Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/23/1996 01:45 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                     HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                   
                         APRIL 23, 1996                                        
                            1:45 P.M.                                          
  TAPE HFC 96 - 132, Side 1, #000 - end.                                       
  TAPE HFC 96 - 132, Side 2, #000 - end.                                       
  TAPE HFC 96 - 133, Side 1, #000 - end.                                       
  TAPE HFC 96 - 133, Side 2, #000 - #250.                                      
  CALL TO ORDER                                                                
  Co-Chair  Mark  Hanley called  the  House Finance  Committee                 
  meeting to order at 1:45 P.M.                                                
  Co-Chair Hanley               Representative Martin                          
  Co-Chair Foster               Representative Mulder                          
  Representative Brown          Representative Navarre                         
  Representative Grussendorf    Representative Parnell                         
  Representative Kelly          Representative Therriault                      
  Representative Kohring                                                       
  ALSO PRESENT                                                                 
  Senator  John Torgerson;  Deb Davidson, Staff,  Senator John                 
  Torgerson;  Ken  Erickson, Staff,  Senator Drue  Pearce; Jim                 
  Stratton, Director,  Division of Parks & Outdoor Recreation,                 
  Department of Natural Resources; Brett Huber, Staff, Senator                 
  Lydia Green;  Sam S. Kito III, Special  Assistant, Office of                 
  the Commissioner,  Department of  Transportation and  Public                 
  Facilities; Kevin  Ritchie, Alaska Municipal  League, Alaska                 
  Conference   of   Mayors,  Juneau;   Lamar   Cotten,  Deputy                 
  Commissioner, Department of Community and Regional  Affairs;                 
  Bob Bartholomew,  Deputy Director,  Income and Excise  Audit                 
  Division,  Department  of  Revenue;  Eddie  Grasser,  Alaska                 
  Outdoor  Council,  Juneau;  June  Burkhart,  (Testified  via                 
  teleconference),  Alaska  Boating  Association, Mat-Su;  Tom                 
  Nicolos, (Testified via teleconference),  City Council, City                 
  of Barrow, Barrow.                                                           
  SB 230    An Act providing that state  land, water, and land                 
            and water may  not be classified so as to preclude                 
            or  restrict  traditional  means  of  access   for                 
            traditional recreational uses.                                     
            HCS CS  SB 230 (FIN) was reported out of Committee                 
            with "no recommendation" and with a fiscal note by                 
            the Department of Natural Resources dated 3/28/98.                 
  SB 181    An Act  relating to directional  and informational                 
            signs,  displays, and  devices  and penalties  for                 
            violations related to outdoor advertising.                         
            CS SSSB 181  (FIN) was  reported out of  Committee                 
            with  "no  recommendation" and with a  fiscal note                 
            by  the Department  of  Transportation and  Public                 
  SB 20     An  Act establishing  the  Alaska municipal  basic                 
            services program, relating  to certain programs of                 
            state  aid to municipalities and recipients in the                 
            unorganized   borough;   and   providing  for   an                 
            effective date.                                                    
            SB   20  was   HELD  in   Committee  for   further                 
  SENATE BILL 230                                                              
       "An Act providing that state land, water, and land  and                 
       water  may  not  be classified  so  as  to  preclude or                 
       restrict  traditional means  of access  for traditional                 
       recreational uses."                                                     
  KEN ERICKSON, STAFF,  SENATOR DRUE PEARCE, spoke  in support                 
  of SB 230.  He noted that  it had been introduced to protect                 
  Alaskan's  right  to   access  state  land  and   water  for                 
  recreational  uses.  In  a time when  the federal government                 
  continues to restrict and prohibit  Alaskan's access to many                 
  areas of  the State, the  State government, needs  to ensure                 
  that  decisions  made  to  restrict access  are  made  in  a                 
  responsible, fair and well represented process.                              
  Alaskans  are presently  losing their  right  to traditional                 
  recreational  use  on  some  state  and park  lands  without                 
  appropriate notification  and justification.  He  cited that                 
  citizens believe that  the "public  comment process" is  not                 
  being administered and  that all user  groups are not  being                 
  represented.   Mr.  Erickson  suggested that  non-restricted                 
  areas of our State are being closed without proper oversight                 
  by the Legislature.                                                          
  Mr.  Erickson recommended that SB 230 would provide a change                 
  in  the  process,  ensuring that  all  Alaskans  have proper                 
  representation by their elected officials, with restrictions                 
  and prohibitions placed on traditional recreational activity                 
  needing to be justified  to the Legislature.  He  added that                 
  some areas of  Alaska may need  to be restricted to  partial                 
  recreational  activity,  suggesting  that   these  important                 
  decisions be made at the legislative level.                                  
  Representative Mulder  pointed  out that  the Chilkat  State                 
  Park would  be  increased by  eleven  acres.   Mr.  Erickson                 
  agreed, pointing out  that there are  three parcels of  land                 
  involved, previously purchased by  the Department of Natural                 
  Resources (DNR) and then transferred to the Parks Management                 
  Division by using  inter-agency land management  agreements.                 
  The federal  funds used to  purchase those eleven  acres had                 
  strings  attached  indicating  that they  would  need  to be                 
  managed as if they were part of the Chilkat State Park.                      
  In  response  to  Representative Therriault's  comment,  Mr.                 
  Erickson stated that Section  #1 would add a list  of duties                 
  required  by  Department of  Natural  Resources (DNR).   The                 
  Department must annually submit a  report to the Legislature                 
  on each designation of incompatible  use that would prohibit                 
  or restrict a traditional means of  access.  The report must                 
  state  reasons  for  the  restriction  or  prohibition,  the                 
  specific area affected, and the  duration of the restriction                 
  or  prohibition.     The   section   would  further   define                 
  "traditional means of  access" and "traditional recreational                 
  Representative Brown referenced language on Page 3, Line 12,                 
  "...where a popular pattern or use  has developed;...".  Mr.                 
  Erickson stated  that this  language would  incorporate uses                 
  which have occurred traditionally.                                           
  SU, spoke in support  of SB 230.   She  proceeded to provide                 
  examples  of  problems resulting  from  concerns on  lack of                 
  restrictions.  Ms.  Burkhart added  that the public  hearing                 
  process has not worked.                                                      
  that the Department supports Sections 1, 2, and 3, although,                 
  voiced opposition  to Sections 4 and  5.  He stated  that it                 
  was the mission of Alaska State Parks to provide for a range                 
  of recreational opportunities.                                               
  Mr. Stratton commented on Denali State Park as referenced by                 
  Ms. Burkhart.  When that legislation was passed in 1970, the                 
  Division  of State Park's  was not given  direction from the                 
  Legislature  on how  to  incorporate incompatible  uses when                 
  planning for the park.  The Department went forward with the                 
  generic park  regulations  and  crafted  a  balance  between                 
  motorized and non-motorized use.                                             
  Mr. Stratton advised that the  1989 planning process for the                 
  Denali State Park  took two years  to write.  He  emphasized                 
  that the  public was  provided with  a "more than  adequate"                 
  opportunity in creating a balance  in park regulations.  The                 
  Department does not feel that  many recreational users would                 
  be displaced with  the proposed closure. He  emphasized that                 
  the decision had been made through  the public process.  Mr.                 
  Stratton stressed that hundreds of  hours have been "put-in"                 
  to achieve  the compromise.   He  advised that  it would  be                 
  "bad" business not to support the agreed result.                             
  Mr. Stratton  referenced the  language on  Page 7, Line  20,                 
  (4), "...provide  ample  access  for  recreational  mining",                 
  suggesting  that  language  was problematic.    The  current                 
  definition of recreational mining would include a 6" suction                 
  dredge.     The  Department  does  not  feel  that  kind  of                 
  recreational  mining is  compatible with  purposes  of state                 
  parks.    Although, he added,  recreational gold panning  is                 
  allowed in state parks.   He requested that an  amendment be                 
  made which would change that language.                                       
  Representative  Kelly interjected  that 6" dredge  should be                 
  Representative Martin MOVED a change to  Page 7, Line 20, by                 
  deleting  "mining"  and  inserting   "gold  panning".    Mr.                 
  Erickson noted that Senator Pearce would  not object to that                 
  change.   Representative  Kelly  OBJECTED  emphasizing  that                 
  mining is a valid recreational activity.                                     
  Representative Brown asked  what was  involved with using  a                 
  six inch suction dredge and how  much noise would it create.                 
  Mr. Stratton stated that a six  inch dredge was a mechanized                 
  suction device  which would suck  gravel through a  six inch                 
  pipe.  Co-Chair Foster interjected that size dredge was more                 
  like a "toy".   A permit  would be  needed if concerns  were                 
  voiced regarding the water quality.                                          
  Co-Chair Hanley inquired the current uses allowed for mining                 
  in state parks.   Mr. Stratton replied that state  parks are                 
  closed to mining although gold panning is allowed.  He added                 
  that  there  is  no  definition  of recreational  mining  in                 
  statute,  although,  there  are  regulations  within   other                 
  divisions at DNR.                                                            
  Committee    members    discussed    the   differences    of                 
  "recreational" mining.  Co-Chair Foster  noted that he could                 
  support mining  if done  recreationally with  a 2.5"  dredge                 
  pipe, including rockers and small slues boxes not over 4' in                 
  length.   He  suggested that  the  noise would  be  minimal.                 
  Representative Kelly asked  if there was  a pipe   increment                 
  between the 6"  and the 2.5"  hose.  Co-Chair Foster  stated                 
  that a  4" hose would still need a  motor vehicle to drag it                 
  into the area.                                                               
  Representative Brown  proposed  adding  the  language  "non-                 
  mechanized" to  the intent.  Representative  Kelly supported                 
  keeping  language which  would  include the  2.5" mechanized                 
  dredge  pipe.   He maintained  that the Alaskan  heritage is                 
  based  on  mining,  noting his  frustration  that  mining is                 
  continually being cut off.                                                   
  Representative Navarre  pointed out  that mechanized  mining                 
  would be an  expansion to  what is currently  allowed.   Co-                 
  Chair Hanley pointed  out that  the section being  discussed                 
  would only apply to the Denali State Park.                                   
  Representative Brown MOVED to AMEND  the amendment to delete                 
  "gold panning" and insert "non-mechanized".   Representative                 
  Kelly OBJECTED.                                                              
  Representative Martin WITHDREW Amendment #1.  Representative                 
  Brown repeated the MOTION.  Representative Kelly OBJECTED.                   
  A  roll  call  was  taken  on  the MOTION  to  insert  "non-                 
       IN FAVOR:      Brown,  Grussendorf,   Martin,  Navarre,                 
                      Hanley, Foster.                                          
       OPPOSED:       Kelly, Kohring, Mulder, Therriault.                      
  Representative Parnell was not present for the vote.                         
  The MOTION PASSED (6-4).                                                     
  EDDIE  GRASSER, ALASKA  OUTDOOR COUNCIL,  JUNEAU, urged  the                 
  Committee's support of HB  230.  The purpose of  the Outdoor                 
  Council is  to protect  public access  to public  resources,                 
  suggesting that the  proposed legislation would  amply cover                 
  those concerns.                                                              
  (Tape Change, HFC 96-132, Side 2).                                           
  Representative  Martin MOVED to  report HCS CS  SB 230 (FIN)                 
  out of  Committee with  individual recommendations  and with                 
  the accompanying fiscal notes.  There being NO OBJECTION, it                 
  was so ordered.                                                              
  HCS CS SB 230 (FIN) was reported out of Committee with a "do                 
  pass"  recommendation  and   with  a  fiscal  note   by  the                 
  Department of Natural Resources dated 3/28/96.                               
  SENATE BILL 181                                                              
       "An  Act  relating  to  directional  and  informational                 
       signs,   displays,  and   devices  and   penalties  for                 
       violations related to outdoor advertising."                             
  BRETT  HUBER,  STAFF,  SENATOR  LYDIA  GREEN,  testified  in                 
  support of SB 181.   He stated  that the bill would  provide                 
  for  the Department  of  Transportation &  Public Facilities                 
  (DOTPF) a  Tourist Oriented Directional Sign  (TODS) program                 
  in statute and allow the placement  of TODS signs on private                 
  property outside of the right-of-way.  Codifying the program                 
  would provide  for a well  planned and  regulated system  of                 
  directional signing that would preserve the scenic beauty of                 
  Alaska's  roadways and  benefit  Alaska's  visitors and  the                 
  business' that serve them.                                                   
  He continued, the  Department currently administers  TODS as                 
  an  experimental  program.     Although,   the  program   is                 
  consistent with standards established by the Federal Highway                 
  Administration and  the  Manual of  Uniform Traffic  Control                 
  Devices, absence of statute authorizing the program has left                 
  the public out of the process of promulgating regulation.                    
  By placing  TODS in  statute, the  Legislature will  provide                 
  firm legal footing for  the program to continue.   Mr. Huber                 
  concluded,  passage  of  SB 181  would  provide  long sought                 
  assistance to Alaska businesses that  are dependent on trade                 
  with the traveling public.   The bill would likewise enhance                 
  the state's ability to be user-friendly to it's tourists and                 
  promote a responsive visitor industry.  SB 181  authorizes a                 
  means  for providing  needed  directional information  while                 
  preserving the unique beauty of Alaska's roadways.  He urged                 
  the Committee's support.                                                     
  Representative Brown  referenced Page  3, Section  4, asking                 
  who  would  make  the  determination  in the  unzoned  areas                 
  whether they would  be zoned commercial or  industrial.  Mr.                 
  Huber replied that a  specific definition does not  exist at                 
  this time.   Zoning would  become representative by  the use                 
  pattern of that area.                                                        
  Representative Brown pointed out that  the bill covers space                 
  "outside" the right-of-way.  She asked if  the signs outside                 
  the right-of-way had  to be consistent with  federal highway                 
  standards.   He replied  that they  would,  noting that  the                 
  concern  would  not come  under  the guidelines  for highway                 
  right-of-way control but would be included under the outdoor                 
  advertising control regulations.                                             
  Representative  Brown  asked  the  need  to  include private                 
  property  "monitoring"  in  the   legislation.    Mr.  Huber                 
  explained that congestion could exist on the right-of-way or                 
  that a business site could border  the highway.  In response                 
  to Representative Brown's query, Mr.  Huber indicated it was                 
  the  intention  of the  Department  to approve  the specific                 
  location  on  private property  as well  as on  state lands.                 
  Signage limitations exist in the program.                                    
  stated he did  not know how  many signs each business  could                 
  have.  He understood that  the legislation would provide for                 
  new regulations to be drafted  to address varying situations                 
  -- inside and outside the right-of-way.                                      
  Representative Brown  asked what the Department  intended to                 
  do to prevent a proliferation of signs.  Mr. Huber responded                 
  that  it was the  sponsors intent  to provide  the necessary                 
  latitude to the Department to establish the regulations.                     
  Representative Brown  inquired if the legislation would work                 
  in cooperation with local ordinances and  zoning.  Mr. Huber                 
  replied that it  was the intent  of the legislation that  it                 
  not  be more restrictive than provisions contained in AS 19.                 
  The  municipalities   would  have   the  ability   to  enact                 
  ordinances which were more restrictive if need be.                           
  Representative  Brown  disagreed  with  Section  #5  of  the                 
  legislation which would lower the penalty from a misdemeanor                 
  to  a violation.   Mr.  Huber suggested  that a  misdemeanor                 
  violation  would  not make  the  best  use of  jail  time or                 
  legislative  funding.    Although,  Mr.  Kito  advised  that                 
  reducing the penalty would limit the Department's ability to                 
  enforce  illegal  signs  placed  in  the right-of-way.    He                 
  thought  passage  of  the   legislation  would  hamper   the                 
  Departments ability to implement it.                                         
  Representative Brown  questioned if Section  #5 would  cover                 
  political  signs.     Mr.  Kito  understood   that  separate                 
  restrictions exists  addressing political  advertising.   He                 
  added that political  signage would be expressly  prohibited                 
  in the right-of-way.  Representative Brown proposed that the                 
  Legislature would have  a conflict  of interest in  lowering                 
  the penalty.                                                                 
  Representative Therriault referenced Page  3, Section 4, and                 
  the use of "shall" in relationship regarding the location of                 
  sign placement.   Mr.  Huber responded  that the  Department                 
  will  establish  criteria  to  be  met  in  order  that  the                 
  application be approved.                                                     
  Representative Brown referenced the language on Lines 20-21,                 
  Page  3,   questioning  how   the  Department   would  adopt                 
  regulations which affect the "scenic"  qualities of an area.                 
  Mr. Huber stated that language had  been added in the Senate                 
  Finance  Committee  to  address if  whether  the legislation                 
  would remove current use of road travel.  The Department can                 
  use the quality  of the scenery  which exists in an  area to                 
  allow or disallow signage.                                                   
  Representative  Mulder commented  on  an earlier  discussion                 
  regarding penalty,  misdemeanor versus  a violation  charge.                 
  He suggested that it  was easier to file a violation than to                 
  take a person to court.   He continued, voicing concern with                 
  the number of signs being applied for and  posted.  Mr. Kito                 
  pointed out that existing TODS policy restricts intersection                 
  posting to  a maximum  of four, with  a size  of 90"  x 18".                 
  Representative Mulder asked the criteria used to distinguish                 
  between the applicants and the eligible positions.  Mr. Kito                 
  stated that it would be first come, first served.  Mr. Huber                 
  corrected,  reading from  the TODS policy  guideline manual,                 
  ".....not more than three  signs should be installed on  any                 
  sign  panel  and not  more  than  two sign  panels  could be                 
  installed at any intersection".                                              
  Representative  Kohring noted  support for  the legislation.                 
  He stated that  it would  be an enhancement  to the  tourism                 
  industry, although, suggested  that the fiscal note  was too                 
  high.  Mr. Kito explained the  components of the fiscal note                 
  which would allocate  $10 thousand dollars to  establish the                 
  regulations, the  remainder  would  cover  the  departmental                 
  costs  to  adequately  maintain   the  system.    Discussion                 
  followed regarding the fiscal note.                                          
  Representative Mulder referenced Page 3, Line 7.  He thought                 
  that including "shall"  would suggest that there could be an                 
  inherent conflict and lawsuit  through exclusion of  vendors                 
  who want  to have  a  sign.   He MOVED  changing "shall"  to                 
  "may".   Mr. Huber  stated  that changing  "shall" to  "may"                 
  would  be   permissive  language  in   determining  if   the                 
  Department  instituted the  program.   Representative Mulder                 
  pointed  out  that   the  TODS  program  had   already  been                 
  initiated.  Mr.  Kito explained that  a pilot program is  in                 
  place.    He   stressed  that  regulations  have   not  been                 
  established to  formalized that  program policy.   With  the                 
  changed language, Line 6 has  already established a "tourist                 
  oriented directional sign program".                                          
  (Tape Change, HFC 96-133, Side 1).                                           
  Representative  Therriault  suggested changing  the language                 
  would  make  the entire  program  discretionary.   Mr. Huber                 
  added, changing "shall" to "may" would include the direction                 
  outside of  the right-of-way.   It  is the sponsor's  intent                 
  that the area outside of the right-of-way be included.                       
  Representative Mulder MOVED to WITHDRAW the MOTION to change                 
  the language.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was withdrawn.                   
  Representative Martin MOVED to report CS SS SB 181 (FIN) out                 
  of Committee  with individual  recommendations and with  the                 
  accompanying fiscal note.  There  being NO OBJECTION, it was                 
  so ordered.                                                                  
  CS SS SB 181  (FIN) was reported out  of Committee with  "no                 
  recommendations" and with a fiscal note by the Department of                 
  Transportation and Public Facilities.                                        
  SENATE BILL 20                                                               
       "An  Act   establishing  the  Alaska   municipal  basic                 
       services program, relating to certain programs of state                 
       aid to municipalities and recipients in the unorganized                 
       borough; and providing for an effective date."                          
  DEB  DAVIDSON, STAFF, SENATOR  JOHN TORGERSON,  testified in                 
  support of the proposed legislation.   She stated that SB 20                 
  would  change the  name of  the  Revenue Sharing  program to                 
  "Priority Revenue Sharing for Municipal Services", and would                 
  change the Municipal Assistant Fund  to the Safe Communities                 
  Fund.  The change would require  that payments from the Safe                 
  Communities Fund  be used for specific prioritized purposes.                 
  The intent  of the changes would more accurately reflect the                 
  purposes for which payments received are used.  The programs                 
  appear to be a type of "slush fund" for communities and  the                 
  change  in  name  and requirements  would  help  dispel that                 
  Ms. Davidson concluded, the date of payment has been changed                 
  so  that communities receive  entitlement from both Priority                 
  Revenue Sharing  and the Safe Communities Fund  on July 31st                 
  of each  year.   Previously, payments  from revenue  sharing                 
  were made  on July  31st and  municipal assistance  payments                 
  were made on February 1st.                                                   
  Representative Martin spoke  against the  fiscal note.   Ms.                 
  Davidson  discussed the fiscal note  and the amount that the                 
  general  fund would lose from moving the  date.  Part of the                 
  reason  for  the  earlier  payment  would  combine  the  two                 
  programs.    By  raising the  minimum  entitlement  for each                 
  community from $25 thousand dollars  to $40 thousand dollars                 
  would  remove  some  funding  from the  larger  communities.                 
  Those   communities  were   willing  to   make   that  shift                 
  recognizing that the smaller communities require those funds                 
  to remain solvent.  Ms. Davidson added that the sponsor felt                 
  that the lose of  interest was worth the agreement  from the                 
  large municipalities to contribute to the small communities.                 
  Those payments would be made on  July 31st, at the beginning                 
  of the  State fiscal  year.   Currently, revenue  sharing is                 
  also paid on July  31st.  Municipal assistance  is currently                 
  paid  in February and the  appropriation for that payment is                 
  made  the prior year.  It  would be up to the municipalities                 
  to invest that money to earn the interest.  The State  would                 
  not be giving them the extra money in interest.                              
  Representative Kelly  asked the intent  of Section 10.   Ms.                 
  Davidson  replied  that Section  10  would address  the base                 
  amount  account.   When  the  municipal  assistance  program                 
  began, it was enacted so that the State would have the gross                 
  receipts business tax.  Municipalities received a portion of                 
  money back  from that tax.   That  tax was then  repealed in                 
  1978.  The program was written so  that those municipalities                 
  who  had  received money  in  1978, would  receive  the same                 
  amount every year as established their first year.                           
  Under the current  program, that  is the amount  paid.   The                 
  remainder of the fund appropriation was then paid to all the                 
  municipalities on a per  capita basis.  The result  was that                 
  as appropriations to  the fund decreased through  the years,                 
  individual  municipalities  would  then  deal  with  varying                 
  percentage reductions.   She added, the total  dollar amount                 
  would be reduced although the distribution of  that would be                 
  proportional among the communities.                                          
  In  response to  Representative  Therriault's question,  Ms.                 
  Davidson explained  that smaller  communities are  currently                 
  having difficulty in maintaining  their operating budget and                 
  the services that they are required  to provide.  That being                 
  the reason to  increase the minimum entitlement  for smaller                 
  communities  from  $25  thousand  dollars  to  $40  thousand                 
  dollars.   Representative Therriault questioned  the State's                 
  benefit.   Ms.  Davidson clarified  that the  municipalities                 
  rely on  the State  to the  extend that  they receive  funds                 
  through  the  Municipal  Assistance Program.    Should  they                 
  dissolve,  the responsibility of those services would return                 
  to the State.   Representative  Martin questioned if  "safe"                 
  communities had been defined.                                                
  SENATOR  JOHN  TORGERSON noted  that  there was  no specific                 
  definition for that.  He added  that any group could qualify                 
  under  "safe" community  if  they  receive revenue  sharing.                 
  Representative  Martin  reiterated  his  concern  with   the                 
  increased costs to  the State.  Senator  Torgerson responded                 
  that he did not agree with  the fiscal note as submitted  by                 
  the Department.  He pointed out moving the payment date back                 
  to July should create a surplus to  the State rather than an                 
  Representative  Grussendorf   responded  to   Representative                 
  Martin's concern regarding  a safe community.   He explained                 
  that criteria for a safe community would include the ability                 
  to respond to  the need for  hospital beds, police and  fire                 
  protection.  He emphasized  that would be the  same criteria                 
  used by the Municipal Assistance Program.                                    
  CITY  OF BARROW,  BARROW, spoke in  support of  the proposed                 
  legislation.   He urged the Committee's passage of the bill.                 
  MAYORS, JUNEAU, noted  that the proposed legislation  is the                 
  highest priority of  the Alaska  Municipal League (AML)  and                 
  the  Alaska  Conference  of Mayors.    All  communities have                 
  reached consensus on the bill after two years work.                          
  Mr.  Ritchie  commented  that  the  current plan  would  not                 
  increase the  appropriation, although, it would be allocated                 
  differently.    The program  is  looking at  a  $4.5 million                 
  dollar  reduction  in  funding.     He  suggested  that  the                 
  legislation  would  require  more accountability  from  each                 
  community especially for basic services.                                     
  In  response to  Representative  Therriault's comments,  Mr.                 
  Ritchie stated that  the majority of communities  do provide                 
  public  safety,  stressing  that public  safety  is  the top                 
  priority   of  most   communities.     Programs  have   been                 
  significantly cut over the years,  restricting services to a                 
  minimum in many communities.  Mr. Ritchie stated  that there                 
  are 160 communities in the State.                                            
  (Tape Change, HFC 96-133, Side 2).                                           
  Mr. Ritchie  listed public  safety services  offered by  the                 
       *    Police                                                             
       *    Fire                                                               
       *    Water/sewer                                                        
       *    Emergency Medical Services (EMS)                                   
  He  added, the concept  addresses public  safety as  well as                 
  health  issues.   Mr. Ritchie stressed  that the  bill would                 
  work with  the established budget  caps.  The  roads program                 
  will strengthen the relationship with the State and would be                 
  used as part of the long-range fiscal planning.                              
  AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS (DCRA), stated that the Department does                 
  support the concept of SB 20 which would eliminate the "hold                 
  harmless"  clause,  placing  the  poorer  communities  at  a                 
  Mr. Cotton suggested that the $40 thousand dollar allocation                 
  would amount to  a combination  of municipal assistance  and                 
  revenue sharing.   Those  communities are  the smallest  and                 
  have the least ability to raise revenue in their  areas.  He                 
  stressed that it  was the  Administration's position that  a                 
  corporation  exist  at  the  local  level to  provide  these                 
  essential services.  Small communities get nothing for free,                 
  paying either through taxes or user fees.                                    
  Mr. Cotten  advised, that  the Administration questions  the                 
  date,    recommending that  checks be issued  in October  or                 
  DIVISION,  DEPARTMENT  OF  REVENUE,  pointed  out  that  the                 
  Administration does support  the bill, although, would  like                 
  to  see  the fiscal  note reduced,  resulting  in a  loss of                 
  interest income in  the amount of  $130 thousand per  month.                 
  Secondly, he  added, the impact  would be substantial  in as                 
  much as July  and August are the largest  financial out-lays                 
  to the  State.   The Administration  would request that  the                 
  delivery date be changed to October or November, which would                 
  move the  date forward  two to  three months.   That  change                 
  would keep the State from experiencing a cash flow problem.                  
  SB 20 was HELD in Committee for further discussion.                          
  The meeting adjourned at 4:05 P.M.                                           

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