Legislature(2001 - 2002)
04/30/2002 03:40 PM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 509-ALASKA CHILDREN'S TRUST LICENSE PLATES AMY ERICKSON, Aide to Representative Lisa Murkowski and the House Labor and Commerce Committee, read the following from the sponsor statement: House Bill 509 makes one minor change to Alaska statute to allow the Alaska Children's Trust (ACT) to market Alaska Children's Trust license plates to commercial motor vehicle owners. Current Alaska statute only allows owners of noncommercial vehicles to apply for and purchase ACT license plates. This small change will allow the Alaska Children's Trust to respond positively to requests by industry and private business to purchase ACT license plates for fleet vehicles and to market sales to an additional 56,500 vehicle owners who support the mission and activities of the Alaska Children's Trust. The $100 one-time fee could increase the trust by $5,650,000 for the prevention of child abuse and neglect. The Alaska Children's Trust is a savings account dedicated to funding community-initiated projects to eliminate child abuse and neglect. The trust's funds grow through gifts, bequests, corporate and individual contributions, legislative appropriations, federal funds, and sales of heirloom marriage and birth certificates as well as children's trust license plates. MS. ERICKSON said passage of HB 305 would expand ACT's savings account and improve their ability to advance the projects and missions of ACT. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked if there was any discussion about why the original statute did not include commercial vehicles. MS. ERICKSON said Representative Bunde brought that up and Mary Marshburn, Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), suggested there wasn't much demand for it. Ms. Marshburn was also concerned that opening the plates for commercial vehicles would cost DMV $30,000 to $50,000 to change their computer system. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked if she said that at the time. MS. ERICKSON said Ms. Marshburn said that recently. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked if that was given as a reason at the time of the original legislation. MS. ERICKSON said she may have misunderstood his question. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked if there were any further questions. SENATOR PHILLIPS said he was concerned about offering ACT plates to commercial vehicles. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT said he and Senator Phillips had discussed opening the plates up to vanity plates. HB 509 does not include vanity plates. It only includes the ACT plates. MS. ERICKSON said she was talking about the vanity plates as well. SENATOR PHILLIPS asked if only the standard plates were offered to commercial vehicles or if DMV offered a variety of plates to commercial vehicles, such as the veterans' plates, the Purple Heart plates or the Pearl Harbor plates. CHARLES HOSACK, Deputy Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles, Department of Administration, said they did not. SENATOR PHILLIPS said he had a problem with that. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked if DMV had a problem with HB 509. MR. HOSACK said they did not. They believed the proceeds would go to a worthwhile cause. He said it would cause a small problem with the way DMV's computer system is set up. In the past year and a half to two years, DMV issued about 275 ACT plates. Based on those numbers, they didn't think there would be a huge influx of requests for the plates. They were willing to accept the problems of keeping their computer system straight. He said DMV's only concern was the talk about opening the commercial option up to other specialty plates. In that case, they would have to restructure their computer system because a lot of their statistical information is based on the fees for the type of license plate a vehicle has. Commercial vehicles are lumped into four categories for different weights. For noncommercial vehicles, you can get vanity plates, veterans' plate, Pearl Harbor plates, etc. He said DMV has about 60 different class codes for noncommercial vehicles. They were hoping to keep that from spreading to commercial vehicles. SENATOR PHILLIPS said if it was going to be done for one, it ought to be done for all, or it should be done for none. He's concerned that in the future there will be others wanting to have the same thing done for their cause. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT said with the exception of University plates, the extra revenue from the sales of the other plates such as veterans' plates and Pearl Harbor plates goes to the state treasury. MR. HOSACK said that was correct. The revenue from ACT and University plates is identified separately in DMV's system so the Legislature can appropriate the funds. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT said the veterans wouldn't be likely to ask the Legislature to have their plates on commercial vehicles because they don't derive any revenue from the sale of the plates. MR. HOSACK said he hoped not. He said he had not heard of any such movement. SENATOR STEVENS asked about the University. MR. HOSACK said he had not heard anything about the University. He said the reason the law was written to include only passenger vehicles is because the language was copied from the statutes for other personalized plates, all of which are limited to noncommercial vehicles. SENATOR STEVENS asked how many University plates had been issued. MR. HOSACK said there are four different University plates. The University of Alaska Fairbanks has the most plates with between 300 and 400 plates. The University of Alaska Anchorage has a little over 100 plates. The University of Alaska Southeast has about 20 and the Prince William Sound Community College has about five or six. SENATOR STEVENS asked if it was discussed to open the noncommercial option for plates to the University since ACT and the University were the only two license plates with dedicated funds. MS. ERICKSON said it had not been discussed. MR. HOSACK said he was not aware of it being discussed. SENATOR STEVENS said if it was opened up to one charity, it ought to be opened up for the other. SENATOR PHILLIPS said in the future the veterans might want to do the same thing to build a memorial. SENATOR STEVENS said the Legislature just passed a bill to that effect. SENATOR PHILLIPS said they could ask for something similar funded by license plates. SENATOR STEVENS said they would have to go through the process of getting it approved by the Legislature again. SENATOR PHILLIPS said that was the problem. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT said it would take further legislation to do that. He asked Mr. Hosack if he had any further comments. He did not. He asked if there was anybody present who would like to testify on HB 509. SHARI PAUL, Project Coordinator of the Children's Trust, said she was there to answer questions. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked for the current balance of the ACT. MS. PAUL said it was about $9.6 million. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT said he had not prepared a CS to HB 509. He asked if there were any amendments. He noted the bill would also be referred to finance because it had a small fiscal note. He asked for the will of the committee. SENATOR PHILLIPS moved Amendment #1 to delete "commercial and" from page 1, line 6. SENATOR STEVENS objected. SENATOR PHILLIPS withdrew Amendment #1. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT asked Senator Phillips if it was his intention to oppose HB 509. SENATOR PHILLIPS said it was. CHAIRMAN THERRIAULT said the bill would be held in committee because there were not enough votes to move it out of committee. CSHB 509(STA) was held in committee.