Legislature(2013 - 2014)BARNES 124

03/13/2014 08:00 AM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 317 TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES NEAR SCHOOLS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HCR 24 SUPPORTING DOG MUSHING TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
    HOUSE COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                   
                         March 13, 2014                                                                                         
                           8:05 a.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gabrielle LeDoux, Co-Chair                                                                                       
Representative Benjamin Nageak, Co-Chair                                                                                        
Representative Neal Foster                                                                                                      
Representative Bob Herron                                                                                                       
Representative Sam Kito III                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kurt Olson                                                                                                       
Representative Lora Reinbold                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 24                                                                                              
Recognizing, honoring, supporting, and encouraging support for                                                                  
dog mushing and dog mushers in the state.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HCR 24 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 317                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to official traffic-control devices at schools                                                                 
and in school zones."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HCR 24                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: SUPPORTING DOG MUSHING                                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
03/03/14       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/03/14       (H)       CRA                                                                                                    
03/11/14       (H)       CRA AT 8:00 AM BARNES 124                                                                              
03/11/14       (H)       Moved Out of Committee                                                                                 
03/11/14       (H)       MINUTE(CRA)                                                                                            
03/13/14       (H)       CRA AT 8:00 AM BARNES 124                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 317                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES NEAR SCHOOLS                                                                               
SPONSOR(s): TUCK                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
02/19/14       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/19/14       (H)       CRA, TRA                                                                                               
03/13/14       (H)       CRA AT 8:00 AM BARNES 124                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS TUCK                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Spoke as the sponsor of HB 317.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CONNIE MCKENZIE, Legislative Liaison                                                                                            
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities                                                                                
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions during the hearing of HB                                                             
317.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
KENDRA KLOSTER, Staff                                                                                                           
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Answered questions during the hearing of HB                                                            
317.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
JESSICA ULLRICH                                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 317.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CORRINE OSBORNE                                                                                                                 
North Las Vegas, Nevada                                                                                                         
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 317 at the                                                                    
request of Representative Tuck.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SUSANNA ORR                                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 317.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT BOYLE, Superintendent                                                                                                    
Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District                                                                                       
Ketchikan, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing of HB 317.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
LUKE HOPKINS, Mayor                                                                                                             
Fairbanks North Star Borough                                                                                                    
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Suggested amending HB 317.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
BOB PRISTASH, Lead Engineer                                                                                                     
Design and Construction                                                                                                         
City of Fairbanks                                                                                                               
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the hearing of HB 317.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
KIMBERLY CLARK                                                                                                                  
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 317.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
KATHIE WASSERMAN, Executive Director                                                                                            
Alaska Municipal League                                                                                                         
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Expressed  her concern about  the structure                                                             
of HB 317.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:05:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  GABRIELLE   LEDOUX  called  the  House   Community  and                                                             
Regional  Affairs Standing  Committee  meeting to  order at  8:05                                                               
a.m.    Representatives Foster,  Kito  III,  Nageak, LeDoux  were                                                               
present at the  call to order.  Representative  Herron arrived as                                                               
the meeting was in progress.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
                 HCR 24-SUPPORTING DOG MUSHING                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:05:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE CONCURRENT  RESOLUTION NO.  24, Recognizing,  honoring,                                                               
supporting,  and  encouraging support  for  dog  mushing and  dog                                                               
mushers in the state.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:06:32 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  NAGEAK  moved  to rescind  the  committee's  action  on                                                               
3/11/14  in reporting  HCR 24  from  committee.   There being  no                                                               
objection, HCR 24 was again before the committee.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:06:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR NAGEAK  moved to  report HCR 24,  out of  committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There being  no objection, HCR 24  was reported out of  the House                                                               
Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                              
8:07:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 8:07 a.m. to 8:08 a.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
          HB 317-TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES NEAR SCHOOLS                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:08:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX announced that the  final order of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO. 317,  "An Act  relating to  official traffic-                                                               
control devices at schools and in school zones."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:09:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS TUCK, Alaska  State Legislature, speaking as                                                               
the  sponsor  of  HB  317,  said the  safety  and  well-being  of                                                               
Alaska's  children should  be its  top priority.   Representative                                                               
Tuck noted  that school  zones are  essential, regardless  of the                                                               
type of school  or the funding it receives.   Charter schools are                                                               
public  schools,  but mandatory  school  zones  are not  required                                                               
around  charter school  buildings.   In  response  to public  and                                                               
parental concerns, HB 317 brings  increased safety precautions to                                                               
all  schools,  to  ensure  the  well-being  of  every  child,  by                                                               
requiring installation  of school zones for  all public, private,                                                               
and  religious schools,  while still  allowing the  discretion of                                                               
the municipality  on the location  and placement of  signs, speed                                                               
zones, lights, or  other measures.  Drivers should  be alerted to                                                               
all areas  where children will  be present in large  numbers, and                                                               
requiring school zone markings at  all school locations will slow                                                               
traffic, improve student  safety in the vicinity  of schools, and                                                               
may  prevent  tragic  accidents.   In  addition,  the  bill  also                                                               
requires signage  to indicate school  zones are  drug-free zones.                                                               
Representative Tuck  read in part from  the bill on page  1, line                                                               
4, as follows:                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     The regulations adopted by the  department under (a) of                                                                    
     this section  must include  provisions for  the posting                                                                    
     of official  traffic-control devices at schools  and in                                                                    
     school  zones.   In this  subsection, "school"  has the                                                                    
     meaning given in AS 28.01.010(k).                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  continued to  explain that section  2 amends                                                               
[AS  28.01.010(d)] to  direct that  municipalities post  official                                                               
traffic-control devices at schools and  in school zones.  Section                                                               
3 defines "school"  to mean a public school  established under AS                                                               
14, a  "charter school" as  defined in [AS 14.03.290],  a private                                                               
school" as  defined in [AS  14.45.200], and a  "religious school"                                                               
as defined in AS [14.45.200].                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER asked for  information regarding any fiscal                                                               
notes attached to the bill.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  responded  that the  fiscal  notes  address                                                               
annual maintenance  costs, regional operating costs,  and capital                                                               
expenditures for signage.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:12:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CONNIE   MCKENZIE,    Legislative   Liaison,   Office    of   the                                                               
Commissioner, Department  of Transportation &  Public Facilities,                                                               
explained  that   the  Department  of  Transportation   &  Public                                                               
Facilities (DOT&PF)  has prepared three fiscal  notes because the                                                               
state is  divided into three  regions.  The  department's traffic                                                               
engineers have  calculated that about  30 percent of  all schools                                                               
affected by the  proposed bill are located  on state-owned roads,                                                               
and further  calculated that  in some  areas school  zone signage                                                               
already  exists, but  schools would  need school  zone signs  and                                                               
flashers installed,  and some areas  need "the full  assembly" of                                                               
signage.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  LEDOUX  asked  whether  DOT&PF  currently  has  signage                                                               
around all neighborhood public schools  on state-owned roads, but                                                               
does not put up signage around charter schools.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. MCKENZIE said no.   However, there are not necessarily school                                                               
zone signs  for every neighborhood  school; the  department works                                                               
with  school  districts  and   municipalities  to  determine  the                                                               
location and type of signage that is necessary.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  LEDOUX  asked  whether  the current  status  is  simply                                                               
"discriminating against charter schools."                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. MCKENZIE  said, "I'm not  aware of,  I don't know  if there's                                                               
signage at  charter schools or not,  I don't know if  any charter                                                               
schools have been evaluated to have signage."                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FOSTER surmised  the cost  of the  bill is  not a                                                               
cost to the school, but a cost to DOT&PF.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. MCKENZIE said correct.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER asked whether  the fiscal notes include the                                                               
cost of signage  for schools in villages that may  not be located                                                               
on state-owned roads.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. MCKENZIE responded  that DOT&PF estimated that  30 percent of                                                               
schools  are  on state-owned  roads,  and  thus are  the  state's                                                               
responsibility.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:16:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KITO  III  asked  if  the  department  identified                                                               
schools  that already  have signage,  so those  schools were  not                                                               
inadvertently included in the cost estimate.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. MCKENZIE  explained that 139  schools would need  "some sort"                                                               
of signage, but an analysis was not done on every school.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  LEDOUX  observed  the  cost to  municipalities  is  not                                                               
included in the  fiscal notes; however, if the cost  to the state                                                               
is $20  million for 30  percent of the  signs, would the  cost to                                                               
municipalities be upwards  of $40 million, because  70 percent of                                                               
schools are located on municipal roads.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. MCKENZIE said she was unable to answer that question.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KITO  III requested  a  breakdown  of the  fiscal                                                               
notes.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MCKENZIE  stated  that  capital   costs  for  the  Northern,                                                               
Central, and  Southeast Regions total approximately  $19 million;                                                               
the total operating costs are estimated at $200,000.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  confirmed  the overall  [capital]  cost  is                                                               
[$19.701.6] for the state.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:19:23 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  LEDOUX  reiterated  her  presumption  of  the  cost  to                                                               
municipalities.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK agreed, although  many public schools already                                                               
have signage  except for charter schools,  religious schools, and                                                               
private schools.   He said  he could not estimate  the percentage                                                               
of schools without signage, but  stressed that currently there is                                                               
nothing  in statute  that  requires signage  for  schools of  any                                                               
type,  and the  bill ensures  that -  where practicable  - safety                                                               
zones would be established.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:20:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KENDRA KLOSTER,  Staff, Representative Chris Tuck,  addressed the                                                               
costs  in  the fiscal  notes  and  pointed  out that  DOT&PF  has                                                               
included  the  installation  of  flashing  lights;  however,  the                                                               
language in  the bill states  "as [far as]  practicable," because                                                               
some  villages may  not  need flashing  lights  and many  schools                                                               
would only  need school zone signs  30 feet from the  entrance to                                                               
the school.  Also, of the  139 schools identified by DOT&PF, some                                                               
already have flashing lights.   Ms. Kloster related that the bill                                                               
sponsor  has been  contacted by  charter schools  that only  have                                                               
walking  routes,  and municipalities  will  not  post signage  at                                                               
schools that have  no school buses.  Some of  the charter schools                                                               
in Anchorage are located on very  busy roads but have received no                                                               
help from the municipality to slow  down traffic, and that is one                                                               
of the reasons for the bill.  She remarked,                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     We don't have to put  up big, expensive flashing lights                                                                    
     where they're  not needed.   This cost that DOT  has is                                                                    
     definitely the  very top that  you could reach,  but in                                                                    
     many  of these  communities  you're not  going to  need                                                                    
     something that expensive.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX  asked whether there  are communities  that don't                                                               
need signage.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KLOSTER opined  the intent  of the  bill is  to ensure  that                                                               
individuals are aware of the location  of schools and the need to                                                               
slow down.   It is  appropriate in all  areas to have  signage to                                                               
warn  drivers of  the proximity  of schools  and to  proceed with                                                               
caution.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  LEDOUX gave  the example  of  a village  of 50  people,                                                               
where the location of the school could not be missed.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KLOSTER  clarified  that the  proposed  legislation  affects                                                               
cities, boroughs, and municipalities.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK added that private  and religious schools are                                                               
often  located in  business areas  where schools  aren't normally                                                               
located, and they also don't  look like traditional schools.  The                                                               
bill will ensure that people are aware of all school facilities.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:24:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KITO  III cautioned  that  the  cost could  be  a                                                               
significant  overestimate because  in  some municipalities  there                                                               
would be a small number of schools in need of signage.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  NAGEAK   recalled  visiting  a  small   school  in  his                                                               
constituency which  was located in  a busy traffic area  and that                                                               
would benefit from signage.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER noted that the  bill is directed to charter                                                               
schools.   He referred to  the language in  the bill [on  page 1,                                                               
line 9],  and inquired  as to  who decides  "what's practicable;"                                                               
for example, whether an official  would dictate to a village what                                                               
signage is required, and if it conforms to the bill.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK explained that  DOT&PF has existing state and                                                               
federal guidelines  on signage.   In Anchorage,  the municipality                                                               
looks at  walking routes within  a radius of about  one-half mile                                                               
from a school and determines  the best location; however, not all                                                               
areas can  have a school  zone because  of certain dangers.   The                                                               
determination  on signage  is made  on a  case-by-case situation,                                                               
with the community and school district involved.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:27:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX opened public testimony on HB 317.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:28:09 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JESSICA ULLRICH informed the committee  she was the parent of two                                                               
children who attend the Alaska  Native Cultural Charter School in                                                               
Anchorage.    She said  her  children's  school  moved to  a  new                                                               
building last  fall and  after she  investigated, she  found that                                                               
the  Municipality  of  Anchorage Traffic  Division  conducted  an                                                               
assessment and determined there was no  need for 20 mile per hour                                                               
(mph)  traffic  signs.   The  school  is  located off  of  Bragaw                                                               
[Street], which  is a four-lane  road, with  a speed limit  of 35                                                               
mph, and  with a hill obstructing  vision at the one  entrance to                                                               
the school.   Ms. Ullrich said  signage is "very much  needed" to                                                               
protect children as  they are walking and driven to  school.  She                                                               
was  told  by the  Traffic  Division  that  it  places a  lot  of                                                               
emphasis  on  the number  of  children  they observe  walking  to                                                               
school and,  at the  time of its  assessment, only  nine children                                                               
were  seen walking  to and  from school.   Ms.  Ullrich suggested                                                               
that more students  would walk to school if the  walk were safer.                                                               
She also questioned whether  the assessment adequately considered                                                               
the  effect of  the  hill  on drivers'  vision,  and whether  the                                                               
process was  subjective when the municipality  assesses [the need                                                               
for] and  pays for signage.   Further, she expressed  her concern                                                               
with the  future scheduled changes  in the road system  that will                                                               
lead to  increases in traffic flow  in the area.   She stated her                                                               
support  for  HB  317  as   the  bill  removes  the  question  of                                                               
discrimination by the municipality,  and described her continuing                                                               
efforts in this regard as children's safety is the bottom line.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:32:57 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CORRINE OSBORNE said she used to  live in Anchorage and was asked                                                               
by Representative Tuck  to testify.  On October 6,  2003, her 13-                                                               
year-old daughter was hit by a car  on her way to school and died                                                               
two days later.   Her daughter was hit in front  of the school by                                                               
a car  going 45 mph, which  was the legal speed  limit, and there                                                               
were  no school  zone designations  or warnings  to slow  drivers                                                               
down.   For the next  year, Ms.  Osborne fought to  designate the                                                               
area a school  zone with a posted  speed limit of 25  mph, to add                                                               
crosswalks, and  to add  on-demand stoplights,  but was  met with                                                               
lots of resistance from the city  and DOT&PF because of the cost,                                                               
the  street was  an arterial  road,  and the  children had  other                                                               
options.  Eventually, all of  the improvements were implemented a                                                               
year  later, and  there have  been  no accidents  or injuries  to                                                               
children since then.   She acknowledged that this  is a political                                                               
issue,  but  she  is  a  mother  who lost  her  child  due  to  a                                                               
preventable  accident.   The proposed  bill  to establish  school                                                               
zones  and  install   signs  at  the  charter   school  also  has                                                               
resistance  from  DOT&PF,  and  she strongly  urged  that  before                                                               
voting,  the committee  think of  the safety  of all  of Alaska's                                                               
children, and vote to approve the bill.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:37:04 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUSANNA  ORR  informed  the  committee  she  was  speaking  as  a                                                               
concerned parent.  She expressed her  support of HB 317 and urged                                                               
the  committee to  support the  proposed  legislature to  install                                                               
better  signage  and  speed   regulations  in  areas  surrounding                                                               
schools and  community centers that  are frequented  by children.                                                               
Ms.  Orr related  her  recent personal  experience  in which  her                                                               
father and her  daughter were traveling in a car  that was hit by                                                               
another  car.   It is  unknown whether  the driver  who hit  them                                                               
exceeded  the  speed limit  because  the  posted speed  limit  on                                                               
O'Malley Road  is 50 mph.   As a  working parent, she  noted that                                                               
the peak traffic  times at her child's school  are from 8:45-9:00                                                               
a.m., and 3:30-3:45 p.m., when  about 150 vehicles enter and exit                                                               
from  O'Malley Road.   Due  to the  location of  their home,  her                                                               
daughter does not qualify for  transportation by school bus which                                                               
would  drop her  off in  an area  with less  traffic, and  she is                                                               
transported by  her grandparent.   O'Malley Elementary  School is                                                               
located  off  of  Rockridge  Drive,  about  one  block  south  of                                                               
O'Malley Road, and  the speed limit on Rockridge is  marked by 20                                                               
mph  and school  signs.   There  are many  students  who walk  to                                                               
school, but  there are no  sidewalks or road shoulders  on either                                                               
O'Malley or Rockridge.  There is  a stop sign on Rockridge at the                                                               
intersection  with  O'Malley,  but   no  signage  indicating  the                                                               
proximity of a  school except one sign.  The  accident her family                                                               
was  involved in  was at  a  location where  many accidents  have                                                               
occurred because  of the lack of  signage and a speed  zone.  Ms.                                                               
Orr urged  the committee to  support HB  317 in order  to protect                                                               
children across the state who  do not have appropriate signage at                                                               
their  school.   She also  expressed her  fervent hope  that this                                                               
issue is  not rolled into  a larger  debate of school  funding as                                                               
this is not an educational issue but one of basic public safety.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  LEDOUX  asked  whether  Ms. Orr's  daughter  attends  a                                                               
neighborhood school or a charter school.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. ORR responded that she  attends a neighborhood public school.                                                               
In further  response to Co-Chair  LeDoux, she explained  that her                                                               
school is located  on a residential street, and  there is signage                                                               
within 30  feet of  the school,  but no  signage on  the adjacent                                                               
state road.   Furthermore, on  O'Malley Road, the speed  limit is                                                               
50 mph.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:44:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT  BOYLE, Superintendent,  Ketchikan Gateway  Borough School                                                               
District, said  [Part 7 of  the Alaska Traffic  Manual Supplement                                                               
to  the  Manual  on  Uniform  Traffic  Control  Devices,  Federal                                                               
Highway  Administration,  U.   S.  Department  of  Transportation                                                               
(USDOT)],   Chapter  7:   Traffic  Control   for  School   Areas,                                                               
establishes school routes and the  requirements for posting signs                                                               
around school  zones.  Urban  and rural traffic  control matrixes                                                               
are presented  on tables  7A.100-7A.101, found  on page  130, and                                                               
establish the  criterion that USDOT  should follow in  the routes                                                               
to schools, however, in  many cases it fails to do  so.  In fact,                                                               
DOT&PF  has  adopted an  international  program  called the  Safe                                                               
Routes to School  Program which is designed  to encourage walking                                                               
and  biking   to  school  by   establishing  safe  routes.     An                                                               
examination  of this  program  in Alaska  reveals  no mention  of                                                               
charter schools.   On  the other  hand, the  State of  New Jersey                                                               
specifically  includes charter  schools  in  the traffic  control                                                               
signage  that is  required by  its department  of transportation.                                                               
Mr.  Boyle related  the Municipality  of Anchorage  has a  school                                                               
zone  policy  manual  and  charter  schools  are  not  mentioned.                                                               
Valley  Park  School  in the  Ketchikan  Gateway  Borough  School                                                               
District (KGBSD) contains two different  charter schools and when                                                               
construction changed the  entrance to the two  schools, KGBSD had                                                               
a  difficult time  with DOT&PF  rearranging  the traffic  control                                                               
signs that indicated the school zone.   He was unsure whether the                                                               
problem was  related to  the fact that  the schools  were charter                                                               
schools, but  it was difficult to  get DOT&PF to adhere  to their                                                               
requirements  to put  up  signs  and establish  safe  zones.   He                                                               
opined that the extensive costs  for the proposed legislation can                                                               
be  rejected because  the requirements  for school  zones already                                                               
exist,  and  [locating  and  sizing]  the  traffic  controls  are                                                               
already presented on the aforementioned tables.  He remarked:                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     And  so  the  [requirement]  under House  Bill  317  is                                                                    
     simply   a   requirement   that   the   department   of                                                                    
     transportation  already  has.     This  is  not  a  new                                                                    
     requirement  - the  rules, the  regulations are  there.                                                                    
     The goals  of the department  are stated in  their Safe                                                                    
     Routes to School Program.   And those already establish                                                                    
     the  routes and  how the  department should  respond to                                                                    
     the fact that  charter schools exist.   The bigger part                                                                    
     of  this   bill  that  I   see  as  important   is  the                                                                    
     establishment  of the  fact  that  charter schools  are                                                                    
     indeed  public  schools.   And  we  need  to  recognize                                                                    
     charter as  public schools within  other organizations;                                                                    
     in other words,  we as a school  district recognize the                                                                    
     charter  school  -  we think  it's  important  for  the                                                                    
     establishment  of  charter  schools as  public  schools                                                                    
     within  other  organizations,  so  that  they  are  not                                                                    
     discounted.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:48:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX  asked if the  documents referenced by  Mr. Boyle                                                               
specifically exclude charter schools.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOYLE responded that charter  schools are not mentioned, thus                                                               
HB  317  "opens  the  platform" to  ensure  charter  schools  are                                                               
included.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX  questioned why, if  a document refers  to public                                                               
schools and  it is widely  known that charter schools  are public                                                               
schools,  that  charter schools  would  not  be included,  unless                                                               
there is a specific exclusion.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOYLE clarified  that his reference was to  other states that                                                               
explicitly  state that  charter  schools  are included;  however,                                                               
DOT&PF does not make that statement.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   FOSTER  said   he  represents   over  60   rural                                                               
communities   and  pointed   out  that   on  page   130  of   the                                                               
aforementioned  manual the  definition of  rural is  "a specially                                                               
populated area, and rural schools  have different traffic control                                                               
than  urban schools  because there  are generally  fewer students                                                               
that must  walk to school."   Representative Foster said  that is                                                               
sometimes true but in many  parts of Alaska with villages, almost                                                               
all  of  the  students  walk  to school.    Although  the  manual                                                               
concludes that placing 20 mph school  zones in rural areas is not                                                               
always  a  good  idea,  Representative Foster  pointed  out  that                                                               
Alaska is a "very large and very diverse state."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOYLE  recalled his experience  as the superintendent  of the                                                               
Northwest Arctic Borough School  District that had rural schools,                                                               
but did not  have charter schools.  He stressed  that HB 317 does                                                               
not change the rules or  regulations for rural areas, but ensures                                                               
that charter schools  are recognized with the same  status as are                                                               
other public schools.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:52:49 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LUKE HOPKINS,  Mayor, Fairbanks North Star  Borough, informed the                                                               
committee that the Fairbanks North  Star Borough (FNSB) holds the                                                               
responsibility for school  construction, properties, and signage.                                                               
He stated that  he was struck by the power  of earlier testimony.                                                               
Mayor  Hopkins  noted that  FNSB  also  utilizes the  state  Safe                                                               
Routes to School Program and reviewed  16 of 34 schools for which                                                               
FNSB is  responsible.  As a  result, FNSB developed a  large list                                                               
of  what was  necessary to  provide  safe routes  to schools;  in                                                               
fact, at one  school FNSB is providing a section  of sidewalk for                                                               
children  to walk  to school  that  is costing  $500,000.   Mayor                                                               
Hopkins requested  that the committee  and the  sponsor seriously                                                               
consider amending HB 317 to include  funds for the Safe Routes to                                                               
School   Program,   because    from   that   program   individual                                                               
municipalities can  seek grants and  matching funds.   He pointed                                                               
out that FNSB is very different  from Anchorage - the borough has                                                               
104  road  service areas  and  many  have charter,  private,  and                                                               
religious schools.   Although  the call  for improved  safety for                                                               
schoolchildren  and parents  is understandable,  a mandate  calls                                                               
for funds,  and he restated  his suggestion that funds  should be                                                               
appropriated to the Safe Routes  to School Program.  He expressed                                                               
his belief that  federal funds for the program  were provided for                                                               
three  years  but the  state  is  not  "picking up  that  funding                                                               
level."      Mayor   Hopkins    asked   that   legislators   give                                                               
municipalities the opportunity to apply  for grants from the Safe                                                               
Routes to  School Program.   As an example [of  possible expenses                                                               
to a municipality],  he said a seven-inch-high book  of needs was                                                               
the result  of the analyses of  just sixteen public schools.   He                                                               
agreed that safety is serious  issue; however, DOT&PF's estimates                                                               
may be  low because "signs  are not the  only thing that  get the                                                               
children to have safe routes."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:57:17 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  LEDOUX asked  if charter  schools  are considered  when                                                               
FNSB determines which schools get signage and which do not.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MAYOR HOPKINS  answered that FNSB  follows the  traffic standards                                                               
that have  been referenced  earlier in the  hearing.   The public                                                               
works  department   makes  recommendations  to   charter  schools                                                               
regarding signage for that school.  He remarked:                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     A charter school  goes out ... and steps  into a leased                                                                    
     property.    They may  or  may  not  put up  the  signs                                                                    
     because they  don't have  bus routes,  everybody drives                                                                    
     or  the   children  walk.     So  again,   they're  not                                                                    
     necessarily in areas  where a sidewalk [is],  so, it is                                                                    
     true that it's  not addressed in our codes.   We don't,                                                                    
     we don't have  the depth of codes  that, say, Anchorage                                                                    
     does, but then  we heard that Anchorage  does not apply                                                                    
     it to charter schools.   So, there are issues that need                                                                    
     to be addressed,  that's true.  I'm speaking  to how we                                                                    
     provide the funding for that operation.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:59:10 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BOB  PRISTASH, Lead  Engineer, Design  and Construction,  City of                                                               
Fairbanks, said  he has been in  his position for over  25 years.                                                               
From  an engineering  prospective, he  advised that  more signage                                                               
doesn't  necessarily equate  to greater  safety.   The Manual  on                                                               
Uniform Traffic  Control Devices  (MUTCD) indicates the  size and                                                               
location  of  signs,  but  does not  indicate  exactly  at  which                                                               
intersections  signs  are  needed; in  fact,  some  intersections                                                               
require a yield  sign, a traffic signal, or no  stop sign at all.                                                               
Mr.  Pristash expressed  his  concern that  HB  317 requires  the                                                               
installation  of  devices  at  schools  when  [officials]  really                                                               
should  be using  engineering judgment,  along with  the need  to                                                               
follow the national  standards as modified by  the supplement [to                                                               
MUTCD] which  becomes the Alaska  Traffic Manual.  He  noted that                                                               
the City  of Fairbanks  has installed some  devices based  on the                                                               
classification of  the roadway,  the pedestrian  trip generation,                                                               
and  traffic  speeds; however,  the  most  appropriate method  to                                                               
increase safety  may not  be devices but  to improve  a sidewalk,                                                               
widen the  road, or  maintain the  road.   He cautioned  that the                                                               
bill is well-meaning but there may be unintended consequences.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:02:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KIMBERLY  CLARK stated  she is  the  parent of  a charter  school                                                               
student in Juneau.   Ms. Clark related a recent  event in which a                                                               
family member was involved in a  car accident very near her son's                                                               
school.  As a matter of fact,  she was unaware of the location of                                                               
the  charter school  herself until  her son  was enrolled  there,                                                               
because  there  are  no  signs   identifying  the  school.    She                                                               
disagreed with  a previous speaker  because when she  is driving,                                                               
school signage  does alert  her to the  presence of  children and                                                               
the need  to be  more aware.   Ms. Clark said  there is  no price                                                               
that can  be put  on the  safety and the  life of  a child.   She                                                               
stressed  that charter  schools  are part  of  the Juneau  public                                                               
school system, although many don't  consider charter schools part                                                               
of the  [Juneau School] District.   Moreover, charter  schools do                                                               
not have the funding to post  signs.  She said she fully supports                                                               
HB 317.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KITO  III observed that the  charter school nearby                                                               
[the Capitol]  does not  have a  physical education  facility and                                                               
thus the  students walk  to the park  to have  physical education                                                               
and recess, and are perhaps walking along the road quite often.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:06:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATHIE  WASSERMAN, Executive  Director, Alaska  Municipal League,                                                               
said  she appreciated  the intent  of  HB 317  and encouraged  an                                                               
ongoing discussion  thereof; however, she expressed  concern with                                                               
the structure  of the  bill.  The  Alaska Municipal  League (AML)                                                               
represents  the   percentage  of   schools  that  are   in  other                                                               
communities.   The  bill affects  issues  in larger  communities,                                                               
such as Anchorage,  and another 161 municipalities as  well.  Her                                                               
research  on  the  bill  did  not  reveal  who  defines  what  is                                                               
practicable  and  what  equipment   is  needed.    Ms.  Wasserman                                                               
stressed  that [budget]  cuts are  coming; there  will be  a huge                                                               
deficit in the legislature even  without an unfunded mandate, and                                                               
in some communities it will be  difficult to even plow the roads.                                                               
She encouraged  the committee to  "look at the big  picture," and                                                               
opined that  traffic control  devices can  be different  in every                                                               
community.   In fact,  in 50 percent  of the  smaller communities                                                               
that are served by a  Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO), there                                                               
is no local traffic ordinance,  no ability to ticket an offender,                                                               
and no  court in which to  prosecute an offender.   She concluded                                                               
that a  sign is really just  a warning that is  unnecessary where                                                               
the  school  is the  center  of  the  community.   Ms.  Wasserman                                                               
expressed her  concern that  the bill  holds an  unfunded mandate                                                               
for an unidentified cost.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:08:51 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KITO  III advised  that  according  to the  bill,                                                               
existing statute refers to  "practicable" and most municipalities                                                               
provide school zone  signage for most neighborhood  schools.  The                                                               
intent is to  add charter and religious schools  "as schools that                                                               
should be  protected as well."   There are 27 charter  schools in                                                               
the  state,  so the  addition  of  27  charter schools  and  [and                                                               
unknown number  of] private schools, to  400 [public neighborhood                                                               
schools] doesn't  seem overly burdensome for  municipalities that                                                               
are  already providing  traffic  control  signs for  neighborhood                                                               
schools.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE FOSTER  surmised that DOT&PF pays  for the signage                                                               
on   state-owned  roads;   the  municipality   pays  within   its                                                               
jurisdiction; and in a village, the state pays.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  WASSERMAN said  that  under Alaska  law,  some villages  are                                                               
municipalities and some are not.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FOSTER  asked  about the  status  of  communities                                                               
within a Regional Educational Attendance  Area (REAA) that do not                                                               
assess property taxes.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. WASSERMAN  agreed that REAAs do  not have a tax  base because                                                               
of Native  land or other  reasons, and HB  317 would result  in a                                                               
huge expense.  Some communities  are building smaller schools due                                                               
to  reduced  funding.   In  further  response  to  Representative                                                               
Foster, she said  she understood that the  municipality within an                                                               
REAA  is responsible  for  providing the  signage  at its  school                                                               
under [proposed section 1, subsection] (d) of the bill.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:11:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX  announced HB 317 would  be held over.   She said                                                               
she would like to see charter  schools covered to the extent that                                                               
public  schools are  covered;  however,  the testimony  suggested                                                               
that not  all public schools  have [adequate] signage.   Co-Chair                                                               
LeDoux also questioned the fiscal  notes attached to the bill and                                                               
sought more information on estimated costs to municipalities.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK stressed that  current state statute does not                                                               
include  requirements for  school zones.   He  then read  from AS                                                               
28.01.010(d) [in part] as follows:                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     (d)  A  municipality  shall  erect  necessary  official                                                                    
     traffic control devices on  streets and highways within                                                                    
     its jurisdiction that as far  as practicable conform to                                                                    
     the  current  edition  of  the  Alaska  Traffic  Manual                                                                    
     prepared  by  the   Department  of  Transportation  and                                                                    
     Public Facilities.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  pointed out  that the term  "practicable" is                                                               
already  in  statute  and  has been  used  by  municipalities  to                                                               
establish drug-free school  zones.  He continued to  read from AS                                                               
28.01.010 (d) [in part] as follows:                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The municipality (1) shall post a sign indicating that                                                                     
     the school is a "drug-free school zone"                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK recalled  the legislature  established drug-                                                               
free  school  zones to  raise  awareness,  and  it is  even  more                                                               
important  to raise  awareness  of school  safety  concerns.   He                                                               
turned to the  issue of funding, and expressed  his surprise that                                                               
"money is  more of  a concern  than the  safety of  our children.                                                               
Because that's  what it comes  down to.   And I think  the fiscal                                                               
note[s] [are] actually ... a little  bit large ... but still very                                                               
reasonable."   He  further elaborated  that  charter schools  are                                                               
handled differently  within a  municipality, because  private and                                                               
charter schools  don't have  a bus route  system or  good walking                                                               
areas  and   thus  were  excluded  from   [the  Municipality  of]                                                               
Anchorage's review  of school  zones.  The  discussion of  HB 317                                                               
has strengthened  the awareness  that charter schools  are public                                                               
schools,  however, making  the public  aware that  they are  also                                                               
located in nontraditional facilities  requires signage.  The bill                                                               
does  not   dictate  traffic  patterns,  but   raises  awareness.                                                               
Representative Tuck  acknowledged that the Safe  Routes to School                                                               
Program is a worthy program, but  its funding is not addressed in                                                               
HB 317.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:16:17 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FOSTER  told of  another  student  fatality in  a                                                               
school  zone.   He  supported the  spirit of  the  bill and  will                                                               
continue  to measure  its effect  on villages.   He  said, "We're                                                               
looking  at safety  of the  children and  so it's  hard to  put a                                                               
dollar value on that."                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HERRON  observed there  is signage  throughout the                                                               
state raising  awareness of  litter removal  and of  memorials at                                                               
the site of  accidents.  He suggested the funding  issue could be                                                               
avoided by  efforts from members  of a community to  find funding                                                               
for "awareness" signs near public,  private, and charter schools,                                                               
and that would be a  local effort.  Through enabling legislation,                                                               
this might be  a way to get around a  difficult funding issue and                                                               
also result in the local community becoming more proactive.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  returned to  the issue of  rural conditions,                                                               
and  noted that  most  federal traffic  standards consider  rural                                                               
areas to  be mostly farmland -  where students would not  walk to                                                               
school  - but  that's not  the case  in Alaska.   The  bill is  a                                                               
proactive approach  to make  changes "before  something happens."                                                               
It is  also proactive  in that  it does  not put  the [financial]                                                               
burden on charter schools, which  do not receive the same funding                                                               
as other public schools, and rely  in many ways on charter school                                                               
families.    He  read  [in  part] from  a  letter  written  by  a                                                               
municipal traffic engineer [document not provided] as follows:                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Because  charter  schools  are  not  zoned  like  other                                                                    
     district  schools they  do not  provide busing  or have                                                                    
     defined school walking routes, which  means they do not                                                                    
     have specified school zones to be marked.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  closed by saying  we're asking  that charter                                                               
schools do  have specified  school zones.   They  do not  have to                                                               
meet  all  of  the  same  standards,  but  they  do  need  to  be                                                               
considered.   A  study of  two locations  in Anchorage  have seen                                                               
immediate results [from raising awareness].                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:21:15 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR LEDOUX closed public testimony.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
[HB 317 was held over.]                                                                                                         
9:21:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee meeting was                                                                   
adjourned at 9:21 a.m.                                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 317 ver A.pdf HCRA 3/13/2014 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/27/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 317
HB 317 Sponsor Statement.pdf HCRA 3/13/2014 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/27/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 317
HB 317 DOT CRHA.pdf HCRA 3/13/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 317
HB 317 DOT NRHA.pdf HCRA 3/13/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 317
HB 317 DOT SDES.pdf HCRA 3/13/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 317
HB 317 School Zone Standards.pdf HCRA 3/13/2014 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/27/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 317
HB 317 DOT Traffic Control Devices for School Areas.pdf HCRA 3/13/2014 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/27/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 317
HB 317 Lttr of Support Ketchikan Gateway Borough.pdf HCRA 3/13/2014 8:00:00 AM
HCRA 3/27/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 317