Legislature(2011 - 2012)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

04/07/2011 03:30 PM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS


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03:36:34 PM Start
03:36:51 PM SB111
03:47:50 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ SB 111 LAND TRANSFER FROM STATE AND ALASKA RR TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 111(CRA) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
    SENATE COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL AFFAIRS STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                  
                         April 7, 2011                                                                                          
                           3:36 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator Donald Olson, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Thomas Wagoner                                                                                                          
Senator Albert Kookesh                                                                                                          
Senator Linda Menard                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Senator Johnny Ellis                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 111                                                                                                             
"An  Act authorizing  the  transfer  of land  from  the State  of                                                               
Alaska  and the  Alaska Railroad  Corporation to  property owners                                                               
along  the Eielson  Spur  Line; and  providing  for an  effective                                                               
date."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSSB 111(CRA) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB 111                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: LAND TRANSFER FROM STATE AND ALASKA RR                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) THOMAS                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
03/23/11       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/23/11       (S)       CRA, L&C                                                                                               
04/07/11       (S)       CRA AT 3:30 PM BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR JOE THOMAS                                                                                                              
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 111.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
GRIER HOPKINS                                                                                                                   
Staff to Senator Joe Thomas                                                                                                     
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Explained how  the committee  substitute for                                                             
SB  111  differs from  the  original  version  on behalf  of  the                                                               
sponsor.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
BILL HUPPRICH                                                                                                                   
General Counsel                                                                                                                 
Alaska Railroad Corporation                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Answered questions related to SB 111.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
WENDY LINDSKOOG, Vice President                                                                                                 
Corporate Affairs                                                                                                               
Alaska Railroad Corporation                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 111.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BONNIE WOLDSTAD, representing herself                                                                                           
North Pole, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 111.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:36:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DONALD  OLSON called  the  Senate  Community and  Regional                                                             
Affairs Standing Committee meeting to  order at 3:21 p.m. Present                                                               
at the call  to order were Senators Kookesh,  Wagoner, Menard and                                                               
Chair Olson.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
         SB 111-LAND TRANSFER FROM STATE AND ALASKA RR                                                                      
                                                                                                                              
3:36:51 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON announced the consideration of SB 111.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
3:36:59 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WAGONER [moved  to adopt  committee  substitute (CS)  SB
111( ), labeled 27-LS0703\M as the working document.]                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:37:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WAGONER objected for the purposes of discussion.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
3:37:35 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR JOE THOMAS,  sponsor of SB 111, said the  bill restores a                                                               
revisionary clause to the property  within the 200 foot right-of-                                                               
way (ROW)  of the  Eielson Spur  Line, located  between Fairbanks                                                               
and Eielson  Air Force  Base. He  said that  Section 1209  of the                                                               
Alaska Railroad Transfer  Act originally stated that  after a ROW                                                               
had been abandoned  by the railroad for 18 years  it would revert                                                               
back  to  the  federal  government  and  then,  subsequently,  be                                                               
conveyed back to the abutting  property owners. He explained that                                                               
in  2003,  at the  urging  of  the  railroad, the  United  States                                                               
Congress repealed  this section  so that abandoned  ROWs reverted                                                               
back   to  the   state   instead  of   the  federal   government.                                                               
Unfortunately  this  process  also resulted  in  the  revisionary                                                               
rights  to  the property  owners,  which  had previously  allowed                                                               
these  individuals to  receive back  ownership  of that  property                                                               
after ARRC had abandoned it. He  noted that SB 111 addresses only                                                               
the ROW  along the Eielson Spur  Line and is currently  in use by                                                               
the  railroad.  He added  that  the  Alaska Railroad  Corporation                                                               
(ARRC) does  not expect  to abandon  this rail  spur in  the near                                                               
future, however,  if it  is eventually  abandoned, ARRC  does not                                                               
expect to retain the ROW and  would return the jurisdiction of it                                                               
to the state.  He noted that this has been  indicated in a letter                                                               
to some of the property owners.  He added that, to his knowledge,                                                               
SB 111 is supported by all of the affected property owners.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
3:39:18 PM                                                                                                                    
GRIER HOPKINS,  Staff to Senator  Joe Thomas, sponsor of  SB 111,                                                               
said  that there  was one  minor  change to  the CS  for SB  111,                                                               
version M.  He said in Section  2 (b), line 17,  "another person"                                                               
was  changed to  "abutting  land owner".  He  explained that  the                                                               
previous version  would allow  any person who  tried to  get this                                                               
land this  particular right, while  version M is more  concise in                                                               
order to make  sure that the people who are  affected by the bill                                                               
will be the individuals who live and own property in the area.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MENARD asked how many  more situations like this exist in                                                               
the state                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. HOPKINs replied that he believes  any other ROW that ARRC has                                                               
which  runs   through  a  municipality   would  have   a  similar                                                               
situation.  He  noted that  ARRC  requested  that SB  111  remain                                                               
specific to  the Eielson Spur Line  ROW and other ROWs  should be                                                               
addressed individually.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MENARD recognized  that this study has  been in-depth and                                                               
she supports this  bill. She said that she looks  forward to more                                                               
properties  being  made  available  in the  same  manner  in  the                                                               
future.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:42:17 PM                                                                                                                    
BILL  HUPPRICH,  General  Counsel, Alaska  Railroad  Corporation,                                                               
said  he does  not believe  that there  are any  other situations                                                               
identical to  the Eielson Spur  Line. He explained that  the rail                                                               
line was  built from 1914  to 1921 between Seward  and Fairbanks,                                                               
when all  of the land  was owned  by the federal  government. The                                                               
Eielson branch  is unique  because it  was not  constructed until                                                               
1943 by the  federal government. He said that at  this time there                                                               
were a  number of families  who had already filed  for homesteads                                                               
along  the route  between  Fairbanks and  what  would become  the                                                               
Eielson  Air Force  Base. He  reiterated  that this  is a  unique                                                               
situation to the Eielson Spur Line area.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MENARD said that she  would like reassurance that nothing                                                               
like this  is happening in  the Matanuska Susitna  Valley Borough                                                               
(Mat Su Borough).                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. HUPPRICH  replied that there  is no reversionary  program for                                                               
any of the ROWs through the Mat Su Borough.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON asked if there is any opposition to the bill.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS replied no; not that he is aware of.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
3:44:28 PM                                                                                                                    
WENDY  LINDSKOOG,  Vice   President,  Corporate  Affairs,  Alaska                                                               
Railroad Corporation,  testified in support  of SB 111.  She said                                                               
SB 111 fixes an  issue which has been a long  time in coming. She                                                               
said that  ARRC is please  with the  current version of  the bill                                                               
and allows the  corporation to move forward on  a sensitive issue                                                               
for several of the owners on  the Eielson Spur Line in a positive                                                               
manner.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
3:45:30 PM                                                                                                                    
BONNIE WOLDSTAD,  representing herself,  testified in  support of                                                               
SB 111. She spoke to the history of the issue.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
3:47:11 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WAGONER removed his objection.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:47:16 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WAGONER moved  to report CSSB 111( ), version  M from the                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations  and attached  fiscal                                                               
note(s). There being no objections,  CSSB 111(CRA) moved from the                                                               
Senate Community and Regional Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:47:50 PM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair Olson adjourned the meeting at 3:47 a.m.                                                                                  

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