Legislature(1997 - 1998)
03/11/1997 01:14 PM House RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE March 11, 1997 1:14 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Bill Hudson, Co-Chairman Representative Scott Ogan, Co-Chairman Representative Beverly Masek, Vice Chair Representative Ramona Barnes Representative Fred Dyson Representative Joe Green Representative William K. ("Bill") Williams Representative Irene Nicholia Representative Reggie Joule MEMBERS ABSENT All members present COMMITTEE CALENDAR * HOUSE BILL NO. 151 "An Act relating to personal hunting of big game by big game guides while clients are in the field and to use area registration for portions of additional guide use areas by registered guides." - HEARD AND HELD * HOUSE BILL NO. 138 "An Act relating to the Board of Storage Tank Assistance; and providing for an effective date." - HEARD AND HELD * HOUSE BILL NO. 144 "An Act authorizing the Department of Environmental Conservation to charge certain fees relating to registration of pesticides and broadcast chemicals; and providing for an effective date." - SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD (* First public hearing) PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 151 SHORT TITLE: BIG GAME GUIDES AND REGISTRATION AREAS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) OGAN JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/21/97 424 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 02/21/97 425 (H) RESOURCES 03/06/97 (H) RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124 03/06/97 (H) MINUTE(RES) 03/11/97 (H) RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124 BILL: HB 138 SHORT TITLE: BOARD OF STORAGE TANK ASSISTANCE SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF BUDGET AND AUDIT COMMITTEE JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/13/97 334 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 02/13/97 335 (H) RESOURCES 03/11/97 (H) RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124 WITNESS REGISTER CATHERINE REARDON, Director Division of Occupational Licensing Department of Commerce and Economic Development P.O. Box 110806 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0806 Telephone: (907) 465-2534 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided department's position and answered questions regarding HB 151. KURT WEST, Licensing Supervisor Division of Occupational Licensing Department of Commerce and Economic Development P.O. Box 110806 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0806 Telephone: (907) 465-2588 POSITION STATEMENT: Explained maps relating to HB 151. CAPTAIN JOEL HARD, Commander B Detachment Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection Department of Public Safety 435 South Valley Way Palmer, Alaska 99645-6494 Telephone: (907) 746-9139 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided department's position and answered questions regarding HB 151. WAYNE WOODS P.O. Box 3037 Palmer, Alaska 99645 Telephone: (907) 745-2534 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 151. GORDON BISSELL P.O. Box 304 Sutton, Alaska 99674 Telephone: (907) 745-1842 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 151. RANDY WELKER, Legislative Auditor Legislative Audit Division Legislative Agencies and Offices P.O. Box 113300 Juneau, Alaska 99811-3300 Telephone: (907) 465-3830 POSITION STATEMENT: Presented HB 138 on behalf of Legislative Budget and Audit Committee. CYNTHIA PRING-HAM, Environmental Specialist III Storage Tank Program Division of Spill Prevention and Response Department of Environmental Conservation 410 Willoughby Avenue, Suite 105 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1795 Telephone: (907) 465-5301 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided department's position and answered questions regarding HB 138. TERRY RENNER, Past President Alaska Underground Tank Owners and Operators 2917 Jackson Road Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 586-3036 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 138. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 97-25, SIDE A Number 0001 CO-CHAIRMAN SCOTT OGAN called the House Resources Standing Committee meeting to order at 1:14 p.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Ogan, Hudson, Masek, Dyson and Joule. Representative Nicholia was present prior to the call of order but left, returning at 1:40 p.m. Representatives Barnes, Williams and Green joined the meeting at 1:18 p.m., 1:28 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., respectively. HB 151 - BIG GAME GUIDES AND REGISTRATION AREAS Number 0092 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN announced the first order of business was House Bill No. 151, "An Act relating to personal hunting of big game by big game guides while clients are in the field and to use area registration for portions of additional guide use areas by registered guides." CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN, sponsor, explained the bill essentially cleans up a major overhaul regarding guides from the previous year. A couple of inadvertent omissions had been brought to his attention. Number 0140 REPRESENTATIVE REGGIE JOULE said he had just received the materials. Whether or not this was a controversial bill, the process was set out at the beginning of session. He would appreciate having bills the day before a hearing. He asked that HB 151 be rescheduled. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN indicated he would consider Representative Joule's objection after hearing the bill. He acknowledged that the proposed committee substitute was unavailable until shortly before the meeting. CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON suggested that since people were waiting to testify, the committee hear the bill, take testimony and then hold the bill over if Representative Joule so wished. Number 0457 REPRESENTATIVE FRED DYSON expressed concern similar to Representative Joule's. However, he also recognized that people were expecting to testify. REPRESENTATIVE RAMONA BARNES said she would need to look at a guide bill a long time before saying another one should be passed. She wanted to know for certain how this bill expands guide areas, for instance. Number 0599 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN announced they would hear the bill, then hold it over if so desired. He agreed they all must make good on committee rules. Number 0628 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN said HB 151 is fairly innocuous. Section 1, requested by the Administration, closes a loophole. Current law does not allow felons to become guides. Under Section 1, an assistant guide with a previous felony conviction is not allowed to upgrade to guide status. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN said Section 2 adds a subsection, which used to be in regulation, that disallows hunting by a guide, an assistant guide, or anyone associated with the guiding operation, while in the field with a client. That was inadvertently omitted in the previous year's legislation. As an example, hunting while accompanying clients opens the potential for guides to trade tags with clients so the latter can take a bigger moose after shooting a small one. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN said reputable guides generally believe it is inappropriate to hunt while in the field with clients. He recalled that while he was on the Big Game Commercial Services Board, they suspended a master guide's license for a man who shot wolves while guiding. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN said Section 3 makes it a misdemeanor to hunt while in the field. Section 4 allows the court to suspend a guide's license for that violation. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN said Section 5 used to be allowed in regulation but was not included in the statute. Currently, guides are allowed three guide use areas, which are sub-units of a game management area. Sometimes state and federal guide use areas overlap. This allows a guide to add one portion of the federal area that would normally go unused, if it is adjacent to the guide's existing area. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN called a brief at-ease at 1:27 p.m. Number 0890 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN called the meeting back to order at 1:29 p.m. He offered the proposed committee substitute, 0-LS0618\B, Utermohle, 3/11/97, as a work draft. Number 0931 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES suggested the language in Section 5 allows both federal areas and permit areas. "By putting this `if' section in this bill, it is no longer housekeeping," she stated. "It's simply an expansion of the guide areas, which I don't support. Even before you put in the federal big game guide in the permit areas." CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN noted the proposed committee substitute was not yet adopted. Number 0989 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES made a motion to adopt 0-LS0618\B, Utermohle, 3/11/97, as a work draft. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked how the language in Section 1, which addresses only a portion of the law, accomplishes the purposes set forth in the Sectional Analysis. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN called upon Catherine Reardon to respond. REPRESENTATIVE DYSON asked what the intention was with the modification. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN said the intention was to keep convicted felons who currently hold a lower class of license from upgrading to a guide. Number 1077 CATHERINE REARDON, Director, Division of Occupational Licensing, Department of Commerce and Economic Development (DCED), said the DCED now administers the guide licensing program in the absence of a guide board. MS. REARDON said Section 1 is at the DCED's request. She explained, "The portion of the law that you don't see there said that a person who has been convicted of a felony involving a crime against a person, I believe it is within the last five years, is ineligible for a guide license. Then this section (b) you see here was a transition exemption to that prohibition against people who committed felonies in the last five years. And what it says is that people who already had their guide licenses, under the previous guide law, could keep them even if they did have a felony within the last five years, so that someone who was holding an assistant guide license wouldn't get it taken away ... as a result of the new guide law." MS. REARDON said the wording of this transition, however, was such that it also applied to someone with an assistant guide license under the old law, who was applying to take an exam to upgrade to be a registered guide or a master guide. That person could have applied, even if they had a felony conviction within the last five years. MS. REARDON noted that some applicants for the upcoming test have substantial felony backgrounds. "And we felt that while it was okay to keep them at that same level of assistant guide, held harmless by this transition to a new law, that probably it would be better to wait 'til they've been clean of felonies for at least five years before allowing them to upgrade," she explained. "So that was our purpose in requesting that amendment." Number 1190 REPRESENTATIVE DYSON said he had no objection so long as there is a time limit, so that felons who have mended their ways and have a clean record can go on in their chosen profession, and so long as it is limited to crimes against persons. MS. REARDON read from the applicable statute and commented: "It says that someone is ineligible for a license if they've committed a felony within the last five years, any kind of felony - I misspoke - or a felony offense against the person, a crime of violence against a person, as defined in AS 11.41, within the last ten years. So ... any kind of felony for five years, a crime against a person for ten years." Number 1242 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES said many guides in Alaska had been convicted of illegal hunting, wanton waste or other crimes relating to fish and game resources. "We've even had State Troopers that do that," she added. She asked if this bill allows them to continue with their licenses. MS. REARDON responded that Section 1 attempts to tighten up on people with felony convictions. It excludes some people with felony convictions from being able to upgrade, which they otherwise could do without the amendment. Number 1293 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES asked why a big game guide with a felony offense should be able to continue guiding, whereas a class-A assistant guide could not upgrade. MS. REARDON said that was a policy choice the legislature apparently made when it passed the guide law last year, to have this new felony restriction but hold harmless people who held licenses previously. She was trying to fill in a little gap that perhaps the legislature had not thought of. She was not suggesting getting rid of (b) altogether, and not holding them harmless, because she believed the legislature had already decided that. Number 1380 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES did not recall details of the final guide bill passed the previous year. She asked, "As I'm understanding correctly, what we've said as a legislative body, that if you have a felony conviction and you are a registered guide, you can continue pursuit of your occupation? Is that after five years? Or do you just continue on?" MS. REARDON replied that people who already had convictions before the law came about get to carry on. New people are blocked from entry or from renewal of their licenses. Number 1429 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES suggested that set up two separate classes of people, those with felony convictions and those without. She believed that was wrong. She did not believe guides should be given more leeway with their felony convictions than class-A assistant guides were given. MS. REARDON responded that it applies the same way to assistant, class-A and registered guides. It just has to do with whether a person held that license before the new law or was a brand new entrant coming in. The exception in Section 1 only applies to convictions prior to the new law. "If you're one of these guides who held a license under the old law, and you're convicted tomorrow, you won't be able to renew your license," she added. Number 1496 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES said she had read articles about crimes committed by guides and noted that class-A assistant guides work under a guide. "So they may be working under a felon, and they, because they've had a past conviction, they can't move up to be a felon with a felon," she stated. "There's something basically wrong with that." REPRESENTATIVE BARNES asked whether Section 5 came from the department. MS. REARDON said only Section 1 came from the department. Number 1546 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN explained that the concern was whether to make it retroactive. As the argument could be made that it was paying twice for the same crime, it was not done retroactively. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN pointed out that a registered guide is criminally and civilly liable for everything that guide does in the field. The way the guide law is written, guides are just as responsible for actions by assistants as they are for their own actions. The bill tightens this up so that assistant guides who are felons do not become guides. Number 1620 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES mentioned debates through the years over guiding. She believed there was always an attempt by registered guides to ensure people did not challenge them for areas. She expressed concern that, felon or otherwise, there was a problem with this section. Number 1645 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN noted there was a motion on the floor. He asked if there was further discussion or any objection. There being none, 0-LS0618\B, Utermohle, 3/11/97, was adopted as a work draft. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN advised that Kurt West was present to explain guide use areas. REPRESENTATIVE BARNES said she would not support the bill if it expanded the guide areas, which she believed to be exclusive use areas. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN responded that they are not exclusive. Litigated in the Owsichek decision, exclusive use areas had been eliminated. Although guides are limited to three guide use areas, those are not exclusive. Guides can move from year to year into those areas. Number 1730 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES asked whether she could go in and guide in those same areas. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN said yes. Anyone can guide in any of the areas by simply registering into the area. Number 1770 KURT WEST, Licensing Supervisor, Division of Occupational Licensing, Department of Commerce and Economic Development, came forward with a large map showing boundaries for individual guide use areas and Unified Coding Units (UCUs). The building blocks of the guide use areas, UCUs had already been established by the Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and used for harvest data for over 20 years. These tended to follow drainages. MR. WEST said the Big Game Commercial Services Board had attempted to follow the UCUs in establishing use areas. However, that was not always the case. There were instances, such as in Units 9, 26, 24 and 19, which contained some of the larger parks, where federal agencies had been unwilling to budge on boundaries relating to the state's ability to follow the UCUs. Consequently, some land ownership did not fall within a guide use area. MR. WEST, using the map, cited an example where Doyon land may have extended, through oversight, into a guide use area, with the board subsequently granting use on a small piece of land that otherwise would not be used. Number 1877 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN advised that the proposed committee substitute only addressed federal land. MR. WEST said this only affected a dozen individuals, who received land authorization, looked at their boundaries and discovered those boundaries did not follow the land management boundaries. Number 1897 MS. REARDON explained that the old statute allowed the guide board to set up the guide use areas through regulation. The guide board had a regulation that said, "You're limited to three areas unless you need a little piece of a fourth one because it will be unutilized otherwise." MS. REARDON said under the new law, the guide use area system was put into statute. The board was abolished, and the DCED has no discretion to adjust the use area system. She said that is fine. However, when the legislature passed the new law, they decided three areas was the limit. There was no exception for this situation. "And the sponsor, through this bill, is trying to recreate that possibility of getting a little piece of a fourth area that otherwise wouldn't be used," she explained. Number 1936 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN asked the size of the largest area that would be added on to a guide use area. MR. WEST did not know the square mileage. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN asked whether the additional areas were fairly small. MR. WEST said yes. In some instances, it was an access point. He was aware of a couple of instances where someone had an extension of authorization into another use area. It just happened that within that extension was the access to their entire area. This included a landing strip or boat access. However, Mr. West was unaware of anyone receiving a large portion of another area. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN asked about the possibility of this being perceived as a land grab. MR. WEST replied that it did not appear to work that way, due to there only being 10 or 12 people who came before the board and applied for that exemption. Number 2018 REPRESENTATIVE JOULE requested that if the DCED had a map delineating who is affected by whom, and in what areas of the state, he would like to see it. Mr. West's map showed one section. However, 12 areas were apparently affected. MS. REARDON responded, "It's not like we did a survey of the whole state and decided where it could happen. Instead, guides would ask for a fourth area, and it would be considered by the board. So if we show you which 12 qualified, at least we could tell you where those were located, those overlaps." REPRESENTATIVE JOULE said that would be helpful. Guiding in his area was very active. He wanted to see the implications in his district and others. MS. REARDON pointed out that the state's granting of a guide use area to a guide does not mean that the landowner, whether it is federal, private or Native land, must allow that person to guide there. The landowner still has the right to say nobody may guide there or to specify how many. REPRESENTATIVE JOULE said he did not need to see names. He just wanted to see how it all works. Number 2120 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN said when he first served on the Big Game Commercial Services Board, they had just finished the mapping process. He asked Mr. West to explain why the state guide use areas did not necessarily line up with the federal areas. MR. WEST said they did for the most part. At a "push-shove meeting" in Fairbanks in September 1992, the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service absolutely did not want to allow boundaries for several guide use areas to differ from what they had traditionally used for their concession permits. For the most part, the majority of the state conformed to the UCU-building-block method of creating those use areas, "but there were a few instances where they would not budge." CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN emphasized this would simply allow use of areas that would otherwise be unused by hunters. Those holding federal permits are the only ones allowed to hunt there, and the boundary does not coincide with their state areas. "So this allows them to access that little chunk of federal area that didn't quite jive with the lines," he said, calling it the "weasel clause." Number 2209 REPRESENTATIVE IRENE NICHOLIA asked how many permit holders there are in Alaska for big game guiding. MR. WEST replied that there are about 500 registered and master guides, about 330 of whom are active. He said that translates into about 750 guide use area permits. "So there is a lot of overlap, a lot of joint use of areas," he added. Number 2233 REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN asked how many were nonresidents, whether it was 50 percent, for example. MR. WEST said he did not have that figure. His guess was 40 out of that. [Secretary's note: Confirmed with Mr. West by telephone 3/19/97 that this refers to individuals, not a percentage.] Number 2245 REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA said that is a large percentage. She asked whether there is any way to curtail that legally. She commented that that is a lot of revenue leaving the state. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN said one provision he was proud of in the previous year's legislation was the loosening of requirements for assistant guides. Many rural Alaskans who might make excellent assistant guides could not pass the test. Now, guides could hire an assistant guide just on a recommendation. Guides are legally responsible, civilly and criminally, for all their actions in the field anyway. Nor does the state tell a cabinet maker, for example, whom to hire as shop help. Co-Chairman Ogan suspected many more people were guiding than before because of this. REPRESENTATIVE JOULE said over time, people would step up to the plate as they realize these opportunities exist. Number 2299 MS. REARDON, acknowledging she was not an attorney, mentioned local hire constitutional issues. The current legislation requires the DCED to charge twice as much for a nonresident guide license. For the first time, the DCED must identify who is a resident and who is not. She suggested even that could be skating a line. She noted there are, however, techniques such as requirements for having held an Alaskan hunting license for a certain amount of time or that type of experience that could be required. Number 2346 CAPTAIN JOEL HARD, Commander, B Detachment, Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection, Department of Public Safety, testified via teleconference. Referring to Section 1 of the proposed committee substitute, he said it allows people who were grandfathered in to upgrade. Although not part of the previous year's process, he supposed the grandfather issue was a legal issue brought forward by the Department of Law, as was generally the case. CAPTAIN HARD said Section 2 is the most important to his division from an enforcement perspective. It returns to statute the prohibition against big game guides personally hunting while clients are in the field. It lessens the opportunity for unethical or illegal activities. It also makes over-limit violations such as using another person's tags more difficult. It would improve his division's ability to enforce complaints arising from guided hunts. CAPTAIN HARD referred to Section 5 and said whether guides have three areas or four is of little consequence to his division, so long as they have the proper registration. Number 2443 WAYNE WOODS testified via teleconference. He said most of the guides in the area, including himself, were not prepared to address the bill, as it was last-minute. MR. WOODS said transporters remaining in the field with clients and taking game is not addressed in HB 151. However, that was the overriding concern of registered guides the previous year, with transporters not being regulated to the degree that guides are. None of the guides he had spoken with oppose closing the loophole of guides taking game in the field with clients. However, they want transporters included in this category. MR. WOODS advised that he did not have a copy of the committee substitute. TAPE 97-25, SIDE B Number 0021 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN explained that the new committee substitute only includes federal lands, and it tightens the language. He said through an oversight, the drafter had said guide use areas, plural, which might be conceived to mean they could get more than one additional area. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN said there is language in the new committee substitute, just for the guide, for when an area would otherwise remain unused by a registered guide because the boundaries of the guide use areas do not coincide with boundaries of federal big game concession or permit areas. It would only be for one guide, and it would only be if it did not coincide with the federal big game concession or permit areas. It was basically the old "H clause" or "weasel clause" in the regulations. Number 0082 MR. WOODS said he and most of his fellow guides wanted guide use areas changed to align with game management unit sub-units. He believed that would alleviate many problems that operators see in the field as far as avoiding increased competition with transporters or resident hunters. REPRESENTATIVE BARNES asked what "H" or "weasel" sections were. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN replied that was lingo relating to the old Big Game Commercial Services Board regulations. The "H clause" was essentially the same as Section 5 of HB 151, relating to weaseling into a little more of an area. Number 0158 GORDON BISSELL testified via teleconference. He expressed concern over how this was put out to people in the guiding community. Few he had spoken to were even aware of some pending bills and regulations. He suggested precluding convicted felons from holding any guide license until passage of at least three to five years, in which they showed they had changed their ways, whether they were registered guides, class-As or assistants. He believed felons had "screwed up somewhere along the road" and should take time to reflect on the way they live their lives. MR. BISSELL expressed concern over how guide use areas are set up from the ADF&G's UCU maps. The previous year, he and three other guides, as well as two transporters and numerous resident hunters, had hunted in an area that he had as a guide use area. That area measures approximately 40 miles by 10 to 15 miles. Due to regulations last year, he was forced to try to make a living out of this area, he said. MR. BISSELL believes guide use areas should coincide with the game management sub-units. This would allow guides who encounter additional activity in one area to spread their activity elsewhere. MR. BISSELL noted that this does not address tour guides, which he sees "cropping up, predominantly in the Talkeetna Mountains." Referring to the taking of game by guides, Mr. Bissell said he does not see transporters being put to task over this. If it affects game guides, it should affect everyone equally, including transporters and tour guides. Game guides are being singled out and heavily regulated. Number 0292 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN asked Kurt West to comment on the transporter issue. He understood that currently transporters cannot take game nor assist in any way while they are in the field. MR. WEST said licensing and regulation of transporters has not changed. They are allowed to transport clients from point A to point B, but not to accompany them into the field nor stay with them unless it occurs at a permanent lodge, cabin or boat owned by the transporter. Number 0317 REPRESENTATIVE JOULE asked whether transporters were transporting for specific guides or just dropping people off. MR. WEST said both. Some guides use a commercial transporter. Some do their own flying or boating. And many clients, both resident and nonresident, use a commercial transporter on their own, without a guide. Number 0346 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN advised that the transporter statute is AS 08.54.650(c). He read: "A transporter may not provide big game hunting services without holding an appropriate license." He believed that transporters are not precluded from hunting while they are in the field. He suggested it might be worth tacking that onto the bill. Number 0430 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN, noting Representative Joule's absence, announced he would hold HB 151 over in respect to Representative Joule's concerns. HB 138 - BOARD OF STORAGE TANK ASSISTANCE Number 0476 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN said the next order of business was House Bill No. 138, "An Act relating to the Board of Storage Tank Assistance; and providing for an effective date." Number 0493 RANDY WELKER, Legislative Auditor, Legislative Audit Division, Legislative Agencies and Offices, came forward to present the bill. He said HB 138 is sunset legislation requested by the chairman of the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee, which introduced all the sunset legislation this year. MR. WELKER said HB 138 is the final version of the previous session's bill. The Board of Storage Tank Assistance is in its final year of wind-down, with a statutory expiration date of June 30, 1996. However, statute provides the board one year from that date to complete its affairs. MR. WELKER said the audit report issued in 1995 addressed the original sunset. It recommended continuation to the year 2000, reflected in Section 1 of the bill. Number 0558 MR. WELKER said Section 2 implements a recommendation to change the make-up of the board. They saw a need for a public member without a financial interest in the storage tank business. Section 2 places a public member on the board and removes the commissioner of the Department of Public Transportation and Public Facilities, thus maintaining the same size of board. MR. WELKER said significant issues face the state relating to underground storage tanks. There are federal deadlines coming up that will be critical to deal with in the next few years. A sunset date of the year 2000 will allow another look at the board operations after some of those dates have passed, to determine whether there is a continued need. Number 0621 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN asked about the board composition. MR. WELKER said statute requires that all the other members of the board have some knowledge of, or relationship with, the storage tank industry. They believe a public member is important as well. Number 0653 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN asked what would happen if the board were discontinued. MR. WELKER said the need for funding to bring storage tanks into compliance with federal standards far outstrips appropriations available to date. The board prioritizes funding decisions when an appropriation is made, allocating between loan programs, for example, which had participated in establishing a rating system to prioritize the need for assistance. In that way, more serious needs are met first. MR. WELKER said as they approach the deadline for complying with federal requirements, which he believes is December 1998, it is uncertain what enforcement actions the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) envisions. The board could play a hands-on policy role in dealing with implementation of the EPA deadlines. Without the board itself, some of those responsibilities would probably fall back on the department. Number 0730 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN inquired about the zero fiscal note and asked who is paying for this. MR. WELKER said he would defer to the department. Number 0789 CYNTHIA PRING-HAM, Environmental Specialist III, Storage Tank Program, Division of Spill Prevention and Response, Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), came forward to testify. She said if the board were abolished, the ADEC would have to accomplish all the tasks itself. The ADEC already had funding in its FY 98 budget and would not incur additional cost. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN suggested there should be a cost associated with extending the board five more years. MS. PRING-HAM said the ADEC collects registration fees of $500 per tank, which is incorporated into the storage tank assistant funds allocated yearly by the legislature. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN asked if that is a dedicated fund. MS. PRING-HAM said no. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN asked if this is paid through program receipts. MS. PRING-HAM said yes, but they do not get the fees directly. The fees go into a fund and are appropriated later into the storage tank assistance funds. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN noted that the bill has no House Finance Committee referral. Number 0877 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked whether the 470 fund provides the funding. MS. PRING-HAM said no, it is part of the general fund. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked whether she knew the loan default rate. MS. PRING-HAM said she could try to get that information. She advised that she was acting on behalf of someone else. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN agreed with Co-Chairman Ogan that it seemed a fiscal note should be attached. Number 0931 REPRESENTATIVE JOULE asked what the board does in rural areas of Alaska. MS. PRING-HAM said the board has two main responsibilities. First, they determine and allocate grant funds available for cleanups of underground storage tanks, closures and upgrades at those facilities. "So if they were on our list of applicants for those three series of funds, then the board would ... develop a priority listing," she said. Second, the board settles disputes between owners and operators. They act as a liaison between owners and operators and the ADEC. Number 0997 REPRESENTATIVE JOULE asked whether the ADEC has someone monitoring tanks on a routine basis. MS. PRING-HAM said no. Owners and operators submit an application for grant money to do closures, upgrades or cleanups. They fill out a preliminary risk evaluation form which has a point system relating to certain criteria. From that, a yearly ranking is determined. Whoever has the most points gets the money first. Number 1073 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN reiterated his concerns about the fiscal note. He asked how often the board meets. MS. PRING-HAM said four times. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN asked whether they provided their own transportation, hotel costs and so forth. MS. PRING-HAM said it is in the program's budget as part of the storage tank assistance fund's operating cost. Number 1125 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN called for an at-ease at 2:29 p.m. He called the meeting back to order at 2:30 p.m. He asked Randy Welker to address the fiscal note. MR. WELKER said he did not believe the department's fiscal note was accurate because the cost of travel and meetings had a fiscal impact on the state. Number 1193 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said they had been told the 470 fund was not the funding mechanism. However, a letter in the committee packet dated September 19, 1995, part of the Audit Report for the department and signed by Mr. Welker, stated on page 3 that appropriations are made from the mitigation account fund and from tank registration receipts. He suggested the 470 fund therefore came into play here. MR. WELKER said he did not know "which part of the nickel it is" but that it is partially funded through that, as well as through program receipts from some of the fees. Number 1240 REPRESENTATIVE referred to page 7 of the same letter, which indicated some $54 million is needed for eligible applicants. He said at the low funding level of the previous year, that was a 19- year program. He asked, "Is it your understanding that if this sort of thing does not continue, either at 1.9 or some other funding mechanism rate, that the state will be having to bear these costs?" MR. WELKER said the uncertainty was that nobody was sure what action the EPA might take when the deadline comes about for compliance with those federal regulations. He did not believe anyone could say yet what the ramifications might be. The $54 million was what the board struggled to prioritize from the applications. Number 1306 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said it could then even be worse than that. MR. WELKER believed most of the programs had a deadline for application and that all those deadlines had passed. He did not believe anything had been extended that would broaden those application periods. The $54 million was the need identified through that application process at the time. Number 1325 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN indicated the remaining work would take a number of years. He asked what was happening to leaks now. He also asked whether Mr. Welker had a feel for how much might be defaulted or repaid on loans. MR. WELKER suggested those would be better answered by ADEC personnel. He is the "outside auditor" looking in at the board's operations. Number 1479 TERRY RENNER, Past President, Alaska Underground Tank Owners and Operators (AUTOO), came forward to testify. The AUTOO had worked on the bill with representatives beginning in 1989. Through a two- year process, the legislature had come up with HB 220, which put the board in statute. MR. RENNER said tank registration fees throughout the United States are $50 to $100. In Alaska, they are up to $500 per tank, which the AUTOO believes shows a willingness to contribute. At the time of the original bill, owners faced a deadline for mandated insurance requiring a $1 million policy. However, with a polluted site, no policy could be obtained at any cost. Owners had hoped this would "appease some of these federal mandates" on insurance. Passage of the bill had helped in that regard. MR. RENNER advised that when that bill passed the House, it carried a user fee, a one-cent tax. Later, the Senate made that a straight $10 million appropriation, lowered by the governor to $6 million. Since then, it has gone before the legislature yearly for a general appropriation. Number 1599 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN asked whether the board acts as a mediator between tank owners and the ADEC. MR. RENNER said yes. If disagreement remains, the matter could be brought to the legislature or the Governor's office. However, he did not believe that had ever been necessary. Number 1667 REPRESENTATIVE BEVERLY MASEK asked Mr. Renner's opinion about adding a public member. MR. RENNER said he thought it would be better. Number 1750 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked whether Mr. Renner had a feel for the board's expenses. MR. RENNER said he had heard it was somewhere just over $100,000. He believed tank registration fees brought in about $300,000, which went into the general fund. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN suggested the fiscal note should probably show both amounts. Number 1833 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN announced he would hold the bill and research the fiscal note question. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN referred to the $54 million required. He asked whether Mr. Renner had a feel, from his past position, about loan failure rates related to fixing tanks. MR. RENNER said loans in the program were for upgrading tanks. A large part is grants because of high loan failure rates, such as those in the Matanuska-Susitna area. It is cheaper for the state to make grants than to watch over those loans. The legislature had decided to assist tank owners because the alternative was having tank owners go out of business, with the state cleaning up anyway. At least this employed people throughout the state. MR. RENNER said there are better cleanup methods all the time. Already, there is a site-specific assessment relating to drinking water sources. He expects the $54 million figure to be cut by more than a third right now, and possibly more in the future. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN suggested there are alternative methods such as aeration, use of "bugs" and so forth. MR. RENNER agreed. Referring to the $54 million, he indicated people had overstated the amounts required because "you couldn't go back to the well twice." Number 2042 CO-CHAIRMAN BILL HUDSON asked about new technology to neutralize spills, for example. MR. RENNER said there are chemical washes, depending on the area and the pollutants in the soil. He said he is not an expert. There are also "bugs that will start eating these hydrocarbons and such." He said people with more expertise could be brought in for a future meeting. CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON noted that Larry Dinneen had informed him of a new process. He suggested Mr. Dinneen speak to the committee. He himself was involved when the federal law first came out. With the tremendous number of tanks in the state, he believes it is important to ensure they are all cleaned up. Number 2210 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked whether this covers village tanks for diesel. MR. RENNER said it is an underground storage tank program that includes tanks in Nome, Kotzebue and other sites throughout the state. In the Interior, there are many above-ground tanks, however. Number 2287 CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON believed there exists a comprehensive study on major fuel storage facilities throughout Alaska. Estimates to upgrade and repair existing above-ground storage tanks exceed $200 million. Much of that is for fuel storage in villages, as well as for fuel tanks at airports with Arctic conditions. CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN said he believed that estimate is for upgrading tanks, with the environmental mitigation another $200-to-300 million. ADJOURNMENT Number 2368 CO-CHAIRMAN OGAN adjourned the House Resources Standing Committee meeting at 2:50 p.m.