Legislature(1997 - 1998)
04/23/1997 05:35 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
MINUTES SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE 23 April 1997 5:35 p.m. TAPES SFC-97, #125, Side 1 (000 - 599) 125, Side 2 (599 - 000) 126, Side 1 (000 - 513) CALL TO ORDER Senator Bert Sharp, Co-chairman, convened the meeting at approximately 5:35 p.m. PRESENT In addition to Co-chairman Sharp, Senators Phillips, Torgerson, Parnell and Adams were present when the meeting convened. Senators Donley and Pearce arrived respectively shortly thereafter. ALSO ATTENDING: Senator Robin Taylor; Joe Perkins, Commissioner, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities; Nancy Slagle, Director, Division of Administrative Services, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities; Bob Ward, City Manager, Skagway; Andrea Barkley, Alaska Marine Highway System/IBU Executive Committee; Stephanie Rainwater, Alaska Marine Highway employee; Gerald Hope, Tribal Council Officer as Secretary, Ketchikan Tribal Corporation; Fred Shields, Haines Borough and Chamber of Commerce; James L. Van Horn, Ketchikan Gateway Borough; Representative Brian Porter; Anne Carpeneti, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Department of Law; Forrest Browne, Debt Manager, Division of Treasury, Department of Revenue; Greg Hayes, Chief of Laboratories, Division of Public Health, Department of Health and Social Services; Tom Wright, staff to Representative Ivan Ivan; Representative Con Bunde; aides to committee members and other legislators. SUMMARY INFORMATION CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 21(STA) "An Act relating to ferries and ferry terminals, establishing the Alaska Marine Highway Authority, and relating to maintenance of state marine vessels; and providing for an effective date." Senator Taylor, sponsor of SB21 was invited to join the committee. In a brief explanation of the bill he noted this bill would be an ongoing working document. He said the creation of the Marine Highway Authority would bring stability to the system. At the present there was an increasing level of bureaucracy and a decreasing level of services. In answer to a question from Senator Adams he said the Authority would be an entity within the Department of Transportation. Senator Torgerson asked if the Authority would be able to spend Federal funds. Senator Taylor indicated they would. Senator Adams said he would still like to look at the matter of setting up an Authority. He felt there had been a lack of communication. Senator Taylor responded that within the entire infrastructure there had been a lack of communication. He would applaud any change to bring expertise to the Marine Highway. The bandaid approach up until now only fixed part of the problem. Senator Torgerson commented on fiscal notes. He noted the chief operating officer's fancy fee. He suggested amending the Department of Transportation's fiscal note to zero and send the money otherwise earmarked to the Authority. Senator Phillips in a comment to the committee noted that Juneau was against the bill and Ketchikan supported the bill. In conclusion of his testimony, Senator Taylor said the best time to make the transition to the Authority would be in the winter when the ferry system was slowed down. Commissioner Joseph Perkins, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities was invited to join the committee. He said the Administration did not support SB 21. Reductions to the operating budget year after year had caused operational problems and reductions in services. Stable funding must be addressed and there should be an adequate stable funding source. He said due to maintenance for ships having been cut there would be some difficulty in getting Coast Guard certification. The majority of the marine routes were a part of the federally designated highway system. This tied the system into the road network. Further, he noted the Authority was not in the Department of Transportation and it would operate independently. The creation of the Authority would only cause more competition. Two points he brought up for the committee to consider for the creation of the Authority were: 1. the project must get on STIP for federal funds; and 2. they must receive legislative authority. He felt the Authority at this time was moving in the wrong direction. There would be the same isolation for the Marine Highway as for the Alaska Railroad system. The needs of the travelling public have drastically changed. There should be changes made within the Department of Transportation to address these needs. Senator Adams voiced a concern for Federal funding for the Authority. Commissioner Perkins explained that Federal funds were given to the Department of Transportation. The Marine Highway Authority would have to compete for federal funds based on how projects were graded and scored. Bob Ward, City Manager, Skagway, Alaska was invited to join the committee. He said the City of Skagway opposed SB 21. If there was enough money there would be enough ships and therefore no problems. He felt there were many significant points that needed to be addressed. A continued trend of decreased funding had led to a decrease in service levels to community residents in the winter. Andrea Barkley, Alaska Marine Highway System/IBU Executive Committee was invited to join the committee. She was a 19- year Marine Highway employee and supported the bill. She said there were many problems that needed to be changed and the creation of the Authority offered potential improvement. Stephanie Rainwater, Alaska Marine Highway System, Chairman of Management Labor Advisory Board was invited to join the committee. She was a 10-year Marine Highway employee and also supported the bill. She explained the last three years there had been a decrease in services and poor reservations system. There had been too much cutting back and now not enough money left to keep the system running. There needed to be a change and she said that Marine Highway employees supported SB 21. They were good employees, wanted to give good service; and therefore the Marine Highway System should keep people employed and let them provide good service. She also noted that many times the ships are not always full. Senator Adams concurred and said that everything was going down because of budget cuts. Senator Torgerson responded by saying that there had been a cut in Administration but that $1 million had been put back into the Marine Highway budget specifically for vessel operation. Ms. Rainwater said perhaps one should look at the Administration employees. Gerald Hope, Tribal Council Officer as Secretary, Ketchikan Indian Corporation was invited to join the committee. He spoke on behalf of the Southeast Alaska families and said the Alaska Marine Highway System provided transportation for these families to keep in close touch with each other. He said the Corporation supported SB 21. Fred Shield, representative, Haines Borough and Chamber of Commerce was invited to join the committee. He said Haines supported SB 21. James L. Van Horn, member, Ketchikan Gateway Borough was invited to join the committee. He said the death spiral system of the Alaska Marine Highway had to be changed. He supported SB 21. Senator Taylor in response to the given testimony noted that three years ago the captains for the Alaska Marine Highway sent in a letter to their superiors asking only for competent management. Co-chair Sharp set the bill aside. SENATE CS FOR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 9(JUD) "An Act relating to the rights of crime victims and victims of juvenile offenses; relating to the collection by victims of restitution from prisoners; relating to the definition of `incapacitated' for sexual offenses; creating the crime of interfering with a report of a crime involving domestic violence; relating to the safety of victims, other persons, and the community in setting bail or conditions of release; relating to access to certain records of the Violent Crimes Compensation Board; amending Rules 6 and 43(d), Alaska Rules o f Criminal Procedure, Rules 404 and 615, Alaska Rules of Evidence, and Rule 3, Alaska Delinquency Rules; and providing for an effective date." Representative Brian Porter, sponsor of the bill was invited to join the committee. He noted specifically that al fiscal notes were zero. He explained sections 3, 4, 5 and 6. Section 7 would redefine "incapacitated". He referred the members to the section analysis provided. Anne Carpeneti, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, Department of Law was invited to join the committee. At this point Senator Adams and Senator Pearce conferred briefly agreeing that Senator Adams' amendment was the same as Senator Pearce's amendment #2. Ms. Carpeneti said that the department opposed amendment #2 and referred to the 1994 victims' rights law. She briefly outlined a present Fairbanks case. A mental examination for a victim should be very limited. Senator Pearce moved amendment #1 and without objection it was adopted. Senator Torgerson moved SCS CSHB 9(FIN) with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes and without objection it was reported out. SENATE BILL NO. 51 "An Act giving notice of and approving the entry into, and the issuance of certificates of participation in, a lease-purchase agreement for a centralized public health laboratory facility." Co-chair Sharp introduced SB 51. Forrest Browne, Department of Revenue was invited to join the committee. Senate Finance Committee members, staff and members of the public sang "Happy Birthday" to Mr. Browne. Senator Adams asked the cost of the building per square foot and Senator Pearce said the cost was high because of specialized equipment. Co-chair Sharp moved amendment #1 for discussion purposes. Mr. Browne briefly explained the amendment. Amendment #1 was adopted without objection. Greg Hayes, Chief of Laboratories was invited to join the committee. He briefly explained their fiscal note. Mr. Browne indicated that it was a gross number. Senator Adams asked if the title was wrong and Mr. Hayes indicated that "consolidated" would perhaps be better. Senator Donley moved CSSB 51(FIN) with individual recommendations and accompanying fiscal notes. By a vote of 4 - 2 (Adams, Sharp) it was reported out of committee. CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 34(TRA) "An Act giving notice of and approving a lease-purchase agreement with the City of Soldotna for a maintenance facility of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities." Senator Torgerson introduced CSSB 34(TRA). He specifically noted page 1, line 11, amendment #1. He briefly discussed with Senator Pearce regarding the City of Soldotna being the seller of the bond. (Tape change to #126.) He said there was no high priority to move the bill. Senator Pearce said she did not feel the City of Soldotna should have the bond. Nancy Slagle, Director, Division of Administrative Services, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities was invited to join the committee. She said this matter was a high priority with the department. It had been three years since the environmental clean-up had been requested. Money was available for working on design and road to the new site. In 1996 money was appropriated for the clean-up in the amount of $600,000. She did not know the total amount of the cleanup but would provide exactly how much the department received and how much they expended. Senator Torgerson said that $600,000 was appropriated and reviewed the amounts left. Approximately $1 million was left. (pause while Senator Pearce reviewed the spread sheet.) In response to a question by Senator Pearce, Senator Torgerson said he had no objection to the City or the State holding the bonds. The City had been trying to get the State to do the bond but for some reason the State had been holding off. The City said they would not pay the bond, however, for clean-up. The Department of Transportation said with another $250,000 the project could be finished. It was noted the State owned the property. Co-chair Sharp said he never heard of the State bonding for cleanup. He asked Senator Torgerson to review the bill tonight and to pin down whether the City of Soldotna or the State would do the bonding. Senator Torgerson said the City felt if they did the bonding they could move on with the project. Mr. Browne said that whoever does the bonding it would be a 90-day process. Senator Torgerson said he would review the bill and have it redrafted and ready for tomorrow. Co-chair Sharp concurred and held SB 34 over until tomorrow. CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 20(FIN) "An Act relating to dog mushers' contests." Tom Wright, staff to Representative Ivan Ivan was invited to join the committee. He briefly explained CSHB 20(FIN). Senator Adams moved CSHB 20(FIN) and without objection it was reported out. SENATE CS FOR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 145(FIN) "An Act relating to certification of teachers; and providing for an effective date." Senator Pearce moved the work draft version of SCS CSHB 145(FIN) for discussion purposes. She explained the changes incorporated into the work draft. She said teacher certifications would be paid for by teachers same as other licenses and certifications. There would be no title change. Senator Adams said the change of fees would need an updated fiscal note. Senator Pearce responded and said it would not change the budget. Representative Con Bunde was invited to join the committee. He was available to answer any questions by the committee. Senator Pearce acknowledged the uniqueness of this situation. She re-iterated that teachers should pay for the whole cost of their certification the same as others. She said there would be no new general funds nor positions. Senator Phillips asked if this bill would test all teachers. Representative Bunde said only new teachers would be tested. In response to a question by Senator Phillips he said that it was a basic screen test. It has been proven that there were college graduates not literate. Other states have screened out incompetent applicants using the procedure. This test was a basic literacy and competency test. Senator Adams asked how bilingual teachers would be affected and Representative Bunde said they would be required to pass not only the basic screen test but also a bilingual exam. Senator Pearce suggested the committee adopt a title change but Senator Adams objected. He said he would like a legal opinion on the matter. Senator Pearce removed her motion and said she would have legal services draft a new CS for tomorrow. Co-chair Sharp concurred and held SCS CSHB 145(FIN) in committee pending receipt of a new draft. He further reviewed the calendar for tomorrow. Senator Torgerson said his draft for SB 21 would also be ready for tomorrow. ADJOURNMENT Co-chair Sharp adjourned the committee at 8:00 p.m. until tomorrow.