Legislature(1999 - 2000)
01/18/2000 01:04 PM TRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE TRANSPORTATION STANDING COMMITTEE January 18, 2000 1:04 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Andrew Halcro, Chairman Representative Bill Hudson Representative John Cowdery Representative Albert Kookesh Representative Vic Kohring MEMBERS ABSENT Representative Beverly Masek Representative Allen Kemplen COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE BILL NO. 266 "An Act renaming the Palmer-Wasilla Highway as the James Arland Rowland, Jr., Memorial Highway." - MOVED CSHB 266(TRA) OUT OF COMMITTEE HOUSE BILL NO. 8 "An Act naming the pedestrian underpass at Montana Creek on the Parks Highway as Shelby's Way." - MOVED HB 8 OUT OF COMMITTEE PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 266 SHORT TITLE: NAMING ROWLAND MEMORIAL HIGHWAY Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 1/10/00 1889 (H) PREFILE RELEASED 12/30/99 1/10/00 1889 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS 1/10/00 1889 (H) TRA 1/10/00 1889 (H) REFERRED TO TRANSPORTATION 1/18/00 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 BILL: HB 8 SHORT TITLE: NAMING SHELBY'S WAY PEDESTRIAN UNDERPASS Jrn-Date Jrn-Page Action 1/19/99 19 (H) PREFILE RELEASED 1/8/99 1/19/99 19 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 1/19/99 19 (H) TRA 1/26/99 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 1/26/99 (H) BILL POSTPONED TO A CALL OF THE CHAIR 1/26/99 (H) MINUTE(TRA) 1/18/00 (H) TRA AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 17 WITNESS REGISTER STEPHANIE DENNIS BROWN PO Box 1536 Palmer, Alaska 99645 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 266. WANDA ROWLAND, Mother of James Arland Rowland, Jr. HC 02 Box 7870 Palmer, Alaska 99645 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 266. JAMES ROWLAND, SR., Father of James Arland Rowland, Jr. HC 02 Box 7870 Palmer, Alaska 99645 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 266. BOYD J. BROWNFIELD, Deputy Commissioner Department of Transportation & Public Facilities 3132 Channel Drive Juneau, Alaska 99801-7898 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 266 and HB 8, expressing concerns relating to the long-range fiscal impact of renaming highways and state facilities. BRENDA POTTER, Mother of Shelby Larsen PO Box 872263 Wasilla, Alaska 99687-2263 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of HB 8. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 00-1, SIDE A Number 0001 CHAIRMAN ANDREW HALCRO called the House Transportation Standing Committee meeting to order at 1:04 p.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Halcro, Hudson, Kookesh and Kohring. Representative Cowdery arrived as the meeting was in progress. HB 266 - NAMING ROWLAND MEMORIAL HIGHWAY CHAIRMAN HALCRO announced the first order of business as House Bill 266, "An Act renaming the Palmer-Wasilla Highway as the James Arland Rowland, Jr., Memorial Highway." Number 0057 REPRESENTATIVE VIC KOHRING, sponsor of HB 266, explained that the bill would rename the Palmer-Wasilla Highway in honor of a police officer who was shot to death in the line of duty - James Arland Rowland, Jr. At present, there is a small memorial in his honor near the site of the incident. Representative Kohring explained that Mr. Rowland, Jr. was shot to death while proceeding to investigate a suspicious vehicle. The death was a shock to the Mat-Su Valley and was a tremendous loss. Mr. Rowland, Jr. grew up in the valley; his parents still call Palmer home. Number 0237 STEPHANIE DENNIS BROWN testified via teleconference from Mat-Su in support of HB 266. Those who knew and loved Mr. Rowland, Jr. do not need a physical memorial to remember him; he will be alive in their memories forever. The community, however, needs this memorial to remind its members that he was a husband, son, father and friend who was admired and appreciated. The community needs this memorial so that those who "stand in the face of danger" aren't taken for granted. Number 0318 WANDA ROWLAND, Mother of James Arland Rowland, Jr., testified via teleconference from Mat-Su in support of HB 266. She seconded the testimony of Stephanie Dennis Brown, and stated the following: We, as his family, don't need this. We remember every single time that we wake up even -- we don't even have to go to the area to remember that our son was killed on that spot. But for the officers, the EMT [emergency medical technician] workers, (indisc.), everybody in the whole area would like this to remember Jim, to honor him and each one of our police officers. I think, if it is named this, that people that pass by see it will remind them, 'Hey, let's honor our police officers. They're out there giving their -- laying their lives on the line everyday, giving their best to our nation, to our community rather. And, I think, it would be a high honor to our police officers. And they're the ones that suggested this, not my husband and I or anyone in our family, it's the police officers themselves that asked for this. And I thank you for your time and all your energy that you put forth for this bill. Number 0410 JAMES ROWLAND, SR., Father of James Arland Rowland, Jr., testified via teleconference from Mat-Su in support of HB 266. He stated the following: We are in favor of this not just for ourselves, but especially for the community. We've heard so much, even from kids in (Indisc.) Elementary School that were touched by his life as he would go and demonstrate to them that policemen aren't bad, that policemen are there to help. And the children even put up a memorial sign. They signed a little flag that was put up there. There's been others that have done the same thing. He was doing all he could. We had talked to him before about -- you realize this job could cost you your life and he said, 'I know, but I'm doing what I can for my community.' He loved Palmer. He was raised around Palmer and he knew a lot of people there. And, I think if we can do this... We were actually the one that helped to erect his memorials that are there now, but we need something more of a permanent -- something that people can remember that this man gave his life to protect their community. And, we'll probably never know exactly what happened and we'll probably never know the thoughts and ideas behind this man and what he had in mind for our community with what weapons and arsenal we've found that he had. He had some big things in mind for our community and it was not good. There could have been many, many deaths instead of just one. Jim gave his life to protect our community and if we can do anything to help people to realize that he did all he could and we need to do all we can. He left some pretty big shoes to fill and we'd like to make this an honorable way if we can do anything we can to fill his shoes, not only in police work but in supporting the community and supporting the area, the valley, the Mat-Su Valley, and the neighboring communities that -- if we can do anything to help us to remember that someday we might be the one who will be called on to give our life to support and to help and protect somebody that we don't even know - friends and relatives or whoever it may be. Thank you. Number 0618 BOYD J. BROWNFIELD, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Transportation & Public Facilities [DOT/PF], came before the committee to present the department's position. The department clearly supports and recognizes the legislature's prerogative to name and rename public facilities. The department supports HB 266; however, it is concerned that there isn't a policy for naming highways and other facilities. He cited about 70 to 80 people annually are lost on the highways throughout the state. Who deserves it? Who doesn't deserve it? What sort of criteria should be used? It seems that there should be some sort of policy to address these types of questions. In addition, the renaming of a highway takes away the traditional reason for naming that particular highway, especially when its name connects two different communities. In addition, it is also important to look at the consequences of changing the postal addresses as the result of a renaming. Mr. Brownfield further explained that the department has submitted a zero fiscal note. It costs less than $1,000 to put up two signs; however, there should be some consideration for the fiscal responsibility to take care of these signs as they mount up. Number 0914 REPRESENTATIVE BILL HUDSON stated, in response to Mr. Brownfield's testimony, that the policy is this type of process - when a good purpose comes about. He noted that a few years ago the legislature named a number of highways and bridges after Alaskan veterans. He also stated that the combined fiscal note is something that perhaps the legislature would have to put money into at some point down the line. Number 1008 REPRESENTATIVE JOHN COWDERY stated that his post office address has changed from Anchorage to Spenard and back to Anchorage after unification, but he has never physically moved. He doesn't believe that the inconvenience of changing one's address as the result of the renaming of a highway is significant enough not to support this. Number 1057 CHAIRMAN HALCRO stated this is the second time in less than a year that the legislature has entertained something like this. It is his hope and desire that the legislature would never have to name a highway or public facility after a fallen law officer ever again, but this is a fitting tribute; it shows the community that the legislature respects the services provided by the individuals in public safety. He understands the department's concern in regards to the maintenance of signs, but overall the cost is negligible and worth absorbing. Number 1121 REPRESENTATIVE ALBERT KOOKESH asked: At what point should there be a fiscal note? Where is the line between having a fiscal note and not having a fiscal note? It adds up after a while. It doesn't seem fair to the public to show a zero fiscal note. If it costs $1,000 then there should be a fiscal note, unless there is a cutoff. He's not objecting to the bill or the merits of the bill, but he believes there ought to be a clear policy on when there should or should not be a fiscal note. Number 1169 MR. BROWNFIELD stated the cost of the two signs will be less than $1,000; but over a period of time the department will find itself having to replace them and having to include sufficient monies in its budget for such. At the present time, however, the department will put the signs up with no fiscal note, but there will be a long-range [fiscal] impact that at some point in time will have to be addressed. Number 1225 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY wondered whether there is any sign that doesn't have to be replaced yearly because of bullet holes. Isn't it part of the cost of operations for the department? He specifically asked Mr. Brownfield whether the department has a sign shop or whether the department uses the private sector to make such signs. MR. BROWNFIELD replied the department has a sign shop, and uses a private contractor to build some of its signs. In further response, the department has to replace a lot of signs with bullet holes on an annual basis. He said the more signs, the more bullet holes, the more signs that have to be replaced, which is the long-range [fiscal] impact to the department. Number 1297 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON stated, in agreement with Representative Cowdery, that there is an ongoing expense to replace signs, but at some point there might have to be a sub-allocation to meet that expense. He noted, as manager of the Alaska Marine Highway System, there was ongoing money for signs for when a vessel changed its name, which is probably the same for DOT/PF. Number 1344 CHAIRMAN HALCRO closed the meeting to public testimony. Number 1350 REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING asked Mr. Brownfield whether it would be more appropriate to rename or coname the highway. He has an amendment to coname it so that those who have businesses and live along the highway wouldn't have to change their address and incur any expense(s). MR. BROWNFIELD replied the department has in the past left an old name up and put a new name up; the department would not object to the amendment. Number 1457 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY made a motion to adopt Amendment 1. There being no objection, it was so ordered. The amendment reads as follows: Page 1, line 1: Delete "renaming the Palmer-Wasilla Highway as" Insert "designating" Page 1, line 6: Delete "renamed" Insert "concurrently designated as" Number 1469 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON made a motion to move HB 266, as amended, out of committee with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal note(s); he asked unanimous consent. There being no objection, CSHB 266(TRA) so moved from the House Transportation Standing Committee. HB 8 - NAMING SHELBY'S WAY PEDESTRIAN UNDERPASS CHAIRMAN HALCRO announced the next order of business as House Bill 8, "An Act naming the pedestrian underpass at Montana Creek on the Parks Highway as Shelby's Way." Number 1498 CHAIRMAN HALCRO called for a brief at-ease at 1:25 p.m. and called the meeting back to order at 1:30 p.m. Number 1520 REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING, sponsor of HB 8, noted the bill was drafted last year and tabled by the chairman of the House Transportation Committee because of a pending lawsuit. At this point, however, the lawsuit has been resolved. REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING explained that the bill would name an underpass that will be constructed on the Parks Highway as "Shelby's Way." He explained Shelby passed away in an accident while camping and fishing with her family at Montana Creek, the site of the underpass. It is sad that an accident such as Shelby's was needed to get an underpass. Nevertheless, he credited DOT/PF for its immediate recognition of the need for the underpass and announced that construction will begin this summer. Representative Kohring further stated that, at the conclusion of the construction, there will be a community-wide picnic to celebrate Shelby's life and to dedicate the underpass in her honor. The bill is the official vehicle for that to happen. Number 1675 BOYD J. BROWNFIELD, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Transportation & Public Facilities [DOT/PF], came before the committee to present the department's position. He stated that the department supports HB 8 and noted that his comments on HB 266 apply to this bill as well. Number 1700 BRENDA POTTER, Mother of Shelby Larsen, testified via teleconference from Mat-Su. She stated the following: Shelby was a beautiful, little five year old who touched the lives of everyone she met. Truly God's little gift. Because of the potential danger in these bridge areas and in memory of my little girl, I launched a small crusade to get safety in these areas enhanced for us and our loved ones. This bridge work has been started and will continue this year. This all started with the death of one little girl, Shelby. I believe it is only right, since she took her last breath on that bridge and the work that we're getting done, that it bears her name - Shelby's Way. Thank you. Number 1742 CHAIRMAN HALCRO closed the meeting to public testimony. Number 1747 REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON stated the ultimate tribute to Shelby is the fact that there will be a tunnel [underpass] constructed. However, he wonders what the policy should be in these types of incidents. He knows of two very fine individuals who were killed on a highway in Juneau. He can understand designating a stretch of a highway to a state trooper to credit all other troopers or all veterans who have served the state, but he is hesitant to move quickly towards this kind of a designation. He doesn't mean any disrespect; he just doesn't want to establish a new pattern, whereby anybody could come before the legislature to designate a stretch of a highway to someone who has lost his/her life. Number 1852 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY stated it seems that DOT/PF chose to construct an underpass for future safety reasons. There is a lot of activity at that bridge, especially when the salmon are running in the summer. The bill simply names the underpass. Number 1900 CHAIRMAN HALCRO stated he finds himself agreeing with Representative Hudson, but for a different reason. Last year, DOT/PF and the Department of Law took issue with the danger, as this was the first time for a fatality or pedestrian accident. But it goes a step beyond that. In this case, a five-year-old girl was left unsupervised and she ran into the middle of the street, yet with all the activity on the bridge it was the first time in 20 years somebody was killed, and unfortunately, very unfortunately, it was a five-year-old little girl. He will support the bill, but he is concerned about the future implications for the state. He reiterated that this is different than naming a corridor of a highway after a slain officer in the line of duty; this is surrounded by litigation in which the state had to settle on who was liable. Number 2042 REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY made a motion to move HB 8 out of committee with individual recommendations and attached zero fiscal note(s); he asked unanimous consent. There being no objection, HB 8 so moved from the House Transportation Standing Committee. Number 2056 ADJOURNMENT There being no further business before the committee, Chairman Halcro adjourned the House Transportation Standing Committee meeting at 1:47 p.m.