be present  at that  meeting.   But                                                                    
     other than  that meeting, I  have not  seen legislators                                                                    
     participate even when they are in town.                                                                                    
     AMATS  meets  every month.    They  meet on  a  regular                                                                    
     basis.   They  take public  testimony.   It's important                                                                    
     for people  to be  able to  be here  in advance,  to be                                                                    
     able  to attend  work  sessions  or to  be  able to  be                                                                    
     (indisc.).   We have a  very excellent staff.   We have                                                                    
     an AMATS Coordinator  and that's all he  does; works on                                                                    
     AMATS  projects, AMATS  funding, AMATS  prioritization,                                                                    
     all those  sort of things.   He's part of  our planning                                                                    
     department.    He  coordinates with  the  comprehensive                                                                    
     plan  and the  other  (indisc.) that  are taking  place                                                                    
     here in town.                                                                                                              
     I think the bottom line of  what I'm trying to tell you                                                                    
     is that  the system is  not broken.   No one  is asking                                                                    
     for it  to be fixed.   I also  would like to  point out                                                                    
     that  I  believe  that this  action  does  violate  the                                                                    
     intent  of Congress  when they  said that  metropolitan                                                                    
     planning organizations  are intended for  local control                                                                    
     and for local decision.                                                                                                    
     This  [bill] is  not  local control  and  with all  due                                                                    
     respect to  Senator Phillips, when  I hear  him testify                                                                    
     about  the frustration  about this  particular project,                                                                    
     [what]  he  doesn't  understand  ...  [is  that]  we're                                                                    
     dealing with  a thick  pot of  money and  project lists                                                                    
     ...  every single  year. Sometimes  things that  were a                                                                    
     priority one  year, move over  a bit  because something                                                                    
     else [that] is a higher priority comes up.                                                                                 
     For  example, we  have now  built an  elementary school                                                                    
     along Abbot  Road, and we're  trying to figure  out how                                                                    
     to fund  the upgraded  road whereas  before that  was a                                                                    
     project  that wouldn't  of received  so much  attention                                                                    
     because it  didn't have the  amount of traffic  that it                                                                    
     is now.  I'm very concerned  about this and I would ask                                                                    
     you  to please  understand  that (indisc.)  are a  step                                                                    
     forward  for local  governing body,  for local  control                                                                    
     and that  the local governing body  continues to oppose                                                                    
     these types  of legislation.   And  then you  would ...                                                                    
     be out  of compliance  with the  United States  Code 23                                                                    
     USE 134.  And I have a lot of concerns about that.                                                                         
Number 0372                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SCALZI stated  that  he  supports local  control.                                                               
However, he asked  her to respond to  Senator Phillips's concerns                                                               
or  frustrations regarding  "disgruntled  individuals who  didn't                                                               
get  their  way or  projects  that  appear  not  [to be]  on  the                                                               
horizon,  that   are  getting  funded".     He  said   that  when                                                               
[legislators] are  in Juneau, they  get a "different  story" than                                                               
when they're home.                                                                                                              
MS.  CLEMENSEN  replied that  the  project  list goes  through  a                                                               
public  process  in  which  the  projects  are  ranked,  and  the                                                               
[Anchorage]  Assembly  as  a  whole  votes  on  the  list.    She                                                               
explained that  AMATS representatives  are required  to represent                                                               
the vote  of the entire body  on the prioritization of  the list.                                                               
Furthermore,  the  mayor follows  this  process  as well.    This                                                               
represents ultimate  control in  the most  basic form  other than                                                               
"community  by community  actually  having a  seat  on the  AMATS                                                               
policy committee."   Public hearings  are a part of  this process                                                               
and  thus  she doesn't  believe  it  is a  good  idea  to have  a                                                               
legislator as a  committee member when he or she  would be out of                                                               
town for four  months of the year and wouldn't  be "following the                                                               
same sort of input that we have."   She remarked that she did not                                                               
know which projects  Senator Phillips was referring  to that were                                                               
added by AMATS and that did not go through a public process.                                                                    
Number 0489                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   SCALZI  suggested   that  if   legislators  were                                                               
involved in the  process for the other eight months  of the year,                                                               
it  might eliminate  some  of  the frustration.    It would  also                                                               
enable legislators  to have a  better understanding  of projects.                                                               
He asked  Ms. Clemensen if she  thought there was any  benefit to                                                               
having  legislators on  the committee,  not to  dominate, but  to                                                               
understand the process.                                                                                                         
MS. CLEMENSEN replied:                                                                                                          
     I believe ... that would  be about as helpful as having                                                                    
     legislators  on the  school board  because they  fund a                                                                    
     large  part of  our  school district  budget, yet  they                                                                    
     have no direct  say in how that money is  spent or even                                                                    
     what school  capital construction projects  are funded.                                                                    
     ...   This is a  separation of powers issue.   Congress                                                                    
     clearly meant  for local governing bodies  to have this                                                                    
     control.   We  do  have  a control.    We  have a  very                                                                    
     detailed public  process.  We  are not asking  for help                                                                    
     in fixing it and I can't  think of a single time when a                                                                    
     bigger   government  body   made  a   better  (indisc.)                                                                    
     government body.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE SCALZI  said he was  thinking of a  more "informed                                                               
decision rather than exercising a higher level of government."                                                                  
CHAIR KOHRING stated his intent to  entertain a motion for SB 88,                                                               
if a committee member cared to do so.                                                                                           
Number 0667                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH  objected to an  attempt to move  the bill                                                               
out  of committee  because  there were  still  people waiting  to                                                               
testify, and he wanted to hear  from DOT&PF.  He said, "Trying to                                                               
push it  because of  a deadline  is not fair  to anyone,"  and he                                                               
would like to hold the bill over to the next meeting                                                                            
CHAIR KOHRING  asked if  the will  of committee  was to  hear the                                                               
rest of the  testimony and take the bill up  for consideration at                                                               
the next meeting.  He apologized for rushing the process.                                                                       
Number 0727                                                                                                                     
THOMAS  BRIGHAM,   Director,  Division  of   Statewide  Planning,                                                               
Department of  Transportation & Public Facilities,  remarked that                                                               
he understood  Senator Phillip's frustration since  it is similar                                                               
to  anyone's frustration  when  wanting a  project  to begin  and                                                               
somehow "our  process or  in this  case, the  MPO's [Metropolitan                                                               
Planning Organization] process  is kind of standing  in the way."                                                               
However, SB 88  is not the mechanism, at least  for the Anchorage                                                               
area, to appropriately deal with this issue.                                                                                    
MR. BRIGHAM explained that federal  law established MPO more than                                                               
20 years  ago as a  congressional way  to deal with  the conflict                                                               
between  local   and  state  government  in   how  these  federal                                                               
transportation dollars  were spent.   He described  this conflict                                                               
as being:                                                                                                                       
     Big cities in particular who  were saying, "give us the                                                                    
     money, we  know how to  spend it, this a  local issue,"                                                                    
     ... and  the states  on the  other hand  were basically                                                                    
     saying "no,  give us the  money we see the  big picture                                                                    
     and we know where to go...."                                                                                               
MR. BRIGHAM remarked  that this conflict has not gone  away.  The                                                               
MPO process  applies to communities  in an urbanized area  with a                                                               
population of at  least 50,000.  He mentioned  the possibility of                                                               
Wasilla, Mat-Su Valley,  or Fairbanks becoming MPO's  as a result                                                               
of the 2000  census.  He noted that Anchorage  is "way beyond the                                                               
threshold and  the basic  idea is  that what the  MPO or  in this                                                               
case  AMATS is,  is  a joint  local/federal decision-making  body                                                               
that  together determines  where this  funding should  be spent."                                                               
He said it  is an additional layer, but one  that was established                                                               
by Congress;  all federal money has  to go through the  MPO to be                                                               
spent in the Anchorage urban area.                                                                                              
Number 0891                                                                                                                     
MR.  BRIGHAM  declared  that  [DOT&PF] does  not  support  SB  88                                                               
because  it  diminishes  local control;  it  upsets  the  balance                                                               
between state and  local roles in deciding how money  is spent in                                                               
the  Anchorage  urban  area.    He noted  that  since  AMATS  was                                                               
created, there  has always been  one more local than  state vote.                                                               
Originally it  was two local votes  to one state vote  and now it                                                               
is three local  votes to two state votes.   Although there aren't                                                               
many state-local divisions, the idea  behind this in voting is if                                                               
"it  comes down  to state  versus municipality,  the municipality                                                               
can outvote  the state."   This [bill]  would change  this, which                                                               
would result in having four state votes and three local votes.                                                                  
MR.  BRIGHAM  indicated  that  another  reason  DOT&PF  does  not                                                               
support this bill  is that MPO is the group  that needs to decide                                                               
what the  most important  projects are.   He noted  that [DOT&PF]                                                               
might  not agree  at times  with  what AMATS  decides.   However,                                                               
according to  the law, AMATS can  choose.  He also  mentioned the                                                               
attorney  general's   position  that   this  bill   violates  the                                                               
constitutional  prohibition  against  dual office  holding.    He                                                               
noted that  legislative council has  a different opinion  on this                                                               
matter.   However, he  said "it's a  cautionary light  at minimum                                                               
and urge your caution in this regard."                                                                                          
MR. BRIGHAM  referred to letters [included  in committee packets]                                                               
from the Federal Highway Administration.   The February 22, 2001,                                                               
letter   says,  "Federal   regulations   do   not  preclude   the                                                               
participation  of state  legislators on  the AMATS  Policy Board.                                                               
He then pointed  to the April 5, 2001, letter  that discusses how                                                               
legislators get to the AMATS Policy  Board.  He agreed that there                                                               
is no  prohibition against having  legislators on the  MPO Policy                                                               
Board.   However, he said the  point of this letter  was that the                                                               
MPO  has  to vote  in  order  to add  new  members.   So  if  the                                                               
legislature were to  say "we want to put two  more members on the                                                               
MPO," it would be in violation of federal and state regulations.                                                                
Number 1136                                                                                                                     
MATT  KETCHUM,  Wilder  Construction   Company,  stated  that  he                                                               
supports Senator  Phillips' testimony.   He remarked that  he was                                                               
referring to  "financial responsibility and accountability."   He                                                               
believes that  Senator Phillips'  frustration is that  the people                                                               
making  the project  decisions concerning  where the  $70 million                                                               
will be spent, have the  financial responsibility to constituents                                                               
for direct money.                                                                                                               
MR. KETCHUM  commented that as  a contractor who bids  AMATS work                                                               
and has worked on AMATS projects,  he has seen many projects that                                                               
"don't make  sense" priority wise.   He  said, "It's work  to us,                                                               
and that's what  we do, we're contractors, we  sign contracts but                                                               
as citizens in  the town, [we see]  ... a lot of work  that we do                                                               
[that] does  not seem to  make sense."   He noted that  the AMATS                                                               
committee might have  prioritized the projects.   But, "we" don't                                                               
have the  time to attend  the meetings to "establish  these AMATS                                                               
priority  lists,"  he   said.    However,  if   there  were  some                                                               
legislative  influence,  projects  of  a  higher  priority  would                                                               
probably come  first, which  would be  "better for  the community                                                               
and   particularly   the   constituents  that   the   legislators                                                               
Number 1215                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  KAPSNER  wondered how  he  determines  what is  a                                                               
priority [project] in the community.                                                                                            
MR. KETCHUM said, "I live there."                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER asked him to provide an example.                                                                         
MR.  KETCHUM described  a project  that consisted  of building  a                                                               
bike path  near Peter's Creek.   He  said that the  beginning and                                                               
end of  the path went nowhere;  it was not in  a relatively high-                                                               
density community.  He noted that  there was a school nearby, but                                                               
the  "access and  egress" of  this bike  path did  not make  much                                                               
sense.  One part  of the bike path was so steep,  it could not be                                                               
paved, and so  a gravel surface was put in,  which supposedly met                                                               
some AMATS standards.  This job  cost $1.7 million for a two-mile                                                               
bike path.  He commented that  those who lived there were saying,                                                               
"What in the world is this for?"                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER  asked if that  would be the fault  of the                                                               
AMATS Board or an engineering fault.                                                                                            
MR. KETCHUM replied  that it was the fault of  the [AMATS] Board.                                                               
He said, "DOT is  marching to the beat of AMATS  and that's why I                                                               
think they're  more in favor of  not having the AMATS  control in                                                               
there  as well."   This  is the  frustration; "people  see things                                                               
like that  and then they see  a road in [Senator  Phillips'] area                                                               
that  very  much  needs  [work]   for  safety,  maintenance,  for                                                               
everything."   He  indicated that  if someone  wanted to  provide                                                               
input for  the list,  one had  to attend the  meetings.   But one                                                               
needs to call ahead to make  sure the meeting has not changed, he                                                               
MR.  KETCHUM stated  that he  supports  Senator Phillips  because                                                               
this bill  would add legislative  "interactment" to  the process.                                                               
He suggested that this would  make the legislators feel obligated                                                               
to attend  the meetings,  and this  would enable  higher priority                                                               
projects to  get completed  first.   He mentioned  that Anchorage                                                               
has  more  trail  miles  than  road  miles  and  DOT&PF  probably                                                               
realizes  this, but  it  "can hardly  maintain  trails much  less                                                               
build  more."   He  said  his comments  are  from a  contractor's                                                               
perspective and from a company  that consists of people living in                                                               
this area.                                                                                                                      
Number 1344                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH surmised that  as a contractor even though                                                               
Mr. Ketchum thought the aforementioned  [bike path] went nowhere,                                                               
he was still willing to take  the contract and accept state money                                                               
to build it.                                                                                                                    
MR.  KETCHUM replied,  "Without  a doubt,  that's  what we're  in                                                               
business for, is contracts."                                                                                                    
Number 1420                                                                                                                     
ANNA   FAIRCLOUGH,   Legislative   Chair,   Anchorage   Assembly;                                                               
Committee  Representative, AMATS;  testified via  teleconference.                                                               
She  pointed out  AR  No. 2001-44  that  announces the  Anchorage                                                               
Assembly's unanimous opposition to SB 88.                                                                                       
MS. FAIRCLOUGH gave the following testimony:                                                                                    
     Senator   Phillips  and   Senator   Donley  have   been                                                                    
     encouraged to participate and  attend our monthly AMATS                                                                    
     meetings.   I have  directed Lance Wilbur,  Director of                                                                    
     AMATS,  to personally  invite both  senators to  all of                                                                    
     our presentations.                                                                                                         
     Taking Senator  Phillips and Senator  Donley's concerns                                                                    
     very seriously,  the AMATS committee, the  AMATS policy                                                                    
     committee has been meeting bi-weekly  for close to four                                                                    
     months to address  the problem and change  the way that                                                                    
     AMATS ...  functions.   Today it  functions differently                                                                    
     and more  effectively.  I'd  like you to know  that the                                                                    
     federal  government  believes   that  the  Metropolitan                                                                    
     Planning Organization  in Anchorage, Alaska, is  one of                                                                    
     the  model programs.   To  that end,  we were  actually                                                                    
     asked to  go to Hawaii  and try to help  straighten out                                                                    
     their problem.  While  Senator Phillips has pointed out                                                                    
     that legislators and political  leaders are taking part                                                                    
     in  Hawaii's  AMATS  policy  program,  or  the  MPO  in                                                                    
     Hawaii,   they  felt   appropriate   to  actually   ask                                                                    
     Anchorage to  come over and  explain how we  were doing                                                                    
     it so some  of their projects might  move [through the]                                                                    
     system more efficiently.                                                                                                   
     So,  I  would   encourage  any  of  you   if  you  have                                                                    
     questions, to  contact Lance Wilbur and  talk about the                                                                    
     information  he shared  and the  challenges the  Hawaii                                                                    
     MPO is having.  One  of those challenges that were told                                                                    
     to  me  was,  because  of the  political  will  of  the                                                                    
     constituents,   that   projects  change   as   election                                                                    
     official changes.  So that's  been part of the problem.                                                                    
     A concern for me that  Tom mentioned was the separation                                                                    
     of powers.   The federal government, in  my reading and                                                                    
     certainly  that's a  laymen's  reading,  not a  council                                                                    
     point  of view,  was trying  to get  to the  point that                                                                    
     local leaders  would control  how local  dollars inside                                                                    
     the community and prioritize that.                                                                                         
     With that  thought in  mind, I'd  like you  to consider                                                                    
     that  Mr. [Dick]  Tremaine [Anchorage  Assembly member]                                                                    
     and  myself,  while  serving on  AMATS  and  collecting                                                                    
     information, really are not  voting for South Anchorage                                                                    
     or for Chugiak  Eagle River.  We're  required, bound to                                                                    
     take any requests  back to the entire body  so that the                                                                    
     entire  Anchorage  community  has  the  opportunity  to                                                                    
     weigh in on the decision  before we actually we go back                                                                    
     and vote  to appropriate  or designate a  priority list                                                                    
     of how we're going to send money.                                                                                          
     I was certainly as  frustrated as Senator Phillips last                                                                    
     October when I found  out that Business Boulevard again                                                                    
     had not  obligated for  money.  But  in defense  of the                                                                    
     process, Business  Boulevard went  from a  small safety                                                                    
     project  into  a  full  blown  renovation  of  Business                                                                    
     Boulevard with  a large  change in  the scope  for that                                                                    
     project and  that incredible amount of  increased funds                                                                    
     that  were required  through the  AMATS  process.   And                                                                    
     that will turn (indisc.) this summer.                                                                                      
     If the  legislature wants  to be  involved, we  are all                                                                    
     one city.  Senator Phillips  and Senator Donley, we all                                                                    
     live in  the same town.   We  all want the  same thing.                                                                    
     We  do not  want  this  to be  weighed  in a  political                                                                    
     direction  because of  who is  in office.   And  as Tom                                                                    
     pointed  out, shifting  powers from  three  votes at  a                                                                    
     local  level to  four at  a  state level.   The  GARVEE                                                                    
     bonds is  a solution that  if we could get  senator and                                                                    
     representative  support, would  help Anchorage  as well                                                                    
     as  many other  communities throughout  Anchorage. Just                                                                    
     to point  out, 20 percent  of AMATS money for  the last                                                                    
     decade has come to the  MPO in Anchorage, Alaska, while                                                                    
     we have  40 percent  of the population.   We  could use                                                                    
     legislative  help to  change that  breakdown.   And I'm                                                                    
     certainly not  saying that  we need  40 percent  of the                                                                    
     money.    I'm   just  pointing  out  that   we  take  a                                                                    
     considerably amount  less than  the population  that we                                                                    
     [I'm]   just  ask[ing]   you   to   consider  how   the                                                                    
     legislators would  actually add to the  process.  Their                                                                    
     availability    to   participate    in   meetings    is                                                                    
     questionable  per  the  Anchorage  legislative  caucus.                                                                    
     When I met  with them, they felt like the  time that we                                                                    
     met would  be inconvenient.   And that we would  now be                                                                    
     asking  the   constituents  of  Anchorage   to  contact                                                                    
     legislators  in Juneau  for  part of  the  year to  get                                                                    
     things done with  Anchorage.  With that,  I support all                                                                    
     of the  information, input,  and conversation  that any                                                                    
     legislature wants to  put in the process  and would ask                                                                    
     the committee  to not support  this legislation  and to                                                                    
     really take  a look at  how those MPO's are  working in                                                                    
     other areas.                                                                                                               
     Thank you                                                                                                                  
CHAIR   KOHRING  noted   that  Senator   Phillips  provided   the                                                               
resolution  [of   the  Anchorage   Municipal  Assembly]   in  the                                                               
committee packets.   He  asked what the  assembly's vote  on this                                                               
resolution was.                                                                                                                 
MS. FAIRCLOUGH said it was unanimous [against SB 88].                                                                           
Number 1693                                                                                                                     
DICK  TREMAINE, South  Anchorage Assembly  Member, testified  via                                                               
teleconference that  his district  consists of 52,000  people and                                                               
thus could separate from the  Municipality of Anchorage in regard                                                               
to  federal  highway funding.    So,  this  would be  the  second                                                               
metropolitan area in the state ahead of Fairbanks                                                                               
MR. TREMAINE  commented that Federal  Highway dollars  take about                                                               
seven years  to make a road,  a "miserably long time"  that leads                                                               
to the  perception of delay.   He remarked that there  are people                                                               
who want  local participation,  and "what  better than  the mayor                                                               
and two assembly  members that live in town,  rather than someone                                                               
who is spending their legislative  time elsewhere out of town and                                                               
actually  would have  to transport  themselves back  to Anchorage                                                               
for the bi-weekly meeting."                                                                                                     
MR.  TREMAINE indicated  that information  on  meetings could  be                                                               
obtained over  the Internet.   He noted that he  believes Senator                                                               
Phillip's office  receives it.   He referred to  earlier comments                                                               
regarding the delay of projects in  Eagle River and said that the                                                               
people delaying  the project were  those that owned  the property                                                               
and who  would not  sign a  right-of-way agreement,  because they                                                               
did not want  to sell their property.   The delay was  not due to                                                               
the  policy committee  or a  "technocrat."   He  asked the  House                                                               
Transportation Standing  Committee to respect the  vote unanimous                                                               
vote  of  the Anchorage  Assembly  and  not  pass  SB 88  out  of                                                               
CHAIR  KOHRING announced  that SB  88  would be  held over  until                                                               

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