Legislature(1999 - 2000)
03/30/1999 01:05 PM TRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE TRANSPORTATION STANDING COMMITTEE March 30, 1999 1:05 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Beverly Masek, Chair Representative Andrew Halcro, Vice Chair Representative Bill Hudson Representative John Cowdery Representative Jerry Sanders Representative Allen Kemplen Representative Albert Kookesh MEMBERS ABSENT All members present COMMITTEE CALENDAR * HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 3 Relating to use of passenger facility charges at the Anchorage International Airport. - MOVED HCR 3 OUT OF COMMITTEE * HOUSE BILL NO. 108 "An Act relating to the use, operation, and regulation of boats; establishing a uniform state waterway marking system; and providing for an effective date." - MOVED CSHB 108(TRA) OUT OF COMMITTEE (* First public hearing) PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HCR 3 SHORT TITLE: PASSENGER FACILITY CHARGES AT ANCHORAGE SPONSOR(S): TRANSPORTATION Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 3/11/99 427 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 3/11/99 427 (H) TRA, FIN 3/30/99 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 BILL: HB 108 SHORT TITLE: USE, REGULATION, AND OPERATION OF BOATS SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVES(S) HUDSON, Halcro, Phillips, Kerttula Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 2/22/99 278 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 2/22/99 278 (H) TRA, JUDICIARY, FINANCE 2/26/99 328 (H) COSPONSOR(S): PHILLIPS, KERTTULA 3/30/99 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 WITNESS REGISTER PETER TORKELSON, Researcher for Representative John Cowdery Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 204 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-6848 POSITION STATEMENT: Provided details on HCR 3 and answered questions. KURT PARKAN, Deputy Commissioner Office of the Commissioner Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT/PF) 3132 Channel Drive Juneau, Alaska 99801-7898 Telephone: (907) 465-6977 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on behalf of DOT/PF in support of HCR 3. KIP KNUTSON, Marketing Director Era Aviation 6160 Carl Brady Drive Anchorage, Alaska 99502 Telephone: (907) 244-1920 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified via teleconference from Anchorage on behalf of Era Aviation in opposition to HCR 3. MELINDA HOFSTAD, Legislative Assistant to Representative Bill Hudson Alaska State Legislature Capitol Building, Room 108 Juneau, Alaska 99801 Telephone: (907) 465-6826 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on behalf of Representative Hudson to provide details and answer questions on HB 108. MAKO HAGGERTY P.O. Box 2001 Homer, Alaska 99603 Telephone: (907) 235-9055 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified via teleconference from Homer in support of HB 108. NANCY LETHCOE, Owner Alaska Wilderness Sailing and Kayaking P.O. Box 1313 Valdez, Alaska 99686 Telephone: (907) 835-5175 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified via teleconference from Valdez in support of HB 108. CLIFF JUDKINS President Alaska Boating Association; Co-Chair, Alaska Boating Safety Council P.O. Box 874174 Wasilla, Alaska 99687 Telephone: (907) 373-3591 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified via teleconference from Mat-Su LIO in support of HB 108. JERRY GEORGE Seward Boat Owners Association 3640 Dora Avenue Anchorage, Alaska 99516 Telephone: (907) 345-1841 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported the original version of HB 108. BRAD SNOW, President Fairbanks Paddlers P.O. Box 83329 Fairbanks, Alaska 99708 Telephone: Not provided. POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 108; stated support for concept of Alaskan boating safety law, but expressed concerns about proposed CS. JOHN GLASS, Colonel, Director Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection Department of Public Safety 5700 East Tudor Road Anchorage, Alaska 99507-1225 Telephone: (907) 269-5509 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 108. ROGER MacCAMPBELL P.O. Box 321 Homer, Alaska 99603 Telephone: (907) 235-7024 POSITION STATEMENT: Urged passage of HB 108 in concept. MIKE FOLKERTS, Member Alaska Boating Safety Advisory Council 23739 Sunny Glen Drive Eagle River, Alaska 99577 Telephone: (907) 694-8273 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 108 on behalf of the council. BARRIE SWAIN 9667 Victor Road Anchorage, Alaska 99515 Telephone: (907) 344-7105 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in full support of HB 108. STEVE MORGHEIM, Executive Director Alaska Marine Dealers Association 2440 East Tudor Road Anchorage, Alaska 99507 Telephone: (907) 561-4554 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of proposed CS for HB 108, not original bill; provided suggestions. SUE HARGIS, Boating Safety Coordinator United States Coast Guard P.O. Box 25517 Juneau, Alaska 99802 Telephone: (907) 463-2297 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 108. KATHY O'GARA, Member Alaska Boating Safety Advisory Council 222 Tongass Drive Sitka, Alaska 99835 Telephone: (907) 966-8797 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of concept of HB 108. ERIC DOWNEY Knik Canoers and Kayers 2200 Jennison Anchorage, Alaska 99508 Telephone: (907) 337-1669 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 108; provided suggestions. PAUL DONHEFFNER, Director Oregon State Marine Board 435 Commercial Street, NE, Suite 400 Salem, Oregon 97310 Telephone: (503) 373-1405 (x 244) POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 108 on behalf of Oregon State Marine Board, Western States Boating Administrators Association, and National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. BARBARA SANDS, District Commodore 17th District Coast Guard Auxiliary 4837 Knights Way Anchorage, Alaska 99508-4805 Telephone: (907) 333-6275 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on HB 108 in support of boating safety legislation. MARK JOHNSON, Chief Community Health and Emergency Medical Services Division of Public Health Department or Health and Social Services P.O. Box 110616 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0616 Telephone: (907) 465-3027 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 108. JUANITA HENSLEY, Administrator Director's Office Division of Motor Vehicles Department of Administration P.O. Box 110200 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0200 Telephone: (907) 465-5648 POSITION STATEMENT: Answered question about boat titling. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 99-14, SIDE A Number 0001 CHAIR BEVERLY MASEK called the House Transportation Standing Committee meeting to order at 1:05 p.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Masek, Halcro, Hudson, Cowdery and Sanders. Representatives Kookesh and Kemplen arrived at 1:08 p.m. and 1:09 p.m., respectively. HCR 3 - PASSENGER FACILITY CHARGES AT ANCHORAGE CHAIR MASEK announced that the first order of business was House Concurrent Resolution No. 3, Relating to use of passenger facility charges at the Anchorage International Airport. REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY explained that HCR 3 has been put forward by the subcommittee appointed by Chair Masek, consisting of Representatives Cowdery, Kemplen and Sanders. The resolution came about after hearing extensive testimony in a joint meeting of the House and Senate Transportation Standing Committees, and Era Aviation is the only party on record who opposes passenger facility charges. REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY stated, "I favor this resolution because I think it is in the public interest. Right now, Alaskans are paying about $3.5 million per year in PFCs [Passenger Facility Charges] that go to outside airports. If the governor starts collecting PFCs at the Anchorage International Airport, we'll then capture that $3.5 million for Alaska, and also collect about another $1.5 million, for a total of about $5 million per year to fund airport improvements." Number 0201 PETER TORKELSON, Researcher for Representative John Cowdery, Alaska State Legislature, came forward to provide details on HCR 3 and answer questions. He reiterated that the spirit of this measure is to capture funds that are now going out of state, and giving the airport system a more stable revenue base. Currently, PFCs are paid by Alaskans who travel to Juneau and Ketchikan. Passenger Facility Charges are supported by Alaska Airlines, Northern Air Cargo, Reeve Aleutian Airways, Federal Express and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Era Aviation is the only airline that opposes PFCs at Anchorage, and their fear is that they'll lose traffic due to an increase in ticket costs. MR. TORKELSON said he was told that Horizon Air had similar concerns when PFCs were implemented in Eastern Washington and Oregon, and he felt those fears turned out to be largely unjustified, as the traffic did not go down significantly from those airports. This is especially interesting when considering that those areas have four-lane freeways that do not go over avalanche-prone passes; this makes automobile traffic even more of an alternative for them than it is, potentially, for people from Kenai. Mr. Torkelson expressed respect for Era Aviation's position; however, it is his belief that PFCs will "do more good for more people." Number 0335 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO wondered if the legislature would need to come back and create legislation that would allow PFCs to be charged, or if this can be done simply by application to the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT/PF). MR. TORKELSON reported that DOT/PF does not require legislative authorization to implement a PFC program, and HCR 3 merely states a position. It is, however, an extensive application process with broad opportunities for public testimony and public input, specifically, input from airport users who will be most affected by these charges. He noted that the FAA must approve every program that PFC receipts are used for, and they have to be in the best interests of airport users. Number 0421 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY noted that Era Aviation had concerns about the Kenai Airport. He referred to a letter he received from the John Williams, Mayor of Kenai, which indicated that they oppose PFCs "at this time," and Representative Cowdery felt that the Kenai Airport will, in time, look at PFCs. He read the last paragraph of that letter as saying, "Due to the uncertainty of the future status of the Anchorage AIP [Airport Improvement Program] funding program, the city of Kenai will have to look at the PFC program if the need arises. It is our request that the state legislature take no action that would restrict the ability of the city of Kenai to implement a PFC program." He summarized that letter by stating his belief that Kenai is "keeping their options open." REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON clarified that nothing in HCR 3 would preclude the city of Kenai from implementing a PFC program in the future. Number 0593 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY added that he was informed by FAA that there are certain exemptions of rural communities that are a concern to most people. They cannot guarantee what they will do until the application is made, but when Juneau applied for PFCs, he believes, the FAA approved all but one of the requested exemptions. MR. TORKELSON said it is important to note that this resolution only addresses the PFC issue at Anchorage. He reported that United States Senator Ted Stevens is working to amend the PFC legislation to allow broader exemptions for some Alaskan communities; however, their information is that this legislation probably will not go through this year. Number 0647 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO felt that the concerns raised by Era Aviation were well-founded. They serve markets that are traditionally lower in fare, but they also had some concerns about amendments that U.S. Senator Stevens was proposing on a federal level regarding exempting carriers that have 18 seats or less. On some runs, at the last minute, they can go from an 18-seat plane to a 37-seat aircraft. He reported that they also had some concerns regarding central air service, as some cities, like Cordova, compete head-on with Alaska Airlines, which would be exempt from collecting the PFC. He emphasized that he wholeheartedly supports PFCs; however, he reminded the committee that there was, at one point, discussion about exempting intrastate travel from PFCs. He asked the sponsor if that is still an opportunity. Number 0743 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY thought that issue would be addressed by DOT/PF at the time of application. REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO explained that Era Aviation is just concerned about making sure there is a level playing field. He noted that Reeve Aleutian Airways supports PFCs; however, if the amendments supported by U.S. Senator Ted Stevens were approved, Reeve Aleutian Airways would never collect a PFC, as all of the locations they service are communities are less than 10,000 in population and not connected by a highway system. He felt it was important for the committee to keep in mind that Reeve Aleutian Airways' glowing support of PFCs is in light of the fact that their customers might not have to pay for them. He added that Kenai and Homer are relatively low-fare markets, and it is important that one or two carriers are not disenfranchised. Number 0866 KURT PARKAN, Deputy Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, testified on behalf of DOT/PF in support of HCR 3. He said the department intends to apply for PFCs and welcomes the legislature's discussion and support of this resolution. CHAIR MASEK asked if Mr. Parkan could respond to some of the questions and concerns previously raised in this meeting. MR. PARKAN reopened the question of intrastate-versus-interstate exemption, and he noted that this issue was something DOT/PF looked at in the past. He believes the state of Hawaii tried to implement this exemption so that only incoming tourists would pay PFCs, but the FAA denied it, stating they could not put a barrier at their border. He supposed it was conceivable to request some statutory change to PFC legislation, but the approach DOT/PF has taken is an attempt to not set up a flag in everyone else's mind throughout the country. Their goal was to implement something fairly minor and innocuous that would not receive a lot of scrutiny from other senators and congressmen. Mr. Parkan said, "If you tried an exemption that drew a line at the border, you would have a major, I would think, battle on your hands." Number 0961 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO referred to the second-to-last paragraph of the letter of support from DOT/PF Commissioner Joseph L. Perkins, and noted that it expressed DOT/PF's support for waiving PFCs for rural and remote areas, using the guidelines of U.S. Senator Stevens: communities less than 10,000 in population and not connected to the land highway system. He agreed that past discussions indicated that borders could not be put up. He stressed, however, that some of these communities are unique in nature and require last-minute changes in aircraft. In an effort to not create an unfair burden of collection, yet ensure that these small communities are covered, he asked if the 18-seat-or-less exemption could be possibly be "bumped up." Number 1026 MR. PARKAN agreed. He pointed out that DOT/PF did not participate in the development of 18-passenger aircraft exemption language. He also felt that the concerns of Era Aviation are legitimate and need to be addressed, and he confirmed that changing aircraft would create a problem with the exemption. REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO wondered if that was something DOT/PF could apply for. MR. PARKAN assured Representative Halcro that DOT/PF is not pursuing the use of an 18-passenger exemption, and that he has forwarded those concerns raised at the last meeting to Washington, D.C., to share with U.S. Senator Stevens. REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO clarified, "Is it possible for you, in your application to the FAA, to say, 'We request a waiver for aircrafts 30 seats or smaller or 35 seats or smaller'?" MR. PARKAN indicated that DOT/PF could request that as one of their possible exemptions; however, he suspects the FAA would not grant that request, because it would not be made a statutory change to the law. Number 1125 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY reported it was his understanding that money collected from rural airports could be pooled to do repairs or construction at those airports. MR. PARKAN noted that the state of Alaska does own virtually all of the airports in the state. He confirmed that it was possible to use money collected at one airport for a project at another airport, provided they are all under the sponsorship of the state; however, it is not the intent of DOT/PF to do so at this time. Number 1181 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON wondered if it would be helpful to consider a further resolve, and he brought up the following: "Be it further resolved that the application take into consideration measures to reduce or exempt passengers traveling to or from small communities within Alaska." He explained the intent of this resolve as not being specific, rather general in nature but instructive to DOT/PF to essentially hear these other voices and further work with them. He noted that he was not offering this amendment at that time, but was just bringing it up for discussion. Number 1263 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY expressed understanding that DOT/PF already intends to do this, but he asked Mr. Parkan if this is the case. MR. PARKAN stated that he would have to hear the language again. He understood the resolve to be directing DOT/PF to consider the small communities that would be affected, and he agreed that Kenai would be one of those communities. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON reread the statement to Mr. Parkan. MR. PARKAN said, "It seems like a reasonable addition. I don't think we [DOT/PF] have any problem with that." Number 1352 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO agreed that DOT/PF is already addressing those concerns by applying for the exemption of small communities and those communities not connected to a land-based highway system. He reiterated that he strongly supports this legislation, but continued to express concern. He cited the following example: a 14-day "Super Saver" fare from Barrow to Anchorage, round trip, is about $325, and no PFC would be required. However, Kenai to Anchorage or Homer to Anchorage is $57 round trip, and a $3 PFC will be charged. In addition, equipment will vary, so an individual may or may not have to pay the PFC. He felt that this is not evenly applied, and that it is flat charge instead of a percentage charge. REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO summarized his concerns by stating, "If we are going to make exceptions based on geographic locations, then we should make exceptions on smaller communities' fare base. You know, I've traveled to Valdez several times, and flown in on a small plane, and then the flight has been canceled and you've got ... two flights backed up, and so they bring in a larger plane. Now, if PFCs were in place and I flew in on an 18-seater, I wouldn't pay it, but if they come in with a larger aircraft ... to get the two flights, how are they going to collect it? Are they going to stop me at the gate? Do I have to pay at the counter?" He expressed concern that PFCs would not equally apply to everyone. MR. PARKAN reiterated that it is not the intent of DOT/PF to pursue the 18-passenger exemption. Number 1466 REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH said he feels sure that most of the rural communities, even those not tied to road-based systems, have costs associated with their airports. He asked, "Why don't we just charge everybody three dollars and, somehow, designate that three-dollar charge back to the rural airports?" He added, "Everybody needs money. If we exempt them, nobody gets it." He pointed out that all airports need maintenance work. REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO sought clarification as to whether money collected could be used at other airports. MR. PARKAN said that is correct. REPRESENTATIVE KOOKESH suggested collecting the PFC and allowing the money to be used at rural airport, adding that he was certain none of the rural airports would object. He felt that current objections by those rural areas have to do with the fact that they would be paying but not getting anything out of it. Number 1536 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON stated, "What I am hearing is that perhaps my amendment would not be useful, that it might preclude us from making a collection from small communities arriving and departing from the Anchorage area, and then sharing, in some sort of a pooling mechanism, those funds for the smaller airports at other parts of Alaska. ... I think, in fact, it might be restrictive ... of pooling the money for the smaller airplanes." He added, "I wouldn't wish to offer it under those circumstances." REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO noted that a previous presentation by DOT/PF explained that there had to be a certain amount of passengers per small, medium and large airport to make it cost-effective to collect a PFC. MR. PARKAN said that was correct. REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO expressed concern that funds collected will actually be given back to those small airports. MR. PARKAN reminded Representative Halcro that PFCs would be collected at Anchorage for flights leaving Anchorage. He felt Representative Halcro was concerned about the problems that would occur with collecting PFCs at some of the smaller communities themselves. Number 1646 KIP KNUTSON, Marketing Director, Era Aviation, testified via teleconference from Anchorage in opposition to HCR 3. He read the following key points regarding their opposition into the record: The community of Kenai is Era's largest passenger market. We have served Kenai for over 15 years and have seen six other air carriers come and go in that time frame. More than any other market we serve, Kenai is highly price-sensitive, and currently Era is their only carrier. Our biggest competition is the new and improved roadway that has cut driving time to Anchorage by approximately one hour. Era's full "walk-up" fare between Anchorage and Kenai is $55.00. Included in that amount is an 8 percent transportation tax, and the reason for 8 percent, rather than the normal 7.5 [percent], is that Kenai is within a 75-mile radius of Anchorage International [Airport], and is considered a "non-rural airport." Due to this proximity, Era must also collect an additional tax in the form of a two-dollar "segment fee" from each passenger. That increases the out-of-pocket fare to $57.00. To saddle Kenai passengers with yet another tax in the form of a three-dollar Passenger Facility Charge would mean that approximately 15 percent of each full fare is pure tax. Obviously, the tax percentage increases with discounted and advance-purchase fares. The PFC alone would constitute just over 5 percent of the airfare to Kenai. On long-haul flights to Seattle and beyond, PFCs are well below 1 percent of the total airfare. Residents of the Kenai Peninsula should not be subjected to such unbalanced taxation. Now, as you've heard from several people, [U.S.] Senator [Ted] Stevens has sponsored some language in the FAA Reauthorization Bill, and that bill will most likely pass. Among regional air carriers based in Anchorage, Era would carry a disproportionate share of the load in collecting PFCs. The exemptions that Senator Stevens has written into the bill exclude communities with a population of less than 10,000, and those not connected by a land or vehicular way to the land-connected National Highway System; that includes cities served by the marine highway system. In effect, this means that Anchorage-based carriers such as Reeve [Aleutian Airlines] and PenAir would not be required to collect a PFC on local airfares. With the exception of Iliamna, every Era destination would be subject to PFCs, by virtue of the fact that they are connected by either road or the marine ferry system. This is an inequity which singles out both Era and its customers. Now, if the Senate Bill passes that Senator Stevens has worked on, it would also exempt carriers from collecting PFCs aboard and aircraft having a seating capacity -- it is actually less than 20 seats. Era currently operates 18-passenger aircraft, 37- and 50-passenger aircraft, in the Kenai and Homer markets. Passenger loads can jump in the final hours before departure, justifying an upgrade from the 18-seat aircraft to the 37-seat aircraft. The reverse is also true. In any case, it is not realistic to have a two-tier pricing structure in a common market whereby passengers riding on the larger aircraft pay more than those on a smaller aircraft. It would be impossible to collect PFCs in advance, not knowing which aircraft would be on what. The 20-passenger seat exemption places an insurmountable burden on Era Aviation, and, as you further debate this issue, I might bring to light ... the fact that a worthwhile seat exemption limit would be 60 seat(s). That corresponds to FAA regulation, part 107, and is the dividing line for security screening and secure areas in airports. Any aircraft over 60 seats, passengers have to be screened, that is, you go through the x-ray machines, etc. Anything below that, ... that is not required. So, the 60-passenger exemption would make more sense, and it would actually be tied to an existing regulation. Number 1842 MR. KNUTSON continued: An interesting situation exists in Cordova, a market served by both Era and Alaska Airlines. According to FAR [Federal Aviation Administration Regulations], part 158.9, Alaska Airlines cannot collect a PFC, because they are the Essential Air Service (EAS) subsidy provider in Cordova. Era does not receive that EAS subsidy, and, therefore, would have to collect a PFC under current language. This puts Era in an immediate price disadvantage in a common market with our own partner, Alaska Airlines. While no one questions that PFCs can provide a reliable revenue stream to the Anchorage International Airport, the question that must be answered is whether or not the push for PFCs is an attempt to mask the known cost overruns on the terminal expansion project. Before we apply a Band-Aid, we must first address the wound. Era withdrew its objections to the terminal expansion and has not changed that position; however, as the second largest carrier of passengers to and from the Anchorage International Airport, it is our desire to seek other solutions before we disproportionately shift the tax burden onto our customers. It is important to note that approximately 75 percent of Era's passenger traffic is local in nature. These are not passengers whose PFC money is now winging its way south. In actual fact, these are passengers who did not necessarily need the expanded terminal project in the first place, but will certainly be forced to carry a disproportionate share of the load if PFC legislation ... PFC regime, is enacted, particularly those from the community of Kenai. With respect to regional carriers in Alaska, either all should be required to collect PFCs, with no exemptions whatsoever, or all should be excluded. Era Aviation clearly prefers the latter approach. However, we are willing to seek equitable alternative solutions. One alternative approach might be for regionals to collect a PFC for Anchorage, but only in conjunction with a down-line ticket, that is to say, a passenger traveling Kenai to Anchorage and then beyond, outside of the state's borders. Thank you for you time and your consideration of Era Aviation's position on this issue. Number 1960 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO made a motion to move HCR 3 out of committee with individual recommendations and the attached fiscal note(s). There being no objections, HCR 3 moved out of the House Transportation Standing Committee. HB 108 - USE, REGULATION, AND OPERATION OF BOATS Number 1990 CHAIR MASEK announced the next order of business to be House Bill No. 108, "An Act relating to the use, operation, and regulation of boats; establishing a uniform state waterway marking system; and providing for an effective date." REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON, prime sponsor, explained that extensive work has been done with boating safety individuals and groups throughout the state of Alaska, and he believed it would expedite things to adopt the work draft rather than go back to the original version of HB 108. He felt many constructive changes have been made; therefore, he moved to adopt the proposed committee substitute for HB 108, version 1-LS0445/M, Ford, 03/26/99, as the document before the committee. CHAIR MASEK asked whether there were any objections. There being none, Version M was before the committee. Number 2046 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON explained that Version M will establish a comprehensive boating safety program in Alaska, which he believes will save lives. He noted that Alaska is the last state in the Union to not have such a program. Monies collected in Alaska and shipped outside of the state would be used for boating safety education and state operation, as opposed to federal operation, of a boating safety program. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON advised members that the bill proposes to transfer the responsibilities and regulatory authority over boating safety equipment and other operating requirements from the United States Coast Guard to the state of Alaska. Additionally, the state would assume the registration that is currently managed by the Coast Guard, and this would operate through the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the Department of Administration. Using their current system, vessel owners and small boat owners would be able to either go directly to the DMV and use their by-mail, on-line or in-person registration. This legislation would also authorize new boat dealers to provide for the registration of boats at the point of sale. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON reported that 38 Alaskans lost their lives in boating accidents in 1998, and Alaska continues to experience nearly 10 times the national rate of boating accidents. Efforts have been made by the Coast Guard, the state of Alaska, and various other individuals and organizations, but they are not centrally located, nor are they coordinated. He pointed out that the proposed committee substitute for HB 108 would assure that the state manages and controls its own boating safety laws and programs. Number 2159 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON stated that HB 108 would mandate that boats placed or used on state waters would be equipped with some or all of the following: fire extinguishers, personal flotation devices, life jackets, a sound-producing device, back-fire flame protectors, and ventilation and visual distress signals. These items are currently required by the Coast Guard, whether this legislation is enacted or not. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON explained that all motor boats with an enclosed engine are prone to have volatile fumes build up within those compartments. He reported having seen fires literally burn to the water's edge in a matter of minutes. Many years ago, the Coast Guard recognized that it was in everyone's interest to make certain that carburetors and other spark-producing potentials within the engine house have these protectors, as well as ventilation to keep fumes from compiling within the engine house. The actual carriage would be identical to the Coast Guard requirements for the type and size of the vessel being licensed. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON observed that current Coast Guard regulations call for this safety equipment in navigable waters within the state; however, HB 108 would expand the requirement to all waters of the state, thereby increasing the application to small streams and lakes. He summarized by stating, "It is my belief, and I hope you'll agree with me, that it's just as important to try to save the lives of people on navigible waters as it is [on] some of the smaller streams that, at least at this stage, because the Coast Guard is operating it, are exempt." REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON noted that Alaska does not comply with the Federal Safe Boating Act of 1971 by having its own program for safe boating. Consequently, the state's share of federal marine fuel taxes paid every year is not redistributed back to Alaska, as it is to other states. Passage of HB 108 will assure that Alaska is included in the redistribution of these taxes, he explained, bringing approximately $500,000 annually back to the state, along with approximately $600,000 annually in program receipts being added to state coffers. These are the monies that would be paid to the Coast Guard to register the boats, and this will more than offset the cost of operating this program through the DMV. These dollars will allow the state to make a major effort to educate the boating public about boating safety, thereby lowering the rate of accidents and deaths on Alaska's waterways. Under this proposal, the charge for new registrations will be identical to the charges established by the Coast Guard. Number 2337 MELINDA HOFSTAD, Legislative Assistant to Representative Bill Hudson, Alaska State Legislature, came forward to further detail HB 108 and answer questions. She pointed out that there is intent language on page 1, Section 1, that states, "at least 75 percent of any federal funds generated as a result of this Act be used to fund a statewide boating safety and education program". MS. HOFSTAD next directed attention to Section 2, which imposes equipment requirements on boats that have engines, and requires that all boats carry sound-producing devices. She reiterated that these carriage requirements are the same as the Coast Guard currently requires. Section 2 also imposes restrictions on when a boat must be operated with lights, and it imposes requirements for carrying life jackets. It also prohibits the use of emergency lights, except for police and emergency services, and allows the department to require additional safety equipment by regulation. MS. HOFSTAD informed the committee that Section 3 deals with boats that are towing water skiers, and it has several new provisions: there must be a rearview mirror in the boat towing the skier; there must be a spotter or observer in the boat, and that person has to be over 12 years of age; and the person water skiing has to wear an approved life jacket. Section 4 requires a person involved in a boating accident to render assistance and exchange information, and it requires that a boat operator file certain accident information. MS. HOFSTAD explained that Sections 5 and 6 are basically changing the language from inland waters, which state law covers now, to all waters in the state of Alaska. Section 7 requires that the state develop and adopt regulations establishing a uniform waterway marking system, which would be the same system as the Coast Guard's. TAPE 99-14, SIDE B Number 0001 MS. HOFSTAD added that Section 7 also establishes the parameters of the Alaska Boating Safety Council, made up of seven members appointed by the governor, and it gives the council a veto power over regulations, other than those regulations that fail to comply with federal requirements or state law. Section 13, she noted, imposes the fees, which are the same as those required by the Coast Guard now; those fees are $24 for a new, three-year registration. Section 14 is all definitions. Section 15 provides that boating accident reports are not public record. Section 16 provides that a person cited for a violation does not have to provide a written promise to appear in court, similar to vehicle tickets. Section 17 authorizes the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to adopt regulations. Finally, Section 18 provides for an immediate effective date. Number 0119 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked if this includes documented vessels. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said no, adding that documented vessels will continue to be managed by the Coast Guard. REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked who does the boat inspections. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON explained that this will be done through volunteers in the U.S. Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Auxiliary, or through the boating safety program coordinated by DNR. REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY asked whether there was cost involved. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON clarified that it would be done on a volunteer basis. He reiterated that 75 percent of the federal money would go into education. REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY expressed understanding that the Coast Guard comes aboard at a boat owner's request to do voluntary inspections, and that no fines are assessed if they find things that are not up to par. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON confirmed that the essence of getting people to carry safety equipment is not assessing fines or penalties, and the inspection is completely on a volunteer basis. Number 0178 REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN noted that the definitions section of the bill states that "boat" means watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, except for a ship's lifeboat, a seaplane, and inspected passenger vessel, and a single air mattress, single inner tube or other water toy. He asked if a jet ski would be considered a "boat," thereby being subject to all the carriage requirements. MS. HOFSTAD confirmed that a jet ski is classified as a "boat," and the carriage requirements are a fire extinguisher, a whistle to produce sound, and an appropriate life jacket. Jet skis are not allowed to run at night, so they do not require running lights. She related that she went to a boat show to see where these items could be kept on a jet ski, and she noted that there is a large compartment in a jet ski with room for a small fire extinguisher and a sound-producing device. She noted that most jet skiers she has seen do wear the personal flotation device. Number 0258 REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN referred to Section 1, subsection (2), and noted that the intent of the legislation is that it not apply to "boats such as kayaks, canoes, or other boats that are without engines and are paddled, poled or rowed." He observed that intent sections typically get "line-itemed out," and, if that occurred, the definition section would be left to work with. Consequently, he wondered why the language that exempts kayaks, canoes or other paddled, poled or rowed boats is not included in subsection (d) under the definition of boat. MS. HOFSTAD explained that it has been difficult to divide HB 108, because Section 1, subsection (2), actually is only exempting those individuals from certain carriage requirements. She acknowledged that perhaps the wording was not yet exactly how it should be; however, the intent was to spell out the carriage requirements in a way that conforms with what the Coast Guard requires, not to exempt those boats from registration. Number 338 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON noted that fire extinguishers and back-flame arresters only apply to a boat with an engine in it; however, registration would still be required to register with the state and be issued a certificate of numbers, and they would still be required to carry an appropriate life preserver. He added that the Coast Guard defines the "appropriate life preserver" differently according to whether one is in a power boat or kayak, or on water skis or a jet ski. MS. HOFSTAD stated that she has just recently seen the proposed committee substitute, Version M, for HB 108, and she has also wondered whether subsection (2) of Section 1 should go under Section 2. She indicated that it is really not a statement of intent; rather, it is part of the safety requirements, and consideration might be made to moving it. Number 0392 REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN agreed it is appropriate to move that language somewhere else, especially since this is a work draft. He also referred the committee to Section 05.25.060, titled "Prohibited operation." He noted that a significant number of accidents occur because individuals are operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He acknowledged that he did not know what current regulations say about driving a watercraft under the influence; however, given the facts that a motorized vehicle on water can be equally as dangerous as a motorized vehicle on land, he felt this section would be an appropriate place to reference that. MS. HOFSTAD informed the committee that this is covered in the statutes in AS 28.35.030, "Operating a vehicle, aircraft or watercraft while intoxicated." She added that she was told by Coast Guard personnel that it is the same standard as for driving a vehicle under the influence. Number 0482 REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN pointed out that the word "watercraft" is being replaced with the word "boat" in the proposed legislation. He wondered, given that statutes currently refer to "watercraft," if introducing the word "boat" would be subject to a sharp-eyed defense attorney's ability to find a loophole. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON directed attention to the definitions on page 10 of Version M. In subsection (2) of Section 14, "boat" is defined as a watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, with the exception of a ship's lifeboat, seaplane, inspected passenger vessel, air mattress or inner tube. He wondered if the Coast Guard was getting away from the term "watercraft," but he agreed that it was a typical terminology for many years. This terminology, however, included things other than "boats," such as barges, log floats, log tubs, and so on. MS. HOFSTAD quoted from AS 28.35.030, which says, "'operate a watercraft' means to navigate or use a vessel used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water for recreational or commercial purposes on all waters, fresh or salt, inland or coastal, inside the territorial limits or under the jurisdiction of the state". She told members that with this terminology in mind, she did not feel this was going to be problem; however, it will be addressed in the House Judiciary Standing Committee, the next committee of referral. REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO noted that forfeiture rules also apply in the statutes, and an intoxicated individual may have to forfeit his or her watercraft. Number 0610 REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN referred to page 7, line 17 of Version M, Section 05.25.057, subsection (c), where it says that members of the Alaska Boating Safety Council are entitled to per diem and travel expenses. He asked whether these expenses would be paid from the general fund, or if the fees are collected for operation of the program itself. MS. HOFSTAD stated her understanding that between $400,000 and $600,000 would be coming to the state, depending upon how many boats are going to register. She explained that 75 percent of this money is going to education costs, leaving 25 percent for administrative costs. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON reiterated that the intention is for this to be a totally self-supporting program; in fact, there are sufficient funds to support the program and expand boating education. Any per diem and other legitimate expenses that are part of this council would be underwritten by the fees that are collected. REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN asked whether it would show up in the budget underneath "program receipts." REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said yes. CHAIR MASEK wondered how often the Alaska Boating Safety Council would be meeting. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said he suspects that there might be two or three meetings in the beginning to set up the council; beyond that, they would only meet as other issues come forward. He stressed that it would be entirely covered by the fees that are collected. Number 0733 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO expressed concern about Section 3, subsection (b), page 3, line 15, which says, "(b) A person may not operate a boat, [WATERCRAFT] on [THE] water of the state to tow a person under 13 years of age on water skis, a surfboard, or a similar device ..." He suggested eliminating the phrase "under 13 years of age". He related that he water skis, but he would not be pulled without a life preserver, as friends have experienced horrible falls and have been knocked unconscious. REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO noted that all kinds of things could happen if one is being towed outside of a boat, and he wondered if the age of 13 should be increased, or even if the age requirement should be done away with. An individual who is outside the boat being pulled, he pointed out, is going 35 or 40 miles an hour, regardless of what type of device that person is on, and Representative Halcro believes that the age of 13 is too young to not be wearing a life preserver. Number 0810 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON explained that a little higher requirement has been established for people who are 13 and under, and it is required that they wear a life jacket in this particular instance. If they are 14 or older, in Alaska there has always been trouble in the past demanding that they wear anything from motorcycle helmets to life jackets. The state wants them to, and will educate them to do so, but the law protects children 13 years and younger. Representative Hudson said he would like to see that provision stay in there. Number 0853 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY referred to Representative Kemplen's question of who would be on the Alaska Boating Safety Council. He related that there are many boards and commissions in Anchorage, and the people who serve on those usually do it as a public service. Even though they can charge up to a certain dollar amount, most of the time their service is gratis. Number 0930 MAKO HAGGERTY testified via teleconference from Homer in support of HB 108. He reported that he is a commercial fisherman and a water taxi operator in the summertime. He has worked the waters of Alaska for approximately 18 years, and he knows how dangerous those waters can be at times. If the bill means getting back some or all of the fees and taxes paid by Alaskans, he believes it is a good idea; he urged the committee to pass it. Number 0983 NANCY LETHCOE, Alaska Wilderness Sailing and Kayaking, testified via teleconference from Valdez. She and her husband have owned Alaska Wilderness Sailing and Kayaking for the past 25 years, and they are the authors of the book "Cruising Guide to Prince William Sound." She reported that, over the last 15 years since doing research for their book, they have been very concerned about the boating safety statistics for Alaska. They have spent a lot of time discussing this with others and trying to think about solutions. MS. LETHCOE stated: I would really like to applaud Representative Hudson for introducing this bill. I think it's a major step forward to focusing in Alaska on the specific types of accidents that are most likely to occur in Alaska, and then being able to develop an education and safety program that is suited for Alaska, rather than a generic one that is suited for Florida as well as Alaska. We have different conditions in Alaska, and I think we need to look at them. So, in general, I really support this bill. I share some of the concerns about some of the ... language. We have some boats with electric motors on them, and I am not sure that a back-fire flame protector is appropriate, so somehow that language needs to be cleaned up and made for the appropriate type of boat. I also share the concern about the use of drugs and alcohol, that these accidents can occur, particularly on holidays. We've seen some deplorable boatmanship going in and out of harbors, of people who are under the influence, and would certainly like to see strongly language on that." Number 1082 MS. LETHCOE admitted that she has the old copy of HB 108 that was drafted before the committee substitute; however, she expressed concern over Section 3, AS 05.25.030, regarding boat collisions, accidents, and casualties. She stated: We did a risk assessment last year with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard of members and everybody else we could contact from cruise ships to kayaks, trying to analyze the types of accidents that were mostly likely to occur. And it was very interesting that there was almost unanimous agreement among all vessel operators that it was very difficult, for example, to see kayaks when they were going into the sun. ... But then we discovered that what they were really saying often was that they couldn't see them on the radar and that they weren't really looking for them and keeping a visual lookout. So, we're concerned about some language that may need to be added in certain places about what it is to maintain a proper lookout. MS. LETHCOE stated that a kayaker's greatest fear is blind corners, where a power vessel comes around a blind corner traveling at full speed and traps the kayak between the boat and the cliffs. The wake of a boat can roll a kayak, which has happened. She believes that this could be resolved with better education. Last year a flyer was put out regarding these boating safety issues. During the process, it was discovered that no records are kept regarding accidents which do not result in loss of life or injury or damage less than $500. This legislation continues the lack of record keeping, which Ms. Lethcoe expressed the need to change. MS. LETHCOE suggested that there should not be any reference to monetary value. If there is an accident, the accident should be reported, which could provide information as to where accidents are occurring in order to develop boating safety materials and programs targeted for the most likely audiences. In conclusion, Ms. Lethcoe applauded the committee's efforts and expressed hope that the committee would move forward with HB 108. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said that Ms. Lethcoe brought out some good points that could be fleshed out and reviewed by this new council. He explained that this attempts to place Alaskan citizens in the driver's seat with the Department of Public Safety and the Coast Guard in order to identify areas of deficiency. He invited Ms. Lethcoe to contact the committee in order to ensure that her comments are carried forward. Number 1317 CLIFF JUDKINS, President, Alaska Boating Association; and Co-Chair, Alaska Boating Safety Council, testified via teleconference from the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, noting that he is a 36-year boating resident of Alaska. He informed the committee that last fall, the Alaska Boating Association was approached by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and asked to endorse the development of the Alaska Boating Safety Act within the DNR. Following much discussion, the Alaska Boating Association Board of Directors adopted a resolution which supported the development of legislation to establish the Alaska Recreational Boating Safety Act. MR. JUDKINS said that motorized recreationists, including boaters, have not fared well in past dealings with DNR and therefore, discussions with DNR were entered into cautiously. There was concern that DNR would develop an Act to further its non-motorized agenda or to acquire more money to use against motorized recreationists. Mr. Judkins stated that changes have been made with the legislation to satisfy concerns. He said, "As now worded, 75 percent of federally generated funds, as a result of the Act, must be used for statewide boating safety and education programs. Non-motorized craft must be registered and pay their fair share." MR. JUDKINS pointed out that the Alaska Boating Safety Council has the power to override DNR's safety regulation. The legislation specifically excludes the authority to prohibit the use or access to waters of the state by a person or user group. Many still have serious concerns regarding any program administered by DNR. However, Mr. Judkins stated, the Alaska Boating Association, as a whole and by board endorsement, supports HB 108 as amended. The monies to support the program are currently spent by Alaskans in registration fees and boat fuel taxes. Those funds go to the federal government in order to be distributed to other states to fund their boating safety program. Adoption of this legislation will return these funds to Alaska. Mr. Judkins informed the committee that registration fees and fuel taxes are estimated to generate in excess of $1 million per year. MR. JUDKINS reiterated that there were 38 recreational boating/drowning incidents in Alaska in 1998, which is 10 times the national average per registered boat. Therefore, if only half of Alaska's boats are registered in Alaska, that is still five times the national average. Of the 38 victims, 11 were found without life jackets, and 18 were not found at all. He suggested that those 18 were not found because they weren't wearing life jackets. Furthermore, alcohol was involved in 20 of the drownings, while 10 involved non-motorized craft. Mr. Judkins emphasized, "If we did nothing more than convince canoers and families going home with their groceries from town to put life jackets on, it would save lives." He reiterated that the Alaska Boating Association supports the bill, as well as safe boating for all Alaskans. Number 1500 JERRY GEORGE, Seward Boat Owners Association, testified via teleconference from Anchorage. He informed the committee of his early childhood experiences with boating the Trans-Atlantic and Antarctica. Further, he mentioned his extensive sailing experience in Alaska. Mr. George said that he applauds having the boating safety program in Alaska. He clarified that the Boat Owners Association has written to the committee in support of HB 108, not the amended legislation which was just made available; the proposed CS has some special interest items that are of concern. Mr. George suggested that the Department of Administration be required to retain the existing numbering system. He indicated that changing the numbering system would require boat owners, lending institutions, and all Alaskan harbor masters to change the numbers. Retaining the current numbering system would be administratively easier. MR. GEORGE pointed out that the aforementioned fuel tax refers to the federal marine fuel tax, not the state marine fuel tax. He believes that the historical split between those two funding sources - the federal marine fuel tax for boating safety and the state marine fuel tax for infrastructure - should be maintained. MR. GEORGE addressed the proposed CS. He said it exempts commercial paddle boats from the license plate requirement, which he indicated is not appropriate. He identified the exemption of the commercial paddle boat as a special interest that devalues the integrity of the original legislation. The original legislation is further devalued by the veto of the regulations. He doesn't believe that Alaska has given veto power to anyone but the governor. Establishing an advisory board with veto power would be a dangerous precedent and should be revisited. He pointed out that boating access is inserted into boating safety legislation, although the issues are separate and distinct; he believes that doing so creates confusion. Mr. George encouraged the committee to revert back to the original bill, which the Seward Boat Owners Association supports. Number 1891 BRAD SNOW, President, Fairbanks Paddlers, testified via teleconference from Fairbanks. He informed the committee that the Fairbanks Paddlers is a 200-plus-member non-motorized boating club. Furthermore, he is a member of the interim Alaska Boating Safety Advisory Council. Mr. Snow supports the concept of an Alaskan boating safety law. He said that Alaska's boating safety record is one of the worst in the nation. One of the most important goals of this legislature should be to pass an agreeable boating safety bill this session. MR. SNOW expressed concern with the proposed CS, as it would require paddle boaters to pay a disproportionate amount relative to their safety requirements. Paddle boaters account for less than one-third of the boating fatalities. Furthermore, many paddle boaters have more than one craft. He mentioned that one of the original arguments for the implementation of a state boating safety law is that it would cost the boater no more than would be paid to the Coast Guard if the bill was not passed. The language in the original bill and the proposed CS would require the boater to pay $24 for each certificate renewal, rather than the Coast Guard's proposed $16 renewal fee. The proposed CS would cause a new group of people to pay $24; those people aren't currently burdened with the cost of paperwork registration. Furthermore, an owner of multiple boats would pay more. MR. SNOW commented that the maximum penalty for nonregistration is set at $500; even the family bringing out the canoe once every five years would be required to comply. Mr. Snow stated that placing non-motorized boats on the same level as motorized boats is unfair. Those states, fewer than 25, that require registration of non-motorized boats have a sliding fee scale. If the proposed CS is implemented, the non-motorized boat fees would be among the highest in the nation. In conclusion, Mr. Snow indicated that a bill should be passed that would tackle Alaska's boating safety record, but it should be done fairly, reasonably, and without unnecessary burden to the Alaskan boaters. CHAIR MASEK reminded Mr. Snow that he could send any written testimony to the sponsor's office. She noted that the bill also would be heard in the House Judiciary Standing Committee. Number 2120 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON thanked the last two testifiers for their comments, noting that the bill will go to the House Finance Standing Committee, as well. He said he believes that the fee is the same as that required by the U.S. Coast Guard, with the exception, as pointed out, of the renewal fee of $16; he said they could look at that, as well as other concerns. Representative Hudson indicated it would be minimal effort to administer a registration program so that somebody lost at sea could be found. Number 2200 JOHN GLASS, Colonel, Director, Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection, Department of Public Safety, testified via teleconference from Anchorage, noting that he has spent 26 years as an Alaska State Trooper, stationed from Ketchikan to Bethel. He has spent countless hours and numerous days searching for bodies and people who have been lost overboard in boating fatalities. He looks at this bill as training and education. Colonel Glass said he has met with Jim Stratton, Director of the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and they have agreed on the working mechanisms of this bill. Colonel Glass indicated he had distributed a list of instructors trained recently back East to do the boating safety and education. He said he strongly supports this bill, and he respectively requests that it be passed on for further consideration. Number 2310 ROGER MacCAMPBELL testified via teleconference from Homer, speaking primarily as a private citizen and boat owner. However, he works for the DNR's Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation as a district ranger for the southern Kenai Peninsula, including Kachemak Bay, Deep Creek and Anchor River; as such, he has been involved in many search-and-rescue operations, mostly body recoveries. He urged passage of this bill in concept, indicating the state needs the money to educate people in order to prevent loss of life. Mr. MacCampbell noted that he is involved with most of the folks who are trying to put this together to satisfy all the interests, and he believes there have been numerous good suggestions that day. He concluded by saying this bill will save Alaskan lives. Number 2392 MIKE FOLKERTS, Member, Alaska Boating Safety Advisory Council, testified via teleconference from Anchorage on behalf of that council, which was formed in December 1998 as a second step in implementing a comprehensive boating safety program for Alaska. He told members that the first step was when Governor Knowles created the Office of Boating Safety within the DNR. The third step will be the passage of an Alaska safe boating law that meets the federal guidelines. Once a law is passed and Alaska becomes eligible for full federal funding, the council will be able to help develop a boating safety program that will reduce accidents and casualties, and make boating safer and more enjoyable for Alaskans. MR. FOLKERTS advised members that the council represents a diverse constituency of boaters, as well as marine dealers, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, and rural health providers. After their first meeting on January 28, 1999, they targeted education as the number one priority to achieve their goals. The council is committed to safe boating in Alaska. With this legislation, Alaska could take advantage of a program that will save lives. TAPE 99-15, SIDE A Number 0001 BARRIE SWAIN testified via teleconference from Anchorage, expressing full support for the bill. [Mr. Swain's testimony was not recorded, except for his statement of support, due to a recorder malfunction.] Number 0080 STEVE MORGHEIM, Executive Director, Alaska Marine Dealers Association, testified via teleconference from Anchorage, specifying that he was speaking on behalf of that association, although he is also interim co-chair of the Alaska Boating Safety Advisory Council and publisher of Alaska Boating Magazine. He commended Mr. Stratton and Mr. Johnson of DNR for their proactive work on this matter. MR. MORGHEIM said this legislation is of strategic interest to the Alaska Marine Dealers Association; members contribute millions of dollars annually in economic benefit to the state's economy, providing hundreds of jobs to state residents. "Thus, we are always concerned when regulations are proposed that have the potential to negatively impact this industry, no matter how worthy the cause, especially as is boating safety, ... which we are all in favor of," he stated. Mr. Morgheim said that for the number of boats being used in Alaska, as well as across the country, figures from the National Marine Manufacturers Association show that boating has probably never been safer, although any one death is still too many. MR. MORGHEIM expressed concern that their customers perhaps could be kept off the water through access issues, and he specified that they support the proposed CS. He stated, "Also, the fact that the council has been empowered to speak in favor of, to some degree, power boaters, and have input into the regulations, we think is very important. So, we would say that the substitute is our preference, and if it were to changed back to the original, it would cause us a problem." MR. MORGHEIM said he had asked the association's members to review this bill, as they deal with the customers, and Mr. Todd Brandon (ph), owner of Burkeshore Marina, had brought up a couple of points. For example, what documentation is required to register currently owned boats? And is a serial number required? If so, boats prior to 1980 were not required to display a serial number. Mr. Morgheim offered to send those to the committee in writing. A further suggestion, submitted to Eddie Grasser, staff to Chair Masek, is that the definition of "boat dealer" should be the one in the Alaska Marine Dealers Association bylaws; Mr. Morgheim said that definition was taken directly from the regulations of the Texas board of fish and wildlife. MR. MORGHEIM agreed that because they are dealing here with human behavior, not mechanical defect, education is the way to go. He asked whether it would be possible to include something about boating safety in the curricula through the Department of Education at some point. He agreed with the testifier from Seward that the exclusion of boats being used for commercial purposes isn't appropriate. Finally, he asked whether the bill takes into account problems that could come up with companies that rent boats; for example, a tourist could come to town, rent a boat, and be put out on the water with absolutely no provisions. Number 0499 SUE HARGIS, Boating Safety Coordinator, United States Coast Guard, came forward to respond to two items mentioned by Mr. Morgheim. First, the hull identification number - otherwise known as the boat serial number - is required on a boat in order to register. She stated, "What we do with boats that don't have those, or have partials, or where their numbers have been destroyed, we issue those from our office; and that's a simple matter of a log that we add one more number to, basically, and we then send that back out, with the registration, to the boat owner, and they inscribe that in their hull. And that's the same, basically, as a vehicle identification number on an automobile." MS. HARGIS said the other issue is rental vessels. Under current regulations, in place since 1958, it is the rental agency's requirement to equip boats appropriately, which is a reasonable requirement of any rental agency. Number 0559 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON responded to Mr. Morgheim's suggestion that the Department of Education be included, stating, "We have not listed any and all connections that the council and that the department can use in implementing this program. ... We're clearly going to relate this to boating safety and education, and I think that you'll find that the Department of Education and our school system will become one of the most valuable outlets and outreach points for educating youngsters, particularly, in wearing life jackets and safe boat operation. So, even though we haven't listed it, it clearly is our intention that they be included. And thank you." Number 0629 KATHY O'GARA, Member, Alaska Boating Safety Advisory Council, testified via teleconference from Anchorage in support of the concept of the bill. She stated, "We are very concerned about the Alaska drowning rate and how high it is here; and we see that this bill will help lower avoidable deaths of Alaskans and will also bring in a great deal of money. And in times of the budget cuts, right now, this money will hopefully help the education." Number 0689 ERIC DOWNEY, Knik Canoers and Kayers, testified via teleconference from Anchorage, noting that his organization is an Anchorage-based non-motorized boating club with about 330 households registered as members; approximately one-third of their yearly budget is spent on safety and education, to try to prevent drownings and other accidents for non-motorized boaters. He stated: We can't do it all ourselves. We try; we spend $2-3,000 a year. Fairbanks boaters try. The Alaska Boating Association also does their part. But there needs to be a coordinated effort. I hate to say this, but we need more government. [There was laughter.] I really do hate to say that .... We do need some help, and I think ... this law is a very good way to go about doing it. There are a couple [of] reservations. Our board of directors will be meeting tomorrow night, so we'll get some definitive written comments to Representative Hudson after that. But speaking for the club, without the approval of the directors, I'd just like to say ... that the law is important, and please don't let any small issues get in the way of passing the law. MR. DOWNEY agreed with the Fairbanks Paddlers that owners of non-motorized boats would carry a bigger burden on this, because the boats are less expensive and people really do have a lot of little boats; he cited his father-in-law as an example. He suggested that with a little thought, and maybe two or three extra sentences in this bill, these people could be accommodated. Mr. Downey acknowledged the importance of having a permanently affixed number on the boat, to help with body identification and maybe rescue. He suggested, however, that perhaps each household could register its non-motorized boats and permanently affix it or clip it onto one boat or another boat, rather than registering four or five different boats. MR. DOWNEY concluded, "Personally, I'd like to say please go ahead with the law, and I'd have to mimic Jerry George's comments about an advisory board should be just that - an advisory board. If you're going to give an advisory board veto power, please call it a board of directors or some other way to clarify their status. Personally, I don't think they should have the veto power; I'd like to see that removed. Also, ... a lower renewal fee might be nice, but money's not a very big issue, except apparently to some people, some commercial boaters, with that exemption in there for commercial boaters. I hate to see any little special-interest exemption in there." He restated that they would be providing formal comments to Representative Hudson. Number 0928 REPRESENTATIVE KEMPLEN asked whether Mr. Downey feels that the legislation should apply to new purchases of kayaks and canoes, or to all individuals who currently possess them. MR. DOWNEY replied, "Well, I see the purpose of the law as to, one, generate some funds and organization to education people and, two, to promote safety and maybe offset some of the funding for rescues. And because of that, ... personally I think it would be important to go back and nail all those existing boat owners, rather than just people who own new boats." MR. DOWNEY noted that his organization has received more than a couple of memorial funds as direct requests from relatives and friends of people who have died in boating accidents; he believes they come to his organization because they have no other alternative. There is no vehicle for boating safety in this state, despite the importance of boating in Alaska, particularly in rural areas with few roads. Number 1056 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON expressed hope that Mr. Downey would reference his last remarks in his written comments. He pointed out that the legislature has sometimes established funds, such as the Alaska children's trust fund, where money can be donated by corporations or individuals. That could be looked at actively, not necessarily in this bill but perhaps separately. Number 1127 PAUL DONHEFFNER, Director, Oregon State Marine Board, came forward in support of HB 108, noting that he has been director for 16 years. In addition, he was there representing the Western States Boating Administrators Association (WSBAA), an association of state agencies that do boating safety throughout the western United States, including Hawaii and the Pacific islands; he is past president of WSBAA and has served on a number of their committees. He is also current vice president of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), the counterpart for the regional organization; he said he was there representing NASBLA president Bill Engfer, the Boating Law Administrator for the state of Wisconsin, who has submitted written comments. Mr. Donheffner stated: We're here today to support this legislation. We consider it to be extremely important because it allows the state of Alaska to steer its own course for boating safety. In looking across the western states and the nation, there are a variety of different approaches that individual states have taken to achieve boating safety for their citizens, but with the common goal of promoting boating safety. And that's what brings us together as boating administrators, to share ideas, to share common knowledge and lessons learned of how to make boating safer for all of us people. As I said, no two states are alike; each has its own way of doing things. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to boating safety, and certainly the interventions that you need in Alaska may be different than what has worked in other states. But we work together to share ideas, and that's why we're here today to support ... your bill. Both WSBAA and NASBLA have gone on record, through formal resolutions, in support of the state of Alaska to assist in development of a new program. We're not here to tell you what to do, but we are available to share the lessons we've learned and our collective knowledge of boating safety, boat registration programs, safety education, and marine law enforcement efforts. Chances are good that we've been there, done that in the past, and we're willing and able to assist you in your efforts to create a new program here in Alaska. I'd like to share that state boating safety programs have proved to be very effective in reducing boating accidents and fatalities. Using funds from registration fees, the states have been able to leverage matching federal funds from the Coast Guard to produce very, very cost-effective state boating safety interventions. I'd like to just share with you our experience in Oregon. Back in the 1960s, Oregon experienced its worst year for boating fatalities in 1967, with 53 fatalities that year; we had 50,000 registered boats at the time. Now, as a result of safety interventions in the 1970s, when registrations were over 100,000, we were able to reduce the number of fatalities to [31.5] per year. By the '80s, we'd increased another 50,000 vessels, to 150,000; we dropped ... the death rate to 22.7 a year. And in the '90s, with nearly 200,000 boats, we've cut accidents even further, to an average of 15.3 deaths per year. Essentially, since 1970, we've doubled the number of boats in the state and cut our fatalities in half. I think ... that's the kind of results that you can see in the state of Alaska with an active state program that's out there promoting education, promoting other creative interventions on behalf of your citizens. Other states have had similar experiences in reducing boating accidents and providing improved services for their boaters as a result of the registration revenue that they get from taking this program over and the establishment of these programs. In 1961, the national fatality rate was 20.8 deaths per 100,000 boats; by 1975, state interventions had cut that rate to under 10 deaths per 100,000 boats; and in 1996, the rate was at an all-time low of 5.6 per 100,000. ... That is all largely attributable to the fact that we've had active state programs, sharing information, sharing knowledge and ... putting those federal dollars to work to effectively serve our citizens with safety education programs. Now, one last thing I'd like to share, because I know that Oregon's legislature is frequently skeptical of federal programs, and I'm sure that it's no different here in Alaska, however, I would like to share with you that we don't view the assumption of boat registration as a federal mandate. I think, instead, you should look at it as an opportunity to generate state revenue to support state boating programs that you can use here for Alaskans. And coupled with the matching Coast Guard grants, it's a win-win for states. It's been a win-win for everyone else, and ... we would encourage you to take advantage of that opportunity, as well. Finally, I'd like to share that in terms of the federal oversight on that program, the grant program, it's been our experience that there's very little federal meddling in how the state directs those boating safety dollars. I know in our state we decide where those federal dollars are spent, whether it's for safety, law enforcement or the like. And I think I can speak fairly for NASBLA and the other states in telling you that that is not a problem. So, receipt of those federal funds is not a problem. We're very supportive of your program. I'd be happy to answer any questions that you might have this afternoon. And as an outsider, it's been very interesting observing your process here in this hearing this afternoon. Number 1455 BARBARA SANDS, District Commodore, 17th District Coast Guard Auxiliary, came forward to testify, noting that she is also a recreational boater, having boated in Prince William Sound for ten years. She read from written comments, as follows: As a boater and the District Commodore of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, I am here to support boating safety legislation. As a member of the Twenty-first [Alaska] State Legislature, you have the unique opportunity to join the rest of the nation in giving the people of Alaska, through elected representatives, the right of self-determination in laws regulating recreational boating activities. The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary has a proud tradition and a history of 60 years of providing civilian support to the United States Coast Guard. The primary missions of the Auxiliary in support of the United States Coast Guard are in boating safety education, safety and search-and-rescue patrols, courtesy boat safety examinations and many other activities. The 17th [Coast Guard District] encompasses the entire state of Alaska. In Alaska, the Auxiliary has 370 volunteers who contributed over 30,000 hours in 1998 in service and support of recreational boating safety activities for their fellow Alaskans; that's a lot of hours. ... The legislation being consider by you will provide Alaskans the same basic recreational boating safety regulations as enjoyed by the recreational boaters in the other 49 states. By conforming to minimum federal standards, you can provide ... Alaskans with direct federal funding and improve our ability to reduce the extremely high accident and fatality rate in this state. Our waters are considered some of the most hazardous in the nation because of the extreme cold water temperature. Yet on many of our lakes and rivers, there is not even the basic requirement to have a life jacket on a vessel, let alone to wear one. Life jackets are not just safety issues in Alaska - they are survival issues. Most of our boaters that died last year in boating fatalities were not wearing life jackets. Many of those people would still be here with us today, had they been wearing one. Statistics have shown us that when other states have enacted boating safety legislation, ... they have seen significant reductions in accidents and fatalities. When the federal government enacted legislation in 1988, regulating safety standards for the commercial fishing industry, we in Alaska also saw a reduction in our commercial fishermen's fatalities. When the state enacted legislation requiring children under the age of 13 to wear life jackets when on boats, that also helped. I talked with a state trooper in the Bethel area, and by enforcing laws requiring the children to wear life jackets, he saw a drastic reduction of fatalities in his area of operations in the first year that that law had been passed. Safe boating laws, and a little enforcement, have significant results in reducing accidents and fatalities. The Alaska Boating Safety Advisory Council has prioritized the goals for Alaska and determined the highest priority as education. We in the Coast Guard Auxiliary have in place an infrastructure for taking an excellent boating safety program to the people who need it most - the boaters. Too often, fishermen and hunters fail to remember that they, too, are boaters. A combination of state funds and federal grants from the Coast Guard will provide resources now not available, to develop and maintain a viable program that, in our opinion, will successfully reduce fatalities, injuries and property damage. We, as Alaskans and as a group of volunteers, are passionately dedicated to boating safety. We enthusiastically support the boating legislation that will help to decrease our drowning rate and at least offer the opportunity to bring it in line with other states. We look forward to partnering with the state of Alaska and with other organization that are involved in recreational boating safety to save lives in our state. Number 1689 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO asked whether they are currently involved with education within the various Alaska communities. MS. SANDS replied, "Yes, we are." REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO noted that there are four lakes in his district, in Anchorage. Part of the problem he sees is communicating with fire departments about access. He asked, "Are you doing anything, or have you heard of anything like that, working with fire departments and neighbors to allow for access in case of emergencies?" MS. SANDS answered, "No, I haven't, but it's something that we can address to our members ... around the state, and see if they can work with the other agencies." Number 1740 MARK JOHNSON, Chief, Community Health and Emergency Medical Services, Division of Public Health, Department or Health and Social Services, came forward. He told members, "We consider this to be a public health issue, and we support this legislation." CHAIR MASEK asked whether anyone else wished to testify; Sue Hargis from the Coast Guard said she would submit written testimony and offered to answer any questions. Number 1767 REPRESENTATIVE HALCRO made a motion to move the CS for HB 108 [version 1-LS0445\M, Ford, 3/26/99] out of committee with individual recommendations and the attached positive fiscal note(s). He thanked the sponsor for this good piece of legislation. CHAIR MASEK asked whether there was any objection. Hearing none, she announced that CSHB 108(TRA) was moved out of the House Transportation Standing Committee. She noted that it would be further heard in the House Judiciary Standing Committee and the House Finance Standing Committee. CHAIR MASEK adjourned the meeting at 3:10 p.m. but brought the meeting back to order, as Mr. Morgheim spoke up via teleconference. MR. MORGHEIM said his comments had nothing to do with HB 108, but he wanted to point out that Alaska is one of the very few states that lacks boat titling. He suggested that the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) be asked whether there is a way for boat titling to be enacted, which he suggested would help the banking community, the dealers and the industry. CHAIR MASEK noted that Juanita Hensley from the DMV was present. Number 1878 JUANITA HENSLEY, Administrator, Director's Office, Division of Motor Vehicles, Department of Administration, responded, "With a motor vehicle, you get a manufacturer's certificate of origin at the time that the vehicle is manufactured. The manufacturing company issues what they call an 'MSO' or 'MCO,' and that is the original quasi-title to that vehicle. Then it's turned over to the states, and we issue a state title that goes along with that vehicle until you've paid the lien off or until you sell it and then it goes to another person." She said she doesn't know whether boat manufacturers have that type of documentation, a certificate of origin; if so, perhaps the DMV could look at that down the road. Number 1926 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked that Mr. Morgheim contact his office regarding the perceived needs, as that may be something they could address in another piece of legislation, if there is a good public purpose. ADJOURNMENT There being no further business before the committee, the House Transportation Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 3:15 p.m.