Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/29/1996 03:30 PM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 SSTA - 2/29/96                                                                
                                                                               
            SB 181 PROHIBITED HIGHWAY ADVERTISING                            
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-16, SIDE A                                                            
                                                                               
 Number 001                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP called the Senate State Affairs Committee to order             
 at 3:30 p.m. and brought up SB 181 as the first order of business             
 before the committee.  The chairman called the sponsor's                      
 representative to testify.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 020                                                                    
                                                                               
 BRETT HUBER, Aide to Senator Lyda Green, prime sponsor of SB 181,             
 read the sponsor's statement for SB 181.  SB 181 would provide for            
 the TODS (Tourist Oriented Directional Signs) Program in statute.             
 Mr. Huber noted that there is a sectional analysis of the                     
 legislation in committee members' packets.                                    
                                                                               
 Number 050                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN asked if the TODS program is the same as the                    
 identification signs that he sees along the highways.                         
                                                                               
 MR. HUBER replied that is the TODS program.  The TODS signs are the           
 blue, 90x18 inch directional signs.                                           
                                                                               
 MICHAEL MORRIS, Regional Director, Alaska Campground Owners                   
 Association, testifying from Anchorage, supports SB 207, and has              
 submitted written testimony to that effect.  TODS signs not only              
 help the campgrounds, but help visitors immensely.                            
                                                                               
 Number 100                                                                    
                                                                               
 BONNY EBY, Owner, Willow Trading Post Lodge, testifying from Matsu,           
 stated that the signs help, but they should be larger.  They are              
 also expensive for the small business person.  She also has a                 
 problem with the fact that the signs are not transferrable when a             
 business is sold.  She also thinks that for the amount of money the           
 signs cost, there should be upkeep on the signs, such as snow                 
 removal.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 135                                                                    
                                                                               
 LARAE ELDRIDGE, Owner, Big Lake Motel, testifying from Matsu,                 
 supports SB 181.  But she stated that the community sign posted               
 below hers does not comply with the TODS program and is illegal.              
 She would appreciate it if the state would get Big Lake a green               
 geographical sign, just like everyone else.  She also objects to              
 the adopt-a-highway signs.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 185                                                                    
                                                                               
 JERRE WROBLE, Program Administrator, Matsu Convention & Visitors'             
 Bureau, testifying from Matsu, supports SB 181.  She stated that              
 highway signs are essential for their survival.  Ms. Wroble                   
 mentioned some problems with the TODS program, including one woman            
 who would have been required to hire a licensed contractor to                 
 install the sign, even though her husband was a contractor.  The              
 regulations and expense make it difficult for new businesses to get           
 going.  In principal, the MSCVB supports the TODS program, as long            
 as all its' members are allowed to participate without undue                  
 regulation and expense.                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 240                                                                    
                                                                               
 TINA LINDGREN, Executive Director, Alaska Visitors' Association,              
 supports SB 181.  Committee members have two letters in support of            
 this legislation in their bill packets from Ms. Lindgren: one dated           
 October 17, 1995, and the other dated February 23, 1996.                      
                                                                               
 Number 260                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asked Mr. Rasmussen from the Department of                     
 Transportation about the fiscal note from the department.  Doesn't            
 SB 181 propose the exact same signage as allowed now under the TODS           
 program?  If so, why is the fiscal note for such a large amount of            
 money?                                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 275                                                                    
                                                                               
 LOREN RASMUSSEN, Acting Director, Division of Engineering &                   
 Operations, Department of Transportation, stated there is a                   
 difference between how SB 181 is written, and how the TODS program            
 works:  the TODS program is a directional sign that is literally on           
 the shoulder of the road.  Those are the little, blue signs one               
 sees in the Matsu Valley, on the Kenai Peninsula, and a few other             
 areas of the state.  SB 181 tries to utilize the same technique,              
 but putting the signs outside the right-of-way, which then makes              
 them advertising signs, which would be different from the TODS                
 program.  Advertising signs outside the right-of-way are                      
 controversial.  So we would have to promulgate those regulations              
 with the Department of Law and would have to have public hearings             
 on those regulations.  That is where the costs in the fiscal note             
 originate.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 300                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked if there would be a difference in the            
 size of the signs.                                                            
                                                                               
 MR. RASMUSSEN is not sure what size the signs would be; he thinks             
 that would be determined by regulation.  Currently, the size of a             
 sign with a single business on it is 90x18 inches.  18 inches can             
 be added for each additional business on a sign, with up to a total           
 of three businesses per sign.                                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS thinks the signs would still be 90x18 inches           
 high.                                                                         
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP noted that the legislation lists the same size as              
 that of the TODS program.                                                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS noted that since the size of the signs is              
 the same in both the TODS program and SB 181, the only fundamental            
 difference is that signs would be allowed outside the right-of-way.           
 He asked if any other jurisdictions have this.                                
                                                                               
 MR. RASMUSSEN responded, none that he could find, and they checked            
 with 11 other states.  Other states have these types of signs on              
 highways, but none have them out of the right-of-way.                         
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asked about costs for the TODS permits.                        
                                                                               
 MR. RASMUSSEN replied that the application fee is $100.00, and                
 there is a $200.00 inspection fee once the sign is in place.                  
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asked if DOT puts a sign up for that price.                    
                                                                               
 MR. RASMUSSEN responded DOT does the permitting and the inspection,           
 but the owner buys, installs, and maintains the sign.                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked why someone complained about DOT's               
 maintenance of signs, if DOT doesn't maintain them.                           
                                                                               
 MR. RASMUSSEN responded the complaint was that DOT doesn't maintain         
 the signs.                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked if that was part of the agreement.               
                                                                               
 MR. RASMUSSEN responded that is part of the agreement.                        
                                                                               
 SENATOR DUNCAN asked if there is a departmental position on SB 181.           
                                                                               
 MR. RASMUSSEN thinks the department would take the same position              
 the previous administration took.                                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked what that was.                                   
                                                                               
 MR. RASMUSSEN did not think it was very favorable.  If a position             
 paper is requested, DOT would certainly submit it.                            
                                                                               
 SENATOR DUNCAN commented he can understand the reason behind the              
 department's concerns.                                                        
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP stated he did not know the reasons behind their                
 concerns.                                                                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR DUNCAN said that's why he is asking for a position paper.             
 He would ask for a position paper, unless the chairman doesn't want           
 one.                                                                          
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP responded, if DOT cares to submit a position                   
 statement, he would sure like to see it.  He asks that paper be               
 submitted to committee staff.                                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR DUNCAN stated he is not suggesting the State Affairs                  
 Committee hold the bill for the position paper; he would just like            
 to see it before the bill reaches the floor.                                  
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP called the mayor of Wasilla to testify.                        
                                                                               
 Number 375                                                                    
                                                                               
 JOHN STEIN, Mayor of Wasilla, testifying from Matsu, supports SB              
 181.  He does not understand why off-right-of-way signs need to be            
 in the legislation, because he believes property owners whose                 
 property abuts the highway have a right to put up advertising                 
 signs.  He thinks federal law would allow that.  He hopes that the            
 law would not allow off-site advertising other than something like            
 the TODS program.  Mayor Stein stated one of the biggest                      
 frustration business owners have regarding the signs is that DOT              
 knocks them down during snow plowing.                                         
                                                                               
 Number 410                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked what Mayor Stein thinks about having             
 signs out of the right-of-way.                                                
                                                                               
 MAYOR STEIN responded he does not see a need to have this type of             
 sign out of the right-of-way.                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 440                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS made a motion to adopt the committee                   
 substitute for SB 181.                                                        
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, stated the committee                    
 substitute was adopted.                                                       
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP stated he personally doesn't have a problem with               
 having these signs off the right-of-way.  The main problem he sees            
 is that sometimes one cannot read the signs, because they're                  
 covered with snow.  If the signs were off the right-of-way, they              
 might not get plastered with snow by the snowplows.                           
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN stated his only concern regards the number of signs             
 and repetition of signs.                                                      
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP shares Senator Leman's concern, but he thinks that             
 would probably be addressed through regulation.                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN has concern with the $40,000 fiscal note.                       
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP would just as soon send the bill to the Finance                
 Committee and let them address the fiscal note.  He doesn't like              
 zeroing out fiscal notes in State Affairs, unless it was the                  
 committee's own fiscal note.                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 485                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked if there is anyone in Matsu who would            
 comment on the within and outside the right-of-way.                           
                                                                               
 Number 495                                                                    
                                                                               
 MS. EBY believes that inside the right-of-way signs are more                  
 legible.                                                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS noted that the bill specifies that signs               
 shall be located within and outside of the right-of-way of the                
 interstate.  He asked for feedback regarding striking "outside"               
 from SB 181.                                                                  
                                                                               
 MS. EBY thinks signs should be within the right-of-way.                       
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP thinks more than "outside" would have to be struck             
 from the bill.                                                                
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS wants to know if most of the people in Matsu           
 would like to see signs just within the right-of-way.                         
                                                                               
 MS. WROBLE stated she also wondered why signs would be allowed                
 outside the right-of-way the first time she saw SB 181.  But a                
 situation that supports that provision concerns a business she                
 knows of which is on the highway, but is around the bend.  If you             
 didn't know about that business, you would drive right past it.               
 The owner of that business has a small sign on her property just              
 off the right-of-way.  The owner does not qualify for the TODS                
 program because her business is on the highway, so Ms. Wroble                 
 thinks "outside the right-of-way" would serve someone in that type            
 of situation.                                                                 
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS stated that most testimony seems to be                 
 supporting just having signs within the right-of-way.  But we can             
 take care of that in the Finance Committee.                                   
                                                                               
 SENATOR DUNCAN thinks that whole subsection could be removed.                 
                                                                               
 MR. HUBER stated Senator Green has been contacted by numerous                 
 people wanting directional signs outside the right-of-way.  Senator           
 Green is looking for the smallest and most uniform system allowing            
 signs on private property.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 530                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR DUNCAN made a motion to delete Section (4).                           
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP informed Senator Duncan that Section (4) is the                
 section mandating the directional sign program.                               
                                                                               
 SENATOR DUNCAN asked if that is so.                                           
                                                                               
 MR. HUBER responded that Section (4) is actually the portion of SB            
 181 that puts the TODS program in statute.  There is no current law           
 or current regulations under TODS.                                            
                                                                               
 SENATOR DUNCAN asked Mr. Huber if he is suggesting that we need               
 part of Section (4), but not all of Section (4).                              
                                                                               
 MR. HUBER replied it is the sponsor's position that all of Section            
 (4) is desirable.                                                             
                                                                               
 SENATOR DUNCAN said he knows that.  He wants to ask someone who is            
 not biased, if he can find anybody.  What language of Section (4)             
 is necessary for establishing the program, but would still allow              
 deletion of "outside the right-of-way".  Maybe DOT would respond;             
 he knows very well the sponsor's position.                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN said that DOT is probably biased too.                           
                                                                               
 SENATOR DUNCAN stated that's what he said: he doesn't think they              
 can find anyone who's not biased.                                             
                                                                               
 MR. RASMUSSEN stated he would be reluctant to make amendments                 
 without reading the whole bill through.  It would be the                      
 department's desire to keep the TODS program in place right now.              
 It's allowed under the MUTCED and the rest of our program, and                
 we've never been challenged on that.                                          
                                                                               
 Number 566                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR DUNCAN offered a conceptual amendment not allowing signs              
 outside the right-of-way.                                                     
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP objected to that amendment.                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS asked for clarification on where TODS signs            
 are allowed today.                                                            
                                                                               
 MR. RASMUSSEN responded that TODS signs are allowed within the                
 right-of-way.  Anything outside the right-of-way would be                     
 considered an advertisement, and present state law forbids that.              
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP noted that SB 181 would make those signs                       
 directional.                                                                  
                                                                               
 MR. RASMUSSEN replied that is the attempt; but it is very difficult           
 to have directional signs outside the right-of-way.                           
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asked that the roll be called on Senator Duncan's              
 motion.                                                                       
                                                                               
 The amendment failed, 2 yeas, 2 nays, and 1 absent.  Voting in                
 favor of the motion are Senators Phillips and Duncan.  Voting in              
 opposition are Senators Leman and Sharp.  Senator Donley is absent.           
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP asked the pleasure of the committee.                           
                                                                               
 Number 580                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR LEMAN made a motion to discharge SB 181 with accompanying             
 fiscal note [DOT, $40,000].                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP noted that the bill will need a referral to the                
 Finance Committee.  He also noted that the committee would like a             
 position statement from DOT.  The chairman asked if there was                 
 objection to moving the bill from committee.                                  
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-16, SIDE B                                                            
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN SHARP, hearing no objection, stated CSSSSB 181(STA) was              
 discharged from the Senate State Affairs Committee with individual            
 recommendations.                                                              

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