Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/01/1994 01:00 PM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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              HOUSE COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS                             
                       STANDING COMMITTEE                                      
                          March 1, 1994                                        
                            1:00 p.m.                                          
                                                                               
                                                                               
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
  Representative Harley Olberg, Chairman                                       
  Representative Jerry Sanders, Vice Chair                                     
  Representative Con Bunde                                                     
  Representative Cynthia Toohey                                                
  Representative Ed Willis                                                     
  Representative John Davies                                                   
  Representative Bill Williams                                                 
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
  None                                                                         
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
  *HB 446:    "An Act relating to community agreements                         
               for environmental conservation purposes;                        
               and providing for an effective date."                           
                                                                               
               PASSED FROM COMMITTEE WITH INDIVIDUAL                           
               RECOMMENDATIONS                                                 
                                                                               
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
  JIM KOHLER, Executive Director                                               
  Southeast Conference                                                         
  124 W. Fifth Street                                                          
  Juneau, AK  99801                                                            
  Phone: 463-3445                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 466                                        
                                                                               
  JOHN SANDOR, Commissioner                                                    
  Department of Environmental Conservation                                     
  P.O. Box 21135                                                               
  Juneau, AK  99802                                                            
  Phone: 465-5050                                                              
  POSITION STATEMENT:  Supported HB 466                                        
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS ACTION                                                              
                                                                               
  BILL:  HB 446                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION AGREEMENTS                           
  SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                 
                                                                               
  JRN-DATE     JRN-PG               ACTION                                     
  02/04/94      2264    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  02/04/94      2264    (H)   COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS,                    
                              RESOURCES                                        
  02/04/94      2264    (H)   -ZERO FISCAL NOTE (DEC) 2/4/94                   
  02/04/94      2265    (H)   GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                    
  03/01/94              (H)   CRA AT 01:00 PM CAPITOL 124                      
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-10, SIDE A                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HARLEY OLBERG called the meeting to order at 1:24                   
  p.m.  He noted for the record Representatives Toohey, Bunde,                 
  Davies and Willis were present and noted that a quorum was                   
  present.                                                                     
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE BILL WILLIAMS joined the committee a moment                   
  later at 1:25 p.m.                                                           
                                                                               
  Number 026                                                                   
  HB 446 - ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION AGREEMENTS                               
                                                                               
  JOHN SANDOR, COMMISSIONER, DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL                       
  CONSERVATION, said, "I'm very pleased to be here to support                  
  and present this bill (HB 446).  The Governor's February 4                   
  letter to the leadership of both the House and Senate                        
  summarized the essence of this bill.  (A copy of this letter                 
  is on file.)  The time is right for it.  The unfunded                        
  mandates are coming down from the federal government, to the                 
  state government, and especially on communities.  It places                  
  such a burden upon governments at all levels that something                  
  really needs to be done.  This administration has, three                     
  years ago, began a process of developing community                           
  environmental agreements.  We have more than 50 of those in                  
  place.  We also developed a statement of cooperation with                    
  the Department of Defense agencies and the Coast Guard with                  
  activities there.  These are successful, but this bill is                    
  necessary because it pulls into one place the objectives of                  
  this...the three basic components of this bill.  First, the                  
  community agreement would provide for the joint assessment                   
  of environmental needs within the local community or region                  
  and the establishment of indicators to track progress in                     
  meeting those needs.  Second, the party to the agreement                     
  would jointly access and prioritize those needs by                           
  comparative risk to human health and the environment.                        
  Third, the parties would work cooperatively to resolve those                 
  needs to delegation and cooperative management to the extent                 
  under the law.  The essence of the this is to develop cost                   
  effective solutions to meeting environmental requirements.                   
  Within Alaska, I think it will go one step farther.  If we                   
  can get the United States Environmental Protection Agency on                 
  board in these agreements, and that is to identify those                     
  mandates that not only are unfunded, but also do not make                    
  sense in many parts of this state."                                          
                                                                               
  Number 100                                                                   
                                                                               
  COMMISSIONER SANDOR then referred to President Clinton's                     
  Executive Order #12875 dated October 26, 1993.  (A copy of                   
  this document is on file.)  He said, "Which just took effect                 
  actually January 26, 1994, ninety days after the signing of                  
  the Executive Order.  The Order is intended to enhance what                  
  the President calls intergovernmental partnerships.  As you                  
  will note, the intent of this Executive Order is to reduce                   
  unfunded mandates upon state, local, and tribal governments                  
  and to streamline essentially the operation of governments.                  
  Unfortunately, this Executive Order has not been taken                       
  seriously by some of the levels of administrators;                           
  administrators within the federal government.  I want to                     
  emphasize that participation in this is completely                           
  voluntary.  Communities can enter into agreements and pull                   
  out of them at any time.  Quite frankly, they are often                      
  suspicious of what these agreements are and have reason to                   
  be suspicious.  But we've learned over the past three years,                 
  that in fact, they do work.  It's important to know that                     
  this bill has a zero fiscal note..."                                         
                                                                               
  Number 144                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DAVIES said he supported the bill and                    
  asked, "(You've) indicated quite a number of efforts that                    
  you've already made, and I guess I'm wondering if you've                     
  been doing these, why do you need this bill?"                                
                                                                               
  COMMISSIONER SANDOR said, "We've been stretching it perhaps                  
  a bit.  On the other hand, the attorneys have told us we can                 
  enter into agreements.  There are, however, no provisions                    
  for having federal agencies enter into such agreements.                      
  This brings into one place, this authority, so that it's                     
  very clear and I think will help give impetus to the                         
  consideration of this as we propose this to additional                       
  communities and regional groups."                                            
                                                                               
  Number 174                                                                   
                                                                               
  JIM KOHLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SOUTHEAST CONFERENCE,                        
  stated, "We are, as of about ten minutes ago, beginning our                  
  fourth year under a cooperative community agreement with the                 
  Department of Environmental Conservation and...  There is no                 
  question that communities are being faced with a burden of                   
  responsibility and task unprecedented, and it will continue.                 
  If one looks at just the mountain of requirements a local                    
  administrator and a community staff have to face just                        
  dealing with environmental related issues,  it would be                      
  enough to drive most of us crazy...  It is a burdensome task                 
  at best.  Commissioner Sandor brought with him a commitment                  
  when he took over the reigns of this department to try and                   
  forge something that would bring his resources, the state's                  
  resources, into the offices, into the communities...so that                  
  we could collectively sit down and ask ourselves together,                   
  `What are the biggest problems we need to face, and how are                  
  we going to combine our resources to face those problems and                 
  work towards some solutions'.  And the community agreement                   
  then sets out the commitment that we both make, to try to                    
  reach some kind of resolution solution, so that when we                      
  leave that exercise we know what we're both trying to get,                   
  to achieve.  We know what we're going to commit to each                      
  other to try to achieve it and we work as partners.  That                    
  has not existed prior to the time that we've entered this                    
  kind of process.  And the question of why, if we can do                      
  this, do we need this legislation; from my own perspective,                  
  I believe that what Commissioner Sandor has brought over the                 
  last three years...is a vision of how to do something and                    
  how to make it work...let's hope that we can leave behind                    
  us, not something that is just the product of an individual,                 
  or a few individuals that have a commitment and a vision,                    
  but let's leave some tools and let's leave a framework so                    
  that folks can undertake a process that works.  I disagree                   
  slightly with the fiscal note of zero.  It has been our                      
  experience over the last three years from specific projects                  
  we've undertaken through the community agreements, that we                   
  have saved our communities collectively, well into the six                   
  digit figures...about a quarter of a million dollars                         
  collectively...  So I think that what you have in front of                   
  you, while it may have elements of holy water, I think what                  
  it really does is sets out a structure and a tool that I                     
  hope spreads well beyond just the notion of cooperative                      
  agreements on environmental issues.  The last point being                    
  that we are engaged in our region.  All of our communities                   
  basically, by this time next year will have finished their                   
  own locally developed sustainable development plan.  Our                     
  commitment from the conference is to bring all state                         
  agencies into that process and to duplicate these                            
  cooperative agreements between each community and each state                 
  agency so that everybody comes to the table as partners to                   
  try to get there from here basically..."                                     
                                                                               
  Number 260                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE CYNTHIA TOOHEY asked, "These have been                        
  signed...the funding then is coming, is that correct?"                       
                                                                               
  MR. KOHLER said, "With the Southeast Conference, we entered                  
  our first cooperative about three years ago.  We've been                     
  updating them annually.  It's not an issue of funding.                       
  We're working basically with a set of resources that we both                 
  have available to us.  What we're setting out is how we're                   
  each going to manage our resources to achieve these problems                 
  collectively..."                                                             
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE TOOHEY referred to a letter from President                    
  Clinton, saying, "This is the President's agreement to pay                   
  for unfunded federal mandates."  (A copy of this letter is                   
  on file.)                                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 277                                                                   
                                                                               
  COMMISSIONER SANDOR replied, "He (President Clinton) was, I                  
  believe motivated, genuinely by this problem of unfunded                     
  mandates, and actually made the commitment to sponsor and                    
  promote intergovernmental partnerships to direct, in fact,                   
  federal agencies to do that.  And it dovetails nicely into                   
  what we have here and what I intend to do, Mr. Chairman, if                  
  this bill passes, is to in fact, go back to EPA and say,                     
  `now, hey, we also have the legislature, the state, on board                 
  on this.  We have the President's Executive Order calling                    
  for partnerships in dealing with unfunded mandates, how                      
  about waking up there in Seattle and join the partnership                    
  that your boss is proposing?'  It's that simple.  That's how                 
  it ties in."                                                                 
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS joined the committee at 1:40                    
  p.m.                                                                         
                                                                               
  Number 309                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said, "I just wanted to underscore                     
  that I think I heard the commissioner say that he felt that                  
  one of the other answers to my first question was that by                    
  passing this, it would help him in dealing with Region X and                 
  I think we should give the commissioner all the help he                      
  needs."  He then moved that HB 446 be moved from committee                   
  with individual recommendations.                                             
                                                                               
  There were no objections.                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 318                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN OLBERG adjourned the meeting at 1:40 p.m.                           
                                                                               

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