Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

02/06/2017 03:30 PM RESOURCES

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Audio Topic
03:30:26 PM Start
03:31:15 PM HJR6
03:52:11 PM Overview: Alaska's Primacy Program for Water and Air
04:34:23 PM SB3
04:42:38 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHJR 6(RES) AM Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ Overview on Alaska's Primacy Program for Water TELECONFERENCED
and Air
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
Moved SB 3 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
           HJR  6-SUPPORT ROAD: KING COVE & COLD BAY                                                                        
3:31:15 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL announced consideration of  HJR 6 [CSHJR 6(RES) am,                                                               
labeled 30-LS0329\J.A was before the  committee]. It relates to a                                                               
small one-lane  gravel road access  to an all-weather  airport in                                                               
nearby Cold Bay  that people of the Alaskan Village  of King Cove                                                               
have  been  requesting  for  decades.  According  to  the  Alaska                                                               
delegation,  that   request  has   been  met   with  "secretarial                                                               
Specifically, HJR  6 asks the  legislature to support  efforts by                                                               
Alaska's  congressional delegation  to  achieve  a land  exchange                                                               
authorized  by  Congress in  which  the  federal wilderness  area                                                               
surrounding King  Cove would  receive approximately  43,000 acres                                                               
of state land to add to it. In  return, less than 400 acres for a                                                               
road  corridor  would  be  opened  for  access  between  the  two                                                               
3:32:15 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI joined the committee.                                                                                      
CHAIR GIESSEL  said the sponsor  of HJR 6  is the Speaker  of the                                                               
House, Representative Bryce Edgmon.                                                                                             
3:32:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   EDGMON,  Speaker*   Alaska  State   Legislature,                                                               
Juneau, Alaska, sponsor of HJR  6, said HJR 6 basically expresses                                                               
the legislature's  appreciation and  support for  the legislation                                                               
that Senator  Murkowski and Representative Young  have introduced                                                               
that would allow the land  exchange necessary to complete what is                                                               
essentially a  30-mile road  connecting King  Cove and  Cold Bay.                                                               
About 18 miles  of that road has already been  constructed and is                                                               
sitting there unused because of  the remaining 12 miles that need                                                               
to be  constructed. This issue  has been lingering for  30 years.                                                               
The measure  that created  the land exchange  in 2010  passed the                                                               
Alaska  Legislature  unanimously  with  no  opposition  and  most                                                               
recently  this resolution  passed the  House by  a vote  of 39-0.                                                               
Being a resolution, it has no fiscal note.                                                                                      
3:34:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GIESSEL  said  she  appreciated the  number  of  folks  he                                                               
provided in  the resolution who  were negatively affected  by the                                                               
lack of the road.                                                                                                               
3:34:59 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL noted the many letters of support.                                                                              
SENATOR MEYER said even though  everyone supports this issue, the                                                               
State of Alaska  (SOA) is in litigation over it  and he wanted to                                                               
know its status.                                                                                                                
3:35:31 PM                                                                                                                    
TIM  CLARK,   staff  to   Representative  Edgmon,   Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  Juneau,   Alaska,  said  the  SOA   is  in  ongoing                                                               
litigation with  the Department of  Interior over  several issues                                                               
related to the authorization for  the land exchange and road that                                                               
dates  from the  Public Lands  Act of  2009. One  is whether  the                                                               
authority for the exchange that  was created in 2009, and through                                                               
the state's  reciprocating legislation  in 2010, is  still valid.                                                               
In fact,  this resolution  was amended slightly  to make  sure it                                                               
wasn't treading on  any of the concepts under  discussion, so now                                                               
the last  whereas clause  refers to the  new bills  introduced by                                                               
Alaska's delegation as ensuring  the continuing authorization for                                                               
the exchange and the road.                                                                                                      
3:37:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL opened public testimony.                                                                                          
3:37:25 PM                                                                                                                    
WILLIAM DUSHKINS,  SR., representing himself, King  Cove, Alaska,                                                               
supported  HJR 6  saying  if it  saves one  life,  the state  and                                                               
federal government  are paid  in full. It  didn't seem  fair that                                                               
the federal  government is demanding  so much land from  the King                                                               
Cove Corporation,  because the military  had installed  100 miles                                                               
of  road already  and it  didn't hurt  anything. This  road would                                                               
open the  gates to  King Cove  that has one  of the  biggest fish                                                               
processing plants in the world.                                                                                                 
3:39:15 PM                                                                                                                    
JENNIFER  HARRISON,  CEO,  Eastern Aleutian  Tribes,  King  Cove,                                                               
Alaska, supported HJR  6. She said this  organization manages the                                                               
health  clinics  in King  Cove  and  Cold  Bay  and that  the  55                                                               
emergency evacuations  and 17 Coast  Guard incidents  are numbers                                                               
from  her  tracking  system.  She   related  two  incidents  that                                                               
happened to  her just this weekend  when she tried to  fly out of                                                               
King Cove. The plane hadn't flown  out for three days, because of                                                               
a soft  gravel runway,  not because of  bad weather.  She finally                                                               
found a  fisherman who was willing  to take her to  Cold Bay. She                                                               
got to climb "that ladder," saying  it was windy and cold and you                                                               
had to hold  on for your life. An elderly  who had already missed                                                               
two health appointments  was willing to go on the  boat and climb                                                               
up that  ladder with  her. Another man  was medevacked  from King                                                               
Cove a half-hour later for all the same reasons.                                                                                
3:41:54 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE  SALLEE, representing  himself,  Ketchikan, Alaska,  opposed                                                               
HJR  6. He  asked  what  it is  about  King  Cove that  justifies                                                               
expending that amount of political  effort to get an exception to                                                               
long standing environmental protections in  order to punch a road                                                               
across  a  critical  habitat  of   a  national  wildlife  refuge.                                                               
Although he hadn't heard but "bits  and pieces" of this issue, he                                                               
thought  this was  an attempt  to set  the precedent  of allowing                                                               
development in  wildlife refuges  in order to  weaken protections                                                               
for places like the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).                                                                     
He related that his mother lived  in a remote homestead by choice                                                               
for the last 15  years of her life. She had  only a 14-foot skiff                                                               
for transport to the Ketchikan  road system and accepted the cost                                                               
of operating  and maintaining  that skiff, as  well as  the risks                                                               
and difficulty  dictated by weather  and sea conditions.  But for                                                               
her it  was a  fair trade-off  for living in  a place  she loved.                                                               
"She  did  not  ever  demand that  her  community  or  government                                                               
provide her  with a means to  travel comfortably and safely  to a                                                               
remote home of  her own choosing," he said.  People are scattered                                                               
all over Alaska  living in remote settings where  quick and ready                                                               
access to medical services simply does not exist.                                                                               
3:45:17 PM                                                                                                                    
HENRY MACK,  Mayor, City of  King Cove, Alaska, supported  HJR 6.                                                               
He  was  on  the  City  Council  back  in  1976  when  the  first                                                               
resolution was  adopted identifying the  need for road  access to                                                               
the Cold  Bay Airport, which  is their primary connection  to the                                                               
outside world.  They have winds in  excess of 50 mph on a regular                                                               
basis.  The  small  King Cove  Airport  is  precariously  perched                                                               
adjacent to  volcanic mountains  and about  30-40 percent  of the                                                               
time single-engine planes cannot  make their scheduled flights in                                                               
and out  of the  community. This road  will resolve  their access                                                               
problems  so King  Cove residents  can have  safe and  dependable                                                               
access to the Cold Bay Airport.                                                                                                 
He remarked that a mother and  new born came home from a check-up                                                               
in Anchorage  on the  same boat that  Jennifer Harrison  went out                                                               
on. The Mom had  to wrap the baby inside of her  coat and go down                                                               
the same 20-foot  ladder. He said even though  they are fishermen                                                               
used  to bad  weather, they  don't like  traveling with  kids and                                                               
families in bad weather.                                                                                                        
3:49:38 PM                                                                                                                    
GARY HENNIGH,  representing himself,  King Cove, Alaska,  said he                                                               
was available for questions on HJR 6.                                                                                           
CHAIR GIESSEL closed public testimony on HJR 6.                                                                                 
SENATOR  COGHILL moved  to report  CSHJR 6(RES)  am, labeled  30-                                                               
LS0329\J.A,  from committee  with individual  recommendations and                                                               
attached zero  fiscal note. There  were no objections and  it was                                                               
so ordered.