Legislature(1997 - 1998)

03/24/1998 06:00 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HOUSE BILL NO. 461                                                            
"An Act making supplemental and special appropriations;                        
and providing for an effective date."                                          
 CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 461(FIN)                                                
"An Act making supplemental and special appropriations                         
and amending appropriations; and providing for an                              
effective date."                                                               
Co-chair Pearce introduced SCS CSHB 461(FIN), work draft,                      
that had already been adopted by the committee.  She advised                   
the committee that it was before them for any questions and                    
discussion the committee may have but there would be no                        
public testimony.  Attached to the work draft was a copy of                    
a spread sheet from Legislative Finance and how the bill                       
currently looked.  There were some proposed amendments also                    
in members' files.                                                             
Senator Donley requested that the Department of Fish and                       
Game come to the table.   The committee was advised that the                   
front door of the building was locked and they were                            
temporarily waiting for departmental personnel to arrive.                      
Co-chair Pearce then said they would go to amendments.                         
Senator Phillips MOVED amendment #6.  Senator Torgerson                        
OBJECTED.  Senator Phillips said the amendment would provide                   
funds to redo the Tok Cut-off.  He felt this was a project                     
that needed to be done as soon as possible.  Senator                           
Torgerson said that if the committee was really serious                        
about rewriting projects in the STIP and coming forth with                     
projects that had been ignored around the State it was not                     
proper to take $9 million off the table.  This was just a                      
project that was brought forward by the department.  He                        
referred to a letter from the Commissioner just handed out                     
to committee members regarding the Soldotna Bridge that was                    
going to have to go on weight restrictions and the promise                     
that they would take care of that with first available                         
funding.  There were many other repair projects and this                       
request did not stand any test as far as ranking amongst                       
other projects around the State.                                               
Senator Adams said under the Alaska National Highways                          
system, this section of road was the worst section.  He                        
concurred with the amendment because it would help in public                   
safety.  It would also help in long-term economic                              
development of the roads for tourism.  He also agrees with                     
his colleague from Kasilof and noted that all three                            
amendments were good projects.                                                 
Senator Sharp said that in Commissioner Perkins' letter it                     
was stated that the project was contained in the 1998 STIP.                    
Senator Torgerson responded saying that a couple of projects                   
had been moved up and it was a combination from 1998.                          
Senator Sharp said his question was if it was included in                      
the 1998 STIP as a project as stated in the Commissioner's                     
letter, was it included for the amount of money being talked                   
about now?  He did not understand why it was being brought                     
up now.                                                                        
NANCY SLAGLE, Director, Administrative Services, Department                    
of Transportation and Public Facilities was invited to join                    
the committee.  She said the 1998 capital budget was based                     
on a STIP that was developed several years ago.  She said it                   
included several projects due for construction between the                     
years 2000 and 2004.  She noted deterioration of the road                      
and weather conditions and said several of those projects                      
were consolidated into one single project now showing in the                   
1998 to 2000 STIP.  This was approved by the Federal Highway                   
Administration in February.                                                    
Senator Sharp said he did not get a total calculation from                     
the Department of Transportation of all the monies put into                    
the Tok Highway since 1989.  He noted that over the past                       
years approximately $15 million to $25 million per year have                   
been put into that road.  If it has not held up then there                     
are serious problems.                                                          
Senator Donley concurred with Senator Sharp.  He felt the                      
problem was there was no technology to rebuild the road and                    
make it stick.  He said it was on the edge of permafrost.                      
He said he had not been convinced by the department that                       
they had a plan to deal with this problem.  He further did                     
not understand why it was put in the fast-track                                
supplemental.  He asked Ms. Slagle that if the committee                       
authorized the requested amount of money how much could they                   
spend before the end of this fiscal year?  Ms. Slagle said                     
not all of it could be spent before 30 June.  The department                   
would spend it all during this construction season.  They                      
need the authority to go out to bid and then award a                           
contract prior to 30 June.  That's why they need all the                       
funds the sooner the better so the project could be                            
completed during the construction season.                                      
Senator Donley voiced his continued concern.  He said this                     
project did not rise to the level to be the only road                          
project in the fast-track supplemental.  There were other                      
road projects needing quicker attention.                                       
Senator Phillips recalled the only repair to the road was                      
fourteen miles done in 1984 - 1985.  The rest went back to                     
the mid-60's.  He said much of the road was its original                       
Senator Parnell asked if anything extraordinary happened to                    
the Tok Highway in the last six month to one year that was                     
not anticipated before?  Ms. Slagle said the weather                           
conditions of last summer aggravated the problems that were                    
found on the road.  It had caused a larger concern on the                      
part of those who had to travel it, including the                              
independent traveler and the trucking industry.  Senator                       
Parnell said he shared the concerns of Senators Donley and                     
Torgerson.  However, he felt that there were other roads                       
that could be considered in the fast-track supplemental.                       
Senator Sharp said there had been promises made that the                       
original section of the Alaska Highway road was going to be                    
repaired for the past five years.  He noted how narrow the                     
road was and that said there was not ten inches of shoulder                    
either side of the road.  He said however, that he would                       
vote in favor of this amendment because the road was a vital                   
link to get the tourists into Anchorage and Fairbanks.                         
Senator Donley said he would like to vote in favor of this                     
amendment but he did not see the distinction of this road                      
and other really imperative transportation projects around                     
the State.  He felt the department had not made a good case                    
and said the department had such a bizarre record in how                       
they had manipulated the STIP over the years.                                  
Senator Torgerson said he thought the debate had been good                     
and had no objection to seeing the project going forward,                      
however, not in this form.  In referring again to the                          
Soldotna River bridge he said it had been constructed in                       
1962 and felt it would rank higher than the Tok Highway                        
Senator Phillips reiterated this was the worst section of                      
the road.  Both international truckers and American Customs                    
had complained to him regarding the condition of the road.                     
By a roll call vote of four yeas (Pearce, Sharp, Phillips,                     
Adams) and three nays (Torgerson, Parnell, Donley) amendment                   
Senator Adams MOVED amendment #7.  Co-chair Pearce objected.                   
By a roll call vote of one yea (Adams) and six nays (Pearce,                   
Sharp, Donley, Torgerson, Parnell, Phillips) amendment #7                      
Senator Torgerson MOVED amendment #8. Senator Sharp                            
OBJECTED.  Senator Torgerson explained that these were                         
projects promised by the Department of Transportation.  The                    
Kenai Bridge needed to have been done a long time ago.  Co-                    
chair Pearce asked if the bridge project had been                              
authorized.  Senator Torgerson said it was in the STIP on                      
page eight.                                                                    
Senator Donley felt the amendment included two projects and                    
it therefore should be divided.  Amendment #8(A) would                         
become the Soldotna Urban and Kenai River Bridge and                           
amendment 8(B) would become the Funny River Road.  (pause on                   
record)  Senator Donley MOVED the division of amendment #8                     
as explained and WITHOUT OBJECTION it was so ORDERED.                          
Senator Parnell asked if this was different that the                           
previous amendment.  Co-chair Pearce indicated that this was                   
a request by the Administration but did not mean that the                      
Senate Finance Committee had to include it as she was                          
uncomfortable adding new projects.  The whole mission was to                   
cut down the supplemental to fit into $16.5 million.  To                       
begin adding back, in her opinion, in budget parlance, was                     
going in the wrong direction.  She did, however, understand                    
Senator Torgerson's frustration with the Department of                         
Transportation.  She asked for the correct figures before                      
the committee took any action.                                                 
Senator Torgerson advised the correct numbers for amendment                    
Federal funds and $805,000 general fund match.                                 
Co-chair Pearce asked Senator Sharp, since he was doing the                    
capital budget if he had any comments.  Senator Sharp said                     
with the flexibility the department showed in regards to the                   
STIP, therefore the committee was entitled to some                             
flexibility when writing the budget and what is put in the                     
Senator Torgerson moved amendment #8(A) and by a roll call                     
vote of four yeas (Donley, Torgerson, Parnell, Adams) and                      
three nays (Pearce, Sharp, Phillips) it was ADOPTED.                           
Senator Torgerson then advised the correct numbers for                         
amendment #8(B).  The breakdown for the amount of $4,200,000                   
was:  $3,820,800 Federal funds and $379,200 in general                         
funds.  Senator Sharp moved that #8(B) be amended to take                      
the GF out of SLA 1996 GF, same as in the description of the                   
Tok Highway.  Senator Adams OBJECTED and then WITHDREW his                     
objection.  WITHOUT OBJECTION amended amendment #8(B) was                      
Senator Torgerson MOVED amended amendment #8(B) and by a                       
roll call vote of three yeas ((Sharp, Torgerson, Phillips)                     
and four nays (Pearce, Donley, Adams, Parnell) FAILED.                         
Senator Sharp MOVED to RESCIND adoption of amendment #8(A).                    
Senator Torgerson OBJECTED and then WITHDREW his objection.                    
WITHOUT OBJECTION action on amendment #8(A) was RESCINDED.                     
Senator Sharp MOVED to amend amendment #8(A) by                                
reappropriating $805,000 GF be taken out of SLA 1996 GF.                       
Co-chair Pearce requested the committee take an at ease.                       
Upon reconvening the committee a roll call vote was taken on                   
amended amendment #8(A).  By a vote of six yeas (Sharp,                        
Adams, Parnell, Torgerson, Donley, Phillips) and one nay                       
(Pearce) amended amendment #8(A) was ADOPTED.                                  
Co-chair Pearce requested the committee take another at                        
ease.  She reconvened the committee at approximately 11:00                     
Senator Donley MOVED to RESCIND committee action on                            
amendment #6.  Senator Torgerson OJBECTED.  By a roll call                     
vote of five yeas (Pearce, Sharp, Donley, Phillips, Parnell)                   
and two nays (Torgerson, Adams) committee action on                            
amendment #6 was RESCINDED.                                                    
Senator Donley MOVED rescinded amendment #6 and by a roll                      
call vote of six yeas (Pearce, Sharp, Donley, Phillips,                        
Adams, Parnell) and one nay (Torgerson) it was ADOPTED.                        
Senator Sharp MOVED to RESCIND committee action on amended                     
amendment #8(A).  Senator Torgerson OBJECTED.  By a roll                       
call vote five yeas and two nays it was RESCINDED.  Senator                    
Sharp MOVED amended amendment #8(A) and by a roll call vote                    
of two yeas (Torgerson, Adams) and five nays (Pearce, Sharp,                   
Parnell, Donley, Phillips) it FAILED.                                          
(Tape #96, Side B switched to Tape #97, Side A.)                               
Senator Adams MOVED amendment #10.  He said the amount of                      
$199,500 would be appropriated from the general fund, of                       
which the sum of $102.700 would go to the Department of Law                    
for the tort reform constitutional challenge and the sum of                    
$56,800 be appropriated form the general fund for the                          
Department of Fish and Game for land lease costs at the                        
Sikusuiliaq Hatchery for the fiscal year ending June 30,                       
1998.  Senator Donley OBJECTED.  Senator Adams spoke to his                    
amendment.  Senator Donley asked Senator Adams to explain                      
why the amount of $56,800 was needed.  Senator Adams said                      
2.5 acres of land was leased from a private individual by                      
the State of Alaska for a hatchery.  It was not funded and                     
therefore is passed lease payments that are owned to an                        
individual.  In further response to Senator Donley, Senator                    
Adams said the hatchery was closed now.  This was monies                       
owed to the individual.  By a roll call vote of one yea                        
(Adams) and six nays (Pearce, Sharp, Donley, Torgerson,                        
Parnell, Phillips) amendment #10 FAILED.                                       
Senator Donley advised Co-chair Pearce at this time he would                   
not be offering amendment #9.                                                  
Senator Donley requested the Department of Fish and Game be                    
called to join the committee.                                                  
KEVIN BROOKS, Director, Administrative Services, Department                    
of Fish and Game was invited to join the committee.  Senator                   
Donley asked him to explain "commercial fish" and "sport                       
fish" for the committee because the department had a very                      
confusing relationship between the two regarding funding.                      
He said there were certain Federal requirements regarding                      
the segregation of those funds.  Senator Donley said he had                    
asked the Commissioner for a clarification but received only                   
a philosophical reply.  He said he knew sport funds were                       
used indirectly but wanted to be assured they were not being                   
used improperly.                                                               
Mr. Brooks said the particular receipts in question for the                    
Sitka Test Fishery were test fisheries receipts and were                       
created last year.  They were generated by the department                      
contracting a vessel to go out and commercially fish prior                     
to the opening of a fishery.  Those fish taken were then                       
sold under the department's fish ticket and the funds were                     
used for management of that fishery.  He said this had                         
nothing to do with the Fish and Game fund or Federal aid                       
dollars.  It is a specific, distinct funding source, used                      
exclusively in the "com fish" side of the department.                          
Senator Donley said he understood that, but was afraid the                     
department was using sport fish funds to cover                                 
administrative costs.  Mr. Brooks said approximately six                       
percent of all contracts was assessed for an administrative                    
overhead which was covered by Federal aid dollars.  Fish and                   
Game funds were used within the Division of Administrative                     
Services primarily to run the licensing program to license                     
anglers and hunters throughout the State.  The third piece                     
of the budget was made up of general funds which is just                       
under $1 million.  That money benefits all divisions within                    
the department.  He further noted that every project they do                   
and every use of the dollars has to be approved by the                         
Federal granting agencies.  This was a fairly vigorous                         
approval process for expenditure of those funds.  They not                     
only go through a process with the State Legislature but                       
also the Federal granting agencies.                                            
Senator Parnell asked about the Bristol Bay incident wherein                   
fishermen were concerned about the State using a seiner in                     
the area and further that the waters were closed to                            
commercial fishermen.  He wanted to know how these receipts                    
were related to the Sitka herring roe; if these were                           
receipts from test fisheries in Southeast or were they                         
Statewide receipts.  Mr. Brooks said the receipts for the                      
Sitka herring fishery would occur in Sitka.  Receipts were                     
kept by region or area.  Any receipts generated in Bristol                     
Bay would be used in Bristol management.                                       
Senator Sharp MOVED SCS CSHB 461(FIN) and WITHOUT OBJECTION                    
it was REPORTED OUT with individual recommendations.                           
Co-chair Pearce reviewed the schedule for tomorrow,                            
indicating the committee would meet again at 10:00 a.m. and                    
4:30 p.m.                                                                      
Co-chair Pearce thanked fellow Senators and all staff for                      
remaining in session late into the evening.  She recessed                      
the committee at approximately 11:30 p.m.                                      
SFC-98 -1- 3/24/98                                                             

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