Legislature(2011 - 2012)HOUSE FINANCE 519

03/14/2012 01:30 PM FINANCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HCR 23 ALASKA ARCTIC POLICY COMMISSION TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHCR 23(FIN) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 170 MUNI TAX EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN VOLUNTEERS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 170(FIN) Out of Committee
+= HCR 24 STATE FOOD RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT GROUP TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHCR 24(FIN) Out of Committee
+= HB 250 EXTEND RENEWABLE ENERGY GRANT FUND TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 250(ENE) Out of Committee
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                      March 14, 2012                                                                                            
                         1:38 p.m.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:38:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze called the House Finance Committee meeting                                                                     
to order at 1:38 p.m.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bill Stoltze, Co-Chair                                                                                           
Representative Bill Thomas Jr., Co-Chair                                                                                        
Representative Anna Fairclough, Vice-Chair                                                                                      
Representative Mia Costello                                                                                                     
Representative Mike Doogan                                                                                                      
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative Les Gara                                                                                                         
Representative David Guttenberg                                                                                                 
Representative Reggie Joule                                                                                                     
Representative Mark Neuman                                                                                                      
Representative Tammie Wilson                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
None                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Michael  Paschall, Staff,  Representative Eric  Feige; Sarah                                                                    
Fisher-Goad, Executive, Alaska  Energy Authority, Department                                                                    
of Commerce,  Community and Economic  Development; Christine                                                                    
Hess,  Staff, Representative  Reggie  Joule; Chris  Hladick,                                                                    
City   Manager,  City   of  Unalaska;   Representative  Alan                                                                    
Austerman; Representative Bob Herron.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SUMMARY                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
HCR 23    ALASKA ARCTIC POLICY COMMISSION                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
          CSHCR 23(FIN)  was REPORTED out of  committee with                                                                    
          a  "do  pass"  recommendation  and  with  one  new                                                                    
          fiscal  note by  the House  Finance Committee  for                                                                    
          the Legislature.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HCR 24    STATE FOOD RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT GROUP                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
          CSHCR 24(FIN)  was REPORTED out of  committee with                                                                    
          a "do  pass" recommendation and with  one new zero                                                                    
          fiscal note from the Legislature.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HB 170    MUNI TAX EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN VOLUNTEERS                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
          CSHB 170(FIN)  was REPORTED out of  committee with                                                                    
          "no  recommendation" and  with a  new zero  impact                                                                    
          fiscal  note  from  the  Department  of  Commerce,                                                                    
          Community and Economic Development.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
HB 250    EXTEND RENEWABLE ENERGY GRANT FUND                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
          CSHB 250(ENE)  was REPORTED out of  committee with                                                                    
          a  "do  pass"  recommendation  and  with  one  new                                                                    
          fiscal   impact  note   from  the   Department  of                                                                    
          Commerce, Community and Economic Development.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Edgmon introduced individuals from his                                                                           
district.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Doogan pointed to a communication from a                                                                         
constituent from Sitka who was a young girl in support of                                                                       
education.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:42:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Doogan read the letter into the record (copy                                                                     
on file):                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Dear Representative Doogan,                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     My  name is  Virginia Pearson.  I am  six years  old. I                                                                    
     live  with  my  parents  in  Sitka.  I  go  to  Baranof                                                                    
     Elementary. I  am in  kindergarten with  Mrs. Hendrick.                                                                    
     She is a  good teacher. I love music class,  and I am a                                                                    
     good singer. Please help my school.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 24                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Relating to the establishment and operation of a state                                                                     
     food resource development working group.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   BILL   STOLTZE,  SPONSOR,   discussed   the                                                                    
resolution. The  passage of  House Concurrent  Resolution 24                                                                    
calls of  the governor  to establish  a state  food resource                                                                    
development  working   group  with   the  primary   goal  of                                                                    
producing more locally grown and  harvested food items to be                                                                    
consumed in Alaska, by Alaskans.  In addition the resolution                                                                    
calls on  the governor  to requests multiple  departments of                                                                    
his administration  to work closely  with the  working group                                                                    
and  the independent  Food Policy  Council  to increase  the                                                                    
production and  consumption of local  food items  in Alaska.                                                                    
Whether  it  is  agriculture products,  seafood  or  locally                                                                    
produced meat, increased local food  products will lead to a                                                                    
healthier  Alaska  and enhance  the  economy  of the  entire                                                                    
state. The importance and value  of creating and maintaining                                                                    
a robust  supply of  Alaskan food is  why the  resolution is                                                                    
asking  the  governor to  establish  a  state food  resource                                                                    
development  working  group to  work  with  the Alaska  Food                                                                    
Policy  Council to  identify resources  and set  policies to                                                                    
build  a  strong, sustainable  healthy  food  system in  the                                                                    
state.  In  addition to  creating  the  working group,  this                                                                    
resolution calls on the governor  to request the departments                                                                    
of  his administration  to work  closely with  the farmer's,                                                                    
fisherman, cattle ranchers and  shellfish growers to produce                                                                    
more locally  grown food products to  consumption in Alaska,                                                                    
by Alaskans.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough  MOVED  to ADOPT  proposed  committee                                                                    
substitute for  HCR 24,  Work Draft  27-LS1383\B (Bannister,                                                                    
3/12/12). There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara MOVED  to report  CSHCR 24(FIN)  out of                                                                    
committee   with   individual    recommendations   and   the                                                                    
accompanying fiscal  note. There being NO  OBJECTION, it was                                                                    
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CSHCR  24(FIN) was  REPORTED  out of  committee  with a  "do                                                                    
pass" recommendation and with one  new zero fiscal note from                                                                    
the Legislature.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 170                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act  relating to municipal property  tax exemptions                                                                    
     on residences  of certain volunteer  emergency services                                                                    
     personnel  and the  widows  and  widowers of  volunteer                                                                    
     emergency  services  personnel;  and providing  for  an                                                                    
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:45:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough  MOVED  to ADOPT  proposed  committee                                                                    
substitute  for HB  170,  Work  Draft 27-LS0562\T  (Bullard,                                                                    
3/12/12). There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL   PASCHALL,   STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE   ERIC   FEIGE,                                                                    
disclosed  the Representative  Feige  was the  Chief of  the                                                                    
Chickaloon  Fire  Department,  and  that  Mr.  Paschall  was                                                                    
Assistant  Chief of  the Rural  Deltana Fire  Department. He                                                                    
discussed  HB   170.  He  stated  that   the  bill  provided                                                                    
incentives  for  recruitment   and  retention  of  volunteer                                                                    
firefighters and emergency services volunteers.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze   asked  Mr.   Paschall  to   discuss  his                                                                    
interaction with Representative Wilson.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Paschall  explained  that there  were  two  significant                                                                    
issues that were addressed in  the last hearing on the bill.                                                                    
He  looked  at  page  1,  lines 12  and  13.  There  was  an                                                                    
exemption added  for taxes for  service areas. Also,  it was                                                                    
unclear whether or  not the exemption, if it  was enacted by                                                                    
a municipality, could be for  less than $150,000. Therefore,                                                                    
the language "up to $150,000" was added.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze  noted  there  had  been  questions  about                                                                    
policy,   but  that   significant   technical  issues   were                                                                    
addressed in the work draft.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara wondered where  the municipal option was                                                                    
located in the  work draft. Mr. Paschall pointed  to page 1,                                                                    
line 12, "may by ordinance be exempted."                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:49:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara wondered  why  the municipalities  were                                                                    
not given  the opportunity grant exemptions  to firefighters                                                                    
who  were not  volunteers. Mr.  Paschall responded  that the                                                                    
purpose of the  bill was to provide an  incentive that might                                                                    
entice someone to become  a volunteer firefighter, emergency                                                                    
services worker,  or to retain  an individual in  either one                                                                    
of those positions.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  wondered whether  there was  a shortage                                                                    
of  volunteer firefighters.  Mr. Paschall  responded in  the                                                                    
affirmative.  He elaborated  that almost  any fire  chief in                                                                    
the state would agree with him.  He stated that there may be                                                                    
situations and locations  where there was not  a shortage of                                                                    
volunteer  emergency  workers.  He   pointed  out  that  his                                                                    
department's volunteer membership was  at the highest it had                                                                    
ever  been, but  when  his department  responds  to a  large                                                                    
fire, they were short-handed.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara felt that  municipalities should also be                                                                    
given the opportunity to  incentivize paid firefighters. Mr.                                                                    
Paschall  replied that  the  intention of  the  bill was  to                                                                    
recruit volunteer  firefighters, and  did not object  to the                                                                    
option of  including paid firefighters. Although,  many paid                                                                    
departments  utilized a  recall  system in  order to  recall                                                                    
paid firefighters in the event of a large fire.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:53:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair Fairclough noted that she  had two sons that were                                                                    
volunteer firefighters. She queried  the estimated number of                                                                    
volunteer firefighters in the  state. Mr. Paschall responded                                                                    
that  the  total number  of  volunteer  firefighters in  the                                                                    
state was 4,000, which  included volunteer emergency medical                                                                    
services  (EMS)   providers  that   were  part  of   a  fire                                                                    
department. He stressed that the  records that were kept for                                                                    
the  fire departments  included EMS  volunteers. There  were                                                                    
approximately  250   fire  departments,  and  78   of  those                                                                    
departments  were in  municipalities  that  levy a  property                                                                    
tax.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough asked  how many  departments were  in                                                                    
the municipalities.  Mr. Paschall  answered that  there were                                                                    
78 municipal departments.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough  queried  the   cost  that  would  be                                                                    
subtracted  from the  tax rolls.  Mr. Paschall  replied that                                                                    
that information was not calculated  for every department in                                                                    
the  state,  because  of  the   time  associated  with  that                                                                    
research. He stated that  Legislative Research was contacted                                                                    
for some information. However, the  process to determine the                                                                    
cost subtracted  from the tax rolls  would require examining                                                                    
membership of  each department and then  digging through the                                                                    
tax rolls  for each municipality for  every individual. Even                                                                    
with that  kind of  research, the  accuracy was  not trusted                                                                    
because of  the name  that the  property ownership  is often                                                                    
listed under  is often a  spouse or other family  member. He                                                                    
stated  that there  was  an analysis  run  in Girdwood,  and                                                                    
offered to provide that information.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:56:50 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:59:43 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough queried  the tax  consequence of  the                                                                    
bill. She  remarked that many  middle class and  middle aged                                                                    
people  were  caught  in  the  "crossfire"  related  to  tax                                                                    
exemptions, because  that set of  people were often  dealt a                                                                    
new  tax burden  of  tax exemptions.  She  pointed out  that                                                                    
300,000 people  in Anchorage may  pick up the tax  burden of                                                                    
this proposed property tax exemption.  She agreed that there                                                                    
needed to be  more volunteer firefighters in  the state, but                                                                    
remarked  that  the  tax  burden  placed  on  municipalities                                                                    
seemed heavy.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Neuman   looked  at  page  3,   line  8.  He                                                                    
expressed  concern   regarding  the  payment  of   the  fire                                                                    
response  pertaining to  a  fire that  may  take place  over                                                                    
multiple   municipalities  or   boroughs.  He   specifically                                                                    
wondered if  the cost would  be covered by  the municipality                                                                    
at  a  local controlled  level.  Mr.  Paschall asked  for  a                                                                    
restating of Representative Neuman's question.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze clarified that  the question was related to                                                                    
where the  fire would  be assessed:  the fire  service area,                                                                    
the road service area, or the general taxation.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Paschall responded  that the assessment would  be on the                                                                    
general taxation of the municipality.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  remarked that a municipality  could, if it                                                                    
had a fire  service area, make it a policy  that a volunteer                                                                    
firefighter not be assessed up  to $20,000 of the evaluation                                                                    
of the fire service cost.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:06:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Wilson  communicated  that Fairbanks  had  a                                                                    
$10,000   exemption   for   volunteer   firefighters.   That                                                                    
definition of  "volunteer firefighter"  was provided  by the                                                                    
department  fire chief.  The fire  chief that  she spoke  to                                                                    
expressed discomfort,  because he was made  to determine the                                                                    
difference between a "true  volunteer" and "just volunteer."                                                                    
Mr. Paschall  responded that one  standard across  the state                                                                    
might make  it more  difficult for rural  areas to  meet the                                                                    
same standards as urban areas.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  surmised, from  Representative Wilson's                                                                    
comments, that there must be  an allowance in state law that                                                                    
already  granted  an exemption.  He  wondered  how the  bill                                                                    
changed the current law.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough  read  from state  statute  18.15.250                                                                    
"volunteer means that  a person is an active  volunteer of a                                                                    
first  responder service,  a  rescue  service, an  ambulance                                                                    
service  of  a  fire   department  that  provides  emergency                                                                    
medical or  rescue services  as part  of its  duties." There                                                                    
was  no  time  requirement or  additional  requirement;  the                                                                    
person only had to be an active member.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Paschall responded  to a  question from  Representative                                                                    
Gara.  He  stated  that  there  was  a  provision  to  allow                                                                    
municipalities to  exempt property tax up  to either $10,000                                                                    
or $20,000 under certain broad criteria.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:10:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough   remarked  that  the   proposal  was                                                                    
"stackable" on other exemptions.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Doogan  felt that  the problem with  the bill                                                                    
was the  disallowance of inclusion of  paid firefighters. He                                                                    
remarked  that  once  certain people  were  given  financial                                                                    
exemptions, the  question was skewed regarding  who would be                                                                    
considered  "volunteer." He  stressed that  once one  person                                                                    
applied for the exemption; everyone  would want to apply for                                                                    
the  exemption. He  felt that  a determination  of the  full                                                                    
cost of  the proposal should  be made. He  was uncomfortable                                                                    
with the bill as it was currently written.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze   did  not  believe  the   cost  could  be                                                                    
determined, because of the unknown  pertaining to options of                                                                    
the local governments.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative Wilson moved to amend  the bill, page 1, line                                                                    
13 insert the word "road" before the words "service areas."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze OBJECTED  for the  purpose discussion.  He                                                                    
explained that there were some  areas in the state that were                                                                    
considered unified road service areas.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-chair  Stoltze  removed  his objection.  There  being  NO                                                                    
further OBJECTION,  it was so ordered.  Conceptual amendment                                                                    
1 was ADOPTED.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Thomas  told a  personal story.  He stated  that he                                                                    
spent four years on the borough  assembly at a time when the                                                                    
state  was  not paying  the  unfunded  mandate. The  borough                                                                    
assemble  sued  the State  of  Alaska  for not  funding  the                                                                    
mandate.  He furthered  that during  his first  year in  the                                                                    
legislature,   he  proposed   a   bill   that  allowed   the                                                                    
municipalities to opt  out in five years. He  liked the idea                                                                    
of  exempting  volunteers.  He wondered  if  the  volunteers                                                                    
received  any  workers  compensation if  they  were  injured                                                                    
during an emergency response.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:17:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Paschall  explained that workman's compensation  in most                                                                    
cases was provided by the volunteer departments.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Thomas had  spoken to  people  from Unalaska,  who                                                                    
expressed concern regarding the tax burden placed on them.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative Neuman  discussed complaints related  to lack                                                                    
of insurance.  He hoped that  the bill included  the ability                                                                    
for local  control related to  how benefits  were dispersed.                                                                    
He  believed that  the term  "volunteer" was  too broad.  He                                                                    
supported  the legislation,  but  hoped  for some  expansion                                                                    
regarding insurance and how a volunteer was defined.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair Fairclough clarified that one  of her boys was in                                                                    
college  and one  was a  volunteer firefighter.  She pointed                                                                    
out  that volunteers  were currently  part  of the  training                                                                    
ground  for joining  the  firefighter's  union setting.  She                                                                    
wondered  if  there would  be  less  benefit by  becoming  a                                                                    
unionized firefighter.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze  WITHDREW  objection to.  There  being  NO                                                                    
further  OBJECTION, Work  Draft 27-LS0562\T  was ADOPTED  as                                                                    
amended.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze discussed  the zero  fiscal note  from the                                                                    
Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Thomas  MOVED  to  report  CSHB  170(FIN)  out  of                                                                    
committee   with   individual    recommendations   and   the                                                                    
accompanying fiscal  note. There being NO  OBJECTION, it was                                                                    
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CSHB  170(FIN)  was  REPORTED  out  of  committee  with  "no                                                                    
recommendation" and with a new  zero impact fiscal note from                                                                    
the   Department  of   Commerce,   Community  and   Economic                                                                    
Development.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:24:03 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:26:38 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 250                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An Act relating to the renewable energy grant fund                                                                        
     and recommendation program; and providing for an                                                                           
     effective date."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SARAH  FISHER-GOAD,   EXECUTIVE,  ALASKA   ENERGY  AUTHORITY                                                                    
(AEA),  DEPARTMENT  OF   COMMERCE,  COMMUNITY  AND  ECONOMIC                                                                    
DEVELOPMENT, referenced  the new fiscal note  dated 3/14/12.                                                                    
She stated that there was  no adjustment with respect to the                                                                    
funding that was required by  AEA to manage the program. The                                                                    
fiscal note reflected  a general fund fiscal  note, when the                                                                    
program  first passed  under HB  152 in  2008. Subsequently,                                                                    
AEA had  received funding from  the last and  current fiscal                                                                    
years to  spend up to  $2 million of  miscellaneous earnings                                                                    
from the  fund to  manage the program.  The fiscal  note had                                                                    
been adjusted  in order  to have the  funding source  be the                                                                    
Renewable Energy  Fund, which was  represented in  the first                                                                    
column. She remarked that both  the general fund and general                                                                    
fund miscellaneous  earnings were reduced, so  the Renewable                                                                    
Energy Fund funding source was  used in place. The remainder                                                                    
of the fiscal note was for informational purposes only.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:29:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze believed the  program was effective and did                                                                    
not want to involve too many bureaucrats.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Edgmon wondered if  the original intent of HB
152 was to  take the administrative costs from  the funds of                                                                    
the  program. Co-Chair  Thomas  responded  in the  negative,                                                                    
because  the goal  amount of  the program  had not  yet been                                                                    
achieved.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Edgmon wondered  if  $2  million would  come                                                                    
from the governor's budget for  the program. Co-Chair Thomas                                                                    
replied in the negative.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Fisher-Goad added  that  there  were interest  earnings                                                                    
that had  been credited to the  fund.  She noted  that there                                                                    
had  been $8.3  million in  earnings on  the fund,  and $3.2                                                                    
million had been used through FY 12.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative Edgmon  wondered if the  administrative costs                                                                    
would increase  over time. Ms. Fisher-Goad  replied that AEA                                                                    
was  currently content  with the  staffing levels  to manage                                                                    
the projects and program.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Edgmon   supported  the   legislation.   He                                                                    
expressed    frustration   related    to   processing    and                                                                    
administration of the program.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:33:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Fisher-Goad  replied that the agency  had been sensitive                                                                    
to  the issue.  She  noted  there was  a  certain amount  of                                                                    
discussion with  grantees in the  beginning of  the process.                                                                    
There had been about 70 projects  in the past year and there                                                                    
had been no  delays related to staffing. She  would be happy                                                                    
to discuss any concerns for and from specific grantees.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Edgmon was concerned  that there would not be                                                                    
enough staff for the program.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Thomas did  not believe anyone had  taken any money                                                                    
out of the program.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Fisher-Goad replied  that  the  agency had  reallocated                                                                    
work, and there  was a new project manager to  deal with new                                                                    
projects in  the railbelt. The  agency was sensitive  to the                                                                    
issue and  would like be  conservative, but did not  want to                                                                    
be overstaffed coming in.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Doogan  had been  an opponent of  the program                                                                    
since it had started, but was a supporter now.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara asked for a  comparison of the number of                                                                    
employees at the start of the program and present day.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Fisher-Goad did  not have  the specifics  on hand.  She                                                                    
explained that  there had  been a lot  of new  activity when                                                                    
the program  had started, and  recently staffed up  in areas                                                                    
evaluating reimbursement requests to  ensure that a thorough                                                                    
job was done.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara  noted   that  inadequate  staff  could                                                                    
create  a  time  lag,  but a  larger  staff  could  strongly                                                                    
evaluate proposals  in order  to make  calculated decisions.                                                                    
Ms.  Fisher-Goad  replied  that  she was  confident  in  the                                                                    
technical staff,  and felt that  intense effort was  made in                                                                    
order to get grants out by August.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:40:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara spoke  about  a  disappointment in  the                                                                    
past. He  wondered whether the  agency had  sufficient staff                                                                    
to  support $50  million in  projects properly.  Ms. Fisher-                                                                    
Goad replied  that the  first round,  $453 million  worth of                                                                    
requests.  She stressed  that there  were still  many active                                                                    
grants, so past money had not necessarily "disappeared."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara remarked that  the original $100 million                                                                    
was  not intended  to  be spent  in one  year,  but used  as                                                                    
projects  were evaluated.  He furthered  that $50  million a                                                                    
year became  $25 million  a year. He  felt that  the funding                                                                    
had disappeared,  but the projects had  not disappeared. Ms.                                                                    
Fisher-Goad stated that when the  $100 million was provided,                                                                    
AEA went  through an  application process.  Therefore, there                                                                    
was no ability  to only solicit for $50  million. The agency                                                                    
only  solicited funds  based on  the statutory  program. She                                                                    
pointed  out that  there  were over  $400  million worth  of                                                                    
requests. She  did not feel  there was  a proper way  to set                                                                    
the money aside.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze asked if there was opposition to the bill.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze discussed  the  individuals available  for                                                                    
testimony. He CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Thomas  MOVED  to  report  CSHB  250(ENE)  out  of                                                                    
committee   with   individual    recommendations   and   the                                                                    
accompanying fiscal  note. There being NO  OBJECTION, it was                                                                    
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CSHB  250(ENE) was  REPORTED  out of  committee  with a  "do                                                                    
pass"  recommendation and  with one  new fiscal  impact note                                                                    
from  the Department  of  Commerce,  Community and  Economic                                                                    
Development.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:46:34 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:47:56 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 23                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Establishing and relating to the Alaska Arctic Policy                                                                      
     Commission.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:48:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REGGIE JOULE, SPONSOR,  explained HCR 23. The                                                                    
Alaska Northern  Waters Task  Force (ANWTF)  was established                                                                    
in 2010  to identify the  opportunities and challenges  of a                                                                    
changing  Arctic.   Arctic  Nations  are   anticipating  the                                                                    
development   of    northern   shipping    routes,   mineral                                                                    
extraction, oil  and gas exploration,  commercial fisheries,                                                                    
and  tourism. Some  of this  change has  already started  to                                                                    
occur. The  ANWT completed its  final report on  January 30,                                                                    
2012.  The report  includes  recommendations  in six  Arctic                                                                    
policy  areas: Governance,  Oil  &  Gas Development,  Marine                                                                    
Transportation,  Fisheries,  Infrastructure,  and  Research.                                                                    
The  report  is  by  far  the  broadest  and  most  detailed                                                                    
statement of Alaska's  Arctic policy to date,  yet much work                                                                    
remains to  fully expound upon  all the diverse  issues that                                                                    
the Task Force brought forward.  While the United States has                                                                    
an  official   written  Arctic  Policy   (National  Security                                                                    
Presidential Directive (NSPD)-66), Alaska  does not. Most of                                                                    
the  other  Arctic  Nations and  the  Northwest  Territories                                                                    
already   have   established   Arctic   policies.   As   the                                                                    
jurisdiction that  makes the United States  an Arctic nation                                                                    
and  as  the  only  U.S.   state  that  is  home  to  Arctic                                                                    
residents, Alaska needs an Arctic  policy of its own. Alaska                                                                    
needs to  position itself now regarding  the nation's Arctic                                                                    
policy  - Alaska  cannot take  that leadership  role without                                                                    
understanding  what its  own priorities  should be.  This is                                                                    
especially critical  considering the  United States  will be                                                                    
chairing  the  Arctic  Council from  2015-2017.  The  Arctic                                                                    
Policy   Commission   will   provide  the   legislature   an                                                                    
opportunity  to   remain  engaged  in  the   ongoing  Arctic                                                                    
dialogue and to help shape future Alaskan Arctic policy.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:54:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Costello  appreciated the work that  had been                                                                    
done  on  the  issue,  and believed  it  would  become  more                                                                    
important as  time went  on. She asked  about the  makeup of                                                                    
the  commission.  Representative  Joule responded  that  the                                                                    
Northern Waters  Task Force had  11 members. He  stated that                                                                    
municipalities,  regional  corporations,  and  conservancies                                                                    
were  represented.   He  explained   that  there   was  some                                                                    
discovery, over time, which  some representation was missing                                                                    
from the  commission. He remarked that  industry; university                                                                    
and  research;  and  native tribes  were  missing  from  the                                                                    
commission. Currently, the membership  was at 16 members. He                                                                    
stated that  there was some  trouble keeping  the membership                                                                    
small,  because   of  the  desire  to   have  all  interests                                                                    
represented.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze pointed  to page  3, lines  14 and  15. He                                                                    
wondered  whether it  would be  more appropriate  to broaden                                                                    
the language  to "university" instead of  the "University of                                                                    
Alaska."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTINE  HESS, STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE REGGIE  JOULE, would                                                                    
be open to the idea.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule felt  that  language  should be  broad                                                                    
enough to include not only  the University of Alaska, but be                                                                    
open enough to  find people who would meet  the proper level                                                                    
of qualification.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Guttenberg felt  it  was  important for  the                                                                    
state to lead  the charge in the nation,  because Alaska was                                                                    
on   the  forefront   of   Arctic   waters  management.   He                                                                    
recommended inserting  language stating that  the commission                                                                    
can meet as  soon as the majority members  are appointed. He                                                                    
remarked that sometimes full membership  was not present, so                                                                    
the commission would not meet.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Joule  thought it  might be helpful  to leave                                                                    
the   language   open   enough  to   meet   the   level   of                                                                    
qualification.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Thomas did  not see an environmental  person on the                                                                    
commission.  He asked  whether  the  language "or  designee"                                                                    
could be included in the legislation in the event that a                                                                        
member would not be present.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:00:46 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:07:03 PM                                                                                                                    
RECONVENED                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze MOVED Amendment 1:                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Page 3, delete language on lines 14-15.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Replace with new language                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     "One member representing an accredited university or                                                                       
     college in Alaska, who has a background in Arctic                                                                          
     science;"                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Thomas OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze read the amendment aloud.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Thomas WITHDREW his objection. There being NO                                                                          
further OBJECTION, Amendment 1 was ADOPTED.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Hess explained Amendment 2:                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Page 3, line 20 add                                                                                                        
     (J) one member representing a statewide environmental                                                                      
     organization                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     (K) 4 alternates will be appointed                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze asked whether it would be more appropriate                                                                     
to say a member from the conservation community.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Hess adjusted Amendment 2 to read:                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Page 3, line 20 add                                                                                                        
     (J) one member representing a statewide conservation                                                                       
     organization                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     (K) 4 alternates will be appointed                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Edgmon wondered if it would be more                                                                              
appropriate to use the language "conservation community."                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Edgmon  MOVED  to   AMEND  Amendment  2.  He                                                                    
explained  that the  amendment would  change the  wording in                                                                    
subsection (J) to read:                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     "one member representing the conservation community."                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
There  being  NO  OBJECTION  Amendment   2  was  ADOPTED  as                                                                    
AMENDED.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHRIS HLADICK, CITY MANAGER, CITY  OF UNALASKA, testified in                                                                    
support of  HCR 23. He  stated that  there had been  a great                                                                    
reception  at  the  Coast Guard  briefing  on  the  Northern                                                                    
Waters  Task Force.  He believed  the commission  would work                                                                    
well with the governor's  office and the federal government.                                                                    
He expressed that  all Alaskans would be  impacted by events                                                                    
in the  future related to  shipping over the North  Pole and                                                                    
other Arctic areas. He believed  the policy commission could                                                                    
help work through the mountain  of information regarding the                                                                    
Arctic  waters,  and  he   appreciated  the  opportunity  to                                                                    
testify.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:13:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Edgmon  explained that  when he was  chair of                                                                    
the Fisheries  Committee in 2009 built  around Mr. Hladick's                                                                    
contributions about  this subject. He stated  that there was                                                                    
not a  central point of  contact for Arctic issues,  and was                                                                    
grateful   that  there   was   a   continuation  of   multi-                                                                    
disciplinary information.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Thomas CLOSED public testimony.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Neuman  supported  the legislation.  He  had                                                                    
been involved  in two caucuses  regarding Arctic  issues. He                                                                    
stated  that there  had been  a move  by President  Obama to                                                                    
create council  that would have  oversight or  management on                                                                    
all federal  waters, and  he believed  it would  subvert the                                                                    
current  public process.  He declared  that the  ability for                                                                    
Alaska to  have a  say would  be critical  to the  state. He                                                                    
stated that Commissioner Cora Campbell  had sent two letters                                                                    
to  the federal  government  on the  issue. The  legislation                                                                    
would give Alaska a voice in  a big way. He felt that former                                                                    
Attorney General  Burns was  correct in  that the  issue was                                                                    
one of the largest that  would impact Alaska in the upcoming                                                                    
10 years.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Doogan  communicated that what  was happening                                                                    
in  the Arctic  was  a very  significant  issue. He  thanked                                                                    
Representative Joule for his work.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze   believed  the  process  had   been  very                                                                    
inclusive. He  recognized the hard  work that went  into the                                                                    
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  commended Representative Joule  for his                                                                    
patience on the  issue. He agreed that the issue  was one of                                                                    
the  most important  unaddressed  issues. He  could not  say                                                                    
that  he  agreed  with  various  republican  and  democratic                                                                    
presidents over the years.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
3:23:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough stated  that  she and  Representative                                                                    
Joule met  with individuals who  had been assigned  to start                                                                    
implementing the Federal Ocean  Counsel Policy. She stressed                                                                    
that  the Ocean  Policy Counsel  was a  much different,  and                                                                    
critical issue in Alaska.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Joule  stated that the policy  commission was                                                                    
timely because  the U.S.  and Canada  would be  working very                                                                    
closely over the upcoming four  years. He opined that it was                                                                    
amazing what outside  people did not know  about Alaska, and                                                                    
the  way that  budget decisions  were made.  The legislature                                                                    
was engaged and should remain engaged in the process.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Thomas noted that Southeast was part of Alaska.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair  Fairclough  discussed  the  fiscal  note  1  was                                                                    
changed  to  make  the  committee  a  17  member  commission                                                                    
instead of a 16 member commission.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Vice-chair Fairclough  MOVED to report CSHCR  23(FIN) out of                                                                    
committee   with   individual    recommendations   and   the                                                                    
accompanying fiscal  note. There being NO  OBJECTION, it was                                                                    
so ordered.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CSHCR  23(FIN) was  REPORTED  out of  committee  with a  "do                                                                    
pass" recommendation  and with  one new  fiscal note  by the                                                                    
House Finance Committee for the Legislature.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  discussed the  schedule for  the following                                                                    
day.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
3:32:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The meeting was adjourned at 3:32 PM.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Letters of Support HCR23.pdf HFIN 3/14/2012 1:30:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR23 Sponsor Statement.pdf HFIN 3/14/2012 1:30:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR23 National Security Arctic Directive.PDF HFIN 3/14/2012 1:30:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR23 CAFP_brochure_PECA-eng.pdf HFIN 3/14/2012 1:30:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR23 ASRC, NANA Letter.PDF HFIN 3/14/2012 1:30:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR 23 LINKS to Backup Documents.pdf HFIN 3/14/2012 1:30:00 PM
HCR 23
Letter of Support Re State of Alaska HCR 23.pdf HFIN 3/14/2012 1:30:00 PM
HCR 23
HB250 DCCED-AEA- 031412-NEW Fiscal Note.pdf HFIN 3/14/2012 1:30:00 PM
HB 250
Letter to Rep.Doogan.pdf HFIN 3/14/2012 1:30:00 PM
SB 171