Legislature(1999 - 2000)
05/17/1999 09:40 AM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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.