Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/16/1993 01:55 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATOR KELLY announced SB 154 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GRANT FUND to be up for consideration. SENATOR JACKO explained that essentially this legislation creates a program within the capital budget to address the needs for economic development in municipalities. It also establishes the qualifying criteria. SENATOR PEARCE said she wanted to make sure that the regional port authorities and other instrumentalities of the state or municipality would be able to own the projects and facilities. Number 285 SHELBY STASTNY, Director, OMB, said this legislation fills a need we don't have in our current capitol funding structure. MR. STASTNY said they wanted to make sure that the owner of the assets was a government entity that has been elected (for accountability). The Department of Commerce and Economic Development would also need the opportunity to evaluate the project. If the projects are determined feasible by the administration, then it would be placed in the governor's capital budget and forwarded to the legislature for further consideration, he explained. Number 260 SENATOR KELLY said the definition of a local elected community council made him nervous, because there were so many. MR. STASTNY said the elected representative for the community making the proposal was their intention. SENATOR JACKO said he had discussed the proposed amendments with Mr. Stastny earlier and didn't have any problems with them. SENATOR KELLY said he would have his staff work on a committee substitute and bring it back before the committee. Number 324 SENATOR LINCOLN said there was one extra step in the amendments where it goes through the Governor and then to the legislature and in the original bill it didn't have to go through the Governor. She wanted this extra step to be looked at closely. SENATOR SALO asked if all the amendments were adopted would the new positions still be in the Department of Commerce. MR. STASTNY answered that he had checked with the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce and Economic Development who said it could be administered with available staff. SENATOR SALO asked if that meant the bill would have a $0 fiscal note. MR. STASTNY said he didn't think there would be a need for funding, but wanted to check with the Department of Administration before saying so for sure. SENATOR RIEGER asked about the $2000 application fee and what the annual volume through this fund might be. Number 367 COMMISSIONER FUHS said they expected it would take extra staff to do this and included an application fee so the money would not come from the general fund. The fee was fairly arbitrary, he added. They wanted a high enough figure to make sure people were fairly serious about their proposals. He expected to get between 30 - 50 applications a year. He explained there would be a prioritized list of the economic development opportunities which would be funded depending on how much money was in the capital budget. The money has to be appropriated by the legislature in any given year. Number 384 SENATOR RIEGER asked if he was contemplating a differential in matching requirements. COMMISSIONER FUHS said the higher the match, the more points people would get on a point system. This is not structured the same as capital matching grants. SENATOR LINCOLN said she wanted it made clear that "sweat equity" could be used for the match and not just money. COMMISSIONER FUHS found no problem with that. SENATOR JACKO pointed out that this legislation is not intended to replace the Governor's capital match program or any of the other capital project programs that are in place right now. Number 420 SENATOR PEARCE asked Edgar Blatchford, Commissioner, Department of Community and Regional Affairs, what was the maximum amount of the small grants his department does? COMMISSIONER BLATCHFORD explained there were two grant/loan programs within his department, the federal program with its complicated requirements and the smaller state program. Although there is an economic twist to the application in the federal process, they are still obligated to look also at community based projects. The amount of requests exceeds by about 20 times the amount of money available (about $2 million). The small state program is for small economic enterprises in rural Alaska. SENATOR RIEGER said with an economic grant fund like this, it seemed like the legislature should be able to appropriate money to the fund allocating it for certain projects. Then the Department would be obligated to follow the allocations.