Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/20/1996 02:00 PM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
         SENATE COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE                         
                         March 20, 1996                                        
                           2:00 p.m.                                           
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
 Senator John Torgerson, Chairman                                              
 Senator Randy Phillips, Vice Chairman                                         
 Senator Tim Kelly                                                             
 Senator Fred Zharoff                                                          
 Senator Lyman Hoffman                                                         
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
 All members present                                                           
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
 SENATE BILL NO. 294                                                           
 "An Act relating to regional educational attendance areas."                   
 HOUSE BILL NO. 361                                                            
 "An Act relating to municipal capital project matching grants for             
 a municipality organized under federal law as an Indian reserve;              
 and providing for an effective date."                                         
 SENATE BILL NO. 287                                                           
 "An Act relating to the unincorporated community capital project              
 matching grant program; and providing for an effective date."                 
  PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION                                             
 SB 294 - No previous action to record.                                        
 HB 361 - No previous action to record.                                        
 SB 287 - See Community & Regional Affairs minutes dated                       
          2/28/96, 3/11/96.                                                    
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
 Senator Georgianna Lincoln                                                    
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Prime Sponsor of SB 294                                
 Hugh Short, Student Intern                                                    
 Senator Lincoln's Office                                                      
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Offered information on SB 294                          
 Kimberly Homme, Special Assistant to the Commissioner                         
 Department of Education                                                       
 801 W. 10th St., Suite 200                                                    
 Juneau, AK 99801-1894                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:                                                          
 Representative Jerry Mackie                                                   
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:    Prime Sponsor of HB 361                               
 Deb Davidson, Committee Aide                                                  
 Senate Community & Regional Affairs Committee                                 
 State Capitol                                                                 
 Juneau, AK 99801-1182                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Offered information on CSSB 287(CRA)                   
 Walt Wrede                                                                    
 Borough Manager                                                               
 Lake & Peninsula Borough                                                      
 P.O. Box 495                                                                  
 King Salmon, AK 99613                                                         
  POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in support of CSSB 287(CRA)                  
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
 TAPE 96-17, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 001                                                                    
           SB 294 COMMUNITY MOVES TO DIFFERENT REAA                          
  CHAIRMAN TORGERSON  called the Senate Community & Regional Affairs           
 Committee meeting to order at 2:00 p.m.  He brought SB 294 before             
 the committee as the first order of business.                                 
 Number 015                                                                    
 SENATOR GEORGIANNA LINCOLN, prime sponsor of SB 294, explained the            
 legislation has been introduced to provide the communities within             
 one regional educational attendance area (REAA) the ability to                
 become part of a different educational service area in the same               
 regional corporation boundary with the approval of the commissioner           
 of the Department of Education.                                               
 Under existing law, a community within an REAA can only become part           
 of another REAA within the boundaries of a separate regional                  
 corporation.  SB 294 provides that a community could merge with an            
 REAA that has common interests, yet is in the same regional                   
 Senator Lincoln said passage of the legislation would enable the              
 REAA's to become more cohesive and coordinated.  Some communities             
 in rural and bush Alaska feel special bonds with other communities            
 that are in other REAA's, for example, their language, culture,               
 family and friends are shared between them.  The ability to                   
 administer a school district between these types of communities               
 could be beneficial in both cultural and fiscal terms.                        
 Senator Lincoln said SB 294 will facilitate improvement in the                
 state's educational system by allowing schools to transfer to                 
 closely related, adjacent REAA's using stringent guidelines to                
 insure a responsible, consistent process.                                     
 Number 075                                                                    
 HUGH SHORT, student intern, directed attention to a map and the               
 village of Chistochina and the community of Gustavus, both which              
 have requested to move within a like regional corporation.                    
 Number 092                                                                    
 SENATOR LINCOLN pointed out that in order for a community to become           
 part of a different educational service area, it must have a                  
 population of at least 25 residents; the majority of residents that           
 are qualified voters have to vote upon the move; and the                      
 commissioner of the Department of Education has 30 days in which              
 disapprove a move from one REAA into another.                                 
 Number 140                                                                    
 KIMBERLY HOMME, Special Assistant, Department of Education, stated            
 the department is in the process of reviewing SB 294 and they                 
 haven't assessed any of its costs to the state.  She added the                
 department recognizes there are a number of communities within                
 Alaska in REAA's that do feel that they are not properly aligned              
 with the proper school district, and the bill would give them an              
 opportunity to move where they feel they would be more culturally,            
 or economically, or linguistically aligned.                                   
 Number 155                                                                    
 SENATOR TORGERSON asked for the pleasure of the committee on SB
 SENATOR ZHAROFF moved that SB 294 be moved out of committee with              
 individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so                  
        HB 361 CAP PROJ MATCHING GRANT FOR INDIAN RESERV                      
 SENATOR TORGERSON brought HB 361 before the committee as the next             
 order of business.                                                            
 Number 165                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE JERRY MACKIE, prime sponsor of HB 361, explained he            
 introduced the legislation at the request of the Metlakatla Indian            
 Community when their FY 96 Municipal Assistance Matching Grant                
 Program appropriation was eliminated from last year's budget.                 
 Metlakatla qualified for this program under the Department of                 
 Administration regulations definition for "municipality."                     
 HB 361 amends AS 37.06 (Capital Project Matching Grants Programs)             
 by adding a new section that includes a municipality organized                
 under federal law as an Indian reserve.  The bill has been drafted            
 to specifically include the Metlakatla Indian Community within the            
 Municipal Assistance Matching Grant Program.  It also provides that           
 Metlakatla may not receive a grant under the Unincorporated                   
 Community Capital Project Matching Grant Program.                             
 Representative Macki said it was clearly the intent of the original           
 Act to include Metlakatla, but because it has a little different              
 classification meaning a municipality organized under federal law             
 as an Indian Reserve, the technical language didn't cover that.               
 Representative Macki noted there has been some question as to                 
 whether or not this would open up the door to issues relating to              
 Indian lands and tribal status in qualifying for these grants, but            
 he has received an opinion from the attorney general that says it             
 will not because it is very specific in the legislation that it has           
 to be a municipality organized under federal law that existed                 
 before enactment of 43 U.S.C. 1618(a).                                        
 Number 215                                                                    
 SENATOR TORGERSON pointed out the most recent fiscal note on the              
 bill shows that $16,609 would need to come out of other                       
 communities' grants to make this transition.  REPRESENTATIVE MACKI            
 responded he does not think it is an added fiscal note; it shows              
 how the $19,000 that should have gone to Metlakatla last year was             
 actually distributed.  In his opinion it is a positive fiscal note            
 for the other communities until this legislation is passed and the            
 statute is clarified.  He does not believe that it should be                  
 interpreted as taking away from other communities because they've             
 actually been getting extra money because Metlakatla was not                  
 Number 250                                                                    
 SENATOR ZHAROFF moved HB 361 be passed out of committee with                  
 individual recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so                  
          SB 287 UNINCORP. COMMUNITY MATCHING GRANTS                         
 SENATOR TORGERSON brought SB 287 before the committee and directed            
 attention to a draft committee substitute dated 3/20/96.                      
 DEB DAVIDSON, committee aide to the Senate Community & Regional               
 Affairs Committee, explaining the changes in the committee                    
 substitute, said the current program provided that unincorporated             
 communities in the unorganized borough who had participated in                
 revenue sharing the preceding fiscal year would be eligible to                
 participate, whereas the committee substitute opens it to any                 
 unincorporated community in the state that was a place in which 25            
 or more individuals resided as a social unit.  A qualified entity             
 would be a nonprofit corporation or a Native village council that             
 would be required to meet standards that are currently in                     
 regulation under the revenue sharing program.                                 
 Under the current program, when there was an appropriation made to            
 the fund, it was divided equally among all of the eligible                    
 communities regardless if they had requested a project or not.                
 Under the committee substitute, instead of an appropriation that is           
 divided equally among all of the communities, the appropriation is            
 allocated on the basis of the projects they request.  The list of             
 requested projects is submitted to the governor and the governor              
 places that list in the budget request.                                       
 The qualified entity must have the written approval and designation           
 of the borough assembly.                                                      
 The current program has a five-year lapse provision for projects              
 that do not have substantial, ongoing work being done, and the                
 committee substitute changes the lapse period to three years.                 
 Under the local share requirement, communities within boroughs have           
 their local share calculated on the same basis as the boroughs in             
 which they reside, which for most of the boroughs is a 30 percent             
 calculation.  The local share outside of the borough will remain at           
 5 percent.                                                                    
 Number 334                                                                    
 SENATOR HOFFMAN voiced his concern with changing the lapse time               
 from three years to five years, because in a lot of cases, many of            
 the small communities are in rural areas of the state where                   
 construction costs are higher and it's very hard to fund any                  
 sizable project for $75,000.  It will be minimizing the scope of              
 any project by reducing that lapse time.                                      
 SENATOR TORGERSON commented that one of the things he is trying to            
 change in this bill is that the money is driving the project                  
 instead of the project looking for money.  He said that is the main           
 difference in the approach he is trying to take.                              
 MS. DAVIDSON pointed out that the way the lapse funds work, it                
 would be possible for a community to come in in phases for a                  
 project request.  If a community got an allocation over a three-              
 year period, it would have to begin the project within the three              
 years, but it could continue the project and the lapse date would             
 be three years from each year that the allocation was received.               
 Number 385                                                                    
 WALT WREDE, Borough Manager, Lake & Peninsula Borough, stated the             
 borough's strong support for SB 287.  He said the borough has                 
 communities that have suffered greatly under the current program.             
 The borough has a total of 17 communities and 11 of them are                  
 unincorporated communities.  For the last two years in a row, the             
 borough has received a total of only $44,000 for those 11                     
 communities, which works out to about $4,000 a community.  He added           
 that penalizing unincorporated communities that are within                    
 organized boroughs, as is happening under the current program, is             
 a disincentive to form new boroughs, and he believes it is in the             
 state's interest to encourage borough formation at this time.                 
 Mr. Wrede said the borough supports changes that have been made to            
 the legislation with the exception of the change in the lapse time            
 from five years to three years.                                               
 Number 440                                                                    
 SENATOR KELLY moved that on page 4, line 3 the lapse date be                  
 changed from three years to four years.  Hearing no objection the             
 Chairman stated the motion carried.                                           
 SENATOR KELLY moved the adoption of CSSB 287(CRA) as amended.                 
 Hearing no objection, the motion carried.                                     
 SENATOR KELLY moved CSSB 287(CRA) out of committee with individual            
 recommendations.  Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                    
 There being no further business to come before the committee, the             
 meeting was adjourned at 2:35 p.m.                                            

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