Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/20/1996 02:00 PM CRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= 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 corporation. 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 294. SENATOR ZHAROFF moved that SB 294 be moved out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. 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 included. Number 250 SENATOR ZHAROFF moved HB 361 be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered. 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.