Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106

01/31/2006 11:00 AM EDUCATION

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11:05:24 AM Start
11:06:12 AM HJR14
11:37:19 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHJR 14(EDU) Out of Committee
+= Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION                                                                            
                        January 31, 2006                                                                                        
                           11:05 a.m.                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Mark Neuman, Chair                                                                                               
Representative Carl Gatto                                                                                                       
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Bill Thomas                                                                                                      
Representative Peggy Wilson                                                                                                     
Representative Les Gara                                                                                                         
Representative Woodie Salmon                                                                                                    
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 14                                                                                                   
Urging the United States Congress to pass legislation to convey                                                                 
land to the University of Alaska.                                                                                               
     - MOVED CSHJR 14(EDU) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HJR 14                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: URGE CONGRESS TO GRANT LAND TO UNIVERSITY                                                                          
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) ELKINS                                                                                            
03/01/05       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/01/05       (H)       EDU, RES                                                                                               
01/31/06       (H)       EDU AT 11:00 AM CAPITOL 106                                                                            
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
JAMES VAN HORN, Staff                                                                                                           
to Representative Jim Elkins                                                                                                    
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented HJR 14 on behalf of                                                                              
Representative Elkins.                                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE JIM ELKINS                                                                                                       
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified as the sponsor of HJR 14.                                                                        
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR  MARK   NEUMAN  called  the  House   Special  Committee  on                                                             
Education  meeting  to order  at  11:05:24  AM.   Representatives                                                             
Neuman,  Gara, Gatto,  and Wilson  were  present at  the call  to                                                               
order.  Representatives  Lynn, Salmon, and Thomas  arrived as the                                                               
meeting was in progress.                                                                                                        
HJR 14-URGE CONGRESS TO GRANT LAND TO UNIVERSITY                                                                              
11:06:12 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR NEUMAN announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 14,  Urging the United States Congress                                                               
to pass legislation to convey land to the University of Alaska.                                                                 
11:06:43 AM                                                                                                                   
JAMES VAN HORN, Staff to  Representative Jim Elkins, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,   presented   the    sponsor   statement   [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
     House Joint  Resolution 14 has been  introduced to urge                                                                    
     the  United  States  Congress to  pass  legislation  to                                                                    
     convey land to the University of Alaska.                                                                                   
     HJR  14 voices  support for  U.S. Senate  Bill 293  the                                                                    
     federal  University Land  Bill [introduced]  by Senator                                                                    
     Lisa  Murkowski  (R-AK).  That legislation  provides  a                                                                    
     grant from the federal  government of 250,000 acres and                                                                    
     up  to  an  additional  250,000 acres  match  from  the                                                                    
     As the  largest landholder  in Alaska, it  is important                                                                    
     that  the Federal  government  provide  support to  the                                                                    
     University  of  Alaska.  The University  needs  a  more                                                                    
     dependable  revenue stream,  and this  legislation will                                                                    
     make the  University of Alaska  System more  stable and                                                                    
     similar  to other  land grant  institutions across  the                                                                    
     nation.  Eventually   they  will  be  able   to  become                                                                    
     financially    independent    from    yearly    funding                                                                    
     allocations from the Legislature.                                                                                          
     In conjunction  with House Bill 130,  [which was passed                                                                    
     last session],  this land grant  package will  give the                                                                    
     University of Alaska as much  as 760,000 acres and will                                                                    
     make them  the envy  of universities around  the globe.                                                                    
     HJR  14  will  inform   the  members  of  Congress  how                                                                    
     important  S.293 is  to  Alaskans  because producing  a                                                                    
     long-term   revenue  stream   for  the   University  is                                                                    
     imperative and in the best interests of all Alaskans.                                                                      
11:08:39 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE JIM ELKINS, Alaska  State Legislature, said it was                                                               
"important to  recognize that  the state has  put up  their lands                                                               
already and  we just ask  the federal  government now to  step up                                                               
and produce their lands."                                                                                                       
11:08:58 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. VAN HORN, in response  to a question by Representative Gatto,                                                               
said it had not yet been  determined which group of lands held by                                                               
the  federal government  were to  be conveyed  and whether  these                                                               
lands  have some  reasonable  value.   He  explained that  S.293,                                                               
introduced  by U.S.  Senator Lisa  Murkowski, is  specific as  to                                                               
what lands can not be conveyed.                                                                                                 
11:09:51 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR NEUMAN  directed the committee's attention  to Attachment C                                                               
which ranks  Alaska last  in university  land grants  in acreage.                                                               
He explained that the total  university land granted to Alaska so                                                               
far has  been only .11  percent, although many other  states have                                                               
already received  100 percent of  available university  land from                                                               
the federal  government.  He opined,  "If we can get  this [land]                                                               
through the University [of Alaska],  hopefully we can get it into                                                               
private hands,  and the more land  ... we have in  private hands,                                                               
the better off we are."                                                                                                         
11:10:48 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA noted  his disagreement  with "that  blanket                                                               
statement" by Chair Neuman and said  he would hate to lose access                                                               
to fishing  streams and such.   He then  asked if there  were any                                                               
available figures showing  how Alaska ranks in terms  of how much                                                               
acreage has been given to the university.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  ELKINS  replied  that   he  does  not  have  this                                                               
information but  could obtain it.   It was his  understanding, he                                                               
said, that [Alaska] ranks really low.                                                                                           
11:12:17 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA expressed  his  concern  that public  access                                                               
provisions to recreational  areas such as fishing  streams may be                                                               
lost  over  time  when  land   is  conveyed  to  the  university.                                                               
Therefore,  he   suggested  introducing  a  proposal   which,  in                                                               
determining which lands to convey,  would ensure public access to                                                               
these recreational areas are not given away.                                                                                    
11:13:14 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  ELKINS   said  he  would  support   a  conceptual                                                               
amendment to address this.                                                                                                      
11:13:33 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR NEUMAN  acknowledged the importance  of public  access, but                                                               
recalled that a  lot of the access issues were  covered last year                                                               
in  HB  130.    He  related that  in  his  district,  when  areas                                                               
involving  dog sled  mushing were  addressed, the  university was                                                               
approachable  and  provided  assurances   that  access  would  be                                                               
maintained  around these  areas should  they  ever be  sold.   He                                                               
informed the committee that those  bills currently moving forward                                                               
that affect access rights, must  follow existing federal statute,                                                               
R.S. 2477.                                                                                                                      
11:14:30 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON   expressed  her  support  of   the  bill,                                                               
commenting  that it  was  "interesting to  see  that the  federal                                                               
government  has  had 91  years  to  make  good their  promise  to                                                               
Alaska, and they  still have failed to  do so ... they  owe it to                                                               
us  and that  is a  promise  that's not  been kept  in all  these                                                               
years."   She  said the  one  sentence in  the sponsor  statement                                                               
which  says   that  [the  university]  will   eventually  "become                                                               
financially independent from yearly  funding allocations from the                                                               
legislature" is a circumstance she finds "highly doubtful."                                                                     
11:15:32 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. VAN  HORN, in  regard to Chair  Neuman's question  on whether                                                               
[HJR 14] would  help S.[293], expressed his belief  that it will.                                                               
He said  S.293 is currently  being reviewed by the  United States                                                               
Senate  Committee  on  Energy and  Natural  Resources,  on  which                                                               
Senator Lisa Murkowski  is a member, and that HJR  14 might add a                                                               
"kick start" to the process.                                                                                                    
11:16:37 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR NEUMAN  asked whether  the lack of  ownership of  lands has                                                               
hindered the development of the university.                                                                                     
MR.  VAN HORN  expressed  his  belief that  it  has hindered  the                                                               
university's development  and directed the  committee's attention                                                               
to  a  comprehensive  legislative research  report  by  Professor                                                               
Terrence  Cole,  dated November  1993,  entitled,  "A Land  Grant                                                               
College  Without  the  Land:  A  History  of  the  University  of                                                               
Alaska's  Federal  Land  Grant"  [a  copy  is  available  in  the                                                               
committee  packet].   He said  the report  indicates that  during                                                               
[1917] and  1947, the  University of  Alaska's total  income from                                                               
its land  was $227.50.   He also  referenced the 1915  land grant                                                               
legislation  discussed  in the  report,  which  said that  public                                                               
schools and  land grant colleges  obtained far less  acreage than                                                               
the 20 million originally intended.                                                                                             
11:18:11 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO noted  that the  committee packet  includes                                                               
the  "Federal Land  Grants to  States for  Educational and  Other                                                               
Purposes" and "Total  Grants by State" charts  which specify that                                                               
Alaska has a total  of 21 million acres.  He  said that this data                                                               
"doesn't  seem to  square," and  asked whether  this is  land "we                                                               
never got or is this land that we do have ...?"                                                                                 
11:19:05 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. VAN  HORN explained that  this land  was proposed in  1915 by                                                               
Alaska Delegate  James Wickersham but  was never conveyed  to the                                                               
state due to the slow progress  of surveying federal lands at the                                                               
11:19:39 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  again sought  clarification on  the figures                                                               
in the two charts and the  actual meaning of the 21 million acres                                                               
listed for Alaska.                                                                                                              
11:20:21 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  VAN HORN  clarified  that  these charts  refer  back to  the                                                               
Morrill Act  of 1862,  the original  land grant  legislation that                                                               
specified  that 21  million acres  would be  conveyed to  Alaska.                                                               
However,  the land  was never  conveyed to  the state  because of                                                               
lack of surveys.                                                                                                                
11:21:42 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON referred to a  chart which showed Alaska as                                                               
having received  .11 percent [of  land grants].   [Granting land]                                                               
may be difficult,  she opined, because there  are several federal                                                               
parks in many  states as well as [interest]  groups that actively                                                               
oppose conveying the land.                                                                                                      
11:23:31 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  VAN HORN,  in response  to Representative  Salmon, said  the                                                               
university owns approximately 500,000 acres at this time.                                                                       
11:24:03 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMAS asked  if the  land grants  in the  Haines                                                               
area which were set aside for  education are some of the possible                                                               
lands addressed  in HJR 14.   Upon  hearing Mr. Van  Horn's reply                                                               
that they  might be, Representative  Thomas said there were  3 or                                                               
4, 15 to 20 acre parcels  set aside for the education benefits of                                                               
the local Natives  in the community that  were later relinquished                                                               
by the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA).                                                                             
11:25:44 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON commented  that there is also  land that K-                                                               
12 education  area were to  receive from  the state and  from the                                                               
federal  government;   however,  that   land  hasn't   even  been                                                               
surveyed.    She   questioned  whether  some  of   the  land  the                                                               
university currently owns has been surveyed.                                                                                    
11:26:30 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMAS asked  whether  the state  or the  federal                                                               
government would  determine which lands  to convey should  HJR 14                                                               
MR.  VAN  HORN said  Senator  Murkowski's  bill, S.293,  is  very                                                               
specific with  strict timeframes.  The  university, he explained,                                                               
may not  select lands  conveyed to  the State of  Alaska or  to a                                                               
Native corporation.   Additionally, he said,  the university "has                                                               
one year,  after the  Secretary [of  Interior's] approval  of the                                                               
selection,  to make  a  final decision  whether  to accept  these                                                               
lands or  interest in  lands, and shall  notify the  Secretary of                                                               
this decision.  Again, it does say 'the university'."                                                                           
11:28:50 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMAS asked  why  university representation  was                                                               
not present at the  meeting.  He asked, "Do they  want this or is                                                               
this something the sponsor wants to do?"                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS replied that  [the resolution] "responds to                                                               
Lisa  Murkowski's  legislation to  show  state  support for  what                                                               
she's trying to do in conveying that land."                                                                                     
11:29:51 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMAS  opined  that [the  resolution  should  be                                                               
held] and  the university present.   "I think  if I was  going to                                                               
receive a couple million acres of  land, I would definitely be on                                                               
top of something here," he remarked.                                                                                            
11:30:25 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR NEUMAN suggested that "if  HJR 14 does pass this committee,                                                               
that you make sure that they're  there at the next committee this                                                               
does go through."                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS commented that  when over 250,000 acres was                                                               
conveyed to the state, "they were here then."                                                                                   
11:31:39 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GARA moved to adopt  Conceptual Amendment 1, which                                                               
read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                           
     Further resolved  that in  making land  grants Congress                                                                    
     shall ensure  the grants do  not interfere  with public                                                                    
     access   to  or   along  fishing   streams,  or   along                                                                    
     established  hunting, dog  mushing, motorized  vehicle,                                                                    
     mining trails or roads, or  established roads or trails                                                                    
     used for recreational purposes.                                                                                            
He said  the drafters would  need to  decide where to  insert the                                                               
amendment and  suggested perhaps it  should be placed on  page 2,                                                               
line 12.                                                                                                                        
11:32:10 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  objected   for  purposes  of  discussion.                                                               
Although she  said she agreed  with the concept, she  opined that                                                               
there is  no way Congress  is going  to know every  single public                                                               
access  area.    Therefore,  she  suggested  there  should  be  a                                                               
provision that ensures [access rights].                                                                                         
CHAIR NEUMAN  opined that  the amendment  does "make  a statement                                                               
towards ensuring  that there is  access to  Alaska's recreational                                                               
11:33:50 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMAS recalled  being  involved  with the  ANCSA                                                               
under which  the federal government  did ensure there  was access                                                               
and  easements  to  recreational   trails  that  were  previously                                                               
identified.   He  suggested that  language to  that effect  would                                                               
ensure the aforementioned is addressed.                                                                                         
11:34:23 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  expressed  his belief  that  an  insertion,                                                               
addressing  access rights,  into Senator  Murkowski's bill  would                                                               
sufficiently ensure  this happens, and that  Conceptual Amendment                                                               
1, as written, sends the necessary message to Congress.                                                                         
11:36:16 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON withdrew her objection.                                                                                   
There  being no  further  objection, Conceptual  Amendment 1  was                                                               
11:37:01 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON moved to report  HJR 14, as amended, out of                                                               
committee  with  individual  recommendations.    There  being  no                                                               
objection,  CSHJR 14(EDU)  was reported  from  the House  Special                                                               
Committee on Education.                                                                                                         
11:37:19 AM                                                                                                                   
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Special Committee on Education meeting was adjourned at ll:37                                                                   

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