Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

03/05/2019 01:00 PM TRANSPORTATION

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Audio Topic
01:32:50 PM Start
01:33:51 PM Confirmation Hearing(s):|| Board of Marine Pilots
01:42:32 PM Commissioner, Department of Transportation
02:41:36 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Consideration of Governor's Appointees: TELECONFERENCED
- Board of Marine Pilots
-- Public Testimony --
- Commissioner Designee John MacKinnon, Dept. of
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            HOUSE TRANSPORTATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                         March 5, 2019                                                                                          
                           1:32 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Louise Stutes, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Adam Wool, Co-Chair                                                                                              
Representative Matt Claman                                                                                                      
Representative Harriet Drummond                                                                                                 
Representative Dave Talerico                                                                                                    
Representative Sara Rasmussen                                                                                                   
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Andi Story                                                                                                       
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
CONFIRMATION HEARING(S):                                                                                                        
Board of Marine Pilots                                                                                                        
     Edward Sinclair - Juneau                                                                                                   
     - CONFIRMATION(S) ADVANCED                                                                                                 
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities                                                                              
     John MacKinnon  Juneau                                                                                                     
     - CONFIRMATION(S) ADVANCED                                                                                                 
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
EDWARD SINCLAIR, Appointee                                                                                                      
Board of Marine Pilots                                                                                                          
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified and answered questions during his                                                               
confirmation hearing.                                                                                                           
JOHN MACKINNON, Commissioner Designee                                                                                           
Department of Transportation & Public Facilities                                                                                
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified and answered questions during his                                                               
confirmation hearing.                                                                                                           
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:32:50 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR LOUISE  STUTES called the House  Transportation Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting  to  order  at   1:32  p.m.    Representatives                                                               
Talerico, Claman, Drummond, Wool, and  Stutes were present at the                                                               
call to order.   Representative Rasmussen arrived  as the meeting                                                               
was in progress.                                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
^CONFIRMATION HEARING(S):                                                                                                       
^Board of Marine Pilots                                                                                                         
                    CONFIRMATION HEARING(S):                                                                                
                     Board of Marine Pilots                                                                                 
1:33:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STUTES announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be the  consideration of  Edward Sinclair,  Governor's Appointee,                                                               
Board of Marine Pilots.                                                                                                         
1:34:11 PM                                                                                                                    
EDWARD  SINCLAIR, Appointee,  Board  of  Marine Pilots,  provided                                                               
testimony to his appointment to the  Board of Marine Pilots.  Mr.                                                               
Sinclair  relayed his  background as  a pilot  and member  of the                                                               
Coast Guard for  20 years, many spent  in Alaska.  He  has been a                                                               
member  of  the Southeast  Alaska  Pilot's  Association Board  of                                                               
Directors, which he participated in  as a representative and as a                                                               
fellow pilot.   He stated that  he believes serving on  the board                                                               
would be an  opportunity to expand his  involvement in regulatory                                                               
aspects  of marine  pilotage in  Alaska.   He  opined that  state                                                               
pilotage  continues  to  need  to be  recognized  out  of  public                                                               
interest  in respect  to safety,  protection of  the environment,                                                               
and infrastructure.   He  also stated  that it  is a  system that                                                               
facilitates commerce,  as pilots must negotiate  shipping company                                                               
schedules  and  pressures  to  "push the  risk  envelope."    Mr.                                                               
Sinclair stated that pilots' local  area expertise mitigates risk                                                               
and  contributes to  the success  of the  state, a  philosophy he                                                               
hopes to bring to the Board of Marine Pilots.                                                                                   
1:35:44 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR WOOL asked  if there are any  specific regulatory issues                                                               
that Mr. Sinclair would give attention to while on the Board.                                                                   
1:36:00 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  SINCLAIR discussed  his interest  in and  concern about  the                                                               
introduction of  "mega" cruise ships  to Alaska.  He  stated that                                                               
Southeast  pilots,  in  conjunction with  pilots  throughout  the                                                               
state,  have been  proactive in  identifying  the ships'  special                                                               
needs and the risks that they  pose to the waterways.  The pilots                                                               
have conducted studies and evaluated  the ships over the last two                                                               
years.   Mr. Sinclair suggested  that the Board of  Marine Pilots                                                               
could have a role in the  regulatory aspects of the cruise ships                                                                
use of waterways.                                                                                                               
1:36:56 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  described his  impression that  the Marine                                                               
Pilots  Association  "runs  pretty   well"  and  is  a  generally                                                               
uncontroversial group.   Representative Claman asked  if that was                                                               
a fair description.                                                                                                             
1:37:22 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SINCLAIR agreed with Representative  Claman   assessment.  He                                                               
noted that a problem for  Southeast and potentially other regions                                                               
is attracting strong  candidates.  Mr. Sinclair  stated that this                                                               
year's training program  has quite a few strong  applicants.  Mr.                                                               
Sinclair noted that other regions  often had difficulty eliciting                                                               
strong  candidates;  he  believes  that  this  problem  has  been                                                               
resolved due to increased interest in the occupation.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN asked  if, in  addition to  this position,                                                               
Mr. Sinclair is actively working as a marine pilot.                                                                             
MR.  SINCLAIR stated  that  yes,  he intends  to  stay an  active                                                               
pilot.  He  described the differing work load  between the winter                                                               
and summer  season.  The  winter work  load is voluntary  and on-                                                               
call, while the majority of work occurs in the summer.                                                                          
1:38:44 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STUTES asked for clarification  on the type of licensing                                                               
required to be a marine pilot.                                                                                                  
1:38:53 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SINCLAIR  stated that a marine  pilot must have a  U.S. Coast                                                               
Guard  (USCG)  mariner's  license;  the  regulations  are  varied                                                               
depending on sea time.  He  stated that a marine pilot then works                                                               
to achieve his/her federal pilotage,  which requires the study of                                                               
the  waterways and   familiarization trips.    Mr.  Sinclair said                                                               
that an applicant must then,  under the observation of USCG, draw                                                               
the charts  from memory  and describe  the waterways  and typical                                                               
challenges encountered;  Southeast Alaska has about  30 waterways                                                               
that must  be drawn.   After  that, an  applicant must  begin the                                                               
state   training  process   where   he/she   must  complete   100                                                               
"evolutions,"  later   referred  to  as  maneuvers.     Next,  an                                                               
applicant must take the state  local knowledge exam, administered                                                               
by  the   Board  of  Marine   Pilots.    After   successful  exam                                                               
completion, a  pilot gets his/her  initial license.  As  more sea                                                               
time is accrued each subsequent  year, pilots can work towards an                                                               
unlimited license from the state.                                                                                               
1:40:11 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STUTES  asked if a  pilot's licensure is limited  to the                                                               
specific area for which he/she is tested.                                                                                       
MR.  SINCLAIR   confirmed  Co-Chair  Stutes'   understanding  and                                                               
elucidated upon  a pilot's  ability to  work multiple  regions at                                                               
one time.                                                                                                                       
CO-CHAIR STUTES asked Mr. Sinclair for further explanation.                                                                     
MR. SINCLAIR stated that he  was unsure why there are limitations                                                               
to  region specific  licensure.   He suggested  that it  could be                                                               
intended to ensure a pilot is specialized in a specific area.                                                                   
1:40:59 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR WOOL  asked about  the difficulty of  the process  for a                                                               
pilot to change regions.                                                                                                        
1:41:20 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. SINCLAIR  stated that there is  a learning curve.   There are                                                               
provisions in  training requirements  that account for  the prior                                                               
experience  that these  pilots have.    They are  required to  go                                                               
through  the  first  steps of  federal  pilotage,  including  the                                                               
drawing of charts.                                                                                                              
1:42:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR   STUTES   opened    public   testimony.      After                                                                    
ascertaining that no one wished to testify, she closed                                                                          
public testimony.                                                                                                               
The  confirmation  of Edward  Sinclair  to  the Board  of  Marine                                                               
Pilots was advanced to the joint  session of the House and Senate                                                               
for consideration.   Although not  stated on the  record, signing                                                               
the reports  regarding appointments to boards  and commissions in                                                               
no way  reflects individual members'  approval or  disapproval of                                                               
the appointees, and that the  nominations are merely forwarded to                                                               
the full legislature for confirmation or rejection.                                                                             
^Commissioner, Department of Transportation                                                                                     
           Department of Transportation Commissioner                                                                        
1:42:54 PM                                                                                                                    
1:42:32 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN    MACKINNON,   Commissioner    Designee,   Department    of                                                               
Transportation   &  Public   Facilities   (DOTPF),  relayed   his                                                               
personal,   professional,   and    public   service   background.                                                               
Commissioner MacKinnon  noted that  in 2003  he was  appointed by                                                               
Governor  Frank Murkowski  to the  Deputy  Commissioner of  DOTPF                                                               
position, which  he served in until  2008.  He stated  that after                                                               
this position,  he took  a position  with the  Associated General                                                               
Contractors of  Alaska (AGC).  Commissioner  MacKinnon shared his                                                               
prior  experience advocating  for  various industries,  involving                                                               
the   rules  and   regulations  of   infrastructure  development.                                                               
Commissioner MacKinnon  shared his personal philosophy  about the                                                               
role  of governmental  oversight  and  management, summarized  as                                                               
"how  to get  the yes.    He  described the  details of  road and                                                               
infrastructure management.   He  also provided metrics  on roads,                                                               
personnel,  airports, number  of  operating  ferries, et  cetera,                                                               
that differentiate Alaska from other states.                                                                                    
1:48:50 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STUTES asked  if the  5,600 miles  of roads  in Alaska,                                                               
mentioned by  Commissioner MacKinnon  in his  testimony, included                                                               
the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS).                                                                                        
1:48:59 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MACKINNON  stated  that no,  that  number  included                                                               
roads only  located on land.   He followed by stating  that there                                                               
are approximately 3,300 miles of ferry routes.                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR STUTES  asked if  the number  of buildings  mentioned in                                                               
Commissioner MacKinnon's statement included ferry terminals.                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON responded affirmatively.                                                                                 
1:49:34 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN asked if  Commissioner MacKinnon would have                                                               
difficulty  separating his  prior  role as  an  advocate for  the                                                               
construction industry  from his hypothetical role  as an advocate                                                               
for DOTPF.                                                                                                                      
1:50:07 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON stated  that he did not think so.   In his                                                               
prior  experience, upon  joining AGC,  he didn't  have difficulty                                                               
transitioning roles.  He stated  that his priority is to expedite                                                               
project completion, which is  facilitated by strong relationships                                                               
between the builders and management on the DOTPF side.                                                                          
1:52:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR   STUTES  asked   if  Commissioner   MacKinnon  supports                                                               
Governor Dunleavy's proposed cuts to AMHS.                                                                                      
1:52:19 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON stated that he  works for the governor and                                                               
that this  budget has been  prepared by the Office  of Management                                                               
and  Budget  (OMB).    He   relayed  that  he  would  manage  the                                                               
department  with  the  resources allocated  by  the  legislature.                                                               
Commissioner MacKinnon stated  that he does not  agree with every                                                               
administration's  decisions,   but  that   he  does   agree  with                                                               
"what...[his] employer's doing."                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STUTES  asked if Commissioner MacKinnon  has visited the                                                               
AMHS  headquarters and,  in  conversation, asked  if  he had  the                                                               
intent to visit.                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  MACKINNON said  that no,  he has  not visited.   He                                                               
then relayed that  he planned to visit at some  point in the next                                                               
two weeks.                                                                                                                      
1:53:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  WOOL asked  if, compared  to his  previous tenure  with                                                               
DOTPF,  there  were  any new  challenges  Commissioner  MacKinnon                                                               
could foresee.                                                                                                                  
1:53:33 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON  stated that  the challenges  are similar,                                                               
with a  few new elements.   He noted that  there is now  a larger                                                               
regulatory  climate and  that, while  there's increased  funding,                                                               
federal   requirements  introduce   constraints.     Commissioner                                                               
MacKinnon said he finds high  turnover bothersome.  He attributes                                                               
it   to  demographics,   the   challenge   of  hiring   qualified                                                               
technicians, greater competition, and  higher compensation in the                                                               
private sector.                                                                                                                 
CO-CHAIR  WOOL  asked  Commissioner   McKinnon  if  he  sees  any                                                               
potential issues  with defined benefits or  defined contributions                                                               
with respect to employees holding different tiers.                                                                              
COMMISSIONER  MACKINNON opined  that it  could be  an issue.   He                                                               
described how,  while working  at AGC  he became  a trustee  on a                                                               
labor  union pension  and health  trust.   The  group turned  the                                                               
defined  benefit  plan  into  a   hybrid  plan,  described  as  a                                                               
partially   defined   benefit/partially   defined   contribution.                                                               
Commissioner  MacKinnon  stated  that  it  is  not  an  either/or                                                               
decision, but  that DOTPF  may be  able to get  the best  of both                                                               
options without creating risk.                                                                                                  
1:56:30 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STUTES stated  that the  residency requirement  for the                                                               
Cost of  Living Adjustment (COLA) is  set in statute.   She asked                                                               
Commissioner MacKinnon if  he was aware that  the department uses                                                               
an individual's  submission of an  application for  the permanent                                                               
fund dividend (PFD)  as criteria for receipt of  COLA, as opposed                                                               
to residency requirements stated in statute.                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON  stated that he  was not aware  that DOTPF                                                               
was  using  submission  of  the   PFD  application  to  determine                                                               
eligibility for COLA.                                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR  STUTES  stated that  it  is  distressing to  those  who                                                               
choose not to  apply to the PFD and are  subsequently denied COLA                                                               
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON concurred.                                                                                               
1:57:54 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN relayed  a constituent  concern about  the                                                               
lack of  lighting on Jewel  Lake Road  and concern that  DOTPF is                                                               
not going to install additional  lighting.  Representative Claman                                                               
asked if  DOTPF was  planning to  pay for  that lighting  and, if                                                               
not, why not.                                                                                                                   
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON stated that,  due to classification of the                                                               
road,  DOTPF did  not  install continuous  lighting  when it  was                                                               
rebuilt but  installed lighting at accident  prone intersections.                                                               
Commissioner MacKinnon  stated that DOTPF offered  to collaborate                                                               
with   the  municipality   and   "roughen   the  electrical    to                                                               
accommodate  the  installation  of  lighting  at  a  later  date.                                                               
Commissioner MacKinnon stated  that to the best  of his knowledge                                                               
an agreement had not been maintained.                                                                                           
2:00:04 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CLAMAN asked  if  it  was a  matter  of state  or                                                               
federal law  that would  require an  agreement upon  which entity                                                               
would  be responsible  for payment.   Representative  Claman also                                                               
asked if  it could be  a matter of  a funding allocation  made by                                                               
the Legislature.                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON stated  that it's not a matter  of law but                                                               
a  matter   of  a  mutual  agreement.     Commissioner  MacKinnon                                                               
suggested  adding  it  to the  Anchorage  municipality's  revenue                                                               
sharing agreement.   He stated that  DOTPF does not want  to take                                                               
on any greater operating expense than necessary.                                                                                
2:01:46 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  disclosed that she worked  for AGC while                                                               
Commissioner    MacKinnon    was    the    executive    director.                                                               
Representative  Drummond  asked  Commissioner MacKinnon  what  he                                                               
considered to be  DOTPF's highest priority project  over the next                                                               
four years.                                                                                                                     
2:02:25 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON  answered that priorities change  based on                                                               
circumstances.  He referenced a  project on the Kenai Peninsula -                                                               
the  Cooper Landing  Bypass -  which was  "on the  slow roll  for                                                               
years"  and had  the  longest environmental  impact statement  in                                                               
history.  Commissioner MacKinnon stated  that, about a month ago,                                                               
DOTPF put a  special project delivery team focus  on the project,                                                               
which  reduced the  construction  schedule  by six  years.     He                                                               
stated that the  project wasn't a priority two years  ago, but it                                                               
is now.   Circumstances have  changed, such  as rock fall  on the                                                               
Seward Highway.  The department  has responded and "put [this] in                                                               
the  fast  lane," reallocating  funds  to  do so.    Commissioner                                                               
MacKinnon stated  that priorities change depending  on events and                                                               
on politics.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND asked  if the  Cooper Landing  Bypass is                                                               
scheduled for construction in the future.                                                                                       
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON said that there  is a development plan for                                                               
the Cooper Landing  Bypass.  There is  a right-of-way acquisition                                                               
from the  U.S. Forest Service  (USFS) and from Fish  and Wildlife                                                               
Service.   Commissioner  MacKinnon  noted, in  reference to  "the                                                               
politics in D.C.," it is important  to come to agreement with the                                                               
previously mentioned agencies in the next 21 months.                                                                            
2:06:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STUTES asked  about  the  role of  Reuben  Yost in  the                                                               
2:06:47 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MACKINNON answered  that  Reuben Yost  is a  former                                                               
DOTPF  Deputy Commissioner.   He  stated that  Mr. Yost  is under                                                               
contract as a special projects  manager and to provide advice for                                                               
AMHS and labor contracts.                                                                                                       
CO-CHAIR STUTES offered her understanding  that Mr. Yost had been                                                               
given a state office.   She asked if that was  correct and if Mr.                                                               
Yost is giving direction to AMHS.                                                                                               
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON  stated that any direction  Mr. Yost gives                                                               
to  AMHS  goes through  himself  or  through Deputy  Commissioner                                                               
Siroky.   In follow  up, Commissioner  MacKinnon stated  that Mr.                                                               
Yost's  position includes  contract negotiation  and that  he and                                                               
Mr. Yost meet on a regular basis.                                                                                               
2:08:00 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RASMUSSEN  revisited the Jewel Lake  Road lighting                                                               
issue previously  addressed by Representative Claman.   She noted                                                               
that  other  roads might  have  similar  lighting situations  and                                                               
asked if those roads also  have elementary schools and pedestrian                                                               
traffic  of  children.   Representative  Rasmussen  also  brought                                                               
forward a  constituent concern  about the  widening of  the road,                                                               
noting  that people  often  travel at  higher  speeds on  widened                                                               
roads.    She  asked  if  there  is a  way  to  be  proactive  in                                                               
ameliorating these concerns.                                                                                                    
2:09:23 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MACKINNON answered  that the  public input  process                                                               
would  allow  for  concerns  and feedback  to  guide  the  design                                                               
process.   The department assists  with the design  and considers                                                               
traffic counts  and various variables when  determining the speed                                                               
limit.  Commissioner MacKinnon agreed  that Jewel Lake is a wider                                                               
road to  accommodate cars  pulling over and  snow pile-up  in the                                                               
winter, but  he said he  "doesn't know what to  do geometry-wise                                                                
to change driver behavior.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  RASMUSSEN asked  if the  department may  consider                                                               
installing speed bumps  in the intersection closer  to the school                                                               
to increase safety.                                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER  MACKINNON  replied that  speed  bumps  could be  an                                                               
option.  He qualified that  by stating that once installed, speed                                                               
bumps are  difficult to remove.   He  also stated that  for every                                                               
single person that wants them there are five people that do not.                                                                
2:11:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STUTES  stated that  the  proposed  Juneau access  road                                                               
would  link  to  property  in which  Commissioner  MacKinnon  has                                                               
ownership.   The proposed  road would  raise the  property value,                                                               
lower  transportation  costs,  and   extend  mining  activity  on                                                               
Commissioner MacKinnon's  property.  Co-Chair Stutes  stated that                                                               
the lease with Kensington mine  explicitly provides for royalties                                                               
above  the minimum  payment  based  on a  percentage  of the  net                                                               
returns from extractions on his  property.  Co-Chair Stutes asked                                                               
how,  after  taking  the  necessary   steps  to  recuse  himself,                                                               
Commissioner MacKinnon would avoid a conflict of interest.                                                                      
2:12:05 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MACKINNON responded  that he  would recuse  himself                                                               
from  the  project and  the  decision-making  process behind  the                                                               
project or  another project that  could impact  the profitability                                                               
of the Kensington  mine.  Commissioner MacKinnon  relayed that he                                                               
has a  10 percent  stake in  the company  that owns  the property                                                               
where the  mine was built  and that  any royalties from  the mine                                                               
are not based on net profit, but on a gross return.                                                                             
2:13:04 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO stated  that while Commissioner MacKinnon                                                               
was  the deputy  commissioner,  he  took a  very  active role  in                                                               
engaging  with   the  community   on  the   State  Transportation                                                               
Improvement Plan.    Representative  Talerico stated that  in the                                                               
last few years,  the input of the local communities  has not been                                                               
as  welcome  as  it  had  been  during  Commissioner  MacKinnon's                                                               
tenure.   Representative Talerico asked  if it would  be possible                                                               
to return to the level of community engagement of the mid-2000s.                                                                
2:14:10 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON  stated that he  was not aware  that there                                                               
had been less community involvement.   He stated that he hoped to                                                               
increase involvement going forward.   He related that he takes an                                                               
active  role  but  does  delegate   some  responsibility  to  his                                                               
regional  directors,  on  whom  he  relies to  keep  a  pulse  on                                                               
community feedback.                                                                                                             
2:16:02 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN asked  whether Commissioner MacKinnon would                                                               
be able to serve in his  role and manage AMHS consistent with the                                                               
legislature's appropriation, if the  legislature were to allocate                                                               
the same  amount of  funding to  AMHS as it  did for  the current                                                               
fiscal year.                                                                                                                    
2:16:47 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MACKINNON confirmed  that he  would and  added that                                                               
the entity needed greater authority.    He stated that AMHS needs                                                               
to operate  with a "business  mindset."  He  suggested increasing                                                               
fares slowly over time and  the addition of dynamic pricing, i.e.                                                               
increasing prices of ferry tickets at times of higher demand.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN  mentioned proposals to establish  a marine                                                               
highway fund,  which would  create a  "mini permanent  fund" with                                                               
the intent  of supporting AMHS.   Representative Claman  asked if                                                               
Commissioner MacKinnon was familiar  with those proposals and, if                                                               
so,  if he  could share  his perspective  and describe  how those                                                               
funds might accommodate long-term planning for AMHS.                                                                            
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON  stated that  the vessel  replacement fund                                                               
has been  very successful.   He stated that  if AMHS is  going to                                                               
continue to  operate, then it  must be adequately  supported with                                                               
capital.   He stated  that a  model under  consideration involved                                                               
the  construction  of road  segments  linked  by ferry  shuttles.                                                               
Commissioner  MacKinnon  referenced  the success  of  the  Inter-                                                               
Island Ferry Authority (IFA) in southern Southeast Alaska.                                                                      
2:20:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STUTES  sought  clarification  on the  level  of  state                                                               
subsidies that support the operating of the IFA.                                                                                
2:20:24 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MACKINNON  stated that  there  is,  and always  has                                                               
been, a subsidy, but he did not know the amount of the subsidy.                                                                 
CO-CHAIR STUTES stated  that the IFA is  hugely subsidized except                                                               
for  a  portion  of  the   transportation  expenses,  which  also                                                               
receives  some subsidy.    Co-Chair Stutes  asked,  on behalf  of                                                               
another member,  if Commissioner MacKinnon  has an update  on the                                                               
Juneau Access Road.                                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON  stated that he  did not.  He  stated that                                                               
he was briefed on the status a  few months ago and was aware that                                                               
the previous administration chose  the "no-build alternative" due                                                               
to cost  and controversy.   He stated that this  option satisfied                                                               
certain  requirements and  settled  potential payback  provisions                                                               
with the federal government.                                                                                                    
2:22:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR WOOL  revisited the freeze/thaw cycle  that Commissioner                                                               
MacKinnon  had  previously  discussed.    He  stated  that  in  a                                                               
presentation  given during  a previous  legislative session,  the                                                               
committee  learned that  the  largest costs  to  the state  would                                                               
occur from damage to infrastructure  and highways rather than the                                                               
relocation  of coastal  communities.   He  asked if  Commissioner                                                               
MacKinnon   was  planning   for  an   increased  need   for  road                                                               
maintenance, particularly in Alaska's Interior.                                                                                 
2:23:27 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MACKINNON  relayed that  he  is  familiar with  the                                                               
effects of permafrost on the highway  system.  He stated that the                                                               
melting of  permafrost could  be happening  at an  increased rate                                                               
but that he is not familiar with current statistics.                                                                            
CO-CHAIR WOOL asked about  Commissioner MacKinnon's impression of                                                               
the brining project that occurred in Fairbanks.                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER  MACKINNON  described  a  distinction  between  snow                                                               
removal  and snow  management and  described how  spreading of  a                                                               
thin layer of brine prior to snow fall facilitates snow removal.                                                                
2:26:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR   STUTES  referenced   a   previous  conversation   with                                                               
Commissioner  MacKinnon about  a request  for proposal  (RFP) for                                                               
the privatization  of AMHS.   She asked  if he was  familiar with                                                               
the North  Wind Canal Ferry  Authority or the consideration  of a                                                               
private group to operate the  Tazlina or Hubbard ferry.  Co-Chair                                                               
Stutes  also asked  if he  has been  involved with  the Southeast                                                               
Municipal  Conference League,  which has  pursued the  previously                                                               
mentioned changes to AMHS.                                                                                                      
2:26:56 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON  stated that  the RFP  was in  response to                                                               
the Governor's directive  to do a two-part analysis of  AMHS.  He                                                               
stated that  the purpose of  the RFP  is to consider  options for                                                               
reshaping AMHS, not to privatize  the whole system.  Commissioner                                                               
MacKinnon   stated   that   one  option   is   a   public/private                                                               
partnership.    He offered  to  send  the RFP  to  Representative                                                               
Stutes.   He  referenced  Southeast Conference's  plan and  noted                                                               
that  AMHS would,  under the  proposal, require  a "considerable                                                                
state subsidy.                                                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR STUTES  asked Commissioner  MacKinnon if he  believed if                                                               
AMHS could operate without a state subsidy.                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON answered no.                                                                                             
2:28:30 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   RASMUSSEN   asked  Commissioner   MacKinnon   to                                                               
describe his impression of the Port of Anchorage infrastructure.                                                                
2:28:50 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MACKINNON   stated  that  DOTPF  is   charged  with                                                               
maintaining,     owning,     and     operating     transportation                                                               
infrastructure.   He  said that  the state  owns a  lot of  roads                                                               
within the  municipality, more than  is customary.   Commissioner                                                               
MacKinnon suggested that, considering  the other facilities under                                                               
DOTPF's ownership,  it is  odd that the  department does  not own                                                               
the  port.    He  then  relayed  that  those  were  his  personal                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE RASMUSSEN asked how the  State of Alaska would pay                                                               
for the estimated $2,000,000,000 in damage.                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON  stated that  he had  not read  the report                                                               
that  Representative Rasmussen  was  referencing.   He  suggested                                                               
that there  are likely  alternative methods  for repair  that are                                                               
less expensive.  He stated that  funding to fix the port could be                                                               
generated through user fees.                                                                                                    
2:31:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR   STUTES  asked   if  Commissioner   MacKinnon  or   the                                                               
administration   has  had   any  discussion   with  the   federal                                                               
government as  to the possibility  of repercussions to  the state                                                               
for closing AMHS.                                                                                                               
2:32:05 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON stated that  there have been conversations                                                               
but that they have not received any definitive answers.                                                                         
2:32:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  WOOL  sought  clarification  as  to  DOTPF's  potential                                                               
acquisition of  ports around the  state or if port  ownership and                                                               
operation is delegated to the municipality.                                                                                     
2:32:32 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  MACKINNON clarified  that  the state  does have  an                                                               
interest in  the Alaska railroad  and that, through  this entity,                                                               
the  state  owns  pieces  of   the  Seward  dock,  30-plus  ferry                                                               
facilities, and portions of the Whittier [tunnel].                                                                              
CO-CHAIR  WOOL revisited  Commissioner MacKinnon's  comparison of                                                               
Alaska  to Vermont  as having  roughly  the same  amount of  road                                                               
miles and  population.  He  asked if Commissioner  MacKinnon knew                                                               
the cost per road mile per capita for Vermont.                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER  MACKINNON stated  that he  did not  know.   He said                                                               
that  the  metric  depends  on  which  highway  is  used  due  to                                                               
differences in the level of traffic.                                                                                            
CO-CHAIR WOOL  sought greater clarity  on the cost per  road mile                                                               
per capita.                                                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON reiterated that he did not know.                                                                         
2:35:27 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STUTES asked  if  Commissioner  MacKinnon supports  the                                                               
Alaska Port and Harbor grant program.                                                                                           
2:35:38 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MACKINNON  confirmed his support of  the program and                                                               
stated that it was developed during his previous tenure.                                                                        
2:36:17 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  referenced HB61, filed by  the governor,                                                               
and  stated that  it would  repeal  many projects  for which  the                                                               
DOTPF  is  responsible.   She  asked  Commissioner  MacKinnon  to                                                               
explain the  department's obligations under the  bill and provide                                                               
background   and   justification   for  its   proposed   repeals.                                                               
Representative Drummond  followed by stating that  the bill would                                                               
repeal statutes  that provide for  reimbursement for the  cost of                                                               
the University of Alaska's  capital projects, municipal projects,                                                               
and power projects.                                                                                                             
2:36:49 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER MACKINNNON  stated that there are  a couple projects                                                               
that DOTPF has an obligation or agreement to reimburse.                                                                         
2:37:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR STUTES  read the following  paragraphs of  AS 19.65.050:                                                               
(a)(1) the Alaska  marine highway system is an  essential part of                                                               
the state  transportation system, and that  it warrants continued                                                               
and  predictable  state  support; (a)(4)  efficient  and  prudent                                                               
management of  the system  will benefit  the state's  economy and                                                               
foster  economic development;  (b)(4) provide  for predictability                                                               
and  stability  in the  service  level  furnished to  communities                                                               
served  by  the system.    Co-Chair  Stutes then  emphasized  the                                                               
imperative nature of AMHS to Commissioner MacKinnon.                                                                            
2:38:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  STUTES  opened  public testimony  on  the  confirmation                                                               
hearing  for  John  MacKinnon,  Commissioner-Designee  to  DOTPF.                                                               
After  ascertaining that  no one  wished to  testify, she  closed                                                               
public testimony.                                                                                                               
2:38:52 PM                                                                                                                    
The  confirmation  of  John  MacKinnon  as  Commissioner  to  the                                                               
Department of Transportation & Public  Facilities was advanced to                                                               
the  joint session  of the  House and  Senate for  consideration.                                                               
Although not stated on the  record, signing the reports regarding                                                               
the appointment of  the Commissioner to DOTPF in  no way reflects                                                               
individual  members' approval  or disapproval  of the  appointee,                                                               
and the  nomination is merely  forwarded to the  full legislature                                                               
for confirmation or rejection.                                                                                                  
2:39:46 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 2:39 p.m. to 2:41 p.m.                                                                       
2:41:36 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Transportation Committee meeting was adjourned at 2:42 p.m.                                                                     

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Edward Sinclair_Redacted.pdf HTRA 3/5/2019 1:00:00 PM
John MacKinnon Resume.pdf HTRA 3/5/2019 1:00:00 PM