Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

01/21/2020 02:00 PM TRANSPORTATION

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
Download Video part 1. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
03:44:39 PM Start
03:45:51 PM Presentation(s): the Importance of Amhs to Alaska & the Need for Increased Funding
05:17:36 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to 30 Minutes Following Session --
-- Please Note Time Change --
+ Presentation: The Importance of AMHS to Alaska & TELECONFERENCED
the Need for Increased Funding by
- The Alaska Municipal League
- Individual Municipalities
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            HOUSE TRANSPORTATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                        January 21, 2020                                                                                        
                           3:44 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                             DRAFT                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Louise Stutes, Chair                                                                                             
Representative Matt Claman                                                                                                      
Representative Harriet Drummond                                                                                                 
Representative Andi Story                                                                                                       
Representative Dave Talerico                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative Mel Gillis                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative Dan Ortiz                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
PRESENTATION(S): THE IMPORTANCE OF AMHS TO ALASKA & THE NEED FOR                                                                
INCREASED FUNDING                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
NILS ANDREASSEN, Executive Director                                                                                             
Alaska Municipal League (AML)                                                                                                   
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Provided a PowerPoint presentation                                                                       
highlighting the importance of the Alaska Marine Highway System                                                                 
to Alaska and the urgent need for more funding.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
ETHAN BERKOWITZ, Mayor                                                                                                          
Municipality of Anchorage                                                                                                       
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Had his  testimony read into the  record by                                                             
Chair Stutes  during the  presentation on  the importance  of the                                                               
Alaska  Marine  Highway  System  and the  urgent  need  for  more                                                               
funding.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
JAN HILL, Mayor                                                                                                                 
Borough of Haines                                                                                                               
Haines, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  on the                                                             
importance of  the Alaska  Marine Highway  System and  the urgent                                                               
need for more funding.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
BRAD RYAN, Mayor/Borough Manager                                                                                                
Municipality of Skagway                                                                                                         
Skagway, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  on the                                                             
importance of  the Alaska  Marine Highway  System and  the urgent                                                               
need for more funding.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
STEVE PRYSUNKA, Mayor                                                                                                           
City and Borough of Wrangell                                                                                                    
Wrangell, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  on the                                                             
importance of  the Alaska  Marine Highway  System and  the urgent                                                               
need for more funding.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CALVIN CASIPIT, Mayor                                                                                                           
City of Gustavus                                                                                                                
Gustavus, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  on the                                                             
importance of  the Alaska  Marine Highway  System and  the urgent                                                               
need for more funding.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
JOSHUA BOWEN, Mayor                                                                                                             
City of Angoon                                                                                                                  
Angoon, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  on the                                                             
importance of  the Alaska  Marine Highway  System and  the urgent                                                               
need for more funding.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
TERRY HAINES, Mayor                                                                                                             
Kodiak Island Borough                                                                                                           
Kodiak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  on the                                                             
importance of  the Alaska  Marine Highway  System and  the urgent                                                               
need for more funding.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CLAY KOPLIN, Mayor                                                                                                              
City of Cordova                                                                                                                 
Cordova, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  on the                                                             
importance of  the Alaska  Marine Highway  System and  the urgent                                                               
need for more funding.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CASSIDI CAMERON, City Manager                                                                                                   
City of Seldovia                                                                                                                
Seldovia, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  on the                                                             
importance of  the Alaska  Marine Highway  System and  the urgent                                                               
need for more funding.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
NORM CARSON, President                                                                                                          
Pelican Chamber of Commerce                                                                                                     
Pelican, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  on the                                                             
importance of  the Alaska  marine highway  system and  the urgent                                                               
need for more funding.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
DENNIS ROBINSON, Vice Mayor                                                                                                     
City of Unalaska                                                                                                                
Unalaska, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  on the                                                             
importance of  the Alaska  marine highway  system and  the urgent                                                               
need for more funding.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHELSEA TREMBLAY, Member                                                                                                        
Petersburg Borough Assembly                                                                                                     
Petersburg, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  on the                                                             
importance of  the Alaska  marine highway  system and  the urgent                                                               
need for more funding.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
KEN CASTNER, Mayor                                                                                                              
City of Homer                                                                                                                   
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Testified during  the presentation  on the                                                             
importance of  the Alaska  marine highway  system and  the urgent                                                               
need for more funding.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:44:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR LOUISE  STUTES called the House  Transportation Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to order at  3:44 p.m.  Representatives Stutes,                                                               
Drummond, Story, and Talerico were  present at the call to order.                                                               
Representative Claman arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
^PRESENTATION(S): THE  IMPORTANCE OF  AMHS TO  ALASKA &  THE NEED                                                               
FOR INCREASED FUNDING                                                                                                           
PRESENTATION(S): THE IMPORTANCE OF AMHS TO ALASKA & THE NEED FOR                                                            
                       INCREASED FUNDING                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:45:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
a  presentation  by the  Alaska  Municipal  League (AML)  on  the                                                               
importance of the marine highway  system to Alaska and the urgent                                                               
need for more funding.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES  stated that the  presentation would be  followed by                                                               
invited  municipal  testimony  from: Haines,  Skagway,  Wrangell,                                                               
Angoon,   Kodiak,    Cordova,   Pelican,    Seldovia,   Unalaska,                                                               
Petersburg, and  Homer.    She also  explained that she  would be                                                               
reading written testimony from the municipality of Anchorage.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:46:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES read an opening statement, as follows:                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     As  anyone who  lives in  or near  a coastal  community                                                                    
     knows, ferry  service has  immeasurable impacts  on our                                                                    
     way of  life in  Alaska.   Ferry service  provides many                                                                    
     communities   with   vital    access   to   healthcare,                                                                    
     groceries,  equipment,   goods  and   services,  school                                                                    
     functions,  shipping, and  access  to the  rest of  the                                                                    
     state.   In  short,  the Alaska  Marine Highway  System                                                                    
     [(AMHS)]  keeps  coastal communities  strong,  healthy,                                                                    
     and a good place to live and raise a family.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     However, the  system also provides  a strong  source of                                                                    
     income  to   businesses  in  the  Anchorage   bowl  and                                                                    
     elsewhere   in   the   Interior   as   businesses   and                                                                    
     individuals  from  coastal  areas  travel  to  purchase                                                                    
     goods and services.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     The drastic reduction and, in  many cases, the complete                                                                    
     elimination of  services has  had a  devastating impact                                                                    
     on   coastal  communities   this   summer,  fall,   and                                                                    
     especially this winter.  The  current levels of service                                                                    
     represent   serious   health,  safety,   transportation                                                                    
     access, and revenue concerns  for coastal Alaskans, but                                                                    
     also   revenue   concerns   for  the   Anchorage   bowl                                                                    
     businesses.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     I called  this hearing  to keep  the spotlight  and the                                                                    
     focus  on  the  urgent  need  for  more  Alaska  Marine                                                                    
     Highway [System] funding now.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES  opined that a recently  released Northern Economics                                                               
report from the Department of  Transportation & Public Facilities                                                               
(DOT&PF) focuses  too much  on the financial  aspect of  AMHS and                                                               
"attempts to tailor service to  a budget instead of tailoring the                                                               
system  to what  coastal  communities and  communities in  Alaska                                                               
need."   She  noted that  on  page 204,  under the  subject of  a                                                               
Kodiak  community profile,  the  report states,  "In 2018,  there                                                               
were 1,295  permanent residents" in  Kodiak Station.   Further on                                                               
the same  page, it is stated  that there is one  public school in                                                               
the Kodiak  Station - Peterson  Elementary School.   Chair Stutes                                                               
said this  is "woefully incorrect"  information, which  shows her                                                               
just  how "out  of  touch" the  report is  with  the "reality  in                                                               
Alaskan communities."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES said no one argues  with the issue that changes need                                                               
to  be  made  to  the Alaska  Marine  Highway  System's  (AMHS's)                                                               
operational  efficiency,   governance,  contracts,   and  overall                                                               
structure;  however,  she  expressed  that  that  is  a  separate                                                               
conversation from  the one being  held today, which is  that "the                                                               
system needs  a higher baseline  level of funding to  operate and                                                               
serve Alaskans effectively."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
3:49:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES continued reading her statement, as follows:                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Briefly, however, I  would like to mention  that I find                                                                    
     the  state of  [disrepair]  that AMHS  has allowed  our                                                                    
     mainliners to  fall into extremely  alarming.   Four of                                                                    
     our mainliners are currently in  mothball status, and a                                                                    
     total of  six out  of twelve  of Alaska  Marine Highway                                                                    
     System   ferries  are   not  in   service  because   of                                                                    
     disrepair, lack of maintenance,  or poor planning.  The                                                                    
     legislature  expects the  Alaska Marine  Highway System                                                                    
     to  properly  identify  maintenance issue[s]  and  make                                                                    
     timely funding  requests to address  those so  that the                                                                    
     fleet  can   operate  and  serve  Alaskans.     Serious                                                                    
     conversations will  happen this  session about  a long-                                                                    
       term planning and ensuring that the Alaska Marine                                                                        
        Highway System is properly maintaining our ferry                                                                        
     system for future operations.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     That being said, this hearing  is about the urgent need                                                                    
     for more operational dollars.   As a coastal legislator                                                                    
     and as  chair of the [House]  Transportation [Standing]                                                                    
     Committee, getting  funding back into our  ferry system                                                                    
     is my top priority this session.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STUTES  noted  that  in   attendance  were  Mike  Lesmann,                                                               
Legislative Liaison, and Mary Siroky,  Deputy Commissioner - both                                                               
from DOT&PF.  She said  Nils Andreassen would give a presentation                                                               
on the importance of AMHS to municipal governments.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:51:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NILS  ANDREASSEN,  Executive  Director, Alaska  Municipal  League                                                               
(AML),  provided   a  PowerPoint  presentation   highlighted  the                                                               
importance of the Alaska Marine  Highway System to Alaska and the                                                               
urgent need  for more funding.   [Hard copy of the  PowerPoint is                                                               
included in the committee packet  and is entitled "Value vs. Cost                                                               
- The Alaska Marine Highway System."                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.   ANDREASSEN  directed   attention  to   slide  2,   entitled                                                               
"Municipal Perspective."   As the slide shows, he  noted that the                                                               
ferry  system has  been in  place  since 1959,  resulting from  a                                                               
voter-approved bond  package; there are 34  port communities, and                                                               
23  local  governments have  been  incorporated  in current  form                                                               
following the initiation of AMHS;  responsibilities of cities and                                                               
boroughs  range   from  police   powers,  hospitals,   water  and                                                               
wastewater,  and schools;  and the  communities are  dependent on                                                               
AMHS for  business, safety,  schools, and health.   He  said this                                                               
involves  33  cities  and  boroughs,   120,114  Alaskans,  and  a                                                               
combined budget  for those cities  and boroughs of  $610 million.                                                               
Mr.  Andreassen showed  a map  on  slide 3  that illustrates  the                                                               
location of the 165 cities and  boroughs in Alaska; slide 4 shows                                                               
AMHS  cities and  boroughs,  and  he noted  that  the light  blue                                                               
[dots] reflect the Southeast Alaska communities impacted.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:53:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.   ANDREASSEN  directed   attention  to   slide  5,   entitled                                                               
"Budgets."    He said  that  the  budgets of  the  municipalities                                                               
combined equal  $610 million.  He  indicated a tax base  for AMHS                                                               
of  $33.   He  relayed that  those cities  and  boroughs carry  a                                                               
combined debt of  $720 million in general  obligation revenue and                                                               
school bond debt;  they contribute $73 million to  school; 15 are                                                               
PCE  communities;  and  they receive  $24  million  in  fisheries                                                               
taxes.   Mr. Andreassen said  these numbers demonstrate  that any                                                               
reduction  in  ferry service  to  these  communities lessens  the                                                               
ability of the communities to  pay back their debt, contribute to                                                               
schools, address  the high  cost of energy,  and contribute  to a                                                               
thriving fisheries industry.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. ANDREASSEN  turned to  slide 6,  entitled "Responsibilities."                                                               
He  said  it  is  important  to remember  that  in  the  area  of                                                               
education, only three  of the cities and boroughs  are outside of                                                               
municipal school  districts.  He  remarked that it  is incredible                                                               
that  these three  sustain local  governments  and contribute  to                                                               
school districts.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ANDREASSEN said  in terms  of  public safety,  there are  20                                                               
police powers;  8 of  the port cities  and boroughs  manage their                                                               
own hospitals;  and 25 municipalities  participate in  the Public                                                               
Employees  Retirement  System  (PERS).   He  indicated  that  the                                                               
number  managing their  own hospitals  is  "very different"  from                                                               
"across the state," and "a lot  of that is linked to that coastal                                                               
transportation  function  that they  depend  on."   Any  cuts  to                                                               
[AMHS]  result  in  a  lessened   ability  of  [port  cities  and                                                               
boroughs] to  contribute to  education.   He indicated  that when                                                               
these local governments  are not able to pay for  schools and law                                                               
enforcement,  the liability  for that  coverage can  fall to  the                                                               
state.   In terms of  PERS, he stated, "These  municipalities are                                                               
actively  contributing to  paying off  the net  pension liability                                                               
incurred by the state; they're  active participants in offsetting                                                               
some of the other costs of that system."  He continued:                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     Those 33  cities and boroughs ...  have 2,275 employees                                                                    
     that they're  directly responsible for.   Any threat to                                                                    
     the $33 million  in tax base that  they experience from                                                                    
     the  ferry system  means that  they have  to make  hard                                                                    
     decisions about those employees.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:57:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ANDREASSEN  directed attention  to  slide  7, entitled  "The                                                               
Value  of  the  AMHS,"  which   names  the  following:    fishing                                                               
industry, health  and safety, residents,  coast guard,  state and                                                               
federal construction,  education, and  tax base.   Mr. Andreassen                                                               
indicated that  AMHS allows coastal communities  to access health                                                               
care, reach out beyond their  community, run businesses, bring in                                                               
goods  and   provide  services,  undertake   capital  improvement                                                               
projects  that  would  otherwise  depend  on  state  and  federal                                                               
dollars, and move students between  communities [to interact with                                                               
other schools].   He  said the  Coast Guard  is dependent  on the                                                               
ferry system.   He stated that ultimately, AMHS  is "a dependable                                                               
tax  base  and  contributing  to  the tax  base  of  those  local                                                               
governments."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ANDREASSEN,   referred  to   slide  9,   entitled  "Indirect                                                               
Benefit."   As  shown  on the  slide, he  noted  that the  system                                                               
reaches [658,959]  Alaskans in incorporated  areas of  the state.                                                               
The slide shows two charts from  a McDowell Group report.  Beyond                                                               
coastal   communities,   there   are   included   the   following                                                               
municipalities:   Denali, Anchorage, and Wasilla.   They actively                                                               
participate in the ferry system.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
3:59:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. ANDREASSEN pointed to slide  10, entitled "Statewide Impact."                                                               
He listed the statewide impacts:   1,700 Alaska jobs in 44 Alaska                                                               
communities;  $104  million  in  Alaska wages;  $273  million  in                                                               
economic  impact; $84  million spent  with 500  Alaska companies;                                                               
two-thirds  of  the  39,000 passengers  are  Alaskans;  and  AMHS                                                               
spending per passenger versus  other tourist transportation modes                                                               
is $1,700 to $941.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:01:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ANDREASSEN,  moving on  to  slide  11, entitled  "Value  vs.                                                               
Cost," asked the legislature to  consider "value beyond cost" and                                                               
the role of the state in contributing  to the future of AMHS.  He                                                               
advised that  stating that  the intent is  to reduce  the state's                                                               
financial obligation and/or liability  is insufficient.  He said,                                                               
"When it  comes to  value versus  cost, we  have to  think beyond                                                               
transportation."   He  said  the issue  intersects  with all  the                                                               
committees  that  have been  formed  by  the legislature  -  cuts                                                               
threaten   community   and   economic  development.      Governor                                                               
Dunleavy's $5  million veto, he  said, limits the ability  of the                                                               
state to  provide adequate and  reasonable service.  He  said AML                                                               
would argue that "$43 million, as  a budget item, with $5 million                                                               
in  reduced cuts  has resulted  in crisis  for communities."   He                                                               
acknowledged that mayors and managers  were present to talk about                                                               
what that crisis looks like for their communities.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. ANDREASSEN  concluded his presentation  by showing  slide 12,                                                               
entitled    "Recommendations    to     Legislature."        Those                                                               
recommendations  include to:   overturn  the $5  million veto  in                                                               
order  to assist  winter service  or  include additional  funding                                                               
within  a  fast-track  supplemental   budget;  establish  a  more                                                               
sufficient budget  for fiscal  year 2021  (FY 21),  including for                                                               
maintenance;  include municipal  leaders  in the  decision-making                                                               
process;  include  additional  funding  within  the  supplemental                                                               
budget;  establish  a  more  sufficient budget  for  FY  21;  and                                                               
include AMHS capital needs in  the Coastal Infrastructure general                                                               
obligation bond  package.  Regarding  the inclusion  of municipal                                                               
leaders in  the discussion,  he acknowledged  there is  a working                                                               
group  being formed,  and  he  advised that  one  of its  members                                                               
should  be  a  municipal  official.     Further,  he  urged  that                                                               
municipal  leaders   should  be   at  the  table   during  future                                                               
discussions on the issue by the legislature.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:04:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  expressed appreciation to  AML for                                                               
its  support  on  this  issue  and to  Chair  Stutes  for  making                                                               
possible this hearing.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:04:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STORY related having  lunch with Tlingit and Haida                                                               
elders  and hearing  stories  about the  adverse  effects of  the                                                               
[cut-back]  ferry   service.    She  wondered   whether  AML  had                                                               
considered urging  the governor  to declare  some of  the coastal                                                               
areas as disaster areas, thus  directing resources to communities                                                               
in  that  fashion.   She  asked  Mr.  Andreassen whether  he  had                                                               
"talked about"  putting in "extra  runs" [of the ferry]  to those                                                               
communities most impacted and in need of basic services.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:06:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ANDREASSEN  responded  that  AML has  been  hearing  similar                                                               
stories.   He  said  in  response to  resolutions  passed by  AML                                                               
members   last  November,   the   organization  has   established                                                               
"something  like a  ferry caucus"  within AML,  which would  help                                                               
with  information  gathering and  decision  making  at the  state                                                               
level.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:06:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND expressed  fascination upon learning that                                                               
the spending per passenger [on  the ferries] is almost twice that                                                               
of other tourists.   She opined that more ferries  are needed for                                                               
more  passengers,  and  she stated  that  obviously  that  cannot                                                               
happen if  the state  is not  "running ships."   She  offered her                                                               
understanding that AMHS  raises almost 42 percent of  the cost of                                                               
running the  system through fares  and freight.  She  stated that                                                               
it is crucial that the state get the system running again.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:07:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   STUTES  announced   she   would  begin   invited                                                               
testimony.   She explained that  she would read a  statement sent                                                               
by  the mayor  of Anchorage,  Alaska,  who could  not be  present                                                               
today.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:08:27 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ETHAN  BERKOWITZ,  Mayor,  Municipality  of  Anchorage,  had  his                                                               
testimony read  into the record  by Chair Stutes.   The testimony                                                               
[copy  available  in  the  committee   packet]  read  as  follows                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Dear Representative Stutes and Wool,                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Before  Alaska had  oil, the  pipeline,  or the  Dalton                                                                    
     highway, we had  the Marine Highway system.  In a state                                                                    
     without  roads, we  rely  on our  waterways  to be  our                                                                    
     highways.  For  more  than fifty  years,  ferries  have                                                                    
     linked our  communities, spurred  economic development,                                                                    
     and a  been a source  of statewide identity  and pride.                                                                    
     Through  boom   and  bust,  Alaskans   prioritized  the                                                                    
     transportation system that connects us.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Anchorage  is an  Alaska Marine  Highway  city --  even                                                                    
     though we do not have  a ferry dock, Anchorage benefits                                                                    
     from a functional and robust marine highway system.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Anchorage  is the  top  destination  for Alaska  Marine                                                                    
     Highway  System (AMHS)  travelers.  More  than half  of                                                                    
     visitors   who  travel   on  the   AMHS  pass   through                                                                    
     Anchorage.  These visitors  typically  spend $1700  per                                                                    
     person  during  the  course   of  their  Alaska  visit,                                                                    
     compared to $1300 for other  travelers. In a city where                                                                    
     the tourism industry accounts for  one in nine jobs, we                                                                    
     benefit from  the prosperity the Marine  Highway system                                                                    
     delivers.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Goods  and services  from  some  500 Alaska  businesses                                                                    
     support the  daily operation of the  AMHS, resulting in                                                                    
     an  infusion  of  millions of  dollars  throughout  the                                                                    
     Alaska economy. Anchorage  businesses receive the third                                                                    
     highest share of that spending.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     And Anchorage is a destination  and waystation for many                                                                    
     of our Prince  William Sound neighbors    who come here                                                                    
     to shop, to socialize, for  medical care and for onward                                                                    
     travel. We also use  the ferry ourselves. Anchorage and                                                                    
     Mat-Su account for 15% of AMHS revenue from Alaskans.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Just as we  expect the state to maintain  the Glenn and                                                                    
     Seward highways, as  well as the many  roads inside the                                                                    
     Municipality,  we count  on the  state to  maintain our                                                                    
     Marine Highway system. And while  we enjoy the drive to                                                                    
     Whitter, I  look forward to  the day when  AMHS ferries                                                                    
     get a berth in Anchorage.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Ethan Berkowitz                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:11:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JAN HILL,  Mayor, Borough of  Haines, related one of  her fondest                                                               
memories  was  standing  on  the   dock,  playing  her  clarinet,                                                               
welcoming the first ferry to Haines.   She said [the community of                                                               
Haines] loves the  ferry system.  She said the  last couple years                                                               
have resulted in struggle for  businesses having to close or have                                                               
limited hours, for  school kids' who need to  travel, and seniors                                                               
needing health care and the ability  to travel.  She related that                                                               
recently  a friend  had to  spend a  week in  Juneau because  the                                                               
weather was too  bad [to fly back to Haines]  and no ferries were                                                               
operating.   She said,  "That has impacted  more families  than I                                                               
can even count."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. HILL  concurred with  the remarks of  Mr. Andreassen  and the                                                               
opening remarks  of Chair Stutes.   She said communities  need to                                                               
work  better with  the legislature.   She  expressed that  it has                                                               
been rare to have the support  of people from Interior Alaska for                                                               
the ferry system,  but some of the borough's  working groups have                                                               
been  able to  illustrate how  Haines serves  as a  "pass-through                                                               
community" to  the Interior.   She  noted that  military families                                                               
access  stations  in the  Interior  through  Haines.   Businesses                                                               
cannot  get the  materials  they need  and have  had  to lay  off                                                               
workers.    She  emphasized,  "We can  survive  with  less  ferry                                                               
service than  we grew  accustomed to, but  we can't  survive with                                                               
none."    She  appealed  to   the  committee  to  listen  to  the                                                               
suggestions  that would  be forthcoming  during  the hearing  and                                                               
allow communities to help with  a solution.  She acknowledged the                                                               
need for more  money and the scarcity of it.   She concluded that                                                               
it is necessary  to become creative in order "to  figure out ways                                                               
to make this work."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:15:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRAD RYAN,  Mayor/Borough Manager, Municipality of  Skagway, said                                                               
most  people know  that Skagway  is a  cruise ship  town that  is                                                               
doing well  at one million  passengers per  year.  He  added that                                                               
Skagway  is  one  of  the  few populations  that  is  growing  in                                                               
southeast Alaska;  nonetheless, with  the current  ferry schedule                                                               
it seems that families who have  been there for decades are ready                                                               
to move out because they can't  get their children in and out for                                                               
sports,  medical   facilities,  appointments,  et  cetera.     He                                                               
expressed one  of his biggest  fears, that Skagway will  become a                                                               
cruise ship  port that's  only open  from April  through October,                                                               
leaving him [mayor] of an empty  community.  He stated that while                                                               
on  one level  Skagway  is a  prosperous  small community  that's                                                               
growing, it  wouldn't take  much change  "in the  connection with                                                               
the rest of  Alaska," to propel Skagway backwards.   He concluded                                                               
by  saying he  would appreciate  any efforts  that the  committee                                                               
might put  in towards maintaining  the ferry  service, especially                                                               
the wintertime ferry service.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:17:39 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
STEVE PRYSUNKA, Mayor, City and  Borough of Wrangell, pointed out                                                               
that  his colleagues  have expressed  concerns about  the ability                                                               
for residents to  move back and forth and for  freight to come in                                                               
and  out; however,  there  is another  element  to consider  when                                                               
deciding whether to  contract or expand the ferry  service.  That                                                               
element,  he  said,  is  emergency  services  to  mariners.    He                                                               
explained  that  the  ferry  system  provides  a  safety  net  to                                                               
mariners throughout the coast.   He added that there are numerous                                                               
examples of the ferry being in  the right place at the right time                                                               
and saving  lives -  most recently  being in  August 2019  when a                                                               
ferry saved three fishermen whose  vessel had sunk.  Recently the                                                               
USCG approached him about the  new mega-cruise ships that will be                                                               
traveling the  Inside Passage with  3,000-5,000 people  on board.                                                               
He questioned  how that many  people would be accommodated  in an                                                               
emergency  situation, adding  that Wrangell's  sewage system  and                                                               
water utility wouldn't  suffice.  He noted that  the ferry system                                                               
is supposed to  be the diversion plan if there  were ever a major                                                               
cruise  ship disaster.   He  reemphasized that  transportation is                                                               
one important element of the  ferry system, with the second being                                                               
the security of Alaska as a  maritime state.  He said the ferries                                                               
give Alaska the opportunity to  move goods and people anywhere at                                                               
any time,  which makes  it part of  the state's  natural disaster                                                               
planning process.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:20:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CALVIN CASIPIT, Mayor, City of  Gustavus, discussed how the ferry                                                               
schedule is  impacting Gustavus  directly.   He noted  that while                                                               
most coastal communities have an  Alaska Marine Lines (AML) barge                                                               
landing, Gustavus has a river  that only a small, 80-foot maximum                                                               
landing  craft  can  maneuver.    He  said  without  the  ferries                                                               
Gustavus won't get heavy freight  deliveries, adding that the one                                                               
grocery store  in town gets all  its food and building  items off                                                               
the ferry.  He indicated  that without the ferry system, Gustavus                                                               
is at a  loss with no way for the  bed & breakfast establishments                                                               
and businesses to  prepare for the tourism season.   He expressed                                                               
concern about  the 2020 summer  ferry schedule, which  only lists                                                               
two ferries every two weeks  for Gustavus.  He further questioned                                                               
how  traveling for  medical appointments  would be  possible with                                                               
such a limited ferry schedule.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:23:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOSHUA  BOWEN,  Mayor,   City  of  Angoon,  stated   that  he  is                                                               
testifying in favor  of additional funding for  the Alaska Marine                                                               
Highway  as soon  as  possible.   He  recounted  the most  common                                                               
issues that most coastal communities  are facing, such as travel,                                                               
medical   travel,   freight   [delivery],  food   and   supplies,                                                               
affordable  sports  travel,  and transportation  issues  centered                                                               
around the lack of flights  due to weather and space limitations.                                                               
He  requested  that  the  committee  consider  several  important                                                               
issues  that  are  getting overlooked.    Specifically,  multiple                                                               
layover days in between travel  destinations that are being spent                                                               
on  Medicaid's  dollar.    He  also  reflected  another  anecdote                                                               
wherein a teacher had revived  the school's cross-country program                                                               
but left because  he felt isolated without a  certain schedule to                                                               
be able  to travel out  of town.  He  noted that Angoon  just saw                                                               
its last ferry until March 3,  2020, adding that the new schedule                                                               
has  [adversely]   impacted  the   city's  ability   to  received                                                               
refrigerated  products  because  there's no  guarantee  that  the                                                               
product will be fresh upon arrival.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:28:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN spoke about projects  on the horizon that will increase                                                               
in cost without  the ferry to transport  the necessary materials.                                                               
He said over Thanksgiving 2019,  the municipal leaders were under                                                               
pressure to figure  out a solution to the lack  of ferry service.                                                               
They  unanimously voted  to charter  a catamaran  from Juneau  to                                                               
Angoon and  back, which cost  a total  of $13,000.   He explained                                                               
that the city  only received $5,000 back, resulting  in an $8,000                                                               
loss.   He stated  that Angoon's  locally generated  revenues are                                                               
nowhere  near  high  enough to  sustain  those  costs  regularly.                                                               
Furthermore, he said he doesn't  see it as the local government's                                                               
responsibility.   Finally,  he asked  the  committee to  consider                                                               
additional  funding either  through  a veto  override  on the  $5                                                               
million or a fast-tracked supplemental  to get a reasonable level                                                               
of service to Alaska's coastal communities as soon as possible.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:30:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  asked whether  Angoon has  a barge                                                               
landing.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN said  Angoon has half of a barge  landing; however, the                                                               
city does not receive regular barge service.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS asked whether  Angoon has a landing                                                               
strip.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. BOWEN explained  that currently the only way  to get anything                                                               
in or out of Angoon is by seaplane.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS said  that  these very  community-                                                               
specific details  and facts about  Angoon are  concerning because                                                               
the stakes are high.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:32:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TERRY  HAINES, Mayor,  Kodiak  Island  Borough, communicated  his                                                               
request for the  committee to find a  way to fund AMHS  to a base                                                               
level of service for its  port communities.  He acknowledged that                                                               
the  system  "needs  fixing"; nonetheless,  it's  unfair  to  the                                                               
businesses  and individuals  who utilize  the system  to severely                                                               
curtail  sailings  right  now.    He said  that  AMHS,  like  all                                                               
transportation  infrastructure,  is  an  economic  enabler.    He                                                               
further  noted that  its users  have made  great use  of it.   In                                                               
Kodiak,   homebuilders,   fishermen,  retailers,   and   service-                                                               
providers, all depend on AMHS.   He related that "accessing goods                                                               
and  services in  other  parts  of Alaska"  was  the most  common                                                               
response from  people when  asked how  they use  the system.   He                                                               
conveyed that the routes of  the marine highway are like economic                                                               
arteries that link  Alaska's economy.  Furthermore,  he said, the                                                               
users are  "holding up  their end  of the  bargain" by  using the                                                               
system to circulate  value in the Alaska economy.   As an analogy                                                               
for the  canceled ferry service,  he offered that a  doctor would                                                               
never treat  a swollen  foot by  amputating it.   He  pointed out                                                               
that the  marine highway adds to  the viability of the  ports and                                                               
harbors that  it visits, and  port viability will be  a necessary                                                               
part of Alaska's bright future in  the face of global warming and                                                               
a  shifting economy.    He also  mentioned  the large  coastguard                                                               
population in  Kodiak that depends  on the ferries to  access the                                                               
rest of  the state.   He concluded  his testimony with  one final                                                               
analogy:   "I don't  think it's  wise to  starve the  chickens to                                                               
death in an attempt to cut the price of eggs."                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR STUTES noted that Kodiak's  Coast Guard base is the largest                                                               
in the nation.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:35:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CLAY KOPLIN,  Mayor, City of  Cordova, emphasized  the importance                                                               
of  this hearing  given the  importance  of transportation  along                                                               
with energy  and available workforce  as the pillars  of Alaska's                                                               
economy.   He shared  a personal anecdote  with the  committee to                                                               
communicate Cordova's  need for short-term funding  and long-term                                                               
solutions.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. KOPLIN  shared the  implications of  the ferry  service being                                                               
suddenly  and  unexpectantly canceled.    He  explained that  the                                                               
economy  in Prince  William  Sound is  "in a  sector  that is  94                                                               
percent imports  into the U.S."   He  pointed out that  as Alaska                                                               
has  these  great  fisheries  and  opportunities,  fishermen  and                                                               
tenders are  coming from all over  the state to participate.   He                                                               
equated the  canceled ferry system  to a closed highway,  just as                                                               
fishermen are trying to get  their boats, trailers, and equipment                                                               
home.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:41:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KOPLIN related  Cordova's appreciation  for  the efforts  of                                                               
AMHS  to  work  within  its resources  to  provide  service,  but                                                               
frankly,  he  said,   it's  not  working.     He  emphasized  the                                                               
importance  of an  April 15  service date  for the  start of  the                                                               
Copper  River Fishery,  a marketing  standard Cordova  has worked                                                               
hard to set for the entire  state.  That standard has allowed the                                                               
city to make  $75 per pound retail for Copper  River king salmon.                                                               
He  further noted  that 4  million pounds  of silver  salmon were                                                               
delivered in  2018 at  $2.50 per  pound, which  is a  $10 million                                                               
fishery that moves back and forth  on the ferries.  He emphasized                                                               
the need  for bridge funding  and a  system that will  work going                                                               
into the  future.  He said  too many mistakes are  being repeated                                                               
that take  successes off the table.   To conclude, he  shared his                                                               
vision for  the system's future,  which is  to be a  world leader                                                               
that establishes the best practices for tomorrow.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
4:43:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ORTIZ  asked when  the ferry service  is scheduled                                                               
to return to Cordova under the current funding scenario.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KOPLIN  answered  May  20, 2020,  according  to  the  summer                                                               
schedule.  He  stated that if the supplemental  [budget] that was                                                               
requested last fall had come  through, there would have been time                                                               
to work  on the vessels and  get one in operation.   He expressed                                                               
his hope that there is still time to do so.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:44:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND reflected  on  the hearing  on the  AMHS                                                               
fall/winter schedule that  took place in the  Cordova Center last                                                               
July 2019.  She  related that 55 of the 250  people who showed up                                                               
testified  and displayed  the community's  commitment to  Cordova                                                               
and  support  of  the  ferry  system.   She  said  she  would  do                                                               
everything she could to restore  the city's ferry service, adding                                                               
that  the  attempt to  destroy  Cordova's  fishing community  and                                                               
everything else  is completely unfair.   She sought clarification                                                               
on  Mr.  Koplin's  statement  about getting  as  close  to  fully                                                               
covering the cost of  service as he had ever seen  it.  She asked                                                               
whether that  was in reference  to one specific ferry  or whether                                                               
more  than one  ship serves  Cordova when  the system  is running                                                               
regularly.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. KOPLIN replied  that it was the fast ferry,  the motor vessel                                                               
(M/V) Chenega.  He explained that  it was the outcome of years of                                                               
DOT&PF planning that  culminated in that ferry  staying in Prince                                                               
William Sound for less than a year.   He said one of the systemic                                                               
problems  is  moving [the  ferries]  around  like pawns  and  not                                                               
giving captains  and crews  the opportunity  to live  locally and                                                               
have some  sort of  certainty.   He added  that contrary  to what                                                               
people  might think,  the  vessels  are designed  to  run in  the                                                               
Prince William Sound weather, adding  that if the stabilizers had                                                               
been installed on the vessel it  would have been even better.  He                                                               
reiterated  that   this  is  a   systemic  problem   between  the                                                               
legislature, the  governor's office and commissioners,  and AMHS.                                                               
He  said the  governance and  management needs  to be  done right                                                               
because currently, it's not working.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:46:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS described  how  the governance  of                                                               
the ferry system  changes with each administration  every four to                                                               
eight  years,  with  each  administration  spending  millions  of                                                               
dollars undoing  the previous administration's  work.   He called                                                               
this management  "schizophrenic" and  "inane."  He  expressed his                                                               
hope that the legislature can  look at a different management and                                                               
governance  model.   He noted  that there  is a  misconception in                                                               
coastal Alaska  that only coastal  legislators support  the ferry                                                               
system,  adding that  since  his arrival  to  the legislature  in                                                               
2012,  many  of his  "Railbelt"  colleagues  have been  steadfast                                                               
supporters  of   the  ferry  system.     He  stated   that  Mayor                                                               
Berkowitz's letter  is a  good example of  that even  though he's                                                               
not presently a legislator.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:48:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STORY questioned whether  Mr. Koplin had looked at                                                               
what service  level Cordova would  need with the  money requested                                                               
by the  Marine Transportation  Advisory Board  (MTAB).   She also                                                               
sought clarification  on the level  of communication  between the                                                               
board and DOT&PF.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. KOPLIN clarified that he no  longer serves on MTAB by choice.                                                               
He noted  that [the board] had  worked for years to  get a three-                                                               
year  schedule in  place that  started rapidly  growing revenues.                                                               
He further noted that MTAB was  working to do right by the system                                                               
not  the  individual  communities  or   districts.    As  to  the                                                               
recommendations, he said he contacted  DOT&PF early and often, as                                                               
well   as   spoke   directly  with   the   commissioner,   deputy                                                               
commissioner,  Captain  Falvey,  and the  unions  about  multiple                                                               
scenarios  from a  minimum baseline  service up  to "an  absolute                                                               
(indisc.) of April  15th."  He said the ball  kept getting kicked                                                               
down the road  farther and farther.  Regardless,  he said Cordova                                                               
will survive  without the  ferry, but it  will change  the city's                                                               
trajectory  from  a one  of  growth  to  one that's  in  economic                                                               
decline.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE    STORY   questioned    whether   the    specific                                                               
recommendations that  were given  to DOT&PF  would be  priced out                                                               
for the  legislature to  understand the  level of  service that's                                                               
needed and the associated cost.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:51:58 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STUTES replied  that her  office is  currently working  on                                                               
that.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:52:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CASSIDI CAMERON,  City Manager,  City of Seldovia,  expressed her                                                               
hope  that legislators  have listened  to  public testimony  from                                                               
Alaskans over the  last year because it all tells  the same story                                                               
with  different  details.   She  said  despite  having  different                                                               
roles, revenues,  and resources, Alaskans rely  on transportation                                                               
and depend  on the ferry  service as a  highway.  She  noted that                                                               
Seldovia has exhibited growth over  the last five to seven years.                                                               
She  said  the  residents  appreciate  the  quality  of  life  in                                                               
Seldovia, which includes the ferry  service.  If that disappears,                                                               
she   said,  Seldovia   will  be   crippled  and   isolated  from                                                               
opportunities and the rest of the world.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:55:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CAMERON  further  expressed  her  hope  that  the  committee                                                               
members are using this opportunity  to gain knowledge.  She asked                                                               
them  to consider  municipalities  and local  leaders as  assets.                                                               
She pointed  out that  Seldovia has  been unseasonably  cold and,                                                               
because of  the limited  ferry service,  residents are  having to                                                               
purchase  their heating  oil locally  at  $5 per  gallon to  heat                                                               
their homes,  which is putting a  strain on their cost  of living                                                               
and diminishing their  quality of life.  She said  she hopes that                                                               
supplemental funding  can be given  as a short-term  solution and                                                               
that the problems DOT&PF is  facing will be identified and worked                                                               
out for a better future for all Alaskans.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:58:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NORM  CARSON, Chamber  of Commerce  President,  City of  Pelican,                                                               
addressed the limited AMHS schedule  and pointed out that Pelican                                                               
won't  see a  ferry in  the foreseeable  future because  only two                                                               
vessels serve the community, the  M/V Aurora and the M/V LeConte,                                                               
and both were  overhauled for repairs this year. Of  the two, the                                                               
M/V LeConte  is the only  boat that  will return to  service this                                                               
summer;  however,  it  will  be   serving  Prince  William  Sound                                                               
instead,  leaving Pelican  without  service  unless an  alternate                                                               
vessel picks  up the route.   He voiced his support  for any kind                                                               
of  supplemental  funding that  could  help  AMHS and  said  that                                                               
Pelican would  particularly like to  see the Aurora come  back to                                                               
service in FY 21.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
5:01:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DENNIS  ROBINSON,  Vice  Mayor,  City of  Unalaska,  stated  that                                                               
Unalaska receives very little ferry  traffic; nonetheless, all of                                                               
it  contributes greatly  to the  economy.   He  pointed out  that                                                               
eliminating  the  ferry service  puts  Alaskan  contractors at  a                                                               
disadvantage  to  contractors in  the  Lower  48 because  Alaskan                                                               
companies rely  on transporting their  equipment and  supplies by                                                               
ferry at  a cheaper  rate than  the commercial  lines.   He added                                                               
that Unalaska  has plenty of  shipping vessels,  including weekly                                                               
barges,  ships,  and  a domestic  container  boat;  however,  the                                                               
barges  primarily  deliver fish  which  leaves  no room  for  the                                                               
equipment.   He  continued by  saying the  only way  to help  the                                                               
economy is  to keep money  in the state.   He offered  his belief                                                               
that AMHS needs to be built to benefit communities.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
5:05:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBINSON noted  that Unalaska is a hub  community for smaller                                                               
communities.   He explained how  the ferry brings  the "Mammogram                                                               
van" to Unalaska,  as well as other supplies.   He said it allows                                                               
women from  outlying communities to  come to Unalaska  for health                                                               
care and  to shop for  groceries, adding  that 50 percent  of the                                                               
groceries that  supply the  Bering sea come  from Anchorage.   He                                                               
expressed his  hope that  those services  will remain  in Alaska.                                                               
He  emphasized that  AMHS is  an  integral part  of building  the                                                               
state's economy.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
5:07:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHELSEA  TREMBLAY,   Assembly  Member,  Borough   of  Petersburg,                                                               
recounted  several personal  anecdotes indicating  the importance                                                               
of the state  ferry system.  She reminded the  committee that the                                                               
cities'  representatives know  their  communities  and what  they                                                               
need and are  testifying in hopes that they are  heard.  She said                                                               
that Petersburg  is lucky  because it  has an  airstrip; however,                                                               
many  neighboring cities  do  not, which  is  what propelled  Ms.                                                               
Tremblay to attend this meeting.   Nevertheless, she related that                                                               
Petersburg is also  feeling the hurt with  extreme freight costs,                                                               
school costs, and more.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
5:11:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  emphasized  that  there  is  zero                                                               
northbound service out of Sitka.   Therefore, in order to get his                                                               
vehicle  from  Sitka to  Juneau  he  described  putting it  on  a                                                               
southbound ferry  to Petersburg, where  it must sit for  3-4 days                                                               
before someone transfers it on to a northbound ferry to Juneau.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
5:12:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KEN CASTNER, Mayor,  City of Homer, made four points.   First, he                                                               
stated, "We do things together  that we can't do as individuals."                                                               
Second, he highlighted  the importance of the  movement of goods,                                                               
services, fish, and  tourists to the state's economy.   Third, he                                                               
pointed out that  the ferry system was poorly  tested last summer                                                               
with the  loss of ferry service  due to the strike  and the Kenai                                                               
peninsula  fires.    Fourth,  he   stated  that  isolation  is  a                                                               
punishment.    He  said  people  living  in  coastal  communities                                                               
already  pay a  little more  for their  transportation and  a lot                                                               
more for  goods and services,  but they are  willing to do  it as                                                               
long as they don't  feel cut off from the rest of  the world.  He                                                               
concluded  by  imploring  the committee  to  address  this  issue                                                               
quickly  and  help  get  these communities  back  on  their  feet                                                               
because  the  summer  season  starts sooner  there  than  in  the                                                               
Interior.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
5:15:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  STUTES  thanked  the  testifiers   and  read  her  closing                                                               
statement, as follows:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Our   ferry   system   is  a   vital   piece   of   the                                                                    
     transportation  infrastructure  in   Alaska.    Coastal                                                                    
     Alaska needs its highway just  as Interior Alaska needs                                                                    
     its  road  system.   Testimony  on  the  Alaska  Marine                                                                    
     Highway  System received  more support  by the  numbers                                                                    
     than  any other  issue last  session.   We broke  every                                                                    
     record that had  been kept by the hearings  we had last                                                                    
     year with  the public testimony, and  it widely, wholly                                                                    
     supported   maintaining  the   Alaska  Marine   Highway                                                                    
     System.   My  hope is  that the  administration finally                                                                    
     hears  its constituents  and  realizes  that the  ferry                                                                    
     system is vital,  not optional, for our  Alaskan way of                                                                    
     life.   There are some serious  policy discussions that                                                                    
     need to  - and are  - happening this  session regarding                                                                    
     long-term  decision making  and  planning; however,  we                                                                    
     have  communities  suffering  with  no  winter  service                                                                    
     right now.   The  most urgent need  is to  increase the                                                                    
     Alaska   Marine  Highway   System   funding  to   avoid                                                                    
     irreparable  damage  to  coastal  communities  and  get                                                                    
     these  communities back  on a  path to  prosperity.   I                                                                    
     will work tirelessly towards that this session.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
5:17:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Transportation Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 5:17                                                                 
p.m.                                                                                                                            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
AML AMHS Presentation 01.20.19.pdf HTRA 1/21/2020 2:00:00 PM
AMHS
AML Resolution $5 million Veto Overide 11.22.19.pdf HTRA 1/21/2020 2:00:00 PM
AMHS
AML Resolution Ferry Funding 11.19.19.pdf HTRA 1/21/2020 2:00:00 PM
AMHS
City and Borough of Sitka Resolution AMHS Service 10.27.15.pdf HTRA 1/21/2020 2:00:00 PM
AMHS
City of Gustavus Resolution Importance of AMHS 03.11.19.pdf HTRA 1/21/2020 2:00:00 PM
AMHS
City of Homer Resolution AMHS Funding 10.28.19.pdf HTRA 1/21/2020 2:00:00 PM
AMHS
City of Seldovia Resolution $5 million Veto Overide 12.17.19.pdf HTRA 1/21/2020 2:00:00 PM
AMHS
City of Tenakee Springs AMHS Resolution 01.20.20.pdf HTRA 1/21/2020 2:00:00 PM
AMHS
City of Unalaska Importance of AMHS Service 01.13.20.pdf HTRA 1/21/2020 2:00:00 PM
AMHS
Municipality of Anchorage AMHS Support Letter 01.20.20.pdf HTRA 1/21/2020 2:00:00 PM
AMHS