Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124
04/16/2019 01:00 PM TRANSPORTATION
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HB 23-SNOWMOBILE REGISTRATION FEES 1:16:40 PM CO-CHAIR WOOL announced that the next order of business would be SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 23, "An Act relating to registration fees for snowmobiles and off-highway vehicles." 1:16:59 PM WILLIAM GAMBLE, Staff, Representative Mark Neuman, Alaska State Legislature, presented SSHB 23 on behalf of Representative Neuman, prime sponsor. [The first presentation having taken place on 3/26/19], Mr. Gamble offered to answer questions from the committee. 1:17:28 PM CO-CHAIR STUTES asked for greater specificity regarding the current use of funds. 1:17:51 PM MR. GAMBLE offered his understanding that Governor Mike Dunleavy has taken the money out of the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY 20) budget; however, he said he cannot answer as to the intentions of the governor for funds that "come in through" the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 1:18:07 PM CO-CHAIR WOOL recollected that the bill sponsor had said he wanted the fees to go to trail maintenance - snow machine trails, in particular. MR. GAMBLE confirmed that is correct. He said the name of the program is Snow Track. 1:18:39 PM RICKY GEASE, Director, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation (DPOR), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), stated that the division oversees the Snowmobile Trails Grant Program. Last year the division had approximately $400,000 total in requested funding, of which $180,000 in receipts came from DMV. He said minus the administration fees, the division put out $158,000 in grants for trail grooming, which is about 38 percent of the overall requests. With more money coming in, along with receipt authority, the division could give out more money. 1:19:47 PM CO-CHAIR WOOL observed that SSHB 23 would double the amount of money coming in; however, the actual amount would not double, since there would be a provision wherein people could spend less by paying for more years up front. He asked whether $350,000 would be "a fair target." MR. GEASE answered that according the fiscal analysis, that is correct. 1:20:17 PM CO-CHAIR STUTES asked whether the requests to which Mr. Gease referred were specifically for trail maintenance. 1:20:39 PM MR. GEASE responded that the majority of it went toward the grooming of trails. He noted that some money was requested to cover the cost of putting up safety signage. In response to a follow-up question, he said the intent behind the increase of fees under SSHB 23 would be to cover the trail grooming and signage. He said the Snow Track Advisory Council reviews [the applications], and the money is distributed to the groups. He spoke of larger equipment used for maintenance, and he mentioned volunteer organizations. He clarified that the equipment is owned by the nonprofit organizations. 1:22:31 PM CO-CHAIR WOOL asked whether he is correct in thinking that the money allocated for trails "is not going to be entirely used inside the state parks." MR. GEASE answered that what Co-Chair Wool was referring to is a different program called the Recreational Trails Program. In response to a follow-up question from Co-Chair Stutes, he clarified that funding for the Snowmobile Trails Grant Program comes from snowmobile users paying a registration fee to DMV, and then, through the receipt authority, that money is transferred to DNR to allocate to the grantees of the program - the groomers across the state. 1:24:13 PM CO-CHAIR WOOL asked whether any of the funds go to other uses, such as maintenance of summer trails. MR. GEASE answered that all the funds are used to maintain winter trails; however, sometimes "fat tire" bicycle riders use the snow machine trails. 1:25:00 PM MR. GAMBLE noted that almost 12 percent of the receipts go towards administering the program. He said it is all self- funded. He stated, "It's no cost to DNR, except for the ... [snowmobile] registration fees; they pay for all the ... administration of the program itself." 1:25:19 PM REPRESENTATIVE STORY shared her appreciation for the legislative research information that shows what the cost of snowmobile registration is in other states, as well as "the community use of the registrations across the state." 1:25:41 PM REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND referred to the fiscal note [from the Department of Administration, included in the committee packet], and noted that the revenue is listed as an undesignated general fund (UGF). She offered her understanding that funds specified for expenditure in a specific way are categorized as a designated general fund (DGF). 1:26:33 PM MARLA THOMPSON, Director, Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Department of Administration (DOA), said the fiscal note was "double-checked," so it is UGF. Notwithstanding that, she said she would check with an administrator and get back to the committee on the issue. 1:27:39 PM DAN SADDLER, Legislative Liaison/Communications Director, Office of the Commissioner, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), explained that the money is raised by registration fees on snowmobiles, which are collected by the DMV. The money, funded by capital grants, is UGF; it is "available to any program to spend" and is allocated through the capital budget to DNR, through capital grants. In response to Representative Drummond, he said he does not think the proposed legislation directs the funds to be spent on the Snow Track [Grant Program]; however, he stated, "I think the expectation is that's what would happen." 1:29:06 PM CO-CHAIR STUTES moved to report SSHB 23 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. There being no objection, SSHB 23 was reported out of the House Transportation Standing Committee.