Legislature(2005 - 2006)SENATE FINANCE 532

04/25/2005 09:00 AM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 133 Out of Committee
Moved CSSB 150(HES) Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
Moved SB 151 Out of Committee
Heard & Held
     SENATE BILL NO. 133                                                                                                        
     "An Act establishing the Aviation Advisory Board; and                                                                      
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
NONA WILSON, Legislative  Liaison, Department of Transportation  and                                                            
Public Facilities,  informed the Committee  that the Department  has                                                            
identified  this  legislation  as  being "critical  to  the  State's                                                            
aviation  infrastructure  as  well as  the  aviation industry  as  a                                                            
whole". It would allow  for the continuance of the Aviation Advisory                                                            
Board,  which was  created in  2003 and  renewed in  2004, to  occur                                                            
"without the need  for annual administrative renewals".  A permanent                                                            
Board would  be "practical  and necessary  to the continued  success                                                            
and prudent operation"  of the State's international airport hubs in                                                            
Anchorage and in Fairbanks and its 258 Rural airports.                                                                          
Ms.  Wilson  stated  that  the Board  also  serves  in  an  advisory                                                            
capacity  to the Commissioner  of the Department  of Transportation                                                             
and Public Facilities  (DOT) and facilitates on-going  "coordination                                                            
between the State and aviation  industry" on such things as aviation                                                            
policy, safety, airport management and operations.                                                                              
Ms. Wilson noted  that the composition of the Board,  as detailed in                                                            
Section 1, Sec.  44.42.230(a) on page two, lines six  through 30, is                                                            
"a broad  cross-section"  of the  State's aviation  industry and  as                                                            
such would provide well-balanced dialogue and expertise.                                                                        
Senator Olson  asked whether the responsibilities  of the  new Board                                                            
would differ from its predecessor.                                                                                              
KIP  KNUDSON,  Deputy   Commissioner  of  Aviation,   Department  of                                                            
Transportation  and Public Facilities,  informed the Committee  that                                                            
the Board  was originally  formed to improve  communication  between                                                            
aviation  interest  groups and  DOT  personnel responsible  for  the                                                            
airport  system. The Board  has done  a good job  in providing  that                                                            
Senator Olson  pointed out that a large portion of  the Board member                                                            
positions  "are not necessarily  aviation  related", as exampled  by                                                            
Section 1,  Sec. 44.42.230.  Composition of  the Board (a)(5),  (6),                                                            
and (7).                                                                                                                        
     (5) a member who is a community leader residing in the                                                                     
     unorganized borough of the state;                                                                                          
     (6) a member who represents the mayor of the Municipality of                                                               
     (7) a member who jointly represents the mayors of the City of                                                              
     Fairbanks and the Fairbanks North Star Borough;                                                                            
Mr.   Knudson  explained   that   when  Governor   Frank   Murkowski                                                            
established  the  original Board  by  Administrative  Order, it  was                                                            
thought best  not to "predetermine"  that Board members should  have                                                            
an aviation connection.  However, "effectively they are all aviation                                                            
people"  in that  in some  form, they  each  have "some  leg in  the                                                            
aviation industry  or some aviation interest group".  The people who                                                            
have been appointed  by the mayors of the City of  Anchorage and the                                                            
City of  Fairbanks  have had  aviation backgrounds.  Therefore,  "it                                                            
happens that they're all aviation interested".                                                                                  
Co-Chair Green  concluded therefore  that it must be "assumed"  that                                                            
the appointees would have aviation industry backgrounds.                                                                        
Co-Chair Green  asked whether the Board composition  in this bill is                                                            
similar   to  the   makeup   of  the   Board  established   by   the                                                            
Administrative Order.                                                                                                           
Mr. Knudson  replied that  this Board is  identical to the  original                                                            
Board with  the exception  being that an  at-large member was  added                                                            
"for tie breaks". Therefore  this Board would have 11 members rather                                                            
than ten.                                                                                                                       
Co-Chair Green  asked whether the Board has met consistently  during                                                            
the two years it has existed.                                                                                                   
Mr. Knudson communicated  that the Board has had a busy schedule and                                                            
has met nine times in the last two years.                                                                                       
Co-Chair  Green understood  that the responsibilities  of the  Board                                                            
would continue as before.  Absent this legislation it could continue                                                            
via the issuance of an  Administrative Order. This legislation would                                                            
serve to  include the  Board in  State Statute  and thereby  make it                                                            
subject to  review by the  Division of Legislative  Budget  & Audit.                                                            
This would align the Board with other boards in the State.                                                                      
Senator Hoffman  asked for examples  of the types of "major  issues"                                                            
the Board has addressed and resolved.                                                                                           
Mr. Knudson commented  for general background that  DOT oversees the                                                            
operations of  the Anchorage and Fairbanks airports.  Other airports                                                            
such as the ones ins Juneau  and Ketchikan are locally governed. The                                                            
Board has  addressed the  issue of airport  governance by  gathering                                                            
information from around  the country in order to determine the best,                                                            
most cost  effective method  to manage airports.  Other issues  that                                                            
have been addressed include  the operation of airport towers such as                                                            
the tower  at King Salmon  and a feasibility  issue relating  to how                                                            
small of  a community could  support a ten  million dollar  airport.                                                            
The Board has  provided good advice  to the Commissioner  in regards                                                            
to such things as the allocation of resources.                                                                                  
Co-Chair  Wilken  voiced  concern  about  the  size  of  the  Board;                                                            
specifically  that the  budget  and the  Board's size  and scope  of                                                            
responsibility  do  not appear  to be  "in alignment".  Language  in                                                            
Section  1, Sec. 44.42.220.  Meetings; hearings;  records.  does not                                                            
appear  to   allow  the  Board  to   meet  and  make  decisions   by                                                            
teleconference;  therefore,  he questioned  how the 11-member  Board                                                            
could meet  two or three  times a year within  the constraints  of a                                                            
$20,000  budget. To  that point, he  asked whether  the Board  could                                                            
meet and make decisions via teleconference.                                                                                     
Mr. Knudson communicated  that, while the Board has held meetings by                                                            
teleconference,  they  would  prefer to  meet as  a  group prior  to                                                            
issuing  a  resolution.  Meetings   have  been  held  in  Ketchikan,                                                            
Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau.                                                                                               
Co-Chair Wilken asked whether  the $20,000 annual Board budget would                                                            
be sufficient.                                                                                                                  
Mr.  Knudson  stated   that  while  the  budget  might   cause  some                                                            
"scrimping", it would be workable.                                                                                              
Co-Chair  Wilken   questioned  the  language  in  Section   1,  Sec.                                                            
44.42.230.(c), page three,  lines two and three, that specifies that                                                            
the Governor would name  the Board chairman. He considered proposing                                                            
an amendment to delete  that language, as an 11-member Board, making                                                            
such important  decisions,  would be qualified  to choose their  own                                                            
chairman. It would also  "keep peace in the family". The Chair being                                                            
appointed by  the Governor is an anomaly,  as it is atypical  of how                                                            
other boards select their chairs.                                                                                               
Mr.  Knudson understood  that  this  must "be  a construct  of  some                                                            
Boards".  The chair  being  appointed by  the Governor  was,  "oddly                                                            
enough",   recommended   by  the   Board   for  inclusion   in   the                                                            
Administrative  Order. One Board member,  Richard Williams,  thought                                                            
that "it would de-politicize  the chair to a certain extent" in that                                                            
the chair selection "would not be a popularity contest".                                                                        
Conceptual  Amendment #1: This amendment  deletes the language  "The                                                            
governor shall designate  a member of the board to serve as chair of                                                            
the board, or, at the governor's  request," in Section 1, subsection                                                            
(c), on  page 3,  lines two and  three. The  revised language  would                                                            
read as follows.                                                                                                                
     (c) The board shall elect a chair from among its members who                                                               
     are not state officers or employees.                                                                                       
Co-Chair Wilken moved to adopt Amendment #1.                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Green  objected and  stated  that one  of  the upsides  in                                                            
having a chair appointed  by a Governor is that there is no delay in                                                            
the deliberations  of the Board. In her experience  with Boards, she                                                            
has  concluded  that,  oftentimes,  this  process  would  have  been                                                            
preferred  as it would result  in a more efficient  use of  time and                                                            
the board would be ready to conduct business.                                                                                   
Senator  Olson  asked  the  reason  Co-Chair  Wilken  chose  not  to                                                            
eliminate the  language excluding  State officers or employees  from                                                            
being able  to chair the  Board. He contended  that numerous  "State                                                            
officers and  employees are quite  knowledgeable about the  aviation                                                            
industry" and would make excellent Board chairs.                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken opined  that State officers and employees should not                                                            
be considered  for the chair position as he viewed  this board as "a                                                            
citizens' commission".                                                                                                          
Co-Chair Wilken moved to withdraw Conceptual Amendment #1.                                                                      
There being no objection, the Amendment was WITHDRAWN.                                                                          
Senator  Olson  opined  that,  as  the  operator  of  two  air  taxi                                                            
companies,  this  Advisory  Board  is  an  "asset  to  the  aviation                                                            
industry". He strongly supported the bill.                                                                                      
The Bill was HELD in Committee.                                                                                                 
[NOTE: This bill was re-addressed later in the meeting.]                                                                        
     SENATE BILL NO. 133                                                                                                        
     "An Act establishing the Aviation Advisory Board; and                                                                      
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
Co-Chair Green  noted that the bill was again before  the Committee.                                                            
Co-Chair  Wilken  moved  to  report the  bill  from  Committee  with                                                            
individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                       
There being no objection,  SB 133 was REPORTED from Committee with a                                                            
new  $20,000 Department  of  Transportation  and  Public  Facilities                                                            
fiscal  note,  dated April  25,  2005, and  previous  Department  of                                                            
Transportation  and Public  Facilities  zero Fiscal  Note #1,  dated                                                            
February 28, 2005.                                                                                                              

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