Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/07/2001 01:37 PM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
            SB  88-METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATIONS                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  PHILLIPS,  bill sponsor,  said  that SB  88  would add  one                                                            
Senate member  and one  House member to  the Anchorage Metropolitan                                                             
Area  Transportation  Study  (AMATS)  policy  committee.  There  are                                                            
currently  5 members  of  AMATS; one  appointed  by  the mayor,  two                                                            
elected  members  from the  assembly  and  one each  appointed  from                                                            
Department  of  Transportation   and  Department  of  Environmental                                                             
Conservation.  He feels  that  the policy  committee  would be  more                                                            
responsive  to  its constituents  if  there  were two  more  elected                                                            
officials present.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
The Federal Highway  Administration has raised no  objection to this                                                            
change   but  the  Anchorage   Municipal   Assembly  has   expressed                                                            
opposition.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
KURT   PARKAN,   Deputy   Commissioner   for   the   Department   of                                                            
Transportation  and  Public  Facilities,  said  he had  no  prepared                                                            
comments but  the department doesn't  support the legislation.  Dave                                                            
Eberle, central  region regional director and DOT  representative on                                                            
the AMATS  policy committee,  was available  to answer questions  if                                                            
needed. He  acknowledged that  there is frustration  with the  AMATS                                                            
process but SB 88 doesn't represent a fix for the problems.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TORGERSON  expressed frustration  that this legislation  is                                                            
brought  up every year  and DOT  opposes it every  time but  doesn't                                                            
offer solutions for a compromise.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. PARKAN said Mr. Eberle could speak to the specific issues.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  PHILLIPS said  that  the State  of Hawaii  has legislative                                                             
representation  on  their version  of the  AMATS  committee so  this                                                            
isn't unusual. The members,  most of whom are not elected officials,                                                            
make decisions  and  he must answer  to his  constituents for  their                                                            
unpopular decisions. It's  frustrating to receive the blame and have                                                            
no  means  to  fix  the  problem.  Adding  the  two  Anchorage  area                                                            
legislators doesn't lessen  any current member's power so he doesn't                                                            
understand  the  opposition.  There  is  a  5 to  10  percent  local                                                            
contribution  to  the  matched  federal  funds so  there  is  direct                                                            
legislative  responsibility to constituents  for projects  and there                                                            
should be input from local legislators.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 342                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
BILL CUMMINGS,  Assistant Attorney General, Transportation  Section,                                                            
spoke to the  constitutionality of  SB 88.  He said it violates  the                                                            
dual office holding  provision of Article 2, section  5 of the state                                                            
constitution. Because this  is a second office under the state where                                                            
policy  and  fiscal   decisions  are  made  about  state   programs,                                                            
legislators could not be AMATS committee members.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS asked  about the Postsecondary Education Commission                                                            
that has two legislative members.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CUMMINGS said  "that  can be  distinguished.  We  do have  that                                                            
example before us."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS asked how Hawaii was doing the same thing.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CUMMINGS  said they  have  different  provisions  and that  his                                                            
research  from last  year  indicated  the city  of Honolulu  was  in                                                            
danger of losing federal  highway dollars so they had to act quickly                                                            
to  garner  as much  support  as possible  and  this  method  seemed                                                            
expedient.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
It's his understanding  that the city  of Anchorage is changing  its                                                            
method  of  doing   business  so  that  AMATS  may   be  dealt  with                                                            
differently.  He thought  it was  best to  give this  new process  a                                                            
chance before taking "this obviously illegal approach."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS  commented that it's not illegal  until it's judged                                                            
so in a court of law.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TORGERSON said  this is a municipal board, not a governor's                                                            
board so the dual office restriction doesn't apply.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CUMMINGS  was pleased  that  point was  raised  because  "under                                                            
existing  practice, it is  a municipal board.  After the passage  of                                                            
this  legislation, it  would make  it, sort  of, an  adjunct to  the                                                            
Department of Transportation  & Public Facilities. This is a far cry                                                            
from what we have now and it gets into local control."                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN TORGERSON respectfully disagreed. He asked for the will of                                                             
the committee.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR PHILLIPS made a motion to move SB 88 with no changes to the                                                             
next committee of referral. There were no objections.                                                                           

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