Legislature(1999 - 2000)

05/17/1999 09:40 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                                         
May 17, 1999                                                                                                                    
9:40 A.M.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
TAPE HFC 99 - 146, Side 1.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Mulder called the House Finance Committee meeting                                                                      
to order at 9:40 a.m.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
PRESENT                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Mulder    Representative Foster                                                                                        
Vice-Chair Bunde   Representative Grussendorf                                                                                   
Representative G. Davis  Representative Kohring                                                                                 
Representative Austerman  Representative Moses                                                                                  
Representative J. Davies  Representative Williams                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative G. Therriault was not present for the                                                                            
meeting.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Annette Kreitzer, Staff, Senator Loren Leman; Barbara Frank,                                                                    
Director, Division of Administrative Services, Department of                                                                    
Environmental Conservation; Senator Robin Taylor.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SB 128 An Act relating to the storage tank assistance                                                                           
fund; eliminating the grant portion of a program                                                                                
relating to risk assessment, containment,                                                                                       
corrective action, and cleanup of underground                                                                                   
petroleum storage tank systems and replacing the                                                                                
grant portion with a loan program; relating to                                                                                  
discharges from underground petroleum storage tank                                                                              
systems; and providing for an effective date.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
HCS CSSB 128 (FIN) was reported out of Committee                                                                                
with "no recommendations" and with fiscal note by                                                                               
the Department of Law dated 5/15/99 and a new note                                                                              
by the House Finance Committee.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SJR 3 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the                                                                         
State of Alaska relating to the repeal of                                                                                       
regulations by the legislature.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
 SJR 3 was reported out of Committee with a "do                                                                                 
pass" recommendation and with a fiscal note by the                                                                              
Office of the Lt. Governor dated 2/11/99.                                                                                       
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 128(FIN)                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
An Act moving the termination date of the Board of                                                                              
Storage Tank Assistance to June 30, 1999; relating to                                                                           
the storage tank assistance fund, to financial                                                                                  
assistance for owners and operators of underground                                                                              
petroleum storage tank systems, and to discharges from                                                                          
underground petroleum storage tank systems; and                                                                                 
providing for an effective date.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ANNETTE KREITZER, STAFF, SENATOR LOREN LEMAN, stated that it                                                                    
was clarified during Conference Committee that the intent of                                                                    
the fiscal note was to add back five positions.  The $58.2                                                                      
thousand dollars is the difference between what the                                                                             
Conference Committee agreed upon and what would constitute                                                                      
five positions.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative J. Davies pointed out that problems result                                                                       
because only six positions now exist with work effort being                                                                     
reduced next year and the total number of positions cut will                                                                    
be ten.  The Department of Environmental Conservation has                                                                       
made the decision to de-emphasize that program because of                                                                       
the lack of needed manpower.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BARBARA FRANK, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF ADMINISTRATIVE                                                                             
SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION, noted                                                                       
that there has been ten total positions cut out of the                                                                          
program.  With that size cut, the Department would not be                                                                       
able to implement the bill.  There is no point in the                                                                           
Department funding the Board for the storage tank assistance                                                                    
to write regulations in order to establish a program which                                                                      
the Department will not be able to afford to implement.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Mulder questioned how many staff people remained in                                                                    
that program.  Ms. Frank replied that only twenty of the                                                                        
thirty employed positions remained which the Department had                                                                     
in FY99, leaving a 10-position cut.  The Department has                                                                         
chosen not to implement a Board with that cut.  There would                                                                     
be no staff to implement or issue clean up programs and                                                                         
grants.  Therefore, no need exists to write regulations for                                                                     
a new program.  Co-Chair Mulder offered that there possibly                                                                     
no need for Department of Environmental Conservation then.                                                                      
He emphasized his resentment that the Department could                                                                          
indicate that there is "no need" for a program because of                                                                       
staff cuts.  Ms. Frank restated the Department's priority                                                                       
for the twenty remaining positions:                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
 * The prevention program; and                                                                                                  
 * The above ground storage tanks.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Frank continued, there are some federally funded staff                                                                      
who can only work on federally approved clean-ups.  All                                                                         
State funded staff that could work on the clean up program                                                                      
have been eliminated.  Co-Chair Mulder countered that was                                                                       
not the intent during budget discussion but instead a                                                                           
decision made by the Department.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative J. Davies advised that the number of                                                                             
positions funded for the clean up program was six and that                                                                      
the budgetary level of effort has been reduced from $3                                                                          
million dollars to $1 million dollars.  Representative G.                                                                       
Davis asked if the prevention program was more important                                                                        
than the underground storage oil clean up.  Ms. Frank                                                                           
replied that the Department in not preventing leaks but                                                                         
merely cleaning up leaks would create a never-ending cycle.                                                                     
She believed that prevention investment program would help                                                                      
to stabilize requests for additional clean up dollars.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bunde commented that if the Department has                                                                       
decided not to implement the legislation, the fiscal notes                                                                      
should be stripped out and the bill left in Committee.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Grussendorf argued that this is not the                                                                          
entirety of the work of the Department of Environmental                                                                         
Conservation.  They are responsible for monitoring air and                                                                      
water quality and food protection.  The bill addresses                                                                          
providing grants and assistance to the small business                                                                           
owners.  The Department must be able make a choice as to                                                                        
what is monitored and what will happen to this particular                                                                       
program in the best interest of the public and the State.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bunde clarified that if the bill is passed,                                                                      
the five positions added back would be funded, and if the                                                                       
bill is not passed, they would not be added back into the                                                                       
funding mechanism.  Co-Chair Mulder agreed.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Williams MOVED to report HCS CSSB 128 (FIN)                                                                      
out of Committee with individual recommendations and with                                                                       
the accompanying fiscal notes.  Representative Bunde                                                                            
OBJECTED.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
A roll call vote was taken on the motion.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
IN FAVOR: Moses, Williams, Austerman, J. Davies, G.                                                                             
Davis, Foster, Grussendorf, Kohring, Mulder                                                                                     
OPPOSED:  Bunde                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Therriault was not present for the vote.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
The MOTION PASSED (9-1).                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HCS CSSB 128(FIN) was reported out of Committee with "no                                                                        
recommendations" and with a fiscal note by the Department of                                                                    
Law dated 5/15/99 and a new note by the House Finance                                                                           
Committee.                                                                                                                      
SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 3                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State                                                                         
of Alaska relating to the repeal of regulations by the                                                                          
legislature.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ROBIN TAYLOR advised that SJR 3 is a proposed                                                                           
amendment to the Constitution of the State of Alaska which                                                                      
would grant the Legislature the ability to repeal a                                                                             
regulation adopted by a state department or agency that is                                                                      
inconsistent with its enabling statute.  The proposed                                                                           
amendment would allow the repeal of a regulation by a                                                                           
resolution passed by a majority of the members of each                                                                          
house.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Senator Taylor mentioned that legislators did not create                                                                        
numerous regulations contained in the Alaska Administrative                                                                     
Code.  The only recourse for the Legislature is to repeal                                                                       
the law that enabled the regulation which wastes Alaska's                                                                       
time and money in the process.  The repeal of burdensome                                                                        
regulations is vital to the progress of economic development                                                                    
for all of Alaska.  He noted that this issue has come before                                                                    
the voters in the past and now time has come again for the                                                                      
voters to reduce the amount of time and money spent in                                                                          
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative J. Davies suggested that the legislation                                                                         
would be establishing new state policy without the checks                                                                       
and balances of the veto process.  Senator Taylor argued                                                                        
that a new State policy was not being established.  Up until                                                                    
the middle 1980's, the Legislature routinely did this.  The                                                                     
Supreme Court stated that it was essential to recognize the                                                                     
separation of the powers between the branches of government.                                                                    
It is the result of that case, the proposed resolution would                                                                    
request the people of Alaska to reverse.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Grussendorf spoke to the number of times that                                                                    
the public has turned down the proposal.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Austerman mentioned that he supported the                                                                        
resolution.  Representative J. Davies reported that he had a                                                                    
chair on the regulation committee for two years and that not                                                                    
one substantive issue came before that committee.  The                                                                          
question is whether we need to fundamentally change the                                                                         
balance of power between the Executive and Legislative                                                                          
Branches of government.  Co-Chair Mulder suggested that                                                                         
there should be a framework established to make it work.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative G. Davis recommended that the legislation be                                                                     
given an effective date of 30 days after passage.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Taylor replied that the Legislature had acted with                                                                      
this authority for many years and that each time this                                                                           
question is put back before the public, the vote has gotten                                                                     
closer.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kohring voiced his support of the                                                                                
legislation.  He requested to be a cross sponsor noting that                                                                    
as a small businessperson, too many regulations exist.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Kohring MOVED to report SJR 3 out of                                                                             
Committee with individual recommendations and with the                                                                          
accompanying fiscal note.  Representative J. Davies OBJECTED                                                                    
for the purpose of comment.  He agreed that the regulation                                                                      
codes had increased at the direction of the Legislature.  If                                                                    
people want fewer regulations, then the Legislature needs to                                                                    
take appropriate action.  He concluded:                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
"We've met the enemy, and it is us".                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative J. Davies WITHDREW his OBJECTION to move the                                                                     
bill from Committee.  There being NO further OBJECTION, the                                                                     
bill was moved from Committee.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SJR 3 was reported out of Committee with a "do pass"                                                                            
recommendation and with a fiscal note by the Office of the                                                                      
Lt. Governor dated 2/11/99.                                                                                                     
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
The meeting adjourned at 10:15 A.M.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
H.F.C. 5 5/17/99 a.m.                                                                                                           

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