Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/14/1995 05:12 PM WTR
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON WORLD TRADE AND STATE/FEDERAL RELATIONS February 14, 1995 5:12 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Ramona Barnes, Chairman Representative Gail Phillips, Vice Chairman Representative Eldon Mulder Representative Bill Williams Representative Gary Davis Representative Gene Kubina MEMBERS ABSENT Representative Jerry Mackie OTHER HOUSE MEMBERS PRESENT Representative Scott Ogan Representative Jeannette James Representative Richard Foster COMMITTEE CALENDAR * HJR 22: Relating to the maritime boundary between Alaska and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE * HJR 12: Supporting line item veto power for the President of the United States. PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE * HJR 26: Urging the United States Congress to uphold Alaska's right to 90 percent of the royalties from oil, gas and coal leasing on state land as provided by the Statehood Compact adopted by a vote of the people on April 24, 1956. PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE (* First public hearing) WITNESS REGISTER REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY Alaska State Legislature State Capitol, Room 216 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Telephone: 465-3719 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered sponsor statement for HJR 22 MARK SEIDENBERG, Vice Chairman State Department WATCH Ltd. 66A North Bedford Street Arlington, Virginia 22201 Telephone: (818) 223-8080 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HJR 22 REPRESENTATIVE MIKE NAVARRE Alaska State Legislature State Capitol, Room 521 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Telephone: 465-3779 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered sponsor statement for HJR 12 REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG Alaska State Legislature State Capitol, Room 110 Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 Telephone: 465-4968 POSITION STATEMENT: Offered sponsor statement for HJR 26 SARA HANNAN, Executive Director Alaska Environmental Lobby, Inc. Post Office Box 22151 Juneau, Alaska 99802 Telephone: 463-3366 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HJR 26 PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HJR 22 SHORT TITLE: ALASKA/RUSSIA MARITIME BOUNDARY SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) VEZEY,Ogan,Toohey JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/25/95 129 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 01/25/95 129 (H) WTR, STA 02/14/95 (H) WTR AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 408 BILL: HJR 12 SHORT TITLE: LINE ITEM VETO FOR U.S. PRESIDENT SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) NAVARRE,Brown,Davies JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/16/95 19 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 01/16/95 19 (H) WTR, STA, JUD 01/18/95 74 (H) COSPONSOR(S): DAVIES 02/14/95 (H) WTR AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 408 BILL: HJR 26 SHORT TITLE: OIL & GAS ROYALTIES SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) ROKEBERG,Ogan,Navarre JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/01/95 197 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 02/01/95 197 (H) WTR, O&G 02/14/95 (H) WTR AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 408 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 95-4 SIDE A Number 000 The meeting of the House Special Committee on World Trade and State/Federal Relations was called to order by Chairman Ramona Barnes at 5:12 p.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Barnes, Phillips, Williams, G. Davis and Kubina. Members absent were Representatives Mulder and Mackie. CHAIRMAN RAMONA BARNES stated there was a quorum present. HWTR - 02/14/95 HJR 22 - ALASKA/RUSSIA MARITIME BOUNDARY Number 004 REPRESENTATIVE AL VEZEY, sponsor of the measure, stated that HJR 22 is not a radical proposal as some have suggested that perhaps Alaska is trying to start a confrontation with the Soviet Union, which is not the case at all. Until 1984, the policy of the United States government was that Wrangell Islands, Herald Islands, and the American De Long Islands were U.S. Territories by virtue of discovery and possession. The U.S. did have sovereignty over these islands until the administration of the U.S. State Department unilaterally said that we didn't have possession. The U.S. Congress has never concurred in that statement, there's never been a treaty signed and to this day, the border between the Soviet Union and Alaska is undetermined. Around 1988, there was an offshore oil lease sale in the Navarin Basin. Ultimately, the federal government gave the purchasers their money back because the leases were never issued because the U.S. could not ascertain that we owned those offshore basins even though they were within our 200-mile limit. Number 030 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said the claim to this island starts back in 1867, when Captain Thomas Long and his crew discovered Wrangell Island in the Chukchi Sea. Captain Long named the island after the former governor of Russian Alaska, Baron Ferdinand Petrovich von Wrangell. The island has an area of 1,740 square miles and is located some 270 miles northwest of Cape Lisburne. REPRESENTATIVE ELDON MULDER arrived at 5:20 p.m. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY stated the first recorded landing of the Wrangell Island wasn't until 1881, when Captain Long raised the American flag and took possession of the island in the name of the U.S. In 1921, Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, an American, acquired the rights to the island and established a settlement. The settlement failed in 1923. Number 142 REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY added that a year later, Russians captured a few American settlers and sent them to Vladivostok. Subsequent to that date, the U.S. still asserted its claim to those islands. He went on to say there is much at stake for Alaska. There's tens of thousands of square miles of seabed over which we have some rights to, mostly federal rights. There is a great deal of land. It wasn't until 1959 that the Soviets finally paid reparation for the property, not the land they confiscated in 1924. Number 171 MARK SEIDENBERG, Vice Chairman, State Department WATCH Ltd., wished to impress upon to the committee just how large a loss Alaska would suffer if we failed to fight for its rights. Because of the proposed U.S.-U.S.S.R. maritime boundary, the federal government is intent on giving away enough seabeds in the Arctic Ocean and Bering Sea nearly equal to the size of Texas. Alaska faces the loss of sovereignty, property, mineral and other resource rights and related businesses and jobs. This total could easily range into the billions of dollars. Number 215 MR. SEIDENBERG stressed the point that there's a good probability that valuable oil and gas deposits exist throughout the Chukchi Sea. These represent potential revenue sources through direct ownership of the submerged lands and taxing other production. Number 230 MR. SEIDENBERG read from a prepared statement on behalf of CARL OLSON, Chairman of the State Department WATCH, Ltd. In the statement, Mr. Olson said that his group had been fighting the horrendous potential giveaway of Alaskan territory and seabeds to the Russians for over ten years. For the over 15 years the federal government has been working on the proposed maritime boundary, it has never voluntarily allowed Alaska or the general public to participate. Mr. Olson suggested legal action to correct this problem. MR. SEIDENBERG continued on Mr. Olson's behalf and recalled at the time the proposed Maritime Boundary Agreement was signed on June 1, 1990, by Secretary of State, James Baker III and Soviet Foreign Minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, they signed a secret side agreement. It states that the two governments would abide by the terms of the proposed agreement regardless of whether it were ever ratified or put into effect in the normal diplomatic process. This amounts to a unilateral amendment to the Constitution, which gives the Secretary of State the power to adopt agreements that normally takes a completed treaty to implement. Several nationwide and local groups have adopted resolutions opposing the giveaway, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Daughters of the American Revolution and Young Americans for Freedom. The California State Legislature passed a resolution a few years ago backing Alaska's rights in this area, since a threat to one state's sovereignty and borders is a threat to all. Number 290 CHAIRMAN BARNES acknowledged the fine work of Messrs. Seidenberg and Olson and inquired about a U.S. Senate passed resolution on their behalf. Number 305 REPRESENTATIVE GAIL PHILLIPS inquired of the sponsor as to what Alaska's congressional delegation position was on this resolution. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY stated that from all correspondence, they do not wish the U.S. government to assert any territorial claims over the area. Number 320 REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS asked what counter action was taken by our delegation after the 1990 agreement. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY was not up-to-date to be able to offer a qualified answer. Number 320 REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS asked how the breakup of the U.S.S.R. effect the legality of the agreement. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY said that the U.S. State Department would unilaterally abide by that agreement pending ratification by the Russian government and Soviet government and the U.S. Congress. Neither occurred because the Soviet government collapsed and Congress either didn't take up the agreement or it didn't pass. So, for all intents and purposes the whole boundary question is in limbo. REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS noted two very differing fiscal notes (one, a zero fiscal note) accompanying this resolve and asked about the high fiscal note of $150,000. Since this has been researched and researched, to the point of having volumes and volumes of historical perspective, there wouldn't be any need for the Department of Law to require the services of an international law expert in Washington, D.C. to spend around 500 hours of research. REPRESENTATIVE VEZEY could not see any reason for a high fiscal note and felt that we already have enough research for the state to be able to take a position, and added that all the resolution is asking is that the U.S. not enter into a treaty with the Soviet Union without allowing a representative from Alaska to participate in the negotiations. REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS stated that a fiscal note from the Administrative Services Division signed by Richard Pegues, says that HJR 22 would require a study of the maritime boundaries in order to determine the following. Representative Phillips was incensed at the fact that if this piece of legislation has been introduced and certainly not new to the state of Alaska, that it would have a such an outrageous fiscal note. Number 359 REPRESENTATIVE MULDER also was offended by the high fiscal note and understood it to mean the Administration took a dim view of the measure. He wished to reconstruct a fiscal note. REPRESENTATIVE GENE KUBINA did not feel it was a blatant fiscal note. He suggested that the committee do away with this Resolve and that would resolve the fiscal note. REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA moved to amend HJR 22 by deleting lines 15-29 from page 3. CHAIRMAN BARNES asked if there was objection. Hearing none, the amendment was adopted. REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS moved that the committee pass HJR 22(am) out of committee with a zero fiscal note and individual recommendations. CHAIRMAN BARNES said the question before the committee is, shall the committee pass HJR 22 amended, with a zero fiscal note. Hearing no objection, HJR 22 (am) passed out of committee. HWTR - 02/14/95 HJR 12 - LINE ITEM VETO FOR U.S. PRESIDENT Number 431 REPRESENTATIVE MIKE NAVARRE, sponsor of the resolution, stated that as the national deficit continues upward, the President is lacking one of the tools to help slow the budget spiral--the line-item veto. The item veto for the President has been debated for over 100 years. The line-item veto first appeared in the Constitution of the Confederate States in 1861. On many occasions line-item veto legislation has been introduced in Congress, but none has passed. REPRESENTATIVE NAVARRE says that Alaska is one of the states where the Governor's line-item veto has a successful and proven track record. The line-item veto has assisted the budget process in Alaska and should prove useful on the national level. REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS thought it was worth noting that this issue has been around for over a century and is still being debated. Number 464 REPRESENTATIVE GARY DAVIS made a motion to move HJR 12 out of committee. CHAIRMAN BARNES asked if there was objection. Hearing no objection, the motion passed. HWTR - 02/14/95 HJR 26 - OIL & GAS ROYALTIES Number 469 REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG, sponsor of the measure, said this legislation serves as a reminder to Congress that they do not have the unilateral right to amend the Alaska Statehood Act. Alaska has tried since statehood to avoid a confrontation over issues by working with Congress to ensure that any post-statehood amendments to the Statehood Act did not materially diminish the rights conferred to the state of Alaska by the act of admission into the United States. Representative Rokeberg pointed out that Section 28 of the Statehood Act clearly states the formula for sharing bonuses, royalties, and rentals under leases will be distributed 90 percent to Alaska and 10 percent to the U.S. Treasury. He added that this resolution seeks to reinforce Alaska's resolve to protect our right to the 90/10 sharing formula granted by Congress on July 7, 1958. Number 500 REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS would like the sponsor to verify the date that Alaskans voted on the Statehood Compact. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said he will look into verifying the April date. REPRESENTATIVE PHILLIPS was excused from the meeting at 5:55 p.m. REPRESENTATIVE MULDER asked the sponsor if Congress was working on legislation to reduce Alaska's royalty share percentage. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG responded that testimony in committee hearings was taken that the preference by the congressional delegation for Committee Substitute for HJR 13 (Oil & Gas) was not have any indication or they preferred not to have the royalty-share mentioned in that particular resolution. Objections were raised. Representative Rokeberg shared the basic premise that we should not diminish any of our revenues. Number 535 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG indicated that in conversations with all three of Alaska's congressional offices, the feeling in Washington, D.C. is that if we are going to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that they would be prepared to revert to a 50-50 split. TAPE 95-4, SIDE B Number 000 REPRESENTATIVE MULDER made a motion for a friendly amendment to delete lines 12 and 13 from page 2. CHAIRMAN BARNES called for the question. Hearing no objection, the motion passed. Number 044 SARA HANNAH, Executive Director of the Alaska Environmental Lobby, Inc., thought that it's not only the state's right but the responsibility of a frugal owner, especially with regard to nonrenewable resources to oversee responsible, respectable development and that Alaska deserves 90 percent of the oil and gas royalties due the state in the Statehood Compact. REPRESENTATIVE MULDER made a motion to move HJR 26(am) out of committee with individual recommendations. CHAIRMAN BARNES called for the question. Hearing no objection, the resolution passed out of committee. ADJOURNMENT There being no further business to come before the House Special Committee on World Trade and State/Federal Relations, CHAIRMAN BARNES adjourned the meeting at 6:05 p.m.