Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/28/2001 03:35 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
         SB 158-REPORT:STATE PARTICIPATE IN NAT GAS PIPE.                                                                   
CHAIRMAN TORGERSON announced SB 158 to be up for consideration.                                                                 
MR. DARWIN  PETERSON,  Staff to  Senator Torgerson,  explained  that                                                            
commercialization  of North  Slope natural gas  has been one  of the                                                            
legislature's  top priorities this  session. The potential  benefits                                                            
of  commercialization   include  short  and  long-term  employment,                                                             
additional  state  and municipal  revenues,  opportunities  for  new                                                            
industries  and cheap clean  energy for the  state. This bill  would                                                            
direct the  Commissioner of  the Department  of Revenue to  retain a                                                            
financial expert to examine  whether the state should participate in                                                            
either ownership or financing  of a natural gas pipeline. The expert                                                            
would examine  any benefit or detriment  to a project caused  by the                                                            
state's participation.  In the past the state has retained financial                                                            
experts to advise  it on the possibility of the state  participating                                                            
in such a project. Those  reports need to be updated. The bill would                                                            
insure that the  legislature participates in the preparation  of the                                                            
report by:                                                                                                                      
   · 1. requiring that the chairs of the Senate and House Resources                                                             
     Committees periodically meet with the expert to review data                                                                
     and information about the report, and                                                                                      
   · 2. requiring that the Commissioner provide progress reports to                                                             
     the chairs every 60 days.                                                                                                  
The bill would  require the Commissioner  to prepare a confidential                                                             
report  with  recommendations  addressing  the  state's  options  by                                                            
January 31, 2002 and submit  it to the legislature and the governor.                                                            
SENATOR ELTON  asked why they used  January 31, 2002, when  they are                                                            
anticipating  a report from the producers  at the end of  this year.                                                            
CHAIRMAN  TORGERSON responded  that he  came up  with that date  but                                                            
said, "Maybe we want it quicker."                                                                                               
COMMISSIONER  WILSON CONDON,  Department  of Revenue,  said "I  will                                                            
take the responsibilities  outlined in this bill,  if it becomes law                                                            
and if funds  are appropriated  that will allow  us to enter  into a                                                            
contract  with  a  suitable   party  to  do  the  work.  I  have  no                                                            
recommendations  in terms of changes to the assignment  as reflected                                                            
in the bill."                                                                                                                   
CHAIRMAN  TORGERSON asked  him what  he thought  of the January  31,                                                            
2002 date.                                                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER  CONDON replied that  was his sister's birthday  and it                                                            
will remind him to send her a card.                                                                                             
SENATOR  LINCOLN wanted  to know,  "If that were  not your  sister's                                                            
birthday, would that date be good?"                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER CONDON replied, "Yes, it would."                                                                                   
SENATOR ELTON asked if it could be earlier.                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER  CONDON  replied  that  he,  "didn't  want  to  promise                                                            
anything any earlier."                                                                                                          
SENATOR  LINCOLN  said   on  page  2,  line  29  it  says  that  the                                                            
"Commissioner  of  Revenue   shall  contract  with  a  qualified  or                                                            
suitable firm  or person qualified…..to complete this  job", but the                                                            
fiscal  note   says  the  Commissioner   would  contract   with  and                                                            
investment  banking firm for  the expertise.  She asked if  that was                                                            
the individual they were referring to.                                                                                          
CHAIRMAN  TORGERSON  replied  that it  was his  intent  to give  the                                                            
Commissioner  as much  latitude as  possible and  he had talked  all                                                            
along  about  a banking  firm  that had  a  lot of  information  and                                                            
expertise in this field. But it could be a person.                                                                              
SENATOR TAYLOR moved amendment #1.                                                                                              
CHAIRMAN  TORGERSON explained  that  the amendment  inserts  another                                                            
section that says,  "The state should participate  in a gas pipeline                                                            
project  by  establishing  a private  corporation,  which  would  be                                                            
composed of Alaska  residents who wish to become shareholders,  that                                                            
would own  a portion of  the project or  assist in the construction                                                             
and operation  of the project." He explained that  it was brought to                                                            
him by  another member  who wanted  the opportunity  to have  shares                                                            
available so that individual Alaskans might be able to buy them.                                                                
TAPE 24, SIDE B                                                                                                               
CHAIRMAN TORGERSON said  he didn't think that would have much impact                                                            
on investment firms or anyone else looking at it.                                                                               
CHIARMAN TORGERSON  noted there were  no objections to amendment  #1                                                            
and it was adopted.                                                                                                             
SENATOR TAYLOR  moved to  pass CSSB 158(RES)  from committee.  There                                                            
were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects