Legislature(2021 - 2022)BARNES 124

04/08/2021 01:00 PM House TRANSPORTATION

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01:02:38 PM Start
01:04:06 PM Overview: Discussion of Proposed Regulation 2021200079
01:53:44 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Teleconference <Listen Only> --
-- Continued from 04/06/21 --
+ Overview: Discussion of Proposed Regulation TELECONFERENCED
-- Invited & Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
            HOUSE TRANSPORTATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                           
                         April 8, 2021                                                                                          
                           1:02 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Grier Hopkins, Chair                                                                                             
Representative Sara Hannan, Vice Chair                                                                                          
Representative Ivy Spohnholz                                                                                                    
Representative Harriet Drummond                                                                                                 
Representative Tom McKay                                                                                                        
Representative Kevin McCabe                                                                                                     
Representative Mike Cronk                                                                                                       
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
OVERVIEW:  DISCUSSION OF PROPOSED REGULATION 2021200079                                                                         
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
RODNEY DIAL, Mayor                                                                                                              
Ketchikan Gateway Borough                                                                                                       
Ketchikan, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the overview of proposed                                                                
regulation 2021200079.                                                                                                          
BRYCE WARD, Mayor                                                                                                               
Fairbanks North Star Borough                                                                                                    
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified during the overview of proposed                                                                
regulation 2021200079.                                                                                                          
ALICE RUBY, Mayor                                                                                                               
City of Dillingham                                                                                                              
Dillingham, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified during the  overview of proposed                                                              
regulation 2021200079.                                                                                                          
JIM MATHERLY, Mayor                                                                                                             
City of Fairbanks                                                                                                               
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified during the  overview of proposed                                                              
regulation 2021200079.                                                                                                          
JOHN MOOSEY, City Manager                                                                                                       
City of Palmer                                                                                                                  
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified during the  overview of proposed                                                              
regulation 2021200079.                                                                                                          
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
1:02:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GRIER HOPKINS  called the  House  Transportation Standing                                                              
Committee  meeting   to  order  at   1:02  p.m.  Representatives                                                                
Drummond, Hannan, and Hopkins were present at the call to order.                                                                
Representatives McKay,  McCabe, Cronk, and Spohnholz  arrived as                                                                
the meeting was in progress.                                                                                                    
^OVERVIEW:  Discussion of Proposed Regulation 2021200079                                                                        
    OVERVIEW:  Discussion of Proposed Regulation 2021200079                                                                 
1:04:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS announced that the only order of business                                                                
would be an overview of proposed regulation 2021200079.                                                                         
1:05:43 PM                                                                                                                    
RODNEY  DIAL, Mayor,  Ketchikan Gateway Borough,  said  "the ATV                                                                
Assembly" had not  met on the topic;  therefore, his comments on                                                                
this issue would be his own and  based on his years as mayor and                                                                
former Alaska  State Trooper.   Mr. Dial  said he had  worked in                                                                
many small communities and could  understand the reason for this                                                                
regulation change.  It is easier to ship an ATV to many of these                                                                
areas, and  ATVs and snow  machines are  more suited for  use on                                                                
some of  the roads  and rough  terrain.  He  noted that  many of                                                                
small communities  are exempt  from mandatory  vehicle insurance                                                                
compliance.   He  stated  his assumption  that  citizens of  the                                                                
Ketchikan Gateway Borough would prefer to keep the status quo in                                                                
terms  of keeping  these vehicles  off  the main  roads but  may                                                                
welcome the economic opportunity of allowing their use on remote                                                                
roads.    He  said  he  does  not  have  any  objection  to  the                                                                
regulation.    He  indicated  that  the  ability  of  the  local                                                                
municipality  to  make  the   regulation  change  minimizes  the                                                                
potential  negatives and  allows  specific  authorized uses  and                                                                
areas to be approved for nontraditional motor vehicle uses.                                                                     
1:09:21 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took an at-ease from 1:09 p.m. to 1:11 p.m.                                                                       
1:11:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN  asked  about the  Alaska  State Troopers'                                                                
non-pursuit policy  regarding pursuit  of someone  on an  ATV or                                                                
snow  machine, and  she  asked for  more  information about  the                                                                
MR. DIAL  replied there were a  number of high  profile cases in                                                                
which people  were being pursued and  it resulted in death.   As                                                                
far as  ATVs and  snow machines, due  to the high  risk involved                                                                
there should  be substantial justification for  pursuit, such as                                                                
the death of another.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN  asked about ATVs  becoming "street legal"                                                                
and whether circumstances would allow more latitude.                                                                            
MR. DIAL  replied that the use  of vehicles within a  borough is                                                                
currently illegal.   He envisioned that  if a change  were made,                                                                
someone  could petition  the  borough to  pass  an ordinance  to                                                                
exempt certain areas or roadways.   He surmised the desire would                                                                
be  to  maintain  the  status  quo.    He  recognized  the  many                                                                
opportunities regarding tourism,  and he indicated there  may be                                                                
justification to allow the use of ATVs and snow machines.                                                                       
1:16:45 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  HOPKINS asked  if  it were  less  amenable after  closing                                                                
public comment to allow changes in regulations.                                                                                 
MR.  DIAL  replied it  allowed  the  borough  to do  more  while                                                                
maintaining the status quo.                                                                                                     
1:18:14 PM                                                                                                                    
BRYCE WARD, Mayor, Fairbanks North Star Borough, stated that the                                                                
borough had not taken a position on this issue, but its assembly                                                                
would be  considering a resolution on  April 15 to  consider the                                                                
changes  in order  to  comment before  April 18.    He said  the                                                                
proposed regulation could potentially make sense for non-                                                                       
urbanized areas, but for  urbanized areas - particularly second-                                                                
class  boroughs  without road  or  police  powers -  it  appears                                                                
problematic, both from the perspective of  safety and the use of                                                                
federal highway dollars.                                                                                                        
1:21:59 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE asked  whether  Mr.  Ward  had reason  to                                                                
believe that  federal monies  would "go  away" if  ATVs  or snow                                                                
machines are allowed on the trail.                                                                                              
MR. WARD replied  they might not go away  but there are concerns                                                                
about safety and continued funding; the effect of the changes is                                                                
unclear.   In response to a  request for the source,  he said he                                                                
could not  answer but the  issue was "brought  up as an  item of                                                                
concern" that would be discussed at the next assembly meeting.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE  requested   that  Mr.  Ward   share  any                                                                
subsequently discovered information with the committee.                                                                         
1:24:25 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOPKINS, regarding  the possible cause of  concern, read a                                                                
note  the  committee  had  received  the  prior  week  from  the                                                                
Department of  Transportation &  Public Facilities  (DOT&PF), as                                                                
     These regulation  changes would  not be  prohibited by                                                                     
     federal  highway  administration; FHWA  only  requires                                                                     
     states to track accidents and meet performance targets                                                                     
     to  maintain  its  funding  support.   FHWA  can  also                                                                     
     require states  to submit  corrective action  plans if                                                                     
     they do not meet their targets.                                                                                            
CHAIR  HOPKINS  asked  how  planning  would  work  if  different                                                                
municipalities  within a  borough  had  different opt-in/opt-out                                                                
MR. WARD  responded that it could be  challenging with different                                                                
sets of standards, but it is possible.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE  named  various  sets  of  regulation  as                                                                
federal, Alaska  State Trooper, the  City of Fairbanks,  and the                                                                
City of North Pole.                                                                                                             
MR. WARD offered his understanding that  if the cities are doing                                                                
enforcement, "they  are  doing it  off  of the  state books  ...                                                                
unless  there   is   a  particular   nuance  aspect   for  their                                                                
1:28:03 PM                                                                                                                    
ALICE RUBY, Mayor, City of Dillingham, said the City Council had                                                                
not  taken action  on this  regulation but  has taken  action to                                                                
address ATVs and  snow machines in Dillingham.   She stated that                                                                
the city cannot support  the changes in regulations, because its                                                                
residents are  vocal about not  mixing ATV and snow  machine use                                                                
with  motor  vehicle use  on  the  city's  primary streets;  the                                                                
primary concern  is one of  safety.   She gave a  description of                                                                
Dillingham, including that  there are approximately 40  miles of                                                                
roads, 15 miles of which  are state roads, which are paved, two-                                                                
lane, with pedestrian  trails adjacent.  City  streets feed into                                                                
the state roads.  She said currently all the roads in Dillingham                                                                
are restricted to 45 miles per hour or under, so this regulation                                                                
would affect them  all.  Snow machines and ATVs  are widely used                                                                
and are "workhorses."  She talked about planning and enforcement                                                                
involved in allowing access and  safe crossing for ATVs and snow                                                                
machines while keeping them  off the main roads.   Ms. Ruby said                                                                
she would support opting in rather than opting out.                                                                             
MS. RUBY  said she thinks neither  the 45-mile per  hour nor the                                                                
gravel road  qualifier are  good.  She  said they  would support                                                                
"opt-in" rather  than  "opt-out" as  communities that  needed or                                                                
demanded their use could do so.   She pointed out that adding an                                                                
issue like  this on  top of  dealing with  COVID-19 is  not good                                                                
timing,  creating  another  issue  for  the  Division  of  Motor                                                                
Vehicles (DMV) at the moment could become another challenge, and                                                                
few ATVs were registered or had insurance.                                                                                      
1:38:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   HANNAN,  referencing   a   chart  provided   on                                                                
governments  that  had  exercised control  over  ATVs  and  snow                                                                
machines  [included in  the  committee  packet],  referred to  a                                                                
stated speed  limit of  less than  20 miles  per hour  (mph) and                                                                
asked whether that meant roads  with that speed limit or certain                                                                
vehicles restricted to that speed limit.                                                                                        
MS.  RUBY explained  that is  in reference  to  five subdivision                                                                
roads designed with speed limits of 20 mph or less.  In response                                                                
to a  follow-up question,  she confirmed there  are no  roads in                                                                
Dillingham with a  speed limit of 45  mph on which  ATVs or snow                                                                
machines are  allowed to operate,  with the exception  that they                                                                
are allowed to cross the road,  and they can be operated on "the                                                                
primary corridor" to  operate on the  shoulder of the road.   In                                                                
response to  Representative McCabe, she  explained that  the ATV                                                                
operator is required to  maintain a certain distance when riding                                                                
on the shoulder.                                                                                                                
1:42:21 PM                                                                                                                    
JIM  MATHERLY,  Mayor,  City  of Fairbanks,  said  the  City  of                                                                
Fairbanks has no regulations in  place specific to snow machines                                                                
and ATVs  but goes by state  violations and citations.   He said                                                                
the city sent a letter, dated April 5, 2021, expressing concerns                                                                
for the proposed changes.  He said ATVs and similar vehicles are                                                                
not   equipped  with   sufficient  safety   equipment,  personal                                                                
restraints, and  adequate directional  lighting.   He  said snow                                                                
removal equipment  can be hazardous.   He said safety  should be                                                                
paramount;  drivers  of  ATVs  and  snow  machines  may  not  be                                                                
accustomed  to  following  traffic  laws  allowing  them  to  be                                                                
operated on the  roadways.  He indicated this issue  has come up                                                                
in the past  and been voted down almost  unanimously.  He opined                                                                
that the "opt-out" option would be "wonky" and almost impossible                                                                
to enforce,  because the borough could  not but the  city could.                                                                
He predicted  that if this  regulation passes, there will  be an                                                                
increase in accidents  and a lot more  work for already stressed                                                                
police and fire departments.                                                                                                    
1:47:33 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MCCABE  suggested  changing  the  city  code  to                                                                
prohibit use of ATVs and snow machines, thus directing the issue                                                                
to the city rather than the state.                                                                                              
MR. MATHERLY replied that that makes sense, and he said he would                                                                
look into it with the chief of police.                                                                                          
1:49:40 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN  MOOSEY, City  Manager, City of  Palmer, said  the  City of                                                                
Palmer  would like  to  have within  the  [regulation] that  all                                                                
public roadways within "the corporation limit" are determined by                                                                
the city, as  the city officials are capable of  doing that.  He                                                                
allowed that the [regulation] may  be appropriate for 95 percent                                                                
of the  state, but said that  the City of  Palmer is "different"                                                                
and wants to make its own determinations.                                                                                       
1:51:36 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MCCABE offered his understanding that the City of                                                                
Palmer already regulates off-highway vehicles through Chapter 10                                                                
of its municipal code.                                                                                                          
MR. MOOSEY confirmed that is correct.  He expressed concern that                                                                
the city has  both city and state roads, and  would like to make                                                                
decisions regarding ATVs regardless.  In response to a follow-up                                                                
question,  he clarified,  "My concern  is  going to  be that  we                                                                
cannot determine issues for state roads and highways through the                                                                
City of Palmer."                                                                                                                
1:52:46 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOPKINS  recommended to  the city  officials that  if they                                                                
take any action  on this issue or  have discussions within their                                                                
communities, then  they make  certain to  pay attention  to what                                                                
type of vehicles would be addressed under this regulation, which                                                                
includes not just ATVs and snow machines, but also includes "the                                                                
all-purpose  vehicle   definition,"  which   he  said   is  more                                                                
1:53:44 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further  business before the committee, the House                                                                
Transportation Standing Committee meeting was  adjourned at 1:54                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
ATV Snowmachine Regulations - Letter of Opposition City of Wasilla 4.8.2021.pdf HTRA 4/8/2021 1:00:00 PM
ATVs and Snowmachine Regulations - Public Roadways
ATV Snowmachine Regulations - Letter of Opposition Donna Gardino 4.8.2021.pdf HTRA 4/8/2021 1:00:00 PM
ATV and Snowmachine Regulations - Public Roadways
ATV Snowmachine Regulations - Letter of Opposition Mary Corcoran 4.8.2021.pdf HTRA 4/8/2021 1:00:00 PM
ATV and Snowmachine Proposed Regulations - Public Roadways