Legislature(2011 - 2012)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

04/07/2011 03:30 PM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS


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03:36:34 PM Start
03:36:51 PM SB111
03:47:50 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ SB 111 LAND TRANSFER FROM STATE AND ALASKA RR TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 111(CRA) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         SB 111-LAND TRANSFER FROM STATE AND ALASKA RR                                                                      
                                                                                                                              
3:36:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON announced the consideration of SB 111.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:36:59 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WAGONER [moved  to adopt  committee  substitute (CS)  SB
111( ), labeled 27-LS0703\M as the working document.]                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:37:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WAGONER objected for the purposes of discussion.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:37:35 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR JOE THOMAS,  sponsor of SB 111, said the  bill restores a                                                               
revisionary clause to the property  within the 200 foot right-of-                                                               
way (ROW)  of the  Eielson Spur  Line, located  between Fairbanks                                                               
and Eielson  Air Force  Base. He  said that  Section 1209  of the                                                               
Alaska Railroad Transfer  Act originally stated that  after a ROW                                                               
had been abandoned  by the railroad for 18 years  it would revert                                                               
back  to  the  federal  government  and  then,  subsequently,  be                                                               
conveyed back to the abutting  property owners. He explained that                                                               
in  2003,  at the  urging  of  the  railroad, the  United  States                                                               
Congress repealed  this section  so that abandoned  ROWs reverted                                                               
back   to  the   state   instead  of   the  federal   government.                                                               
Unfortunately  this  process  also resulted  in  the  revisionary                                                               
rights  to  the property  owners,  which  had previously  allowed                                                               
these  individuals to  receive back  ownership  of that  property                                                               
after ARRC had abandoned it. He  noted that SB 111 addresses only                                                               
the ROW  along the Eielson Spur  Line and is currently  in use by                                                               
the  railroad.  He added  that  the  Alaska Railroad  Corporation                                                               
(ARRC) does  not expect  to abandon  this rail  spur in  the near                                                               
future, however,  if it  is eventually  abandoned, ARRC  does not                                                               
expect to retain the ROW and  would return the jurisdiction of it                                                               
to the state.  He noted that this has been  indicated in a letter                                                               
to some of the property owners.  He added that, to his knowledge,                                                               
SB 111 is supported by all of the affected property owners.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:39:18 PM                                                                                                                    
GRIER HOPKINS,  Staff to Senator  Joe Thomas, sponsor of  SB 111,                                                               
said  that there  was one  minor  change to  the CS  for SB  111,                                                               
version M.  He said in Section  2 (b), line 17,  "another person"                                                               
was  changed to  "abutting  land owner".  He  explained that  the                                                               
previous version  would allow  any person who  tried to  get this                                                               
land this  particular right, while  version M is more  concise in                                                               
order to make  sure that the people who are  affected by the bill                                                               
will be the individuals who live and own property in the area.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MENARD asked how many  more situations like this exist in                                                               
the state                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. HOPKINs replied that he believes  any other ROW that ARRC has                                                               
which  runs   through  a  municipality   would  have   a  similar                                                               
situation.  He  noted that  ARRC  requested  that SB  111  remain                                                               
specific to  the Eielson Spur Line  ROW and other ROWs  should be                                                               
addressed individually.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MENARD recognized  that this study has  been in-depth and                                                               
she supports this  bill. She said that she looks  forward to more                                                               
properties  being  made  available  in the  same  manner  in  the                                                               
future.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:42:17 PM                                                                                                                    
BILL  HUPPRICH,  General  Counsel, Alaska  Railroad  Corporation,                                                               
said  he does  not believe  that there  are any  other situations                                                               
identical to  the Eielson Spur  Line. He explained that  the rail                                                               
line was  built from 1914  to 1921 between Seward  and Fairbanks,                                                               
when all  of the land  was owned  by the federal  government. The                                                               
Eielson branch  is unique  because it  was not  constructed until                                                               
1943 by the  federal government. He said that at  this time there                                                               
were a  number of families  who had already filed  for homesteads                                                               
along  the route  between  Fairbanks and  what  would become  the                                                               
Eielson  Air Force  Base. He  reiterated  that this  is a  unique                                                               
situation to the Eielson Spur Line area.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MENARD said that she  would like reassurance that nothing                                                               
like this  is happening in  the Matanuska Susitna  Valley Borough                                                               
(Mat Su Borough).                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. HUPPRICH  replied that there  is no reversionary  program for                                                               
any of the ROWs through the Mat Su Borough.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON asked if there is any opposition to the bill.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS replied no; not that he is aware of.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:44:28 PM                                                                                                                    
WENDY  LINDSKOOG,  Vice   President,  Corporate  Affairs,  Alaska                                                               
Railroad Corporation,  testified in support  of SB 111.  She said                                                               
SB 111 fixes an  issue which has been a long  time in coming. She                                                               
said that  ARRC is please  with the  current version of  the bill                                                               
and allows the  corporation to move forward on  a sensitive issue                                                               
for several of the owners on  the Eielson Spur Line in a positive                                                               
manner.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:45:30 PM                                                                                                                    
BONNIE WOLDSTAD,  representing herself,  testified in  support of                                                               
SB 111. She spoke to the history of the issue.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:47:11 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WAGONER removed his objection.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:47:16 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WAGONER moved  to report CSSB 111( ), version  M from the                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations  and attached  fiscal                                                               
note(s). There being no objections,  CSSB 111(CRA) moved from the                                                               
Senate Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                       

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